It’s decision day for Najib Razak in the first of many 1Malaysia Development Berhad-related cases, and guilty or innocent, the verdict today is guaranteed to have massive impact.

Also in the news, Anwar Ibrahim is confident of Pakatan Harapan winning the next election, the government’s approved interstate travel for Hari Raya Haji, and in the midst of a whole lotta fighting, two important laws get discussed in Parliament.

D-day for Jibby!

An important verdict

After more than a year of submissions, witness statements, canine antics and achy bums, the Kuala Lumpur High Court is finally set to make a decision on Najib Razak’s guilt or innocence in relation to the alleged siphoning of funds from SRC International, a company that used to be under 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The case, the first of its kind in Malaysia to involve a former prime minister, has drawn the attention of the world’s media, and today, they’ll be watching again as the court hands down its verdict.

 

In case you’ve forgotten just what the fuss is about, the TL;DR version is that Jibby is being accused of having pocketed a cool RM42 million from SRC International, and this was done, the prosecution contends, when the cash was channelled into his bank account. The Jibster’s defence team has consistently maintained that the ex-PM knew nothing of where the funds came from, with much of the blame for the former premier’s alleged transgressions directed at one-time confidant and perennial gulab jamun Jho Low. Even so, what has never been disputed is that the dough did find its way into Jib’s account, and that it was used.

 

There’re seven charges in total for the court to consider involving corruption and money laundering, and every one of those accusations carries with it the prospect of lengthy jail terms (maximum 15 or 20 years depending on the charge), hefty fines and even a possibility of whipping.

 

It’s anyone’s guess, of course, what the learned judge will decide today. But make no mistake – guilty or innocent, the impact of this case will be huge!

 

Jibby’s seen his stock rise significantly over the last 18 months or so, so much so that not only has he cemented himself as everyone’s favourite social media troll, he’s also managed to get to within spitting distance of the Barisan Nasional chairmanship (he’s the party’s advisory board chairman). An innocent verdict wouldn’t necessarily guarantee Bossku a return to the top what with more 1MDB-related cases pending and best bud-turned-rival-turned-uncomfortable ally Muhyiddin Yassin currently warming the PM’s seat. However, you can bet your last sen that Jib will be making a big deal of how he was victimised by Pakatan Harapan.

 

A guilty verdict, on the other hand, will be seen as having dealt him and Umno/Barisan Nasional a significant blow.

 

Yes, there’d be still avenues of appeal and Jib could still very well hold on to his Pekan parliamentary seat like PKR’s Rafizi Ramli previously did for his Pandan one. However, he might have to relinquish his advisory position in BN and worse, sit out any upcoming polls. In short, that plan of a return to power that many people, including one Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have been touting, will be up in flames.

Probably the one person who’ll be on tenterhooks as much as the JIbster is PM Moo, whose own political fortunes could very well be tied to what happens today. If Jibby is found guilty, it could boost Moo’s personal credibility with the public, but weaken his coalition politically. An acquittal, on the other hand, could really turn sentiment against Moo and his band of brothers. Reuters explains the whole conundrum pretty nicely here.

So yeah, all in all, today would be a good day to keep a keen eye on the news. Or you could just wait for tomorrow’s BTL. 🙂

 

P.S. In another court on Monday, a lawyer acting for former 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy grilled Jibby ally and former secretary to the government Ali Hamsa over certain details in his submission with regard the alleged tampering of the 1MDB audit report. The counsel also sought to once more establish that his client could be a valuable witness for the prosecution. Will things in that case change in light of today’s SRC verdict? We dunno. But it’ll be interesting to see who remains on who’s side after today’s decision is read out.

We'll be back!

Notwithstanding being booted out of office less than two years from having been voted in, and despite loads of evidence to the contrary, Anwar Ibrahim believes that Pakatan Harapan has what it takes to win the next general election. And his reason is that Perikatan Nasional’s poor governance will sway the masses.

