The number of daily infections may not actually reflect our true Covid-19 numbers. But if you’re wondering whether the stats have been “tweaked” to justify opening up more business sectors, yesterday’s tally might suggest that it ain't the case.

Elsewhere, the outrage over the three-day quarantine for ministers continues, Putrajaya may keep the ban on interstate and inter-district travel, and some (more) interesting things about Najib Razak and gang crop up.

We’re taking a break tomorrow for CNY, so we’d like to wish our Chinese readers Gong Xi Fa Cai. We’ll see you Monday!

What's the deal?

Are we getting the whole picture?

Our elation at seeing the daily Covid-19 numbers fall below the 3k-mark on Tuesday didn’t last long and that had a lot to do with this article, which suggested that the day before’s tally possibly doesn’t reflect the true situation. 

According to the story, the numbers have declined quite likely ‘cos Malaysia is now testing only those displaying symptoms. Fewer tests, you see, likely mean fewer positive cases detected. 

A better way of gauging things might be in the reading of our positive rate i.e. the percentage of cases found to be positive each day. The WHO has set the benchmark for this at 5%. So anything above indicates that there’re more undetected cases in the community. 

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s positive rate was 5.6%. As such, the possibility is that many cases may well have gone undetected.

This then suggests we may not be getting the whole picture. Worse, it might also mean that the numbers are being messed with to justify the opening up of more business sectors, etc.

Be that as it all may, however, our daily numbers were back up yesterday, with 3,288 new cases (251,604 in total) notched alongside 14 fatalities (923 in total). 

Also, WHO confirms that the number of cases worldwide did indeed decline by 17% last week.

So perhaps we can trust those numbers after all.

Ain't no stopping this train

The gomen appeared yesterday to try to mitigate the fallout from the slashed quarantine period for ministers returning from overseas trips by making public the SOPs for said special treatment. 

According to the guidelines, in order to qualify for a three-day quarantine:

  • Trip schedules must be short with ministerial entourages small and limited to those who aren’t close contacts of Covid-19 patients.
     
  • Travel must be on government private aircraft, not commercial flights. Plus, ministers must test again on arrival at their destination airport.
     
  • Ministers are to be confined to their rooms, with the exception of official business. And masks must be worn at all times.

Unfortunately for the gomen, no amount of explanation is gonna justify the double standards. Especially, as this new move doesn’t look to be grounded in science

In fact, one infectious diseases expert is so frustrated that she says there’re might as well not be any quarantine requirements if we insist on crap like this.

Meanwhile, Sarawak has shown Health Minister Adham Baba the finger, noting that it will still require anyone entering the state to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Take that, Dr Air Suam!

Oh, BTW, the state government adds that it plans to vaccinate all Sarawakians by August and will even consider buying vaccines themselves if Putrajaya’s supply is insufficient. Can we all move to Sarawak now, please?

Elsewhere, Putrajaya is apparently mulling keeping the interstate and inter-district travel ban even after the MCO expires. 

Regardless, though, of news that the ban has helped keep infections down, we feel the government must look at exceptions. 

The travel ban cuts off vulnerable and rural communities and adds to much frustration, especially too when it seems that urbanites can meet at restaurants and go to malls, and ministers can roam the country and even go overseas.

The difference is also noticeable in certain suburban areas, it must be said. Take Alam Impian, for instance, where there’s practically nowhere to go within a 10km radius in contrast to say Bangsar, where residents have the option of chilling at a whole host of shopping centres and restaurants.

Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related highlights from Wednesday:

  • Malaysia is in talks to buy more of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
     
  • Sabah has announced an easing of restrictions for houses of worship in the state starting tomorrow. 
     
  • The High Court has set Feb 17 to hear submissions in Anwar Ibrahim’s application for leave to challenge the suspension of Parliament as a result of the emergency. 
     
  • Meanwhile, here’s a rundown on the 19 members of the independent committee which will advise the Agong on the emergency. 
     
  • The Education Ministry has released a Q&A for public exams being held during the pandemic. 
     
  • Tok Ujang, the last survivor of WW2’s Battle of Pasir Panjang, has passed away from Covid-19 at the age of 100. 

Jibby, oh Jibby!

A number of interesting things came up in court cases involving former PM Najib Razak and his wifey yesterday.

