Best. Day. Ever!
No news is good news
A few weeks ago, we began to put the number of Malaysia’s daily Covid-related mortalities in bold, red text when we wrote our newsletter.
But today is wonderful, because all we need is black text. You see, yesterday, for the first time since March 19, nobody in our country died of Covid-19.
In addition to that, we also recorded the lowest number of new cases in a day since the MCO began on March 18 – only 36 people fell ill with the virus. Meanwhile, 98 infected people recovered and were discharged from the hospital.
In case you’re obsessively keeping track of this, there are still 30 clusters left in the country. But in all, almost 61% of 5,425 people infected with Covid-19 have recovered, which is great news!
But wait, there’s more. Penang, one of the most densely populated places in the country, is among the places in the best shape. It has the second-lowest number of cases per capita in the nation, and boasts a recovery rate of over 80% – twice the national average.
How did they do it? Well according to the chief minister, one of the biggest factors was because they took social distancing very seriously. But now things look to be recovering, nasi kandar operators (of all people!) are lobbying for the island’s local council to let them have food delivery services for the pre-dawn sahur meal.
The Indian Muslim Community Organisation of Malaysia is leading the charge, saying it’s concerned about the plight of factory workers and bachelors who can’t get food during the MCO. Heh, we’re sure all this is down to altruism and not the mental image of ringgit bills flying away.
But peeps, if you’re thinking the rest of the country is going to go back to normalcy, don’t hold your breath. While health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah is expecting new cases to fall to single digits per day next week, he’s already warning that even if the MCO ends, social distancing rules and bans on large gatherings are likely to continue for the rest of the year. In short, people will still be advised to stay at home if they don’t need to go out.
In other words, as Noor Hisham puts it, what we’ll return to – when we do eventually return to it – will not be the norm, but a new norm.
Okay, fine. It's not all good news
Did we say yesterday was a wonderful day? Well, we may have exaggerated just a teensy bit – it wasn’t all rainbows and daffodils.
More places in KL have been placed under enhanced MCO, including the areas around the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market – or as most Malaysians know it, Pasar Borong Selayang. The EMCO comes after 28 Covid-19 cases, including one death, were reported there.
This is the sixth EMCO in the country, and like the other areas in KL that have been locked down before, the Pasar Borong area happens to have a high concentration of foreign migrant workers, whose cramped, close-quarters living conditions are perfect for the spread of an aggressive virus like Covid-19.
Singapore is a prime example of this; Covid-19 has swept through migrant worker dormitories there like wildfire. Most of the 8,000 people who’ve been struck down in the country are foreign workers. Yesterday alone, over 1,400 new cases were detected. Dr Noor Hisham has said we are learning from the island republic’s experience in tackling the outbreak among migrant workers, and that’s a good way to try and get ahead of the problem here.
But while precautions are understandable and necessary, we hope the welfare of our migrant workers – you know, the people who do the dirty and dangerous work we aren’t willing to touch most of the time – are taken care of. The last thing we should be hearing is that more people are starving and being forced to live off the welfare of strangers.
Speaking of starving – in case you’re worrying about whether you’re still gonna be able to get fresh food, don’t fret. Though the areas around Pasar Borong are in lockdown, Pasar Borong itself will still operate. So, never fear – your neighbourhood market will still be able to get its supply of ikan bawal and fresh chicken.
The EMCO activation also resulted in high drama yesterday, when Batu MP P Prabakaran had to be escorted out of Taman Sri Murni (one of the affected areas) by police after getting into an argument with deputy Federal Territories minister Edmund Santhara.
What happened? Who knows. Each man is accusing the other of behaving badly and lying about it. It’s really a ‘he said, he said’ situation, and comes down to whom you want to believe.
Honestly, we couldn’t care less who did what – we’re putting this down to just another case of politicians being jackasses. Somebody should just put these bozos in lockdown as well.
And a mixed bag of other Covid-19 stories
There’s a whole bunch of other Covid-19 stories, which we’re including here in brief:
- Deputy health minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali has apologised for having a lunch gathering at a tahfiz school last week, in blatant violation of MCO orders. So does his ‘mea culpa, mea maxima culpa‘ mean he’s off the hook? We’ll find out soon enough.
- You know who isn’t in the least bit sorry though? Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s daughter, Nurul Hidayah, who’s also been accused of violating the MCO. Scolded by netizens for going for a meeting with a deputy minister in Putrajaya (what business does a private citizen have with a govt minister during MCO anyway?), Nurul Hidayah called her detractors dumb and dared them to lodge a police report against her. We’re sitting like bloody fools in our bloody homes and this woman doesn’t just flout the MCO, but rubs our faces in it. 🤬
- A human rights group warns that prisons risk becoming the next Covid-19 cluster hotspots if police send people to jail without screening them. The NGO has listed a whole bunch of things cops need to do to ensure the safety and health of detainees. And it’s a LONG list. Maybe it’s time for the government to consider their point made and just move to fining people now.
