Can't say they didn't warn us. After close to two weeks of notching over 2,000 daily Covid-19 cases, we return to the 3,000s. For two days in a row!

In other news, the gomen makes UK's AstraZeneca vaccine optional; the powers that be weigh in on excessive fines for MCO violations; it's farewell to UPSR; and will Undi18 be going ahead after all?

In deeper trouble again

Back in the red

Sufferin’ succotash! Despite claims Malaysia’s not in the throes of a 4th Covid-19 wave, we’re now breaching the 3,000 daily cases mark once more.


There were 3,142 new cases on Wednesday and 3,332 yesterday, with 30 deaths over the last two days.


However, worse than the worryingly high infection and fatality figures, active cases are inching towards 30,000 (it’s currently 28,093) and effectively stretching health resources nationwide.


In the Klang Valley, private hospitals claim they can’t accommodate more Covid patients, and in Sarawak, ICU bed capacity is already at 78%. In Kelantan, hospitals are so overrun that less severe Covid patients are being directed to stay at home.


It was precisely this sitch that triggered MCO 2.0 in Jan. However, despite more areas being recently placed under enhanced and conditional MCOs, there’s been no indication the gomen’s gonna reintroduce blanket lockdowns. Incidentally, the gomen’s pinky swearing it’s not fudging our Covid stats to make em appear high.


All these come amid confirmation the gomen’s removing the recently-acquired Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines — initially intended for those over 60 — from the national vaccine programme.


Public anxiety over reports of rare blood clots (how rare? Some ‘209 clots including 41 deaths out of 22 million mostly younger people jabbed in the UK’ rare) has caused authorities to reconsider.

BT-Dubs, authorities say there’s a 0.0004 – 0.0011% risk of getting a blood clot from AstraZeneca compared to a 16.5% risk of getting Covid. So, yeah… maybe let’s just play the odds here, kay?


AstraZeneca will now be made optional on a first-come-first-serve basis in Selangor and KL (Sarawak declined). The sign-up mechanism for those interested has yet to be detailed.


On the subject of vaccines, it seems some folks have received shots ahead of more at-risk groups like our oldie goldies and teachers even though they were supposed to be well behind the queue! These include 56 Pahang hotels, including in Genting Highlands.


Great Immunator Khairy Jamaluddin, however, claimed the decision was made at state-level and done without his knowledge. His statement implied that Najib Razak’s home state ain’t alone in pulling this crap, too, but gave no names.


In other words, hotel workers, select media peepsathletes … everyone it seems is getting to go BEFORE people actually meant for Phase 2. So why’s there a priority list again?


P.S. Pahang’s tried to explain itself, citing several factors, including the availability of additional vaccine doses and the Jalan Genting cluster. Pfft! Load of bollocks!

🎶 Try a little kindness 🎶

The powers that be have finally weighed in on the excessive fines dished out to small-time traders in Kelantan for alleged SOP breaches.


Urging compassion, PM Muhyiddin Yassin has called for enforcement authorities to exercise c̶o̶m̶m̶o̶n̶ ̶s̶e̶n̶s̶e̶ good judgement. Regrettably, while it’s nice that the peeps with gilded toilet seats are taking notice, what the PM and his merry men in Putrajaya may have failed to realise is that it’s all well and good to talk about compassion. However, the rules, as they stand now, are still bloody ridiculous.


An RM10,000 fine (reducible to RM5,000 if settled within 7 days) for operating after hours, for example, is still excessive and inhumane when it comes to people like grocers and burger sellers who’re struggling to get by. There’s no mechanism to differentiate between them and über-rich VIPs.


Also, these same people talking about compassion now are the ones who insisted on increasing fines despite the concerns about fairness. And now, these jokers are all passing the buck while the rakyat bears the brunt. Convenient.

You know what would make sense? Issuing fines on the basis of percentage of income/wealth. That would be both fair, as well as have the slight pinch fines are supposed to have. 


Speaking of no mercy, the story of a woman who’s grieving the loss of her dad after being allegedly denied an interstate travel request to take him to hospital is mucho tragic. Compare that to this report a celeb was allowed to cross state lines to deliver a new car to her parents?! Surely something needs to be done to ensure fairness, justice and prevent pain like this, right?


Anyways, in related Covid news, Comms Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has tested positive. In case you’re wondering, the minister’s yet to be vaccinated. He said in March that he’d get jabbed alongside media practitioners

We don’t need no education examinations

Five years after its cancellation was mooted, the Standard Six UPSR exam is finally being scrapped for good. And just for this year, it’ll have the Form 3 PT3 assessment for company. 


Both exams were already canned last year on account of the pandemic. But with no end to the health crisis in sight and shortened time frame for face-to-face lessons (secondary students only returned to school earlier this month), the Education Ministry had no choice but to call off this year’s PT3 too.


