We now have a dozen novel coronavirus cases in Malaysia after two Malaysians who had been evacuated from Wuhan were diagnosed with the virus.

Meanwhile, former "FLOM" Rosie Mansor finally turned up in court, albeit with an ambulance and medical team in tow; while some people rage about a football team's sexist video and others rage at how easily some people can gain Malaysian citizenship while others rot in a stateless hell.

12 and counting...

12 is the loneliest number

Two Malaysians who were evacuated on a special flight from Wuhan have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (nCoV). But surprise, surprise: they weren’t the ones who had initially failed their health screenings.

It was reported two days ago that two of the 107 Malaysians brought back had failed health screenings and taken to Kuala Lumpur Hospital. The rest were taken to a place in Nilai for observation for up to two weeks.

But the two who failed health screenings tested negative for nCoV. Instead, two others who had been in Nilai were later found to have contracted nCoV. This brings the number of Malaysians recorded with the virus up to three, with 12 people infected in total here. One person, however, a four-year-old Chinese national, has since recovered.

The outbreak is not slowing down globally either – 27,648 people have been infected and 564 killed so far (there’s some dispute over the accuracy of the death toll though). Yesterday, 70 people died in Hubei – another record high. 

Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan is turning out to be a real life hero, offering a reward of one million yuan (about RM587,000) to anyone who finds an antidote.

Jackie may not have to wait as long as anticipated to part with his money. A British scientist is reported to have made a significant breakthrough which would possibly reduce a part of the normal development time for a vaccine from two to three years to just 14 days. Animal testing could begin by next week and human studies by the summer. So, the apocalypse may be cancelled after all. 

Anyway, there’s been so much going on with this, so we’re just gonna shorten the various stories to point form to not waste your time. 

  • A Canadian teen was taken to the KL Hospital (do you, like us, still think of it simply as GH?) after collapsing at the Petronas Towers in KLCC. Cops and a hazmat team were deployed to KLCC after the teen’s collapse.
     
  • The Singapore business meeting where the first Malaysian contracted nCoV is also linked to a case in South Korea. Singapore is now working to identify who had came into close contact with the two patients.
     
  • The 4-year-old girl from China who had recovered from the virus in Langkawi didn’t need any special drug, apparently. Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad says nCoV is “self-limiting” and can eventually be overcome by a healthy immune system.
     
  • 12 people have so far been detained for spreading fake news about nCoV. One of them is no less a past winner of the Kajai Award, the nation’s top journalism award. Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias is facing three charges of making statements which could disrupt public peace, via her Facebook account Ibu Yati. Bear in mind, though, this was over her personal posts which were not work-related.
     
  • Moneybags Minister Lim Guan Eng has been directed by Cabinet to come up with an economic stimulus package to mitigate the effects of nCoV, especially to the tourism industry.
     
  • Globally, the coronavirus has hit cruise ships, airlines, carmakers and planemakers. But perhaps no company has been as badly affected as Cathay Pacific, which took the drastic step of asking its 27,000 staff to take three weeks of unpaid leave. 

There! Now you’re all caught up. You’re welcome. 

Rosie, Rosie quite contrary

Former self-declared “First Lady” Rosmah Mansor finally made it to court yesterday to answer graft charges in connection with a solar hybrid project, driven in a black executive car with an ambulance and medical personnel following close behind.

Why not come in the ambulance, you ask? Well, the car is more comfortable lah, we figure. Hey, have you ever tried traveling in an ambulance?

Leaving the court complex after trial was adjourned for the day, Rosie said she was “OK” and her lawyers confirmed that she would be returning to hospital for treatment. For those who missed it, her trial was supposed to have begun on Monday but she had taken MC as she was suffering from a number of ailments, and was later hospitalised.

So Rosmah wasn’t faking it then? Well, the MACC it seems, isn’t taking anything for granted and have quizzed the doctor who issued the MC. Rosie’s lawyer objected to this, saying it’s intimidation, but the prosecution said MACC had the right to do so. And if the poor doc feels intimidated, then he can lodge a police report.

Anyhoo, back to the trial. In his opening statement, lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram outlined the circumstances of the allegations that Rosmah received a bribe (allegedly, allegedly) from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd to obtain the contract for a solar hybrid project, supposedly to benefit more than 300 rural schools in Sarawak.

Gopal said Rosmah, though she didn’t hold any official position, “wielded considerable influence” (over husband Najib Razak and his government, we assume) because of her “overbearing nature”. Alright, we hear you sniggering. And yes, that’s exactly what he said.

Three witnesses took the stand yesterday, with the first being a former deputy director of Human Resources in the Prime Minister’s Office. Huzairi Zainal Abidin testified that Rosie was allotted a special officer in her capacity as the PM’s wife, and a special division called the First Lady of Malaysia division was created.

However, he said the name was later changed as several people kicked up a fuss as they claimed the First Lady should be the Queen. And rightly so! The term First Lady is the wife of a head of state. As PM, Jibby was head of government; our head of state is the king. 

The second witness was an MACC officer who had taken pictures of Rosie and Jibby’s private residence in Jalan Langgak Duta. But it was the third witness who really made things a little juicy.

