While one Pakatan party is falling apart, opposition parties are gleefully looking to consolidate what little power they have so as to pose a threat in GE15. Is this a sign of what's to come in the next general election?

In other news, the government is looking to start a special tribunal to manage and hear sexual harassment cases; a special committee will look into protecting the rights of workers in the nation's gig economy; and, millennials are now the most "at-risk" group for HIV/AIDS.

A tale of two 'parties'

Rebel yell

Rumours are rife that there will be not one but two national PKR congresses this coming weekend; the official one in Melaka and a second, rebellious one in Kuala Lumpur.

The Kayel shindig is said to be a gathering of deputy president Azmin Ali’s supporters who are against the reign of Anwar Ibrahim, and will be where a vote of no confidence against his presidency will be called.

In other words, it looks like coup d’état could be on the cards.

To make matters more suspicious, no one seems to be able to contact Azmin or his close aides for comment while PKR central leadership council members have been quick to deny or condemn the rumours. 

Party communications director Fahmi Fadzil said there had been no vote of no confidence against Anwar so far. Fahmi said the man who allegedly started the rumour hadn’t even attended the PKR Lembah Pantai Youth meeting where he had purportedly moved the motion. He should know, right? Considering, he is Lembah Pantai division chief?

Founding president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was quick to point out that there is only one “official” PKR national congress – the one in Melaka. The DPM has a point: any other national congress won’t go down well with the Registrar of Societies (RoS), which will only recognise the one in Melaka.

What would happen, though, is that a separate “congress” would “officially” highlight that Anwar does not have the support of all within PKR; which in itself would be a major problem. After all, how can one become PM if he can’t even be said to have the full-throated support of his own party?

And what happens to those at the unofficial congress? Well it’s very likely they will get the sack – or at least the main players will. So the question now is: will Azmin force the party’s hand by attending the rebel congress?

Blurred lines

While PKR seems to be in deepening pile of shit, the opposition is looking to ensure Pakatan becomes a one-term government. The only problem is, they can’t seem to agree on what they’re doing.

On one hand, we have MCA president Wee Ka Siong, who says the Tg Piai by-election results, which saw his party’s candidate Wee Jeck Seng winning big, shows everyone now accepts the Umno-PAS Muafakat Nasional.

It was a handsome win for Jeck Seng, but to say people accept Muafakat Nasional is a bit of a stretch – Tg Piai was a protest vote against Pakatan and not an endorsement of BN or Muafakat. But OK lah, let Ka Siong crow a little. After all, MCA did double their presence in Parliament with Tg Piai.

All dandy so far. But here’s where it starts getting confusing. Umno deputy prez Mohamad Hasan says his party and PAS are looking at the possibility of making Muafakat Nasional a formal coalition.

But Ka Siong insists Muafakat Nasional is more of a “spirit of togetherness”, rather than a formal coalition. MCA is refusing to commit to whether or not it will become part of Muafakat. It won’t be a move popular with the Chinese voting base, so it’s understandable that MCA is leery of alienating its community.

MIC isn’t so bothered about alienating its community – probably because it isn’t very relevant to its people anymore. The founding BN coalition member has tripped over itself in its haste to announce that it has accepted Muafakat Nasional and is willing to join it.

What happens with Muafakat Nasional is gonna be fascinating. It could all but spell the end of BN, and replace it with a Malay-based superparty with satellite parties like MIC being inconsequential to the real powers. And if that’s the case, expect racial and religious politics to gather steam on all sides as Pakatan will of course swing more to the right to ensure they don’t lose ground to Muafakat.

And of course, will Umno and PAS be able to play nice with each other in the long term? The last time PAS worked with BN was in 1972. PAS left just five years after joining BN, then known as the Alliance Party, following a disagreement with Umno over which party should govern Kelantan.

So yeah, who knows what’ll happen this time round?

A change is gonna come

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail says a special tribunal will be set up to hear and manage sexual harassment cases. The women, family and community development minister says the move is part of her ministry’s efforts to improve the justice system regarding such issues.

The tribunal is one of the things that will be included in the proposed Sexual Harassment Act, which is being spearheaded by Wan Azizah’s ministry.

It’s high time sexual harassment is given such priority. There are just too many cases of sexual harassment, outrage of modesty and even rape – and that doesn’t even include those that go unreported.

In August, it was reported that over 36% of women surveyed said they had been sexually harassed at some point in their lives. Of these, only 53% reported the harassment. If the numbers are indicative of what goes on, it shows just what a major problem we have on our hands, and just how many wrongdoers go unpunished.

