Stay home...and that's an order!
Work from home order issued
It doesn’t look like things are getting much better in Malaysia as far as Covid-19 is concerned, even with several states and all three federal territories under various levels of movement control orders (MCO).
So, the decision-makers at the National Security Council (NSC) has ordered all atas-level workers (that’s those of you in management and supervisory positions) in Conditional MCO areas to work from home from tomorrow. This affects over a million private and public sectors in Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.
In the words of former batik-wearing, current Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, this ain’t no suggestion, “this is a directive”, meant to reduce the number of peeps working in offices and factories, with the exception of certain sectors.
As often the case with these sudden, sweeping directives, the road to confusion is paved with good intentions. With just over a day’s notice, many are left scratching their heads over the fine print.
Apart from saying those involved in finance, making payments, enforcement and welfare are exempt, Izzy provided little other details. Instead, he said the International Trade and Industry Ministry will issue a list of affected sectors.
But there’s more. Those in red zones who have to physically go to work will have to undergo swab tests for Covid-19 screening. The good news is these tests will be fully covered by Socso.
Understandably, industry organisations have lamented that businesses will be impacted as test results could take days and not all affected staff can work from home due to the nature of their work. No shit! The paperwork, we’re sure, would be a nightmare. We all want to flatten that curve but is it really too much to ask for more clarity before you go making big decisions, brother Izzy?
As it stands, the #WFH order will be in effect till the CMCO ends, currently on Oct 26 for Sabah, Oct 27 for Selangor, KL and Putrajaya, and Oct 30 for Labuan. But don’t mark your calendars just yet. Izzy’s hinted that the CMCO could well be extended, depending of course, of the Covid sitch.
Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah meanwhile, has said time will tell if the movement restrictions can be lifted. Citing Selangor, he said while the CMCO has actually managed to bring down the infectivity rate in the state from a massive 1.98 to below 1.50, that still wasn’t good enough
In related news, Saguking in Labuan has been placed under EMCO from today until Nov 3 after two villages there saw a spike in Covid-19 cases. Izzy also dispelled rumours Melaka was being placed under CMCO. We’ve nothing but envy for you free Melaka folks!
enough too much
There was another miniscule drop in daily Covid-19 numbers yesterday as the country recorded 862 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 22,225.
The vast majority of these cases were in Sabah (673), followed by Selangor, KL and Putrajaya collectively reporting 139 cases.
The number of active cases has increased for a record 15th straight day to 7,681, but the number of patients in ICU has dropped by four to 95, as did the number of patients who have to be intubated (from 32 to 29).
Sadly, there were 3 new deaths, making the death toll 193. All three were in Sabah, bringing the state’s total to 67, with 58 fatalities recorded over the past month alone. Other states/territories which have recorded deaths in that time are Kedah (2) and Selangor, Perak and KL (one each).
Meanwhile, just one new cluster has been detected. The ‘Kertang’ cluster in Kota Belud, Sabah, has so far seen 21 cases.
It’s sad that we kinda rejoice that only one new cluster was detected in a day. How far we have fallen, but oh well, we’ll take any victory, no matter how small.
Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related articles which appeared yesterday:
- Schools in red zones can remain open unless Covid-19 cases are detected within the immediate surrounding community. Schools in CMCO areas, however, must remain closed.
- The Selangor government has disputed claims that sharing Covid-19 data with its Selangkah contact tracing app would compromise confidentiality as the app is owned by the state government.
- Meanwhile, after telling Selangor to leave coronavirus surveillance and intervention work to federal health authorities, big man on campus DG Noor Hisham has now called for better collab between the state and Putrajaya. For the tl;dr version of the public spat between Selangor and the gomen, we, the good folks at BTL, covered it yesterday.
- The ‘Utama’ cluster, Selangor’s largest active cluster with 194 cases so far, is now in its sixth generation. But 1 Utama, the shopping mall at the centre of it all, is free of Covid-19.
