It seems movement control orders were not enough. The King's now declared a state of emergency across the country, thanks to Covid-19. Thing is, despite PM Muhyiddin Yassin's best attempts to allay fears, many are questioning the motives behind the declaration.

Meanwhile, Malaysia continues to break more unwanted Covid records, and we present more of the do's and don't-even-think-about-its as MCO 2.0 takes effect today.

Not just an MCO anymore

Emergency urgency

So the Agong has issued yet another proclamation of emergency, or darurat. But unlike Batu Sapi and Bugaya in Sabah, and Gerik in Perak, the latest order affects the whole country.

So what’s the big emergency for an Emergency a day after more stringent lockdowns were announced? Well, it seemed PM Muhyiddin & Co. felt it was needed to further curb the drastic spread of Covid-19.

BTL breaks down what went down for ya – After meeting with Moo on Sunday and after consulting the who’s who of gomen civil service such the AG, Armed Forces chief, IGP, chief secretary, Health DG and EC chief (incidentally, they’re all Malay males, btw, but diversity and representation clearly isn’t high on the gomen’s agenda here 🤷), the Agong consented to the Emergency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution

The order’s set to last till Aug 1, or earlier if we can get this pandemic under control. 

N̶o̶t̶ ̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶A̶b̶a̶h̶ Moo later addressed the nation. You can refer to this guide for a breakdown on what the emergency entails, but here’s the tl;dr of what our glorious leader said (with our thoughts in italicised parentheses): 

  • It’s not a military coup and the gomen will continue to function.
     
  • No curfew will be imposed (you mean beyond the MCO hours?).
     
  • The courts will continue to function as usual. There’ll be no executive interference in the judiciary. (Errr…were you intending to before?).
     
  • There’ll be no polls – general, state or by-election – held during the emergency. GE15 will have to be held later.
     
  • No Parliament and state assembly sittings at this time (How convenient for our beleaguered PM).
     
  • The King’s now afforded power to declare a wide range of ordinances which may be needed to combat Covid. 
     
  • An independent, bipartisan panel of lawmakers and health experts’ll be set up to advise the King on the emergency, including when to end it. However, no one’s been named to the panel as yet (Will our Warm Water Minister be on the panel?). 
     
  • Malaysia will remain open for business despite the emergency (MCO rules notwithstanding). 

An emergency isn’t cause for panic, of course. We’ve had our fair share of emergencies over the years, just none due to a pandemic. The big question, however, is whether the health crisis is Moo’s only motivation for the move… but more on that below.

Say what now?

Naturally, everyone, their grandmother and their grandmother’s pet had an opinion on the emergency announcement. The first to react, as usual, was the stock market. Panic selling caused Bursa to plunge nearly 27 points, though it eventually calmed down by the end the day. 

Even so, a legal eagle pointed out that the declaration was valid as it fell neatly within the purview of the constitution. Unsurprising, several gomen and Bersatu peeps (it’d be hella worrying for Moo if his own party wasn’t backing him on this), too, are on board.

Example? The Sabah gomen and this Johor Bersatu man who said the emergency would ease political tensions and allow leaders to focus on the people’s needs. Dude, if politicos literally need darurat-level intervention to put the rakyat first, then we clearly have FAR bigger problems than Covid!

DAP-led Penang, too, has said it’ll cooperate in light of the Covid sitch in the state, which seems more a grudging acceptance than a ringing endorsement, if you ask us.

Considering our Covid cases are through the roof, nobody was surprised (most were probably relieved) when our PM announced the MCO and other strict curbs. But to follow that up with an emergency order is overkill lah.

After all, we’re allowing arbitrary and immediate issuing of orders by the powers that be. With no Dewan Rakyat and state assembly sittings, there’ll be little, if any, oversight and accountability on gomen actions and spending. That should make us very, very nervous.

But, if you go by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar “Art” Harun, the fact Parliament can’t sit isn’t a problem as MPs can still provide checks and balances as select committees and the like will still function.

But Public Accounts Committee chairman Wong Kah Woh is begging to differ, saying Artie’s statement is disingenuous as the committees won’t be able to table any reports in the House.

Lawyers, too, agree with Wong. How do opposition reps provide checks and balances when Parliament isn’t allowed to sit? In the so-called bipartisan panel? With little deets on said panel, we’ve little by way of a guarantee.

Obviously, we’re not the only ones who think Moo’s gambit was a bit much. Pakatan Harapan as a whole, Opposition MPs and bigwigs such as Anwar IbrahimDr Mahathir Mohamad, and several NGOs have spoken out against the emergency. 

