Our bungling authorities really need to get things right when it comes to Covid-19 standard operating procedures. ’Cos while their remarks and slip ups can sometimes be comedic, it sure ain’t funny when it involves RM1,000 fines.

In other news, our Covid-19 numbers continue to soar, Klang Valley peeps again find themselves high and dry without any water, and the controversy over a huge Budget allocation for an equally controversial government department continues.

Push and pull

SOP = Semua Orang Pening

Just what in the world is happening with our beloved authorities and why the heck can’t they ever make things clear?!
 
Remember the case of the guy who got himself issued a fine ’cos he didn’t scan the MySejahtera app before pumping petrol into his vehicle? Well, almost as soon as our newsletter went out yesterday, we were treated to even more confusion!
 
First up, we had the Petrol Dealers Association of Malaysia telling us that scanning the MySejahtera code is only needed when someone enters the convenience store at stations. And apparently, this had been clarified by the Health Ministry’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) in an email reply to a question from one petrol station owner. 
 
But then, the CPRC told Malaysiakini that it is compulsory for those at petrol stations to check in using the app, whether or not they enter the convenience stores, use the toilets or suraus, pay via credit card at the pumps, or even just fill their vehicle tyres with air. 
 
However, just when we thought we knew what was what, we got Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob informing us that the use of the app was only required in certain instances. And according to our man, it’s only mandatory for those entering station convenience stores, or using the toilets or suraus. Which means there’s no need to pull out your phone if you’re just paying at the pump, handing cash through the pigeon hole, or filling air into your tyres. 
 
Now, we’re glad, of course, that Izzy has cleared this bit of confusion up. But really lah, was the uncertainty necessary?

Firstly, indecision is no laughing matter when people are concerned about their lives and their livelihoods. And secondly, there’s that small matter of a RM1,000 fine for an arbitrary application of the law just ’cos the authorities can’t seem to get their act together by having clearly defined SOPs. Also, let’s not forget that unclear SOPs can lead to abuse of power and possible corruption!
 
Anyways, the other big piece of Covid-19 news yesterday was the announcement that initial test results from a vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech has impressed beyond expectations. But before we all start getting excited, it’s important to note that scientists say there’re still many questions left to be answered and obstacles to be cleared before we can get our hands on the drug.
 
Among the issues is that the two companies would need to get regulators to clear the vaccine. And then, there’s that “little” issue about how the vaccines are gonna be stored. FYI, it seems the drug needs be stored at temperatures below -70 degrees Celsius. Thing is, even big hospitals don’t have storage facilities for such ultra-low temps. 
 
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has urged caution too, saying that the Health Ministry would wait for reports on the vaccine’s Phase 3 trials before deciding on what to do next. In fact, he says there are currently 11 vaccines at the Phase 3 stage, but none of the reports on these trials have come out. 
 
Anyhoo, here’re a few other important Covid-related reports that came out on Tuesday:

  • A total of 6 people – all of them in Sabah – died yesterday, bringing the total death toll from Covid-19 to 300. Meanwhile, 892 new cases were reported, with recoveries clocking in at 725 and the number of active cases rising to 11,446
  • Four more clusters have sprouted, and that means we now have 156 active clusters. Three of the new clusters detected are in Sabah while the other is in Kelantan. 
  • The enhanced MCO (EMCO) for Taman Mawar, Sandakan, has been lifted, but the enhanced order for Taman Mesra, also in Sandakan, has been extended till Nov 24
  • The infectivity rate (R-naught or R0) is now below 1.0, and D-G Noor Hisham says if things continue the way they are going right now, the rate could drop to 0.5 in one or two weeks. And, if that happens, we could see the CMCO being lifted. Fingers crossed!
  • Education director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim says intakes for tertiary education courses will not be affected by the second postponement of the SPM and STPM exams. The SPM had initially been postponed to January next year, however, it will now begin on Feb 22, while the STPM is set for March or April. 
  • Anyone found trying to circumvent the rule that only two per family are allowed to go out to purchase necessities by leaving in multiple vehicles will face fines of RM1,000 each. 

Water, water everywhere ... except in the Klang Valley

It’s happened once more, folks! Taps in the Klang Valley are dry. Again!
 
The cuts this time around are affecting about 1.1 million users and once again, we’re told that it’s odour pollution that’s resulted in four water treatment plants having to be shut down. 
 
The story goes that officials in Selangor at first traced the pollution to an Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) plant in Rawang. However, IWK has denied having anything to do with the incident, and claims instead that there’d been an illegal dumping of waste at the sewerage treatment plant affected. But that had been contained. 
 
The Selangor government, meanwhile, says it suspects sabotage and will lodge a police report on the matter. In fact, Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari says he believes the culprits may have been familiar with the authorities’ monitoring schedule
  
Anyway, it was initially promised that water supply would begin to be restored Tuesday night and completed by today. Unfortunately, it seems that the odour pollution has still not yet been cleared. Which means the treatment plants have yet to start back up. 
 
Needless to say, there was plenty of anger and frustration among those affected by the cuts ’cos, well, this ain’t the first time this has happened!
 
The last disruption was less than a month ago. And we suffered another one, the month before that too.