To kick off, Jibby’s 1MDB corruption trial was temporarily interrupted on Wednesday morning when prosecution witness, ex-CEO Hazem Abdul Rahman, was unable to take the stand because of a fever. The judge ordered that the chap be screened for Covid-19 before directing the prosecution to get another witness ready for the afternoon session. 

That witness was former deputy chief secretary to the cabinet Mazidah Abdul Majid, who testified that Ah Jib Gor had once told his ministers not to make public the “contribution” from a Saudi Arabian prince to 1MDB’s charity arm, Yayasan 1MDB, ‘cos apparently, the putera wished it that way. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, in another court, prosecutors claimed that Umno had an unaudited secret account for political donations.

The revelation, made in a case where Jib and Umno are seeking the return of a chunk of cash seized in 1MDB investigations, is a huge one, no doubt, and seems to have already had an impact on the Bersatu-Umno feud, with one Bersatu fella calling for cops to initiate a probe into the matter. 

Yeah okay, dude. But doesn’t the fact that the prosecution brought it up mean the police have already investigated?

Elsewhere, Jibby’s sweetie pie Rosmah Mansor will know on Feb 18 if she waddles free or has to enter a defence in her corruption trial. Rosie is alleged to have solicited millions to help a company secure a solar project for schools in Sarawak.

A trending trendy minister and other things

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun is trending on Twitter, apparently, ‘cos of her recent makeover. And people are transfixed!

To us, though, a person’s personal journey towards some health and beauty standards is his/her own. Our gripe, however, is we wish this much scrutiny was paid to Rina’s achievements as a minister, which are far from stellar.

It’s also worrying that she’s been seemingly more focused on her own development when she should be addressing issues such as the wellbeing of women and girls during MCO 2.0, especially single mothers who are the hardest hit, and the rising number of domestic abuse cases. 

Anyway, here’re a few other stories from yesterday:

  • Karangkraf chairman Hussamuddin Yaacub has hit out at alleged threats from ministerial officers to cancel media advertising if space is given to “certain individuals”. He declined, however, to reveal details. 
     
  • The mother and stepfather of a child in Melaka who died recently have been charged with his abuse and murder
     
  • A lorry driver has been jailed 33 years for pimping his wife and 13-year-old daughter. He was also ordered to pay them compensation of RM10,00 each. 
     
  • A Puchong company is under probe for allegedly mixing halal beef with meat from uncertified sources. Meanwhile, Salahuddin Ayub has been urged to lodge an MACC report over recent claims that he’d been offered all-expenses-paid trips to Europe by meat cartel members when he was Agro Minister. 
     
  • The Federal Court has set a limit to compensation claims by house buyers. 
     
  • Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azalina Othman Said has called for the separation of the AG’s advisory and prosecutorial roles in response to all the hoo-hah to Tommy Thomas’s controversial book.
     
  • Following a rise in oil prices, the gomen’s set price caps of RM2.05 and RM2.15 for RON95 petrol and diesel, respectively.
     
  • Former TNB president/CEO and Ricky Gervais lookalike Amir Hamzah Azizan has been appointed CEO of EPF. Really, the resemblance is uncanny! 

“Some of you are really smart. You know who you are. Some of you are really thick. Unfortunately, you don't know who you are.”

- Ricky Gervais -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US intelligence on the origins of Covid-19 isn’t reliable, a member of the WHO mission to China said after Washington cast doubt on the transparency of a probe that was meant to find the source of the virus but ended with nothing.

    In other Covid news, the US CDC has advised double masking, claiming the practice cuts out 92% of infectious particles. 
     
  • The second impeachment trial of former POTUS Donald Trump continued with House Democrats saying he was “inciter-in-chief” of the Capitol riots.

    Prosecutors in Georgia, meanwhile, have initiated a criminal probe into Trump’s alleged attempts to influence last year’s presidential election by pressuring state officials to overturn results which favoured current prez Joe Biden. 
     
  • Biden has announced that the US will sanction Myanmar’s generals following the military coup there last week. 
     
  • Rescuers in northern India have drawn a blank after using a drone to search for 35 people missing inside a tunnel days after a flash flood swept down a mountain valley. 
     
  • An unmanned Chinese spacecraft carrying a rover which will explore Mars has successfully entered orbit around the Red Planet after a six-and-a-half-month journey. 

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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