The decision to abolish the UPSR, though, wasn’t entirely Covid-related. In fact, talk began in 2016, but there appeared to be no concrete push in that direction. It wasn’t till December last year when Education Ministry peeps began finally looking into it


Still, questions arose as to why those gomen folks waited till four months into the current school year to make the announcement. The Ministry claimed it conducted a huge ass engagement exercise before making the final call. 


That may well be true. But couldn’t this exercise have started sooner, like before the school year began and money already spent on revision books?! 


While the announcement’s timing leaves much to desired, and some folks have voiced dissatisfaction, the overall sentiment is positive. 


Activists, parents and education groups have almost all welcomed the move that’ll see school-based assessments being relied on for entry into residential schools and such. There’re quite a few reasons as to why most people are pleased with this. But the most important is this: primary school-leaving exams like the UPSR focus on kids scoring As while neglecting holistic education.


School-based assessments will also be used for this year’s Form 3 kids who’re hoping to enter boarding school next year. FYI, the PT3 is not a gomen exam, but a school-based one. So this year’s cancellation shouldn’t have too significant an impact. Fingers crossed!


Meanwhile, on to graver matters. Education Minister Radzi Jidin has vowed a thorough probe into allegations of rape jokes made in class by a teacher. You can read about the whole messed up affair here.


Meanwhile, Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, the teen who exposed the incident, has demanded apologies from commentators (some of whom are believed to be teachers, for crying out loud!) who made lewd comments about her on social media posts. These disgusting pervs shouldn’t be allowed within 100m of a child, much less be TEACHING in schools!

Is Undi18 a go?

The Election Commission will take immediate steps to lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18 soon, allegedly, supposedly. According to de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan, it’ll start by tweaking certain rules and updating the existing software.


Youth groups and election watchdog Bersih 2.0 are sceptical, though, and are urging the gomen to be more transparent with its plans and to announce a clear implementation timeline.


All Taki’s said so far is that the decision for the EC to get a move on with Undi18 was made at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. But how soon is “soon”? Thing is, no mention’s been made as to when the EC’s expected to complete this, and whether it’s also gonna implement automatic voter registration (AVR).


In case you’ve forgotten, the EC announced just last month that because the MCO had seriously affected planning and prep (allegedly! allegedly!) we’d have to wait till 2022 before 18, 19 and 20-year-olds are allowed to vote and AVR becomes a reality. So the question is: what’s changed now?


While you ponder that, here’re some other dangling bits and bobs in brief: 

  • Cops say a viral vid of two people getting beaten up is unrelated to the death of A. Ganapathy, the father-of-two who died following his release from police custody.

    However, his family lawyer has claimed that according to autopsy report, Ganapathy died due to injuries inflicted on his legs and shoulder.

    The hashtag #JusticeForGanapathy has been trending on Twitter following a public outcry over his demise, allegedly resulting from being beaten with a rubber hose while in detention. We covered his tragic case, the call for an independent probe into his death and Malaysia’s death in custody problem here.
  • A group of Catholic lawyers have slammed a Facebook group for posting a video, which it claimed took an address by Archbishop Julian Leow out of context with the intention of stirring hate.
  • Former chief justice Arifin Zakaria will reportedly replace Zeti Akhtar Aziz as Permodalan Nasional Berhad chairperson when her term ends today.

    This would be his third gomen appointment, after Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) advisory council chair and chair of the special committee on the emergency.
  • A 14-day quarantine is being imposed on travellers arriving from 40 countries — including India, the US, China, France and the UK — to curb the spread of several Covid variants.
  • Think the nasi lemak and Twin Towers dresses were OTT? Well, Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 Francisca Luhong James is gonna try to vow judges at this year’s pageant with a whole kampung house and bicycle!

“Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more."

- Edward H. Harriman -


  • India’s Covid cases have shot past 18 million. The country is currently second behind the US in terms of most coronavirus infections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party has taken responsibility for the clusterfuck that is the country’s handling of the Covid crisis. 

    Meanwhile, the death toll in Brazil has crossed 400,000 – the second-highest in the world – amidst ongoing problems with the country’s vaccination rollout. 
  • global shortage of semiconductors means you might have to pay more for all new devices that use computer chips. And that includes vehicles and washing machines.

    The situation is so bad that carmaker Mini’s halting production at one of its factories for three days.
  • Dozens of people have been killed and scores more injured in a stampede at a religious festival in Israel. 
  • Michael Collins, Apollo 11’s command module pilot who stayed behind while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, has died aged 90.
  • A bad 80-year-old review of Citizen Kane has succeeded in stripping the film of its perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes and making Paddington 2 the best-reviewed movie of all time! 


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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