The opposition and friends have made good on promises to write the King to withdraw the emergency declaration. Still, head honcho Anwar Ibrahim probably isn't gonna put all his eggs in one basket, so expect a legal suit soon.

In other news, students facing higher secondary exams have returned to school but are under tremendous pressure, which is not being helped by the pandemic; and, we talk some money, honey.

Oh, and of course, the biggest story in the world today is the US of A has a new president. The orange man has moved out of the White House, folks. About. Bloody. Time.

Pretty please, Your Majesty!

Of letters and legal suits

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is once more claiming to have the numbers in Parliament. Only this time, it’s nothing to do with being prime minister.

Anwar has claimed a majority of MPs have submitted a letter to the Agong urging His Majesty to reconsider the nationwide emergency he declared on Jan 12 upon PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s advice. 

Without (again!) stating the exact numbers, the PM-forever-wannabe claimed lawmakers weren’t against the emergency itself, only Moo’s “unreasonable” justifications for one, especially since Parliament sittings have been delayed as a result. 

FYI, Moo’d claimed the emergency was solely to tackle the pandemic, but critics accuse him of hiding behind it to stay in power after losing majority MP support.

Anyways, Anwar said the ruler could allow Dewan sittings to continue as a check and balance on gomen actions in battling Covid-19.

But in case the appeal doesn’t work, Saudara Nuar’s Pakatan Harapan team will still join the independent committee being assembled to advise the King on the emergency. 

Anwar also clarified he’s still challenging Moo’s gomen in court, just not over the emergency, but on the need for Parliament to continue. This, after the PKR chief came under fire for seemingly challenging the King, which is a bad look for any Malaysian politician to have. 

Meanwhile, Nuar’s Harapan buddy, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, has tried the carrot approach. He’s assured Moo & Co that a special Parliamentary sitting on the health crisis was necessary, and pinky swore there’d be no non-confidence vote against Muhyiddin.

Also, Troll King former PM Najib Razak has continued his tirade against Moo, this time via Moneybags Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz. Jibby challenged Rich Uncle Pennybags to name another country that’s suspended Parliament after Zaf compared Malaysia to other countries that have declared a state of emergency.

According to Sifu Google, China’s considering postponing its Parli session, but there’s no nationwide emergency, only in specific provinces. Alamak, Zaf kantoi! 👀

Lastly, we have poor ol’ dictator-he-wishes-for-life PM4/7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who’s complaining that the emergency has thrown a brick in his path to have his Pejuang party registered. Oh cry us a river, Maddey.

School of Hard Knocks

Some 400,000 secondary students returned to school yesterday, and you have to imagine they’re feeling apprehensive. 

To be clear, only senior students sitting for major exams are allowed back in classrooms during the MCO. Still, the hashtag #SuaraPelajar has been trending on Twitter, with students voicing resentment at having to resume physical classes despite high Covid-19 numbers. 

Can you blame em? In Sabah, the number of students who tested positive has already risen to 36. In Pahang, 86 students have been quarantined because one of their schoolmates tested positive. The same goes for several students at a matriculation college in Negeri Sembilan.

If sitting for exams amidst the risk of contracting a potentially fatal disease isn’t enough, some students have to deal with floods! Talk about arse luck!

Perhaps the powers that be will finally listen to warnings over potential “SPM clusters” and rethink the SOPs for students. Especially since it was the gomen’s genius idea to allow students not displaying symptoms to return to class and hostels without swab tests in the first place.

This story on Sabah detecting high number of cases due to mass screenings proves just how crucial mass testing is and how it should be applied in schools

All of these, and the previous postponing of national exam dates, have led to concerns over students’ mental health. One parent even called for higher secondary exams to be called off altogether. Our hearts bleed for you, kids.

BT Dubs, here’re some other Covid-related stories:

  • The country recorded its second-highest number of daily infections yesterday at 4,008, and 11 deaths. The number of active cases is now a horrifying 41,087 and the death toll 630. A record 16 new clusters have been detected.
     
  • The Home Ministry has denied rumours that minister Hamzah Zainuddin, who is Covid-positive, is in ICU. Meanwhile, Minister in the PM’s Department Mustapa Mohamed said he’s still under observation but recovering nicely.
     
  • Prasarana chairman and Umno MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman has tested positive for Covid-19, prompting party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to get himself tested and placed under quarantine. Din Rahman had met with Zahid and Jibby Razak recently.
     
  • The chairman of the committee in charge of reviewing vaccines has urged Malaysians not to avoid being vaccinated just cos of reports of deaths among elderly recipients in Norway. He said there’s been no link as yet between the deaths and the vaccine. 

