Locked down again
Back in red
So four months from moving into recovery mode, most of Malaysia is under conditional movement control again. Or at least a third of the country is.
Due to our Covid-19 cases shooting through the roof of late, Senior Minister-in-charge Ibrahim Sabri Yaakob has announced a two-week Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) for Sabah from today, and for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from tomorrow. In the words of that cartoon Donald – the duck, not the president – we say, “Aw Phooey!”
While the move may be intended for our collective good, regrettably, like every other time the National Security Council (NSC) has sprung shit like this without warning, there’s been a whole lot of confusion, frustration, folks making plans to leave the city, and panic buying.
Even Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari has said he was caught off guard by Izzy’s announcement. ‘Cos with only Klang, Gombak, Hulu Langat and a part of Petaling displaying worrying numbers, his government feels a statewide lockdown wasn’t needed. His concerns are understandable due to the economic impact such a move could have on one of the country’s richest states.
If you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, that’s cos this is reminiscent of the hullabaloo over the earlier Klang CMCO which had also been sprung on the Pakatan Harapan state government. Tell us Izzy, do phones not work where you’re at? This time round, Selangor will send counter suggestions to the NSC for consideration.
It’s unclear just what kinda leeway Amiruddin and co. are seeking. However, the MB’s statement does bring up an important query i.e. how much say do individual states have in matters of public health?
The question’s been brought up before, of course. Particularly back in May when a number of state gomens gave Putrajaya the middle finger over implementation of the CMCO from the more strict MCO.
Thing is, then, like now, the legality of going against the Federal government was anything but clear ’cos while some legal experts were of the view states must toe the line, others felt otherwise.
Dos and Don’ts
Here’s a summary of what’s being shut and prohibited under the CMCO, by the way:
- The crossing of district borders, except for work (you’d need a letter from your employer) or emergencies
- More than two persons travelling and grocery shopping together
- All schools, colleges and unis, training institutes and childcare centres
- Parks and recreation centres as well as all sporting and recreational activities, including jogging in public areas
- Houses of worship
- Social and cultural events e.g. weddings and feasts
- Entertainment outlets
- Restaurant dine-ins
In Sabah, meanwhile, on top of the above rules, there’ll be:
- Dawn-to-dusk (6am-6pm) curfews for grocery shops, food outlets, petrol stations, pharmacies, and medical halls
- Fixed operation hours (6am-2pm) for wholesale and daily markets
- Fixed operation hours (6am-8pm) for taxis and e-hailing services
- A ban on buses
- Restricted permission for small and medium industries to continue operating
Are you wondering, though, what happens if you live in Section 17 PJ and want to shop for food and stuff at Hero Market in TTDI? Can you go for a solo walk inside your condo compound? Yeah, we wish we could help. Perhaps this guide can. One thing we know is all government services are set to carry on operating as before.
Unfortunately, despite all that bleating about people not adhering to the SOPs, we are still being denied timely and clear dissemination of info that’ll help us do just that.
Anyways, in the interest of brevity, here’re some other lockdown-related stuff to take note of:
- Banks have said they’re ready to assist customers in CMCO and Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) areas who face trouble making loan payments. BTW, if you need a refresher on what separates a CMCO from an EMCO and TEMCO, here’s that explanation again.
- The stock market took a beating on Monday, closing 11.92 points lower than it did on Friday all thanks to the CMCO being announced. Fun times!
- This isn’t really lockdown related but six areas in Klang and Shah Alam have been hit with water cuts in the runup to the CMCO coming into force. Supply is expected to return today before curbs take effect tomorrow, though, so fingers crossed.
- The Penang Prison has been placed under EMCO. A total of 19 inmates, including an 85-year-old man who died on Oct 5, have been discovered to be Covid-19 positive at the prison.
From crap to crappier
Another day, another rise in Covid-19 cases, with further deaths and yet more clusters.
In terms of the numbers, Monday was another godawful day at the office, with 563 new cases nationwide and two deaths. However, the big story is that we’ve now officially shot past the 5,000 active cases mark (5,039 to be exact) with close to a hundred people now in intensive care.
Malaysia’s cumulative cases are now at 16,220, while total fatalities stand at 159.
The pace of infections seems to be picking up in Malaysia’s urban centres – cases in Selangor and KL went up by about a hundred, for example – while Sabah still leads the scoring charts in terms of active infections and overall awfulness.
Both recent deaths were registered in the Sabah – in Tuaran and Tawau. Much more worrying is, as we highlighted yesterday, the fact that Malaysia’s poorest state is drowning with the weight of the problem there.
