So, the mighty United States has finally been added to the list of countries whose citizens are not allowed to enter Malaysia ’cos of Covid-19. And it’s not just the US too, as our authorities confirmed yesterday that any nation with more than 150,000 cases of infection will be on the list.

Meanwhile, a bunch of politicians said some pretty silly things yesterday, as did a top graft buster. Also, for the umpteenth time this year, residents in Selangor and Kualu Lumpur are experiencing water cuts because of river pollution.

Stay away, America

No entry list clarified

Finally, we have some clarity about the criteria for that entry ban announced a couple of days ago.
 
Remember how the government said that people from India, Indonesia and the Philippines, including foreign spouses and those registered under the Malaysia My Second Home programme, are gonna be barred from entering Malaysia? And remember how we wondered why folks from the good ol’ US of A weren’t included in the ban, which begins Monday?
 
Well, the gomen now says that they are. And not just that, they’ll be joined by people from Brazil, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Bangladesh. You see, the basic criteria for the entry ban is that Malaysia will bar people from countries that have recorded more than 150,000 Covid-19 cases. It’s likely too that the list of countries being barred will grow as the pandemic continues.

There will, however, be exceptions to the rule.

According to Colourful Baju Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in the case of emergency or bilateral relations, entry will be allowed. Unfortunately, while the second exception should be clear to everyone, our man Izzy didn’t define what exactly constitutes an “emergency”. Also, while it’s good that we’re getting a little more info on the ruling, one big question still remains. Why the hell are we doing this in the first place?
 
Yeah, yeah, we know. It’s ’cos we wanna protect our peeps from nasty ol’ Covid-19. Thing is, Malaysia already has an aggressive quarantine policy that requires all incoming travelers, Malaysian or otherwise, to be held for 14 days in a centre for testing.
 
Isn’t this system working? Isn’t it a deterrent enough for foreigners entering the country? Most people going to a different country don’t spend more than two weeks before leaving. So, do we really need a ban list?
 
By and large, our gomen has been fantastic about keeping us safe from Covid-19. But our authorities have made some missteps, so some silly policies have been introduced. This seems like one of them, perhaps, along with that rule on pubs and bars staying shut.

The excuse being given for the continued closure of nightspots is that these places are hotbeds for activities that don’t promote physical distancing. Okay, maybe. But what about karaoke joints which have been allowed to operate?
 
Needless to say, the Federation of Malaysian Entertainment Industry isn’t pleased. And in expressing shock at PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s remarks about it being better for pubs and bars to remain closed, federation president Liew Poon Siak notes that these joints are suffering. Plus, he says that if physical distancing is really the concern, then political, religious and public gatherings shouldn’t be allowed as well. 
 
The man is absolutely right. If other businesses are allowed to operate with certain health protocols in place, why not bars and pubs?
 
Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-19 news items that came out yesterday:

  • We are back up to double digits as far as new cases are concerned. Yesterday saw an additional 14 cases reported, and the worst part is that the Benteng LD cluster which began at the Lahad Datu police station lock-up has now spread to the Tawau prison with as many as six cases discovered. With only four recoveries reported, the number of active cases has also climbed to 163
     
  • The gomen is in no hurry to purchase Covid-19 vaccines as it wants to ensure that a cure, when eventually brought in, is effective and safe for use. 
     
  • It has been estimated that government revenue has fallen by at least 18% in 2020, to about RM200 billion, thanks to that pesky little virus. 
     
  • Penang is now back to being a green zone state, as there have been no new cases in 14 days. 

Politicians say the darndest things

Former PM4/7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad may have done a lot of good (and bad) for the country and talked a lot of sense. But he sure wasn’t omnipotent (which has nothing to do with being impotent – shoutout to Friends fans!) and so wasn’t immune to saying stupid things.
 
Yesterday provided some good examples.

First up, dear ol’ Maddey took the piss at former Youth and Sports Minister and his one-time head cheerleader Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, saying that the latter’s youth-based party will fail miserably. Then, he talked about how his new party Pejuang is looking at winning 36 seats in the next general election, which would make them (or rather, him) the kingmakers in Malaysian politics. 
 
Mahathir also delivered his usual spiel about how the Malays in Malaysia are still backward (economically lah) and that Pejuang was set up to come up with solutions to help them. He also confirmed he had brought up the possibility of de-listing the now defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terror organisation to then his former home minister and now rival, Muhyiddin Yassin. 
 
Let’s tackle this one by one, shall we.

First of all, Maddey has no business commenting on another party’s failures, least of all Syed Saddiq’s as the poor boy was one of the old man’s biggest supporters. Also, what does a nonagenarian know about what the youth want? Or even if older voters won’t support a youth-based party? To us, Mad’s remarks just smack of a guy taking it out on a former supporter simply ‘cos the latter appears to have turned his back on “the cause”. The Boy Wonder is the only one of the peeps sacked from Bersatu together with Mads who didn’t join Pejuang, so the old man must surely feel a little insulted, right?
 
