So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Mahathir's home state falls
Things just aren’t working out for the Mahathir clan these days.
Patriarch Dr Mahathir Mohamad lost the PM-ship and the latest news to emerge from that is a leaked audio recording from a Bersatu supreme council meeting that seems to indicate the old man – for long the country’s pre-eminent political operator – was this time deftly outmanoeuvred by Muhyiddin Yassin, who said the party should let Dr Mahathir decide if it should leave Pakatan Harapan.
Obviously, that didn’t happen and the party went on to leave the coalition, triggering the fall of the government and putting the likes of Umno and PAS in Putrajaya – and Moo in Seri Perdana.
Mahathir’s sonny boy Mukhriz doesn’t seem to be having a gala time either – it looks like he’s been all but checkmated out of his job as Kedah MB.
This after two PKR assemblymen quit the party, went independent and announced their support for PM Muhyiddin. They said they had lost faith in their own party president, former PM-in-waiting and now opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, following a purge of leaders by PKR in Kedah. The two are now considering joining Bersatu. How one of them – Robert Ling – who is Chinese, is going to join Bersatu, a Bumiputera party, is another question altogether. 🤷
So, Kedah now falls into hands of Perikatan Nasional. And, in case anyone doubted this, state opposition leader Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor of PAS announced “live” on FB that Perikatan had taken over the state government, commanding 23 assemblymen and enjoying a comfortable hold on the 36-seat assembly.
PAS is in the driving seat; its 15 assemblymen dwarf every other party in the Kedah legislature as nobody else has even made it into double digits. The other reps making up the Perikatan alliance are the two from BN and four from Bersatu as well as the two independents.
Sanusi, widely tipped to be the next MB, says he sympathises with Mukhriz (yeah, right!), and that the latter should have supported Muhyiddin – which, had it happened, would no doubt have made for an interesting Hari Raya reunion at Casa del Maddey.
This is the second time Mukhriz is being ousted as Kedah Menteri Besar. His first stint began in 2013 and was brought to an ignominious end in 2016 when he was sacked from Umno (along with Muhyiddin, coincidentally) after rebelling against then-PM Najib Razak over the 1MDB fiasco. Mukhriz regained the state’s top job after daddy-O’s Pakatan Harapan coalition romped to victory in the 2018 general elections.
Anyway, while some analysts say the latest change in government is justified as it would bring political stability, Mukhriz hasn’t reached his “That’s all folks” moment as Kedah MB yet. The sultan could still make an independent assessment on whether Mukhriz can remain as MB and decide in his favour. Mukhriz could also ask the Ruler to dissolve the state assembly and hold fresh elections, though it would be up to the palace to decide if this is the best course of action.
Kedah isn’t the only state Pakatan is getting a bruising in. In Perak, Perikatan has completely solidified its hold with the appointment of three Umno assemblymen to fill the three remaining exco seats.
Ngeh Koo Ham of DAP chose to fall on his sword, stepping down as Speaker of the Perak legislature before he could be replaced – but not before initiating a day of high drama at the assembly. Former Umno assemblyman Mohammad Zahir Abdul Kadir will take over as Speaker.
In Melaka, another state Perikatan has taken, Pakatan is set to legally challenge the appointment of a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker, insisting there’s no legitimacy in the appointments of Umno’s Ab Rauf Yusof and Ghazale Muhamad to the posts.
But the federal government is the prize that everybody truly covets – and it looks like Muhyiddin may just survive the vote of no confidence set to be initiated by Mahathir. BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has taken his sweet time to make a public announcement, but has finally come out to say the coalition would, en bloc, support the current PM against Maddey. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it’s looking more and more like Muhyiddin is racing to the chequered flag.
