It's T-minus two days until the current iteration of the MCO's set to end. But, will it end?

In other news, our Covid-19 numbers come down (slightly) after a three-day high; legal eagles discuss our ex-AG's new book; a Bersatu man's wife faces the gallows over some Mary Jane; and all hail Nicol David – the world's greatest!

Extended play

The NSC won't let me be

Hang on to your car keys. The National Security Council (NSC) will be meeting today to decide if the Movement Control Order should be extended after all.

You’ll recall the gomen had previously insisted there’ll be no full economic shutdown once this MCO ends. However, with the Feb 4 deadline looming and Covid cases still rising, PM Muhyiddin Yassin and his p̶e̶n̶d̶e̶k̶a̶r̶ ̶b̶u̶j̶a̶n̶g̶ ̶l̶a̶p̶o̶k̶ merry men will have to decide what to do next.

Naturally, chief among their concerns are money matters.

Local analysts and Money Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz say MCO 2.0 had a less devastating impact on the economy, with many businesses allowed open this time.

Yet many Malaysians, particularly those in the B40, are still suffering. Adding to the doom and gloom, one international research group is predicting financial dark clouds ahead.

Regardless of the NSC’s decision, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob pinky swears there’ll be no returning to full MCO 1.0-style lockdown, to balance safety with livelihood.

Even so, our boy Izzy warned stricter penalties are on the cards. The gomen’s looking to increase fines for SOP violators, including errant employers. FYI, workplace clusters, and manufacturing and construction sectors, are major sources of Covid infections.

Currently, a max RM1,000 compound can be imposed on those flouting SOPs. While that does seem inadequate given some dumbassery we’ve seen, you gotta wonder if heavier fines would be applied across the board.

Which is why certain folks feel the gomen should probably look at getting the guidelines right before raising fines. After all, the regulations can get so confusing that even poor ministers accidentally break em (allegedly! allegedly!). You don’t want s̶p̶a̶r̶r̶o̶w̶s̶ people to cry “double standards” now do you?

Incidentally, while Putrajaya hems and haws about whether to extend MCO, the Perth government in Australia initiated a five-day full lockdown after just one person was found to be Covid positive. One person!

Lower but no cigar

After three days of over 5,000 Covid-19 cases, Monday saw a slight dip with 4,214 new Covid-19 cases and 10 deaths (the overall tally stood at 219,173 cases and 770 deaths nationwide). 

We’re so not outta the woods yet though. ICU cases remain high (at 317), with a record 137 patients requiring ventilators to breathe.

While dire, merely comparing daily infection numbers may not paint the full picture. As noted here, the gomen should be revealing the number of people being tested, daily

By matching cases with the number of tests conducted, daily, we can gauge Malaysia’s positive rate – that’s the percentage of tests found positive – to get a clearer picture of our overall Covid sitch.

However, can those stats be accurately revealed given delays in the case reporting system? (Yesterday’s BTL has more deets) This, on top of concerns the gomen could be under-testing, means many cases could remain undetected.

In any event, Monday’s numbers revealed the current MCO might have done jack to break the chain of infection.

This lockdown, and emergency, you’ll remember, was advocated by the powers-that-be to save an overwhelmed healthcare system. Yet, infection numbers continue to rise, with January’s death count alone making up over a third of the total fatalities. Sigh.

Here, anyway, are a few other Covid-related news:

  • We’ll receive our first shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Feb 26. The treatments should be distributed within a week or two after their arrival.
     
  • Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) is seeking donations via Lazada for Covid medical equipment. UMMC has claimed the drive is part of a CSR initiative. However, questions abound if the hospital’s short on resources If it is, why isn’t the gomen stepping in?
     
  • The Consumers’ Association of Penang is the latest to whack Izzy Sabri over his backing of condos mandating Covid tests for foreign tenants. Warning that such moves will lead to xenophobia, CAP noted that the law doesn’t allow management bodies to compel testing. That’s what we said!

Tale spin

We told you there’s be more, didn’t we?

Tommy Thomas’ memoir remains big news, with the floor divided over the former AG’s professionalism. The jury’s still out on whether he was within his rights to reveal what went down in the corridors of power.

Ex-PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyer, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, for one, believed TT’s revelations are outta line as he’s the gomen’s former legal rep. 

