Boy oh boy, was it a day of BS in Malaysia yesterday. First we had Jho Low happily bluffing (allegedly, allegedly!) his way through an interview with Singaporean stenography company, The Straits Times.

But it wasn't just that - there's a faint whiff of something pungent in what the Health Ministry has been saying about influenza cases in the country. But what really takes the dung cake, is how ex-PM Najib Razak got caught with his pants down, BS-ing in the worst possible place to do so - the courtroom. Fun times!

Manure by any other name ...

Jho Low's bullshit is a rose to ST's nose

For a man supposedly in hiding, Jho Low seems to be remarkably easy to find by anybody who’s not the PDRM. While the cops seem to be having no end of trouble tracking down the fugitive financier, the media don’t seem to have the same problem – Low has been appearing in the press for well over a year now, the latest being in an interview he gave to Singapore’s Straits Times yesterday.

Low insisted it’s ludicrous to paint him as the mastermind of the entire 1MDB affair, claiming to just be a middleman thanks to his relationships with influential Middle Eastern figures. He also claimed to be on the…errr…waddle from Malaysian lawmen because the “attacks” on him are politically motivated and ignore his human rights, and says he won’t come back cos’ he won’t get a fair trial in Malaysia.

To cut a long story short, it was line after line of bullshit – which didn’t seem to have been challenged by The Straits Times at all. Basically, Frost/Nixon this interview certainly was not. But, things weren’t accepted as serenely here in Malaysia, with Jhoboy being called out on it almost immediately. 

Leading the charge was none other than ex-PM Najib Razak’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who pooh-poohed Low’s claim to being a just a middleman and a victim of political persecution. But then again, you’d expect him to say that, because it’s in his client’s best interests to ensure blame for 1MDB rests as much as possible on Low. 

Shafee didn’t waste the opportunity to take a potshot at the government either, saying their inability to produce Low has resulted in dear Jibby not being able to get a fair trial – which is a fair point, to be honest. 

But it was The Edge that took the cake, with a pointed article asking the questions that didn’t seem to have occurred to the faithful transcribers at ST. You know, questions like why Low gave up US$1 billion in assets to settle a Department of Justice lawsuit if he’s as innocent as he claims to be. Or, if by saying he’s not the 1MDB principal, he’s accusing Jibby Razak of being the main man. Or, even simpler – where he is!

What Low also conveniently left out, amidst his claims of political persecution, is that the cases against 1MDB, him and Jibby were initiated by foreign countries, including Switzerland and the US, and that any attempts to bring it up in Malaysia were blocked time and again. Fallout from this included then AG, Abdul Gani Patail and then DPM Muhyiddin Yassin who were both sacked from their positions; as well as then MACC chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed and his then deputy Shukri Abdull, who were threatened, called traitors and made to fear for their lives.  

And Jho Low is talking to us about political conspiracies? 

What he should be doing, if he’s the victim and the conscientious citizen he claims to be, is come home and face trial. With the eyes of the world on this case, there’s no way any miscarriage of justice would go unnoticed. Guess he missed out on the Pendidikan Moral lesson when they taught kids about ‘berani kerana benar’.

And speaking of bullshit ...

A few days ago, the Health Ministry went on the record to say influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infections recorded in the country since December are within the “normal range” and “similar to previous years”.

Hallelujah, glory be! That was great news considering health fears throughout Asia due to the pneumonia outbreak originating in Wuhan, China (which, apparently, is unconnected to our flu problems).

But just when we thought everything was dandy and that the heaviness in our lungs wasn’t anything to worry about, reports emerged yesterday that influenza cases in the country have actually more than DOUBLED!

The World Health Organisation published data indicating that not only have influenza cases doubled between 2018 and 2019, last year’s rates were even higher than 2009, when the H1N1 pandemic was sweeping through the region.

The WHO data was also backed up by a private hospital doctor, who said he and his counterparts were seeing huge spikes in the number of influenza-related hospital admissions. 

So, was the Health Ministry being deliberately deceptive in its statement on Saturday? Or was it just being blur and looking at data for December without taking into context the whole year’s figures? Or perhaps their data simply doesn’t tally with WHO’s? If so, which one’s accurate?

The ministry director-general has promised to issue a statement pronto and it can’t come sooner. Influenza kills between 290,000 to 650,000 people – many of them kids – around the world every year, so the flu isn’t a laughing matter. And while the ministry said yesterday, and again in a Facebook post by the DG this morning, that it has enough influenza medication to treat infections, that only holds true if the ministry has accurately gauged the number of infections in the country, doesn’t it? 

