Covid-19 recoveries are rising while daily infections are falling. But don't bust out the party hats just yet — it's still hard to tell if we're on the path out of the woods.

Also in today's newsletter, PM Muhyiddin Yassin places Malaysia on the yellow brick road to national unity by 2030; there're more revelations from the 1MDB trial; and several coppers face the axe over the rape of a teen in a Miri lockup.

The rise and the fall

Falling down, falling down

For the second day in a row, Malaysia’s Covid-19 infections were in the 2k range (2,176 to be exact) with recoveries exceeding 4k (4,521). 

Not to be the party pooper but as welcome as these latest stats are, on their own, they don’t offer a clear picture of whether we’ve turned a corner in this fight.  

For one, it’s still uncertain how many folks are being tested daily. That could tell us our positive rate, i.e. the percentage of cases found to be positive each day in any particular district/state (this article explains why it’s important).

Also, the Health Ministry’s yet to indicate if it’s resumed screening asymptomatic cases — something it decided to stop doing about a month ago ‘cos of the strain on our healthcare system. All this on top of the Health Ministry’s admission we haven’t hit our Rt or infectivity rate target, despite MCO 2.0.

Context to the figures is what Malaysians need to better understand what we’re seeing. However, that’s not what we’re getting. So the hope is that, even as the death toll mounts — 10 deaths on Monday brings the overall tally to 975 — things are getting better. 

The falling numbers may also indicate that we’ll be heading into a period under Conditional MCO once the current MCO ends on Thursday.

TBH, with all the easing of curbs over the last couple of weeks that’s seen even pasar malams open for business, it makes sense to transition into a CMCO.

But much as we want life to revert to normal, we’ve got to hold our horses – the National Security Council hasn’t decided yet. The gomen may have to consider that despite the recent dip in cases, we’ve yet to reduce the Rt to under 0.60. FYI, we’re at 0.89.

In any case, here’re some other important Covid-19 news:

  • PM Muhyiddin Yassin will launch the official guide book to Malaysia’s immunisation plan today.
     
  • Sarawak will kick off its Covid vaccination programme on Feb 27. Some 40,000 frontliners are expected to be inoculated first.
     
  • A specialist has called for a programme to treat and rehabilitate recovered Covid patients, noting that complications can develop much later. Complications have also been noticed in asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms.
     
  • Finally, FT Minister Annuar Musa has said he’ll cooperate with investigations into his latest alleged breach of MCO SOPs. 

Together forever

Glorious leader PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s called for differences to be set aside on Monday as he unveiled a national unity policy and blueprint. Tl;dr, the policy should set us towards a united Malaysia by 2030.

In a nutshell, the initiatives (viewable here and here) build on the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara. They aim to enhance the original goal of together-getherness with new strategies for building and maintaining unity over the next 10 years. 

Superficially at least, and from a cursory study of the plans, the move seems a good one.

There’s just one problem — the guy and gomen attempting to sell it.

 

Yeah, Moo may talk a good game about inclusiveness and tolerance, even warning against racial politics. But lest anyone forget, the guy heads a race-based party, as well as coalition and cabinet which is 91% (yes, we counted) Bumiputera and that’s perceived to be all about Malay-Muslim interest. He’s aligned with Umno, the party that practically wrote Malaysia’s ethno-nationalist playbook!

He’s also the man who once proudly proclaimed to be “Malay first” (sorry boss Moo, the Internet remembers).

Also, dear Tan Sri, pray tell where was all this talk of unity when your coalition colleague, Kedah MB Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, was shooting his mouth off about templestoddy and Thaipusam?


And despite decades-long calls for a review of the New Economic Policy, Moo’s administration, like those before, have turned a deaf year to the notion of reviewing Bumiputera privileges and instituting a needs-based approach to affirmative action instead. 

Most importantly, bear in mind that all this 1Malaysia, kumbaya talk comes amidst anticipation of snap polls — which Moo has promised will take place once the pandemic is under control.

GE15 may well follow the gomen’s Covid-19 inoculation plan, with most quarters — Umno included — already gearing up for the big one.

But one person who ain’t swallowing MooMoo’s routine — though it’s got little to do with unity — is former mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former PM has torn into the current PM, accusing Moo of using the emergency declaration for his own ends and making the Agong look “like a cruel dictator” by enacting provisions in His Majesty’s name.

Dr M’s claims weren’t especially earth-shattering — neither was sonny boy Mukhriz’s statement about the emergency council’s impartiality later. But it showed that almost a year on from the Sheraton Move, Maddey’s still sore with his once-upon-a-time pal.

But Maddey dearest, we ain’t buyin’ your unity shtick either!

No seems to be the hardest word

Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial continued in the High Court yesterday. On the stand was ex-1MDB boss Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, who testified that despite initial discomfort with the sovereign fund’s practices, he still agreed to join the company for fear of snubbing Jib.

