PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he never labelled Pakatan Harapan a one-term government? But are they, really? And if yes, is there time to change that? In other news, the Youth and Sports Minister swears he didn’t attend no drug party, and India’s curbs on refined palm oil may just screw us. Big time.

Gimme some truth

What's the story?

Hours after Reuters published a report in which it quoted PM Mahathir Mohamad as claiming his coalition could be booted out in the next GE, the Doc moved to clarify that he actually doesn’t think Pakatan Harapan will be a one-term government. Wait, what?!?!

Claiming the report was only the news agency’s “opinion”, Maddey said that just ‘cos Pakatan had lost several by-elections, it didn’t mean the coalition would lose at the Federal level when a general election is eventually called.

The PM’s statement was totally at odds with the earlier report. So here are the questions to ask: One, did Dr M, in fact, slam the infighting within his coalition as one of the reasons for Pakatan’s loss of support or not? And two, does it matter if he didn’t?

Look, infighting isn’t something that’s just being brought up. Lim Kit Siang warned about it months ago. And the honest truth is that, yes, the spats are eroding credibility and splitting support. However, whether or not these squabbles result in Pakatan losing GE15 is moot.

Yup, Barisan Nasional has claimed five of the last six by-elections. But how much of that is due to the infighting within Pakatan, how much of it is the continuing focus on identity politics (on BOTH sides!) and how much of it is due to the guy in charge aka Maddey?

Mahathir in his “clarification” suggested that we the rakyat are, well, dumb, and that’s why Bossku a.k.a. former premier Najib Razak has been able to gain ground. Yeah, sure. But aren’t these the same people who voted for you less than two years ago?

The truth, though, is that since being hailed as Malaysia’s saviour back in 2018, the PM’s seen his stock take a nosedive. And that fact may simply be down to Mahathir’s refusal to keep to promises and that he can’t see what needs doing.

On Monday, at the same press conference where he clarified the Reuters report, Mads said he holds no grudges (well, except for Jibby) and would work with anyone for the good of the country. Yeah, okay, we know, ends justifies the means and all that. However, that statement really does give Maddey an easy out to pretty much poach anybody to shore up his political base and support under the guise of it being ‘good for the country’, doesn’t it?

Bersatu’s chief strategist Rais Hussin believes Pakatan can win again if it focuses on five key things – namely, mitigating cost of living, enhancing the quality of living, creating credible jobs, ensuring affordable homes and enabling affordable healthcare – and if it stops with the Game of Thrones-style politicking. Sure. That’s a good start. But maybe, sir, the other key to changing things is to actually change things … at the top.

Party hardly

Even though Dengkil rep Adhif Syan Abdullah wasn’t quite sure if he was at that “drug party” in Puchong or not, his Bersatu colleague Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is positive: he (as in Syed Saddiq himself) was nowhere near the place, AND was certainly not a guest as ze party.

Early last week, reports stated that Adhif Syan and three political aides were among those nabbed during cop’s raid. However, the only mention of Syed Saddiq was when the Youth and Sports Minister himself issued statements on the suspension of first, a ministry officer and later, Bersatu Youth members – including Adhif – who’d been caught in the raid.

On Friday last week, though, a “news portal” alleged YB Bro was present during the party, and only escaped getting busted ’cos he’d left before police arrived. The “report” further claimed the bash had taken place over three(!!!) days (what are these guys, the Rolling Stones??!?) and had been organised by a businessman out to score large ministry projects.

The original post has since been taken down, and the minister has came out to deny the allegations against him. But here’re a couple of questions to consider:

1. What the heck is Johor Press? and;
2. Why the hell did anyone give it credence if no one appears to know who owns and runs it, and what its agenda is?

Look, it’s true. Dodgy deals happen all the time away from the spotlight. But unsubstantiated reports by dodgy portals hardly prove they happened, right? 

look at Johor Press’s content shows this site is politically motivated and very, very clearly anti-Pakatan. It’s a shame the story about Syed Saddiq – which looks like a hatchet job – went viral, forcing the boy wonder to come out and debunk it. It’s also a shame none of the media reports gave any background or context into how reliable – or in this case, not – the source of the story was.

Saddiq says he’s lodging a report over the matter. And he certainly should! 

Palm oil predicament

We really should have seen this coming after Malaysia – or rather PM Mahathir – chose to piss India off.

