State of play
Better watch out Anwar, here's Shafie!
If it wasn’t already clear from its initial sitting out of the Budget votes, Parti Warisan Sabah’s AGM over the weekend has made it crystal the Sabah party’s had it with its allies.
It’s time to take matters into its own hands. And that begins with bossman Shafie Apdal’s call for new opposition leadership and a new direction.
Shafie never mentioned Anwar Ibrahim by name, of course. But it was pretty apparent throughout his assembly address he was taking aim at the Pakatan Harapan and PKR head honcho, and positioning himself instead as the man to lead the opposition back to Putrajaya.
You’ll remember that Shafie was mooted as a possible prime minister candidate six months ago by one Dr Mahathir Mohamad and back then, the Warisan boss wasn’t too sure if he wanted the job or not.
But things have obviously changed a whole lot since then. Anwar’s Budget 2021 bungle and failure to prove his “strong, formidable and convincing” majority may’ve just convinced Shafie and co. the time is ripe not only make a move for the opposition throne but to take Warisan national too.
Suggestions of Warisan crossing the South China Sea to the Peninsula are not new. However, Saturday’s the first A̶n̶w̶a̶r̶ ̶2̶.̶0̶ Shaf has officially backed any such plan.
Now, how Anwar and other colleagues in the opposition will take all this is anyone’s guess. But PKR leaders staunchly aligned to AI are, for obvious reasons, having none of it! After all, Shafie ol’ boy, how to take Putrajaya when your side couldn’t even hold onto the Sabah gomen?
Speaking of Anwar, a news portal has claimed the PM forever-in-waiting had finally secured the backing of 113 MPs, including Umno bigwigs Najib Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and is on course to meet the Agong to prove it. PKR, however, has pooh-poohed the claim.
What’s sure though is even with former deputy/rival Azmin Ali outta the way, the snipping and backbiting in Brother Anwar’s party are still pretty much the same. Don’t believe us? Just ask youth chief Akmal Nasir who’s come under heavy fire for a leaked WhatsApp convo in which he whacked his glorious leader.
The opposition and Warisan aside, PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu is also contemplating changes with party sec-gen Hamzah Zainudin mooting a grand coalition comprising Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional, and Sarawak’s Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to face the GE15.
Zakir's back. Tell a friend
It’s been a while since everybody’s favourite (we use this term loosely) India-mari preacher Zakir Naik’s been in the news.
India has uncovered a slew of monetary transactions that suggest a Malaysia-based militant group with links to Zakir is planning an attack on a city in India (allegedly! allegedly!).
It seems the dodgy financial transactions under scrutiny had come from Zakir and a Rohingya leader in KL known as Mohammed Naseer.
According to the Times of India, the terror group allegedly trained in Myanmar, has a woman leading it (one for gender equality, we guess?), and would likely target the cities of Ayodhya, Bodhgaya, Srinagar, and areas in Punjab. It’s unclear just what the motive for these suspected attacks are.
Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s favourite dinner guest, for the record, has been on India’s wanted list since 2016 for several things, including money laundering and incitement of terrorism (he’s denied them all). Even so, what role he has in the current terror plot is super blurry.
In any event, head cop Abdul Hamid Bador has said he’s clueless about the whole thing as police have yet to hear from their Indian counterparts.
It would be interesting to see, though, how our gomen reacts to any fresh call by New Delhi for the controversial cleric’s extradition. Or will Moo’s PN become the latest Malaysian gomen to think of reasons to put the ‘permanent’ in Zakir’s permanent residence status here?
For real, MOH?
Despite no signs of our Covid-19 numbers abating, the Health Ministry has moved to cut the two-week mandatory quarantine period for incoming travellers and close contacts to a mere 10 days.
The decision is supposedly supported by clinical data and in line with what countries like Britain, France, Germany and Belgium are already doing.
Thing is, while this may be true, the Covid incubation period of 14 days hasn’t changed one bit since the first cases were detected a year ago.
Also true, none of the countries listed are faring particularly well on the coronavirus front.
Do we really wanna follow their lead? On the other hand, New Zealand, one of the countries to have most successfully managed the crisis, is still retaining its 14-day quarantine period.
Anyway, travellers aren’t the only folks being given quarantine leeway, so are our MPs!
Health Minister Dr Adham “Air Suam” Baba, you’ll recall, is currently on stay-home orders after coming into contact with a Covid-positive case. It seems that he as well as Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan and Batu MP P. Parabakaran, who’ve also had close contact with Covid patients, will be allowed to attend this week’s crucial Budget 2021 vote. The catch? As long as personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn.
