Our perennial PM-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim, says Pakatan has consensus as to who should be their PM should they return to power, but a DAP man says nothing has been decided yet because PKR can't seem to agree with the rest of the coalition.

Meanwhile, a whole slew of restrictions have been relaxed under the recovery movement control order (RMCO), even as a new cluster of infections has been identified; the cops seem to be confused as they investigate a DAP MP over a posting she made debunking fake news; and, defence lawyers for a former PM are crying foul over some obscure change to charges against him.

Your pants are down, Dato' Sri

Talk cock, sing song

We know there is dissent and discord among Pakatan Plus parties over who should be the PM candidate for the opposition coalition and their allies. They can’t decide between giving it to PM4/7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad or new Opposition leader Anwar. That’s why the “big announcement” which was supposed to come on Tuesday didn’t see the light of day.
 
Asked why this was so, Anwar Ibrahim said it was because Pakatan had already reached a consensus but had to seek the views of their allies. But, now DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke says a consensus has NOT been reached. 
 
Loke says the first combo explored was for Anwar to be PM should Pakatan return to power, with Maddey Junior, Mukhriz, as DPM. But this was opposed by Sabah’s Warisan, a Pakatan ally. The next combo put forward was a Mahathir-Anwar partnership, with the former taking reins of the nation for six months before DPM Anwar takes over (now doesn’t that sound familiar?). But Loke says PKR decided to defer decision on this. 
 
So then, how does Anwar come out to say a decision had already been made? Does PKR now agree to a Mahathir-Anwar combo? If that’s indeed the case, it would be funny for Pakatan to seek the approval of their allies. And does the Maddey-Anu combo even make sense? Previously, Mahathir had reportedly not wanted to reveal the date of his retirement because it would have made him a lame-duck PM.

By his own logic, wouldn’t having an expiry date shorter than an Ayam brand sardine tin make him the most quadriplegic of prime ministerial ducks? Anybody wanting to bypass Mads will just need to wait 180 days and go directly to Anwar… again, this is by Maddey’s own logic.
 
It’s no surprise, though, that DAP is backing the old man. The former PM has been talking pretty tough lately in support of the party he once vilified at every chance he got and whose leaders he jailed without trial. Yesterday, he slammed Malays who were afraid of DAP, saying it was baseless to say the Chinese-majority party was the one controlling Pakatan. 
 
It is pretty rich of Maddey actually. All those decades of telling Malays that DAP was a communist party intent on taking over the country and oppress Muslims – what does he expect from the community now? 
 
And one Anwar aide has hit out at DAP for supporting Mahathir, saying they were ungrateful for the past 20 years of support from Anwar, who had united the opposition in their fight against Barisan Nasional. But hey, this is politics. Gratitude will always take a back seat to practicality – and power. To imagine otherwise is just silly. There may be honour among thieves, but there certainly isn’t any among politicians.
 
All that Pakatan Plus infighting over the PM-DPM post (which they have yet to win, by the way) has led many to despair of ever having a strong opposition to the Perikatan government, despite PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s teeny-weeny… errr… majority. And while Pakatan spit and claw at each other like cats in a sack, their enemies are only too happy to seize the initiative.
 
Take former PKR No. 2 Azmin Ali, for instance. Azmin said he preferred Perikatan compared to Pakatan as there was no argument about who should be PM, or even who should be the next one. He also said Pakatan should stop fighting about who should be PM, especially considering it has been going on since 1998 (when Maddey sacked Anwar as DPM). 
 
Azmin may have a point about Perikatan being more peaceful and in closer accord. After all, Bersatu yesterday said it would support the Barisan Nasional candidate for the Chini by-election in Pahang, a sign that there is at least some level of cooperation within the ruling pact. 
 
And all of this comes as rumours about possible snap polls continue to grow.  Tokyo-based Nippon Asian Review is reporting, according to their sources lah, that Muhyiddin would seek the assent of the King to dissolve Parliament for the 15th general election in the first quarter of 2021. In fact, Umno has admitted discussing the possibility of snap polls in a supreme council meeting on Tuesday night. 

Muhyiddin believes his Perikatan pact can carry the election and provide him a bigger majority in the Dewan Rakyat, what with the support of grassroots Malays who are Umno or PAS members or supporters. But social activist and one-time PKR big gun Chandra Muzaffar says any call for snap polls could very likely lead to a hung Parliament

RMCO or No MCO?

