Not since the Recovery Movement Control Order was announced have we seen such high numbers. Sadly, Malaysia yesterday recorded over 60 new Covid-19 cases thanks to an outbreak among inmates and staff at a lockup facility in Sabah.

Meanwhile, even as water woes continue, the family of the four brothers accused of causing the disruptions have proclaimed their innocence. But if not them, then who? Also, former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman is back in court and a deputy minister doubles down on his attack against Sabah teen-on-a-tree Veveonah.

Record-breaking bad news

Bad Covid. Bad, bad Covid

It was a promising run but all that came to an end yesterday, when Malaysia recorded its single highest daily increase in Covid-19 infections since the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) began, with a whopping 62 new cases. (In contrast, there were just six new cases the day before). This is the highest the numbers have been since June 4 when we had 277 cases. With nine recoveries, this brings the number of active cases back up to 207.

Were it so that these new cases were imported, but alas and alack-a-day – all but six are local transmissions. A bulk of these, 50 to be exact, come from the ‘Benteng Lahad Datu’ cluster in Sabah due to an outbreak detected at Tawau Prison and the Lahad Datu district police headquarters. 

 

The cluster was triggered with the arrests of two undocumented migrants on Aug 24, later found to be positive. There are currently 66 active cases in the cluster now, with 97 percent of those infected being inmates. Everyone’s favourite health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said the likely causes for the outbreak were the cramped and congested conditions of the police lockup. In other words, the perfect ingredients for sup Covid.

 

Oh and yet another cluster has been detected in Kedah at a private medical centre. This brings the number of active clusters in the northern state to four – the others being the ‘Tawar’, ‘Sala’ and ‘Telaga’ clusters. Two other clusters there  – the infamous ‘Sivagangga’ (triggered by a restaurant owner who broke quarantine SOP) and ‘Muda’ cluster – have been closed.

But if there’s one silver lining in all these storm clouds, it’s that today is the sixth straight day with zero deaths.

Anyway, a few other Covid stories popped up yesterday. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Malaysia has backpedalled on its initial decision to allow home quarantine for citizens working in Singapore who return for short-term leave. Under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement with our neighbours across the straights, these Malaysians were initially allowed to self-isolate upon arrival into the country, pending Covid-19 test results. Those who test negative could later be exempted from the 14-day Home Surveillance Order (HSO). But it’s back to government-sanctioned quarantine centres after one such citizen tested positive for Covid-19.
     
  • Meanwhile, Malaysia has also begun barring the entry of pass holders from 23 countries with over 150,000 Covid-19 cases. The countries currently on the no-entry list are: USA, India, Brazil, Russia, Peru, Colombia, South Africa, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iran, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, France, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Iraq, Philippines, and Indonesia.

     

    Those barred also include permanent residents (PR), Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) participants, professional visit pass (PVP) holders, resident pass holders, as well as spouses and children of Malaysian citizens and students. The logic behind this move is dubious – doesn’t Malaysia already mandate institutionalised two-week quarantine? So why a ban as well? Among the many problems and difficulties that would arise from this move, what makes our hearts ache the most is the thought of the families that will be split thanks to this rule.
     

  • A British man who breached quarantine to go to a bank in Bangsar several months ago was sentenced to two-days jail term and an RM5,000 fine by the KL Magistrate’s Court.
     
  • And this one’s really quite bizarre. A bunch of crooks in Melaka have been posing as Health Ministry authorities and nicking the log books from business premises. You know, the ones where customers’ write down names and contact details. We have no idea wtf is going on there. Are they trying to steal names and numbers in order to sell as databases to scammers, cold callers, etc? 

Things are dry, but they sure ain't dull

As water concessionaire Air Selangor races to restore water supply to scores of Selangor and KL residents and businesses who have endured over four days with dry pipes, the saga over who polluted our H2O source looks likely to drag on even longer.

 

Authorities have claimed the shutting down of several water treatment plants, and the turning off of over 1.2 million taps at some 1,300 areas, were the result of pollution originating from the industrial area near Sungai Gong, a tributary of Sungai Selangor. 

Yesterday, two factory workers were remanded for six days to facilitate investigations into the case. This came after the recent arrest and remand of four brothers, owners of a factory suspected of polluting the river.

