A Warisan MP foolishly accuses Putrajaya of staging the 2013 Lahad Datu incursion and as expected, gets roundly whacked by the party’s rivals. The big question is whether the gaffe will prove costly to Warisan’s Sabah polls ambitions?

In other news, coronavirus cases keep going up in Sabah as an Umno supreme council member tests positive for Covid-19, a court is all set to hear a challenge to Anwar Ibrahim’s 2018 royal pardon, and the family of a dearly departed Malaysian military hero receives a message of condolence from Queen Elizabeth II.

Drama minggu ini

Hello mouth, meet foot

Warisan’s Mohamaddin Ketapi has come in for a lotta fire for remarks made over the bloody 2013 Lahad Datu incursion, and with mere days to go before Sabahans head to the ballot box, there’s a feeling his gaffe could be costly for his party and its allies.

 

So what happened?

 

Here’s the straight skinny – the Silam MP had been caught on video saying during stumping that the deadly incident was a sandiwara cooked up by the then BN federal government to ensure Sabahan voter support in the 13th general election. A lotta silly shit can be heard in the clip, but among the most outrageous claim is the then-government had deployed jets to bomb villager’s palm trees, with tanks sent to fight chickens! Who is smoking what now?

 

The Lahad Datu standoff a.k.a. the Lahad Datu invasion a.k.a. the Kg Tanduo intrusion saw a group of militants entering Sabah seven years ago with the intention of ‘reclaiming’ the state for self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III. Armed confrontations eventually took place in Kampung Tanduo and other areas resulting in the deaths of up to 10 Malaysian security officers, six civilians and as many as 65 militants. You can read about it all here.

 

The Warisan man has since apologised but, no surprises, also maintained his remarks were taken out of context. He has claimed the offending video which has gone viral was part of a longer speech and distorted the message he intended to convey i.e. the BN gomen’s failure to address the issue of undocumented migrants is what actually led to the 2013 incident. 

 

The illegal immigration situation in Sabah has been a sticking point for years and it’s never been properly addressed by the folks in Putrajaya. Sure, but linking the issue to an incident that saw our brave officers being killed while defending our sovereignty is just plain idiotic.

 

Needless to say, we’re not the only ones who think that, as Mohamaddin’s remarks have seen him rightly and roundly slammed by, among others, Armed Forces chief Gen Affendi Buang, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Troll Master General former premier Najib Razak.

 

Naturally, Mohammadin’s boss Shafie Apdal isn’t pleased. He’s summoned the former Pakatan Harapan minister to explain the remarks. It’s no wonder Shafie is sweating at the pits, as he and his Warisan Plus buddies have had a hard time shaking anti-migrant sentiments during campaigning. This, despite the traction his “Sabah for Sabahans” campaign appeared to have earlier gained. You’ve gotta feel though, the damage’s been done.

 

Shafie and Warisan, as we highlighted last week, have been dogged for years by claims they are illegal immigrant-friendly. And buzz on the ground in Sabah now suggests that not very much has changed. In fact, it appears that in areas with Kadazan-Dusun and Murut voter majorities i.e. places where Warisan hardly made a dent in GE14, not only are people wary about Shafie, they also think he could be a foreigner.

 

Will all this come into play come Saturday when the state’s 1.12 million voters head to the polls? And will it hand the advantage to Gabungang Rakyat Sabah (GRS), that loose constantly bickering coalition featuring Perikatan Nasional, Parti Bersatu Sabah and Barisan Nasional? One thing’s for sure, Mohammadin’s booboo about Lahad Datu certainly pissed off the local communities.

 

Anyhoo, here’re a few other election-related things that made the news yesterday:

  • A total of 16,877 security force personnel and their spouses will cast their ballots today in early voting for the polls. Fifty-five polling centres have been allocated for the exercise. 
     
  • Is former chief minister Musa Aman plotting a belated return to power? That seems to be the big question after Mighty Moses, who wasn’t picked as a polls candidate by Umno, has shown up at more than 12 ceramah to canvas support for GRS candidates. 
     
  • Still on GRS, STAR president and Frog King Jeffrey Kitingan has said the coalition will announce its preferred choice of candidates in areas with multi-way contests to ensure straight fights against Warisan Plus. A full announcement could be made as early as today or by Thursday, Sept 24.

