From BN vs. PH, the battle for Tanjung Piai has morphed into a right royal rumble featuring six candidates. Could one (or more) of ’em play spoiler? Also, voters are being told not to focus on race. Yes, even though almost everything about this by-election to date has been about race.

Elsewhere in today’s newsletter, the cops are being tasked with investigating themselves (yes, seriously) and it looks like it’s true, Malaysian don’t make enough money to get by.

And then there were six

Six (of the best?) for Tanjung Piai

We expected Karmaine Sardini (Pakatan Harapan), Wee Jeck Seng (Barisan Nasional) and even, Wendy Subramaniam (Gerakan) to file their papers on Saturday, Nov 2. However, Nomination Day in Tanjung Piai also saw three more (unexpected) candidates entering the race: tuition teacher Ang Chuan Lock, single mum Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar and Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, the president of PAS ally Berjasa.  

It’s quite clear the main fight’s gonna be between Karmaine and two-time champ parliamentarian Wee, who’s already began drawing crowds to his campaign events. However, could one or more of the supporting cast of candidates play spoiler?

Analysts seem convinced Gerakan ain’t gonna do much of anything in Johor, but what of Berjasa, which, along with PAS and Ikatan, is a member of Gagasan Sejahtera? 

In GE14 in Tanjung Piai, Berjasa’s Nordin Othman (standing on a PAS ticket) raked in close to 3,000 votes and put the brakes on a Wee hattrick. However, the situation then was slightly different, with PAS backing the guy. This time though, PAS is making it very clear its loyalty is to Umno-BN and so members have been urged to back MCA. Still, could Badhrulhisham be a viable option for Umno and PAS supporters who’re annoyed that a Malay Muslim candidate wasn’t picked?

Yes, yes, Lim Guan Eng says this by-election shouldn’t be about the candidates’ races but about which of them is cleaner. But let’s not kid ourselves, saudara. This election was about race from Day One. And the fact that your fellas (and the other guys) keep making statements about it only proves race (and religion) is going to be one of the main deciding factors come Nov 16.

Incidentally, a survey by Selangor government think tank Institut Darul Ehsan reveals that most Malays in Tanjung Piai have already made up their minds on who they’re voting for while a majority of Chinese in the area are undecided and having second thoughts about backing Pakatan. But, yeah, let’s not make this election about race.

Judge, jury, investigators

Five of the 12 people charged with supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam claim they were tortured and abused while in custody. And Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s responded to the claims by ordering the police to investigate the complaint.

That’s right, people. The same fellows who arrested the 12 suspects, locked them up and were quick to deny there’d be any abuse of power are now being asked to investigate themselves. 

Look, we’re not saying the police are guilty or that the allegations of torture are true. But surely, the suggestion by DAP’s Charles Santiago to enlist an independent third party, like perhaps the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), to probe the claims makes more sense than Moomoo’s solution. 

Among the allegations the five suspects have levelled at the authorities is that they were mistreated, tortured and intimidated into confessions following their arrests. A lawyer for one of the accused also claims her client was locked in a separate dark cell which was teeming with rats and cockroaches.

Make no mistake. These are serious allegations. And there’ve been too many cases of mistreatment in custody for the authorities to summarily dismiss the current claims. We need the truth. CCTV recordings. Lock-up logs. Everything.
On a larger level, this case is one of many that proves why the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) can’t be introduced quickly enough. Sadly, it’s now stuck in Parliament purgatory and only God knows how mangled the IPCMC bill will be if and when it’s introduced. 

Meanwhile, in other terrorism-related news, Moomoo says the government isn’t blind to the fact Malaysia is being used by mainly Islamic terrorist groups as a transit point to get to the southern Philippines, but you know, the severity of the situation is why laws like the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act are needed. 

Hands up if you saw that one coming from a mile away.

Hard to get by

We all complain about not making enough money, and guess what? The stats indicate that most of us don’t

The Star’s special report yesterday had loads of facts and figures to support the claim that Malaysian salaries are insufficient (and we do recommend checking it out). However, if you’re pressed for time, here’s a snapshot:

According to a recent Department of Statistics report, the average city-dwelling Malaysian employee draws a salary of RM2,415 a month. Thing is, according to the EPF’s budgeting guide, an unmarried person with his or her own car who lives and works in the Klang Valley needs about RM2,490 to get by. 

Now, if you reckon that ain’t too bad and the figure suggests most people are only a couple of bucks short, here’s something else to consider: while the EPF guide takes into account transportation, utilities and food, it does not factor in stuff like insurance, phone bills, allowances to parents and student loan repayments. Also, and most importantly, the guide’s recommended allocations are super conservative at a mere RM70 for personal care items, RM30 for healthcare, and, wait for this, RM300 for housing!

Of course, all this isn’t so very surprising as Bank Negara has noted before how wages in Malaysia are way too low. But where it gets worse, experts like Prof Mohd Nazari Ismail of Universiti Malaya’s Department of Business Strategy and Policy say, is when you run the numbers and realise UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston was right all along – about 20% of Malaysians (read: more than six million citizens) are poor. 

If the situation of low wages and poverty seems dire, it is. And Mohd Nazari warns that a major overhaul of the system is needed if we’re to solve the problem.

The United Nations says “visionary policies for sustainable, inclusive, sustained and equitable economic growth” are the ticket out. Question is, is the government’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 such a policy?

Odds and ends

A few more things happened over the past couple of days and here they are in brief: 

  • Over 1,600 cases of domestic abuse affecting young working women have been recorded in the first nine months of this year. According to the data, these women make up the highest number of domestic abuse victims, followed by homemakers.
  • According to PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the application of economic and trade sanctions by one country against another is a breach of international law. Huh?! Yes, sanctions can be illegal (if imposed in breach of international regulations) but they’re perfectly within the rules if done according to, well, the rules. 
  • According to Cypriot newspaper Politis, fugitive financier Jho Low obtained a Cypriot passport when authorities closed in on him in 2015 by buying an unfinished villa worth €5 million (RM23 million). Must be nice to have cash to burn when many Malaysians can’t afford to buy even a small house, huh?
  • The government hasn’t assigned any private company to collect data on and issue IDs to foreign workers or stateless persons in Sabah, the Home Ministry says.

“People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it.”

- Christopher Hitchens -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Six people were injured in a knife attack by a man shouting pro-Beijing slogans while a politician had his ear bitten off as protests in Hong Kong, once again, took a violent turn.
  • South Africa beat England 32-12 on Saturday to emerge as Rugby World Cup winners for the third time in history. It also marks the first time a non-white Springboks captain – Siya Kolis – has held aloft the Webb Ellis trophy.
  • Thick smog has resulted in as many as 37 flights to and from New Delhi’s international airport being delayed and diverted. Pollution in New Delhi is always bad this time of year and it seems that smoke from firecrackers, set off during Diwali, worsens the problem.
  • Lewis Hamilton has bagged his sixth Formula 1 drivers title with a second-place finish in the United States GP. The victory puts the Brit driver just one behind Michael Schumacher who has seven titles to his name.
  • McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook has left the company after revelations that he’d been involved in a relationship with an employee. While consensual, it was against company policy.

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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