Still, the true winner of all this isn’t Muhyiddin – it’s PAS. Sure, they may have marginally fewer seats (18) in Parliament than they did after the 2013 elections (21). But, unlike 2013, when the Green Man Group ended up with just one paltry state (Kelantan), it now commands three states – Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. Unlike 2013, when PAS was a non-entity in the federal corridors of power, it now has three ministers and five deputy ministers in Cabinet, as well as a hugely influential Special Envoy to the Middle East role for its president, Abdul Hadi Awang. All in all, it’s done very well for itself.
Well played, PAS. Well played indeed.
Covid-19: Things are looking up
While the country’s political scene may be heating up, it does appear the Covid-19 situation may be cooling down.
Malaysia recorded its lowest daily infection rate in two months yesterday, with just 16 new cases. Though not in the single digits just yet, this is as close as we have gotten in a long, long time and is cause for some joy. The cumulated number of infections now stands at 6,742 and the number of fatalities remains 109 with no new deaths yesterday. 110 people were discharged yesterday, bringing total recoveries to 5,223, or 77.5% of total cases.
Things are also looking up in Selangor and Penang, two states which had refused to follow the CMCO guidelines set by the federal government. Both are now easing restrictions, with Penang announcing dining-in would be allowed in phases, beginning Friday with eateries at hotels, malls and fast-food franchises.
Selangor has said that, aside from dining-in, food trucks, too, will be allowed to operate. All parks will be opened, and recreational fishing permitted. However, hiking and camping is still a no-no in the state.
But we may not want to start patting ourselves on the back yet, as Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah is reminding us we’re still not out of the woods. He said a second wave of infections can be avoided, though, if we continue to follow CMCO regulations and work together to break the chain of infection. It was the same theme sang by PM Muhyiddin yesterday, when he said battling Covid-19 was the joint responsibility of all Malaysians.
Sadly, Moo again didn’t say anything about VIPs seemingly not taking this joint responsibility seriously, especially following a report yesterday which claimed several VIPs, including ministers and cops from Bukit Aman, had been getting barbers to make house calls. That was left to Senior Minister (security cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who claimed this was news to him and stressed barber services were a no-no.
We should note there are still pockets of Covid-19 infection areas, with Seremban now having gone back to being a red zone. The Enhanced MCO (EMCO) in Selayang Baru has also been extended.
What’s more, the government’s decision to allow home visits during Hari Raya within state boundaries is raising hackles. The latest group to express concern about this is the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, which is urging the government to review the matter.
So yes, while yesterday’s infection numbers may be encouraging, we still have quite a ways to go before we are rid of coronavirus. If anything, the progress we’ve made is a sign we should keep up with social distancing and hygiene practices and avoid any temptation that may lead us astray – hair cuts included (that mop on top of our heads can wait).
All other things Covid-19
Yesterday was International Nurses Day and what we’ve been going through over the past few months have shown just how valuable nurses and others who serve in the medical industry are.
So rightfully, praises for nurses poured in, led by our King and Queen, and our glorious leader Muhyiddin. Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah, meanwhile, praised all frontliners and led the Perak state assembly in a round of applause.
While frontliners in this Covid-19 war deserve praise, the same can’t be said for certain government actions of late. Take for instance the raids being conducted against foreign workers.
That the issue of undocumented migrants in Malaysia is a complex one that must be addressed, there is no doubt. But authorities shouldn’t be too gung-ho about conducting raids when we’re trying to encourage foreigners to come forward for testing instead of going deeper into hiding. This is especially as the raids don’t seem to abide by social distancing SOPs, and as infection clusters among foreign workers are being detected.
More than 1,300 foreigners were picked up in a raid in Selayang, where the EMCO is in place, on Monday. Putrajaya is being criticised but has defended the move, with Ismail Sabri saying such raids were conducted long before the MCO came into effect on March 18. Perhaps the good minister could listen to the Bar Council, which is urging a moratorium on raids during the pandemic.
Anyway, there were a number of other reports related to Covid-19 which we thought we should include here:
- When schools reopen, expect some huge changes as we follow a “new norm”. Among the new SOPs would be a directive that each class would have a maximum of only 17 students.
