We finally get a more detailed timeline for the national Covid-19 vaccination plan. The good news is it'll start at the end of this month!

In the meantime, the government allows more businesses to open and releases the SOPs for the coming Chinese New Year. Also in the news, the courts discipline a senior judge and deal a "young" political party a blow.

Vaccination anticipation

PM's open mic session

PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s on a roll. Just several days after addressing the nation for FT Day, he’s back on our screens.

He basically spoke a bunch of things we already knew, warned MCO SOP violators of t̶h̶e̶ ̶r̶o̶t̶a̶n̶ a heavier handdefended the emergency, announced a new ministerial role (sorta) and squeezed in some deets on the inoculation plan.

In case you missed his address, here are our Cliffs Notes:

  • The Covid-19 vaccination will be the nation’s largest inoculation plan to date, reaching 80% of the population, or 26.5 million, in three phases by Feb 2022;
     
  • The three phases are:
    • End Feb/Early March to April 2021 – Up to 500,000 frontliners.
    • April to Aug, 2021 – 9.4 million people from high-risk groups, including people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying health issues.
    • May 2021 to Feb 2022 (or earlier) – The rest of us plebs aged 18 and above; (*Note: kids can’t get vaccinated because there haven’t been clinical trials on children)
       
  • Vaccines will be provided to Malaysians for FREE;
     
  • His Royal Janggut Khairy Jamaluddin will lead the charge as “national covid-19 immunisation programme coordinator”;
     
  •  Some 600 vaccination sites will be opened up nationwide.

    The gomen will invoke the Emergency Ordinance to take over private and public facilities like halls and stadiums for this;
     
  • RM27 million has been allocated for the Health Ministry to work with 31 private hospitals to non-Covid-19 patients;
     
  • Private hospitals will put up 1,344 normal beds and 65 intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients; and
     
  • Private labs will help increase screening capacity.

To recap, Malaysia’s signed deals to obtain various doses of vaccines from: 

And apparently, out of the blue, we’ve also signed an agreement with China’s Cansino Biologics (who?) for 3.5 million doses of its vaccine. 

While more deets are always great, we still don’t know if vaccination will be provided for foreigners (including those married to Malaysians, permanent residents, migrant workers and expats), and if so, will it be free?
**Incidentally, the line above led to a mini-debate in the BTL newsroom about what really is the difference between “migrant workers” and “expats”. This article should help cast some light.**

Vaccination plan aside, our glorious leader also warned of dire consequences should we fail to adhere to the MCO regulations. He’s said on top of stiffer fines being considered, violators may be thrown in jail, and errant businesses shuttered.

Lastly, Moo, in defending his precious (gollum! gollum!) emergency, had repeated his promise to dissolve Parliament as soon as this blasted pandemic is outta the way. If the vaccination ends latest by Feb 2022, and herd immunity kicks in months later, does that mean Moo is gonna wait till mid or late next year to dissolve Parliament? That’s a lot of time he’s bought!

Leaders of Pakatan Harapan-held states are still questioning whether the emergency has been of any use.  

PM Moo will also face legal heat. A court case is coming from a top Dr Mahathir Mohamad cheerleader, challenging the emergency and demanding MooMoo step down. Opposition head honcho Anwar Ibrahim is another one who wants to see the PM in court. 

So, yeah. Sorry Moo, you ain’t off the hook yet!

SOPs, good and bad

Some small business owners can rejoice now. Sinister (that’s Senior Minister) Ismail Sabri Yaakob has declared barbershops, hair salons and car wash centres can reopen beginning today (would you believe we just bought car shampoo and washed our rides yesterday?🤦). 

There are, of course, some stipulations. Barbershops and salons can only cut hair, with no other facial or beauty services allowed. Sorry folks, no threading, neck massages or facials.

Workers must also wear face shields, use a new apron for each customer and clean all scissors and combs with hot water.

Izzy also announced SOPs for the coming CNY festivities. Here’s the breakdown: 

  • CNY reunion dinners are limited only to those residing in the SAME house/apartment. No visiting, no open houses;
     
  • Temple prayers are limited to five temple committee members;
     
  • No lion dances, opera performances, tanglung (lantern) parades and Chingay parades;

    We’re scratching our heads a lil’ as tanglung parades are normally held on the 15th day of the lunar new year, while Chingay is on the 21st day. The current MCO is scheduled to end on Feb 18, before these parades are generally held.

Naturally, the SOPs were met with widespread criticism as, among other things, people asked how it could be considered a reunion dinner if only those in the household can attend.

Some joked (not us, promise!) that perhaps the fam bam could meet at the pasar malam or hair salons. 

But all in all, maybe Izzy needs to get some training from Culture Minister Nancy Shukri on what exactly Chinese culture is and CNY traditions are. 😒

Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related reports we picked up:

  • Our daily Covid-19 numbers increased somewhat yesterday, with 4,571 new cases (231,483 total). With recoveries at 4,092, our active cases are now at a new high of 48,771. There were also 17 deaths yesterday (826 total), including a 4-month-old baby.
     
  • Johor has an infectivity rate of 1.18, the highest in Malaysia. It’s followed by KL (1.12), Labuan (1.11), Terengganu and Selangor (1.10), Sarawak (1.03) and Pahang (1.01). Other states had rates just below 1.0.
     