- The Sabah government is hoping to clear the backlog of 10,400 test samples within the next four days after appointing three private hospitals and laboratories to help cope with the high amount of samples. State Local Government and Housing Minister Masidi Manjun has said the state hopes there’ll be lower statistics after that.
- Singaporeans with Malaysian spouses are allowed to enter Malaysia. They can apply to enter the country under the Immigration Department’s MyTravelPass entry visa and permit approval system.
- While the gomen still doesn’t provide details of locations hit by Covid-19, you can look up this list of areas if you want.
Not bersatu with Bersatu
Can you fill the chill in the air? Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin most definitely can after Muafakat Nasional founding parties Umno and PAS have announced they will formally register the pact with the Registrar of Societies (RoS).
The announcement came in the form of a statement released by Umno’s Annuar Musa and PAS’s Takiyuddin Hassan, who identified themselves as Muafakat’s secretary-general I and II, respectively. The decision was made despite a Muafakat steering committee meeting scheduled for the night before being cancelled, ostensibly to “reduce political heat”.
But wait, what happened to PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu? Apparently, unceremoniously left out in the cold (geddit? Chill in the air, cold?)
Bersatu had been officially announced a member of Muafakat (well, as official as it can be for a body that isn’t yet officially registered) back in August. Yet the statement yesterday didn’t, in any way, mention Bersatu at all.
This comes, of course, at a time when things are not so cosy between Bersatu and Umno. Seizing on the fact that Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has claimed to have parliamentary majority support to seize power, with rumoured support from Umno MPs, the Umno political bureau has called for a review of the party’s relationship with Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional.
With the prospect of losing power looming, Moo is said to be considering a Cabinet reshuffle, with reports claiming that Umno is demanding one of its own be appointed to the still-vacant post of DPM, as well as key ministries.
But while that was the biggest news in the ludicrous world of Malaysian politics yesterday, the majority of it was on how – and we can’t agree any more with this – our brilliant politicos should just bloody leave things alone and just concentrate on battling that pesky health pandemic
Leading the line was Selangor’s sultan who, essentially, told our politicos to fight Covid-19 instead of each other. The people are getting sick and tired with politicians squabbling over power, Tuanku says, and boy did he get it right.
There were other quarters who made the same call, including Umno Youth and Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. But what really got our goat were statements from DAP sec-gen Lim Guan Eng and daddy-o Kit Siang.
Lim Junior had called on PM MooMoo to stop dangling political carrots to keep power. Unker Kit, meanwhile, said Perikatan should Sabah was suffering because Moo’s men had played the “Malaysian Game of Thrones”.
It’s not that we don’t agree with the two Lims. Solid points those. But did daddy and sonny-boy forget that their “chosen one” Anwar is playing the politics game right now? Unless we all missed it, they’ve been loudly silent on how Anwar and so should leave politics by the wayside while we fight a global pandemic.
Meanwhile, in other political news, PBS is the latest party to announce it will not be contesting the Batu Sapi by-election, set for Dec 5. BN, SAPP, Parti Cinta Sabah, STAR and Sabah Pakatan Harapan had previously announced they would give the by-election a miss so avoid any surge in coronavirus cases. Good chaps, these.
This could possibly mean that Warisan could win the by-election, called upon the death of incumbent MP Liew Vui Keong of Warisan, unopposed provided no independent candidate appears. But with nomination day still more than a month away, anything can happen.
The noose and some other dangling bits
We kinda missed this bit of news that appeared on Monday, but it’s kinda important so we thought we’d include it here.
Two Malaysians have been spared the gallows in Singapore for drug-related offences, including one who escaped the hangman’s noose for the second time.
That man, Gobi Avedian, had smuggled drugs to help pay for his daughter’s operation but was found guilty of a reduced charge of attempting to import drugs and sentenced to 15 years’ jail and 10 strokes of the cane. The second lucky escapee was Beh Chew Boo, who was sentenced to death in January this year, and was acquitted by the Court of Appeal on Oct 13.
