The throne has been secured and Muhyiddin Yassin has his Oscar acceptance speech moment to prove it. However, the switch from New Malaysia to Moo Malaysia isn’t quite settled yet at state-level, with a number of Pakatan Harapan state governments on the brink of collapse. In other news, Zahid Hamidi sneaks of court and gets caught playing hooky, a former minister and deputy test negative for Covid-19, and details emerge about what really led to Pakatan’s collapse.

The battle rages on

States of things

Muhyiddin Yassin officially clocked in and began his tenure as Malaysia’s eighth Prime Minister yesterday. And one of the first things he did was to hold a press conference, explaining how he really, really didn’t want to be PM and only took the job to “save” Malaysia.

Isn’t it funny how all of those who didn’t want to be PM – this guy, the guy who resigned – kept trooping to the Agong to lobby to become PM? Meanwhile the one guy who actually really, really wanted to be PM is once again… well… not PM.

Anyway, Moo, in his press conference blamed Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the crisis of the past two weeks (obviously), and promised that under his glorious leadership there will be peace and prosperity for all. In other words, he’ll make Malaysia great again

However, the crisis – which saw foreign investors dump almost RM2 bil worth of Malaysian stocks last week – is far from settled at state-level, with Pakatan Harapan looking set to lose control of at least two more state assemblies.

The trouble had actually begun last week following Bersatu and the Azmin Ali gang’s exit from Pakatan. However aside from Johor, which saw Bersatu quickly hopping into bed with Umno, the other state assemblies had opted to maintain a sorta status quo.

All that has changed now that there’s a new coalition – unofficially called Perikatan Nasional – in control of the country.

Down in Melaka, a slim majority of 15 seats was always gonna be all that was needed to take over the state. And on Monday, we received confirmation that not only had Bersatu’s two state reps officially aligned themselves with the 13 Umno assemblymen there, so too had one other fellow from PKR (Rembia’s Muhammad Jailani Khamis) and Pengkalan Batu’s self-proclaimed Hulk a.k.a. DAP’s Norhizam Hassan Baktee.

Hulk’s excuse was telling. He claims he’s acting in the interests of the Malays, further proof that our politicians have taken an even more drastic turn towards identity politics. Minorities beware. 

Chief Minister Adly Zahari (of Amanah) had attempted earlier in the day to save his skin and force snap state polls after it was clear Pakatan would lose control of the assembly. However, that request was flat out rejected by the Governor, who informed Adly that he’d have to quit instead.

In Perak, meanwhile, Umno has put forward state chief Saarani Mohamad for consideration for the Menteri Besar’s post. The current MB, Bersatu’s Ahmad Faizal Azumu, has already declared his support for Muhyiddin. However, it’s looking like he and colleague Zainol Fadzi Paharudin (they’re the only two Bersatu reps in the state) aligning themselves to Perikatan Nasional may not guarantee him keeping his job. 

Hmmm. Does it seem to anyone else that Umno, and not its new squeeze Bersatu, looks set to emerge as the big winner in all of this considering that it could potentially add the leaderships of Perak and Melaka (word is that ex-CM Idris Haron is on the verge of being reappointed) to the already-snagged Johor MB post?, it 

Still, Umno isn’t likely to triumph in Kedah, since it only has two reps in the 36-seat assembly. But PAS certainly could.

At present, Mukhriz Mahathir is still MB, with Pakatan holding 19 seats. But what makes Maddey Jr.’s position unclear is that though he has sided with Daddy-o in the fight against Muhyiddin, his party’s actually part of Perikatan Nasional.

Bersatu’s state deputy chief Anuar Abdul Hamid has appealed to party members in Kedah to stand by Mukhriz and save Dr Mahathr Mohamad’s home state. However, by his own admission, it’s not looking good.

BTW, questions have also suddenly been raised over the fate of Parti Warisan Sabah’s control of the state because while Shafie Apdal has declared his party’s support for Maddey, there’s a feeling that internal bickering could see it soon collapsing.

Interesting times, eh?

Zahid plays hooky ... and gets caught

The promise by Annuar Musa on Sunday night was that the new guys in power would not interfere in on-going court cases involving them. However, no sooner had the Umno sec-gen made that remark, that we were hearing about his boss, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, securing a postponement for his graft case. 

Zahid, who’s facing a total of 47 pretty serious charges – for money laundering, criminal breach of trust and bribery – involving more than RM100 million belonging to charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi, was due in court Monday for the continuation of his trial. However, the Umno No. 1 managed to get the case pushed forward a day by informing the court that he was due in Putrajaya to meet PM Moo.

Unfortunately for Zahid though, the Prime Minister’s Office quickly denied that any meeting had been set!