  • Employers must bear the cost of Covid-19 tests for their workers and not deduct it from their salaries or ask them to pay for it themselves.
     
  • Federal Territories have expanded to half the capacity at mosques and suraus for Friday and general mass prayers – as long as everyone maintains 1.5m distance. And CNY family reunions are not allowed??!?
     
  • Meanwhile, the Pakatan Penang gomen is awaiting the Health Ministry’s okay to begin pooled RT-PCR testing to “save money and time”.

Senior judge judged

Let’s talk about cold storage. No, not the sub-zero Pfizer vaccine storage. Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer essentially found himself placed in cold storage by the Judges Ethics Committee (JEC) yesterday after he’d alleged abuses in the judiciary.

Hamid has been suspended until Aug 27, when he is due to retire. He’s the first judge to be suspended since the Judges Ethics Committee Act 2010 came into effect – an honour we’re sure his honour isn’t too thrilled about.

If you’re wondering what this bloke did to deserve a suspension, here’s the tl;dr version – In Feb 2019, Hamid filed an affidavit claiming fraud in the judiciary, including judicial interference in several high-profile cases such as that of the late Karpal Singh 🙊. A substantial part of the explosive affidavit was later expunged. 

The then PH gomen considered setting up a royal commission to investigate the claims, but this was a no-go after some judges objected (allegedly! allegedly!). The JEC then slapped Hamid with a show-cause letter. Hamid had applied to stay the JEC inquiry but this was dismissed several days ago. 

Meanwhile, in another court-related case, Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s party, Muda’s, decision not to appeal its rejection by the Registrar of Societies as a political party came to bite it in the ass when its court action was dismissed, for – get this – failing to appeal! Muda’s now forced to backtrack and go to the home minister.

Minister Hamzah Zainudin’s aide has come out to say the court ruling shows there’s no political bias in the case. Kayyyy, if you say so bro!

Meanwhile, the soap opera that is the autobiography of former AG Tommy Thomas continued with another report of criminal defamation being lodged against him, this time by his predecessor Apandi Ali.

Apandi also alleged Tommy-boy breached his oath of secrecy by divulging sensitive (classified?) information about the state, cabinet meetings and the appointment of the AG. 

Mr T’s book also received criticism yesterday from Umno numero uno and dos Zahid Hamidi and Mohamad Hasan, current AG Idrus Harun as well as banker Nazir Razak, who slammed the ex-AG for intimating that the May 13 riots were due to a coup by the latter’s and ex-PM Jibby Razak’s father, former PM Abdul Razak Hussein.

Odds and ends

Here’s the rest of the news that caught our eye yesterday, in brief:

  • Former Felda chairman Isa Samad has settled his RM1.5 million bail and filed an appeal notice over his conviction on corruption charges. Pocket change, perhaps?
     
  • Umno prez Zahid “thanked” the gomen for giving his party’s MPs the same allocation (allegedly, allegedly) as opposition parliamentarians, even though they are supposedly part of the PN administration.

    Oppo MPs, disagree, saying they’re worse off. DAP’s Hannah Yeoh has said she hasn’t seen any of her allocation, which has been channelled to someone else.
     
  • NGOs and medical bodies have reminded doctors not to forget other important vaccinations for old folk, like flu jabs, in the rush to fight Covid-19. Good advice, that.
     
  • The Federal Court heard the case of a boy, born in the Philippines out of wedlock to a Malaysian father and Filipino mother, who is seeking Malaysian citizenship after the National Registration Department refused to approve his registration.
     
  • A man suspected of abusing and killing his 7-year-old stepson in Melaka had previously been charged with assaulting his wife.
     
  • PAS prez Hadi Awang has applied to strike out a suit brought against him for alleged seditious remarks against Christians.
     
  • A coalition of NGOs has appealed to the Selangor Sultan to intervene in the state gomen’s plans to degazette 931ha of a forest reserve in Kuala Langat. 

“I'll top the bill
I'll overkill
I have to find the will to carry on
On with the show.”

- Queen, The Show Must Go On -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The UN Security Council has demanded the release of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi following the military coup there, but stopped short of condemning the coup. Meanwhile, the military has blocked Facebook for the sake of “stability”. This is akin to shutting down the entire internet in the country, since FB is ubiquitous and pretty much is the internet for most people there. 
     
  • British researchers will explore mixing two different Covid-19 vaccines in a bid to find new ways to reduce infections as mutated variants of the virus emerge.
     
  • A top International Olympic Committee official says it is 100% likely that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will go ahead this summer. WTF is “100% likely”??!? 100% is guaranteed, but likely means not guaranteed! Stupid doublespeak, this. 

    Meanwhile, Tokyo Olympic head Yoshiro Mori has refused to resign despite apologising for sexist remarks he made.
     
  • US President Joe Biden, in his first major foreign policy speech, has withdrawn support for a Saudi Arabia-led offensive against rebels in Yemen.
     
  • The doctor who treated Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny when he was poisoned last year has passed away. Navalny’s chief of staff says his office doesn’t rule out foul play in the doc’s death. 

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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