Malaysia has apparently managed to reduce crime and corruption in the country. But are these numbers anywhere near enough? Are we merely cheering small victories? Should we cheer at all? Every battle won brings us a step closer to winning the war, right? In other news, Malaysia has had its share of the scare from the new coronavirus from China; and, Jibby Razak denies appointing former AG Apandi Ali to the board of Tabung Haji as a reward for clearing him of wrongdoings. And to all our readers who celebrate the Lunar New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai! May the year of the metal rat bring you prosperity and happiness!

Viruses of crime, corruption and corona

Well done, geng

Yay for the cops. Yay for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Yay for Malaysia!

In two announcements yesterday, we learned that the coppers, the Royal Malaysian Police, PDRM or police force, whatever you wanna call them have managed to bring down the crime rate, while the country has improved in the annual international Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

Let’s look at the crime rate first. IGP Abdul Hamid Bador says our coppers, in 2019, managed to bring down the crime index by 7.5%, to 249 cases per 100,000 population from the initial target of 269 cases for the year.

According to a report, this is also an improvement from 2017 and 2018 which recorded crime index of 309.7 cases and 273.8 per 100,000 population respectively. Kudos to our men and women in blue!

Among other successes last year, as mentioned by Abdul Hamid, were the arrests of 268 policemen for drug abuse under Ops Blue Devil; the massive drug bust in Penang of 12 tonnes of cocaine with a street value of a whopping RM2.4 billion; and, more than 17,500 operations by the Commercial Crime Investigation Department, with the arrests of 15,876 suspects.

But are these numbers good enough? Going by Malaysia’s current population of 32 million (not counting the millions of foreigners) and the crime index rate, there were almost 80,000 criminal cases last year. It’s almost as many cases as we have policemen and women.

So keep up the good work PDRM, but don’t rest on whatever small laurels you earned. Make sure you continue to improve each year.

Meanwhile, Transparency International-Malaysia headman Muhammad Mohan says the country jumped 10 spots in 2019 to 51 on the international CPI, scoring 53 points compared to 47 in 2018. This is our highest score since 2012.

In the scoring system that runs from 0 (for super kotor) to 100 (super bersih), we’re the kid that’s bang average, bringing home Cs and C minuses. We’re not nearly as good as annoying superstars like Denmark and New Zealand (87 points each), but not as tragic as perennial underachievers like Syria, South Sudan and Somalia with 13, 12 and 9 points each. 

Muhammad said the improvement was because of the gomen’s action in tackling scandals such as the ones relating to 1MDBSRC International and Felda.

Nice. But again, we can do better. As important, along with these big, headline-grabbing cases, are the little ones that happen all around us every day and affect every facet of our lives. Cut those and we’d really see the positive impact.

M-m-m-my Corona

Is the deadly new coronavirus from Wuhan in China getting closer to our shores?

A man was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu from the KK International Airport after displaying influenza-like symptoms.

The airport is on high alert at present, and aircrew and passengers alike are required to go through health screenings before they are allowed to proceed to Immigration counters. All who display influenza-like symptoms will be isolated before being taken to hospital.

As it turns out, there were not one but four suspected cases – two each in Selangor and Sabah. However, all four tested negative for the virus. Phew!

In a related development, Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye assures Malaysians that hospitals in the country are able to handle coronavirus cases. He says 26 government and specialist hospitals – at least one in every state – have been identified as being prepared to handle, monitor and treat such cases.

Sadly, there does not yet seem to be a vaccine for the coronavirus (learn more about the new virus here). However, Malaysia is still dealing with the Influenza A flu outbreak. Lee warned Malaysians against buying flu vaccines online as the ministry had not approved such online sales and the people were at risk of buying expired or counterfeit goods. All well and good Doc, but make sure there are enough legitimate vaccines available at clinics, hospitals and pharmacies, ya?

Back to the coronavirus, Royal Customs Department director-general Paddy Abd Halim says Customs officers will also be playing their part and would aid relevant agencies in screening people entering the country. In particular, the Veterinary Services Department had requested help from Customs officers in checking food brought by foreigners.

The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, has advised Malaysians against non-essential travel to Wuhan while both AirAsia and Malindo Air have temporarily suspended flights to and from the Chinese city.

The coronavirus, believed to have originated in Wuhan, has infected hundreds of people, killing at least 17 so far. It has spread to several countries via people travelling from Wuhan, but the World Health Organization said following an emergency meeting on Thursday that it had not yet become a public health emergency of international proportions.

Keeping the (bad) faith?