We’re not sure what Brother Anwar has been smoking, but according to the Man-Who-Still-Wants-To-Be-PM, the coalition comprising Parti Amanah Negara, DAP and PKR is not just in with a shout, it could win the whole damned thing!

Look there’s no denying that PM Moo Yassin and Perikatan have made a number of blunders in the five months that they’ve been in power. However, we really don’t think that that’s enough to suggest the ruling coalition could get dumped in a GE. In fact, if anything, political analysts have noted that should Bersatu, Umno and PAS remain member ketat, there’s every chance that they’ll turn in a convincing election win come GE15.

 

Anwar, though, is certain that that’s far from the case, ’cos the alliances – be they under Perikatan or Muafakat Nasional (that’s just Umno and PAS) – might mean very little in places where the current parties don’t have lotsa support.

 

It’s true that the PKR bossman has a point and there’s really no telling how the ruling coalition will fare in places like Penang and Selangor. But need we remind Anwar that winning Putrajaya requires a haul of at least 112 Parliamentary seats? And as things stand now in the Dewan Rakyat, Pakatan looks to be way off that mark.

One wonders if Anwar is pulling a Steve Jobs and deploying a reality distortion field over the voting population of Malaysia. It’s either that, or the poor man is touched in the head. You guys decide. 

 

By the way, on the subject of seats and support, Pakatan partners DAP and Amanah are once more attempting to get PKR to reconsider its position that only Anwar can be named the Opposition’s PM candidate.

 

In a long-ass statement on Monday, party heads Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu, noted that while they are committed to allowing Anwar to ascend the throne should he manage to secure the support of a majority of the Members of Parliament, Parti Warisan Sabah’s Shafie Apdal should be considered as the Opposition’s second choice. 

 

Crucially too, the parties said the informal pact of Pakatan Plus (which includes Warisan and Maddey Mohamad’s rebel Bersatu faction) must be kept alive ’cos any attempt to go into GE15 as just Pakatan would be foolish difficult, to say the least.

 

Sigh. It may not be a done deal that Perikatan will bag the next election, However, this back and forth regarding who should be named the Opposition’s Chosen One is sure to give the ruling coalition a huge boost of confidence.

Celebrate with care

Despite a recent rise in Covid-19 infections, the government has greenlit interstate travel for the Hari Raya Haji celebrations, noting that, in contrast to how it was during Aidilfitri, no roadblocks will be set up.

Additionally, home visits are also being permitted, though gatherings are being capped to a maximum of 20 guests at any given time with those on home quarantine barred from receiving visitors and/or taking part in the celebrations. How this will be enforced is, of course, the big question. However, it’s hoped that errant quarantine-ees will get reported on by friends, family and, generally, people with a brain in their head.

Other guidelines for the celebration include korban rituals being limited to not more than 10 animals and a max of 20 people present at the ritual sacrifice.

Monday’s Covid-19 numbers were better than they have been in days, by the way, with just seven new cases of infection recorded. Also, while active cases remain high (179), Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirms that no one’s being treated in intensive care. Be that as it all may, however, the three local infections registered yesterday were all recorded in Sabah, suggesting that the SARS-Cov-2 virus is very much active in that state.

Meanwhile, the good doc noted that though the government’s mandatory face masks in public rule is coming into force on Aug 1, the authorities’ initial focus will be on the compulsory donning of said masks on public transport, and in crowded places and confined areas. Regrettably, we still have no idea what “crowded places” and “confined areas” means, or even if masks are being mandated for outdoor exercise/physical activity. 

Incidentally, Noor Hisham says the government is looking at providing masks for folks who can’t afford it. But while that’s commendable, it really shouldn’t be that difficult a decision to make. After all, taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves is the duty of those in power, is it not?

Here’re some other important Covid-related bits and bobs from Monday:

  • Close to two thousand people on home quarantine have yet to submit their second screening results to the authorities. And that’s despite the fact they’ve been threatened with arrest and court action. It’s true. Some men (and women) you just can’t reach. 
  • The government is considering screening passengers who use the Kuala Lumpur International Airport as a transit stop before heading elsewhere. The move is being contemplated following Cambodia’s announcement that more than a hundred passengers on flights from Malaysia and Indonesia had tested positive for Covid-19 upon landing in the country. 
  • Due to the spike in infections in Sarawak, police permission will be needed for travel between the various health zones in the state. The movement curbs will be in place from Aug 1 to 14.