Equally important to point out is that the same survey found that one in six men have also been harassed, but are less likely to report an incident than women. 

With such shameful statistics, it’s no wonder NGO Sisters in Islam (SIS) called for the government to expedite its work on the Sexual Harassment Act. In fact, SIS was not the first to call for the government to expedite matters. A month earlier, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), a body made up of 13 NGOs, had called for the Sexual Harassment Bill to be tabled by November when it was clear it would not be tabled in Parliament that month,

JAG issued a statement containing three points outlining its wishes, and you can read them here. Their demands make a lot of sense. But November has come and gone, and still no sign of the Bill.

But if here’s hoping that if they government is gonna take its sweet time over the bill, it at least gets it right.

Working class hero

If you’re feeling exploited by your employers in the gig economy, then fear no more. The government is looking into your welfare.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Mahfuz Omar says the special committee set up to look into the issues surrounding the gig economy will give the most focus on the welfare of workers and how to protect them from being exploited. But employers needn’t worry either, as the committee will look into a “win-win” solution for both sides.

Mahfuz’s statement comes following PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s promise that the government would look into regulating the gig economy, a necessary move considering the increase in numbers of workers in the “industry”.

Mahathir had said this when questioned in the Dewan Rakyat over whether there are plans to protect workers in the gig economy, who reportedly to make up 26% of the nation’s workforce. 

The issue came into national focus following a strike begun by 200 or so foodpanda riders who were protesting a new payment scheme which the company had adopted for its delivery riders outside the Klang Valley. The riders claimed they would earn less than what they were making should the new scheme be implemented.

The company, however, stuck to its guns, claiming the riders would actually earn more as it was worked out in such a way as to be a win-win situation (there’s that term again!) for all. Foodpanda also asked for a period of several months for monitoring, after which it would revert to the old scheme should the results not favour the riders.

The move by the government also comes following a similar law passed by California in September. That law paves the way for gig economy workers to be treated as employees, not part-timers, and be entitled to sick pay and leave.

Estimates are that the law will see gig economy companies like ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft in California incur added costs of 30%. It is still unclear what any such law in Malaysia would cost gig economy companies and how this will affect consumers.

Our guess is that it’ll be us poor sods, the consumers, who will be paying the prices. But if it goes into the workers pockets and benefits, then it could be a price worth paying.

Millennials most at risk of HIV/AIDS

Bad news for millennials: you are now most at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

The Health Ministry’s disease control division says millennials between the ages of 20 and 29 make up 45% of the 3,293 new HIV infections last year. This is followed by those in their 30s at 31.7% and those aged between 40 and 49 at 13%.

A huge bulk of the transmissions (94%) were from sexual contact, with sex between men making up the majority of these, at 57%.

While transmission via infected syringes shared between addicts has dropped significantly, the ministry is concerned about the transmission rate from sexual contact.

So what does this tell us? We sure as hell need to step up our efforts in terms of sex ed for our kids. Yes peeps, drop all those inhibitions and stop speaking out against sex education in schools. Whether you tell them not to or not, kids are gonna explore their sexuality. So, we need to keep them educated as to what to do and what not to do.

And what’s stopping sex ed? Well, according to the Malaysian AIDS Council it’s religious and moral sensitivities that’s hampering efforts to curb HIV/AIDS transmissions in the country via sex education.

Sexual transmission is perhaps the last “bastion” of HIV/AIDS transmission. We have already eliminated mother-child transmission, and can now see transmission via the sharing of needles going down as well.

Let’s not let some sense of religiosity or morality stop us from making the commonsense decisions that could save thousands of lives.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

- Abraham Lincoln -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US President Donald Trump is facing two deadlines this week over impeachment proceedings regarding alleged wrongdoings in his dealings with Ukraine.
  • Meanwhile, Trump will head to a NATO summit in London under pressure to steer clear of getting involved in the British general elections, set for Dec 12.
  • The two people stabbed to death in an attack on London Bridge on Friday have been identified as Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, both members of a learning programme focusing on prisoner rehabilitation. The attacker, a convicted terrorist named Usman Khan who had been released by the authorities in December last year, was later shot dead by police.
  • At least 14 people, including teenagers, have been killed in an attack on a church in Burkina Faso as Christians celebrated the start of Advent, the season of preparation for the birth of Christ.
  • How cool is this? Pope Francis has a new, rugged 4X4 Popemobile that has five seats, including a “comfortable rear bench seat”, large sunroof, removable glass superstructure, ground clearance 30mm lower than normal for easier access on board, as well as internal and external support elements.

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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