Perak is finally getting a new MB today! State Umno chief Saarani Mohamad is the Chosen One following a pow-wow between the big heads of Umno, Bersatu and PAS.

In other news, a local human rights NGO has released its annual report and, as expected, we came out smelling like bunga tahi ayam. Meanwhile, our Covid-19 numbers took a slight dip, but the downward trend isn't likely to last.

Kumbaya in Perak

Umno gets its way

Residents of the silver state can heave a huge sigh of relief now the latest leadership crisis is finally over.

After a week of backbiting, manoeuvrings and visits to the state palace, Umno, Bersatu and PAS have all k̶i̶s̶s̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ made up. This is after, of course, Umno prez Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had apologised for his Perak guys’ blunder which led to the whole crisis in the first place.

Umno has also come out tops as it’s state chief and Kota Tampan rep Saarani Mohamad will be sworn in today as menteri besar 2.0 following the ouster of Bersatu’s Ahmad Faizal Azumu last week. 

And what of poor ol’ Faizal? Well, we don’t know if the Bersatu deputy president is seething inside, but outwardly the man has taken the high road and congratulated his successor. Gotta say, the dude’s been acting pretty classy throughout the crisis considering he’s the one that got dumped.

Explaining why Perak PAS didn’t meet with the Sultan the previous day, party sec-gen Takiyuddin Hassan has claimed the party wanted to avoid any error in deciding the next MB. Sheesh! Would that be a case of being chicken or just hedging your bets, Taki? 

Earlier in the day, the state assembly convened for the first time in history without a sitting MB for all of five minutes. It was then postponed for a week.

Now that a new MB will be sworn in, we hope the buffoons in Perak will get back down to business and start serving the people instead of politicking and serving themselves. Hell, even the state 2021 budget, of such importance in these times of pandemic, hasn’t been tabled yet, thanks to all these shenanigans.

Coming out smelling like roses... NOT!

NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia, better known as Suaram, yesterday released its human rights report for 2020, and we can tell you it didn’t make our beloved nation sound good at all.

According to the report, investigations under that wonderful old piece of legislation, the Sedition Act, almost doubled in 2020

Meanwhile, investigations under that oh-so-vague Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) – for “improper use of network facilities” – nearly tripled! 

Here are some breakdowns of the findings:

  • For sedition probes – Out of 20 launched this year (compared to just 12 last year), all but one was initiated after the b̶a̶c̶k̶d̶o̶o̶r̶ Perikatan Nasional gomen took over.
     
  • This includes probes on 6 politicians (all from the opposition) and 7 activists, compared to just 4 politicians (from both sides) and 1 in 2019.
     
  • For CMA – Out of 93 probes launched this year (compared to 34 last year), 70 came after the change in gomen.
     
  • Of these, 15 were on police and other authorities-related posts, 15 on politicians (from both sides), 14 on royalty and 13 on Covid-19 and/or fake news. Compare this to investigations on just 1 post related to the armed forces, 6 on politicians, and 3 on royalty, last year.

What have you to say for yourself, not-our-Abah PM Muhyiddin Yassin? 

Sadly, there’s more

Suaram has also accused the police of violating human rights and abusing their power under the guise of curbing the spread of Covid-19. 

An example is the “extraordinary powers” granted to enforcement agencies (allegedly! allegedly!) to enforce the various movement control orders (MCO) and other restrictions. 

  • In just the first two weeks of the MCO in March, abang-abang and kakak-kakak police made over 4,000 arrests and charged over 1,000 people in court. 
     
  • This close to doubled in April to over 7,000 arrests. 
     
  • Excessive punishment was meted out towards vulnerable communities, such as the elderly and single parents, compared to “preferential treatment” for office bearers, VIPs or relatives (allegedly! allegedly!).
     
  • Even kids tak lepas with two known cases involving minors who were later ordered to pay fines of RM1,000 each!  

Migrant workers reportedly do not fare too fantastically either (and that’s putting it super mildly). Remember the Al Jazeera documentary on the crackdown on undocumented migrants? We can also point out the documentary was also part of the Sedition Act probes mentioned earlier.

It ain't gonna get better anytime soon

The daily increase in new Covid cases took another dip into three digits as we recorded 959 cases yesterday. With 1,068 recoveries, our active cases dropped to 10,748. But there were 5 deaths in total, bringing the nationwide death toll to 393

Also, four new clusters were detected, while the gomen is implementing enhanced MCO (EMCO) for three places in Bentong

Yesterday little dip aside, our numbers are sadly expected to remain high for the time being due to the continued screening of migrant workers. It’s also cos our infectivity rate is also still a little high, hovering around the 0.9 level when we need to bring it down to at least 0.5. 

