They said they wanted to make Malaysia a beacon of human rights. However, 18 months on from Pakatan Harapan coming to power, the LGBT community is still being ostracised. In some ways, it seems like it’s worse under the news guys.

In other news, the infighting in PKR gets more intense, and Britain agrees to haul 40-plus containers of crap back home.

The more things change ...

Justice for all?

In its pre-GE14 manifesto, Pakatan Harapan promised to make Malaysia’s human rights record respected by the world. A year and a half on from May 9, 2018 it’s quite a different scenario, with the constant victimisation of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community proving things are no different – and in some cases worse – from when Barisan Nasional called the shots.

Since Pakatan’s come to power, we’ve seen two lesbian women caned (though, in all fairness, this was by the PAS-led Terengganu government), five men jailed, caned and fined for “attempting gay sex” (whatever that means), portraits of LGBT activists removed from an exhibition, a minister denying homosexuality exists in Malaysia, and most horrifying of all, the brutal murder of a transgender woman in Klang. 

All in, it’s been pretty sickening. And yesterday’s case in the Butterworth Sessions Court suggests it ain’t gonna get much better. 

TL;DR, the court found two men guilty of committing so-called “immoral activities”. And here’s the best part – the dudes aren’t Malaysians, but tourists from Vietnam who ended up being hauled to court because state Immigration Department officials banged down their hotel room door and busted them. 

That’s right, folks. It seems the Immigration Department, which should really have better things to do, is now doing Jakim-like work. That’s bloody messed up. But should we be surprised? After all, even PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad – the same man who condemned the Terengganu caning of the two women – has been firm that there’s no place in Malaysia Baru for LGBT rights.

But here’s a suggestion, Doc: what about just letting people be and making sure to reign in the hate speech and Gestapo tactics? They’re not asking you to like them or Syed Saddiq to invite them to dinner. Just leave them alone and don’t persecute them. And if you’re not so sure how to do that, maybe check with your daughter?

Let’s not forget the community being targeted now is the same one that voted your government in just over a year ago on the promise there’d be reforms and that their basic rights would be protected.

But hey, the one thing our glorious leaders of Malaysia Baru are really good at is breaking promises, isn’t it?

Plastic unfantastic

Britain has agreed to take back 42 containers of plastic waste it sent to Malaysia. While it’s tempting to be relieved at that, here’s a fact for ya: The containers only comprise those which arrived in Penang between March 2018 and March 2019 and don’t include the mountains upon mountains of crap in illegal dumpsites across the country.

It’s unclear just how many thousand tonnes of British waste we have here, but a Greenpeace Unearthed investigation late last year discovered that in some places in Malaysia, the crap – which included Tesco crisp packets – was piled 10-feet high!

Our country DOES knowingly accept plastic waste, but that’s for recyclable plastic for which importers are charged a levy of RM50 per tonne (up from RM15 last year). But as with most things in Malaysia, somebody has found a way to screw with the system, and we’re now the world’s dumping ground for contaminated, low-quality, non-recyclable plastics. We won this dubious honour after China decided it wasn’t gonna play host to the world’s plastic rubbish anymore.

And even though the Brits have finally agreed to abide by the Basel Convention and take back some of their garbage, there’s still loads more of their shit here they should cart home! If you think the 88,000 tonnes the UK sent between Jan and Aug 2018 is bad, you ain’t heard nothing yet. In the first six months of 2018, we were the happy recipients of 150,000 tonnes of similar shit from the US!

As at the end of 2018, over 800,000 TONNES of plastic waste in total had been sent here. And it was truly a global effort too; a United Nations of plastic dumping, if you will. Germany, Japan, Australia, Spain and France are just some of the other countries sending their scrap to us.

While the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry hopes Britain’s initiative will set an example for other countries to also take back their waste, that isn’t a guarantee. Especially when it often isn’t clear just where the crap comes from in the first place.

Plastic import levies bring in about RM300 million a year, and the plastic recycling industry earns around RM19 billion per annum. But because so much illegal, unrecyclable waste is secretly sent with the recyclable stuff, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: if we can’t control the pollution, is it worth making all this money?

