All systems go for Sabah
Let's get ready to rumbleee...
We’ve got Sabah on the brain. With nomination day for the state elections three short days away and polling day just two weeks after, it’s understandable that most news concern the Land Below the Wind.
First up, there’s that pesky issue of the legal bid by former CM Musa Aman and 32 assemblypersons to question Sabah Governor Juhar Mahiruddin’s decision to dissolve the state assembly last July 30 instead of declaring him Sabah’s glorious leader. Having tried their luck to seek leave for a judicial review at the High Court and failed, the men sought the understanding of the Court of Appeal, but that, too, is a no-go with the appellate court dismissing their bid.
So the elections are set to carry on, even if there’s this little thing called Covid-19 going on there. But just who are the warring parties in the coming polls? Mainly, we have:
- Warisan Plus: Parti Warisan Sabah + allies United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO) + Pakatan Harapan’s PKR, DAP and Amanah;
- Perikatan Nasional (PN): BN’s Umno and MCA, PAS, STAR and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS);
- Former BN member Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS); and
- A group of five independents which, in all likelihood, is not going have much of an impact.
For sure, the main fight will be between Warisan Plus and Perikatan. PBS, it’s been reported, will align with Perikatan to minimise clashes for seats. Confused? Luckily, we have this fantastic guide to light the way.
But don’t discount old boy Musa just yet. Despite calls from caretaker CM Shafie Apdal and other Warisan leaders to move on, Holy Moses now wants an urgent review by the Federal Court of the governor’s decision to kick him out as CM in 2018 after GE14.
Musa never stood a chance in challenging the decision dissolution, considering it is the right of the governor to do so. Whether he’ll be more successful in the other case is still a question mark, though he does seem to have a claim in that he was first sworn-in as CM before the Guvnor did an about-turn and swore in Shafie instead.
Even if he fails at that, too, Musa will be anything but out for the count. Although highly uncertain he’ll be made CM once more should PN triumph at the ballots come Sept 26, analysts say Musa still holds the ace in the battle.
BN chairman and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi sought to soothe worries over the rift between central national BN leadership and Musa, saying a “bridge” had been established between the two parties, although the question of who will fill the CM spot will only be decided after polling day.
Musa isn’t BN/PN’s only cause for worry, however. Asked on possibility of sabotage by any unhappy campers, Zahid said while sabotage by internal or external parties is par for the course in any election, he’s confident BN component parties understand seats are limited in the first place.
But with Warisan Plus, Bersatu and BN set to announce candidates tomorrow, at least one Perikatan party is unhappy with STAR president and Frog King Jeffrey Kitingan pulling a tantrum. He is pissed at Umno in particular for domineering during seat negotiations and hasn’t ruled out pulling out of PN if his party doesn’t get between 15 and 18 seats to contest.
Meanwhile, slipping almost imperceptibly under the radar, we have another Perikatan member, PAS, saying it hopes to contest 10 seats. High hopes, indeed, now that the party is part of a coalition, considering that when it went it alone during the general election, it lost all 18 seats it contested.
I've got the power
PM Muhyiddin Yassin is making moves to further consolidate power within his party Bersatu.
Having already gotten rid of party chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, sonny boy Mukhriz and three other significant members, Moo has now appointed two new members – for PKR bigwigs Azmin Ali and Zuraida Kamaruddin – to the Bersatu supreme council. Granted, the duo are federal ministers, so perhaps it is felt it’s about time they hold significant party posts in the prime minister’s ruling party. Still, some may see it as a reward for ditching perennial PM-wannabe Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR.
It also guarantees (to a certain extent) loyalty and further strengthens MooMoo’s hold on power, at least for now. After all, Azmin is now sorta de facto DPM as he is considered the most “senior” of the four senior ministers, while Zuraida is his #1 cheerleader. What this means is that Bersatu has the top leading posts in the Cabinet, so all power and glory to the party considered an offshoot from Umno.
Muhyiddin has also taken over as Johor Bersatu leader to strengthen the party, after Mazlan Bujang vacated his position. That use of the word “vacated” though sounds a little iffy considering Mazlan’s statement that his loyalty is still with the party “despite being replaced”. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.
Moo’s move comes after former Johor MB and current Bersatu man Osman Sapian was found supporting (allegedly, allegedly) an independent candidate for the recent Slim by-election in Perak. The candidate was a former Bersatu man himself backed by Pejuang, Maddey’s new but yet-to-be-officially-registered party.