Was former Attorney-General Apandi Ali’s appointment to the board of Tabung Haji a reward for absolving Najib Razak of all wrongdoing in the 1MDB and SRC International scandals?

This seemed to be what lead prosecutor V. Sithambaram was getting at when he questioned Jibby in court yesterday. Saying the Tabung Haji Act did not require an attorney-general to be appointed to the board, Sithambaram suggested that Apandi was appointed to the board on the very day he made a statement that Najib was not involved in the scandals.

The Jibster, of course, denied the appointment was done in bad faith, adding he couldn’t remember the exact date Apandi had been appointed to the board.

Asked if the defence was planning on calling Apandi to testify, Najib said they were considering it.

Sithambaram also suggested that Najib’s claim of an RM2.4 billion “donation” from the Saudi royal family was false and that this was the reason why no member of the royal family was being called to testify on his behalf.

Of course, this was also denied by Jibby, who claimed it’s difficult to get any member of the Saudi royal family to testify. Well, no shit Sherloc””’k! No one’s gonna come defend you, mate. Why would the Saudis care?

And even if they knew the money didn’t come from them (we’re not saying it didn’t), they wouldn’t bother testifying for the prosecution, either. Perhaps Sithambaram should be asked that question.

Meanwhile, Najib’s defence team stated that an Aussie handwriting expert will be here sometime in February to analyse signatures on 13 documents to verify if they were authentic Jibby “autographs”. Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh informed trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that the expert could only travel to Malaysia in the week of Feb 10.

Harvinderjit said he didn’t foresee much delay to the trial as the analysis would only take two days and a report on the matter readied within a week.

In a somewhat related piece of news, a satirical video has emerged calling for fugitive financier Jho Low to return to Malaysia for Chinese New Year. Presented as a “mockumentary”, the video features several notable local personalities playing the parts of Low’s family, friends and former employees, even an “ex-girlfriend”.

website was also created, featuring the video as well as messages from “Malaysians”, including one from “Your Advisor” with the message “Jho, can I advise you something?! Please come home.”

You gotta check it out. It’s brilliant.

Here and there

Here are the other, bittier, things that happened yesterday:
 

  • The Parents-Teachers Leadership Association (Muafakat) of MRSM says solat classes are in line with the Rukun Negara principle of “Belief in God” and refuted reports of complaints they are too frequent to the point of affecting studies. It also said if a claim that a student had been required to attend a session to drive out spirits was true, it was an isolated case and should have been reported to the Muafakat of the MRSM concerned. Sounds like a very general statement made without any attempt to investigate the claims, no?
     
  • The KL High Court has granted Muslim women’s rights group Sisters in Islam a stay on a fatwa in Selangor which declared the organisation a deviant group for alleged liberalism and pluralism. Yay SIS. But we expect certain groups to raise a stink over a civil court interfering in a syariah matter.
     
  • The Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association has called on the government to take legal action against anti-vaxxers for spreading false info bout vaccines and immunisation. Oh, we soooo agree.
     
  • Gerakan president Dominic Lau says there is nothing political about the party inviting Mahathir Mohamad to its Chinese New Year open house tomorrow as it was tradition for the PM to be invited. Can people stop politicising religious and cultural festivals already? Meanwhile, several highways are keeping with tradition and offering toll discounts for CNY.
     
  • Hooray for Hanna Alkaf! The Malaysian author won the Young Adult/High School Literature category in the Freeman Book Awards 2019 for her novel The Weight of Our Sky (the translation of the second half of the Malay saying “di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung“), a fictional story of a young Malay girl saved by a Christian Chinese family, set during the May 13 race riots.

“We don't seem to be able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?”

- Will Rogers -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Two days into Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Republicans have conceded grudging admiration for the presentation of the case against El Presidente but say they have not heard anything to change their mind about acquitting him. As usual, you can follow live updates here.
     
  • More on Trump. His administration has rolled back protection for millions of miles of America’s waterways, leaving them vulnerable to pollution.
     
  • The threat of nuclear weapons and climate change has seen the Doomsday Clock reset to 100 seconds from Midnight, the closest it has ever been to the end of the world.
     
  • The International Court of Justice has ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect the Rohingya from genocide. Fat lot of good that’s gonna do. We all know Myanmar’s gonna flip ICJ the bird. 
     
  • “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra testified that former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein overpowered and raped her in the mid-1990s. She also testified that he’d made other crude overtures, including sending her X-rated chocolates and showing up uninvited in his underwear with a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a video in the other.

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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