Should we be worried that ISIS may try to set up shop in Southeast Asia? Well, a former Jemaah Islamiyah militant thinks we should, but a terrorism expert claims otherwise, even while talking about the terror group's so-called East Asian Province of the Philippines. So which is it then?

In other news, PM Mahathir Mohamad thinks people are worrying too much about a dead man's cremains (yes, that's a real word!), the Opposition is worrying about the IPCMC and a new survey finds that Malaysians worry too much.

What worrying times we live in

The ISIS threat in Asean

A reformed militant, a Malaysian leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, says ISIS “foreign fighters” in Syria could be looking to return to Southeast Asia on forged or stolen passports.

Nasir Abas, who now works with Indonesian authorities to deradicalise militants, claims these passports are easily available; they’re  either stolen, forged or gotten from immigration offices using fake IDs.

In fact, Nasir himself had once traveled to the Philippines, where he set up a militant training camp, using a genuine Indonesian passport he obtained using a fake ID.

A few days ago, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysia was not ruling out the possibility ISIS is looking to set up base in Southeast Asia following its losses in the Middle East and the death of leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi recently.

But Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict director Sidney Jones – one of the region’s top experts on terrorism – rejected the idea, saying there’s no evidence this is going to happen. She says there’s racism among Arab members of ISIS towards foreign fighters from Southeast Asia, one of the biggest complaints from returnees.

Jones, however, admits the Philippines is most at risk, because it’s considered by ISIS as its “East Asia Province”. ISIS has claimed responsibility for two bombings there — at a church in Jolo and a security checkpoint in Basilan.

But do homegrown militants even need to get the passports Nasir talks about? After all, Malaysia intends to bring back Malaysian ISIS militants and their families, currently detained in Syria.

It’s OK. We’re sure these guys are reformed after spending time in a Syrian prison. Right?

Ashes to ruckus, dust to fuss

The controversy over the ashes of former Communist Party of Malaya secretary-general Chin Peng is still raging.

Police say they will call up the people who brought the ashes back in September, seeing as how the government had refused to allow this when he died in Bangkok on Sept 16, 2013, a month before his 89th birthday. 

After opposition lawmakers kicked up a fuss in Parliament on Wednesday, it was the turn of the Malaysian Veteran Commandos Club yesterday. The group insisted what happened was an insult to ex-security forces members who had fought against the communists during the Emergency and thereafter. Academicians and historians, too, were up in arms, saying the CPM, largely made up of Chinese members, had hurt many people in a conflict that transcended race.

But PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad says what’s done is done. Questioning the motives of those politicising the issue, he said other CPM leaders like Shamsiah Fakeh and Rashid Maidin were allowed to return home without a fuss, so why the problems here? 

In true sarcastic form, Maddey asked whether people expected the government to gather up the ashes and return them to Thailand, adding that the issue is being politicised by those wanting to put the government in bad light.

Maddey has a point. What’s done is done. And those who said the act was an attempt to revive communism are way off the mark. The United States may have had a point in burying Osama Bin Laden at sea to avoid any grave being turned into a shrine on land, but we hardly think the scattering of Chin Peng’s ashes in the jungles and sea near Lumut is gonna do that. 

The man who is perhaps the biggest living authority on the CPM also spoke out yesterday. Former IGP Abdul Rahim Noor, said to have been the main man to broker the Hat Yai Peace Accord that ended hostilities between the CPM and Malaysia, said there should be no problems with Chin Peng’s ashes being brought back as there was no longer a threat from the basically defunct organisation.

Rahim is right. The threat of militant communism in Malaysia and the CPM are dead. Let bygones be bygones. The only issue now is whether the group which brought Chin Peng’s ashes back had broken Customs laws as such “things” need to be declared.

Hi! We're the Opposition. We oppose

When the Royal Commission first suggested the formation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing against the Royal Malaysia Police, the BN government was in power.

That idea never came to fruition, with the force kicking up a helluva resistance against it. And, perhaps, because of the lack of political will (or even intention) among BN politicians.

Now, it seems, BN is back at it again. Opposition leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob said MPs from BN, PAS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (made up of former BN component parties, btw) won’t support the IPCMC Bill when it is tabled in Parliament sometime next week. Why? Because before tabling the bill, the government should first make an effort to look after the welfare of policemen and their families.

What one thing has to do with the other is beyond us. In fact, it’s probably beyond any sane person. 