The government yesterday announced a slew of decisions which saw restrictions under the RMCO relaxed even further. But are we ready for it?
 
Batik minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday declared that private and government meetings, ceremonies and events will now be allowed but limited to 250 people, along with face-to-face interviews, and the seating more than four to a table at restaurants. Kids, too, can now (officially) go out, eat, play and shop with their parents. These will have to follow the usual SOPs, of course, namely social distancing and taking into account the size of respective premises. 
 
Whether this is wise is a matter of debate still. What is the use of requiring social distancing at places like the Zoo Negara, when you can have up to 250 people in a confined space like an event hall? The RMCO is slated to end of Aug 31, but it really feels like the government is eager to accelerate the recovery part of the MCO.

On the bright side, there won’t be any excuse for Parliament to be postponed. On the flip side, New Zealand is the perfect study of how fast things can go wrong if you take your eyes of the Covid-free prize for just a little while.
 
And, yes, our Covid-19 numbers are still low, although we’ve yet to return to single digits since June 10. Yesterday saw 10 new cases, bringing the total to 8,515 cases. And, recoveries continue to outweigh new cases, with 140 people discharged yesterday for a total of 7,873 recoveries and a rate of 92.5%. Death toll remains at 121.
 
But a new cluster has been detected in Sabah, and the number of cases around us, specifically in Singapore and Indonesia, continue to rise. Indonesia, in fact, has overtaken Singapore as the Southeast Asian country with the highest number of cases. Indonesia’s numbers skyrocketed after the government started lifting social distancing rules in order to revive the economy – a cautionary tale for us. 
 
All of this is also concerning as our government is considering allowing international students back into Malaysia. A decision on the matter is expected to be announced tomorrow
 
It’s really odd that we’re contemplating such measures when foreigners are still not allowed to attend mosques and suraus. All places of worship, in fact, are being cautious – the Penang government will engage with religious organisations before deciding whether or not to reopen places of worship, religious groups nationwide say temples and churches will reopen only gradually, and major religious celebrations like the St Anne’s feast in Penang next month will only be held digitally
 
Anyway, here are a few other Covid-related things that came up yesterday:

  • With news that generic steroid called dexamethasone was effective in reducing instances of death from Covid-19, the Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and a medical group have both warned people not to simply consume the drug as it has severe side effects and didn’t help those who didn’t have breathing problems. 
     
  • Ambank Research believes the Prihatin and Penjana stimulus packages will boost the country’s GDP in the third quarter of the year. 
     
  • The association representing theme and family attraction parks believes these establishments will thrive once they reopen
     
  • Resorts World Genting will reopen tomorrow. Which means it’s apparently okay to gamble more than it is to go to your church or temple. Sadly, it looks like Genting Malaysia Bhd is set to slash 3,000 jobs due to losses suffered during the MCO. 
     
  • There are some two million Malaysians driving around with expired licences or road tax. But fear not as the Road Transport Department won’t be taking action until after the RMCO. So many of us can continue to indulge in the national tradition of keeping things to the last minute.

The curious case of Hannah Yeoh

People are coming out in droves to voice dismay and show support for DAP Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh.

This comes after news that the ex-Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister is being investigated for a tweet in March where she questioned what would happen to the national road map on child marriages with the appointment of a PAS MP as her successor.

(In case you’re a little lost, check out yesterday’s newsletter for the background to the whole thing.) 
 
Yeoh’s supporters include former DPM Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who also happened to be Yeoh’s boss at the ministry previously. So did former Umno minister Azalina Othman Said, and other women leaders, mainly from the Pakatan side of the great political divide. 
 
A lawyer also came out in Yeoh’s defence, saying her tweet was consistent with the discharge of her duties as an MP. She has the right as an MP, he said, to raise such a question as it concerns government policy. 
 
But here’s the best part about yesterday’s news. After all these people criticised the investigation, the cops came out to say Yeoh is actually being investigated for a seditious, inflammatory FB post, and not the tweet. The FB page used her name and attributed a quote to her, in fact, a different quote from the tweet she had posted.

And here’s the kicker – Yeoh herself had shared the quote in March, slapping a big “SLANDER” sign on it, called it out as fake news and debunked rumours she had said any such thing. 
 
