So it turns out that the 20-people-at-a-time Hari Raya visiting rule is just a guide. The question is though, 20, 10 or five, how the heck is the government gonna police this?

In other news, parents might soon be barred from taking their kids to malls and other public places, the Health Minister claims innocence in a graft probe, and down in Melaka, one state legislative assembly speaker gets exchanged for another.

What you need to know about 20

The truth about Raya visiting

We’ve really lost count of the number of times some politician has blundered and our Health Director-General has had to mop up the mess. Seriously, it’s like Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah is in permanent damage control mode. And yesterday, Superman was back at it, this time cleaning up after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Remember how in Monday’s newsletter we wondered how MooMoo’s 20-people-at-a-time restriction for Hari Raya visiting would work in a tiny flat or whether salam-ing would be allowed? Well, it turns out the rule is only a guide with the size of one’s home being a major deciding factor. Meaning to say, if you live in Seri Perdana a grand bungalow, and can ensure social distancing can be maintained, then sure, have 20 people over. However, in no circumstances should that many people be allowed in should you live in a shoebox tiny apartment.

Also, it seems Moo’s magic number 20 only refers to family members and not social visitors. And please, no handshaking, kissing or salam-ing, okay? Especially if you have older people around.  

So cool. We have some clarity now. Rich folk will enjoy this the most, and let’s all flash the peace sign if we visit anybody. Two questions though: One, how the heck are we gonna enforce any of this? And two, are we placing too much trust in people to do the right thing? 

Who knows, really. But this story from Bahrain which reports about how 16 family members at an iftar gathering managed to get infected thanks to one idiot is certainly cause for concern.

Incidentally, no clarification was forthcoming from Noor Hisham about Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s latest announcement that the government is considering prohibiting parents from carting their kids to malls and other public places. There’re no restrictions in place at present preventing parents from gallivanting with their kids. However, the minister has warned that regulations could soon be introduced if people keep stupidly putting their children’s lives in danger.

Yeah, okay, great. We could probably do with certain things being spelt out. But sir, what indeed is a public place? Is a restaurant a public place? Does this mean that after saying people could go out for meals, you’re now gonna prevent families from eating out? What about the neighbourhood badminton court? Or the park? Are those public places? And if they are, does that mean the government is now saying the non-contact sports and exercise rule is only for adults, not kids? Also, would a “no kids” rule apply to VIPs as well as regular folks? 

By the way, speaking of public places and Raya gatherings, viral vids of folks not adhering to social distancing rules while buying food for breaking fast have been making the rounds of late. And on Monday, cops and Kuala Lumpur City Hall officer had to intervene at a spot in Kampung Pandan where a crowd had congregated near a row of stalls to remind everyone to keep their distance.

Ramadan bazaars have already been banned, mind you. Yet, we’re still seeing stuff like this happening. Can we really hope then that all the things we’ve learnt so far won’t be forgotten when families go out Raya visiting?

Crisis in Melaka

Once upon a time, somewhere in the north of Peninsular Malaysia, a state legislative assembly speaker was unceremoniously stripped of his robes, dragged out of the dewan and replaced by another fellow. It was outrageous, appalling and plain nasty.

And after the political tsunami which was the 14th general election, we really thought we’d never have to deal with something like that again. Well, guess what? We got treated to a repeat performance on Monday, down in Melaka.

 

Yes, reboots are usually never as good as the original, and the chaos in the Melaka state assembly was far tamer than the shit that went down in Perak in 2009. However, the storyline was the same: one speaker got replaced by another against a backdrop of bad behaviour.

 

The long and short of it, anyways, is that thanks to some arguably sneaky tactics, Umno’s Ab Rauf Yusoh ended Monday as the Melaka state assembly speaker despite not starting the day in that position.

 

It’s like this. Sometime last week, the then serving Pakatan Harapan-appointed state speaker Omar Jaafar got sent a motion which sought to remove him from office. He rejected it on the grounds that one, the procedure for ousting speakers wasn’t clear and he wanted to make sure everything was done by the book. And two, since Monday’s scheduled sitting was only meant to last about two hours, there were just too many other important matters to deal with.

 

The fellow who’d submitted the motion, Perikatan Nasional Chief Minister Sulaiman Ali, naturally was pissed. And yesterday, he and his cohorts, among them Idris Haron, himself a former Melaka CM, threw a hissy fit that saw loads of playground name-calling, some stuff being thrown about, and the speaker eventually, adjourning the meeting. Here’s the thing though. Almost as soon as that meeting was adjourned, Sulaiman, Idris and Co. reconvened the meeting with only the assemblymen aligned to them and appointed a new speaker!

 

Our dear CM swears, of course, that everything was done according to the assembly’s standing orders. And we dunno, maybe the rules were followed. Regardless though, it sure does look, sound and smell like a pile of horse manure. And here’s the best part, we could be seeing encores of this shit in other states where Perikatan now has majority control, among them, JohorKedah and Perak, where the state assembly sits today and where a similar motion to oust speaker Ngeh Koo Ham has already been rejected.

 

Seriously, even if decorum is out of the question, is it too much to ask that our elected reps wait until after Ramadan and/or we’ve dealt with the Covid-19 crisis to resume behaving like spoilt toddlers?

