So, a sultan has threatened to dissolve his state’s legislative assembly if there was another power struggle there, and has come under criticism as he doesn’t really have the power to decide that. No prizes for guessing which sultan this is, but let’s just say it’s not the first time he or some member of his royal family have overstepped their authority.

Meanwhile, Umno is being accused (now why does that sound familiar?) of wanting to put former PM Najib Razak back in power; our Covid-19 numbers are back in the high double digits; and, the prosecution in Najib’s SRC International trial is now taking its turn at oral submissions.

Out of order

I've got the power

In a statement yesterday, Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar threatened to dissolve the state assembly and hold fresh polls if there was another power struggle in Johor. He said he would “give the opportunity to the people” to elect new representatives and hoped they would this time choose those who truly wanted to serve the people and the state, and not their own parties. 
 
The Ruler’s statement comes amidst rumours Pakatan are preparing a coup to retake the state from Perikatan and current MB, Hasni Mohammad, an Umno man. In response, Pakatan reps said they would defer to the Sultan and uphold democracy, while Hasni called on all politicians to stop squabbling and work together to develop the state. 
 
Of course, it is in Hasni’s best interests to get everyone to work together, whether they are from Perikatan or Pakatan. After all, it was only at the end of February that he was appointed MB, after the Pakatan state and federal governments fell following the withdrawal of Bersatu from the coalition. 
 
But does the Sultan have the power to dissolve the state assembly? Poppycock, says Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim. OK, so he didn’t exactly say “poppycock”, but you get the drift. He says the Sultan does not have absolute power to dissolve the state assembly. 
 
You see, while Article 23(2) of the Johor Constitution states the Sultan has the power to prorogue or dissolve the state assembly, Article 7(1) states he has to act on the advice of the state executive council in carrying out his constitutional duties. Article 7(2)(b), however, gives the Sultan some discretionary power, in that he can withhold consent to dissolve the state assembly. 

In other words, he can decline to dissolve the state legislature, but he cannot unilaterally decide to dissolve it. In other words, the sultan’s threat is one which he cannot legally carry out. 
 
This is, of course, not the first time the Sultan has tried to assert his power, whether real, imagined or assumed. In fact, some members of the Johor royal family have made it somewhat of a habit of doing so. Their most publicised jousts, however, have always been against former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 
 
All things considered, though, you gotta feel Sultan Ibrahim’s frustration. It’s only been a few months since Perikatan and PM Muhyiddin Yassin seized power in the state and the country, but we are still in a state of political flux, with all sorts of power plays purportedly being planned.
 
Former PM and the Malaysian most likely to win an award for most use of social media platforms Najib Razak took to his FB account to warn of a high chance of snap polls being called if the political turmoil continues. His posting followed a meeting the night before with current Umno president and BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who had earlier said Umno is prepared for GE15
 
All of this quickly led to DAP Youth stirring the cauldron a bit more, claiming Umno and BN are plotting to trigger snap polls and reinstate Jibby as our glorious leader. The man himself of course denies this, saying Umno was merely stating its preparedness for any election. Just imagine if it did happen though. What a turnaround that would be!
 
Meanwhile, more Bersatu leaders are coming out to throw their support behind either president Moo or ex-chairman Mads in the almighty battle between the two. All 24 Perak party division leaders are supporting the former, though only 21 divisional Youth chiefs had signed a joint statement together with their divisional leaders. And most of the division leaders in KL have signed another statement in support of Muhyiddin as well. 
 
If Maddey can gain enough supporters, Pakatan is hoping to get the power to regain the Putrajaya “throne”. Hence, why the Jibster is talking about the possibility of snap elections being called.
 
Before that, however, there is the small matter of a by-election to take care of – the Chini state constituency in Pahang. And one Umno man believes Jibby’s son Mohd Nizar should be fielded as the Perikatan candidate for the by-election. Let’s hope Nizar is more like his grandfather, Abdul Razak Hussein, than his dad.

