Authorities are making concessions and cutting down testing on close contacts of Covid-19 patients to save a collapsing health system.

Meanwhile, an Umno minister defends the emergency even as our opposition leader wants it rescinded; the courts were plenty busy yesterday; and the appointment of a sex-offence-tainted (allegedly! allegedly!) leader to a parliamentary committee on women's affairs sets tongues wagging.

More cases, more deaths

Too little, too late?

Malaysia’s healthcare system is straining under the weight of the pandemic. As such, the Health Ministry’s made some changes to its procedures to help ease the burden.

Among the changes:

  • Health officers will no longer test every close contact of Covid-19 patients, just those with symptoms.
     
  • Contact tracing will still go on, and all close contacts will have to isolate for 10 days. Those later displaying symptoms will be tested.
     
  • Less severe positive cases can isolate at home, hostels or hotels.
     
  • Not everyone linked to a Covid cluster will be tested. Instead, only a few samples will be taken, which is determined based on the number of close contacts. (Eg, 20 samples taken if there are fewer than 50 close contacts).

If you’re still wondering why the quarantine period was shortened from 14 days to 10, them smart folks at Harvard have said most people are significantly less likely to infect others after 10 days. 

 

But not always la! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US of A, reducing quarantine time can increase people’s compliance with SOPs but is still less effective than 14 days. Tl;dr – stay home if you can peeps, practice those 3Ws and avoid the 3Cs.

Back home, some medical experts have also expressed concern with reduced testing, citing fears asymptomatic peeps could be moving around untested and spreading the virus. This, it was said, will do zilch to stop the spread of infections.

Instead, one doctor suggested the “pooled testing” strategy (pooled what? This article explains what just the heck that entails).

Meanwhile, we had another record-breaking day yesterday with 3,337 new cases, a heart-breaking 15 deaths and seven new clusters. Up to 70% of yesterday’s cases came from states/FTs under MCO 2.0. 

So, did the MCO come too late? It was only in its second day yesterday, so we didn’t expect the numbers to go down. Remember, the Health DG did say it would take 4-12 weeks to flatten the curve. With the large number of patients in ICU, we’re likely going to see a high number of deaths.

In other Covid news:

  • Putrajaya’s begun to engage private hospitals to help with cases but patients would need to pay or rely on their insurance for treatment.
     
  • The grace period for interdistrict and interstate travel ends today.
     
  • There’ll be no change in operating hours for businesses despite requests from several quarters. Coin-operated laundromats, however, can now operate, while public parks in MCO areas will be closed.
     
  • Healthy Malaysians under 60 who are not frontliners will only be vaccinated earliest by Q3 this year, the unofficial vaccine minister Khairy Jamaluddin have said.

    The Beard also explained that Singapore could get its vaccines earlier than us cos, well, they’re richer. Neighbour Indonesia was prioritised as it had run clinical trials on one of the vaccines.
     
  • Malaysian glovemaker Brightway Holdings has threatened to stop supplying its products to companies which speak out about its failure  (allegedly! allegedly!) to comply with housing standards for migrant workers. Idiots!
     
  • Veteran politico Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah a.k.a Ku Li, 83, and former Lord President Salleh Abas, 91, have tested positive for Covid.

Emergency: The good, the bad, the ugly

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has defended the gomen for its use of the national emergency. Basically, like a magic lamp, the emergency grants them additional powers to better manage the health crisis. 

Mr Sinister (short for senior minister la) said under emergency ordinances, the gomen could – but haven’t yet considered to – jail or fine private hospitals bosses RM5 mil for refusing to take in Covid patients, or hotels for refusing to become quarantine centres. Meanwhile, the military has been given powers of arrest, the same as the popo. 

Yeah, well, Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. So Moo & co. had better use their new powers wisely. If you remember, rights groups have warned of the emergency order’s potential to be abused, such as arbitrary arrests.

For now, it would appear that patients with the correct insurance policy or the means to pay for their own treatment will have to go to private hospitals.

In any case, it looks like Izzy hasn’t convinced the opposition of the emergency’s power of good. PM-forever-wannabe and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has urged MPs to write to the King to get His Majesty to rescind the emergency. 

DAP’s elder Lim supremo, Uncle Kit Siang, has said Parliament shouldn’t be suspended as all of government was needed to battle Covid-19. Younger Lim, Guan Eng, went a step further, saying PM Muhyiddin Yassin had overstepped his authority as the Agong’s proclamation didn’t mention the suspension of Parliament. 

