Love on the telephone
🎶 Hello from the other side 🎶
Observers of Malaysia’s politics would know friends don’t remain friends for long, and in the circle of life, enemies often become friends again.
So it is with PKR head honcho Anwar Ibrahim and Umno chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, if the latest scandal to have hit us is to be believed.
A recording of an alleged phone conversation between the two political rivals plotting and scheming following the recent Umno general assembly has emerged.
It’s the subject of an “explosive” report by “news org” MalaysiaNow. In the audio recording, the duo are speaking in BM, and the voice of “Anwar” is heard congratulating “Zahid” that Umno delegates accepted his proposal to cut ties with c̶o̶m̶m̶o̶n̶ ̶e̶n̶e̶m̶y̶ PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu.
“Anwar” – whom “Zahid” referred to as his “teacher” in the call – is heard saying none of the Umno ministers dared to leave Moo’s Perikatan Nasional gomen. He also said there was “work” to be done with the Umno supreme council if the duo want to “finish the game”.
It’s worth noting Zahid was an Anwar man back when the PM-forever-wannabe was in Umno and often referred to him as cikgu. This was prior to both their 1998 arrests under the then Internal Security Act (ISA) and Anwar’s unceremonious sacking and imprisonment.
If the recording is authentic, it shows the duo was behind the Umno-Bersatu breakup and gives lie to both Zahid’s cry of “No Bersatu, no Anwar, no DAP” and his denial of Anwar’s claim of “informal talks” between Umno and PKR.
Supporters and disbelievers might say the conversation, and its timing, is mighty convenient. It comes as Zahid faces ouster attempts from within his own party, the country prepares for GE15, and as PM Moo fights for his very light hold on Putrajaya.
On the flip side, supreme council member Puad Zakarshi said the recordings brought back memories of inglorious former leader Najib Razak’s leaked phone calls (this one over 1MDB) and decried it as a conspiracy of the highest level.
But authentic or not, who benefits from leaking the recording (assuming it’s true)?
PN comes out smelling the best. Such allegations may hurt Anwar and Harapan’s prestige, and PKR may find itself in hot soup with its buddies.
Meanwhile, as seen, Zahid’s enemies within Umno are already using this to try to take him down. In the meantime, it could also bolster the calls for party polls to be held before GE15.
Could this lead to a change in Umno leadership and restoration of the Umno-Bersatu love story?
Note – MalaysiaNow has claimed to have verified the two voices as that of Anwar and Zahid. The report, however, doesn’t say how this was done or by which organisation/company/person. So we’re taking this with a pinch of salt, especially as nobody really knows who finances or controls the portal, and what their agenda is.
Remember, the recording doesn’t need to be true. You just need enough people to believe in it for damage to be done.
We don't need no herd immunity
With the war drums beating, Vaccine Minister (not his official title) Khairy Jamaluddin has opined that snap polls could be held even before we achieve herd immunity against Covid-19.
Just in case you’ve been living in a pineapple under the sea, Malaysia’s begun rolling out its coronavirus immunisation plan and aims to inoculate at least 80% of our adult population by 2022 to achieve herd immunity.
However, The Beard says it’s impossible to consider elections being held only if Covid cases drop to zero. Instead, it should be safe to hold polls once case numbers drop and “a lot of people are vaccinated”. Come on lah YB. “A lot” is neither specific nor scientific.
This isn’t the first time the science minister/former Umno Youth chief had said polls could be held earlier rather than later. Only back in Feb, he said GE15 could be held as early as Sept IF we’ve successfully vaccinated at least 50% of the population, and if health authorities are satisfied things are under control.
For the pineapple-under-the-sea folks, Malaysia is currently under a state of emergency. There’s no Parliament till Aug 1, which means there can be no dissolution or elections till then.
Also, the original plan is for the National Immunisation Programme to end next year, though this could be done by the end of this year if supply of vaccines is sufficient. That’s still a far cry from Sept, though!
Not waiting for herd immunity is, in our humble opinion, crazy thinking. Have we forgotten how holding the Sabah elections last year led to a third wave of infections, one we’re still trying to tame?
Meanwhile, KJ and Health Minister Dr Adham Baba are continuing to issue double announcements. A day after Adham said Malaysia’ll go ahead with the Oxford/AstraZeneca shots, Khairy said we’re waiting for the European Medicines Agency findings on possible links between the vaccine and rare blood clots before deciding.
For now, though, the EMA themselves have said blood clots are very rare and has recommended its use. So how now ministers?
Meanwhile, here some other Covid-related news:
- Attempting to allay fears over the latest Emergency Ordinance giving the PM and CMs/MBs free rein at spending during the emergency, Moneybags Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz has said all spending will be published publicly. We’ll believe it when we see it.
- There were 1,139 new cases and 4 deaths yesterday, bringing the national tally to 354,468 cases and 1,304 deaths, respectively. Active cases are at 14,097.
- Amnesty International has reported that the pandemic has worsened the human rights situation in Malaysia. Tell us something we don’t know.
Jesters at court
Court reporters have been busy lately, with Najib, an ex-AG and an assemblyperson all facing various legal woes.