This is a sign of an opposition that takes the definition of the word “opposition” too seriously. If it’s a government proposal, then we should oppose it. No matter how good the idea, no matter how silly our excuses are.

Yes, we all think the welfare of our men and women in blue, as well as their families, should be taken care of. But this has nothing to do with having an independent body making sure they are kept in check.

Ismail also said there were many instruments to monitor the force and therefore there was no need to have a different body doing so. But he misses the point.

As it stands, any member of the force alleged to have broken the law would be investigated by other members of the force. The whole basis of the IPCMC is that an independent body is there to investigate, ensuring the integrity of the whole process.

But Ismail’s plan isn’t as cunning as he thinks it is. It’s clear the opposition is trying to use this situation to curry favour with the 130,000-plus police personnel in the country, as well as their friends and relatives. After all, if one side wants to tighten the screws while the other fighting for your welfare, whom would you vote for?

Meanwhile, IGP Abdul Hamid Bador has asked for the government to not rush tabling the bill just yet. The man who is the first IGP not to have totally opposed the formation of the IPCMC said this was to allow the force to raise and discuss certain aspects of the bill, which he said had not been given “fair attention”.

This is fair enough. As we said yesterday, after a similar call from Amnesty International Malaysia, we’ve waited 14 or so years for the IPCMC. What’s another few more months?

What, me worry?

We live in divisive times, but amid all our differences, we apparently have one thing in common: we’re all a bunch of worrywarts.

According to the National Worry Index (NWI), a study believed to be the first of its kind, on a scale of 0-1, Malaysians scored a 0.77, which the researchers say is in the “maximum worry bracket”.

And just what are the things we worry most about? Let us know if this sounds familiar – the cost of living (0.81 on the index), jobs (0.78), security (0.77) and the economy (0.74). Seems about right, we think.

Apparently, 50% of Malaysians worry about whether the country’s future direction is on the right track while 24% think it’s definitely on the wrong track. Another 46% worry about whether the Pakatan government is viable, while 44% are concerned over whether Malaysia’s financial footing is stable.

The NWI gels with the findings of another perception survey, by market research and analysis firm Nielsen. This study found 73% of Malaysians believed the country to be in a recession. It revealed the top concerns among Malaysians were state of the economy, job security, work-life balance, political stability and debt.

And you know what happens when you worry? You get unhappy. In this year’s World Happiness Report, Malaysia ranked 80th out of the 156 countries assessed. The year before we placed 35th. So, yeah, it’s quite a nosedive.

But you can’t really blame us, can you? Apart from a government which doesn’t seem to be any different from the previous one, we have political parties which seem to only be concerned about infighting (speaking of which, PKR sacked two of its Youth leaders yesterday), politicians who only seem concerned about whether the PM should step down, a scandal of epic proportions which has left us deeply in debt and more and more signs that our belts are gonna have to get tighter and tighter. 

So, yeah. We worry.

Bits and bobs

Here’s a quick roundup of other important stories that happened yesterday:

  • Law Minister Liew Vui Keong says the Official Secrets Act will go, but some of its provisions will be retained in the Freedom of Information Act. It’s only expected – every country needs to be able to classify state secrets. The important thing is to ensure the FOIA isn’t as easily abused as the OSA was.
  • What the hell is up with Malaysian basketball officials? Hot on the heels of the MABA issue, we hear about the Perak Basketball Association having a team jersey with the state flag inverted
  • The price of RON95 petrol will be floated in stages next year, increasing by 1 to 2 sen every week until it reaches market price. 
  • The national crime rate has dropped for the second year running. Drug abuse is down in five states – many of them urban ones – but have risen in three more rural states. Check out the story here.
  • In a classic ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse, PKR chief whip Johari Abdul blamed MPs’ poor parliamentary attendance on fatigue and tight schedules. Err… maybe try cutting back on the extracurricular activities and focus on your core jobs, YB?

“Rule number one is, don't sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it's all small stuff.”

- Robert Eliot -


  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed great satisfaction after watching the “successful test” of a super-large multiple launch rocket system, in what was said to be a “Thanksgiving warning” to the US.
  • POTUS Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to troops in Afghanistan and announced that the Taliban apparently want a ceasefire deal.
  • China has warned the US that it will “take firm counter-measures” should Washington continue to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
  • Meanwhile, the US has accused Russia of helping to cover up the use of chemical weapons by Syria.
  • Turkey has labeled French president Emmanuel Macron as a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ over his hosting of a Syrian Democratic Forces leader. Turkey is currently on a military offensive in northern Syria.


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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