The gist of what they said is that the emergency wasn’t necessary considering the MCO, and that Moo is simply hiding behind it to avoid being kicked out of office. If you remember, the emergency comes just as Umno’s threatening to divorce Bersatu and the Moo gomen. This isn’t the first time the Moo is accused of using the emergency card to stay in power, either.

One PKR MP has said he is exploring legal options to dispute the declaration, while Umno issued a statement stating the party hopes human rights and rule of law will be upheld during the emergency (We must live in a Bizarro world. Umno – friggin’ UMNO! – of all people are talking about upholding human rights! These are the same jokers who protested AGAINST eliminating racial discrimination!). 

But if the King thought declaring the emergency would stop all the politicking and get our lawmakers to focus on Covid, he may have got it wrong. And, as usual, Umno is smack in the middle of all the politicking.

Najib Razak fanboy Lokman “Lobakman” Noor Adam is pushing for Muhyiddin to be replaced as PM, saying Moo doesn’t have majority support. Umno stalwart Nazri Aziz is echoing Carrot Boy, saying he has withdrawn support for Moo and Perikatan Nasional and that the emergency is an admission of defeat by the PM. 

So yeah, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Everything's getting worse

As if to add weight to the MCO 2.0 and emergency orders, yesterday saw another record-breaking number of new cases.

There were a record 3,309 new infections, pushing our active cases tally past 30,000 for the first time (30,390 to be exact). We also have another new record in the form of 190 patients in ICUs. Meanwhile, there were deaths, raising the total death toll to 559

In light of the strain on hospital resources, the gomen’s decided that Level 1 and 2 patients (less critical) will be quarantined and treated at home, unless home’s too crowded or small. A task force has been formed to monitor these patients, so no night run for that roti canai supper, aite? 

Anyhoo, a few more details of the MCO/CMCO/RMCO do’s and don’ts FINALLY came out yesterday and you can read this guide here. But here’s the long and short of it: 

  • The International Trade and Industry Ministry has come up with a list of companies/essential sectors allowed to operate during the MCO.
     
  • Higher education institutes will still proceed with intakes come March 1.
     
  • Private kindies in MCO areas will be allowed to operate, but schools will be closed, except for students facing major exams like SPM, STPM etc.
     
  • According to middle hair-parting Education Minister Radzi Jinin, a return to face-to-face learning for schoolkids facing major exams would g̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶ ̶a̶ ̶k̶i̶c̶k̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶t̶s̶ spark them to do better. We can only hope.
     
  • Government offices will operate in full during the MCO, but businesses can only operate from 6am to 8pm.
     
  • Those with plane or bus tickets for this week can still travel despite the interstate travel ban, but with police permission.
     
  • No face-to-face meetings are allowed, including for VVIPs. That would’ve been of help to Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, the third minister to have tested Covid-positive this month, had this been practised earlier. 
     
  • Meanwhile, local pharma company Pharmaniaga has signed a deal with a Chinese company to produce two million doses of the Sinovac vaccine a month. While Science, Tech and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has hailed this, considering locally-made vaccines would be cheaper, perhaps we should take note of this report which questions the efficacy of Sinovac. 

And last but not least, this story has nothing to do with any of the above but is too good to not include. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) Twitter account went dark last night after weird, dodgy and offensive old tweets from the account started to surface. Why, What, How? Well, this report claimed it’s cos’ MCMC bought their account from some kid a few years back and it said kid’s old tweets were now popping up. 

And why is this funny as hell? For one, shortly before their dodgy tweets went out, MCMC issued a warning on this very same account about Malaysians posting offensive posts. Secondly, the MCMC are regulators in the content space – and they themselves broke Twitter regulations by buying their account! And last but not least, their sad excuse of an excuse – that their account was hacked. No hacker can go back in time and get your account to have a tweet from 2014, guys. 🤦

“What types of check and balance are we looking at now? A sad state indeed!”

- Public Accounts Committee chairperson, Wong Kah Woh -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US President Donald Trump has declared an emergency in the District of Columbia as security agencies warned of threats ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

    Trump, who’s likely to face a second impeachment, has denied any responsibility (is he deluded or just a bare-faced liar?) in the Capitol riots, for which hundreds are expected to be charged.
     
  • The World Health Organization has said herd immunity won’t be achieved this year despite Covid vaccines being rolled out in several countries.
     
  • India’s Supreme Court has suspended the implementation of controversial new farming laws that have seen thousands of protestors choking New Delhi. The court’s decision hasn’t appeased farmers though, who’re saying it’s merely a trick to ease pressure on Narendra Modi’s gomen.
     
  • The Australian and Chinese Grand Prix races have been postponed as the pandemic has forced a rejig of the F1 calendar. 
     
  • Indonesian searchers have recovered one of the black boxes of the Sriwijaya Air B737 which crashed into the Java Sea off the coast of Jakarta on Saturday.

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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