It seemed that the then PM had already made up his mind to bring Hazem on board, and the dude felt he couldn’t say no to Bossdia.

Hazem also claimed he was increasingly frustrated with the way shit went down at the company, but chose not to mention anything, especially not to the MACC when the commission came probing another matter in 2015. 

However, Haz said he’d aired his grievances to the company’s then-chairman Lodin Wok Kamaruddin and two other company officials. And allegedly, allegedly, the trio also didn’t care for the way things were being run.

What exactly didn’t all of them not like about 1MDB? Well, only that the fund was being used to benefit Umno-linked companies (again, allegedly! allegedly!). Hazem was also supposedly constantly butting heads with cherubic pirate Jho Low over advice that didn’t always make sense.

Meanwhile, in another court, the Jibster failed to disqualify former judge Gopal Sri Ram from prosecuting the 1MDB audit report tampering trial.

Jibby had tried to remove Sri Ram on the back of a statement by ex-AG Mohamed Apandi Ali, who’d claimed Sri Ram, a former apex court judge, had attempted to persuade Aps to have Jib arrested in 2018. 

Unfortunately for Najib, the court deciding on the recusal felt Apandi’s anecdote didn’t hamper Sri Ram’s ability to prosecute the case.

Incidentally, Jib’s pooty pie, bitsy pookums, snoogy woogy Rosmah Mansor is also attempting to disqualify Sri Ram from prosecuting in her case.

Poor fella, that Sri Ram. So close to Valentine’s and still getting so little love.

Cops face the axe & other odds and ends

A total of 11 police officers are to be demoted or terminated over the rape of a teenage girl by another inmate at the Miri central police lockup last month.

Two officers — Brase Omang and Edmund Jali — already face criminal charges over the incident. So Bukit Aman’s statement on the negligence and misconduct probe against the other 11 raises questions, among them: 

1) Who are these officers being probed? and; 

2) What was the nature of their involvement in the incident? 

The victim had claimed a fellow inmate had the key to her cell and raped her. The 19-year-old rape suspect initially pleaded guilty but has since changed his plea.

In somewhat related news, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun’s finally spoken out against the recent incidents of women being harassed at roadblocks and called on the coppers to investigate. 

Once again, she reiterated her ministry’s commitment to getting the Sexual Harassment Bill tabled in Parliament. Of course, as pointed out yesterday, Parliament won’t be in session for a while yet. So unless she’s gonna push for a special Dewan sesh, nothing changes.

Bad cops aside, here’re some other news:

  • Fitch Solutions has slashed its GDP outlook for Malaysia by half from 10% to 4.9%. The research arm of international ratings agency said it sees the current lockdown as adding to unemployment woes (tell us something we don’t know!).
     
  • PAS prez Abdul Hadi Awang’s been admitted to hospital after suffering from breathing difficulties last night. The 73-year-old is currently in the National Heart Institute (IJN).
     
  • The Comms and Multimedia Commission has blocked access to dating platform Sugarbook’s website. The ban comes amidst scrutiny into the company’s activities and concerns about the transactional nature of the relationships between sugar daddies and sugar babies.
     
  • UNHCR cardholders and Rohingya migrants are not part of the upcoming repatriation exercise that’ll see Myanmar nationals deported. Only those currently detained for having committed crimes will be sent back.
     
  • The gomen will unveil the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint aka MyDigital on Friday. The plan seeks to transform the country into a regional digital hub by 2030. Wow, so we’re gonna be a super-united, harmonious digital hub in less than a decade!

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning..”

- Albert Einstein -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed the new boss of the World Trade Organization. The former Nigerian Finance Minister is the first woman and African to be appointed to the role.

    She’s already warned that “vaccine nationalism” — where countries prioritise their own vaccine needs — could slow the battle against Covid-10 and erode global economic growth. Here’s a more in-depth read on vaccine nationalism and why it’s bad.
     
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved AstraZeneca-Oxford University’s Covid vaccine for emergency use.
     
  • Meanwhile, Israel has reported a 94% decline in symptomatic Covid cases among 600,000 people who’ve had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
     
  • The UN’s food envoy warns that we could be staring at global food shortages ’cos of the pandemic. Envoy Agnes Kalibata has said that not only has food become more expensive, it’s also outta reach for folks in some places.
     
  • Criticism over the arrest of Indian climate activist Disha Ravi, 22, is mounting. She’s been charged with sedition for allegedly editing and circulating a document relating to India’s farmer protests. The document, a “toolkit” to create and spread awareness on the protests, was created by Greta Thunberg.
     

Whoops

Yesterday, we said Women’s Minister Rina Harun had yet to speak out over the abuse of a kid in Melaka. She actually did a couple of weeks ago.

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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