Reports have emerged that foreign residents of two buildings in KL under enhanced movement control order (MCO) regulations will not be getting food, like others on lockdown are. Instead, the foreign missions in Malaysia are expected to provide food for their citizens. Just where is the compassion from the federal government?

Meanwhile, the state of some quarantine centres have been criticised by those placed there; the Health DG has come under fire for not protecting medical frontliners enough - a claim he has denied; and two more deaths were recorded as of noon yesterday.

What happened to Malaysian hospitality?

Where is the love?

In this time of national crisis, are we losing our humanity?
 
The Selangor Mansion and Malayan Mansion buildings have been placed on enhanced MCO, or EMCO. So the residents of the two flats in the heart of KL are not allowed out of their buildings, no matter what.
 
The difference between these two “mansions” and the three other places currently on EMCO is that the majority of the 6,000 residents are foreigners – migrant workers mainly. In other words, not your ordinary expat white-collar worker who is making a tonne of money and sweet benefits on expat packages here.
 
The three other EMCO areas are being helped by the authorities, seeing as how they are not allowed out of their respective areas and no one is allowed in. So these peeps are being provided with food.
 
Not, it would seem, the poor migrant workers in the two flats. Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says foreign missions will have to provide meals for these people. Yes folks, we’re providing meals only for Malaysians. Screw the poor migrant workers, cos they’re the responsibility of their respective foreign missions. So, what happens if their missions don’t provide food? Guess they’ll just have to starve. 
 
Charity begins at home. We talk about the rights of Palestinians or Rohingya being trampled upon, we’re quick to send aid to countries hit by disasters and are almost always the first to take part in UN peace missions. Yet we can’t look beyond nationality at a time of crisis in our own backyard? And you know that we would raise mighty hell if our citizens were treated in such a manner in other countries. Yes, resources are limited and times are hard, but cutting these people out completely is just cold and what Ismail Sabri’s approach is just wrong.

It’s not just our bleeding heart liberalism either. Look at it from a practical standpoint: the government keeps calling for foreign workers, even illegal ones to come forward and get tested for Covid-19. Why would they do so if they know they are going to be treated this way?

What are the employers of these people doing? Where is the Human Resource Ministry in all this? Thankfully, one person who’s not sitting on his ass is KL Mayor Nor Hisham Dahlan, who has pledged that the residents will receive food. In fact, City Hall has already swung into action and begun delivering food staples to the building. 

Sadly, this isn’t the only example of migrants at the bottom of the food chain getting the shoddiest of deals. This story about illegal migrants in Sabah is heartbreaking. At times like these, we need to look at people as human beings first and consider their legal status second.
 
Anyway, the back to Ismail Sabri. That wasn’t the only blooper reel highlight from him yesterday. Speaking on the condition of quarantine centres in the country, the senior minister said Malaysians were treated better than most other countries, where people had to endure horrible conditions like sleeping on floors and were forced to live in cramped conditions. 
 
It’s true, but we would advise the minister that it ain’t a good idea to compare ourselves with other countries, many of whom are worse hit by the Covid-19 pandemic than us. The US has over 420,000 cases and more than 14,000 deaths. In the UK, there are more deaths than the total number of infections we have. So yeah, apples and oranges. Conditions in our quarantine centres, still need to be looked into.
 
This followed reports that some centres were in terrible condition. In one hotel-turned-quarantine centre, for example, there were cases of “clogged toilets, infestations of bedbugs and other vermin, dusty beddings and dodgy food”, apparently. 
 
But for every legitimate claim, you also have those like the woman who called the five-star hotel she is being quarantined in a “prison”. So… 🤷🏽‍♀️

Noor Hisham takes a beating

While most people consider Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah a Malaysian hero, a private doctor has taken the Health DG to task for allegedly not doing enough to protect medical frontliners from Covid-19.
 
Following reports that 30 healthcare workers are now down with Covid-19 after treating patients, Dr Musa Nordin from the KPJ Damansara Specialist Centre says Noor Hisham and his team should come down from their ivory towers and visit the hospitals where Covid-19 patients were being treated. He says they would then see the frontliners are short of medical protective gear such as Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs). 
 
Noor Hisham, however, denied failing frontliners, saying not a single case of infection among medical personnel had occurred while treating patients. He said most of the cases were due to medical personnel picking up the virus outside, with some having infected their colleagues when they returned to work. Some, he said, were from private hospitals, with these being infected by patients who had hidden details of possible Covid-19 contact. 
 