Maybank officer Azimah Aziz testified that Jepak Holdings MD Saidi Abang Samsudin had, on two occasions, made large bank withdrawals, totalling RM6.5 million.  And hey, what a coincidence! That’s exactly the amount Kak Mah was alleged to have received!

Ugly things about the beautiful game

From match-fixing to drug-taking, the football scene in Malaysia is never short of controversy.

Johor Darul Taksim (JDT) is, like Manchester City – lotsa money and backed by royalty. It’s also the team people either love or hate. And the team’s actions this time around, or at least their management’s actions, are getting a whole lot of hate.

To publicise the launch of the team’s latest jersey, a video was released of some team members supposedly at a biker’s saloon in Arizona. In walks a sultry-looking woman dressed in a rather slinky outfit who decides to dance to the jukebox (with very,VERY, visible stares by the men in the room), orders a drink, but not really drink it, and leave. Only as she’s about to leave, JDT players call for her to stay. One unzips his jacket, displaying the new jersey, and the woman changes her mind and decides to stay.

Netizens are going apeshit because, you guessed it, the video is sexist and objectifies women just so a few ringgit (OK, quite a few ringgit) can be made by selling a product.

Yup. JDT went almost full western with the video. Almost. No skimpy, barely-there bikinis (good ol’ US of A style) or nudity (have you seen European ads?). But slinky black dresses on hot women is about as close to these as you can get in Malaysia without setting off censors’ warning alarms.

This is the second controversy involving JDT players over the past few days. The first was when news came out about Kosovar player Liridon Krasniqi receiving citizenship and being eligible, soon, to play for Harimau Malaya, the second naturalised player for Malaysia after Gambian-born Mohamadou Sumareh, if he is indeed selected.

No one is blaming Krasniqi, of course, and to be fair there are some who welcome his participation in our national football team. Hell, considering the not exactly champagne football we were playing before Sumareh came into the picture, we could use a little more help if our own homegrown talent ain’t good enough.

And let’s also not forget that naturalisation is neither new – remember walker Yuan Yufang and shooter Irina Maharani? – nor a solely Malaysian phenomenon. It happens everywhere around the world

But while some people welcome the news about Krasniqi, on the whole, reactions were mixed. The biggest complaint was how easy it was (or so it may seem) for Krasniqi to gain Malaysian citizenship when there are hundreds of thousands of stateless people here, many of whom have been trying for eons to get citizenship.

In fact, a report in 2018 says that there are 12,600 stateless children in Malaysia simply because their parents’ marriages were not registered. And that’s just one reason. Who knows how many reasons and how many thousands more there are. Our constitution doesn’t even allow citizenship to pass to children born overseas to Malaysian women, only to it’s men.

So yeah. Obviously, some people are not gonna be happy with the news. So, gomen… you gonna do anything about it?

Little bits of this and that

Today’s BTL is super long already, so here are some other bits of news in brief:

  • PKR veep Zuraida Kamaruddin has written to el presidente Anwar Ibrahim requesting leave from the duties of her position until the party disciplinary committee makes a decision on her reply to a show-cause letter. However, she has also asked that the committee not make any decision until the outcome of two legal actions against her by the party sec-gen and Anwar’s own political secretary are resolved as both involved issues related to the show-cause letter. Wow… that could be a long leave!
     
  • One of 12 men arrested for allegedly having ties with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has petitioned the court to compel the Home Minister to remove the defunct group from a list of terrorist organisations. The move would render charges against the 12 unsustainable if the court allows the petition.
     
  • Watchdog organisation Bersih has lauded the government for the improvement in ranking in the Democracy Index, but states that more needs to be done, and that it’s still a long road ahead for democracy in Malaysia. We couldn’t agree more.
     
  • Lawyers for Liberty has called Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s singling out of transgender entrepreneur Nur Sajat for action by the MCMC as “heavy-handed” and inappropriate for a minister. They say Nur Sajat is entitled to freedom of expression. Yes, indeed, Mr Minister.
     
  • The Bar Council has finally commented on the recent jailing of a man for attempted suicide, saying that the gomen must put a moratorium on the use of the relevant sections of the Penal Code until such time as the amendments it had promised can be made. We’re glad the Bar Council managed to come out with its opinion sometime in the same century as the case.

“In order to achieve anything,you must be brave enough to fail.”

- Kirk Douglas -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • It’s over. And the outcome was really never in doubt. The Republican-dominated US Senate has acquitted President Donald Trump of both articles of impeachment against him. So what was the point of the whole exercise?
     
  • A packed passenger plane overshot a runway in Istanbul and broke into pieces. Miraculously, none of the 177 people on board were killed at the scene. Sadly, one person later succumbed to the injuries sustained in the accident.
     
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has seen no new violation of a nuclear agreement Iran has in place with world powers, despite Tehran announcing last month that it was renouncing the deal.
     
  • Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas has died at 103. Douglas, born as Issur Danielovitch to Russian immigrants, was best known for his iconic performance in the Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 classic, Spartacus. 
     
  • The world’s biggest iceberg, which split from the Antarctic in 2017 and measures 6,000 sq km, will soon enter the open sea.

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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