Yes, we know that full PPE is safer than just wearing a mask. And yes, the three
stooges MPs will supposedly be confined to a special area in the Dewan Rakyat.
So what, pray tell, is the point of quarantine if no one is actually being, you know, quarantined anywhere? Can we seriously expected these jokers to be in full PPE, which doctors have complained is restrictive, for the entire sitting?! Also, shouldn’t we be keeping PPEs for frontliners who actually need it more?!!
Anyhow, Malaysia’s infection numbers breached the 80,000 mark on Friday with a total of 83,475 cases registered by Sunday. Deaths have risen significantly too in the past three days, with a total of 19 reported, bringing the total to 415. More worrying though, high daily infection numbers are being recorded everywhere, not just in Sabah, the third wave’s epicentre.
Here’re are other Covid highlights from the past few days:
- In Covidiot news of the day – remember how Top Glove apologised last week over the poor SOP compliance at its factories and vowed to do better? Well, it seems the company had been aware of problems linked to physical distancing (or lack of it) before.
However, instead of dealing with the issues when they were first highlighted, the glovemaker decided to fire the whistleblower! Worse, Reuters has reported that health and safety protocols at Top Glove factories are still not being observed! WTF?
Just FYI, the Teratai cluster linked to Top Glove workers, is the largest cluster in the country with over 5,400 Covid cases to its name.
- The gomen will order more vaccines to cover 60-70% of the population, MooMoo says. The PM has also instructed for delivery of the drugs to be expedited.
- Malaysia won’t fast-track the approval of Covid treatments and will wait instead for the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency’s to be satisfied with stuff before vaccines are rolled out.
- According to the United States’ Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Malaysia could be seeing as many as 5,000 daily Covid cases by March 2021 if mask use isn’t increased.
This and that
And here’re the more important/interesting bits (and bobs) of non-Covid news from the weekend:
- Kedah MB Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor is still at it! However, in place of MIC, he has the Penang in his crosshairs and keeps insisting that the state pays Kedah for water extracted from Sungai Muda.
Meanwhile, Sanusi’s boss in PAS, Abdul Hadi Awang, has said the quarrel between the Kedah gomen and MIC over the demolition of a temple is a legal issue, and not a religious one. Uh-huh.
- Still on PAS, the three Perak PAS assemblypersons who snubbed Sultan Nazrin Shah’s invite last week at the height of the political impasse have publicly apologised over their no-show with Presidente Hadi adding that a new audience with the Ruler has been scheduled.
- Malaysia will earn more than RM500 mil in windfall profits next year if the price of crude palm oil remains at RM3,000 per tonne. The on-going recession notwithstanding, half a mil should do wonders to boost faith in the economy.
- The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency scored its biggest ever drug haul — 2,118kg of meth worth a cool RM105.9 million — when a dodgy looking boat was chased down and stopped in the waters off Penang. No, Walter White has not been spotted in the area.
- A district officer in Padang Terap has denied naming a local stadium after himself. The officer, Hakim Ariff Md Noor, said the stadium’s name Ffira Mikah combines the Spanish/Greek and Arabic words for “great” and “angel”. Small problem: According to Prof Google, ffira is neither Spanish nor Greek. It may, however, be Bulgarian and mean “wastage”. Also hint: It’s his name spelt backwards!
- Some positive news! A short animated film by two Sarawakian primary schoolers has won an award at a school film festival in Brazil. Congrats, girls!
"Every country needs its whistleblowers. They are crucial to a healthy society."
- Fuad Alakbarov -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, which has already been approved for use by the US’ Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will soon be tested in children as young as 12.
Cops in Indonesia have nabbed Jemaah Islamiah leader Zulkarnaen, the man suspected of being behind the 2002 Bali bombings and 2003 Marriot Hotel attack in Jakarta. The terror suspect, whose real name is Aris Sumarsono, was arrested in Lampung on Sumatra island.
- Hundreds of secondary school kids are missing following an armed attack on a school in Nigeria’s north-western Katsina state. The children are believed to have been abducted.
- Charley Pride, country music’s first black superstar, has died of coronavirus-related complications. He was 86. Here’s a playlist of Charley’s biggest hits for you to get through your Monday.
- The world has also lost John le Carré, author of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He died of pneumonia at 89.