Oh, and while we’re worried about the safety of our medical peeps, spare a thought too for other frontliners like the police and soldiers enforcing the MCO. Bukit Aman says 66 policemen have tested positive for Covid-19, including Sarawak police commissioner Aidi Ismail. 
 
Meanwhile, Noor Hisham said the number of Covid-19 cases in the country has reached 4,119 with the inclusion of 156 new cases as of noon yesterday. There were also two deaths, bringing total fatalities to 65. However, for the second time since the pandemic began here, the number of recoveries exceeded the number of new cases, with 166 people being discharged. That total now stands at 1,487, or 36.1% of total infections. 
 
Of the number of deaths, 75% were people with comorbidities, meaning they had pre-existing medical conditions such as heart ailments, asthma and diabetes. Noor Hisham said, with the war against Covid-19 neither won nor lost, the Health Ministry would provide several options from PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin and his Cabinet to decide whether to extend the current MCO, which ends on April 14. He noted that the number of daily infections was under control, but stressed that the fight against the virus still remained. 
 
Worryingly, the Health Ministry has detected a sub-cluster in Rembau which began when a participant of the notorious Sri Petaling tabligh, the source of a large number of infections up to five generations, infected people at a school gathering there. This was exacerbated when relatives of those who had fallen ill visited them in violation of the MCO. 

That tabligh is the gift that keeps on giving.

All other things Covid-19

Yesterday was something of a bitty day – lots of stories, but not many of them huge in the larger scheme of things. Here’s a roundup of the most pertinent. 

  • Selangor, worried about the large number of asymptomatic cases of Covid-19, will initiate mass testing in several areas from tomorrow. This follows news that Sepang had joined four other areas in Selangor as a red zone (where more than 40 cases have been detected). Kota Samarahan in Sarawak has also been declared a red zone, bringing the total number of such zones in the country to 23. 
     
  • Socso confirmed Covid-19 is an occupational disease, meaning those infected at work can claim compensation. 
     
  • Frontliners will soon begin distributing face masks to each home. With each home getting four masks, the exercise involves some 24.62 million masks. 
     
  • With airline operators in Malaysia indicating some 13.6 million seat cancellations, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents has criticised the Transport Ministry and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) for not taking action against airlines for not making cash refunds instead of offering “credit”. Mavcom, however, has given airline companies more time than the stipulated 30 days to make the refunds. Dear Matta – can you also please look into hotels that don’t give refunds?
     
  • More MPs have been found to be eligible for Bantuan Prihatin Nasional, giving further rise to concerns that the system is terribly flawed. Surprise, surprise? And speaking of politicians – Pakatan Harapan reps in Pahang are accusing the BN state government of denying them Covid-19 special financial aid. 
     
  • Five more roads will be closed in Petaling Jaya, starting 12am on Friday. The roads lead to Mutiara Damansara, Damansara Perdana and Flora Damansara. With things like this still happening, we’d be surprised if the MCO is lifted on April 14.
     
  • Ramadan bazaars in the federal territories have finally been ruled out. Minister Annuar Musa says traders will have three alternatives: drive-thru; pack-and-pick; and, e-hailing services.

Nine Storeys is a 14-minute-long documentary by filmmaker Mahen Bala on the Malaya and Selangor Mansions. It draws a rich social history of the buildings from the recollections and observations of those that call these places home. Click the link above to watch the video.

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Globally, there are now more than 1.47 million coronavirus cases and 86,500 deaths, with 320,000 recoveries. New York state alone accounts for 150,000 cases, surpassing Spain’s numbers. In total, the US has more than 410,000 cases and 14,100 deaths. 
     
  • Meanwhile, the number of deaths in UK hospitals has surpassed 7,000 and France is expected to extend its lockdown beyond April 15 as the death toll there approaches 11,000. 
     
  • German researchers say a study of 40 countries indicates that only 6% of cases have been detected worldwide, raising concerns of a new outbreak should social distancing and travel restriction measures be lifted. They advocate more widespread testing and isolation of infected people. 
     
  • The World Trade Organization has warned that global trade could fall by up to a third amidst the global pandemic, saying that trade had already been falling in 2019, even before Covid-19 appeared. 
     
  • In other news, Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race for the party’s nomination, paving the way for former US vice-president Joe Biden to be the one to challenge current Prez Donald Trump in the November elections.

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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