To make matters worse, the Selayang Municipal Council is also claiming the factory, which supposedly fixes heavy machinery, has been operating illegally since 2014. This means since it began operating six years ago, the company (allegedly, allegedly!) never applied for a license to build the factory, nor operate it. 

 

But wait, a twist! The families of the four bros are claiming the company was not behind the alleged pollution. A son of one of the suspects is claiming the premise in question is not a factory but merely a storage yard for heavy industrial vehicles and equipment used by the construction company. 

 

The son claims that being a construction company, there is no effluent to be discharged in the river and any waste is disposed of according to the law. And while he acknowledged daddy-o’s company was fined RM60,000 in March, it was not for waste disposal but allegedly for “other matters” such as improper staff training and inventory. 

 

Well, far be it for us to comment on the nature of construction company waste disposal but for his sake and that of the rest of the family, we sure hope he is telling the truth. But if so, the million dollar question is: who is responsible? 

 

Factory or yard, in any case, the good folks over at The Sun cased the joint and claim the surface of the drainage outside the company yard was free from sludge or oil stains but leads to a ravine where flowing water was “murky”. Make of that what you will, but we feel it best to wait for authorities to reveal more information and to make their case against the brothers if indeed there is one.

 

Sadly, the son also claims the families have had to lodge a police report due to threats levelled against them, with some people going so far as to doxx them and to threaten arson. Now we value personal hygiene as much as the next person, and we curse fire and brimstone against whoever is responsible for the Long Weekend of No Showers, but such cyberbullying is taking things too far.

So you don’t miss it, here are yet more water-related news we feel you should know:
 

  • Water supply has been restored to 89.47 percent, or 1,156, affected areas as at 7am today. This includes all of Hulu Langat and Kuala Selangor, 95.7 percent of Petaling, 94.89 percent of Gombak, 85.02 percent of Kuala Lumpur, and 69.32 percent of Klang/Shah Alam (sorry friends, hang in there!).
     
  • Selangor’s first couple, Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari and wife Masdiana Muhammad, have apologised over a photo uploaded by Masdiana showing a tanker delivering water right to their front gates in what (understandably pissed off) netizens have said is preferential treatment in the midst of days-long water cuts. 
     
  • Speaking on Amirudin, Attorney-General Idrus Harun has denied the MB’s claim the AGC did nothing against the Sungai Gong factory over the earlier case of water pollution alleged to have occurred in March, saying Selangor authorities never referred the case to his office.  
     
  • The Department of Environment (DOE) has denied claims authorities gave exclusive rights to certain firms to handle scheduled water waste management and that this led to irresponsible dumping of effluents into our rivers. The DOE claims only one exclusive right was given before, and that was a 15-year contract to one Kualiti Alam Sdn Bhd in 2000, which expired in 2015.

Court is now in session

While it would seem it’s all systems go for the Sept 26 Sabah polls, what with nominations just around the corner and all, it looks like former state chief minister Musa Aman is dead set in his quest to throw a spanner in the works and derail the entire elections.

He and 32 other ex-assemblymen are appealing the High Court’s August dismissal of their bid for a judicial review of the dissolution of the state assembly and paving the way for the coming polls. In case you are a little hazy on the deets, back at the end of July, Musa was sure he was set to take over the state government after claiming Warisan’s Shafie Apdal had lost the majority support of the state assembly.

But sly fox Shafie obtained the consent of the Sabah governor to dissolve the state assembly and triggered elections instead. To add salt to the wound, Musa was unceremoniously stopped at the palace gates as he attempted to meet with the governor to convince the latter to not dissolve the government.

Back to the Appeals Court. Musa and gang have submitted that there’s really no need for elections now during the current health crisis. Also, their lawyer is claiming caretaker chief minister Shafie had no right to even request a dissolution as he allegedly lost the majority support of state lawmakers. Funny how elections may not be proper during a health pandemic, but a change of government through defections seems a-okay. Right then.

Shafie’s camp, meanwhile, is saying the governor, like the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Malay rulers, has every discretion to dissolve his legislature. Submissions are to continue today.

Meanwhile, over in the peninsula, former premier Najib Razak’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial is ongoing. Jibby’s defence is applying for parts of a written witness statement by ex-1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman to be removed, saying they contain hearsay allegations. This includes statements linked to jolly Jho-Low.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah is slated to decide on the matter today when the trial resumes.

