It was a tough choice for our top story today, but in the end we decided to go with the thing that makes the world go round. Yup folks, it’s got to do with money, moolah, cash, the dough.

Coming in a close second was the fact that while a certain East Malaysian state is mandated to hold its state elections by next year, the other may just have to go through it all again, sooner than expected. In other news, we take a look at the latest regarding the SRC International case against Najib Razak and some Covid-19 updates.

It's a public holiday tomorrow, and there won’t be a BTL newsletter (don't miss us too much, now!). To our Muslim friends, Selamat Hari Raya Aidiladha, maaf zahir dan batin. Enjoy yourselves, but stay safe always.

Dirty sexy money

It’s all about the money, money, money

If you’re the average Joe and if you don’t own Top Glove, then you were likely horrendously affected by Covid-19 and the resultant MCO. Let’s face it, money is getting tight for almost all of us now. 
 
So, the biggest story of the day was PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement yesterday that the six-month loan moratorium has been extended for another three months for certain people. Basically, the government had negotiated with banks to extend certain reliefs using a targeted approach once the blanket moratorium expires on Sept 30. 
 
The gomen, in coming up with the idea, took into account feedback from the public as well as the fact that many are still not ready to resume repayments of their loans. Basically, the reliefs for individuals as well as businesses are as such:

  • A three-month extension on loan repayments for those who have lost their jobs this year
  • A reduction of repayment amounts for those whose salaries have been cut based on the proportion of the wage reduction, though this may differ depending on type of loan
  • The option of negotiating with banks for reliefs for all others facing financial difficulties 

(While all these sound good, we feel we need to point you back to a special newsletter/PSA we sent out back in April not long after news of the loan moratorium first came out. You can take a gander at it here.) 
 
Immediately after Moo’s announcement, Bank Negara Malaysia sent out a little statement of its own, saying individuals, SME borrowers and businesses can begin negotiating with their respective banks from Aug 7 to get these reliefs/flexibilities. 
 
The government’s move met with plaudits from economists, who believe it’s a win-win for both banks and loanees. They say the government is trying to strike a delicate balance between helping those affected by Covid-19 and the health of the banks, which is crucial to the Malaysian economy. The inability of borrowers to repay loans would lead to banks having to adjust loan loss provisions. 
 
Since we’re talking about money, we wanted to include this one article about our formerly glorious former leader Najib Razak coughing up RM1 million for bail yesterday. If you were following his SRC International trial the day before, then you’d know that after being sentenced to 72 years’ jail (sadly, the terms were to run concurrently, meaning it ends up being only 12 years) and a fine of RM210 million, he was granted a stay of execution and ordered to pay that cool million in bail if he didn’t wanna spend any time (yet) in an orange jumpsuit. He was given till yesterday to come up with the dough and, of course, it was no sweat for him. 
 
If it was easy for the courts to get the money from Jibby, it’s gonna be the absolute opposite for PKR when trying this little move out. The party will be sending out letters of demand to 20 former members – including current ministers Azmin Ali and Zuraida Kamaruddin and Saifuddin Abdullah – to pay it RM10 million each for defecting. 
 
This, apparently, is the sum of money each had agreed to pay when they signed a legal document when they were picked as PKR candidates in the 14th general election in 2018, should they leave the party. Azmin, in fact, may have to pay double that as he holds both a state and a parliamentary seat. 
 
The 20 elected reps will have seven days to remit the money to PKR or face court action. But here’s the thing: Is this legal document actually legal?
 
We’ve all heard the argument against anti-party hopping laws and how any such law would be unconstitutional as our Federal Constitution provides for the right to association. This means Malaysians are guaranteed the right to join any association (in this case, a political party) as long as it is a legal one. Would not having to pay RM10 million for leaving PKR then be illegal and unconstitutional, then?

We’re pretty sure that this will be one of the arguments the 20 recalcitrants make sooner or later. So yeah, good luck with that, PKR. 

And the final thing we have on the subject of money is this doozy. Yesterday, Bersatu’s Sipitang MP Yamani Hafez Musa (the son of former Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, of whom we’ll speak later) was appointed chairperson for the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra). 

Yamani had previously been best known for pulling a disappearing act after winning in the 2018 elections. His father Musa skedaddled from the country after facing legal troubles following BN’s election loss, and Yamani had apparently decided it was a good time to also vanish. He was the last of the country’s 222 MPs to be sworn in,  only turning up in Parliament in Jan 2019 – nine days before he would have been disqualified.

So why is his appointment a big deal? Well, firstly, it begs the question of why somebody who barely deserves to be an MP has got such a plum appointment. 

But more importantly, Yamani’s appointment means EVERY SINGLE ONE of the the 32 Bersatu MPs now have a secondary appointment (and the fat income that comes with that), be it as ministers, deputy ministers, in government agencies, government-linked companies (GLCs) or government-related boardrooms.

So the message from PM Moo seems to be quite clear: “Stick with me and the money and influence will flow like milk and honey”.

Now excuse us while we find a corner to go and throw up in.  