Back up again

Every run of good Covid-19 results seems to be met with a day or two of spikes.
 
Yesterday saw 93 new infections, the vast majority of which were linked to the clusters at the Bukit Jalil Immigration detention centre and a chicken farm in Pedas, Negeri Sembilan. The number is the highest in five days, and brings the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country to 7,970. Yesterday also saw 61 people discharged, bringing the total to 6,531 for a recovery rate of 81.94%. On the bright side, there were no deaths for the 12th day straight, leaving the death toll at 115
 
There was more bad news as well, with three areas in Kuala Langat placed under semi-enhanced movement control order. However, residents there are free to move around their area (as opposed to a full-on EMCO, where they are not allowed out of their homes). The semi-EMCO set-up there, apparently, is the largest in the country so far, covering43.3ha and circled by 4.1km of barbed wire. In all, about 9,000 people have been cordoned off in the area.
 
One bit of good news that did come out yesterday, however, was that Sarikei MP Wong Ling Biu was discharged from hospital yesterday, having contracted Covid-19 in March. The 61-year-old had been in a coma for 42 days during his stay in hospital. 
 
Meanwhile, guidelines for schools, when they eventually reopen, will be released by the government today. They are expected to be comprehensive, dealing with the movement and placement of students from the moment they arrive in schools right up to when they leave for home. 
 
While the Health Ministry is confident the standard operating procedures to be put in place for schools will help prevent the spread of Covid-19, don’t expect schools to reopen any time soon. If this sources story is correct, only secondary school students facing critical exams may be allowed to return to school this year. The rest will have to wait till next year. 
 
Meanwhile, former useless Education Minister Maszlee Malik has his own take on the whole back-to-school issue. He says students must return to school, even if it is only for one day a week. He also made several other suggestions, such as staggered sessions for the different standards in school. He didn’t mention what colour shoes students should wear, though.
 
Several other Covid-related articles appeared yesterday. Here are the more relevant ones for your perusal:

  • Surprise, surprise! Former PM Mahathir has praised the current government for allowing the professionals to handle the Covid-19 pandemic issue in Malaysia. 
     
  • A survey has revealed that as many as two million people may lose their jobs thanks to the pandemic. Meanwhile, a SOCSO report states unemployment in Malaysia went up by 42% in the first quarter of the year. 
     
  • The government has yet to decide whether to extend or lift the CMCO currently in place until June 9. We expect the announcement on this will come either at the end of the week or this weekend. 
     
  • The public can expect only quick trims to be allowed when the new guidelines for hair salons and barbers are announced soon. Sorry folks, no massive styling jobs for you. How this will be enforced, we can’t imagine. A cop at every barber shop telling the anneh to hurry it up?
     
  • Entry into Malaysia may soon be made a little easier with the government mulling allowing those who have tested negative for Covid-19 for at least three days to come into the country. 

'We've proven he's guilty'

The oral submissions for PM6 Jibby Razak’s SRC International trial continued yesterday with the defence saying the authenticity of the so-called “Arab donation” the Jibster received was of no relevance, only that he believed it to be so. 
 
Also irrelevant, they said, was the prosecution’s questioning of why Najib had not lodged a police report on allegations he had taken RM42 million from SRC International. They argued he didn’t do so as he had publicly denied taking any money for personal gain and had also been cleared of any wrongdoing by then Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail when the allegations surfaced in 2015. 
 
Najib’s defence counsels have been submitting to the court over the last few days, picking on what they said were the prosecution’s flaws in its case against our former head honcho.
 
The prosecution also had their turn to submit before the court, and maintained they had proven the case against Najib. They said he had been aware there was no donation from Saudi Arabia and that the Jibster was aware fugitive financier Jho Low was the one pumping millions into his account, including the RM42 million from SRC International. 
 