So, while waiting for the truth to come out, what can you do to stay safe? Well, firstly, here’s how you can identify influenza symptoms. Secondly, get vaccinated! And lastly, if you see any symptoms of infection, take these tips into account:

  • Stay at home and try to avoid crowds
  • Wear a face mask if you have to go out
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or hanky when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw away used tissues in a waste bin
  • Try not to share personal items like towels or hankies
  • Go to a doctor!

Hey, weren't we just talking about bullshit?

Bullshit is the order of the day. And the latest purveyor of it was Najib Razak (what else is new, we hear you ask). But the Jibster seems to have gotten away with it. 

Jibby was in danger of being impeached in his SRC International trial over contradictory statements he’d given on his signature in SRC documents. 

The ex-PM had been on thin ice after the trial judge ruled deputy public prosecutor V. Sithambaram’s application to impeach him was “not without merit”. But how did the DPP’s application come about?

Well, it was a classic case of foot in mouth disease for Najib, who, under questioning by the DPP, agreed not once, but twice, that he had contradicted himself in his witness statement, supplementary statement, MACC interview and court testimony.

And what had Jibby been waffling about? Simply, whether or not it was his signatures on the documents he was being grilled about. 

By the time Jibby had recovered and tried to explain, Sithambaram had fobbed him off. However, the oodles of dough Jibby is paying his defence team is clearly oney well spent; his lawyers successfully argued an impeachment didn’t make sense. 

In the end, the judge ruled the discrepancies weren’t irreconcilable, not serious and that there were no material contradictions in Jibby’s various inconsistencies. 

So, in summary, Jibby Razak was caught bullshitting, but let off the hook because the judge decided it wasn’t a big enough pile of crap to raise a stink over.

And for some generally non-BS stories

Not everything that happened yesterday was BS. Here’s some of the other stuff:

  • An economist has raised alarm bells over Malaysia’s middle capacity trap, saying the country is in this situation because it lacks creativity and innovation, is limited in research and development, and also because its education levels aren’t high enough. 
     
  • Petronas has, not for the first timedenied any involvement with Cambridge Analytica. In case you’re unaware, CA is the data firm that engineered Brexit as well as Donald Trump’s election victory in 2016. If you’re interested, this book is a fantastic one on just how diabolical and douchebaggy this company was.
     
  • Okay, this one’s a a huge, steaming pile of bullshit. Umno is calling for a Bersih rally to protest Pakatan’s use of state resources in the Kimanis by-election. The same guys who teargassed, water-cannoned and arrested Bersih protesters in years past are now calling on them to protest. Does the phrase muka tak malu come to mind?
     
  • The police say the results of the analysis a sex video allegedly of Azmin Ali have been obtained and forwarded, along with investigation papers, to the Attorney General’s Chambers. A statement is expected to be coming out soon. We’re betting they’re gonna say it ain’t Azmin. What about you?

"Bullshit is the glue that binds us together as a nation."

- George Carlin -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Remember how the US launched a drone strike that killed Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani the other day? Well, the fallout from that is getting worse and worse. More and more people are asking if this was in effect an illegal political assassination, while others are pointing out that this reckless move may screwed up the Middle East. And, to top it all off, President Donald Trump’s threat to blow up Iran’s cultural sites has been whacked by a great many parties, including the UN.
     
  • Awards season began with the Golden Globes yesterday, with the big winners being Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and 1917. Host Ricky Gervais savaged his fellow stars in his opening monologue and Tom Hanks’ rapper wannabe son Chet baffled the world by speaking patois on camera. 
     
  • Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, whose sexual predation gave rise to the #MeToo movement, was hit with criminal charges in Los Angeles, charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another over a two-day period in 2013. Couldn’t have happened to a sweeter fella.
     
  • A 36-year-old Indonesian student in the UK, described as Britain’s most prolific rapist, has been jailed for at least 30 years for 136 rapes of dozens of young men in Manchester. 70 of his victims are still yet to be identified. 
     
  • Finland’s PM is trying to introduce six-hour workdays and four-day workweeks in her country. And if you think this is slacker paradise, here’s something to mull consider – Sweden trialled a six-hour workday a few years back and found that it increased productivity. Now excuse us while we go check out Finland’s immigration laws.

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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