Yesterday was the first day of what will likely prove to be 14 extremely long ones. And many of us failed miserably to follow the orders to no go gallivanting, so much so that our exalted leader had to plead with everyone to just stay home. Meanwhile, it was another day of a triple-digit increase in Covid-19 infections in Malaysia, and as in previous days, many of the new patients were linked to the religious gathering in Sri Petaling. Did we mention that it will be a long, long 14 days for all of us?

Restricted movement confusion

Ban? What ban?

Amidst criticisms that the movement control order (MCO) was not well thought out, PM Muhyiddin Yassin appeared on the telly yesterday to plead with Malaysians to just stay home.

The Moo warned that if people didn’t follow the order, and things continued to deteriorate, the MCO could be extended beyond March. Won’t that be a bummer?

“I say this because many people returned to their hometowns last night. There is nothing wrong with going back to your hometown, but I saw highways congested with vehicles heading north, south, east and west. Bus stations were also packed with people wanting to return to their hometowns. Thousands of you. I was afraid of just looking at the crowds. Therefore, I would like to appeal to you, please, stay put where you are,” said our PM8. 

Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah went a step further, warning that of a Covid-19 “tsunami” if people didn’t adhere to the MCO. There’s only a small window of opportunity to break the transmission chain, he says. 

This MCO was put in place so people will stay home and not spread Covid-19 to others if they are infected, or get infected by others. And if people do go out, they are advised to keep a distance from others. Yet it seems there are many stubborn asses who don’t want to listen.

People are still gathering at eateries to not just take away food, but to just chill (they better pray they don’t get the real chills). Or worse yet, they continue to dine in despite the fact this is banned under the MCO. Hikers are still continuing to trek with friends. 

Thankfully, not everyone is ignorant or stubborn. KL police reported that traffic in the federal capital dropped to only 10% of the usual volume, and the world’s busiest causeway was “eerily” quiet”

Anyway, by-and-large, the first day of the MCO didn’t go according to plan (and neither did the day before), but we are hoping things will get better. Opposition MPs certainly took the opportunity to tell Moo and his peeps what they were doing wrong.

Klang MP Charles Santiago certainly had his say in an opinion piece in which he said the government was clueless and that they could have made things worse and helped spread Covid-19 even more because of the way they handled things. Amanah Youth basically said the same things. And both Santiago and Amanah Youth mentioned IGP Hamid Bador’s flip-flopping over inter-state travel

And of course, Anwar Ibrahim had to have his say. Everyone’s favourite PM-forever-in-waiting said the government needed to provide “complete and not confusing information” to the media so as to lessen the panic surrounding Covid-19. And the gomen, he says, needed to be ethical and responsible. In a later article, Anwar also called on the gomen to come up with ways to help daily wage earners as they were not “ministers with big salaries”. He should know, right? 

Some of the comments were valid, but there’s also a fair amount of politicking there and more than a little bit of an effort to make the government look bad. Ditto with this move by some opposition MPs to help elderly constituents – but if people get actual help, then please politick your little hearts out. 

And if you want a blow-by-blow account of all the missteps and fuck-ups that led us to this point, you can go through them with a fine-tooth comb here

Anyway, here’s a roundup of all the other bits about the MCO:

  • The Education and Higher Education ministries released a list of FAQs which reversed an earlier policy.They are now telling all students, both local and foreign, to stay put instead of traveling back to their hometowns, as earlier advised. Finally, some sense!
     
  • The National Security Council (NSC) says the manufacturing sector producing things deemed critical can continue to operate. Items deemed critical are: rice, sugar, bread, dairy, herbs, coffee, chicken, and beef; agriculture and fishery namely seafood, fruits, and vegetables; household goods such as toilet paper and toiletries; and pharmaceutical products. 
     
  • The NSC has a full list of essential services and some non-essential services allowed to operate during the MCO. 
     
  • Meanwhile, the Attorney-General’s Chambers has published a federal gazette barring individuals from traveling to Covid-19 infected areas. And it has gazetted all states and federal territories as infected areas. So what that means is STAY HOME PEEPS, cos you can’t travel nowhere. 
     
  • The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has released its own list of FAQs in regards to the food and retail sectors. 
     
  • Human Resources Minister M. Saraavanan has warned employers that they must pay their workers’ salaries during the MCO. This after the Malaysian Trades Union Congress had brought up complaints that some employers were not willing to pay their employees for the two weeks’ work they would be missing. 
     
  • An NGO has mooted that disciplinary action be taken against Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali for failing to invite the leaders of opposition-held states for a meeting with PM Moo over the Covid-19 measures being taken. Penang CM Chow Kon Yeow, meanwhile, has said he wasn’t interested in answering questions about Zuki’s apology as he was focused on overcoming the current medical crisis instead. 
     
