The government, in all its wisdom, sees fit to loosen MCO 2.0 restrictions. How's that when we've only just managed to bring our daily numbers down?

Meanwhile, the gomen's still getting shite for that silly three-day quarantine ruling; we finally get the "independent" emergency advisory committee list of names; and, a pandemic isn't going to get in the way of some good ol' Umno politicking!

Easy come, easy go!

Do come in, we're open for business

The name’s still movement control order, but we’re struggling to understand the movement control bit as the gomen’s eased yet more restrictions.

Here’s the low down:

  • Dine-ins are now allowed, but only two people to a table.
     
  • The retail sector – meaning shops! – can now open. Here’s a list of shops back in business (spoiler alert, it’s practically all of em, including places like tobacconists and handicraft shops).
     
  • Migrant workers for retail and service sectors must undergo screening tests (why only migrant workers? Is there a Covid strain that targets you based on your passport?).
     
  • Six creative industry sectors can now operate.
     
  • The self-employed in the fisheries industry can travel inter-district, with permission.
     
  • No more “by the book”: The use of MySejahtera app is mandatory for entering shops, except where Internet’s crap.

The rules are making less and less sense. We can now meet a friend for coffee/go to a crowded mall, but can’t travel beyond 10km from our homes to see family?

Relaxing of the curbs may be good for businesses, especially with CNY round the corner, but some question why bother with the façade of an MCO? Just call it CMCO and be done with it. Most people aren’t against the easing of restrictions per se. It’s the inconsistency, the poor comms and as always, the double standards that gets our goat. 

This good news has come just as public anger over ministers’ three-day quarantine hullabaloo has spilleth over – which also makes us wonder if this is the gomen scrambling to keep people happy after getting slapped left, right and centre over the quarantine cock-up. 

The Health DG and minister Dr Adham Baba’s been trying their darndest to justify the move but are making as much sense as when Adham famously recommended drinking warm water as a Covid remedy.

FYI, they’ve said the reduced quarantine period might only apply to ministers adhering to a “bubble” itinerary during oversees trips – meaning not straying from their official itinerary, no use of commercial flights and mandatory Covid-19 tests. E.g., The exemption mayn’t apply to Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Poor bloke. But hey, the retail sector is now open. So at least he can get his vape refills sent to his quarantine spot.

But really, as our ex-health minister questioned: What’s the science behind this? AFAWK, Covid can’t tell the difference between us plebs and ministers (Or is this list of lawmakers who’ve contracted Covid so far pure fantasy?). Does sticking to a travel bubble magically reduce the virus’ incubation period from 14 days to three? 

Everybody’s pissed, but Adham’s not only ignored calls for his resignation but doubled down, saying the leeway could apply to business travellers and the public next.

And we’ve saved the best part for the last – our friend proudly proclaimed the decision’s “not about science totally”. In the words of a very smart squirrel who lives under the sea, “Stupidity isn’t a virus, but it sure is spreading like one.”

Covid shrinkage?

The relaxing of SOPs comes as our daily Covid-19 numbers dipped below 3,000 cases for the first time since Jan 13. Huzzah!

Yesterday saw 2,764 new cases, with total active cases dropping to 50,841. Sadly, we’ve reached another grim milestone as with 13 new deaths, our national death toll’s passed the 900 mark at 909

Still, health authorities have said the worst is behind us as our numbers seem to be on a downward trend, with the peak being on Jan 31. The gomen previously attributed the high numbers to a backlog in logging cases, some from 2020. This guide explains how such backlog occurred.

At this pace, we may even go down to double digits by mid-May, if we can bring our infectivity rate to 0.6 and maintain it. We’re now at 0.9 or thereabouts, though some states are still above 1.0.

Great, but how’ll this trend play out now that the gomen’s opened up the economy again? As we’ve said before, without clear, logical SOPs and equal enforcement for MCO 2.0, we fear our numbers could go up once more.

All the king's horses and all the king's men

After a lengthy wait, the government’s finally announced members of the independent committee to advise the Agong on the emergency. 

It’s to be a 19-member committee, chaired by former chief justice Arifin Zakaria. You can view the full list here, but a cursory glance shows a combo of politicians (including just three opposition ex-ministers), health experts, industry leaders and ex-police and army heads.

To recap, the Agong declared a nationwide state of emergency back in Jan, on PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s advice, to battle rising Covid-19 cases. This independent committee’s supposed to advise the King on ongoing emergency matters, to ensure it’s being fairly enforced, and when it’s safe to hold GE15.

As we’re writing this, there hasn’t been much reaction to the announcement yet, so tune in tomorrow’s BTL for that.

