A dozen in a day
Yesterday saw a record number of Covid-related deaths in a single day as 12 people, all in Sabah, lost their lives. This brings the country’s total death toll to 263.
The cumulative death toll in Sabah alone (131) is just shy of 50 percent of the national tally. Sadly, if things continue the way it is now, it’ll soon surpass that mark.
There were also 1,054 new cases reported yesterday. Despite recoveries amounting to 875, the number of active cases has shot past the 10,000-case mark once more, to 10,135 just a day after falling below the five-figure mark. The number of patients in intensive care has also risen to 94.
Two new Covid-19 clusters have been detected – the ‘Cergas’ cluster in Negeri Sembilan and the ‘Permatang’ cluster in Kulim, Kedah, as well as Seberang Perai in Penang.
The spike in cases has now led to Seremban being placed under conditional movement control order (CMCO) from tomorrow to Nov 18. On a more positive note, several prisons have been taken off the enhanced MCO (EMCO) list, but still no visitations though! You can check the list of these prisons here.
Prisons have really been a “breeding ground” for Covid-19 infections. Deputy Home Minister Jonathan Yasin had told the Dewan Rakyat that 1,156 prisoners along with 83 prison staff and their families have so far contracted that damn virus. Perhaps this has got to do with the fact our correctional facilities are currently nearly 44 percent over capacity?!
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is considering placing orange zone areas under CMCO as an early measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to other regions. FYI, orange zones are areas which have recorded between 21 to 40 positive coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin went a step further, saying the government was reviewing the recovery MCO (RMCO), especially in areas currently experiencing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases. The RMCO is supposed to end in December.
What exactly le PM means by “reviewing” the RMCO is unclear. Could this mean an extension or conversion to a nationwide CMCO?
Well, we’ll have to play the waiting game as the gods on Olympus people in Putrajaya decide our fate. In the meantime, here are some other Covid-related reports that came out yesterday:
- The gomen has decided against allowing Muslims to go on umrah pilgrimage for now, despite the Saudi government reopening the kingdom’s borders to foreigners.
- The Human Resources Ministry has initiated three schemes focusing on work placement and self-employment to help those who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic.
- A study has found a deepening polarisation of the quality of jobs between more developed and less developed regions in the country, due to the pandemic. This has threatened to widen existing inter-state economic divide.
- Still, it’s good to note that not all businesses are suffering. Perodua has broken its monthly sales record in October after just setting an all-time record the previous month.
- Eight KPJ Penang Specialist Hospital frontliners have tested positive for Covid-19 after coming into contact with a patient who was later diagnosed. You can refer here for a more comprehensive list of places where Covid-19 cases have popped up.
The long and short of Parliament
Still (kinda) on the topic of Covid-19, we were told on Monday’s Parliament session was cut short after several people had tested positive, including auxiliary police, a senator’s aide and members of the media.
The breakout among auxiliary officers is part of the ‘Seridana’ cluster who work at the Prime Minister’s Office. In case you’re wondering, it’s assumed the cluster is named after the PM’s official residence – the Seri Perdana Complex.
As predicted, Dewan Rakyat seshes have been shortened to three-hour sittings for the rest of the week, except, of course, on Budget 2021-tabling day on Friday. A three-hour workday! That’s the dream.
Another precautionary step that’s being mulled is for parliamentary staff and MPs (and media personnel, we hope) to be tested for coronavirus every two weeks. Considering Parliament this time around is scheduled to end on Dec 15, that would mean our best and brightest reps (sarcastic mode fully on) will be tested at least two more times. And, we’ve been told (having never had to be tested ourselves) the nose swabs can be quite painful.
Anyway, back to the Dewan sitting. Despite sitting for just half a day, the House managed to squeeze in some business.
First, Speaker Azhar “Art” Harun has announced 12 new members for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which finally brings it up to quorum. The PAC has been inactive since February due to lack of members.
The focus in the Dewan mainly centred on recent water woes, especially in the Klang Valley. Fourteen MPs had questioned Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (and eight of these were his own gomen MPs, mind you). According to the minister, his peeps received close to 8,000 complaints on pollution this year, with legal action taken on 636 errant premises.
Some good news coming out of Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat has been told the implementation of the 18-year-old voting age, and automatic voter registration would be done by July next year, at the latest. This has been a long time coming considering the Undi18 Bill was approved in July last year, in a fine showing of bi-partisan support.
PM MooMoo will be counting on a similar show of goodwill by all sides of the political divide when his Perikatan Nasional gomen tables the budget. Even so, the bill could still pass even without the opposition vote, if all BN MPs stay true to their promise to support the budget.
In a show of camaraderie we’ve come to expect from our men and women at BN, the party has rejected the opposition’s offer of a “confidence-and-supply agreement” over le budget.
Don’t we love it when our politicians “play nice” together?
Kids Politicians say the darnedest things
Of course, what would Parliament be if some n̶i̶n̶c̶o̶m̶p̶o̶o̶p̶ politician didn’t stand up to say something stupid? “Luckily” for us, we had several yesterday.