- The Health Ministry is encouraging companies to test staff for Covid-19 before they return to work. This comes after a woman in Johor tested positive during screening by her employer.
- A set of SOPs for Friday prayers during the CMCO will be made known tomorrow. There was no mention, however, of SOPs for other religions.
- Health Minister Dr Adham Baba has issued a letter of demand for RM30 million in damages against the NGO Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) over its demand he come clean over his alleged involvement in certain Covid-related contracts being probed by the MACC. If only he could be as on the ball in tackling Covid-19 as he is in suing people.
- The Finance Ministry has targeted completing all payouts under Phase 2 of the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional aid by this weekend.
- Malaysian airlines have warned that air fares could rise by more than 50% if social distancing is enforced for passengers in planes. OK then, let’s risk a second wave of infections just so you guys can charge less.
- Apparently, items in departmental stores and cinema seats have grown mould after more than two months of the MCO. Ewww!
- Here’s a feel-good story for you. KL City Hall has managed to find jobs in Sitiawan, Perak, for 43 vagrants from the federal capital under a programme launched as part of its outreach efforts during the MCO.
Odds and ends
Here are a few other stories which we believe may be of interest to you:
- The remand of former radio announcer and veteran actor Patrick Teoh for allegedly insulting the Tengku Mahkota of Johor has been extended another two days. A former minister has hit out at the extension, calling it a return to the “dark old regime” when police abuses went unchecked. P. Waythamoorthy was referring to the Johor police chief’s remarks that Teoh had been uncooperative and seemed to have forgotten his passwords for everything.
- The 1MDB trial of former PM and BN chairman Najib Razak will resume on May 19. May 19 will also see current BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in court for case management in regards to his own corruption trial.
- Meanwhile, another Umno bigwig, Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin, will be facing the resumption of his own corruption trial tomorrow. He was jointly charged with wife Zizie A. Samad.
- Former Deputy Youth and Sport Minister Steven Sim has hit out at investigations into ex-boss Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman by the MACC, saying the focus should be on the perpetrator of a crime and not the one who lodged a report. Syed Saddiq had alleged that RM250,000 in cash had been stolen from his house in March. For the record, Syed Saddiq lodged a police report regarding the theft and police are investigating the matter. The MACC investigation is focused on just how the former minister had amassed such wealth.
- Police have arrested a woman and her daughter in Manjung, Perak, for allegedly abusing their Indonesian domestic helper. They were alleged to have forced her to work for two years without pay, hit her with a metal rod, locked her up and given her only scraps to eat.
“Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.”
- Winston Churchill -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- There are now more than 4.2 million Covid-19 cases in the world, with nearly 290,000 deaths. The death toll in France is now nearly 27,000, making it the fourth worst in the world. The worst in Europe, however, is the UK with upwards of 40,000 fatalities.
- Top US infectious diseases official Anthony Fauci has once again gone against President Donald Trump, warning that reopening the US economy too soon would have serious consequences. The US has recorded over 83,000 coronavirus deaths to date, the highest of any country.
- The World Health Organization has taken a similar stand, advising “extreme vigilance” is needed in exiting lockdowns. On the bright side, it says it sees potentially positive data in some Covid-19 treatments.
- Wuhan, where the Covid-19 crisis began, will test 11 million residents for the coronavirus in just 10 days. This comes after new cluster of cases emerged despite the city’s lockdown.
- The US Supreme Court has heard arguments over whether the House of Representatives and a New York prosecutor can subpoena The Donald’s accounting firm and banks for his financial records.
- Is Mike Tyson preparing for a return to the boxing ring? The former heavyweight champion, now 53, has released two training videos on his Instagram account and declares “I’m back”.
- Ageing rocker Bryan Adams has apologised following a social media rant where he blamed “fucking bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards” for spreading coronavirus. And, he claimed his angry tirade was meant to promote veganism!