Money matters (and boy does it ever!)

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will maintain its Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 1.75%, already at its lowest ever. This comes in the wake of MCO 2.0, the emergency proclamation and PM Moo’s so-so RM15 billion-Permai stimulus package.

Back to school: The OPR is an overnight interest rate set by our national bank for banks to lend to other banks, but can also be seen as a gauge of the country’s fiscal health.

One analyst has said Bank Negara is being cautious and probably adopting a wait-and-see approach before deciding to deliver more support to the economy. Example, whether Permai would be enough to cushion businesses in the wake of lockdowns and Covid.

The OPR is important. If it’s cut, it’s to stimulate the economy by getting people to spend instead of leaving their moolah in their bank accounts.

Last year, BNM cut the OPR several times, but at a time when fewer businesses were allowed to operate. More businesses have been allowed to open in MCO 2.0, however, and that may’ve convinced BNM to hold off on cutting the OPR.

It’s a rather complicated issue which we covered last year, so you can refer to that particular newsletter here

Meanwhile, the Selangor government has come up with its own stimulus package at close to RM74 million. Part of it includes the revival of a Covid-19 aid fund which will be partly funded by a cut to the salaries of the state leaders, assemblypeople, and top officers of state GLCs. 

Fear not. State reps will be given funds of RM100,000 and RM50,000, respectively, to aid their constituents affected by the pandemic and MCO. If you live in Selangor, make sure you hold your rep accountable for what’s being done with this money!

On a final note, PTPTN borrowers affected by floods who wish to defer their loan repayments can apply via the corporation’s official portal. No supporting documents are needed when making the application, which is open till March 31. 

Government bullying and other things

The gomen’s apparent mulling of tougher punishments for LGBT activities is causing major alarm bells to ring.

To catch you up, our men and women in Putrajaya have decided to consider amending the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to provide for heavier punishments for LGBTs.

De facto Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Ahmad Marzuk Shaary has said state agencies have already been instructed to take action against those “who do not behave accordingly”, even for not dressing according to gender. Case in point: Cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat being hauled to court for cross-dressing.

Rights groups are naturally up in arms over all this. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called on the Perikatan Nasional government to stop bullying the LGBT community as they have fundamental rights.

Meanwhile, Lawyers for Liberty believed the issue was being brought up to distract from “real” issues affecting us, like the meat cartel scandal. Political party PSM, meanwhile, pointed out the gomen should be focussing on battling Covid-19

Is this a move to distract us peeps from real issues like Covid-19 and corruption? Or is it – and we’re simply playing the devil’s advocate here – being pushed through because people are distracted by the pandemic, you know, to take advantage of the chaos? 

As pointed out by Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto recently, “the greatest horror” during a pandemic is when human rights, especially of minorities, are violated, and in this case, there’s barely been a reaction.

On the topic of equal rights, Kedah has decided there’ll be no cuti peristiwa (holiday) for Thaipusam cos the MCO means Hindus will not be able to celebrate it big time. Silly, cos Thaipusam can still be celebrated at home or small-scale in temples. Quite rightly, the Kedah MB’s been whacked by Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan. 

And to close things off, here are the last dangly bits of news from yesterday:

  • Sarawak DCM James Masing wants walls to be built at specific areas along the Sarawak-Indonesia border. The second coming of Donald Trump?
     
  • A High Court judge has decided he has jurisdiction to hear a suit seeking to compel the attorney-general to prosecute PAS prez Hadi Awang over allegedly seditious statements against Christians. 

“Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”

- Joe Biden, 46th US President -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Joe Biden is officially the 46th US president. In his inauguration address, he called for an end to an “uncivil war”, among other things.

    He also started his first day at work by signing 17 orders, including rejoining the Paris climate accords and mandating masks in federal buildings in a bid to wash off some of the stench of the Trump presidency.

    You can look at pics from the inauguration here, follow things live (cos it may still be going on) here, or watch Uncle Joe’s entire speech here. A new hope?
     
  • Outgoing prez Donald Trump left the capital vowing to return in some form, but not before pardoning a rash of people, including former White House aide Steve Bannon. Revenge of the s̶h̶i̶t̶s̶ Sith?
     

  • Meanwhile, China has imposed sanctions on 28 Trump-era officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The empire strikes back!
     
  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma has made his first public appearance since October, speaking to a group of teachers via video conferencing. No, he wasn’t repairing any aircons. Return of the Jedi!
     

  • A 63-year-old Thai woman has been handed a 43-year prison term, the country’s harshest sentence, for insulting the monarchy. She had merely posted audio clips of a podcast on social media. (This one’s too sad to insert a Star Wars joke, sorry 😢) 

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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