Also, let’s say Parliament, when it convenes on May 18, refuses to hear the no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin. What happens if Dr Mahathir Mohamad manages to get a simple majority to support him? Can he then reconvene, appoint his own speaker and carry the motion? 

There was a reason why Pandora’s box wasn’t supposed to have been opened, you know. 

Other Covid-19 news

There was a slight increase in Covid-19 infections on Monday, from 67 to 70, However, generally speaking, even with one extra fatality, the numbers here don’t look as bad they do in certain other countries. For one, despite the 109 deaths and 1,504 active cases, our recovery rate keeps improving, so much so that we’ve now seen 5,113 people discharged. That’s 76% of the total number of infections – 6,726 cases – since the outbreak began.

 

Even so, four out of a total of 34 clusters in the country are still active. So yeah, stay cautious and take necessary precautions, though you perhaps don’t need to worry too much about what you eat. Oh, and you probably needn’t spend your hard-earned cash on those antibody tests.

 

Anyway, as usual, there was a whole lot more on Covid-19 and here’re the more important odds and ends that made headlines:

  • Health Minister Dr Adham Baba is in the spotlight again and this time it’s to deny any involvement in a RM30 million scandal involving the construction of a lab. We could be wrong, but we feel neither a flat out denial nor air suam is gonna prevent the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission from having a friendly chat with him.
     
  • All courts are set to reopen from May 13. However, the wearing of masks has been made compulsory. Additionally, only folks who’ve business with the court will be allowed in, while in criminal cases, only one family member will get to enter the premises.
     
  • It seems fear of Covid-19 is keeping many patients away from hospitals. However, doctors warn that patients with serious health conditions could be adversely affected as a result of missing appointments or not seeking treatment. 
     
  • The taps at the Royal Selangor Club’s bars in Dataran Merdeka and Bukit Kiara have been turned off following complaints that patrons were not observing social distancing. The club’s food outlets, however, remain open.
     
  • Hundreds of migrants were reportedly rounded up in a raid at the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market in Selayang. The area is currently under an enhanced movement control order (EMCO). The raid in Selayang follows similar swoops in the Jalan Masjid India area just before EMCOs in three areas there ended.
     
  • Have you ever marvelled at how some people look so dashing and well-groomed on TV despite the fact that barbers aren’t allowed to operate during the MCO? Well, Malay Mail has done this interesting piece on how some barbers have been running underground haircut services – with cops, ministers and VIPs allegedly among the clientele. 

This and that

Some non-coronavirus items also elbowed their way into the news yesterday. Here they are in brief (and one, in not so brief):

  • Former minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has declared his sources of income in a public statement following a meeting with the MACC on Monday and you know, the figures on paper suggest he may be able to afford having RM250,000 just lying around his house.

    To be honest, the numbers are quite mind-boggling. Like his allowances, for example. This guy, who earns a basic salary of RM660,000 a year, also got a further RM70,000 in allowances (which includes a vacation allowance). In other words, his allowances were more than the median household income in the country, which is RM5,228!

    And this isn’t even going into the RM42,000 he got for buying a dining set (for what? To entertain Zakir Naik in style?) and the RM150,000 he received when getting the boot as minister!
     
  • Johor police are seeking to keep former radio announcer Patrick Teoh in remand for longer because he’s apparently been uncooperative. Teoh, 73, is accused of having insulted Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim in a Facebook post.
     
  • One question though, YB. That RM42,000 for dining sets you declared? Did you receive that before or after you had Zakir Naik over for dinner?
     
  • Falcon Private Bank, the Swiss bank at the heart of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, is set to wind up. Falcon came to prominence when it was revealed that a whole pile of cash had been transferred from its Singapore branch to former PM Najib Razak’s Malaysian bank accounts.

“Cleaning up with children around is like shoveling during a blizzard.”

- Margaret Culkin Banning -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Fears are growing over a possible second wave of Covid-19 infections, just as the global economy is starting to slowly re-open. Donald Trump, meanwhile, seems to think things are dandy in the US because it apparently is doing far better than any other country in terms of testing. Over 81,000 people have died there, but the guy is crowing about testing. 🤦‍♂️
     
  • Wuhan has reported its first cluster of Covid-19 infections since the city’s lockdown was eased a month ago. Meanwhile, the city of Shulan, which sits near the Russian and North Korean borders, has been classified as high risk following the discovery of a cluster of infections there.
     
  • The English Premier League could resume behind closed doors from June 1. The plan to restart football as well as other sports is part of the British government’s exit strategy from the country’s current lockdown and is detailed in a 50-page roadmap unveiled by PM Boris Johnson on Monday.
     
  • Avianca, the world’s second-oldest airline, has filed for bankruptcy. The Colombia airline, which was founded in 1919, cited the “unforeseeable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic” as the main reason it’s winding down. For the record, KLM is the oldest airline in the world.
     
  • The owner of popular Singaporean eatery Zam Zam has been sentenced to six years in jail and six strokes of the cane for conspiring to slash a man from a rival murtabak restaurant. Zackeer Abbass Khan, 49, who was found guilty, was previously jailed in 1998 for snatch theft.
     
  • Jerry Stiller, veteran comedian and father of actor Ben Stiller, has passed away. Jerry, who starred in TV sitcoms such as Seinfeld and King of Queens as well as countless movies alongside his son, was 92.

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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