When Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said our Covid-19 numbers would remain high for the time being, we're not really sure if even he knew just how high they'd go. Let's just say we're breaking records.

Meanwhile, the auditor-general (A-G) has released his report and again, we end up smelling like sewage. Also, more ministry budgets were passed in Parliament and, the Perak sultan had some choice words during the oath-taking ceremony for the state's new MB.

Another day, another record

Just too damned high

Yesterday saw a record-breaking 2,234 new cases, eclipsing recoveries which, though high, were only half that (1,112). This meant the number of active cases rose to 11,867

There were also 3 deaths, bringing the death toll to 396, and five new clusters – one in Selangor and two each in KL and Johor. 

At this rate, the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine we’ve been promised in the first quarter of next year can’t come soon enough. The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), though, has urged caution. This is as the deal provides the Western drug companies indemnity if there are any side effects (allegedly! allegedly!). Wah, pandai nampak!

CAP can perhaps refer to clinical trial results for the Pfizer vaccine here, and/or take heart with the World Health Organization’s faith in Malaysia’s capabilities in handling the vaccine.

The gomen’s waiting for royal consent before making any fatwa announcement declaring Covid vaccine safe for use on Malaysian Muslims.

Incidentally, a poll has found nine out of every 10 Malaysians back a move for mandatory vaccinations for serious infectious diseases.

Meanwhile, here are some other Covid-related reports that came out yesterday:

  • Retailers call on the gomen not to extend the CMCO when it expires on Dec 20 and instead use a more targeted approach to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 
     
  • Putrajaya’s been urged to explore alternatives to detaining migrants and refugee children. Over 700 kids have been languishing in detention centres nationwide as at October. For shame Putrajaya!

    We hate to say it folks, but this is another example of Malaysia’s stellar human rights record (sarcasm mode on full blast), which we talked about yesterday
     
  • A committee made up of members of both the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara will be set up to address the issue of overcrowding in prisons. The problem had led to the rapid spread of the coronavirus in such facilities. 
     
  • Over 2,200 cases of domestic violence have been reported this year, with numbers especially high during the various MCO periods
     
  • Health Minister Dr Adham Baba is under home quarantine after coming into contact with a pressperson who later tested positive for Covid-19. Takpe YB, minumlah air suam

The good, the bad and the fugly

The Auditor-General’s Report 2019 Series 1 was one of the main focuses in Parliament yesterday, and some of the issues brought up ranged from embarrassing to downright horrifying.

All in, 15 audits on 12 ministries involving RM15.71 billion worth of programmes were carried out, and all generally met their objectives, though there were some “minor weaknesses”. Let’s start from the not-so-good to the really bad:

  • The A-G took issue with DBKL for taking over 500 days for someone’s application for a hawker licence to get approved, when the stated timeframe was between 14 and 20 days. 
     
  • The A-G’s Department found over 150 issues in its audits of government ministries and agencies, of which 11 are considered punitive, meaning that enforcement agencies can take action against them. 
     
  • RM101.14 million has already been paid for the Taman Armed Forces Fund Board apartments and Bukit Jalil residences development projects even though no contracts have been signed
     
  • The development of the new ePerolehan system had been delayed by three years. In case you’re blur, ePerolehan’s an electronic procurement system for suppliers to offer products and services to the gomen online.

Several other news concerning the A-G’s Report were retracted later, and we expect these to be reinstated today, or in the coming days. So, watch out for more updates when we return on Monday.

Half the budget, half the trouble?

Three more ministry budgets were approved in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, including that of the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

That ministry’s budget was approved after the original RM85.5 mil allocation to revive Jasa – that BN-era Special Affairs Department a.k.a gomen’s former propaganda arm that’ll now be called J-KOM – was slashed by more than half.

Sadly, the opposition bid to scuttle the budget over fears the rebranded Jasa could still be used for propaganda didn’t take.

