After the AG quit, it was only a matter of time before the other major Maddey Mohamad appointee, MACC head Latheefa Koya, would resign too. And so she did, according to various news organisations yesterday. It's yet another consequence of the political turmoil we've been experiencing recently. In other news, a former minister claims RM2 million is chump change for him; seven new provinces have been added to a travel ban and five new cases of Covid-19 have been detected; and, Latheefa is again in the news, this time testifying in court at Najib Razak's trial.

MACC headless?

Latheefa resigns... or so they say

Latheefa Koya is rumoured to have submitted her resignation as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Commissioner earlier this week, just days after Attorney General Tommy Thomas quit his post.

Latheefa has yet to respond to reports of her resignation, which, if true, will be the second of a top civil servant following the political turmoil in the country after the resignation of PM7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the eventual appointment of PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin.

In fact, at the KL Court Complex, where she had turned up to testify at the SRC International graft trial of PM6 Najib Razak, she was asked by reporters to respond to rumours of her resignation, but said nothing. Latheefa’s deputy will likely assume her post in the interim come Monday, but his appointment is expected to be made permanent in due course.

Both Thomas and Latheefa were appointed by Maddey and Mr T has since said that he felt compelled to resign after Mahathir did. It wouldn’t be a huge leap of logic, then, to figure that Latheefa’s resignation (if true, if true!) follows the same lines.

The imbroglio over the past two weeks or so has also seen a number of strange things happening. We all know about the not-so-strange political bedfellows at federal level, but it’s a whole other thing in some of the states.

Bersatu has cut ties formally with Pakatan, but we have also heard how the Kedah government led by the party’s own deputy prez, Mukhriz Mahathir, is still working with Pakatan. Maybe not too surprising there, considering we’re talking about Mini Maddey.

In Melaka, however,  BN has cut ties with new lover (at least at federal level) Bersatu and will form the new state gomen along with assemblymen Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Pengkalan Batu) and Muhammad Jailani Khamis (Rembia), who had defected from DAP and PKR, respectively. BN has 13 seats in the state legislative assembly. A BN candidate was expected to be sworn in as the new CM today, but the governor’s office yesterday said this would be postponed till Monday, without giving any reason for the delay.

The craziness continues with at least four of the five Bersatu reps in Selangor saying they supported the Pakatan state gomen, and would discuss with MB Amirudin Shari how they could “continue to merge” with Pakatan. This despite Amirudin having earlier announced that all five Bersatu and two former PKR members, including Azmin Ali, would be booted out of the Selangor gomen’s considerations, with any allocations due them frozen.

Meanwhile, in Sabah, CM Shafie Apdal finally grew a pair but continued to hedge his bets. Though declaring support for Maddey Mohamad, he says the state gomen will continue to work with the federal gomen “in the interests of the state and people”, apparently. OK then.

Basically, what we’re seeing is not so much a grand ‘Perikatan Nasional’ coalition nationwide, but really just a bunch of loose marriages of convenience all over the country. How this will affect governance, consensus-building and ultimately, stability, will have to be seen.

Anyway, a bunch of related things happened yesterday and this segment is already long enough as it is, so here they are in brief:

  • The PM’s Department has clarified that the start of this year’s session of the Dewan Rakyat had to be postponed  due to several factors, including the need to finalise the appointment of ministers and deputy ministers.
     
  • MCA says it will focus on mending Pakatan policies it considers “inappropriate” and not on getting Cabinet positions. It also put the blame for the political crisis squarely on the shoulders of Pakatan, with all its internal squabbling
     
  • Meanwhile, PKR says it will sue the 12 party lawmakers who have frogged it over to other parties for RM10 million each.
     
  • IGP Abdul Hamid Bador has hit out at lawyers who criticised the cops over action taken against those who took part in demonstrations against the new gomen, saying that the force was not trying to stifle anything.

Malaysia adds to no-go zones

As the outbreak of Wuhan’s deadly coronavirus continues to grow globally, Malaysia has added seven more provinces in Italy, Japan and Iran to a travel ban. The Health Ministry said the areas are Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna in Italy; Hokkaido in Japan; and, Tehran, Qom and Gilan in Iran.

Visitors will also not be allowed to enter Malaysia if they have been to any of these provinces within 14 days prior to seeking entry here. Prior to this, Malaysia had issued travel restrictions to visitors from Daegu city and Cheongdo district in Korea, as well as Hubei, Zhejiang and Changdu provinces in China.

This comes amidst news that five new Covid-19 cases have been detected here, all of which are linked to the new cluster which began with Patient 26, a member of the Khazanah and UDA Holdings Bhd boards of directors. This brings to 55 the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, and 26 overall in the new cluster.

The KL Bar announced that one of its members had tested positive for Covid-19, adding the member had attended the association’s AGM on Feb 27. They said the Health Ministry was aware of the case and told members who had attended the meeting and are now exhibiting symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath to seek medical advice. There was no word, however, if the lawyer was part of the new cluster of cases.