- The amount of rubbish removed from the Klang River has dropped by almost 43% during the movement control order. That’s a lot of trash, man. We humans really are the worst sometimes.
- This breaks the heart. NGOs estimate the dumping of pets in KL has tripled during the MCO period. Yup, we humans really are the absolute worst.
- That ridiculous catfight over who’s to blame for the Sri Petaling tabligh cluster is still going on. Now, ex-PM Jibby Razak is dragging former Federal Territories minister Khalid Samad into the row. While some people are putting their lives on the line trying to save others, these fellers are playing the blame game instead. Remember how we suggested these jokers should be put in lockdown? You agree, don’t you?
- Here’s one happy story. Man of the hour, health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, is turning 57 today. He says the most special gift for him would be if Malaysians stayed home and observed high hygiene standards. We’re sure he also wouldn’t mind if somebody gave him a Rolex, but we’ll let him have this noble soundbite.
The best of the rest
And here are just a few more stories before you can go to your favourite bit of the newsletter – the quote section. 😀
- Bersatu’s parliamentarians are gonna have a weird problem the next time Parliament sits. With half the party supporting the government and half in the opposition camp, it looks like Bersatu reps will be seated on both sides of the aisle. And of course, the Bersatu opposition faction will be led by ex-PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad. This oughtta be fun.
- The removal of Bursa Malaysia chairman Shireen Ann Zaharah looks to be getting murkier with each passing day. The latest reports say there were ‘governance issues’, that Shireen sought political intervention and support, and that applications for judicial review were filed amid concerns by the Securities Commission that Shireen had overstepped her boundaries, into executive roles. Shireen hasn’t made any public statement yet, but we suspect this story is going to get bigger. Watch this space.
- Fires set by illegal farmers have gone out of control and resulted in the destruction of over 80 hectares of forest in the Kuala Langat reserve. That’s roughly the size of 130 to 140 football fields! Remember how we said earlier that we humans are the worst. This confirms it.
- As all eyes are on Covid-19, many people are missing the other silent killer in our midst – dengue. Many Covid-19 hotspots are also dengue zones and recently, new dengue cases have actually outnumbered Covid-19 cases. So far, 63 people have died of dengue this year.
- It’s good to be the King – or in this case, Tiong King Sing. The Bintulu MP has been appointed the PM’s special envoy to China, a position that comes with full ministerial rank. It’s a similar deal to the one that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang scored for the Middle East a few weeks ago. Looks like PM Muhyiddin Yassin is still doling out the goodies.
- Experts say a merger between AirAsia and MAS would be unlikely, and if one were to happen the resulting monopoly would give them 80% of the market share and allow them to dictate prices – not a good result for consumers. Gee, no shit. In further embarrassment for AirAsia, Airbus has put six jets it made for the airline up for sale.
- The man with the golden voice, veteran RTM newscaster Farit Ismeth Emir, died yesterday at the age of 66. Even if the name is unfamiliar, Malaysians of a certain age will remember his commanding voice as the one behind the iconic Dunhill ‘Gaya, Mutu, Keunggulan‘ advertisements. RIP Pak Ngah.
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- US crude oil futures fell to below zero for the first time in history, ending the day at a shocking -$37.63 a barrel as traders desperately tried to get rid of supply. Brent crude – the international benchmark – also fell, but not as drastically as the American futures. Meanwhile, you may want to check out this fascinating piece on how Russia and Saudi Arabia are going toe-to-toe in a price war over oil.
- A gunman disguised as a cop went on a shooting spree in Nova Scotia, killing 18 people in Canada’s deadliest mass shooting ever. The murderer’s 12-hour rampage only ended when he was killed in a shootout with police.
- Covid-19 has hit Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia so hard that the airlines are facing collapse. Billionaire founder Richard Branson has already pumped $250 million into the Virgin Group and says the airlines need money from the UK and Australian governments to keep going. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.
- Here’s an answer to a question you probably never thought of – what does a socially distant protest look like? Well, this street demo in Israel against PM Benjamin Netanyahu oughtta give you an idea. Speaking of Netanyahu – the Israeli leader has ended more than a year of political deadlock, which saw the country face three elections, by forming an emergency government with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz.
- Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have stepped up their war against British tabloids by declaring there would be ‘zero engagement’ in the future because of the press’s invasive and false coverage. The announcement comes as the royal couple get set to duke it out in a legal battle with Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement. ‘Duke’ it out, geddit, geddit?