Is it worth destroying our country for a few bucks?

A party divided

The infighting in PKR is certainly getting worse and on Monday, the issue was the sacking of two party men – Zakaria Abd Hamid, the former political secretary of Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, and Pahang PKR member Ismail Dulhadi. 

According to the PKR disciplinary board, the two were given the boot after the party received a letter from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission recommending disciplinary action be taken for alleged corruption and bribery. But that explanation cut no ice with PKR veep and Azmin Ali’s No. 1 fangurrrrl Zuraida Kamaruddin, who called the sackings “selective”. 

Zuraida’s contention is this: the sacked duo haven’t been charged in court, so if PKR decided to sack them based on allegations, then the party should damn well also take action against other members who’re alleged to have broken laws.

PKR members in Team Anwar naturally went after Zuraida for not attending meetings and thus, not appreciating the real situation or knowing the reason for the sackings. But you know what? The woman’s right. The ‘justice’ being meted out does sure seem selective. Also, sackings and not attending meetings are entirely different issues, are they not?

And here’s the best part about this particular issue: the MACC has now admitted it made a major boo-boo. Turns out, it shouldn’t have sent the letter on Zakaria and Ismail to the PKR leadership in the first place. The reason is that the Commission, being a government body, should not be reporting or making recommendations to political parties. Great, huh?

Unfortunately for all concerned, this particular “error” isn’t gonna be quickly forgiven or forgotten. Especially as it’s effectively worsened the problems within PKR. Even PKR in Malacca is having a not-so-little tiff of their own. In the land of satay celup, the Anwar Ibrahim-v-Azmin Ali fight is believed to have spilt on to the nomination of a PKR senator yesterday.

Watch this space folks. Things are bound to get even more intense in the run up to the party’s national convention early next month. Because if we’ve learnt anything from Harapan in it’s over one-year rule, is that personal intra and inter-party politics are way more important than running the country.

Odds and ends

A little more happened yesterday and here’re those bits and bobs:

  • Dr M’s cheerleader-in-chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman says he will resign if it’s proven there was abuse of power in the awarding of contracts worth RM7mil to run National Youth Skills Institutes (IKBN) in three states. Okay bro, we believe you.
  • In a move to raise funds, Khazanah Nasional Bhd has reportedly sold off stakes worth RM5.66 billion in seven foreign companies, including Alibaba. The sovereign wealth fund recorded losses RM6.3 billion ringgit in 2018 but is looking to bounce back this year and has already targeted a pre-tax profit of RM5 billion.
  • Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says he will back the erection of a third bridge to ease traffic congestion between Johor and Singapore. Moo was silent though on whether the bride would be straight or crooked. Perhaps he’s considering a loop-de-loop bridge? 
  • An inquest into the death of Nigerian PhD student Thomas Orhions Ewansiha will be held at the KL Coroner’s Court between Jan 2 and 9, next year.
  • The High Court upheld the jail sentence and fine of former Ampang PKR Youth chief Adam Rosly Abdullah. Adam was sentenced to six months’ jail and RM30,000 fine last year for giving false statements and submitting fake documents to the MACC during an investigation.

“Justice means minding one's own business and not meddling with other men's concerns.”

- Plato -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Despite Carrie Lam’s promise that the Hong Kong government will respect the results of Sunday’s district elections, China has moved to warn pro-democracy protesters that the territory will always be ruled by Beijing. Rrrr-right. So what’s the point of elections again?
  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the world wide web, has proposed a nine-point contract for the Web that will hopefully prevent us heading into a “digital dystopia” where disinformation and invasion of privacy are the order of the day.
  • This is loopy. Donald Trump’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry believes his boss was ordained by God to lead the free world. Oh, and so was Barack Obama before Trump. No opinion was given on Wily Bill Clinton.
  • The man at the centre of the British truck deaths has pleaded guilty to immigration and property offences. The 25-year-old truck driver was, however, not asked to enter pleas to 41 other charges including the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese migrants.

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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