Following the last round of cuts, Malaysians showed just how frustrated they were by poking fun at news of water having been found on the surface of the moon. Some asked if water had been discovered in Selangor too, while others joked that it may be time to move to the moon.
 
Funny folks lah some Malaysians. Except that it isn’t a joke to have to put up with no water again and again and again.

Seriously, we really don’t care whether it’s the Selangor government or Federal authorities, but it’s about damned time that someone takes this matter seriously. No more excuses.

There just ain't no Jasa

So, debates on the 2021 Budget continued in Parliament yesterday and it was our former glorious leader Najib Razak who stood up to be heard about the allocation to the Special Affairs Department a.k.a. Jasa.

According to Jibby, he’s totally okay with the previously-dead department being resuscitated. However, he has a major issue with the whopping RM85.5 million allocated to it.
 
But what really caught our attention was not that Najib spoke about Jasa or that he hit out the Perikatan Nasional government for the allotment, but that several Opposition MPs staged a walkout in protest when Jibs started to speak. Reason? They say the ex-PM is a convicted criminal and so shouldn’t have be given the privilege of debating the Budget. 

Now, we don’t often take the Jibster’s side, but as things stand, the fella’s appealed his conviction and there’s a stay of execution on his sentence. And according to the law, until all avenues of appeal are exhausted, Jib’s position as Pekan MP remains intact. Which means he’s entitled to debate things in the Dewan Rakyat.

Yes, we can understand the feelings of Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, who was detained under preventive laws when Jibby was in power, ahead of the Bersih rally in 2016. But having led Bersih, Maria should know that under the law, Jib’s still an MP.
 
What got our goat though was that by walking out and protesting, these MPs gave up the opportunity to debate the Budget. And that’s just irresponsible.
 
Anyhoo, on the issue of Jasa, it seems that Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, under whose ministry the department is parked, was aware that it was to be revived, but apparently stunned by the huge allocation. Despite this, Din Dollah defended the move, saying the resuscitation and huge allocation were not politically motivated. 
 
Meanwhile, Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa has also defended the move, saying that it isn’t the same propaganda-disseminating Jasa, and that people shouldn’t criticise it too much as the gomen was still discussing its policies.

Now, we don’t know just why the FT Minister is commenting on this issue, but your remarks are pretty lame, Nuar. How exactly do you know it won’t be the same Jasa if the government is still discussing its policies?

Propaganda aside, there were a few other Budget-related news items that came out yesterday. But to keep things short, we’ll list the important points in brief:

  • Four Perikatan parties – Bersatu, PAS, Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku (STAR) and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) – have pledged support for the 2021 Budget but apparently, Barisan Nasional will do so only if two conditions are met: that the loan moratorium is extended another six months and that a one-off EPF withdrawal of RM10,000 be allowed. 
  • Meanwhile, Pakatan says it’s ready to offer its views and opinions to help the government tackle the current political and health crises and will consider accepting the invitation to be a part of the Economic Action Council.
  • Former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he is willing to take a 10% cut from his pension in order to help the government assist those who’ve suffered loss of income during the pandemic and has urged ministers, deputy ministers and other government officials to have their salaries trimmed as well. 

Odds and ends

And here’re a few more articles which caught our eye yesterday:

  • No one can tell for certain, but Azmin Ali’s appointment as Perikatan’s national elections director appears to suggest that the coalition’s gearing up for snap polls.

    Meanwhile, PAS Youth leader Khairil Nizam Khiruddin has also been named Perikatan Nasional youth chief.
     
  • police report has been lodged over the arrest of former student leader Wong Yan Ke for filming a police raid, with Transparency International-Malaysia the latest to join the chorus of voices criticising the arrest. Wong, you’ll recall, was picked up while police were carrying out a raid on current University of Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany) leader Yap Wen Qing over an article concerning the King’s role.

    Bukit Aman, by the way, agrees that recording cops in action is not an offence, but says sharing such videos could affect investigations.
     
  • A man and a woman were killed early yesterday when a landslide struck a villa at the Banjaran Hot Spring Resort in Tambunan, Perak. 
     
  • In another freak accident, a 27-year-old woman was killed on the spot when a tree fell on her car near Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. 
  • The father of a 15-year-old girl from Ampang who’d attempted suicide and later tried to run away was charged with 41 counts of rape, sodomy and molestation. The 42-year-old dad had allegedly been sexually attacking the girl since January, her plight only coming to light after she was detained for attempting to cross state lines without police permission to get back to her mother in Kedah. 

“Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation.”

- Edward R. Murrow -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Outgoing United States President Donald Trump’s administration has thrown the presidential transition into tumult with Attorney-General William Barr authorising the Justice Department to probe allegations of voter fraud despite little evidence of it.
     
  • President-elect Joe Biden, however, says nothing will stop the handover of power, and has been busy speaking with world leaders like British PM Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
     
  • In Covid-19 news, the US has now gone past the 10 million-infection mark with one expert warning the country could soon see increases of 200,000 new infections a day.

    Elsewhere, Europe, has now seen more than 300,000 deaths, and there’re fears that infections and deaths will continue to rapidly rise with winter looming. 
     
  • A study has revealed that one in five Covid-19 patients develop mental health problems after 90 days. Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common, but the study also found significantly higher risks of dementia. 

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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