Anyways, Syed Saddiq says he accepts atuk’s criticism with an open heart. We wish him all the best. ’Cos perhaps what this country needs is younger politicians having a bigger say in how things are done. 
 
As for Maddey’s spiel about the Malays, if you read the article we’ve linked above, you’ll see that it points out that Dr M’s assessment is flawed. An analysis of government data on income by race indicates that there is an equal number of bumiputera households earning either below RM3,000 or above RM10,000 a month.
 
Meanwhile, the former PM’s statement about the LTTE appeared to be merely about showing that he didn’t supported the defunct organisation.
 
Anyways, Mahathir’s remarks weren’t the only silly things from yesterday in politics. We also got stupid remarks from two Z’s – Zawawi and Zahidi – too!
 
As we’ve noted before, PAS MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh has come in for lots of criticism after claiming that all religions prohibited alcohol and especially for saying that the Bible we have now was distorted from the original.
 
There were calls for him to apologise, but yesterday, our world religions scholar refused to do so, and, lo and behold, quoted the Bible to make his point that Christianity didn’t allow the consumption of alcohol. You can read his full statement here
 
We’ve covered this ad nauseum already, so all we’re gonna say is that the dude’s a fool. The verses our friend quoted merely point out the dangers of alcohol. In Christianity, views on alcohol are varied. But the majority of the various Christian denominations allow the consumption of alcohol, though alcoholism is considered a sin.
 
We dunno what Zawawi actually studied at uni, but perhaps he can just read this. It’s a Wiki page. Yes, yes, there’re lots of other websites out there which probably explain the issue better, but we thought we’d provide something simple so he can actually understand things. 
 
Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin, meanwhile, is a dolt who took a swipe at a minor.
 
What did he do? Well, the guy claimed that Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin, who made the news after a video of her climbing a tree during the MCO to get better reception to take an online exams went viral, had done so merely to garner YouTube views
 
Here’s the thing – he was wrong and had made the claim ’cos he’d been apparently given the given the wrong information by his ministry’s officers!
 
Zahidi, who made the remarks in the Dewan Negara, later apologised, of course. But as expected, he was vilified by netizens who voiced their support for the poor girl
 
Veveonah, sadly, though, was attacked following Zahidi’s initial statement, which she says caused her dismay and pain
 
Here’s what we find utterly reprehensible about this whole affair:

  • Zahidi had his entire ministry’s machinery at his disposal, and yet couldn’t get someone to fact check his statement.
  • The government talks so much about fake news and then promptly goes out and spreads it.
  • Veveonah is a child and Zahidi’s statement is nothing less than bloody bullying.
  • Does Zahidi think that the Internet service is fantastic in the rural area Veveonah is from? Get it right, Mr Deputy Minister. Internet reach in many parts of the country, especially in rural areas, is absolute crap!
Really, our politicians need to think before making statements. Read up if necessary too. And we can’t stress this enough, check your facts!

... as do some civil servants

Speaking of idiotic things people say, here are a couple of doozies from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s numero dos, Shamsun Baharin Mohd Jamil.
 
Firstly, our brilliant anti-graft man says it isn’t wrong for politicians (read: government leaders) to issue support letters, but it is wrong for civil servants to regard such letters as directives. The guy also said that the government should have a corporate gift policy which is regulated instead of a strict no-gift policy because, get this, it’s the culture here!
 
Okay, dude. What are you smoking? How is it all right for government leaders to issue “support” letters? And why is it okay for those guys, but wrong for civil servants to act on the letters?
 
It’s as simple as this: Gomen leaders shouldn’t be writing support letters. And the reason is they know that more often than not, their “requests” will be acted upon because they are government leaders and the “bosses” of these underling civil servants who will be too scared not to follow “instructions”.
 
As for corporate gifts, just cos it’s the “culture” here doesn’t mean it’s right. Truth be told, we have no problems with corporate gifts, if they are meant for the company and not a particular person, and if they are inexpensive like a bouquet of flowers or some other small thing. But to say gift gifting of this sort is “culture”, well that’s just screwed up.
 
Anyway, since we’re on the topic of corruption, here are some other things from Thursday related to the subject:

  • Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin says she has proof that she was not involved in any direct negotiation deal involving her ministry during Pakatan Harapan’s time in Putrajaya. True to form, one of her aides later provided “proof” that then moneybags minister Lim Guan Eng had negotiated the deal for a solid waste transfer station project without Zuraida’s knowledge. 
     
  • Our beloved Nobita, incidentally, is expected to face two more charges – this time for misappropriation of property – related to the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project. 
     
