A friendly visit by our ambassador to a Myanmar junta minister less than a week after our China "big brother" goof leaves many scratching their heads. Did no one at our foreign ministry get the 'what-not-to-do' handbook?

Elsewhere in today's newsletter, the pressure's on for both Anwar Ibrahim and Zahid Hamidi; Malaysia plans to send a precious gift to Bosnia; and we learn that a "public" hearing isn't always public.

Oops, we did it again

Another day, another gaffe

Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein may not have time to fully dust off his coat after his unfortunate “big brother” incident with China a few days ago. Sadly for him, his ministry’s again come under fire for committing another possible diplomatic faux pas.


This time, it involves Malaysian ambassador to Myanmar, Zahairi Baharim. Ol’ Z had on Wednesday paid a visit to Myanmar’s military junta’s Electricity and Energy Minister Aung Than Oo and held some discussions. 


Pics of the meet got many folks riled up, and we’re not talking about Zahairi’s posture. So why’s this meet a no-no? 


Analysts, a former diplomat, lawmakers and activists, including Asia’s Milk Tea Alliance, have claimed this could be seen as Malaysia legitimising the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) regime put in place after February’s coup d’état. 


A coup, mind you, which has turned deadly as the military violently cracks down on pro-democracy protestors, with over 600 civilians reportedly killed already. A coup, which Malaysia has repeatedly expressed concern over.


Critics like Pakatan Harapan have said it’s time the PN gomen state its stance on Myanmar. Former Malaysian ambassador Dennis Ignatius called on Malaysia, and Asean, to stop being so wishy-washy (we paraphrase) in its condemnation of the coup and deliver an ultimatum already – restore the democratically-elected gomen or be expelled from Asean.


FYI, Asean has agreed to hold an emergency summit on the Myanmar crisis soon, but no date’s been set.


Ambassador Z has the dubious honour of being the first Asean ambassador to meet with the junta. However, reps from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam had attended its military parade last month. Indonesia’s foreign minister had earlier on met with her Myanmar counterpart in Bangkok, but this was to push for dialogue to end the crisis lah!


What does Wisma Putra have to say for itself? It’s claimed the meeting didn’t mean Malaysia was recognising the Tatmadaw gomen. 


Instead, Zahairi’d wanted to convey Petronas’ decision to suspend upstream operations at Myanmar’s offshore gas field. Also, to reiterate Malaysia’s call for an end to the violence and the unconditional release of all political prisoners. 


Also, story this – Why meet in the first place? Couldn’t a letter be sent to the junta explaining the cessation of Petronas operations? An email? An owl? 

And before we move on to the next story, here’s another thing to think about: Malaysia has been bidding to get into the United Nations Human Rights Council. How can we do so with a straight face if we recognise and legitimise one of the world’s worst human rights abusers?

And yes, we hear you saying that we ain’t got the most sterling of human rights records ourselves. But that’s a rant for another day. 🙂

What's in a phone call?

As expected, everybody and their budgerigar seemed to have come out of the woodwork to comment on the leaked audio clip of a phone conversation (allegedly, allegedly!) between Umno boss Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his PKR counterpart Anwar Ibrahim. 


If you missed the “big news” from Wednesday, we covered it yesterday. You’re welcome 🙂


First out of the blocks was Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a.k.a Ku Li, who’s been a PM wannabe for even longer than Anwar has. Ku Li said all of this points to Zahid being unfit to lead Umno IF if the recording was authentic. We’re sure Ku Li would gladly offer to step into the breach if Zahid exits stage left. 😏


Meanwhile, Umno’s top Bersatu fanboy Annuar Musa is cocksure the clip is authentic. How? Cos he knows his (former) politico pals so well apparently, that he just knows these were no impersonators. 


The poster boy of the anti-Zahid faction in Umno (there was literally a poster!) boasted that he listened to the clip 10 times and is 100% sure it’s them. But if not, then Zahid and Anwar should swear on it in a mosque. 


Same for former PKR minister turned Bersatu minister/Azmin Ali cheerleader Zuraida Kamaruddin who’s sure one of the voices was definitely Anwar’s. Sheesh, go ahead and stick a knife in already. 


Meanwhile, Zahid is under increasing pressure to hold party polls before GE15. The poor embattled el presidente has called on loyal Umno members to take to social media to defend the party and prevent a repeat of GE14, where he claimed slander and lies caused the party’s downfall. Yeah, sure. It was all slander and lies. 


BT-Dubs, Nazri Aziz, the vocal Umno ex-minister who’s been on a rant against Zahid, has claimed he’s been issued a gag order by his sec-gen. Nazri’s reply to that? “Go to hell!” 😆 


Surprisingly, no report has been lodged with the MCMC regarding the audio clip, yet. Kinda odd that neither of our two ex-DPMs have rushed to lodge reports, despite their vehement denials. 


Even so, the PN gomen is nonetheless promising the audio will be investigated both for its authenticity and for its content. Yeah, somehow we don’t think they’re doing this out of the kindness of their hearts.

But also, what we wonder is – what’s there to investigate in the first place? If those purportedly imitated aren’t lodging official complaints, what’s the basis of the investigation? Let’s not forget – the actual discussion itself was not criminal or illegal.

Yeah, they’re plotting and it’s unethical as hell. But when have politicians not plotted and when have they ever displayed a sense of ethics??!? 

Malaysia the benevolent

Malaysia has been a part of peacekeeping missions around the world for a long, long time.


One of those missions was to Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s. We did a lot to ensure peace in the war-torn country, sending five contingents over four years, so much so that a monument to PM4 Dr Mahathir Mohamad was unveiled in Sarajevo last year. 