    Wait a minute! Isn’t Thursday cutting it a wee bit close?! Anyway, maybe Jeff had better check with his brother and PBS leader Joseph Pairin first ‘cos last we heard, big bro has insisted his party ain’t withdrawing from any of the seats it’s contesting.
     
  • According to Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin, Shafie had the option of siding with PM Muhyiddin Yassin in Moo’s tiff with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but chose to back the nonagenarian instead.

    Moo, KJ has claimed, is obviously the better choice, as Sabah’s neighbour, Sarawak has found after collecting a cool RM3 billion in sales tax for the state’s oil. According to KJ, MooMoo will work on a similar deal with Sabah after the election. Hmmm … why only after the election ah? 

Worrying situation

Mohamaddin’s foot-in-mouth disease isn’t the only worrying thing in Sabah at the moment. A new Covid-19 cluster has emerged in the state, a mere two days after the last one was detected.

 

This new cluster, dubbed the ‘Quarters’ cluster, was detected when a healthcare worker in Tongod, Sandakan, was referred to a hospital for a Covid-19 test. Since then, a total of five cases have been detected. 

 

Other clusters in the state continue to record cases too, with as many as 49 new infections registered in Sabah on Monday from a nationwide daily increase of 57


It gets worse. An Umno supreme council who was in Sabah to canvas support for his party’s candidates has tested positive for Covid-19. It’s understood that the fellow, Mohd Razlan Rafii, had been campaigning in Sipatang.

 

Razlan’s first test, done with an RTK (rapid test kit) returned a positive result. He’s hoping its a false positive and is waiting for the results of a second test, which should be ready by today. RTKs, as previously noted by the Health Ministry, have been known to return false negatives in one out of 10 people. It’s uncertain, though, if they also return false positives. 

 

The situation is without a doubt hella worrying what with more than a million people expected to cast their ballots in the state polls on Saturday. Nevertheless, peeps at the Election Commission we spoke with say a statement on the matter is expected to be released soon. How soon is soon though, we dunno, but you should bear in mind the Cabinet is also set to discuss the spike in infections at its meeting today. So hopefully, we will be seeing more strict SOPs on campaigning and polling.

 

Incidentally, our good friend Mohamaddin also managed to ruffle feathers for his views on the state’s Covid-19 situation. Talented guy, this one.

 

In a video that’s gained almost as much attention as the clip concerning the 2013 standoff, the Warisan MP alleged his party’s rivals want to use Covid-19 as an excuse to keep voters away on Saturday. He alleged the aim is to get Chinese voters, who support Warisan, to stay away from voting out of health fears. 

 

To be fair to the guy, his speech doesn’t exactly allege the uptick in infections in Sabah of late was entirely staged. However, he does claim certain folks are gonna pay certain other folks to act sick and faint on polling day to cause panic. And any which way you look at it, that’s got the potential to not just stir discontent, but fear too, and fear breeds rumours, which in turn breeds more fear. You see where we’re going with this?

I beg your pardon

Monday wasn’t an especially exciting day, legally speaking. Still, a number of interesting court-related matters did make the news. Among them, the case involving the royal pardon granted to Anwar Ibrahim over his 2015 sodomy conviction.

 

If you’re not too familiar with the issue, lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz questioning the legality of the PKR bossman’s 2018 pardon and release from his five-year jail sentence. In a nutshell, the lawyer is arguing that while the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was within his rights to grant the pardon, the Federal Constitution states the King is to act on the advice of the Pardons Board. Thing is, it’s impossible for a valid Pardons Board to have been convened as the new Harapan gomen was just two days old at the time.

 

Anwar had attempted to strike out Mohd Khairul’s application on grounds that it was frivolous, a waste of the court’s time, and more importantly, that the lawyer had no legal standing to make such a claim.

 

Well, the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday ruled that not only does Mohd Khairul have standing on account of being a public citizen, the issues the dude brought up are also important enough to merit being argued before a judge. 

 

In short, this small little legal challenge that no one thought much of when it was first filed is set to get very, very interesting. Unfortunately, the March 24-26 trial dates the court has set mean the drama is a good six months (at least) away.