In not-our-Bossku Najib Razak’s appeal against his conviction and sentencing in the 1MDB-linked SRC International case, the defence maintained that only Low Taek Jho, the cherubic pirate we all know as Jho Low, could explain how millions of ringgit ended up in Jibby’s personal bank accounts.
This was a theme the defence used in the original trial, what we call the blur-sotong 🦑 defence – that poor ol’ Jibster was a victim of nasty trickster Jho and had no clue about the moolah in his accounts (allegedly! allegedly!).
The defence also argued yesterday that the testimony of a former Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia CEO – that she had been instructed via WhatsApp message by Najib’s ex-principal private secretary Azlin Alias to transfer RM42 million into his accounts – was mere hearsay.
The ex-CEO had claimed she deleted the messages. Azlin, meanwhile, died in a helicopter crash in 2015.
Meanwhile, the waterworks flowed in another court as former attorney-general Apandi Ali broke down thinking about all the sacrifices he’s made in carrying out his job only to be condemned by us, the people. 🙄
Apandi was testifying in a defamation suit he brought against DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang for linking him to the 1MDB scandal.
Among the allegedly dastardly things he is accused of is for clearing Jibby of any involvement in the 1MDB scandal. Meanwhile, a deputy public prosecutor testified that Apandi had never pressured him and other DPPs into clearing Najib, but merely asked them to look into the investigation and brief him on their recommendations. Apandi also allegedly reminded them to be objective.
In Ipoh, the trial of ex-Perak exco member Paul Yong for the alleged rape of his Indonesian domestic helper continued. An Indonesian embassy staffer testified that the reported victim sounded distraught when she called the embassy for help.
A gynaecologist then testified that the woman had two fresh tears in her hymen, indicating rough penetration within 72 hours prior to the examination.
Cruel Pakatan and other stories
Pakatan Harapan politicians, when they are in the opposition, have made the most of many opportunities to whack the government when the rights and livelihoods of poor folk are affected.
It’s a good thing, no doubt. But Pakatan administrations – or at least, the one in Selangor – could no better, as we learned yesterday.
In the first, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) became David to PH’s Goliath, slamming the Selangor gomen for being cruel and arrogant in demolishing shop lots owned by low-income traders in Kampung Manickam Bangi Lama. The shops had been operating for 40 years.
PSM deputy chairperson had this line, dripping in contempt, to say: “If this is how Harapan treats the ordinary in a town with limited economic activity, I pity Malaysians.” Ouch.
In a separate matter, settlers in the Ladang Tennamaram in Tanjung Karang have demanded answers from the state gomen over a lease given to two private companies to conduct works at the plantation. All this was done without any discussion with the settlers (allegedly! allegedly!), which is a little f***ed up considering they’ve been working the land for 40 years.
Anyways, here’re some other interesting things we picked up yesterday:
- Environment Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has received flak for saying Malaysia wasn’t invited to US President Joe Biden’s Climate Action because it wasn’t a country categorised as vulnerable to climate change.
We have a health minister who think warm water cures Covid, a human resource minister who think people should be glad to make minimum wage, and now an environment minister who doesn’t understand how climate change works. Did Moo go to the Royal London Circus to pick his Cabinet? 🤦
- Meanwhile, Tuan Ibrahim’s party PAS’s moved to push for the federal gomen to table an amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act has led one rights group to warn that this would fuel more discrimination and violence against the LGBT community. The proposed amendments will increase the fines, caning and jail time currently imposed.
- Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Minister Maximus Ongkili has said Putrajaya will honour its financial obligations to the Bornean states under MA63. Max, you may want to put the champagne on hold till the money is actually in the bank.
- MDEC has called for the restoration of the cabotage exemption for foreign vessels undertaking submarine cable repairs as the revocation of the exemption might scare off potential investors.
- Four Malaysians have made their debuts in Forbes world’s billionaires list this year, making it nine altogether.
- Grab is on the verge of being listed in New York. The Singapore-based tech company (which started in Malaysia and is helmed by Anthony Tan, a Malaysian) will list after a $35 billion merger with a special purpose acquisition company owned by Altimeter Capital.
“I love you / You love me / We're best friends like friends should be."
- Barney & Friends -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- The World Health Organization has pooh-poohed the idea of Covid vaccine passports, for now. But did you know the US had vaccine passports before, and they worked?
- US and Singaporean researchers have found that Topotecan, an inexpensive drug widely used to treat cancer, could potentially be used to treat Covid.
Meanwhile, scientists are calling for a new probe into the origins of the coronavirus, “with or without” China. Time to cue U2?
- You may already know this, but elections are underway in India. Unlike us though, the process takes about a month from polling to results in the world’s largest democracy.
Speaking of India, popular Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif has become the latest celeb there to test positive for Covid.
- Myanmar’s special envoy to the UN, saying a “bloodbath is coming”, has urged the international community to respond to the growing violence in the Asean nation. And on the subject of envoys – Myanmar’s ambassador to the UK says he has been locked out of the embassy and blames his country’s military for it.
- US President Joe Biden is set to announce new executive actions to strengthen existing gun laws, fulfilling promises made following two deadly shootings last month.