Meanwhile, EPF has announced that employees’ contributions to the fund would be cut to just 7% from April to December this year as part of the economic stimulus package announced by interim PM Mahathir. However, employees can choose whether to do so or stick to the current 11% statutory contribution rate. The stimulus package was introduced to mitigate the economic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. 

In light of the outbreak here, a PAS ally in its Gagasan Sejahtera pact (is that even still on?) has urged new PM Moo to immediately appoint a Health Minister. Ikatan says after all the political nonsense (OK, our words, not Ikatan’s) that has been going on, the new government should set politics aside and refocus efforts to contain infections.

Ikatan’s call was echoed by ex-senator Khairul Azwan Harun, who took it one step further however and said he wished former Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad could be reappointed. There’s a caveat though. While saying Dzul had outperformed his fellow Pakatan Cabinet ministers, Khairul said the reappointment would only be possible if the good doctor was non-partisan, something the Amanah man most certainly is not. 

Latheefa, again...

After a two-day delay, if you don’t count the inability of the defence to serve a subpoena on her as she was overseas, (outgoing?) MACC chief Latheefa Koya finally testified in former PM Jibby Razak’s SRC International trial.

The defence had subpoenaed her over audio recordings featuring, among others, the Jibster, dearest wifey Rosmah Mansor, former MACC chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad and former AG Apandi Ali. The recordings were released to the public earlier this year and it was revealed that the conversations regarded allegations of misappropriation of funds from 1MDB and an attempt to cover this up.

Latheefa said the recordings were released to the public to prevent a possible cover-up, adding that the contents of the recordings were more important than ascertaining if they had been illegally obtained or intercepted. As such, in light of “public interest”, it was important for the public to hear the clips.

Latheefa said she first came to know of the existence of the recordings when her deputy Azam Baki informed her that his special officer has received a package containing nine thumb drives. At the time, she said, the content of the drives were unknown.

After discovering what was in it, Latheefa ordered an immediate analysis of the audio clips, which she described as being very clear. She said, from the conversations, it didn’t seem like anything was cut and so MACC believed they were not fake.

“Representatives or members of government institutions such as the Attorney General’s Chambers, MACC and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) were involved in conspiring to cover up certain investigations against the person who we believe holds the highest office in the country. So the public knows, never again the attorney general (AG) or PMO could get involved in such offences such as revealing secret information, tamper or fabricate evidence for the purpose to avoid prosecution.” 

Najib is facing seven charges related to SRC International. Three are for CBT amounting to RM42 million, three more for laundering the same amount and the other for abusing his position as PM and Finance Minister for self-gratification of the same.

Chump's change

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, “affectionately” known as Ku Nan, sure is a funny fellow.

Testifying in his own RM2 million graft trial, the former FT Minister said such an amount was “not valuable” to him as RM2 million was “pocket change”. He also accused the prosecution of defaming him and tarnishing his image by making statements to the media. 

He also asked why charges against him were still on when the prosecutor’s office had dropped charges against DAP sec-gen Lim Guan Eng when the latter took office as Finance Minister. When DPP Julia Ibrahim said he should clarify this with the AG, Ku Nan said she was the one who should ask the AG, then added: “Wait. There’s no AG now. Resigned.”

Tengku Adnan said when he became a minister, he sold off most of his stock portfolio so he could be “debt-free” and could then concentrate on his job. Among the shares he sold included Telekom and Mutiara Telekom, which is now known as Digi. The latter stocks, he claimed, were sold for RM480 million, but if he had kept it, would be worth about RM5 billion. All of these, he said, he had noted in declarations to PMs Maddey Mohamad (when he was PM4), Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak. 

Ku Nan may have had his fun in court, but we can be sure he won’t be laughing about this one. MACC head honcho Latheefa told reporters the anti-graft body had initiated investigations into how the former minister had come to have nearly RM1 billion in assets in 2001, when he first took office. She said this was a “serious matter” and she had given orders for a probe to be started to get to the bottom of things.

But then again, considering Latheefa is leaving, and BN is back in power at federal level, maybe Ku Nan isn’t too worried. Only time will tell, we guess. But we ain’t holding our breaths.

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

- Dr. Seuss -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • China may not have any new Covid-19 cases outside of Hubei province by mid-March, researchers say. But the death of a man who had earlier recovered from the disease raises new concerns. In Japan, concerns are growing that the number of cases could be higher than reported due to the country’s approach to testing.
     
  • Facebook has announced it has taken down ads from Donald Trump’s re-election campaign which asked users to fill out a census because the ads violate certain policies. 
     
  • Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren is the latest to have dropped out of the race for the Democratic party ticket for the presidency. Unlike those who ended their runs before her, Warren has yet to endorse any other candidate. 
     
  • Javier Perez de Cuellar, who served as UN sec-gen from 1982-1991 and played a crucial role in ending the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 to 1988, has died aged 100. The Peruvian diplomat was also instrumental in securing the release of American hostages held in Lebanon and the peace accords in Cambodia and El Salvador.

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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