Another one bites the dust?

The Sabah state palace is under lockdown, so to speak. And friends, it ain’t because of Covid-19.
 
Security has been increased at the palace, with a heightened police presence at the two paths leading to the palace. Civilian vehicles were seen being turned away by journalists who had begun setting up shop there as soon as – and this is where we find out the reason for the increased security – former Chief Minister Musa Aman held a press conference to announce he has the support of a simple majority of state assemblymen to form the government, taking over from current CM Shafie Apdal of Warisan (Things are looking up for House Musa, aren’t they?).
 
Musa needs 33 assemblymen behind him to gain a simple majority, and at the press conference, he was joined by several assemblymen. Peaceful Moses says he is now leading a new coalition which supports the federal government’s Perikatan coalition and that Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin and the PM’s political secretary Nardin Awang had paid a courtesy call on Sabah Governor Juhar Mahiruddin to inform him of this.
 
Immediately after the press conference, Sabah Deputy CM Christina Liew declared that the state government under Shafie is still intact. It would have been more believable, though, if Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking hadn’t also made a statement, that the party favoured snap polls being called following the “great betrayal” of several assemblymen. 
 
Shafie later met with Juhar and is scheduled to hold a press conference today. According to this sources story, the three-hour meeting, which was also attended by the state’s attorney-general, included discussions about possible state elections. 
 
Among those who attended the Musa press conference was a PKR assemblyman, and that party’s president, Anwar Ibrahim, has vowed action against any PKR rep supporting Musa. We’re sorry, Brother Anwar, but it’s obvious the PKR man will be leaving the party, if he hasn’t already submitted his resignation, so what good will that do? Oh yeah, there’s that little RM10 million clause you have going. 
 
Anyway, Anwar says he isn’t in favour of snap polls being called and that Pakatan was still fully behind Shafie.  
 
Rumours had been rife over the past several weeks that efforts were being made to topple the Sabah gomen. Sabah Umno top gun Bung Moktar Radin had earlier denied that his party was working to do the dirty deed, but Musa’s statement obviously puts the “B” in “BS” in Bung’s statement, as any simple majority for the former CM would have to include Umno peeps. 

So, will we see snap polls being called for Sabah? Or will Juhar just declare Musa the new (old) CM? That would mean Musa would follow his old boss in Umno, one Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in becoming grand poobah twice, under different banners. We’ll find out soon enough today.

But more than anything else, this latest disgusting episode just once again highlights how bloody selfish and power-crazy our politicians are. If snap polls are held, it will mean a huge expense and the danger of people mingling while a pandemic is going on. Is this really something we need right now? 

And if it’s just a switch of government without polls, then it’s another case of the people’s will being subverted by backdoor deals and underhanded machinations. 

But hey, fuck the rakyat, right? In Malaysia, the political fat cats’ fight to get back to sitting at the main table is of paramount importance. We, the people, can just sod off. 

Who said we're leaving?

PM Moo Yassin has reportedly met with BN MPs to discuss disgraced former PM Jibby Razak’s status as a member of parliament.
 
According to multiple sources, the 30-minute meeting was to discuss the Jibby’s conviction on seven charges involving RM42 million taken from SRC International as well as to keep them updated on everything, including Najib’s status as an MP. 
 
Perikatan Nasional Backbenchers Club chairman Shahidan Kassim, however, dismissed claims that this was a special meeting, however, saying it was actually a regularly-scheduled meeting between the PM and his MPs. The Umno man also denied the meeting had discussed his party pulling out of the Perikatan. 
 
Shahidan dismissed the rumours of Umno’s pullout and we gotta say we agree. Why in the hell would Umno (and we assume, BN) pull out of the ruling coalition and miss out on being in power again? The only reason they would do that would be to attempt to force a snap general election – and that would be a very cocky strategy indeed.
 
Anyway, now that Najib has been convicted (pending appeal, of course), it’s obvious everyone is now training their guns on a certain fugitive financier named Jho Low. IGP Abdul Hamid Bador says Jho’s in Macau (though China denies this) and everyone in the Dewan Rakyat wants him caught
 
Obviously, opposition lawmakers want to see Low arrested so that one of the main culprits in the missing monies from both 1MDB and SRC International can be brought to justice, but you may ask why Perikatan MPs want him back. Well, it’s because one of the main defence lines in both Jibby’s SRC International and 1MDB cases is that everything was all Low’s doing and Najib was a mere patsy who didn’t know what was going on. 
 
Meanwhile, Bukit Aman is probing claims online which sought to discredit SRC International trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, including one which said he was related to former PM and Najib mentor-turned-arch nemesis Maddey Mohamad. The claim has been denied by Mads Junior Mukhriz, but the cops still think such allegations to be worthy of investigations under the Sedition Act. 
 
Mahathir also became unfortunate collateral damage in a Perikatan MP’s spat with his BN counterparts. You see, BN man Ahmad Maslan was among several MPs attacked by Pakatan’s RSN Rayer for participating in the rally outside the court complex which didn’t conform to Covid-19 SOPs. Rayer had said the MPs should be quarantined.
 
