Two witnesses at the corruption trial of Mama Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former PM Najib Razak, provided some rather damning testimony against her yesterday. In other news, talk of Umno jumping into bed with PM Maddey seem to be getting louder; while the Malaysian who was the first one diagnosed with the Wuhan virus has passed it on to his younger sister. And, to all our Hindu friends - Happy Thaipusam. Vel Vel!

Not coming up smelling Rosie

Rosie takes a licking

Yesterday wasn’t a good day for f̶o̶r̶m̶e̶r̶ ̶p̶r̶i̶m̶e̶ ̶m̶i̶n̶i̶s̶t̶e̶r̶ Rosmah Mansor.

First, the personal driver of the MD of the company that allegedly bribed her to get a billion-ringgit solar hybrid project testified that he’d delivered two bags of cash to her home in 2017. Shamsul Rizal Sharbini, the driver for Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd MD Saidi Abang Samsudin, said he first dropped off his boss at the Medan Tuanku Maybank branch, and was instructed to go purchase two backpacks.

When he returned to the bank, he was told to bring the backpacks to the upper floors. There, he put a large amount of RM100 notes in the bags – he didn’t count the money as his instructions were merely to put it into the bags.

After that, the duo picked up Saidi’s business partner before heading to Rosmah’s house in Jalan Langgak Duta, where Shamsul carried in the bags and left them on a green sofa.

Why does this bit matter? Because it means the prosecution has a witness who is establishing that he directly saw money being taken from a bank and deposited in the Langgak Duta house, providing an unbroken link in the movement of the money to Rosmah.

Later in the trial, former Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid took to the stand and delivered what seemed to be quite a damning testimony as well. He said he felt intense pressure from Rosie to approve Jepak Holdings’ project. Dear Rosie had allegedly told Mahdzir to “look at the project” and “speed it up” – which he took to mean “speed up the approval”.

Mahdzir also said he received instructions from f̶i̶r̶s̶t̶ ̶g̶e̶n̶t̶l̶e̶m̶a̶n̶ then PM Najib Razak to issue a Letter of Award (LOA) to Jepak Holdings for the project. Claiming he suggested using the open tender process, Mahdzir said he was instead instructed to do as he was told and issue the LOA.

Speaking of Jibby – he was kicked out of court after showing up to support wifey Rosie. The prosecution had objected to his being there as he was a potential witness.

Floating away on Umno-Pas 'support'

Recent talk of a possible cooperation between the Umno-Pas Muafakat Nasional and Bersatu are gathering steam, but PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad doesn’t seem all too bothered by it.

Maddey said if Umno and Pas wanted to support the government, they should do so in Parliament. When asked if he welcomes the support, Mahathir was his usual sarcastic self, saying if anyone supported him, he felt “like floating”.

In case you missed it, Umno Supreme Council member “Lobakman” Lokman Noor Adam had recently slammed party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, claiming the former DPM had tried to convince Umno leaders that the party needed to work with Mahathir.

Not all Umno members are for cooperation with Maddey and Bersatu – those aligned to former prez Jibby Razak, for example, are against any such thing. Zahid’s deputy, Mohamad Hasan, appeared to try to be the voice of reason, saying the party should be wary of any offer of collaboration for the sake of Malay interests, adding that any such offer shows that Umno is regaining more and more of its influence.

Zahid’s call to work with Maddey had apparently happened at an Umno meeting on Muafakat Nasional. The party political committee is set to meet today to decide on whether to collaborate with Mahathir, but the final decision would still rest with the Supreme Council, which meets later in the day.

However, any support would be implicit, rather than open. Malaysiakini reports that the collaboration deal is being brokered by a confidante of Mahathir.

If the deal is being brokered by a Mahathir man, it could very well keep permanent runner-up Anwar Ibrahim from becoming PM. Anwar is supposed to be heir designate to Mahathir’s “throne”, but the goalposts as far as the timeframe for the nonagenarian to step down seem to be forever changing.

DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke said we shouldn’t waste time on rumours of the collaboration, insisting the Pakatan gomen remains strong and stable. In other words, everything is dandy and Pakatan doesn’t need another hero in Umno-Pas. 