Seperti yang dikatakan semalam, officially, no emergency ordinances have been gazetted yet to prevent the Dewan Rakyat from convening, but its only a matter of time

But that’s only one part of the emergency. Over in Sabah, Warisan prez Shafie Apdal has weighed in too, saying instead of declaring an emergency to avoid snap polls, Moo could just get all parties to agree to a no-election pact until the pandemic is dealt with. 

Meanwhile, the Moo’s gomen has asked the opposition for three names to be part of the independent committee to advise the King on the emergency. At least one politician has called for an opposition boycott of the committee

Jesters in the court

Several interesting court-related news came out yesterday. The courts are still running despite the MCO since PM Moo has promised that the judiciary would continue to function without executive interference during the emergency.

Gombak MP Azmin Ali will be filing an application to strike out a suit brought against him by 10 Gombak voters who claimed he had broken election promises when he left PKR and joined Bersatu in the Perikatan Nasional gomen. The voters pointed out that Anwar’s former best pal had been elected on a Pakatan Harapan ticket.

Speaking of striking out a suit, top cop Abdul Hamid Bador, the police force, the Home Ministry and the gomen have filed an application against kindie teacher M. Indira Gandhi’s who sued them last year. Indira’s suit was over police failure to arrest her ex-husband and find her daughter Prasana Diksa, whom he ran off with more than a decade ago. 

It’s a really sad story. This report details what’s happened since 2009 when the ex ran off with Prasana, then just an infant, after unilaterally converting her and her siblings to Islam (FYI, the Federal Courts have ruled that unilateral conversions of minors by a parent is a big no-no).

Meanwhile, former glorious leader Najib Razak’s No. 1 cheerleader Lokman Noor Adam will still have to face contempt proceedings against him. The apex court dismissed his appeal to set aside leave granted to the attorney-general to commence committal proceedings against him. 

Lobakman is alleged to have attempted to intimidate a prosecution witness in Jibby’s ongoing 1MDB corruption-related trial (Tsk! Tsk!). The contempt case is set for mention on Jan 27.

Speaking of monkeys (sorry, we couldn’t resist 😊), the Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by Gibbon Rehabilitation Project founder Mariani Ramli for a stay of the court’s decision revoking her permit to care for six gibbons.

In a messy custody battle, the apes were recently seized from her centre by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan).

Of 'sex-tainted' politicians and other things

There was a bit of a hoo-ha yesterday when it came to light that Umno’s Arau MP Shahidan Kassim had been included in the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (SSC) on women and children’s affairs. 

What the beef with ol’ Shah here? Well, Shahidan’d once been charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl (he was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal after the girl withdrew her police report and the case settled “amicably”). 

Also, he’d opposed the setting up of that SSC in the first place!

Shahidan later claimed his name was put in merely as a stop-gap measure. Turned out, he was not a member of the SSC now as his position had fallen to Parit MP Nizar Zakaria. Why in heaven’s name there would be a stop-gap measure is anyone’s guess, but clearly, brainpower was never employed by whoever who decided to throw in Arau’s name into a committee for women and children.

Anyhoo, here are some other stories in brief:

  • According to the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2021, human rights in Malaysia got screwed under the PN gomen as it aggressively cracked down on freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, and attacked the media.
     
  • The gomen’s set up a committee to investigate lewd old tweets on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) after they were embarrassingly dug up by netizens.

    MCMC had claimed they were hacked but it’s been claimed they purchased the account from a second party. It allegedly originally belonged to a teenager.
     
  • Bukit Aman’s are waiting for more info from their South Korean counterparts searching for a Malaysian woman suspect who pulled a Jho Low and disappeared following the theft of millions of dollars (RM50 mils) in cash from a casino on popular Jeju Island.
     
  • The National Blood Centre is appealing for donations – particularly of types A and O – as it’s running dangerously low on supply. 

“It may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.”

- Mike Rawlings -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of Covid-19 has finally arrived in Wuhan. However, two team members have been blocked and are being retested in Singapore after failing a coronavirus antibody test.
     
  • Meanwhile, WHO has said 95% of vaccine doses administered so far has been limited to 10 countries and has called for more equitable distribution
     
  • US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to pump more than US$1.5 trillion into the pandemic-hit economy in a bid to jump-start it.
     
  • In India, Covid-19 has failed to deter hundreds of thousands of devotees from attending a Hindu festival on the banks of the Ganges River. 
     
  • The FBI has arrested the man seen carrying a Confederate flag into the Capitol during last week’s storming of the building by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
     
  • South Korea’s highest court has upheld a 20-year jail sentence for former President Park Geun-Hye for corruption.

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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