So, the cops are investigating Yeoh for a post that wasn’t hers? Or are they investigating her for a post trying to debunk the fake news attributed to her?!?! That is just fantastic. After all the hullabaloo about fake news, we’re now investigating someone for trying to debunk fake news!
 
After the U-turn about what she is actually being investigated over, following the backlash from the public and women politicians, would anybody be surprised if our Inspector Clouseaus will later turn around and just say they merely wanted to speak to Yeoh about the fake news posting so she can help them in their investigations?
 
Whatever it is, the point is completely being missed. The road map is something good and what is needed now are more questions, debates and discussions about the matter. And yes, even with Siti Zailah. After all, even though Islam allows for girls below 16 to be married, provided they have consent from parents, guardians and religious leaders, it doesn’t mean we can’t ensure that 18 is the age of consent for all.
 
The case against Yeoh is largely seen a crackdown on dissent by the Perikatan government. From opposition MPs to activists and even journalists, a number of investigations have begun over recent weeks. And another case that came out the same time as Yeoh’s was an application against news organisation Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief for allowing certain comments on their website.
 
The application was to cite the digital news organisation and its head honcho for contempt over the comments, which were claimed to purport certain negative things, including corruption, about the judiciary. Yesterday, a three-member panel of the Federal Court allowed the application, with case management set for June 25 and the hearing for July 2. 

While we will not question the court’s decision, we have to wonder why the application was made to the Federal Court. This is the apex court of the nation. That leaves no way for an appeal against any decision, whether by the prosecution or the defence. How does that work?

Tampering with audit tampering charges

The Najib Razak-Arul Kanda 1MDB audit tampering trial continued yesterday with the prosecution doing what they said they would do and applying to amend the charges against the former PM.
 
But the defence vehemently objected to the amendments, saying the changes were substantial and not merely typographical errors as the prosecution claimed. Among the intended changes is the rewording of “dimuktamadkan (finalised)” to “dimuktamadkan semula (finalised again)”. The court is told that the entire cross-examination of prosecution witnesses was based on the original charges and so the rewording would be akin to changing the entire prosecution’s case. 
  
Naturally, defence say they will consult The Jib on whether to apply to strike out the charges altogether, due to the proposed amendments. The court fixed June 24 to hearing for the application to amend the charges.

Najib is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while former 1MDB president and CEO K Arul Kanda is charged with abetting the former PM.
 
In another court, Jibby’s former second-in-command Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was alleged to have given RM5.9 million to his brother from Yayasan Akalbudi for the purchase of two bungalows for religious activities. The money for the purchase was given to Zahid’s brother via a cheque from legal firm Lewis & Co., a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi, founded by the former DPM. 
 
Several local businessmen also testified they had complied with a moneychanger when Zahid instructed them to write cheques out to Lewis & Co. for various transactions like obtaining foreign currency or loan repayments. The cheques amounted to about RM1.1 million. 

The moneychanger has apparently emerged as a key but mysterious figure in the case against Zahid, who is accused of 47 counts of graft, criminal breach of trust and money laundering amounting to tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

- Will Rogers -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man at a parking lot of a fast food restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, last week has been charged with felony murder while another officer was charged with aggravated assault. Meanwhile, the brother of George Floyd, another black man who died at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparking protests across the US, has appealed to the United Nations to investigate racism in America
     
  • Former US national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book says POTUS Donald Trump’s transgressions went beyond Ukraine, and also alleges that he had sought China’s help to win this year’s presidential elections. 
     
  • By now, you’ve probably heard of the bloody brawl between India and China that has claimed over 20 lives on the Indian side (China hasn’t released its death toll). In the wake of that, Indian PM Narendra Modi has come out talking tough. But more importantly, why are the Asian giants fighting in the first place. This excellent explainer might help clear things up.
     
  • The Chinese Communist Party’s influential disciplinary watchdog has called for a modernisation of the country’s wholesale markets in light of the new outbreak of coronavirus in Beijing. 
     
  • That 70s Show star Danny Masterson has been arrested and charged for allegedly raping three women in separate incidents in the early 2000s. Oh, Hyde…
     
  • In what must surely be the weirdest news of the day, a man in Vienna, Austria, has been fined €500 for farting with “full intent” in front of police. 

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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