Confidence born out of knowledge, or just an ostrich burying its head in the sand? You decide.

And then there were 14 ...

Two more cases of novel coronavirus have been recorded in Malaysia, bringing the total to 14.

Of these, one is the younger sister of the first Malaysian diagnosed with nCoV, making her the first case of local human-to-human transmission of the virus, while the other is a tourist from Wuhan. Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the authorities were still trying to trace all those who had come into contact with the first Malaysian case, adding that out of 42 tested so far, only the man’s sister had tested positive.

Meanwhile, Dzulkefly said the Canadian teen who collapsed in Tower 3 of the Petronas Towers had not contracted nCoV and had since been discharged from hospital. The 17-year-old’s little fainting spell saw cops and a hazardous materials team in full protective suits deployed to the tower, leading to no small measure of panic among some people. If that’s how they reacted to KLCC, what are they gonna do if somebody faints in Batu Caves during Thaipusam?

Speaking of Batu Caves – over 1,800 volunteers, including 300 Health Ministry staffers, will be on standby, especially to monitor for nCoV. There will also be 24 ambulances, including one which will serve as a quarantine unit. Selayang Hospital has been designated as the nCoV medical operations centre for Thaipusam. It’s good to see that the government and organisers seem to have a plan, and have communicated that well. Here’s hoping the celebrations go off smoothly and safely. 

In other nCoV news, DPM Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail says Malaysia will extend an entry ban against people traveling here from Wuhan city and Hubei province to other provinces placed on lockdown by the Chinese government. 

She also says the Foreign Affairs Ministry will repatriate 212 non-essential embassy and consulate-general staff immediately; 10 people have already returned.

All, she said, would be subjected to health screenings upon arrival and sent to hospital if they displayed symptoms of nCoV infection, or placed under home surveillance for 14 days if they do not.

Odds and ends

Here are some other pieces  of news which we thought were important enough to include:
 

  • PM Maddey Mohamad has weighed in on the bribery allegations against two AirAsia execs involving Airbus. The good doctor thinks having an offset programme for aircraft procurement isn’t bribery as long as the money doesn’t end up in personal pockets. Thing is, Mr Prime Minister, the sports team belong which the RM240 million went is not owned by AirAsia, but by the two execs. How now? None of that seemed to dampen the stock market, with AirAsia’s shares surging in the wake of Maddey’s statement.
     
  • The PKR political bureau has approved the application from Zuraida Kamaruddin for leave from her duties as party veep pending a decision on the reply to her show-cause letter from the party’s disciplinary committee. The letter had been issued to her for a speech in which she had alleged president Anwar Ibrahim had tried to convince her that his deputy and reported rival, Azmin Ali, had indeed been one of two men engaged in sex acts in a video.
     
  • Socso has, with immediate effect, withdrawn a controversial new requirement for dialysis aid which received much criticism recently. The requirement would have seen an insured worker having to submit invalidity notice to Socso before he or she turns 60, and must have made at least 24 months of contributions within a 40-month period to qualify for the aid. Good, cos this would really have affected the poorer workers.

“Don't gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold."

- Bob Marley -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US President Donald Trump celebrated his acquittal on two articles of impeachment with a speech full of expletives and insults for his opponents and praise for his supporters. Real classy.
     
  • In possibly the saddest news of the day, the Chinese doctor who blew the whistle on nCoV’s existence has died after contracting the virus. Dr Li Wenliang was just 34. In all, there have been 567 deaths and 28,403 people infected around the world so far.
     
  • Residents of an apartment building in Kerala, India got the shock of their lives (or was it the most pleasant surprise?) when alcohol began flowing from their taps. The alcohol was said to have been a mix of beer, brandy and rum. It’s a miracle!
     
  • Reggae pioneer Bob Marley would have turned 75 today. Born Robert Nesta Marley, the man is easily the most iconic reggae singer in history. Marley tragically died of cancer on 11 May 1981, aged only 36. Here’s a list of his 50 greatest songs.

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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