 

Meanwhile, there could be no chance of excitement in the criminal breach of trust case involving former spy chief Hasanah Abdul Hamid as the prosecution there is applying for proceedings to be held in-camera, or in regular speak, behind closed doors. The reason given by public prosecutors is that the case concerns national security issues. As many as 15 prosecution witnesses are expected to testify during the trial but if the application is approved, we won’t get to hear about any of it. Phooie!

 

Hasanah, the former boss of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), is alleged to have pilfered RM50.4 million in Malaysian government funds between April 30 and May 9, 2018.

 

Finally, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial was postponed yesterday after his lawyer informed the court that the Umno head honcho had to be tested for Covid-19.

 

It’s unclear why exactly Zahid needed the test done, but he did just return from campaigning in Sabah, so maybe he was just being cautious, especially now seeing as how one of his supreme council members tested positive. Anyways, the first test has returned a negative result but the swab test results are still pending. 

 

Zahid, just to refresh your memory, is facing 47 charges for CBT, bribery and money-laundering for allegedly pocketing a tonne of moolah belonging to his own Yayasan Akalbudi.

 

Legal matters aside, here’s some other stuff that deserves your attention:

  • Former Terengganu Menteri Besar Wan Mokhtar Ahmad, 88, had passed away early Monday from heart complications. The Umno stalwart served as Terengganu MB for 25 years, from 1974 to 1999.
     
  • It appears that incident involving a car being smashed by part of a tower crane was the result of a road collision and not falling debris. Petaling Jaya police have confirmed the driver of the trailer transporting the crane had already come forward.
     
  • Queen Elizabeth II has conveyed her condolences to the family of the late Awang Raweng over his demise. Awang, who passed away last Friday aged 91, is the only Malaysian to have received the distinguished George Cross, the second-highest award after the Victoria Cross in the British honours system. The veteran military hero was awarded the medal in 1951 for his service to the British Army in fighting communist insurgents in Malaya.
     
  • The Dewan Negara has passed the Temporary Measures For Government Financing (Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)) Bill 2020 following a majority vote. The bill was tabled by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz.
     
  • Major banks fail alert. A global investigative journalism project has discovered that Malaysia’s favourite fugitive financier Low Taek Jho a.k.a. Jho Low moved billions of dollars through a bunch of big banks for years with no issue, despite loads of red flags going up. The US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) document leaks show that suspicious transactions involving JhoBoy began as early as 2009, the year 1MDB was set up.

    The leaks are also significant in that they reveal how a number of huge banking corporations – among them JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon – not only moved illicit cash, but profited from by doing the bidding of terrorists and criminals. You can read the whole report here.

“All writers misspeak, revealing not what they thought they said, but almost what they were afraid to say."

- Charles E. Bressler -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deleted a days-old guide on its website relating to airborne transmission of Covid-19. The CDC had suggested on Friday that indoor ventilation could protect against the virus. However, it now says the previous update was posted in error “without any technical review”. Dudes, seriously?!?!
     
  • Still on Covid, a new study in Brazil has apparently found a link between the spread of coronavirus and past outbreaks of dengue fever. The yet to be published study hypothesises exposure to dengue or dengue vaccine could provide some level of immunity against Covid-19.
     
  • A US court ruling has temporary halted Washington’s WeChat ban. This after a judge ruled the government’s imminent ban of the messaging app could affect users’ First Amendment rights, despite its relatively small American user base.
     
  • See if this does not get your goat. A new research has found that the world’s wealthiest 1 percent were responsible for the emission of over double as much carbon dioxide as the poorer 50 percent of the world’s population from 1990 to 2015. Let that sink in.
     
  • Singapore’s ban on tudungs in the workplace has come under scrutiny again, thanks to a new article that highlights just how discriminatory the policy is. For the record, the island republic appears to have no problem with Sikh turbans but insists that Muslim policewomen and nurses, for example, refrain from wearing the tudung. Before we throw stones, let’s not forget what several hotels in Peninsular Malaysia tried to do back in 2017.
     
  • It may have been a strange ceremony, what with no live audience present and many nominees hosting private viewing parties at home, but that certainly hadn’t stopped Canadian TV sitcom Schitt’s Creek from sweeping every comedy award in its wake at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards. Other big winners were the HBO dramas Succession and Watchmen. At 24, Zendaya has become the youngest winner of best lead actress in a drama for her turn as an addicted teen in Euphoria. Check out the full list of winners here.

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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