The other two budgets passed were that of the Human Resources Ministry and Youth and Sports Ministry. That makes the score Perikatan Nasional, 22 – Pakatan Harapan, zilch! Only five more ministries’ budgets to go in the final week of Parliament.

Meanwhile, de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan had told the House there’s no need to rush motions of confidence/no confidence against PM Muhyiddin Yassin as there was no proof Moo had lost the confidence of MPs. Judging by the gomen’s success in the ministry budget debates so far, is this surprising? 

Of course, Taki said there’s nothing stopping any MP claiming to have majority support (cough, Anwar, cough) from sending statutory declarations signed by his supporters to the Agong. 

We were also treated to some mighty confusing stuff by Deputy Moneybags Minister Shahar Abdullah yesterday. Recently, he’d said there were no plans to bring back the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the gomen wanted to focus on public health and economic recovery. 

Yesterday, however, he pulled a 180º and said the gomen was mulling bringing back the GST to raise funds for its coffers. And if that wasn’t confusing enough, he later tabled seven amendment bills for first reading.

Sultan murka and other tales

So Saarani Mohamad was sworn in as the new Perak menteri besar yesterday. He immediately appointed five new exco members, one from Bersatu and the others from Umno, so far. He also announced he would retain his predecessor’s 2021 state budget. 

But what really caught everyone’s attention was Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah’s strongly-worded speech at the oath-taking ceremony. The Perak Ruler had said the fact this was the third such ceremony had to be held in the two years since GE14 was not something to be proud of.  

For the record, ousted MB Ahmad Faizal Azumu was sworn in twice, once as head of then-Pakatan state gomen and again as head of the PN gig.

If anything, the ruler said this reflected a failure of political leadership. Hear, hear! We like what he said so much that we’ve included it as our quote of the day.

Meanwhile, other matters made the news yesterday, so here they are:

  • A study of rental listings by a business intelligence analyst has apparently shown what many Malaysians have long complained off, that racism exists within the property market here.
     
  • Former dictator PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Pejuang has taken the Registrar of Societies to court over the delay in registering the party. 
     
  • Penang is considering a nominated assembly member system to increase the participation of women to at least 30% in the state assembly. Yay! 
     
  • Police chief Abdul Hamid Bador has ordered investigations into police General Operations Force members stationed at the borders after possible elements of corruption were found in connection with smuggling activities. 
     
  • The inquest into the death of Franco-Irish teen Nora Anne Quoirin, who disappeared from a resort in Negeri Sembilan last year, has concluded, with a decision expected next month
     
  • Celebrity preacher Syed Shah Iqmal Syed Mohammad Shaiful, or Da’I Syed, who was detained following a series of sexual assault reports lodged by several women, was charged with committing unnatural sex and molesting a college student. 

"What happened will be recorded as a reflection of failure, instead of success. (It is) the failure of leaders among politicians..."

- Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • British PM Boris Johnson has said there’s “a strong possibility” Britain and the EU would fail to strike a new trade deal, but vowed to avoid a tumultuous split when Brexit takes effect on Jan 1. 
     
  • The daily US Covid-19 death toll surpassed 3,000 for the first time, prompting pleas for Americans to scale back Christmas plans. 
     

  • Time Magazine has unveiled its four finalists for Person of the Year – US President-elect Joe Biden, his defeated opponent Donald Trump, frontline healthcare workers battling Covid-19 together with US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci, and the global movement for racial justice. 
     
  • Popular Tamil actress VJ Chitra was found dead in her hotel room in Nazrathpet, Chennai, India on Dec 9 of a suspected suicide. She was 29.

    We’d like to remind all you folks who may be facing emotional and psychological distress, that you can call Befrienders at 03-76272929, or the gomen’s psychosocial hotlines at 011-63996482/4236, or 03-29359935.
     
  • The footballing world has lost another great with the passing of Italy’s 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi at the age of 64.

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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