While Pakatan Harapan Plus remains a house divided (three ways, no less), Perikatan Nasional is showing the country that their yet-to-even-be-formalised coalition is as united as conjoined twins.

In other reports, a news portal has failed in its bid to have contempt proceedings against it thrown out; and, the number of active Covid-19 cases has dropped to just double digits for the first time in what seems like forever.

Glory, Glory Perikatan United

Moo's the boss

More and more each day, the Perikatan Nasional pact looks to be a more stable coalition (of sorts) than the so-called Pakatan Harapan Plus, which seems to be a “plus” in name only.
 
We learned on Wednesday that the parties making up Perikatan supported Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin. Yesterday, GPS chairman and Sarawak CM Abang Johari Openg confirmed that he had told PM Moo that the coalition of four main Sarawak parties were firmly behind his administration
 
This is a rather significant statement. GPS controls 68 of the 82 state seats in Sarawak and, more importantly, 18 parliamentary seats, making it the third largest bloc in the Dewan Rakyat after Pakatan and the rest of the Perikatan pact.
 
(NOTE: Abang Johari has said several times that GPS supports Perikatan but will not join the coalition formally.)
 
GPS support crucial to anyone who wants to control the majority in the Dewan Rakyat and form the government of the day. As Abang Johari previously put it when revealing an attempt by Pakatan to woo the Sarawakian coalition, “when you’re good looking, everyone wants you”. Funny fellow, Abang Jo. 
 
But there was even more proof of the stability of the coalition, even if it’s still not a formalised one. The Muafakat Nasional pact of Umno and PAS (and by extension, we guess, Barisan Nasional) announced that it endorses our PM8 as Perikatan’s PM candidate for the 15th general election, or GE15. In fact, the entire chorus of Perikatan leaders had agreed to this, according to Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president James Masing. PRS is a member of GPS. 
 
But that’s not the end of it. In return for GPS support (we figure), Bersatu and PAS have decided not to contest any seat in the Sarawak state election, which is due next year. This will leave the way wide open for GPS to retain control of the state and perhaps even increase their stranglehold on seats. By the way, in case you’re wondering, Umno doesn’t have a presence in Sarawak. 
 
It’s not all a bed of roses for Perikatan, however. As we all know, there are some within Bersatu itself who are not in favour of Muhyiddin and instead support Mahathir. And politics is such that coalitions break down as quickly as they form.
 
In the midst of all the huzzah moments yesterday, there was also one person who wasn’t too thrilled. Umno supreme council member and one-time holder of the record for the biggest majority win in any election, Shahrir Samad, questioned his party’s decision to back MooMoo as PM candidate for GE15. The veteran politician says it’s too early to resolve the question of who should lead Perikatan into the next general election when there were other things to decide on first, such as whether all the parties would contest under one banner or their own, respective logos. 
 
We see what he means, really we do. But, there is also an upside to deciding now, at least in our humble opinion. At a time when Pakatan Plus is still hemming and hawing over its own PM candidate, the support for Muhyiddin is a message (whether true or not) that Malaysians should choose Perikatan for the stability and unity it offers.

Threat to media freedom?

The Federal Court has rejected an application to set aside a ruling granting leave for the Attorney-General to initiate contempt proceedings against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief, and has set July 13 for the case to be heard. 
 
In a unanimous ruling, the seven-member panel said A-G Idris Harun had established a prima facie case and had also taken into account arguments that the case should not have originated at the highest level of the Malaysian courts, ruling that since the comments published by the defendants had involved all levels of the judiciary, including the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the apex court was the right forum for the matter.
 
The ruling was made after both sides submitted arguments before the panel, with defence counsels raising, among others, the point that the law does not require news organisations to pre-moderate and censor comments made by their readers on their websites. 
 
Idris had filed an ex-parte application to cite the news portal and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan for contempt on June 15 over comments left by readers on the portal’s website in this article. The comments, he claimed, had threatened public confidence in the judiciary and was clearly aimed at tarnishing the administration of justice of the judiciary. 

What’s odd about this case is that while Kini has been hauled up, there’s so far not been any action taken against those who actually made the comments. Strange, isn’t it?
 
This whole issue can be said to be a blow for freedom of expression and a free press, and this was pointed out yesterday by none other than Anwar Ibrahim. Saudara Anu urged the A-G to review the decision, saying that this would affect Malaysia’s global image. 
 
We don’t always agree with Anwar, but in this case, we support him 100%. As it is, we have already come into a lot of criticism over a series of cases which have been seen as a crackdown on dissent. 
 
