Some good news to end the week - Our daily Covid-19 numbers took a slight dip yesterday, and we recorded our highest ever daily recovery rate!

But on the other hand, another federal territory's been placed under Conditional MCO (CMCO), the numbers of Klang Valley cases go up and up and the power struggle initiated by Anwar Ibrahim continues as Umno plays both sides (allegedly allegedly).

Ups and downs

The good place (and the bad)

It was again a good news, bad news kinda day in terms of our Covid-19 numbers.
 
First, the good! The number of new cases took a slight dip from 660 to 589. And, even better, 409 people were discharged yesterday. That’s the largest amount of recoveries in a single day so far!
 
Now the bad. Despite the recoveries, Malaysia’s active cases have risen to 5,945. There were 3 deaths, bringing the death toll to 170. Four new clusters, spanning four states and two federal territories, have also been detected. 
 
It ain’t looking pretty for the Klang Valley either. Although Sabah remains the state with the most number of cases (304); Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya accounted for more than a quarter of cases (27.2 percent or 160 cases) nationwide.
 
In fact, Selangor alone accounted for 150 cases, pushed up largely by the ‘Utama’ cluster. Named after the popular 1 Utama shopping mall, that particular cluster currently accounts for 132 cases in all. The mall has said 44 of its security guards that tested positive hadn’t been infected within mall premises. 

Experts believe things could get worse in the Klang Valley. And even if they don’t, it’s still likely to be another six weeks before Selangor, at least, sees a downward trend in infections. 

What’s more worrying are reports the mutated super-spreader strain of Covid-19 dubbed D614G, detected in the large ‘Benteng’ LD cluster in Lahad Datu and Tawau, could’ve been exported to the peninsula by Sabah returnees. 

This, we’re told, is possible considering there’ve been 23 new clusters involving 604 Sabah returnees. FYI, a similar, but different, D614G mutation was previously detected, including in the infamous ‘Sivagangga‘ cluster. You can read this to understand more about this mutation and why it causes the virus to spread even faster.

“Concern” is certainly the buzzword of the day: The health ministry is clearly worried, calling on medical and health personnel outside the ministry to volunteer their services to help manage the third wave of infections. 

Sarawak, attempting to stave off a mushrooming of cases, has extended the entry ban on visitors from Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia till Nov 15. 
 
And there seems to be no let-up for poor, beleaguered Sabah. Up to 43 percent of Sabah’s Covid patients are highly-symptomatic, which is more than triple of Malaysia’s 12 percent average back in April. As pointed out by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, that means four in 10 coronavirus patients in Sabah are ill enough to be hospitalised. Among them are Kunak assemblywoman Norazlina Arif who’s being treated in Kota Kinabalu.

Yii is advocating not only increased testing but a faster testing process, especially as the figures could indicate a large number of asymptomatic people yet to be detected. 

But while testing capacity has been increased in the country to some extent, Sabah’s numbers are still too hot to handle – the air force has had to fly swab tests to the peninsula for testing as labs in Sabah are overwhelmed. 

To make matters worse, with blood donors shying away from hospitals and blood banks temporarily closed in the wake of the increasing Covid cases in the state, Sabah is experiencing a shortage of blood supply at its health facilities. 

As you can see from the above, Sabah is in dire straits (and we don’t mean in a Mark Knopfler kinda way). As such, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of calls for funds and donations. If you’re looking to contribute to one that’s for sure legit, you can send your $$$ to the Sabah branch of the Malaysian Medical Association. Details here

And lastly, if you want to know where Covid-19 has reared its ugly head, you can go here for a list that Malaysiakini’s been updating several times a day. 

Hey ho, there's mo' CMCO

The federal territory of Labuan has become the fifth area to be placed under the CMCO. The semi-lockdown will begin tomorrow and last till Oct 30. 
 
As with other CMCO areas, economic activities and essential businesses will be allowed to continue, as will all manner of transportation, including water taxis and shipping, albeit all with some restrictions.
 
Inter-state travel is banned except in emergencies, which will require a permit. However, there’s no restriction for travel within Labuan as it’s considered one district. The same goes for KL.
 
Oh, and there’s no 10km-radius travel restriction like before, as long as you don’t cross state or district lines of areas under lockdown.
 
Here’s the thing, though. Some areas like Bukit Gasing and Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) are right smack on the border of KL and Selangor. What then? Does this mean people on the KL side can’t set foot in PJ or vice-versa, even if just a few km away?
 
And, coupled with the 10km-radius restriction being withdrawn, someone from Cheras can travel to say, the KL side of TTDI without problems, but in Selangor, someone in Shah Alam can’t travel to Klang, which would likely be a much shorter journey. In short, none of this makes much sense. Which really shouldn’t surprise us anymore. 
 
The minister in charge of these things, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, also announced that the National Security Council (NSC) had changed its earlier restrictions for dine-ins of two per table to four, provided the table is big. Just don’t forget that only two people per house are allowed out to travel, so don’t think mom, dad, the baby and the helper can go for a nice night out, yeah?
 
The NSC also decided that Friday and obligatory prayers can continue in Selangor, KL and Putrajaya during the CMCO, though the number of congregants will be limited. This all depends on the size of the mosque or surau, but at most, only 50 people’ll be allowed inside. 

It’s a little worrying that despite this Covid wave looking worse than the ones that came before, our government is loosening restrictions so quickly. Has the F&B sector threatened to spit in our politicians food if they don’t loosen restrictions? Have a bunch of imams threatened their souls with eternal damnation if they don’t allow Friday worshippers? Your guess is as good as ours. 
 
