Yesterday we learned Jho Low is "hiding like a chicken", just not in Cyprus. Yesterday we also learned that IGP Hamid Bador is obsessed with animals, or at least maybe comparing Jho Low to animals.
Meanwhile, we also learned the prosecution in the recent LTTE case has decided to drop two additional charges against a DAP assemblyman in connection to the defunct militant group; that fuel subsidies should be replaced with spending on public transportation; and, that PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad still doesn't believe anyone can run the country but himself.

The IGP's animal instincts ...

Chicken run

IGP Hamid Bador must be an animal lover. Why else would Hamid, two days after saying Jho Low has had plastic surgery to look like a bear, now say the fugitive businessman is “hiding like a chicken”? Those were his exact words when answering questions about Low’s whereabouts following rumours Low’s in Cyprus.

Hamid said Bukit Aman only found out Low purchased property in Cyprus three or four weeks ago after making several arrests. Though he didn’t elaborate on the arrests, he did say Low had flown the coop and was not on Cyprus island at the moment, but “hiding like a chicken” in a certain country which he can’t leave with ease. Oh, the sheriff did say Low was on another island, but which one is anyone’s guess.

Hamid said it was impossible for Low to go to Cyprus as his “Chinese Malaysian features” would mean he would stand out. But Hamid … what if he looked like a bear? Wouldn’t he stand out then?

Talking about fowl play, back in good ol’ Malaysia, former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi has agreed that Low, whose real name is Low Taek Jho, had conspired with PetroSaudi International (PSI) directors Patrick Mahoney and Tarek Obaid to mislead former PM Najib Razak.

He said this during Najib’s trial for various corruption-related charges in connection with 1MDB. Jibby’s lead counsel Shafee Abdullah had quizzed Shahrol about an email between Mahoney and Tarek in which they discussed not telling Najib about a US$500 million loss on the abortive joint venture between 1MDB and PSI.

Shahrol, who must be minting money from allowances just from the number of days he has been on the stand so far, however, said he was uncomfortable agreeing with Shafee’s suggestion that Low, Mahoney and Tarek had used the US$500 million for themselves.

Shahrol also testified that after 1MDB transferred US$500 million into PSI’s accounts, Tarek had given instructions to have US$82 million transferred to his private account. The funds were then transferred into the accounts of Good Star Ltd, a company owned by Low.

Low certainly hatched quite a plan and the defence will have you believe Jibby is a generally good egg who was blissfully unaware of all that went on.

A tale of aborted charges and silly responses

Plans to hit Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran with two additional charges relating to his alleged support of the long-defunct militant organisation Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were aborted yesterday.

Prosecutors had made an e-filing of the charges the previous day, but when the defence team arrived in court yesterday, they were told the charges had been dropped. Take it as a glass half full situation as Gunasekaran will still remain in custody as he was denied bail following earlier charges filed against him.

While the new charges being dropped, suddenly and without explanation, certainly was surprising, what was not surprising was the silly response from opposition politicians, namely Umno’s Wanita and Youth chiefs, Noraini Ahmad and Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, who said the aborted charges were all the doing of DAP, basically.

Errrrr … what? Gunasekaran and another DAP assemblyman were among 12 charged with various offences linked to LTTE. Some of these charges lead to life sentences if found guilty. Last we checked, those charges still stand, so in what way is DAP pulling the strings?

Anyhoo, Singapore’s Straits Times reported that the man with two first names, AG Tommy Thomas, had initially been reluctant to prosecute any of the “LTTE Dozen” but agreed after a personal briefing by IGP Hamid Bador.

Meanwhile, in a move too late for the 12 men, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says the government was looking into several provisions of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, including the contentious 28-day detention period. What’s more, he says, Pakatan Harapan had actually been discussing it for months.

Excellent. We couldn’t be happier. Why? Because while what we want to see are shitty laws being junked, we’d take amending them over doing nothing at all.

But that’s cold comfort to 12 men and their families while the government takes its sweet time to “look into” the matter.

Just say no ... to fuel subsidies

An economist has advised the government subsidised petrol schemes and purchasing toll concessions will not benefit all of those under the B40 category.

Muhammed Abdul Khalid, a former director of think tank Khazanah Research Institute, says a third of the B40 group, particularly those in rural areas, don’t own vehicles, so they wouldn’t be able to enjoy fuel subsidies. And since they don’t own vehicles, they won’t be able to enjoy the government’s planned purchase of toll concessions and the plan to either not increase toll rates or to do away with them altogether.

