'Empowering' the economy
As our Covid-19 caseload decreases, glorious leader Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday announced yet another economic stimulus package to get Malaysia out of the fiscal doldrums.
The package – Pemerkasa – is worth RM20 billion, with direct fiscal injection of RM11 billion. Sure, why not? With all that RM10,000 summonses people’ve been paying (more on that below), we guess it’s good the moolah’s coming back to us, right?
- An RM5 billion injection into the national Covid-19 immunisation programme to bring forward the herd immunity target to December 2021 instead of Feb 2022.
- RM 200 a month special aid to civil service staff working at Covid vaccine centres.
- Increased subsidy from RM180 to RM300 for each household with school-going kids for the purchase of smart devices.
- A crowdsourcing initiative called MyBaikHati (how do they come up with these names?) to collect and repair electronic devices to be given to community internet centres.
- Several initiatives to support women entrepreneurs, SMEs, youth and persons with disabilities.
- SME Bank to provide matching grants for SMEs to enhance automation and reduce reliance on foreign workers.
- Shot in the arm for the tourism sector with several extensions of tax exemptions and other tax incentives. This includes tax deduction on costs for employers screening staff for Covid.
- Cash aid for gig economy employers, those who lost jobs/ income during the pandemic, as well as temporary shelter for the homeless.
- Capping of RON95 and diesel prices at RM2.05 and RM2.15, respectively.
- Putrajaya to work with the UN to set up a trust fund to help funding projects to further sustainable development goals.
This brings the stimulus packages (valued collectively at RM 340 billion) the gomen has dished out to see us through the health crisis to a grand total of six. There was also the RM15 bil Permai in Jan this year, Prihatin (March 2020), Prihatin SME+ (April), Penjana (June) and Kita Prihatin (September).
Still, all that glitters is not gold. What use are these packages if they are not effectively rolled out or if promises aren’t kept? Remember the “free” laptops for students that turned out to be mere loans? Or the free rice and food baskets that were never delivered? Forget that – what about the free masks we were all supposed to get?
We’re still waiting on the opposition and BN (including troll king Najib Razak) to dish out their feedback on the new money plan. So far, tourism players have said there’s room for more help, such as in the form of higher subsidies.
One economist’s views, though, are probably a better indication of things. He’s said Pemerkasa was merely “a long list of small initiatives” and that it falls short of the “new deal” Moo’s promised. And like criticism of Permai past, he questioned if most of these small initiatives are repackaged Budget 2021 allocations. Ouchie.
Oh tiery me!
After a year of movement control orders of some form or another, the gomen signalled that it, too, is sick of the whole shebang. In his announcement yesterday, PM Muhyiddin said his merry team is considering doing away with blanket statewide lockdowns to focus on more targeted, localised control measures. Well, here’s hoping!
In the meantime, there’s more immediate relief for those caught violating MCO SOPs as the powers that be have finally gotten to addressing the hullabaloo over the whopping RM10,000 fine.
While we’re still stuck with the maximum RM10,000 amount, a three-tiered system will now be in place to make things fairer (allegedly! allegedly!):
- “Normal” / low-transmission risk offences –– RM1,500 fine for individuals and RM10,000 for businesses. E.g., offence, not wearing or improper use of face masks/ failing to check-in via MySejahtera app at locales.
- “Moderate” offences –– RM3,000 and above (individuals) and RM20,000 (businesses). E.g. of offence, entering a targetted MCO area.
- “Severe”/ very high-transmission risk offences –– Full-blown RM10,000 (individuals) and RM50,000 (businesses), with no appeal. E.g. of offence, partying at bars and nightclubs.
The entire list will be out soon, but what we do know, you can find here. FYI, do note that enforcers can still ONLY issue a summons for the full RM10k amount, but as previously stated, the “right” amount’ll be decided at the district health offices when you go appeal.
Also, do remember that these officers can also waive the fine for low-income/burdened v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶s̶ folks.
Oh, if you settle the saman within seven days, you get a 50% discount and 25% discount if you settle anytime between 8 – 14 days. Anything more than that and you pay the full price.
Of course, questions still persist, but as far as de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan goes, this settles the matter, and there’s no longer any need to seek legal aid over the summonses.
But, Taki… what about when idiot enforcers issue compounds wrongly, as previously alleged by many folks? Are district health office staff being educated on recognising the different offences and corresponding fines? Please don’t pull a “you” and address this only after more complaints come in. Also, is this really the best use of your district health officers’ skills and time when we, you know, are in the midst of a public health crisis??!?
Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related news:
- The gomen will be issuing MyCovid-19 badges for those who’ve completed their inoculation, such as PM Moo who’s received his second dose of Pfizer vaccine.