Speaking of things that make zero sense, there’s our brilliant quarantine-flouting Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali. We don’t know if the suspense is getting to him or if he was just trying to be smart, but dear Khai yesterday urged the Attorney-General to expedite investigations against him.

He says he’s been keeping quiet all this while, leaving it to authorities to investigate, but he now wants to know whether he’ll be charged or not. Gatal ke, Datuk? Or just so cocksure that nothing’s gonna happen to you?
 
He’s not the only one though. Ex-minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is also itching to find out if the turkey will be hauled to court for not quarantining at home after returning from a trip to Turkey in July. SS has pointed out it’s been 100 days since Khai broke the regulations, labelling it “100 days of double standards”.

Again we point out, it took just a month for the Sivagangga superspreader to be investigated, charged and sentenced.

We're all missing the point

The b̶u̶l̶l̶s̶h̶i̶t̶ wrangling for power by Umno following Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s claim he has support to dethrone the government shows no signs of stopping.

Umno is busy playing kingmaker during the current political imbroglio, while others are busy making accusations and claims (and rescinding them), and declaring as to who they support or don’t.
 
As we mentioned yesterday, Umno’s in pole position now. They are holding Perikatan at ransom with the announcement they are considering pulling support, while at the same time negotiating (allegedly, allegedly!) terms with Anwar.
 
In fact, this article quotes sources as saying Umno is pushing the same power-sharing formula to both sides. And if they don’t get their way, they will trigger snap polls. 
 
Barisan Nasional sec-gen Annuar Musa has said Umno’s begun negotiations over the party’s support for Perikatan. But our man has also hit out at Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah aka Ku Li for his letter to Azhar “Art” Harun, urging the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to expedite a motion of no confidence against Moo as a matter of national interest. Does that mean Annuar supports Muhyiddin? 🤔
 
Incidentally, Art has tried to set the record straight about his reply to Ku Li’s letter. TL;DR, the Speaker doesn’t have the power to move the vote of no confidence motion above government business unless a minister requests it. 

Anwar may be front and centre of the current hullabaloo, but none of his gambits would be possible if the grand old United Malays National Organisation, the party that’s had the chance to rule the roost for over six-bloody-ty years, haven’t been prostituting themselves left, right and centre to anyone who’ll give them a way back into power by any means possible.

Umno’s interference has triggered the downfall of the previous elected government and could now detrone the unelected gomen it helped put in place. 

And with all these shenanigans going on, it’s just a waste of time to try and keep tabs of all the news of who is supporting whom or who is denying what. We seem to be missing the point.

For one, it’s clear negotiations, both in front or behind the scenes are still ongoing on all sides of the political divide. Alliances, even within parties, are being formed and are changing all the time. Two, we’ve no idea who is actually honest (ha!) or masking true intentions.

Three, all this is going on when our leaders should be focusing on Covid, the economy and basically, on us, the people. If anything, this has shown our politicos have learnt nothing from the mess they created with the Sabah polls. And THAT, friends, is the main point.

And all the other stuff

Here are a few other stories which appeared yesterday which we thought we should include here for you:

  • The US Labour Department’s added rubber gloves made in Malaysia to a list of items manufactured under forced labour, a claim that has been denied by Top Glove, the world’s largest glove maker.
     
  • The driver of a Perodua Myvi who caused the death of a navy man in a recent accident while she was driving high on drugs was sentenced to six years and seven months’ jail and fined RM11,300. 
     
  • Speaking of “high”, a man doped up on methamphetamines was arrested after punching a fireman who was among several firefighters who arrived on scene to douse the flames enveloping the fool’s car after an accident.

    Here’s the best part, he punched the fireman after the latter and his mates stopped him from getting back into the burning car! 
     
  • This one really got us all in a huff. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka tweeted a pantun yesterday as part of its Dekad Bahasa Kebangsaan campaign. The pantun basically asks what’s the point of having a beautiful wife if she can’t pound chillies to make her man’s sambal. Dear DBP, the 19th century called and asked you to get your sexist ass back there. 

“Better days are coming! They're called Saturday and Sunday."

- Karen Salmansohn -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Over in the US, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris has called off campaign trips until Monday after two of her aides tested positive for Covid-19. This as infections reached record highs in Wisconsin and other US Midwest states

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden need not quarantine himself despite flying in a plane with a person who subsequently tested positive, as he was not in close contact with the latter.
     
  • Meanwhile, instead of the two men engaging in what was supposed to be the second of three presidential debates, Biden and his opponent Donald Trump would be holding separate town halls at the same time.
     
  • Hong Kong and Singapore have reached an agreement in principle to possibly create the world’s first two-way travel bubble, which would exempt travellers of both cities from having to quarantine. Travellers would only have to prove they tested negative for the coronavirus.
     
  • Thailand pro-democracy protests continue despite the country announcing a “severe” state of emergency.

    This, after thousands of demonstrators massed around the Government House, the seat of government, in Bangkok. Thailand has issued a ban on gatherings of five or more people as part of a crackdown. You can follow developments here
     
  • Russia has pulled out of talks with the Netherlands and Australia over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, complaining of “vicious” attempts to pin blame on Moscow. 

Whoops
Yesterday, we stated an enterprising ‘Datuk Seri’ who hopped, skipped and jumped over a fence behind the MACC HQ to escape re-arrest was successfully apprehended. Turns out the joker’s more Jho Low-esque than we thought and is actually still on the run. Looks like we’re not the only ones confused.

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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