Over at wifey Rosmah Mansor’s multi-million ringgit solar project graft trial, a businessman testified he was asked to prepare consultancy agreement related to the Sarawak school solar hybrid project and that he was under the impression the order came from Rosie herself.

However, consultant Lawrence Tee said the actual instructions came from Rosmah’s ex-aide Rizal Mansor during a meeting back in May 2016, although the latter allegedly said his “mam” wanted it done. It was this “mam” which Tee took to mean Rosmah, her being Rizal’s boss at the time and all.

Trees, lies, and videoclips...

Remember when grown-ass man and deputy minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin recently took aim at a minor when he sought to name and shame Sabah teen Veveonah Mosibin at the Dewan Negara?

He basically called the student a liar and served her up on a platter to Internet trolls when he claimed the video of herself climbing a tree to seek better Internet connection so she may study for an exam was done for social media fame as she never actually had to sit for any exam. Class act that guy.

The deputy communications and multimedia minister has since apologised, saying he received “inaccurate information”. Well, no doubt keen to deflect some of the heat off himself, Zahidi was kind enough to give up fellow Perikatan Nasional deputy minister and Kudat MP Abdul Rahim Bakri as the man who furnished him with the false information on Veveonah in the first place. Clearly, there are friends, and there is Zahidi.

In a lesson on how not to handle such a situation, Abdul Rahim, who is deputy finance minister I, proceeded to double down on his attack, alleging in a now-deleted Facebook post that the 18-year-old not only manufactured the studying in a tree gimmick, but said she no longer even lived in the rural Pitas village where the said tree is located. Needless to say, netizens are standing up for our girl, pointing out the Bersatu man’s actions is nothing short of stupid, and fails to address the main issue of poor connectivity and infrastructure in rural Sabah.

Douchebag politicians aside, there were a few more stories yesterday which deserve some attention:

  • Dr Mahathir Mohammad says the PN government should charge supporters of the defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) if they feel they’ve enough evidence to do so. This comes several days after he confirmed writing to then-bosom-buddy-now-rival Muhyiddn Yassin, in the latter’s capacity as former home minister, to consider de-listing of the Tamil Tigers as a terror organisation. (Need a refresher on just what the LTTE is or was? This guide can help you out.)
     
  • Still on Mahathir, his estranged former aide has claimed that contrary to popular belief, the o̶l̶d̶ ̶c̶o̶d̶g̶e̶r̶ former prime minister was actually elated by the Sheraton Move that crushed his second premiership and brought the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government he led. Why? According to newly minted senator Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, Maddey was able to stop both frenemy Anwar Ibrahim’s ascension to the gilded PM throne and DAP’s advancement. We don’t know what this guy’s been smoking but we want in.
     
  • Sabah PKR is eyeing more than 25 seats in the coming state polls. Negotiations with Warisan, Upko and Harapan parties are still ongoing.
     
  • Sabah’s Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) deputy president Kong Fui Seng has quit the party. He is expected to join Warisan. 
     
  • A 90-year-old retiree lost RM3.83 million in a Macau scam after transferring her savings in batches to seven different companies between April and June. Poor thing! Be aware, peeps. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. For this aunty’s sake, we hope she had more than just the RM3.83 mil.

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans."

- Jacques-Yves Cousteau -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • India has overtaken Brazil as the country with the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases (over 4.2 million) in the world, next to USA. It also has the third-highest number of Covid-related deaths.
     
  • He may be champion of the world, but world #1 tennis player Novak Djokovic got the old heave-ho from the US Open when a ball he hit in anger accidentally struck a line judge in the throat. Accident or no, he was immediately defaulted (or disqualified) from the tournament.
     
  • Saudi Arabia’s court has overturned five death sentences in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Instead, it issued a final ruling in the case, sentencing eight people to between seven and 20 years in prison. The eight have not been identified. Wow. The wheels of justice certainly didn’t grind finely here. 
     
  • Russian opposition leader and critic of the Kremlin, Alexei Navalny is out of an induced coma and is said to be improving after a suspected poisoning. He was flown to Germany after falling ill in August, with doctors claiming he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
     
  • WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange has failed in his bid to further delay the case concerning his extradition from Britain to the United States, where he faces charges of conspiring to hack government computers and espionage.

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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