Though Osman has since played down his attendance at events of the Pejuang candidate, he is still the subject of an internal party investigation which could lead to his sacking and, consequently, a hung state legislative assembly. And that, peeps, could lead to snap polls there as well.
In all likelihood, should he be sacked from Bersatu, Osman will reunite with Mahathir in Pejuang. Bersatu has denied that 70 percent of its members have left for Maddey’s new party, saying that only 247 members have so far quit. But the loss of yet another high profile member – and likely, his supporters – will still be a blow.
Meanwhile, our man Moo has revealed that his most frequently asked question is when the next general election will be held. Don’t ask him that anymore lah, cos sensitive matter you know. But Muhyiddin has told his party members and his Perikatan allies to just carry on working hard as if GE15 will be held tomorrow. Good advice since pressure is mounting for him to call for snap polls.
On an unrelated matter, Bersatu Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun (of Doraemon fame) is being dragged to court as she faces a RM1.9 million lawsuit and a bankruptcy notice over money owed to a Paris-based production company. Alamak!
Get your head out of the trees
The two deputy ministers who took a swipe at Sabah darling, teenager Veveonah Mosibin, have come into a world of sh*t. Well, more so.
To refresh your memory, the two resorted to picking on the 18-year-old by calling her a liar and claiming her video of having to climb a tree just to seek better Internet connection to prep for an exam was done for fame, Oh and that she never actually had to sit for any test. Spoiler alert! The accusation has been found to be unfounded.
Leading the brickbats against dumb and dumber was Veveonah’s own brother, Mekvin, who issued a challenge to Zahidi Zainul Abidin and Abdul Rahim Bakri to visit their Pitas village to take a gander at the backward amenities there. He also said Rahim, who is Kudat MP, was rarely seen on the ground in Sabah. Ouch!
Mekvin is right. Many parts of Sabah have crappy amenities and he is a hero for sticking up for his sister, so much so that we’ve chosen his words for our quote of the day below.
Anyhoo, a whole bunch of opposition politicians jumped on the bandwagon later on. While Veveonah deserves the support and they certainly make good, strong points, we have a stinking feeling most of these politicians are also looking to win brownie points in the run-up to the Sabah elections.
The one who made the most sense of all is former deputy women, family and community development minister Hannah Yeoh. The Segambut MP rightly calls out what Zahidi and Rahim did as cyberbullying as we’ve been saying all this while (ahem, ahem).
We also had Hannah’s party boss Lim Guan Eng, a DAP senator, former Maddey Mohamad head cheerleader (yes, former) Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Warisan’s Sepanggar MP Azis Jamman getting in on the action.
NGOs, too, came to Veveonah’s defence. They said the deputy ministers should be praising Veveonah instead of criticising her, what more armed with the wrong information.
Sabah Bersatu deputy chief Masidi Manjun was the sole Perikatan leader to have spoken up for Veveonah. Bucking the trend of silence among his colleagues, Masidi has said he confirmed the lass had indeed been sitting for her exams and was not out to garner YouTube views. In fact, Universiti Malaysia Sabah also confirmed that Veveonah was taking her exams at the time.
Zahidi now says that he wants to meet Veveonah. However, he attacked DAP for politicising the issue. He is conveniently silent on the other parties to have criticised him, including fellow PN man Masidi, of course. In any case, his olive branch of sorts hasn’t stopped people from questioning his education credentials.
He is said to hold an MBA from Global University in Northern California. We did a search for Global University and one shows up in Missouri, not California. That is a Christian university which teaches theology in the Pentecostal tradition, with not an MBA in sight. There is, however, a Northern California Global University (NCGU) listed, though there doesn’t seem to be a website for it.
Whether the deputy minister’s credentials are sound, however, is a point that should be an aside to this whole unsavoury business. Like Yeoh, we are left wondering where, in all this, is the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina and her deputy Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff. Should they not be protecting this poor girl? Is this just a case of towing the party line, then? Their silence speaks volumes and is just plain disappointing.
Covid-19 and some other stuff
Things are just getting worse as far as Covid-19 is concerned.