The situation, one report has claimed, is particularly dire in Semporna. The area, at the latest count, has 679 active cases and is being labelled “Little Wuhan”, Wuhan, China, being where the outbreak first began late last year.
How dire, you ask? Well, it seems doctors in Semporna have taken to not wearing scrubs under their personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the limited number of scrubs, while some frontliners keep their protective gear on for up to 10 hours straight and going without eating and drinking.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said about 500 people have been redeployed to help in various areas in the state with another 11 healthcare specialists set to be dispatched. However, the situation is a crapfest, and the D-G has called on medical volunteers and non-profits to come forward and lend Sabah a hand.
Considering all this, it’s no surprise at least one doctor is pissed as hell that some Sabahans are getting better treatment than others (allegedly allegedly).
In an open letter to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the doc, writing under the pseudonym Dr Tachdjian, claimed newly appointed Sabah Chief Minister Hajiji Mohd Noor was given special treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu.
Noor Hisham, however, in responding to the letter, maintained all Covid patients are treated the same way. And though that may be true, given the shit Sabah has had to go through on account of politicians playing politics in the midst of this pandemic, we’ll take that with a grain of salt.
(Cyber) securing Malaysia
The gomen is beefing up the country’s national cybersecurity preparedness with the Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy (MCSS) 2020-2014. The initiative is set to cost a whopping RM1.8 billion and will see a total of 12 strategies, 35 action plans and 113 programmes introduced to help Malaysia deal with cyber-attacks and other related stuff.
PM Moo noted during the MCSS’ launch yesterday that cybercrimes had increased by a truckload during the pandemic. And as such, enhanced cybersecurity was a paramount need.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the National Cyber Security Committee and helmed by the minister with the most delectable shirts Izzy Yaakob.
Malaysia’s cyber defence aside, here are some important bits and bobs that made the news:
- PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is set to be questioned by the cops over a list of names of 121 MPs purportedly backing him for the post of PM. Brother Nuar is being called up as a number of the listed politicos lodged multiple reports denying this. These include Umno’s Shahidan Kassim and Idris Jusoh.
The Harapan head honcho is being probed under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code over the “spread of rumours that can cause fear and alarm”. Meanwhile, the CMCO announcement hasn’t affected the PM-forever-in-waiting’s date with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong today over the takeover bid.
- Still on Anwar, he’s distanced himself from a report claiming investors are buying up shares linked to him. He’s insisted he has no financial interest in the stocks.
The Edge reported last week a number of stocks, including the shares of Malayan United Industries Bhd and Pan Malaysia Holdings, had been seeing active trade. The report claimed Anwar’s sis, Farizon Ibrahim, is a director in both companies.
- Malindo Airways is the latest airline rumoured to be planning layoffs. The aviation company is expected to cut about 2,200 jobs and reduce its fleet to just five Boeing 737 jets and six ATR turboprops. Malindo reportedly has 3,200 staff on its books currently.
- More than 51,000 retail stores are expected to close within the next four to five months, all thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s 15 percent of the total industry, by the way. That’s massive!
- Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was fully aware Yayasan Akalbudi funds were being used to pay his credit card bills, the High Court has heard. The claim was made by Zahid’s former aide, Mejar Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly. Former deputy PM Zahid is facing 47 corruption charges involving millions in cash belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi – the charity foundation he founded.
- Prosecution in Lim Guan Eng’s corruption case is seeking to amend two of the four charges against the ex-finance minister. He’s being accused of soliciting monetary gratification in exchange for helping a company secure the contract for the Penang undersea tunnel project.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
- The Godfather: Part III -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- British PM Boris Johnson has announced a three-tied lockdown system for England to protect against rising coronavirus cases as restrictions have so far been localised and not uniform.
The new system seeks to split the country into medium, high, and very high alert areas, with corresponding level of restrictions.
- The United States Senate judiciary committee has kicked off the four-day confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
- Microsoft has reportedly stopped a hacking operation that could’ve impacted the impending US election. The company says it took down servers behind Trickbot, a malware network being used to launch cyberattacks.
- According to an Australian study, Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – can survive up to 28 days on the surfaces of things like mobile phones and paper banknotes, and at lower temperatures.
The experiment was, however, done in a dark area, so it’s hard to say if light, especially UV light, can reduce the virus’ surface life span.
- China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi begins a four-nation Southeast Asian tour by signing a free trade agreement with Cambodia. He’s also set to visit Malaysia, Laos and Thailand as China and US look to shore up SEA support.
Meanwhile, Japan’s new PM Yoshihide Suga is planning his own tour of the region – to Indonesia and Vietnam – in support of America.
- American economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson have won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Economics for theories that have improved how auctions work across the globe. To read about this year’s other Nobel laureates, go here.