  • The Malaysian spirit of helping one another is, thankfully, not dead even with the widespread concern over Covid-19. A number of people have come up with initiatives to help those in need or those in the vulnerable category. And we raise our hats to these people. 
     
  • The Health Ministry has labeled the MyEG Covid-19 test kit as “fake news”. MyEG, meanwhile, says it’s still awaiting approval from the ministry for the kit. It’s worrying that a company that supposedly legit would be so blatantly involved in stupid shit like this. Speaking of stupid shit, did you hear the one about the guy who said he had Covid in order to get a fake MC? Some people…
     
  • And this is hilarious. Former badminton ace Lee Chong Wei is wondering why people are going crazy stockpiling toilet paper. How many buttholes does one have in order to need so much tp, he asks. Good point, Chong Wei!

790 down, many more to come?

The country’s Covid-19 infection count grew by triple digits for a fourth day in a row, with the Health Ministry reporting 117 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 790

As with the last few days, the highest number of new cases, 80, were linked to the tabligh at the Sri Petaling mosque, bringing the total for that cluster to 513, for now. However, 11 people were deemed to have recovered yesterday, making it 60 having been discharged since the outbreak began. 

With 16,000 people having attended the tabligh, it’s highly likely the numbers are gonna increase, perhaps even drastically, over the next few days or weeks. But it appears some of us haven’t learned our lesson. Reports of 9,000 people having attended a tabligh in Indonesia were greeted with astonishment and insults from netizens in Malaysia. But many probably didn’t know, as the news came in pretty late, that at least 80 Malaysians are believed to be among that crowd. 

This is where our MCO comes into play. It requires Malaysians returning from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days. Perhaps we should have put in a clause that says those who come back after such a mass gathering – despite being advised not to – should be given a good whipping for their stubbornness. 

Visit Malaysia Year 2020, meanwhile, has been canceled. Yeah, anybody could see that one coming a mile away. “Visit Malaysia… check out our Covid-19 specials” doesn’t quite sound like a good tagline. 

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Kamarudin Jaffar says 841 Malaysians are reported to be stranded around the world because of travel bans due to Covid-19. All of them, he assures, have been provided with consular services. 

The country with the highest number of stranded Malaysians is India, with more than 270. The travel ban was instituted by the South Asian country, with Kamarudin’s boss Hishammuddin Hussein saying the ministry is doing its best to resolve the situation

The World Health Organisation, meanwhile, has called on Southeast Asia to take more aggressive steps to stop the spread of Covid-19, warning that they could soon be faced with community transmissions. 

Odds and ends

MCO or no, life must go on. And so, we bring you some of the other things which happened in Malaysia yesterday:

  • Mara chairwoman Hasnita Hashim and at least seven other of the organisation’s council members have been replaced, purportedly as they are Pakatan appointees. 
     
  • A 29-year-old Frenchman has been reported missing. He was last seen in KLIA on March 10. 
     
  • The Cabinet has decided to review the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission bill, with Minister in the PM’s Department Takiyuddin Hassan and Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin set to fine-tune it. Let’s hope it is really a fine-tuning and not a total whitewash.
     
  • Despite news that all trials would be postponed during the MCO period, nine people were charged in a George Town court yesterday with three counts of trafficking of three local women for sexual exploitation since 2017.

“There were people pushing trolleys with 10 bags of toilet paper! How many buttholes one needs to wash with that many?”

- Lee Chong Wei -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Italy’s death toll from Covid-19 has spiked by 19% in 24 hours to nearly 3,000. Globally, there have been more than 206,000 cases with nearly 8,800 deaths. 
     
  • global recession this year is now seen as almost guaranteed as Covid-19 ravages Europe and the US. 
     
  • The US Senate has passed President Donald Trump’s relief bill which will guarantee paid leave for those diagnosed with Covid-19 or having to care for someone who contracted it, as well as free testing for everyone, including those without medical insurance.
     
  • China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus originated, has now gone two days without new cases.
     
  • The ATP and WTA have extended suspensions of their respective tours due to Covid-19 fears, affecting the entire clay court season in professional tennis. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee says it’s engaging in constructive talks with athletes representations and reminds everyone that the Tokyo Olympics is still four months away. 
     
  • After the latest round of losses, US Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has to now consider whether to continue his campaign or allow former US VP Joe Biden an easier run to the party’s ticket in the primaries. 
     
  • Singapore, Osaka and Hong Kong have been jointly declared the costliest cities to live in. Where exactly does KL fall into the rankings? Well, you can download the Economist Intelligence Unit report here.

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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