But in a uncharacteristically witty response, even if was a day late, Ahmad asked if Maddey, Mukhriz and other Pakatan MPs should be quarantined as well for attending an event in Alor Setar on July 18 where social distancing SOPs were also not followed. Burn!
 
It is true, though, that the KL Court Complex rally was a really stupid thing to do. A disappointed Health DG, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said any cluster from the rally would manifest in two weeks’ time; the Health Ministry will monitor the situation. Meanwhile, police will call the organisers of the rally in for questioning
 
Meanwhile, PAS has reaffirmed its commitment to its Muafakat Nasional pact with Umno, saying it respects the court decision but Najib will fully make use of the appeal process to ensure justice is done. This came after PAS leaders paid a visit to the Jibster at his home, after which the former PM posted a picture of them on his FB account, saying “true friends are hard to find”. Poor thing, ya? 
 
Speaking of the appeal process, a lawyer says there was a possibility the Court of Appeal would hear Jibby’s appeal against his conviction sooner rather than later due to the nature of the case and his standing as a former PM (yes, he still has a standing). But Najib haters be warned, as experts say the man with the really pink lips could rise back to the top of national politics if he wins his appeal. 
 
Finally, we want to leave you with this editorial from The Guardian, which touches on Jibby’s conviction. It starts off well, but simply loses the plot towards the end. The first part gives a good account of what happened and all, but it then turns into what looks like a piece written by a majorly-smitten Anwar fanboy. The high praises it accords Anwar would make even our still-hoping-to-be-PM man blush. 

We appreciate the effort to talk about Najib and SRC International as well as 1MDB, but really, why the need to jack up a man you don’t really know, to the point that you claim only “Mr Anwar” could lead us out of the “dark days ahead”? We can decide for ourselves whether he is worthy of leading our nation, thank you very much.

Covid-19 and some other stuff

So much happened yesterday that our Covid-19 updates have been relegated to brief mentions today. Here they are, along with several other things that came out:

  • Malaysia’s daily new Covid-19 cases remained in the double-digit realm, with 13 reported yesterday, though the majority were imported cases. With only five people being discharged, this brought the number of active cases up to 220
     
  • Should the number of local transmissions continue to rise over the next two weeks, the MCO will be reinstated
     
  • The mandatory use of face masks, set to be enforced beginning Aug 1, will be rolled out in phases, beginning with public transportation. Meanwhile, Health DG Noor Hisham says masks should be used in places where social distancing is not possible
     
  • The gomen is fine-tuning its SOPs for schools, including looking into the possibility of a staggered release of students so as to minimise contact due to congestion outside the schools. 
     
  • Sarawak, however, is delaying the opening of some 200 schools due to the increased number of Covid-19 cases in the state. 
     
  • In Kubang Pasu, the authorities have ordered 73 kindies and three daycare centres to close due to the Sivagangga Cluster involving a restaurant owner, a family member and four of his workers. 
     
  • The Human Resources Ministry is in the midst of developing flexi-work guidelines for businesses to be used during the “Covid-19 era”. 
     
  • A DAP MP has told he government it shouldn’t hide behind licensing issues over the controversial Al Jazeera documentary and instead counter the allegations in the documentary with facts. The documentary had claimed migrant workers had been treated unfairly during raids by the Immigration Department under the guise of health operations during the MCO. 
     
  • Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi who was interviewed by AJ for the documentary and who later had his work permit rescinded because of it has apologised and is willing to be deported. However, a watchdog group has said his mistreatment and persecution will have a “chilling effect” on all migrant workers. 
     
  • Putrajaya will summon the Philippine ambassador to Malaysia to explain a tweet by its Foreign Affairs Secretary that “Sabah is not in Malaysia”, which is considered an “irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties”. 

“Money isn't the most important thing in life, but it's reasonably close to oxygen on the 'gotta have it' scale."

- Zig Ziglar -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • There are now 16.86 million Covid-19 cases in the world with more than 660,000 deaths. The vast majority have occurred in the US. With US Covid-19 deaths topping 150,000 now, the Association of American Medical Colleges has warned that there could be hundreds of thousands more if action is not taken. 
     
  • Japan has reported 1,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time in the pandemic. Meanwhile, Vietnam – virus-free for months – is bracing for a third wave of infections after an outbreak in Da Nang led to new cases in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Central Highlands. 
     
  • The haj season has begun and the social distancing being practiced in the holy cities of Saudi Arabia, which has starkly reduced the number of pilgrims allowed in, has led to some striking photos collated here
     
  • US President Donald Trump has been said to have made his “most overt appeals” to White, suburban voters in his bid to win reelection, saying in a series of tweets that they will no longer be “bothered” by low-income housing in their suburbs as he repeals a Barack Obama housing legislation designed to limit housing segregation. Most occupants of low-income housing are people of colour. 
     
  • Here’s the most interesting news of the day. The UK government has invested in Killing Kittens, a company that throws women-led sex parties in London and New York. We love that quote naming British PM Boris Johnson. 

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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