It threatened to be a tale of two PKR congresses and in the end, after the fisticuffs, walkouts and smack talk, that’s exactly what we got. Well, kinda. Elsewhere, Umno also held its annual congress (and, actually, so did Amanah), A-G Tommy T isn’t sure what the heck is going on in his own damn chambers, and news of a former “Daim boy” gearing up to take over PLUS suggests that happy days crony capitalism may be here again.

What's so civil about war, anyway?

Let's get ready to rrrrumble

Even though it’d seemed, last week, like they’d buried the hatchet and moved on, the past weekend’s PKR congress illustrated just how bad things are between the party’s supreme leader, Anwar Ibrahim, and his deputy, Azmin Ali.

Yes, he may have walked into the hall on Saturday with his boss and even featured in a brief make-out make-up sesh with erstwhile pro-DSAI rival Rafizi Ramli. However, that fragile peace was destroyed the minute Anwar decided to bring up the Malay folk tale of Si Kitol (a story of betrayal and divisiveness kinda like Game of Thrones but without a nude Emilia Clarke, dragons and HBO’s millions) in his policy speech. And then, of course, there were the debates of said speech by delegates, who, following the lead of El Presidente, took clear swipes at Azmin. 

What resulted was a walkout by 100-odd delegates aligned to Azmin and later, the issuance of a joint statement signed by, among others, AA, party veeps Zuraida Kamaruddin, Ali Biju and Luis Suarez Tian Chua as well as Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian in protest of the “provocative” speeches.

Their contention was that Anwar had broken the promised ceasefire thanks to the tone of his speech, and in truth, they had a point. However, the best of the drama was still to come … in the form of a massive gathering at the Renaissance in Kuala Lumpur last night, where Azmin, receiving a hero’s welcome, laid down the gauntlet and declared to a packed hall that PKR “wasn’t built by one person, or a single family, but by Malaysians”.

Earlier Sunday, Anwar had said that despite the walkout, his deputy was very much a part of the party and that there was still room for reconciliation. It’s left to be seen, though, what the PKR bossman says now battle lines have been drawn with Azmin deciding to even bring up Anwar’s sodomy charges in his speech and how he’d always defended his chief.

Despite the fiery speech in KL, and No. 1 fangirl Zuraida claiming Anwar had attempted to convince her about Azmin’s involvement in a sex video, Azmin claims he’s ready to reconcile with Anwar!

In Melaka, at the close of the PKR congress, Anwar had warned that while there was room for negotiation, his patience has limits. The question now, is, will the PM-in-Waiting silence the opposition within his own party? More importantly, can he, knowing the massive support PM wannabe Azmin enjoys?

Oh BTW, a fistfight broke out on the congress’s Youth meet on Friday. But we’re sure you’ll agree the happenings following that juvenile brawl have been far more interesting.

United we stand

Considering the punches and hissy fits thrown at the PKR congress in Melaka, Umno’s AGM at its Putra World Trade Centre homebase was a largely subdued (read: boring) affair. But it did have its moments. And among these was the announcement that Muafakat Nasional, which has until now been a loose pact between Umno and PAS, will become a formal entity by May next year.

The reason for the formalisation is obvious considering the magnitude of the victory the political partners (and MCA) scored in Tanjung Piai. However, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s still hard to see what this will mean for Barisan Nasional and if the current coalition, that’s been around since 1973, will cease to exist. 

Whatever the case though, it seems MIC boss SA Vigneswaran isn’t just ready and willing to hitch his party’s cart to the Muafakat horse, he’s also promised to support PAS should it want to re-table the Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. Yes folks, the same Bill his predecessor opposed! 🤦‍♂️ 

Interestingly too, despite the Muafakat announcement and Umno’s rejigging of Article 3 of its constitution to now read upholding the status of “Islam, bangsa and negara” (instead of “bangsa, agama dan negara”) as the party’s numero uno mission, chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claims the party’s approach henceforth will be more moderate. Feels like this statement deserves another facepalm emoji …

Oh and one more important thing: despite the recent late-night meetings and rumours involving a faction of Umno leaders (among them former veep and Najib Razak’s cuzzy wuzzy Hishammuddin Hussein) backing PM Mahathir Mohamad, everyone (except this guy, apparently) appears support Zahid’s leadership

It doesn’t mean that a coup couldn’t still happen, of course. But at least outwardly, and unlike PKR, the party’s leaders appear to have closed ranks.