After recording 62 cases the day before, yesterday saw 100 new infections being recorded. The vast majority (62) were from the ‘Benteng Lahad Datu’ cluster involving detainees at the Lahad Datu police lock-up and prisoners at the Tawau prison, while another 23 were from the ‘Sungai’ cluster in Kedah. With only 12 recoveries, the number of active cases has now shot up to 295.
Two of those infected in the Benteng cluster are a prisons officer and his year-old nephew. What that means is that the infections are not contained merely to the lock-up and prison. With more than 1,300 close contacts still awaiting the results of Covid-19 tests, that number may just get higher. Already, Benteng is the largest active cluster in the country.
As a result, Lahad Datu has been declared a red zone and Malaysia’s infectivity rate has now reached critical level. Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says lax precautions are to blame, a problem that has also made an appearance among frontliners.
It may seem funny if not for the grim circumstances but Noor Hisham has had to also advise against that now oh-so-popular greeting of the fist bump, as this could cause the virus to spread.
On the bright side, the death toll remains at 128 for the seventh day running and the cluster at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Depot has finally been closed after three months.
Anyways, there were a bunch of other bits of Covid and non-Covid-related news we thought we’d include in brief here:
- PM Moo Yassin says the gomen will ensure that Malaysians won’t miss out on a Covid-19 vaccine, even if one is not manufactured locally.
- As the country continues to recover from the pandemic, seven of 13 economists polled by Reuters believe Bank Negara Malaysia will drop its overnight policy rate to a record low of 1.5 percent after a board meeting tomorrow, with the remainder saying the rate will be maintained at 1.75 percent. Just what does this mean? Well, we’ve written about it before so you can just refer to our newsletter in January, when BNM dropped the OPR to 2.75 percent.
- The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation expects the country’s trade performance from June 2020 to continue into the second half of the year as we recover from the effects of the MCO.
- The gomen has been criticised for plans to levy a 20 sen charge on e-shopping purchases. OK, so we gotta ask: Why? Don’t we already have other charges? How does this help the B40? Why not a higher surcharge for more expensive purchases, instead of one that applies across the board and, in so doing, burdens the middle class as well?
- Speaking of water cuts, water supply at all affected areas in Klang/Shah Alam, Petaling, Hulu Selangor, Kuala Langat, Kuala Selangor, Gombak has been restored. Hurrah! Now, for a bath.
- The MACC is probing any possible corruption involving the industrial effluent pollution incident in the Sungai Gong industrial area in Rawang, Selangor which led to nearly 1,300 areas in the Klang Valley experiencing unscheduled water cuts.
- Parti Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia president Ibrahim Ali (yes, that dude) and 16 others have sued the factory allegedly involved in the pollution incident.
- Meanwhile, the CEO of Penang’s water company has called for all rivers to follow the northern state’s example by ensuring that rivers are free of structures for at least 30m on both sides in order to prevent a repeat of the Sungai Selangor incident.
- The Bukit Aman Integrity and Standards Compliance Department, in its special report on alleged inaction by the Sungai Buloh district police headquarters in tackling the problem of illegal gambling, has found that police there had taken comprehensive action. However, Sungai Buloh police have been advised to take integrated action by sealing the gambling premises and shutting off water and power to force a suspension of illegal operations.
“Try coming into rural villages… but don't choose certain villages only, come to the whole area. Try experiencing how it is to surf the Internet in a rural village. And... we have not talked about water supply, electricity and roads yet."
- Mekvin Mosibin -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- China is claiming the emergency use of two experimental Covid-19 vaccines given to thousands of people has proved successful while British-Swedish drug giant AstraZeneca had paused its Covid vaccine trial after an unexplained illness in one a volunteer. This, as the global number of Covid-19 cases nears 27.5 million and the death toll close to 90,000.
- Meanwhile, the UK is banning social gatherings of more than six people, though it will not apply to schools, workplaces, “Covid-secure weddings”, funerals and organised team sports.
- Britain is preparing legislation on Brexit which a Northern Ireland minister acknowledges will break international law in a “specific and limited way” and could sour trade talks.
- Tensions at the India-China border continue as both sides accuse each other of firing shots. There’s been a stand-off between the two sides at the disputed Himalayan border since April.
- The Rochester, New York, police chief and his deputy have resigned over the “spit hood” death of Daniel Prude in March. This follows the suspension of seven police officers over the 41-year-old’s death.