  • The Australian Federal Police (AFP) last month seized properties worth A$1.6 million (RM4.8 million) owned by a relative of a Malaysian – a central figure in the purchase of student accommodation by MARA, in Melbourne five years ago. Meanwhile, former MARA chairman Mohd Lan Allani, ex-CEO Abdul Halim Rahim and the head of its property investment arm have been identified as key figures in a report prepared for the Aussie government over dubious deals involving companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. 
     
  • Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testified in court yesterday that ex-PM Najib Razak had benefitted from a conspiracy to transfer billions of ringgit from the company. Testifying at Najib’s trial on several counts of abuse of power and money laundering involving more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds, he said fugitive financier Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low and several others had also benefitted. Shahrol also claimed to have received instructions from multiple individuals including Low, PM’s Office officials and Barisan Nasional members of the Public Accounts Committee to “protect” Jibby in his 1MDB case. Incredibly, he then said he had destroyed evidence of this. What the hell!

Water woes and other stuff

Just what is up with our rivers and pollution seemingly affecting them that keeps resulting in water supply problems?
 
Yup, in yet another round of water cuts, more than 1,200 areas in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur are now without the world’s most precious resource because treatment plants apparently had to be shut down thanks to pollution in Sungai Selangor. And this time, it seems that that factories near Sungai Gong, a tributary of Sungai Sembah, which feeds into Sungai Selangor, are the culprits
 
Pengurusan Air Selangor issued a statement late last night that as at 9.30pm, the situation had yet to be resolved. This, of course, was painfully clear to all those affected, so Air Selangor should have included at least an estimated time of recovery, but, of course, it didn’t. Thanks a bunch lah, guys! 
 
Really, this is just a pain in the rump. The issue occurs way too frequently. And if you don’t believe us, do a Google yourselves.
 
Over the past one-and-a-half years, you’ll find that there were water disruptions (mostly in Selangor and KL) announced in July 2019, in December the same year, and this year, in MarchApril and June! Oh, and of course, who can forget that major river pollution case in Sungai Kim Kim, Johor. True, it didn’t lead to water disruptions BUT many people did become sick or had to be evacuated. 
 
In April this year, the Selangor state government launched Ops Sumber Air, a round-the-clock operation to check river pollution that could affect water supply. But really, you’ve gotta say that that initiative appears to failed miserably, considering residents of Selangor and KL are again being screwed over. 
 
Rivers in Malaysia are absolutely shite. In 2019, the gomen said there were 25 dead rivers in Malaysia and that illegal factories were the main cause of pollution. Yes, that’s right. Dead! No life in them waters, folks. Just recently too, we learned that there were 160 cases of river pollution during the MCO alone. In a nutshell, thus, this is a huge problem that requires far greater attention than what we’ve been offered.
 
Anyways, to cut an already long newsletter short, here are a number of other things that made the news yesterday:

  • The Federal Court agrees with Musa Aman’s contention that his dismissal as Sabah chief minister in 2018 should be heard on grounds of public interest. This could mean more trouble for caretaker CM Shafie Apdal, though.
     
  • Meanwhile, the High Court has ruled that the one-day Parliamentary sitting on May 18 was valid and in accordance with the law, if unusual and unprecedented, as it was done to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
     
  • Hollywood producer and Jibby Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz has dropped his claims to US$60 million worth of luxury real estate and other assets seized by US authorities in 2016 and 2017 as part of investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Board scandal. Poor thing. 
     
  • The International Federation of Journalists says there has been a disturbing deterioration in press freedom since Perikatan Nasional took over and has called for urgent reforms. It also highlighted the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on press freedom, saying it exacerbated challenges faced by journalists in Malaysia. We so agree. 
     
  • Those with expired road taxes of between one and three years can now renew them without having to go through a Puspakom check. Can we also have a ruling that those with long-expired driving licences won’t have to retake the driving test, please? 
     
  • Here’s a cute story for you. In celebrating 70s years, vintage Milo trucks will be traveling the country to hand out free drinks to people. Yay! 

“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”

- Napoleon Bonaparte -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The number of Covid-19 cases has now passed the 26 million mark, with more than 860,000 deaths. Expect that number to rise rapidly as experts say Europe pushed the limit of how far to reopen and that could mean it is too late to prevent a second wave of infections. 
     
  • Sadly, the bodies of five children aged between 1 and 8 were found in a flat in the German city of Solingen, believed to to have been killed by their 27-year-old mother. Another child, aged 11, survived.
     
  • Seven officers have been suspended over another case of police brutality in the US. This after a video of the March asphyxiation death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, was released. 
     
  • We guess silly words coming out of politicians’ mouths ain’t just a Malaysian thing. US President Donald Trump has been criticised for encouraging his supporters to vote twice during the upcoming Presidential elections. Yes, TWICE!
     
  • American athletes could be banned from the Olympics and other major sporting events if the US follows through on its threat to pull funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA conducts random drug tests on athletes at all these events. 

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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