A tale of two laws and other bits and bobs

There was quite a bit of commotion in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday thanks to the shouty bickering of MPs over, among others, ketuanan Melayuthe refugee status of important figures in Islam, and an MP’s right to be heard. Nevertheless, in the mist of all that hullabaloo, two important laws did also get discussed.

 

First of, the government’s much talked about bill to improve the Road Transport Act 1987 was finally brought to the august House and tabled for its first reading.

 

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong had previously mentioned that among the improvements being sought were stiffer penalties for deadly road accidents, drink driving and a lowering of the acceptable blood alcohol limit, and those amendments were indeed intact on Monday. However, also appearing on the table was a proposal for basikal lajak riders (or their parents or guardians) to be subjected to the law.

 

Many of the proposed amendments, if you remember, were mooted back when Pakatan was in power. However, things never got beyond the odd statement to the press.

 

Meanwhile, the Sedition Act also got mentioned in the Dewan yesterday. But while Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin had just last week talked about his government looking to “improve” the Act, yesterday, he was content to merely offer reasons for its continued existence.

 

According to the minister, the Act is especially important given the rise in fake news and an uptick in cases involving the royalty, race, religion and the special rights of the Bumiputera, as such Perikatan has no intention of doing away with the law.

 

We’ve talked about the issue of this particular archaic law ad nauseam so we won’t bore you with yet another homily. However, we will say, this – issues will always crop up and laws should definitely be used to be deal with legitimate threats to peace and security. However, all provisions contained in laws used for that purpose must be clear. And the Sedition Act, as it now stands, is anything but clear.

But somewhat related to the Sedition Act and the rights of the Bumiputera – the bickering over ketuanan Melayu that we mentioned in the first paragraph saw senior Pakatan leaders like Shafie Apdal, Mat Sabu and Khalid Samad come out to warn about how perilously close the idea of ketuanan Melayu is to white supremacy

While this is something usually whispered about by unhappy non-Malays, it’s rare for Malay leaders themselves to put it so baldly, and kudos have to be given to the Pakatan trio for calling it like it is – despite the fact that it could be politically damaging for them. 

 

Here, anyways, are some other things that made the news on Monday:

  • Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin says he doesn’t have much knowledge of attempts to topple the Warisan-led Sabah government but is sure his party isn’t behind it. R-r-r-ight.  
     
  • Jibby’s daughter Nooryana Najwa is seeking to challenge an Income Tax Act 1967 provision that grants immediate decisions in favour of the government in cases of apparent tax evasion. The Inland Revenue Board is seeking RM10.3 million in unpaid taxes from Nooryana.
     
  • A moneychanger told the High Court in KL that he laundered money on behalf of Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in exchange for the promise of “blessings”. We’d have asked for the promise of cash, but hey, to each his own.
     
  • Meanwhile, ad agency boss has pleaded not guilty to using false documents to procure a RM90 million Tourism Ministry contract.

“Justice? You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law."

- William Gaddis -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • China has shut the United States consulate in the city of Chengdu. The move follows the US’ order last week for the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas to be closed.
     
  • Global oil prices may have slipped due to fears of yet another Covid-19 wave as well as US-China tensions, however, gold couldn’t be doing better! Prices of the commodity soared to a record high of US$1,944 per ounce on Monday. The previous record was set in 2011 when prices rose to US$1,921 per ounce.
     
  • The White House’s coronavirus advisor Dr Anthony Fauci, says that depending on how the trials go, an effective vaccine against Covid-19 could be ready as early as October.
     
  • Meanwhile, a pet cat in Britain has tested positive for the coronavirus. The feline, which is said to have contracted the disease from its owners, is nevertheless, reported to have made a full recovery.

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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