Instead, he says the government should spend on improving the public transportation infrastructure, especially in rural areas.

The suggestion to improve public transportation is certainly a good one and, tbh, is just plain common sense — both for rural and urban areas. We’ll get less vehicles on the road, there will be less pollution, less traffic and those in rural areas can move about more easily even if they don’t have vehicles.

But there are merits to the present government plan.

Take fuel subsidies. Another way of looking at it is that two-thirds of the B40 group would benefit, and unlike previous subsidy plans, the rich don’t get to enjoy such privileges (which they don’t need). A targeted subsidy plan makes more sense than a blanket one.

In terms of toll concessions, ensuring toll rates remain the same or abolishing them altogether would also help those in the M40 group – the Malaysian middle class. While it may be middle class, it’s the group that hardly catches any breaks when the annual federal budget is announced and is therefore increasingly feeling the pinch as the cost of living goes up.

Of course, Muhammed isn’t the first economist to suggest such things. Last month, former Council of Eminent Persons member Jomo Kwame Sundaram also made a similar suggestion, asking Putrajaya to consider subsidising public transportation instead of fuel.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) is reviewing the viability of a proposal from a Malaysian group for the RM50 billion takeover of Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s 51% stake in Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan (PLUS) Malaysia Bhd. MIER chairman Kamal Salih says the proposal would be completed by the end of the year, after which MIER would bring it to the government.

I am the one and only

Our Last Action Hero PM Maddey apparently feels he’s the only one who can save Malaysia.

OK, maybe he didn’t quite say that, but you get the general feeling it’s what he thinks anyway. In an interview with Financial Times, Maddey was asked whether he thinks he is the best person to helm the country at the moment, to which the grand old man gave a definite “maybe”.

More tellingly, Mads denied there is a plan for him to step down next year, though he did say he’s committed to handing over the reins to former friend-turned-arch rival-turned-political partner Anwar Ibrahim at some point in time. So, not Azmin Ali then?

So a promise is a promise, Maddey seemed to say, but — and this is key — the nonagenarian also told the interviewer he’s wary of making the same mistakes he made in the past in terms of appointing his successors.

Why’s this key? Well, Mr PKR was his appointed successor before being unceremoniously dumped in the late 1990s. What followed was a black eye (literally and figuratively) in the nation’s history with Anwar being charged with sodomy and corruption. So is Mahathir hinting he still doesn’t quite like the idea of giving Anwar the keys to the kingdom? With this wily old man, it’s anybody’s guess.

Anwar himself put his poker face on, seemingly preferring to take the positives from the interview, thanking Maddey for promising to keep his, errr … promise. If he’s seething inside about the other comments Mahathir made, he ain’t saying.

Odds and ends

Here are some quick takes on other news which happened yesterday:

  • Guess who’s back? The High Court yesterday ruled that everybody’s favourite activist-turned-politician Tian Chua shouldn’t have been disqualified from contesting the 14th general election and is free to contest any election from now on.
  • Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission second-in-command Azam Baki says 63.3% of corruption complaints involved the government service. No kidding!
  • Whistleblower website Sarawak Report claims a suit has been filed by a travel agency against Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali to recover a RM300,000 expense bill. Azmin, meanwhile, says he doesn’t know anything about a suit, but if he does owe the travel company money, then he will pay up.
  • It is every Muslim’s responsibility to ensure non-Muslims do not fear Islam, says Penang PKR’s Norlela Ariffin. The Penanti assemblywoman also says Malay translations of the Bible were not a threat to Islam and instead should be seen as a means for Muslims to understand another religion.
  • This ought to be a bestseller. Cartoonist Zunar has launched a new book featuring cartoons which fight racism.

“Sins, like chickens, come home to roost.”

- Charles W. Chesnutt -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Impeachment hearings for US President Donald Trump will go public for the first time next week.
  • Scientists have discovered the first new strain of HIV in almost two decades. But they say there’s no need to panic. We’re tempted to say, “famous last words.”
  • A pilot at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport mistakenly set off a “hijack alarm”, sending the airport into high-security alert status.
  • The uncle and aunties that make up the Oscars committee have disqualified Nigeria’s “Lionheart” from contending for the Best International Feature Film category as the film had too much English in it. But English is Nigeria’s official language!
  • Residents of Kansas City have voted to remove Martin Luther King Jr’s name from a street, just months after it was renamed after him.

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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