- After oppo leader Anwar Ibrahim’s “brilliant” suggestion that everyone gets one dose of vaccine first before anyone gets a second, Dr Noor Hisham has explained that a delay in administering the second dose could slow down the production of antibodies.
- IGP Hamid Bador has said it’s unfair to call cops cruel for issuing SOP violation fines when they are only following the law. Oh, boo-freaking-hoo. There’s the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Learn the diff, dude.
- Eleven parties, including former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the gomen, have been ordered to file affidavits over a lawyer’s suit against the gomen over the emergency declaration. Maddey and nine others are intervenors in the suit.
- Our daily Covid numbers rose slightly to 1,219 new cases, with 2 deaths (1,220 in total). Still, active cases went down to 15,075.
- Deputy Minister Edmund Santhara, under fire for “escaping” (allegedly! allegedly!) to New Zealand while the country suffers from the pandemic, didn’t apply for NZ’s emergency allocation for quarantine space, the country’s minister for Covid response said.
End of a dream?
Poor ol’ PM-forever-wannabe Anwar just can’t catch any breaks.
Five of his opposition party mates have cast doubt over the PKR big boss’s claims of having “adequate numbers” to form a shiny, new gomen.
In a statement, reps from several parties, including Amanah, DAP and Warisan, ganged up on him to reject any cooperation with “kleptocrats” (allegedly, mainly Umno leaders with pending court caseslah).
In order for Anwar to have the numbers, he’d need Umno’s support. However, any hope of him taking advantage of bad blood between Umno and Bersatu to strengthen his “army” could now mean he’d risk losing support from his own comrades.
Now, with several MPs already having left PKR, and supposedly more about to katak it out (and PAS ever so willing to accept defectors), how are we supposed to believe Bang Nuar still has the numbers?
Meanwhile, Umno president Zahid Hamidi, facing resistance from within his party for steering away from Bersatu, is looking to take action against two leaders he believes are leaking the proceedings of supreme council meetings.
Incidentally, BN has formed task forces to provide “checks and balances” to the government.
Ahhh, the wonderful world of Malaysian politics.
Odds and ends
Here are a few other stories we picked up yesterday:
- Sarawak backbenchers have reiterated their support for the constitutional freedom of religion following the High Court ruling that non-Muslims can use the word “Allah”.
- A woman is seeking to nullify her unilateral conversion to Islam by her father when she was just 10 after the National Registration Department refused to drop the term Islam from her MyKad.
Citing the 2018 Federal Court’s landmark decision to nullify the unilateral conversion of M. Indira Ghandi’s children by her ex, the woman claimed her religious status is also a nullity as her mother hadn’t agreed to it.
The NRD, gomen and Selangor Islamic Religious Council, however, have filed objections against the suit. They, in turn, are citing the 2017 apex court decision in the Lina Joy case that a syariah court order certifying her renouncement of Islam is needed before the NRD could drop “Islam” from her identity card.
- A new judge is presiding over the government’s 1MDB-linked US$340 million lawsuit against Petrosaudi International Limited and four others after the previous one was transferred.
- Meanwhile, ex-glorious leader Najib Razak is opposing a bid by the US gomen to stay a court order for Goldman Sachs and its ex-banker Tim Leissner to supply documents and testimony vital to his defence against 1MDB-linked criminal charges here.
- IGP Hamid has said his biggest regret is not being able to bring back Jho Low to face 1MDB charges. Not too late, chief!
- A “Datuk Seri” will be charged next week for allegedly sexually assaulting his 20-year-old daughter over the past 10 years. Sicko!
- Berjaya Corporation stocks surged 18% yesterday on the back of the appointment of ex-PNB head honcho Abdul Jalil Rasheed as its first non-family member CEO.
“It's all 'bout the money
It's all 'bout the dum dum da da dum dum
And I think we got it all wrong anyway.”
- Meja -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Eight people – six of them Asians – were killed in a shooting at a spa in Atlanta, Georgia, with one suspect already charged. Authorities fear it was racially-motivated, with US hate crimes against Asians having risen tremendously during the pandemic.
- Spain is investigating the death of a person who received the AstraZeneca vaccine but the World Health Organization has said it’s better for vaccinations to continue while it reviews data surrounding claims of blood clots forming following the jabs.
- Indian PM Narendra Modi has called for increased testing and restrictions to stop an “emerging second peak” as Covid cases rise in the third-worst hit country.
- “Juno” actor Elliot Page has become the first trans man to be featured on the cover of Time magazine.
- In a landmark decision, a district court in Japan has ruled that failure to recognise same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.