In case you’ve not been following the issue, India imposed curbs on refined palm oil last week, and we’ve been immediately affected. You see, Malaysia is the largest supplier of refined palm oil to India. However, the new restrictions mean India can now only import crude palm oil, not the refined variety, which we supply.

The reason for the curbs is simple. Premier Maddey publicly slammed India over the last couple of months with regard to the country’s action in Kashmir as well as its new, allegedly, discriminatory citizenship laws. And last week, New Delhi, already annoyed with us for not handing over controversial preacherman Zakir Naik, decided it had had enough. 

So now the commodity’s price has been drastically affected. And on top of that, tonnes of previously-shipped palm oil are apparently stuck at Indian ports.

Mahathir says Malaysia’s too small to retaliate in response and must find a way around it. Easier said than done. Unfortunately, India isn’t just any old market. It’s the top market for Malaysian palm oil! In 2019, the country bought 4.4 million tonnes of palm oil from us. And on top of that, Malaysia is the second-largest producer of palm oil in the world. Which means there’s a lot of supply and now, suddenly, a lot less demand.

So the question is who the hell, apart from China which we’re already shipping to, is gonna agree to take that kind of a load off our hands?

In late December, when there was still a chance of talking things through, India apparently sent a request for its Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to meet with Malaysian Industrial Trade and Industry Minister Darrell Leiking in Davos this week at the World Economic Forum to, we guess, iron out some of the issues affecting the two countries. Any powwows seem off the cards now the curbs have been imposed. Leiking said it’s because of both parties’ busy schedules, but that sounds like face-saving BS to us. It looks like we’ve been snubbed, plain and simple.

But, just how big a miscalculation was this by Maddey? The old man would never dream of antagonising China the way he did India. Note Mahathir’s deafening silence on the Uighurs when he spoke at the UN general assembly last year. Did he really think he could tweak India’s nose without any blowback?

In short, we look to be well and truly screwed. Let’s hope all this pain is worth the PM’s one throwaway – and inaccurate – line about a region 4,000km away from us.

Odds and ends

Yesterday wasn’t a particularly big day for news. However, going into Tuesday, here are some other things you should definitely maybe know about:

  • Former Felda boss Shahrir Abd Samad and Pontian MP cum celebrity chef Ahmad Maslan are expected to face charges of money laundering today. It’s unclear at this point what exactly the duo did (allegedly, allegedly!), but it’s worth noting they were among 80 individuals and companies issued with compounds in October last year for allegedly receiving funds linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
     
  • Malaysia has returned 150 containers (or 3,737 metric tonnes) of plastic crap back to the countries they came from, and according to Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin, there’re another 110 containers to be dispatched.
     
  • Despite facing censure and a possible sacking, PKR veep Zuraida Kamarudin, says she ain’t joining Bersatu. Images of a letter addressed to Bersatu boss Maddey and corresponding party membership forms bearing Zuraida’s name were circulated online on Monday. However, the Housing and Local Government Minister claims they’re all fake.
     
  • The government has apparently received a number of proposals – including from AirAsia and Japan Airlines – for the acquisition of Malaysia Airlines. The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam), however, has called for total transparency with regard to any takeover plans, so staff know what they’re in for.
     
  • Finally, here’s a bit of news to brighten your day. Haryz Nadzim Mohd Hilmy Naim, 3, has become the youngest member of Mensa UK. The Malaysian toddler, who lives in Britain with his parents, notched an amazing IQ score of 142 on the Stanford Binet test. It seems the kid was speaking at seven months and reading himself bedtime stories at 2! At three, we were still struggling with bedwetting! Talk about feeling inadequate.

“It is the good life that democracy brings that counts, not democracy per se.”

- Dr Mahathir Mohamad -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi is the new head of ISIS. According to intelligence reports, Salbi was named leader soon after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in October last year.
     
  • According to a new Oxfam report, the world’s richest 1% have more than double the wealth of 6.9 billion people. And here’s something worse: the world’s 22 richest men are richer than all the women in Africa!
     
  • The mysterious coronavirus, that has claimed three lives so far, can be transmitted between people, Chinese health officials confirm. The virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, has now spread to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangdong, with the total confirmed cases standing at 218.
     
  • Studio Ghibli’s awesome library of 21 animated movies will be making its way to Netflix next month. If you’re a Ghibli fan, this is the BEST NEWS EVER! And if you’re not, it’s still the BEST NEWS EVER! The Japanese production house is responsible for some of the most beautiful and poignant animation work ever made and you should make it a point to watch ’em.

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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