Better shine those shoes! It's back to all systems go as the gomen ends its mandated work-from-home policy for the private sector. Just don't pack a suitcase cos if you think this means CMCO's been lifted...

Elsewhere in today's newsletter, it's back to four-digit daily Covid-19 cases (darn it!). Also, Sarawak's ruling coalition takes its cue from Umno; and, some folks get called in over last weekend's Undi 18 demo.

Full steam ahead

Go directly to work. Do not pass go.

Get your bread and butter ready, coz those traffic jams are gonna be back (traffic jam, geddit geddit? 😂)!

Come tomorrow, the gomen’ll end its work-from-home (WFH) directive for factories, while the private sector is cleared to resume operations at full capacity.

Confused? Essentially, the gomen had imposed a WFH policy for public and private sectors, and industries under the International Trade and Industry Ministry. This meant offices in CMCO areas could function at 30%, while those in RMCO could function in full, subject to department heads’ discretion.

According to MCO Minister (not his official title!) Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday, that policy’s been scrapped. So it’s full steam ahead for CMCO private workforces/factories. Civil staff, however, have to wait for marching orders from the Public Service Department (PSD).

Wait. Wtf? The government can tell the private sector to resume work pronto but can’t get its act together well enough to get the civil service in gear?

On the whole though, we have to ask if lifting the WFH policy is a smart move at a time when infectivity rates are creeping up

Meanwhile, foreign domestic workers with visas who’ve been stuck overseas can now return – just apply for re-entry through Immigration’s MyTravelPass system. Remember, employers must foot their quarantine bill.

Agencies can also resume processing applications for new workers but can only bring them in once borders reopen.

Despite all these easings of restrictions, RMCOs/CMCOs have been extended to Apr 12 for Sarawak and Apr 14 for the rest of Malaysia. This means interstate travel ban’s still in play ‘cept for that green travel bubble thingy between RMCO states. 

Hear that, Neelofa? The celeb and her also famous, new hubby PU Riz are being investigated for potentially breaching the interstate travel ban by possibly honeymooning in Langkawi.

Police have said the couple, already taking flak over their swanky KL wedding that breached social distancing SOPs, only have a permit to travel to Langkawi to conduct actual business and not the *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* honeymoon kind. 

And although Minister Izzy was quick to state nobody, not even VIPs and “big names”, is above the law, he decided to take the hotel – and not the wedded couple – to task for not ensuring the guests followed SOPs at Neelofa’s big do.

For some reason, police have yet to question the couple, or, apparently the guests –which included a slew of VIPS. Instead, the bride’s family’s the latest to be quizzed.

Anywhooo, here are a few other Covid-related stories from yesterday:

  • Speaking of double standards, our Health DG’s said 0.7% of Malaysians arriving back this year were allowed home quarantine. Among those given this leeway were people with health complications, history of testing positive for Covid-19, caretakers or planning funerals.

    So which category did our great deputy minister Edmund Santhara fall under, eh?
     
  • Vaccinated travellers will still have to undergo mandatory quarantine. Sorry folks! 
     
  • After a one-day jaunt into the three-digit realm, our Covid numbers went back up to 1,133 new cases yesterday, with 5 deaths. Total cases to date are 344,018 and deaths 1,265, while active cases dropped slightly to 14,199

Free fallin'

Things are really falling apart for poor ol’ PM Muhyiddin Yassin and his Bersatu/PN team.

It’s not just Umno now that’s thinking of divorce. Sarawak’s ruling coalition GPS, a PN ally, is re-evaluating their relationship with the federal gomen. Why? It’s alluded that this has somethin’ to do with restoring its rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963

GPS not supporting Moodin would be a huge problem, especially if Umno carries out its big plan of going solo come election GE15. Remember, Sarawak polls are coming up soon, Aug 5, after the emergency order’s lifted.

The bigger question, though, is whom GPS could actually ally with if it wants to be a power at federal level. Umno’s stand on East Malaysia rights is pretty much the same as Bersatu – note the “Allah” word case.

Unless GPS is happy to go it alone and sacrifice federal power for a chance to be the be all and end all in the state, what we have here is a stalemate. Sarawak (or more accurately, East Malaysia) being a kingmaker and yet needing a big brother to stay in power. 

Lucky for MooMoo, the skies are a bit clearer for Bersatu in Sabah after state Umno has said it’ll still negotiate election seats within Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS). FYI, Umno and Bersatu are partners in the GRS gomen there.

In another apparent flip of the finger to Umno prez Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Sabah PAS, too, has promised to cooperate with the GRS.

Still, le premier Moo is safe for now, at least. Despite early quit rumours, Umno ministers and deputy ministers have opted to remain till Aug. Of course, the ice is getting pretty thin and Moo would be hard-pressed to think of reasons (excuses?) to not dissolve Parliament once the emergency’s lifted.

But, there could now be moves within Umno circles to ensure the divorce with Bersatu doesn’t happen. Tok Janggut Khairy Jamaluddin, who’s done pretty well for himself in this Moo administration, has called for party polls to “settle internal chaos” before GE15. 