These cases include investigations into journalists, opposition MPs and activists. Among these are DAP’s Hannah Yeoh, PKR’s A. Xavier Jayakumar, outspoken lawyer Siti Kasim, activist Cynthia Gabriel and South China Morning Post correspondent Tashny Sukumaran

But as we’ve said before, part of the blame for all these investigations fall on the shoulders of Pakatan. And it’s a large part, mind you, as the coalition failed to keep its promise to either repeal or amend certain laws like the Sedition Act when it was still in power. So, yeah. Thanks Anu and Maddey. 

The numbers, they are a-falling

After the good news that there had been no local transmission of Covid-19 on Wednesday, there was even more to warm the cockles of our hearts yesterday.
 
For the first time in a very, very long time, the number of active cases fell below 100. With only three new cases and 62 recoveries, the total number of Covid-19 cases is now at 8,643 and total recoveries at 8,437, leaving only 85 people still considered active cases. Coupled with the fact that there is also no new fatality, leaving the death toll at 121, the recovery rate has now risen to 97.6%. 
 
But while PM Muhyiddin has paid tribute to the nation’s medical frontliners, we are still left with that niggling fear that the numbers could be a little off, considering that many who were under home quarantine have yet to take their second Covid-19 test, a requirement on the 13th day. That number has dropped from over 1,000 to just 620, but that is still 620 too many. 
 
As such, Kapten Batik senior minister (security cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob warned those who’ve yet to get their second test done to do so immediately, or police will find them and take action against them. And what sort of action is in the offing? Just the possibility jail time of up to two years in jail, paying a fine, or both. 
 
Anyway, here are some other Covid-19 news which appeared yesterday:

  • Following the announcement that all students will be back in national schools from July 22 onwards, the government has now stated that religious schools will be allowed to resume operations on July 15. 
     
  • The National Union of the Teaching Profession, meanwhile, has urged the Education Ministry to retrain teachers so that they can better understand and work under the “new normal”. 
     
  • With preschools and kindergartens having already restarted, there are complaints about the requirement for the kids to wear face masks at all times from some parents, as these are uncomfortable and sometimes made breathing difficult. OK then. Let’s put our kids at risk, shall we? 
     
  • It looks like the government has finally heard the woes of the people where electricity bills are concerned. The discount period for our power bills has been extended till Dec 31 for all domestic users. 
     
  • There’s more good news. The government expects the economy, ravaged this year by the pandemic, to fully recover in 2021

Odds and ends

In the interests of brevity, here’s a summary of yesterday’s other stories:

  • Debt and business issues are believed to be the motive behind the kidnap and murder of a businessman with a Datuk Seri title recently. So far, 11 people have been detained in connection with the case, including two whose remand orders were extended yesterday. 
     
  • Sixteen people, including an Immigration officer, have been charged with human smuggling in Penang, while 51 alleged members of a human trafficking syndicate have been charged in Johor with being members of an organised crime group. 
     
  • The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigation into alleged wrongdoings in the proposed Penang undersea tunnel project continues, with the state’s Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy being called in for questioning today. 
     
  • Since we’re talking about Penang, the statue of Captain Francis Light, the founder of George Town, has been smeared with red paint. A Black Lives Matter protest, perhaps? 
     
  • An Indonesian man has been jailed 20 years and fined RM5,000 for terrorism-related offences. He had apparently been planning to launch an attack on a temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor. 
     
  • Umno is attempting to cite CIMB for contempt for refusing to comply with an order from the High Court to release RM192 million frozen in the party’s bank account. 
     
  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia has suspended recognition of Pakistani pilot’s licences held by those employed in the country after a statement from Pakistan Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan that there was an alarming number of fraudulent licences holders. 

“When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion."

- Ethiopian proverb -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • A top Hong Kong activist has fled the Chinese special autonomous region following the implementation of the controversial new security law
     
  • Black cops in the US say discrimination and nepotism are the cause of the huge race gap in police departments. 
     
  • Ghislaine Maxwell, the one-time girlfriend of late financier Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested on charges of luring underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse them. 
     
  • The number of Covid-19 cases worldwide had breached the 10.7 million mark, with more than 516,000 deaths. In India, the number of cases has surged past 600,000 with over 17,000 deaths following the easing of lockdown restrictions. 
     
  • In Australia, a Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne has been linked to the fact that some employees of a quarantine hotel there had defied protocols, including having sex with those under quarantine. 

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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