First, since Covid-19 is a hot topic, we give you de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan. Perhaps we should say the entire gomen. Why? Read on.
Special Functions Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof had recently said the gomen was studying a proposal for a law specifically to allow for elections to be postponed during a pandemic. The Electoral Reform Committee was all for this and had said yesterday the Federal Constitution could even be amended.
Not 24 hours later, we have Taki saying the gomen has now decided against this. Instead, he said Moo and geng will stick to the current emergency law. This means, if need be, the PM will again try to advise the Agong to declare an emergency. We all remember how well that turned out for MooMoo the last time ’round, don’t we?
Making the amendment, our man Tiki-Taki had said, would be “inappropriate” and “in conflict” with the constitution (whatever that means). Not only that, but that would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Dewan Rakyat, which the Perikatan gomen doesn’t have. Erm, here’s a thought – how about asking the opposition for support, you know, like with the budget?
So, thanks to sour grapes, we’re left facing the prospects of the Batu Sapi by-election, the Sarawak elections and snap general elections, all during the third wave of Covid infections.
Next up we have Umno Supreme Council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman. Remember how we talked about BN MPs rejecting the opposition’s proposal for the confidence-and-supply agreement?
Well, apparently, one of the things listed in that proposal is for opposition MPs to receive monetary allocations equal to their PN brethren (and “sisthren” we assume). So, our man Taj has said such a move would “kill” BN.
We’ve no idea what he had meant by “killing” BN, but you have to wonder whether our politicos are still stuck in their childhood days. Like a pouty child, Tajuddin had questioned why BN should help Pakatan Harapan MPs when Pakatan didn’t do the same when in power? Where’s the rotan when you need one? Anyway, you can read more about government and opposition MP allocations here.
And here’s example nombor tiga. PAS’s Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Nik Salleh has finally apologised and formally retracted his remarks about alcohol consumption and the “distorted” Bible, which he had made in August.
But like all apologies made by our glorious politicians, it had come with a disclaimer. In this case, Zawawi said he never intended to hurt any feelings but had merely wanted to defend the “original form” of the Bible as revealed to Jesus, “without any alterations”.
Let’s break that down, shall we? A) He’s apologising not for his remarks, but “if” he had offended anyone, B) he has claimed to be defending the original form of the Bible (meaning he’s still saying that holiest of tomes for Christians had been distorted!), and C) he further insults Christians by saying that the Bible was revealed to Jesus.
For those of you who maybe blur on the deets, the second half of the Good Book that we know as the Bible, the New Testament, was actually written after Jesus’s death. So how is it that Abang Zawawi says it was revealed to Jesus?
Whatever it is, we really wish our politicians could just apologise without any “ifs” or “buts” thrown in there. The world, or at least our neck of the woods, would be such a better place if that could happen.
Ahhh, but we do dream.
Odds and ends
A number of other news items caught our attention yesterday, so we’ve included them here in brief:
- The Agong has consented to the appointment of three new commissioners for the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission, which is tasked with upholding the integrity of all enforcement agencies in the country.
- Two flu vaccines which were temporarily discontinued in Malaysia after reports they may have caused deaths in South Korea can now be used again. Detailed risk assessments have proven that the deaths were not linked to the vaccines.
- A father and his son, directors of a company in Rawang, were charged with two counts of creating mischief by releasing hazardous materials into Sungai Gong last month.
- Thirteen youth groups are calling for postal voting access to all voters. They say the government should include a bigger allocation for the Election Commission in the 2021 Budget so that such a system can be implemented.
- A 19-year-old student has been remanded seven days in Marang in connection with the murder of her friend. Siti Nur Surya Ismail, also 19, was found dead at home on Sunday, with her left hand severed and slash wounds on her body.
“Unable are the Loved to die, For Love is Immortality..."
- Emily Dickinson -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- By the time you read this, the US elections are already well underway, and early reports have said things are going off without incident. You can follow live coverage of the elections on any news organisation feed, but most American orgs can be biased one way or the other, so we recommend you follow the Reuters coverage here, instead.
- A 20-year-old man described as an Islamist terrorist shot and killed four people and wounded several others in Vienna, Austria, before being shot dead himself. Police have swooped in and arrested 14 people in a series of raids but now believe the gunman was working alone.
- The global Covid-19 stats now stands at 46.8 million infections worldwide and more than 1.2 million deaths. Of these, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the US has had more than 9.26 million cases and nearly 231,000 deaths.
- New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has appointed the country’s first Indigenous female foreign minister. Four years ago, Nanaia Mahuto, the new minister, was also the first female MP to have a traditional tattoo called a moko kauae on her chin.
- The record-breaking US$37 billion listings of Jack Ma’s Ant Group in Shanghai and Hong Kong tomorrow have been suspended after regulators deemed that it may not meet listing requirements or disclosure requirements.