Deep state shit

Remember how Liew Vui Keong rubbished claims of the existence of a deep state? Well, no sooner had the de facto Law Minister spoken last week that some dodgy stuff happened concerning an appeal to a recent court decision involving PKR’s Rafizi Ramli.

If you aren’t too sure what the fuss is about, the TL;DR version is that in 2012, Rafizi was charged with disclosing documents, including banking deets, relating to the National Feedlot Corporation to the media. The sessions court found him guilty in February 2018 and sentenced the dude to 30 months’ jail. However, in November this year, the High Court acquitted him.

On Friday, though, mere weeks from the acquittal decision, the Attorney-General’s Chambers moved to file an appeal, and predictably, a load of shit hit the fan.

Thing is, while it did at first seem like the order to appeal had come from A-G Tommy Thomas, the guy clarified soon after the first report came out that he had zero knowledge of what’d gone down.

TT, of course, assured everyone that wrongs would be righted, and the officers responsible for the cockup suitably dealt with. However, where it gets really interesting is in a statement by Thomas himself, apparently given to theedgemarkets.com, in which he said that a decision to not appeal the case had already been discussed with Election Commission director Azhar Harun.

If you’re wondering why the heck an A-G is discussing cases with the EC director, you’re not alone. He sure as hell shouldn’t be. But guess what? Art claims no such discussion even took place! And it gets better because, no sooner had the EC boss said that, that TT went back on his earlier statement, this time saying that no, he hadn’t actually discussed the case with his buddy, Art!

So why make that first statement then about the discussion with Art? We dunno. And we’re not sure Thomas is gonna explain either.

The problem with this whole mess is that the filing of the appeal without Thomas’ knowledge might have offered some proof that a deep state does exist. Unfortunately, the ensuing blunder by the man in charge may indicate that it was either a simple error or worse, that former A-G Mohamed Apandi Ali is right and appeals actually do get filed automatically. TT just had no damn idea.

The boys are back in town?

According to reports, Halim Saad, the former chairman of Renong Berhad, is on course to take over PLUS Malaysia Berhad. What this means is that should the bid – which is being made with a partner and is apparently 30% more than the RM5.2 billion initially offered – succeed, Malaysians could be seeing up to a 40% reduction in toll rates on PLUS highways. 

What it also might mean is that “Daim’s boys” are set to play a big part in Malaysia Baru.

In the 1980s and ’90s, Halim, together with RHB founder Abdul Rashid Hussain, ex-Malaysia Airlines boss Tajudin Ramli and former Malayan Banking chief Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah were widely known as being part of an elite group of businessmen who were closely alligned to former finance minister Daim Zainuddin. The story is that these guys, together with the likes of Berjaya’s Vincent Tan, called the shots in corporate Malaysia. But the main impact, at least as far as critics, Jibby Razak included, maintain is that only a few people got rich, while the common Malaysian got squat. 

Is the concern that we might be getting screwed over once more founded? Well, the recent report on the planned PLUS takeover says that while toll rates may go down, there is also a chance that the highway concession could be extended. So basically, pay less for longer i.e. screwed.

Yes, Halim’s bid on its own may not signal that the old guard is back. However, the recent deals (and alleged deals) involving Mahathir-man Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, as well as the appearance of a certain British football club-owning tycoon at Bersatu’s Armada (Youth) dinner just a week ago, suggests that New Mahathir is determined to rule the way Old Mahathir did – with a whole bunch of rich friends by his side.

“Quarrel? Nonsense. We have not quarrelled. If one is not to get into a rage sometimes, what is the good of being friends?”

- George Eliot -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Some 800,000 people filled the streets of Hong Kong in a demonstration to mark six months since anti-government protests began. The good news is that while tensions escalated a little on Sunday night, the march was largely peaceful.
  • Rocket Man Kim Jong-un is at it again, and his country’s latest test at a missile site has resulted in US President Dotard Donald Trump warning that his special relationship with Kim could be terminated.
  • At least 43 people were killed in a fire at a bag factory in New Delhi. Reports say a hundred-odd people were sleeping in the factory when the fire broke out.
  • Rapper Juice WRLD, who was named Top New Artist at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, passed away suddenly on Sunday. The rapper, who scored massive success online with the song Lucid Dreams, was 21.
  • Anthony Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia to win back the boxing world heavyweight titles he lost in an upset to Ruiz in June. Joshua put up a boxing masterclass to defeat his opponent on a unanimous points decision. Also, as one writer put it, Joshua sported a six-pack, while his opponent appeared to have consumed one. 

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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