Meanwhile, former colourful baju minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has finally clarified the difference between the recovery MCO (RMCO) and conditional MCO (CMCO), since inter-district and inter-state travel is kosher again. The simple answer is that social activities aren’t allowed in CMCO areas, unlike with RMCO. 

Be that as it may, the Health Ministry will monitor the impact of the reduction in travel restrictions. If the numbers “go as expected” then more economic activities can be allowed, but should cases spike, then bye-bye privileges. 

Anyhoo, here are a few other Covid-related stories that appeared yesterday:

  • Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy “The Beard” Jamaluddin has slammed Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who made some wild claims that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had never been tested on humans.

    Meanwhile, Health DG Noor Hisham Abdullah has rubbished claims that vaccines from China were unsafe. 
     
  • Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin has volunteered to be the first Malaysian to be vaccinated in answer to concerns about safety brought up by a DAP MP. Sure you’re not just trying to potong queue YB?
     
  • Nearly 100,000 people have lost their jobs since the MCO began in March, but at the same time, more than 120,000 job seekers have been employed. What this means is that the nation’s unemployment rate continues its downward trend, moving from 5.3% in May to 4.6% in September. 

Tidbits of news

Here are a few other stories which caught our eye yesterday:

  • Anwar Ibrahim’s band of not-so-merry men and women continued their losing streak as far as voting for ministry budgets were concerned. The Health Ministry and Housing and Local Government Ministry budgets passed yesterday. (The score is now PN 19 – PH 0)
     
  • In conjunction with International Anti-Corruption Day yesterday, the MACC has released some pretty disturbing figures. These include that more than 2,600 civil servants have been arrested for corruption since 2015 and that more than half our youth are susceptible to corrupt practices
     
  • A businessman has lodged a police report claiming he was threatened by MACC officers and a man with a “Datuk” title while he was in custody. MACC, in turn, has lodged a police report dening the claims
     
  • Two “sicko” policemen in Kelantan have been arrested for allegedly extorting an engaged couple, outraging the modesty of the woman and forcing them to have sex while they video recorded the act. 
     
  • Lawyers for Liberty has urged the government to amend the Federal Constitution to grant Malaysian women with foreign spouses the same rights as men in conferring citizenship to their children.
     
  • The Kedah MB has defended the state’s right to explore for rare earth elements (REE), criticising the Penang Water Supply Corporation over its comments that mining would endanger water supply to three northern states. 

Kesian the workers

Speaking of shit that befell migrant workers during this damned pandemic, the world’s biggest glove maker, Top Glove, has apologised over the poor housing provided for its migrant workforce, and admitted to a lapse in physical distancing of workers. 

It has vowed to correct the error of its ways by putting in a big chunk of change to improve worker hostels and instructed better SOP compliance. The proof’s in the pudding our rubber-glove making friends, so time will tell.

This comes off the back of the ‘Teratai’ cluster that’s so far seen thousands, mostly migrant Top Glove employees, infected with Covid, forcing the temporary closure of its 28 factories in Klang. 

However, operations have already resumed at seven factories and with the cluster apparently winding down, could be fully operational within a coupla weeks

Still, rubber gloves must bounce back as much as rubber balls as, despite its troubles, the company still managed to post a 20-fold increase in net profit.

Well, with that kinda profit, the RM170 million it claims it’ll spend on housing for migrant workers represents next to nothing. So no excuses!

"A lot has been said about politics; some of it complimentary, but most of it accurate."

- Eric Idle -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Britain has issued an alert advising people with histories of significant allergies not to get the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine after two people developed severe reactions.

    Meanwhile, Canada has approved the same vaccine for use and expected to start a vaccination programme by next week. For a guide as to what to expect after getting vaccinated, you can go here
     
  • The first “Covid-tested” flight has landed in Rome, flying in from New York in an initiative designed to open up air routes between the US and Europe. 
     
  • The US Supreme Court has rejected a bid to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Pennsylvania in a one-sentence ruling that didn’t even state why it had been denied.

    Unperturbed, Biden’s going ahead with his transition plans, unveiling retired general Lloyd Austin as his nominee for secretary of defence. Austin would be the first black Pentagon chief if confirmed by the US Senate. 
     
  • US federal regulators and more than 45 state prosecutors have sued Facebook, accusing the social media company of taking illegal actions to buy up rivals and stifle competition. The case, if successful, could see FB having to sell off companies such as Instagram and WhatsApp. 
     
  • More on social media. The pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement topped the list of conversation topics on Twitter in 2020, while the announcement of the death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was the most retweeted message.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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