Anyhoo, a lawyers’ group has questioned the appointment of Arifin, who’s a controversial figure. He was also appointed to head the royal commission of inquiry into the 2015 human trafficking atrocities at Wang Kelian in Perlis. Though the RCI ended in 2019, the report’s not been made public, despite calls for this. 

We’d also like to point out that the number of subject experts vs the people on the panel who’ve nothing to do with public health is eyebrow-raising.

We’ve only former Health DG Dr Mohamad Taha Arif, who has experience with the Nipah virus and SARS, a cardiologist and a public health expert, plus former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad. 

We can understand government administration peeps and business figures, but why the blue blazes do we have so many goddamned politicians? For this panel, we mean. But now that we think of it, why the hell do we have so many goddamned politicians in any case??!?

Brats will be brats

It seems like the shenanigans between Umno and PM Moo & Co are continuing.

Umno prez Zahid Hamidi yesterday attacked the gomen for what he called “double standards”. Citing a gathering by an unnamed Bersatu minister on Feb 7 to hand out aid to 500 people, Zahid said this went against MCO 2.0 SOPs. Hey, that’s the date frenemy Azmin Ali had a thing distributing aid to 500 peeps! What a coincidence.

Now, Umno Putrajaya was fined for distributing frozen chicken last month, and we get why Zahid’s miffed. But really, bro? Your party members ain’t angels either, ya. 

Lest we forget, his daughter and son-in-law were only fined RM800 for breaching SOPs back in MCO 1.0 when others were hit with higher amounts. And, we had Umno sec-gen Ahmad Mazlan lamenting how the Perikatan Nasional gomen didn’t do away with “cruel” court cases against prominent Umno members. 

That’s gotta be the height of double standards, no? And those’re just two examples.

Umno man Nazri Aziz also took a swipe at Abah Din, accusing him of hurting the people by slashing his allocation, along with four other Umno MPs. 

Apparently, Umno supreme council member Puad Zarkashi has also criticised Moo, claiming the new three-day quarantine ruling was cos the PM didn’t want to be stuck at home for 10 days after he visited Indonesia. 

The PM’s Office seemed to draw a line at that one and has since demanded Puad apologise, or face legal action

Sheesh. Can we make all these brats take a timeout and go stand in the corner?

Some other bits

Here are some other dangly bits of news:

  • In Covid-related matter, the teachers’ union has urged the gomen to review its new online learning manual as it puts too much of a burden on students, teachers and parents. The union wants the previous manual tweaked instead.
     
  • The High Court hearing Najib Razak and Umno’s third party claims to money found during a raid on a condo in 2018 was told that our inglorious former PM failed to justify the transfer of RM2.973 billion of 1MDB funds into his three personal bank accounts despite all the opportunities he had to do so. 
     
  • Meanwhile, in Jibby’s 1MDB corruption trial, a witness claimed everyone’s fave fugitive financier Jho Low had the “authority” to appoint the CEO of 1MDB.
     
  • Anwar Ibrahim has penned a fierce critique of former AG Tommy Thomas’s memoirs but feels it shouldn’t be banned, as does “Iron Lady” Rafidah Aziz
     
  • Two cops have been charged with negligence over the rape of a minor in a police lockup in Miri, while the suspected rapist – who was detainee himself – has changed his guilty plea. But get this: all three are being represented by the same lawyer! 
     
  • Action against the so-called “meat cartel” continued yesterday with a frozen food distribution company and three of its execs charged in Johor with multiple counts of possessing and distributing unauthorised frozen products and using false and unauthorised halal logos. 
     
  • With all the serious stories today, we thought we’d leave you with this: Malaysia has 42,500 sugar daddies, the third highest in Asia after India (338,000) and Indonesia (60,250). Dang!!! All that sugar… no wonder our diabetes rates are so high!

“I've never been able to plan my life. I just lurch from indecision to indecision.”

- Alan Rickman -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The WHO team investigating Covid-19 in China has failed to identify the source of the virus, but has ruled out the Wuhan lab leak theory. 
     
  • Violence during protests in Myanmar over the recent military coup has escalated, with police firing rubber bullets into the crowd. Unconfirmed reports claimed some cops have joined the protests, which are being broadcast by web-savvy protestors despite attempts by the military to block them. 
     
  • Former POTUS Donald Trump’s impeachment trial has begun, with Democrats opening with dramatic footage of Trump supporters running amok when storming the Capitol building. Here’s a list of the key players in the process. 
     
  • Investigations into the helicopter crash that killed former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others has revealed the pilot’s to blame
     

  • Disney is closing Blue Sky Studios, the animation studio behind film franchises “Ice Age” and “Rio”. 

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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