Well, we’re gonna be helping those Balkan peeps again, this time in efforts to kick Covid-19 in the nuts. We’ll be sending 50,000 doses of vaccines to them, and other countries that weren’t prioritised in the global vaccine-sharing Covax programme. 


Malaysia has also decided to join the Covax programme to push for vaccine equity for all. Hurrah!


However, do note that no details have been given as to when this will happen or even what vaccines will be sent. It’ll likely be a while yet, though, considering vaccine supply right now is at a premium, exceeded by demand


What we are told is that this gift will not affect our ongoing national immunisation plan. Phew! But what we also wonder is – why Bosnia? There are countries that are far poorer and likely in more need of help, so it’d be interesting to see how Putrajaya decided Bosnia is most deserving.


On the whole though, Malaysia’s move is applaudable, especially when bigger, richer countries have been hoarding vaccines. Apparently, the world’s wealthiest countries (making up just 14% of the population), have bought up 53% of the best Covid vaccines in the market. For shame!


Oxford/AstraZeneca, though, has pledged to provide 64% of its stuff to people in developing nations. Even so, there’s also no indication the AstraZeneca is one of the vaccines we’ll be shipping out. We’re not even sure we’re gonna be using it ourselves.


FYI, Malaysia was scheduled to start rolling out the UK vaccine this year but is now contemplating its use due to a possible link to rare blood clots. 


Meanwhile, here’re some other Covid-related news we picked up from yesterday:

  • PM Muhyiddin Yassin has proposed that Malaysia collaborate with D-8 member states to set up a Reciprocal Covid Vaccine Certificate Recognition programme. 
  • Malaysia will receive its second batch of Sinovac vaccines, comprising 2.5 million doses, this month. 
  • Terengganu cops are probing a claim that an individual had been given a blank interstate travel approval form which had been already signed and stamped. 
  • Sarawak DCM Awang Tengah Ali Hasan was caught on camera without a mask at a recent public event and has been issued a compound. Worse yet, he was pictured handing out RM50 notes to hawkers. He claimed he forgot his mask after eating and that the moolah was for items he purchased. Hmm! 
  • There were 1,285 new Covid cases and 4 deaths yesterday. This brings the total cases to date to 355,753 and deaths to 1,308. Active cases have increased slightly to 14,203. 

Little bit of this and that

We wrote yesterday about the heat facing the Pakatan Harapan Selangor gomen over several alleged questionable and not-so-merciful actions. 


It’s back in the news again, this time for actions against the media. This after the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) decided to bar the press from attending a public hearing chaired by Selangor government exco member Ng Sze Han.


In case you’re wondering, the hearing is on the council’s draft local plan for 2021-2035.


We’re confused. A public hearing that’s invitation only? Only in Malaysia. 


That earned the wrath of media watchdogs, who called it unacceptable. They pointed out that this contravened the Freedom of Information (State of Selangor) Enactment 2011, enacted by the Pakatan gomen themselves. 🤦


Anyways, here’re other interesting news for you in brief:

  • The prosecution in the corruption case against former self-proclaimed First Lady Rosmah Mansor has acceded to demands by the defence and provided the appointment letter for lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram. But his position is now in question as it seems the appointment letter was dated after the case had already begun
  • Meanwhile, Rosie’s hubby-bubby Najib Razak has filed a stay order against the bankruptcy notice served to him by the taxman and claimed it’s a political conspiracy
  • In his appeal against his conviction in the SRC International case, the Jibster’s loyars claimed the RM4 billion missing from the company’s coffers had been stolen by other people, not Jibby, and that he was the victim of selective prosecution
  • In another court, DAP goldie Lim Kit Siang, who is being sued for defamation by Apandi Ali, was evasive when asked to produce proof of allegations he made against the ex-AG. 
  • In Ipoh, the trial of ex-Perak exco Paul Yong, accused of raping his Indonesian maid in 2019, has been postponed to June after three witnesses tested positive for Covid-19. 
  • The Kelantan MB has blamed drugs for the rise of sex crimes in the state. What nonsense! But waittaminute. Maybe the drugs he’s talking about is Viagra? 
  • Home Minister Hamzah has mocked human rights NGOs, saying if they care so much about detained undocumented migrants, they should bear the costs of housing and feeding them. Heart of gold, this guy.
  • Top Glove claims to have made significant improvements in rectifying claims of forced labour by solving six of the International Labour Organisation’s Forced Labour Indicators. 
  • Axiata Group and Telenor Asia, the major shareholder of Digi, are in advanced talks for a merger to become a company known as Celcom Digi Bhd (MergeCo). 

“A nation without a conscience is a nation without a soul. A nation without a soul is a nation that cannot live."

- Winston Churchill -


  • AstraZeneca’s woes are growing as more countries and the African Union have announced curbs. The UK, meanwhile, has tried to allay fears after advising that those under 30 should take other shots.

    Meanwhile, France’s top health body are said to be about to recommend that those under 55 receive a second shot involving an mRNA vaccine after getting the first shot of AstraZeneca. 
  • US President Joe Biden, pressured following a spate of shootings, has announced limited gun restrictions. This, even as two mass shootings occurred in the US in a day.

    The first shooting was in South Carolina, where an ex-NFL player killed 5 people before committing suicide, while the second happened in Texas, where 1 person was killed and 5 others were injured.
  • Australian politicians will no longer be exempt from rules against sexual harassment at work, as the gomen tries to quell public anger over parliamentary sex abuse scandals. 
  • Five years after his death, a previously unreleased Prince album, “Welcome 2 America”, will be released on July 30. 


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