Malaysia’s Covid-19 records continue to be shattered and our Health Ministry's so concerned by the surge, it’s calling on the National Security Council (NSC) to tighten existing restrictions on activities.

Elsewhere in today’s newsletter, political leaders continue to plot and scheme as the country burns by coronavirus, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka gets cheekier with their pantuns, and a Sarawakian icon is honoured by Google.

Time to tighten up

For the record

The Covid-19 numbers have been particularly horrible these past few days. And though yesterday saw the highest-ever daily recovery rate with 701 people discharged, we also registered a record number of infections (again) and loads more deaths.

So much so, the Health Ministry now wants more stringent curbs for areas under Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). But wait a minute! Hasn’t the government been loosening them? 

 

Well, before we get into all that, let’s have a look at the numbers.

 

Everything counts

 

Malaysia notched a whopping 871 new cases yesterday, only slightly higher than the previous day’s record high of 869 cases. Worse, fatalities have gone up in tandem with the daily increase in cases, with a total 17 deaths recorded over the last three days.

The new figures mean the country’s cumulative case total is now at 20,498 with a total of 187 fatalities. It also means as of yesterday, we have 7,049 active cases. 

 

Most of the fatalities and cases have been charted in Sabah, which has recorded over 7,400 cases and 61 deaths in total. In fact, the state’s recorded 44 deaths over 11 straight days.

Sadly, the situation there is so dire experts warn that Sabah’s entire public healthcare system is on the verge of collapse if infections continue at this rate. Already ICUs are at 72 percent capacity and Covid-positive patients have to wait days just to get admitted.

The other two deaths over the past three days were recorded in Selangor. And, worryingly, in one of those cases the patient had no pre-existing medical conditions.

 

Remember when the “good times” when the death rate didn’t move for weeks on end and we had less than a hundred active cases? Seems like a lifetime ago doesn’t it?

 

Anyways, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has warned that the shit (pardon our French) will get so much worse before it gets better.

 

In a nutshell, the good doc has said the R0 values (pronounced R naught and which reflects the contagiousness of Covid-19) don’t lie. And according to our current rate of 1.5, the number of infections is set to increase.

 

We’ve explained before how the R0 thingamabob works and you can also read about it in more detail here. The long and short of it is although our R0 value has fallen from 2.2 recorded in late September, we need to get the rate down to below 1.0 if we want to break the chain of infection and bloody flatten that curve.

 

In order to do that, le Health Ministry wants the NSC to tighten CMCO restrictions to only allow economic activities and nothing else to carry on. Basically, less is more when it comes to gatherings.

 

The problem with that though is the rest of our gomen’s been going in the opposite direction, as we explain below.

CMCO: Conditional or Confusion MCO?

Over the weekend, the government announced a slew of eased restrictions in CMCO areas. This includes gyms, commercial football fields, futsal courts, and golf courses, provided, of course, they adhere to safety protocols.

More than two people are also allowed to travel together in the same vehicle, as long cops have given the okay, while public parks in Federal Territories (that’s KL, Putrajaya and Labuan) have been reopened.
 

Speaking of leeway, Selangor has decided to one-up the federal gomen by allowing five diners to a large table. The limit is still four diners in KL and Putrajaya, so do they have bigger tables in Selangor or something?

 

We’re sure many people are understandably rejoicing at this softening of our authorities’ collective s̶t̶o̶n̶e̶ hearts, but we’re with the MOH on this one. Schools and even tuition centres have been ordered to shut to break the chain of infections. So why the hell is the government now rushing to make allowances? 
 

Incidentally, health experts warn that a CMCO extension could be on the cards if we don’t see the Covid situation improving. In fact, a couple of docs say two weeks is way too short to gauge if the recent round of curbs have been successful. 😭😭😭

 

Here’re a few more important updates from the weekend, by the way:

  • village in Baling, Kedah has joined the list of areas that have been placed under CMCO. The order was imposed after 25 villagers tested positive. 
     
  • The Targeted Enhanced MCO (TEMCO) affecting the area surrounding Alor Setar Prison’s been extended a further two weeks, to Nov 1.
     
  • Sabah CM Hajiji Mohd Noor and his wifey have recovered from Covid-19.
     
  • Wanna donate to the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 efforts? Cash donations can be made under the name ‘Sumbangan Perubatan KKM’ and channelled through RHB Bank (account number: 2-66016-0002347-5).
     
  • Here’s the updated list of places hit by Covid-19.

First among equals

Will Muhyiddin Yassin still be prime minister when Parliament reconvenes in November? Will Anwar Ibrahim be declared the country’s new premier? Or will we have to deal with an interim government run by an interim PM that may or may not be Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah?

 

On the surface, Bersatu, Umno and PAS are set to meet today and the story we’re hearing is their cooperation in Muafakat Nasional will be foremost on the agenda. Unfortunately, considering all the remarks made over the past week about friendship, loyalty and getting played out, it’s unlikely any sort of resolution is gonna be arrived at today.

 

Tuesday’s meeting of Umno’s supreme council – held in Pahang due to the CMCO in the Klang Valley and Putrajaya – though, is likely to be a different story. It really shouldn’t matter that there’s no CMCO in Pahang! The whole point is to avoid face-to-face meetings!!

 

PM Moo’s called on Umno leaders to list their demands after all that bratty behaviour about not getting what’s due to them. And the feeling is Tuesday’s meeting could well see Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and company settle on what they actually want. 