So far, inglorious former leader Najib Razak (read, team Zahid) has objected. He’s said this could lead to a split in the party (like there wasn’t one before?) and allow for other parties to swoop in and pinch members (like this wasn’t already happening?).

Want more political drama? Here you go:

  • Pakatan Harapan supremo Anwar Ibrahim has downplayed Zahid’s “no Bersatu, no Anwar, no DAP” proclamation, seeing how the PKR boss had claimed to be in talks with Umno. Perhaps the Umno man was referring to an earlier supreme council decision, he said. 
     
  • An Umno Puteri leader has called for MIC to give up its traditional Sungai Siput seat after failing to win it in three consecutive elections. But MIC veep C. Sivarraajh has slammed such arrogance, saying the party can go it alone come elections if that be the case.  Errr… bro, you haven’t been able to win much with BN for a long time now and can still boast that you can go it alone? As a race-based party, there just aren’t that many people of your race to make you as powerful a factor as you think you are. 
     
  • PAS wants to be a bridge between Umno and Bersatu and won’t pick sides despite being given an ultimatum. 

The young and the restless

Eight people – all opposition politicos, mind you – were quizzed by police over Saturday’s Undi 18 protest

In case you’re wondering, authorities are probing the peaceful demo over failure to provide prior five-day notice as per the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and for possibly breaching Covid SOPs. Oppo leader and PM-forever-in-waiting Anwar, meanwhile, has said protestors hadn’t violated any Covid SOPs

Opposition lawmakers have deemed this police harassment and vowed to continue fighting.

If you’re blur on the whole thing, the protest was held over the Election Commission’s decision to postpone the implementation of Undi 18 and automative voter registration to next year, thereby most likely preventing youths aged 18-20 from voting come GE15.

Meanwhile, PM4/7 and Anwar rival Dr Mahathir Mohamad is puzzled over the delay since it’s the era of “Big Data” when it’s easy to collect all sorts of data. Righto! 

As we’ve pointed out before, the EC had a long time (two years!) to get this up and running, so more transparency is needed over its e̶x̶c̶u̶s̶e̶ justification that things got delayed due to the MCO. Maybe somebody oughtta remind them that WFH doesn’t mean a paid vacation. The Commission’s promised a report in September over the whole mess, so they’d better make it public!

Oh, and the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement has warned that all this postponement is gonna do is distance youth from politics. God forbid that we’re left with only old farts continuing to run the show because of this. But perhaps that’s exactly what they want…

For shame and other news

Remember how Top Glove got in trouble recently in the US of A, with the Americans seizing glove shipments due to suspected use of forced labour?

Ironically, the US move came the same day the company was judged one of the best places in Asia at which to work. You can’t make this shit up! We’re thinking that judges weren’t looking at migrant workers.

Anyway, our HR Minister M. Saravanan has said the allegations have tarnished the nation’s image (no shit!). At the same time, International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali promised the claims would be investigated.

Of course, Top Glove itself has denied any wrongdoing and is seeking clarity on the issue. This didn’t stop the company’s shares from taking a beating yesterday. Boo-freakin’-hoo!

Note, though, it still has room to appeal to US authorities. 

In other news, we have:

  • It was only last week that IGP Hamid Bador claimed a cartel of dirty officers was looking to bring him down. Now he says 34 cops were involved in one of the biggest Macau scam and money laundering syndicates around.

    Geng Nicky, though, is now kaput. Its leader, tied to a big Macau triad boss, is on the run while his brothers have been arrested
     
  • The Works Ministry has ordered a stop to work on the accident-prone SUKE highway until a safety audit by an independent auditor comes out. 
     
  • Brit band Coldplay wants to Fix Y̶o̶u̶ Us. They’ve sponsored a watercraft designed by a Dutch non-profit to clean up our rivers. Shameful that we can’t do it ourselves! 
     
  • Malaysia’s longest-running TV series, Gerak Khas, has ended after a 22-year run. Damn!

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."

- WB Yeats -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • WHO has said further investigation is needed to conclusively rule out the theory that Covid originated from a lab in China. The international team sent to investigate its origins allegedly had difficulty accessing raw data and had to rely on what was provided by the Chinese gomen.
     
  • In other Covid news, Canada has said AstraZeneca vaccines shouldn’t be administered to those under 55, while Germany has restricted its use to those over 60 as the vaccine continues to be linked with blood clot cases. 
     
  • People are fuming that a vaccination site in California will be closed for two days because the venue is hosting an anime event. Only in America! 
     
  • Violent attacks against Asians continued in the US, with the latest occurring in Manhattan where an elderly woman on her way to church was brutally beaten by a big-sized man, as nearby security guards did nothing!
     
  • Meanwhile, YouTube staff are up in arms after the company refused to remove an anti-Asian song.
     
  • Police have arrested several people in Madhya Pradesh after a video showing a teenage rape victim being paraded in public and beaten went viral. Among those detained were her family members. Sickening!

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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