Still, other legal eagles — among them former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram — said attorney-client privilege or other related laws (e.g. the Evidence Act 1950) don’t apply in the case of AGs. Meaning Tommy’s free to write whatever he wants.

What’s interesting is that two of the fellas arguing over Tommy’s book — Haniff and Sri Ram — were apparently TT’s rivals for the AG’s post.

As the experts wrangle over whether Mr T’s in the right or wrong, dirt on cases the ex-AG worked on while in office continue to see light. Among them, Malaysia’s suit against 1MDB-linked International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), and a bid to place a bounty on portly pirate Jho Low’s head.

Perhaps one of the juiciest bits details how TT dispatched a senior lawyer to Australia to determine if convicted murderer Sirul Azhar Umar would corroborate his comrade Azilah Hadri’s claims that the duo was ordered by former premier Najib Razak to “shoot to kill” Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Jib, who’s always denied involvement in the case, has yet to respond to the claim. Nevertheless, he, like Umno’s Puad Zarkashi, has seen fit to take a dig at the former top prosecutor for apparently keeping mum on stuff like the then gomen’s decision to throw out ex-finance minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption suit.

BT-Dubs, in case you’re hoping to get your paws on a copy, it seems that demand’s been so great Tommy’s book is out of stock until Friday. Even so, that doesn’t mean you should grab a pirated PDF. You might just get hauled to court!

Death for drugs & other odds and ends

A Bersatu politician’s wifey is facing the death penalty for trafficking ganja. Separately, the accused, Lyiana Roslee, is also looking at a life sentence and whipping for cultivating up to nine cannabis plants, if convicted.

Lyiana was reportedly identified following her hubby’s arrest a couple of weeks ago, which led to a raid of their Ampang home. Reports claimed Lyiana mixed cannabis with ketamine and sold the stuff at RM300 a pop.

For the record, former Pakatan Harapan de facto law minister VK Liew had previously pushed to decriminalise marijuana and abolish the mandatory death penalty

Drugs aside, here’re some other news for you to put in your b̶o̶n̶g̶ pipe and smoke:

  • According to an Al Jazeera report, a convicted killer linked to Bangladesh’s top army commander has been residing in Malaysia.

    The report claimed Anis Ahmed, who was convicted of killing a prominent rival of current Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, has been hiding out here. And get this – he and his brother (also on the wanted list) have managed to travel back to Dhaka with no problem!
     
  • Nicol David’s done it! The squash queen’s now the World Games’ Greatest Athlete of All Time. The award, determined by an online poll, saw Nicol picking up a massive 318,945 votes. Her closest rival was tug-of-war athlete James Kehoe of Ireland who amassed 113,120 votes.

    The World Games are held every four years for sports that aren’t in the Olympics.
     
  • A whole bunch of people were honoured in conjunction with FT Day and among the most prominent are Moneybags Minister Tengku Zafrul (who’s a “Datuk Seri Utama” now). Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin and Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, are now both “Datuks”.

    Oh, Umno Youth exco member Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris a.k.a blogger Papagomo also got handed an award, though his honour didn’t come with a title. We can think of a few though… 😏
     
  • Honda’s apologised over a C-suite exec’s post on LinkedIn, which made light of rape and AIDS. The exec had claimed the note was a cut-and-paste job he found funny. Unfortunately for him, his employers, and many others with more sense, felt differently.

“It isn’t easy to live in such a chaotic world, and it is even harder to govern it.”

- Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Following a coup, Myanmar’s military has moved to purge the government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s allies, replacing a bunch of ministers and deputies with 11 new faces.

    In case you’re fuzzy on what triggered the coup, here’s the lowdown.
     
  • China’s cracking down on a crime ring that’s manufacturing and selling fake Covid vaccines. And here we thought fake iPhones were big business.
     
  • Amsterdam’s set to close its infamous red-light district and move sex workers away from the city centre. The move is aimed at resetting tourism in the city. What next – no weed?
     
  • Cops in the US city of Rochester are under fire after bodycam videos showed a child being cuffed and pepper-sprayed by officers. The nine-year-old girl, who’s reportedly suffering from mental health issues, was apparently threatening to take her and her mother’s lives. 
     
  • Saved By The Bell star Dustin Diamond has died. The 44-year-old, who played Screech on the show, passed away after recently being diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. 

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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