Zahid swears that one was scheduled, however. And to prove it, he’s promised to hand the judge a note today confirming that fact. Thing is, the prosecution isn’t buying any of it, and has demanded that the former (future?) Deputy Prime Minister be cited for contempt. Its argument being that the PMO would certainly not have denied the existence of a meeting had a letter inviting Zahid to Putrajaya really existed.

Zahid’s case – like the trials involving Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansor, etc. – was always gonna test how much the new government was committed to ensuring that justice be not just done, but be seen to be done as well. But, of course, no one could have anticipated the crap appearing this early in Moo’s administration. And for something so ridiculous too!

In any case, let’s see what the judge makes of Zahid’s letter today – and if the Umno No. 1 does find himself getting charged with contempt.

All clear on the Covid-19 front … kinda

While certain reports early Monday had recommended that PM Moo and all his horses and all his men be immediately subjected to self-quarantine protocols after having been in contact with an ex-minister and deputy who were exposed to a known Covid-19 victim, the Health Ministry has now confirmed that the two suspected carriers are fine.

So basically, yeah, danger averted!

According to Health D-G Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, nasopharyngeal swabs were done on the former minister and his deputy. And both were subsequently found to be a-okay. The victim, a senior leader of Khazanah Nasional Berhad and UDA Holdings, nevertheless, is still being quarantined at a government hospital.

Alarm bells were raised sometime on Sunday after it was discovered that the minister and his deputy were both at an event last week which was attended by the victim. However, negative test results on the duo, as well as all Istana Negara staff members and officers who might have come into contact with the politicians, have come as a huge relief to all concerned.

After all, the last thing we need following the recent political crisis is a full-blown Covid emergency, right?!

Anyhoo, despite the scare, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof says the upcoming Parliament meeting will not be postponed due to concerns over the disease. Yes, it may still be pushed forward due to certain other considerations, however, Covid-19 won’t be among these.

Incidentally, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country now stands at 29.

Beginnings of the end

Were the cracks always apparent in Pakatan Harapan? Well, a Malaysiakini report, quoting unnamed sources, appears to suggest that while there were always differences between the coalition partners, the coup that eventually saw Moo Yassin claim the post of PM was set in motion following the hammering Pakatan received in the Tanjung Piai by-election.

Bersatu, the report says, had thrown everything at Umno in an attempt to weaken it. However, the humiliating 15,000-odd vote loss of a Malay Bersatu man in the Johor constituency to Barisan Nasional/MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng made many in the party, Muhyiddin included, realise they needed to change tactics. Especially too, it seems, since there was a legitimate fear that Bersatu’s politicians would be dragged to court when Umno did return to power.

Among the things Bersatu leaders then attempted, sources claim, was trying to get Mahathir to sever ties with the DAP. And when that failed, the plan switched to making nice with Umno.

Meanwhile, a report in Bloomberg claims that the conflicts between the Pakatan partners came to a sorta head when Mahathir’s proposal to let Maju Group take over PLUS Malaysia Berhad was opposed by the DAP. 

The plan, it seems, had been for Maju to take control of the highways and remove all toll fees in exchange for government contracts to maintain roads. Unfortunately, the DAP wasn’t in favour of the deal “because of Maju Group’s track record and its close relationship with Mahathir”.

In the end, all bids for PLUS – including three others by Widad Business Group, RRJ Capital and a joint offer by tycoons Halim Saad and Wong Gian Kui – were rejected, with the government instead restructuring the existing concession agreements.

So, what happens now? While some people like Anthony Loke (who really misses his driver, btw) are bullish that the next Parliamentary seating will swing things back in their favour, it’s looking more and more likely that the session, scheduled to start on March 9, will be postponed

What does this mean? Well, simply put, it gives Moo and co. time to shore up political power by doing deals with lawmakers, getting more to commit to Perikatan Nasional, doling out Cabinet appointments, etc. Every day that passes weakens Pakatan Harapan a bit more, so maybe Loke want to strike a less cocky tone.

“Control your destiny, or someone else will.”

- Jack Welch -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • One person was shot and more than 30 others taken hostage by a gunman in a siege at a shopping mall east of Manila. Archie Paray, a former security guard at the mall, was eventually apprehended by police after his bosses apologised for having fired him. Yes, that’s right.
     
  • The European Union has raised its Covid-19 risk alert from “moderate” to “high” following a spike in cases in Italy and Germany. The Louvre in Paris, meanwhile, is still shut as cases in France continue to rise too. Cases are beginning to surge in the US too, with six people reported dead in Washington state alone. The World Health Organization says we are in “uncharted territory” with this virus.
     
  • Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of G.E. and one of the greatest business leaders in history, died yesterday at the age of 84 due to renal failure. 
     
  • New research suggests that the Earth may have been a sorta water world (sans Kevin Costner, though) three billion years ago. The findings, if confirmed, could help researchers to refine their theories on where and how life started here.

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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