But Gobi’s lawyer M. Ravi has now run afoul of Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers, which sent him a letter demanding an apology for his highly defamatory (alleged alleged) statement to the media.
Singapore practices capital punishment for various offences, including drug trafficking. But before we go acting all in a huff, we must remember, so do Malaysia.
However, our government has been mulling removing the mandatory death penalty. Even so and despite a moratorium on death sentences, bodies like Amnesty International has said we’ve a lot left to do. You can find a list of Amnesty’s recommendations to the Malaysian gomen on the matter here.
Amnesty also has some interesting facts about the death sentence in Malaysia here. Since independence in 1957, Malaysia has carried out 469 executions, and there are 1,281 prisoners still on death row, with 73 percent of these having been convicted of drug trafficking.
Anyway, to make this edition of BTL as short as possible, we’ve compiled some other stuff for your reading pleasure:
- Water supply’s been restored to six of seven districts in Selangor affected by unscheduled cuts due to pollution in Sungai Selangor. That hasn’t stopped MCA Youth from lambasting the state government over the issue, nor Parti Sosialis Malaysia from calling for the Selangor MB to resign. Meanwhile, one MP, a Pakatan one, mind you, has said he’ll initiate a class action suit against the authorities.
- Meanwhile, police have begun investigating the pollution, assisted by Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (Luas) and the Department of Environment.
- The inquest into the death of Franco-Irish teenager Nora Anne Quorin at a resort in Negeri Sembilan last year continued yesterday with a General Operations Force policeman telling the Coroner’s Court the area where her body was eventually found had been searched twice before.
- Subang Jaya officially became a city yesterday, the third in Selangor after Shah Alam (2000) and Petaling Jaya (2006). Malaysia has 16 cities at present, with the others being Kuala Lumpur (of course), Seremban, Seberang Perai, Ipoh, Kuching, Johor Baru, Kota Kinabalu, Melaka, Alor Setar, Miri, Kuala Terengganu, George Town and Iskandar Puteri.
- Malaysia lost two sporting icons yesterday with cricketer Dr Harjit Singh and footballer Mohd Shah Alias Norbit passing away. Harjit passed away from heart complications at the age of 70, while Mohd Shah, who was 68, had been suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
“I’ll beat thee, but I should infect my hands."
- William Shakespeare's Timon of Athens -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- AstraZeneca’s vaccine trials in the US may resume this week. The trial’s been on hold since Sept 6 after a participant became very ill. This as Covid-19 numbers worldwide have topped 40 million infections and 1.1 million deaths.
- The US of A has reportedly settled with Goldman Sachs in the 1MDB case. The deal would see the global bank pay a cool $2.8 bil and admit wrongdoing to avoid criminal charges there, wipe the stain of the scandal from its less-than-sterling reputation and be on its merry money-making way. Don’t forget, the b̶a̶s̶t̶a̶r̶d̶s̶ firm settled with the Malaysian gomen in July.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s ex-fundraiser isn’t as lucky. Elliot Broidy is expected to plead guilty to charges of illegally lobbying el presidente to drop a probe into 1MDB.
- Still on ‘Merica, First Lady Melania Trump has pulled out of a rally for the presidential elections due to a “lingering cough” after claiming to have recovered from Covid.
- In a major fuck up, over 200 people who’d stayed in Covid quarantine facilities in Australia must test for blood-transmitted diseases, including HIV, after authorities admitted using the same devices to test the blood of multiple guests.
- The French “teacher killer” reportedly exchanged texts with the father of another pupil before the gruesome attack on Samuel Paty. The parent had issued a “fatwa” calling for Paty to be punished.
Paty was beheaded on Friday in retaliation for showing a controversial caricature of the Prophet Muhammad to his students.