 

Word on the grapevine is that a Cabinet reshuffle is being sought, with Umno members elevated to key positions. Here’s a question to ask though: if Umno does get what it wants, were those remarks by Zahid about “a big chunk of Umno and Barisan Nasional MPs” supporting Anwar Ibrahim’s PM bid all a ruse? 

 

Saudara Nuar, if you recall, said following his meeting with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last week that he has the support of more than 120 MPs. However, since then, a whole load of Umno peeps – among them Hishammuddin Hussein and Nazri Aziz – have said they’d never back Anwar if it meant working with DAP. 

 

But surely these Umno fellas must’ve known Nuar would be banking on DAP’s support, right? Or was DAP and its 42 seats in the Dewan Rakyat never mentioned by Anwar when he was rallying MPs to his cause?

 

It’s all a puzzle really. But in perhaps worse news for the PM-forever-in-waiting, he’s got other problems on his hands in the guise of six police probes. One of these investigations, we already knew early last week, centres on a list of MPs allegedly supporting Anwar’s bid for PM. But it seems there’re other cases too, including one for… wait for it… sodomy!

 

Yes, folks, 22 years on from when a mattress was hauled in and out of court more than 20 damn times we’re back at where it all went wrong for the one-time heir to the throne. As one wag put it so nicely on Twitter – the cops keep singing the same tune re Anwar: so do mi la! Between his political alliances falling apart and the police probes potentially biting him in the butt (sorry, couldn’t resist), Anwar is probably shitting bricks right now.  

 

Anyhoo, while all this was going on, a flood of no-confidence motions against PM Moo were filed for the upcoming Dewan Rakyat meeting. 

 

The idea is since the motion from the last time around never got debated, a tonne of ’em this time should do the trick. Problem is, as we highlighted last week, the Standing Orders are pretty clear that government matters take precedence in the Dewan unless a minister deigns to bring it up.

Still, if things are not sorted between Umno and MooMoo by the time the Dewan convenes, could someone in the PM’s Cabinet be persuaded to go against him? Also, what indeed happens if the gomen’s Budget, that’s set to be tabled during the upcoming meeting, gets defeated? 

 

This brilliant piece by Wong Chin Huat from earlier in the year suggests the Budget can be seen as a proxy vote of no-confidence and could make Moo look hella bad if it’s rejected. But really, who can tell if we’ll even get to that point? And yeah, it would make a leader in a normal, functioning democracy look bad (and even resign!), but since ours is a muka tak malu, dysfunctional political system, we’d suggest not holding your breath.

 

Oh, by the way, speaking of muka tak malu, if you thought this mess couldn’t get more complicated and unpredictable, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s party, Pejuang, has put his name forward to lead the country as interim PM until the 15th General Election! Can lightning strike thrice for the once and forever PM? 

This and that

Here’re a number of itty bitty, but we feel still important/ interesting news that also made headlines:

 

  • Remember that kuno and sexist pantun by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka? Well, according to some folks on Twitterjaya, menumbuk sambal has nothing to do with pounding chilies. It’s gotta do with pleasing your woman. That’s a little better, we guess. But not a whole lot. 

    Anyway, those cheeky DBP buggers seem to be on a roll. This one about jumping over fences and unfulfilled promises is particularly funny, given the recent event involving a jumping ‘Datuk Seri’ which left our graft busters red-faced.
     
  • Speaking of jumping fences, the cops have released a pic of the man who escaped from the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya last week after being arrested for involvement in a scam racket. The dude’s been identified as Goh Leong Yeong, 32. Turns out, not a Datuk Seri as previously reported.
     
  • Klang Valley’s water woes ain’t over yet. It suffered another water disruption – the third since the CMCO was announced – this weekend due to a burst pipe.

    Water supply’s been restored to many places. Many more households were set to get water by Tuesday. However, Air Selangor has warned that the restoration schedule had been affected after it has had to shut down more treatment plants this morning due to pollutants in the river. You can check the affected areas here.
     
  • Benedict Sandin, who earned international scholarly acclaim as the world’s foremost expert on Iban culture was honoured in a Google doodle Sunday. The Sarawakian folklorist and ethnographer, who passed away in 1982, would’ve been 102 yesterday. 

“It’s no matter to (the common people) if the high lords play their games of thrones, so long as they are left in peace ... they never are."

- George R.R Martin, A Game of Thrones -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • According to a new study, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, can survive on the skin for up to nine hours. That’s about five times longer than the flu virus! Moral: WASH YOUR HANDS, PEOPLE!
     
  • Singaporean blogger Amos Lee’s been charged with solicitating and possessing child porn in the US of A. The blogger, who fled Singapore after being jailed there twice for controversial online posts and was granted political asylum in America, is alleged to have exchanged nude photos and thousands of messages with a 14-year-old.
     
  • Jacinta Ardern’s Labour Party has won so many votes in New Zealand’s polls that it’s on course to become the first party in yonks to be able to govern the country without having to cut deals with rival parties. The incumbent PM’s expert handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is seen as having played a major role in the victory.
     
  • A ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh was broken hours after it was agreed. Both sides have accused the other of violating the truce.
     
  • Protests erupted in Thailand again over the weekend, with demonstrators once more calling for reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government. In a veiled response, King Maha Vajiralongkorn said his country needs people who love the country and the monarchy. What? You were expecting something else?
     
  • Demonstrations have also broken out across France over the beheading of a secondary school teacher. The victim was killed on Friday weeks after he allegedly showed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in class during a moral and civics discussion on free speech.

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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