They also said the defence’s contention that Najib’s signature had been forged on a key document submitted as evidence against him had been thrown out the window after they abandoned plans to bring in an expert to verify the signature – which you gotta admit was at pretty dodgy.
 
Anyhoo, prosecutors were also asked by judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali why the they had not called SRC International CFO See Yoke Peng to testify. This was following a remark by a defence lawyer that it was See and one Geh Cho Heng, previously revealed as a close associate of Low, who had authorised the transfer of nearly RM300 million from SRC International’s accounts. Ad-hoc prosecutor V. Sithambaram, however, explained this was unnecessary as the transfer was never in dispute

The hearing continues today, and we can’t wait to hear more as the two legal teams spar in their oral submissions. It may take a while yet to end, considering the two teams had submitted a combined total of nearly 1,000 pages in written submissions last month. 

In case you’re wondering what this submission mumbo jumbo is all about – submissions, oral and written, are done at the end of the case and is essentially a summing up by both sides to the judge before he or she makes a decision. Here’s a deeper look at what goes on in a trial, if you’re interested. 

Bits and bobs

As usual, there was a bunch of other stories making the rounds yesterday. Here they are in brief:

  • Amendments to the Road Transport Act will not only cover drink driving, but also include harsher penalties for dangerous drivingMat Rempit and basikal lajak would be covered under this, but we also have to ask – what about those doofuses who ride bikes carrying huge ass political flags and banners? Say, like these Pas supporters?
     
  • Bersatu Youth leader was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. However, the MACC says the arrest isn’t politically motivated but instead connected to the RM250,000 stolen from former Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. 
     
  • One of the 99 people in Terengganu affected by food poisoning from puding buih has died
     
  • Malaysia had apparently quietly awarded the much-sought-after 5G telco spectrum to several players, including one politically-connected tycoon. But after much criticism, the government has withdrawn the order to hand over telco bands without an open tender process. 
     
  • An NGO has chided Penang CM Chow Kon Yow for speaking out against the withdrawal of RM100 million in funding for the state’s plans for a cable car project for Penang Hill, claiming several government departments had found the project unsuitable for implementation. 
     
  • Police say a man shown being kicked by policemen in a viral video had been caught after a high-speed, 18km-long chase. KL police chief Mazlan Lazim says the suspects behaved aggressively and resisted arrest. Bullshit. Watch the video yourself. The guy had been subdued and was being kicked by the cop the way a goalie punts a football. Unbelievable. Dehumanisation of citizenry by police forces has been a much-studied phenomena, from the targeting of blacks in the US or of protestors in Hong Kong. The question is, does this mindset exist among our police here in Malaysia as well?

“As great as kings may be, they are what we are: they can err like other men.”

- Pierre Corneille -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • After a week of protests, all four Minneapolis policemen involved in the death of African American George Floyd are now facing charges related to his killing. 
     
  • As US President Donald Trump faces a backlash for using force to break up a peaceful protest outside the White House, other American leaders were seeking ways to stem mounting unrest over police racism. What could prove most effective, though, is the support of other law enforcement members, such as the officers of the Los Angeles Police Department who took a knee alongside protestors there. 
     
  • Police in Hong Kong are gearing up to enforce a ban on the annual vigils commemorating the Tiananmen Square incident. The ban was ostensibly because of existing Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met with Tiananmen Square activists, asking them what can be done to bring democracy to China. 
     
  • And on the subject of Hong Kong, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pledging to allow 3 million Hong Kongers a path to UK citizenship, in response to new security laws China is trying to impose on the island city. Needless to say, Beijing isn’t amused
     
  • Here’s some really concerning news, particularly for men. A study has found that Covid-19 can damage testicles, even without entering cells. Speaking of studies, the World Health Organization has restarted live trials of an antimalarial drug touted by El Presidente Trump as a treatment for the coronavirus. 
     
  • British police have identified a new suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, 13 years after she vanished in Portugal when she was just 3. 

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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