That oft-used and even more oft-condemned Sedition Act makes an appearance as police announce investigations against a DAP rep and several others for alleged insults against the monarchy. In other news, some of our brilliant leaders are still not heeding the King’s advice to stop fighting each other; and our daily Covid numbers take a slight dip, as do the infectivity rate.

Also, we’d like to remind you, our dear subscribers, that tomorrow is a public holiday so you won’t be getting your favourite newsletter in your inboxes. We’d also like to wish our Muslim readers a blessed celebration of the Prophet’s birthday, though, as always during these times, stay safe!

Sedition here, sedition there

Big brother's watching

The Sedition Act 1948 has reared its ugly head once more. This as police have launched investigations against four people for seditious statements (allegedly! allegedly!) made against the monarchy on social media.
 
Among the alleged offenders is DAP’s Sungai Pelek assemblyman Ronnie Liu who’s been summoned to Bukit Aman to have his statement recorded. Why? Bizarrely for a two-week-old Facebook posting on the ongoing protests in Thailand, with the caption: “Now in Bangkok. They are saying No to the King.” 

Next up is the owner of Twitter account “Liew Lip Nan” for disputing the authenticity of a video uploaded by the National Security Council (NSC) on the “Seven Wills of the Malay Rulers” on Oct 25.
 
Also on the probes list are owners of Twitter account “Uncle Ireeve” and Facebook account “Ho Ruey Terng” for posts insulting to the King (again, allegedly! allegedly!).

Details about the cases are sketchy but according to the po-po, all cases are being investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act for inciting hatred or insults towards the monarchy, and under that ever-present, ever-vague Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) for improper use of the network facilities. 
 
Now, not everyone is a fan of The Liu. The man’s been known to rub people the wrong way, even becoming somewhat of a thorn to his own DAP side at times. But we fail to wrap our heads around how pictures and comments on international goings-on, while related to the monarchy system in general, could be seditious here.
  
Is someone implying that Ronnie-boy’s advocating the same protests here? That’s a bit of a stretch. Perhaps there’s more to this case, but as we pointed out, details made public are scant.
 
What about Liew’s tweet questioning the authenticity of a video? Granted it’s a video from the NSC and yes, it’s about the Malay Rulers. But is it wrong to question the authenticity of something? As pointed out by rights activist MichelleYesudas, being critical of a video need not mean criticism against the royal institution. After all, haven’t our gomen been telling everyone not to just blindly believe “news” and to check before sharing?

Opinions shouldn’t be considered sedition, in our humble opinion. We have the right to free speech, no? Yes, we should be responsible, but the lines should not be distorted so that mere conversations and discourse are silenced. 
 
If such things are seditious, then what about all the politicking going on and calls for PM Moo to step down ala Puad Zakarshi and gang? Should that not be seditious as well? 
 
Coincidentally, and this is a huge coinkidink, yesterday was also the 33rd anniversary of the notorious Ops Lalang, where anywhere between 106 and 119 people – activists, opposition politicians, academicians, students, artists, scientists among them – were arrested by police ostensibly to prevent racial riots. All were detained without trial under that nefarious, since-repealed Internal Security Act (ISA). Four newspapers also had their publishing licences revoked. 

That little anniversary would have completely flown under our radar if it weren’t for a tweet from Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, whose father, the late, great DAP chairman Karpal, was one of those arrested. 

The fine art of 'not politicking': Part Deux

If we were thick-skinned egomaniacs, we would think DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang was a BTL fan, or at least a subscriber. That’s cos he issued a statement (knowing him, probably one of a dozen) yesterday saying exactly what we said in our newsletter, i.e, no one’s listening to the King!
 
Our politicos seem to be having a hard time grasping the Agong’s advice, you know, after that failed Emergency bid, for politics to be put on the back burner so the government can focus on Budget 2021 and battling that blighted Covid-19 pandemic.
 
It would seem they just can’t help themselves, even if it’s to issue statements telling other politicians not to ber-politik. We’re looking at you Uncle Kit, Bersatu info chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan and PKR traitor Perikatan info chief Azmin Ali.
 
Well, if recent news reports are anything to go by, Umno certainly didn’t get the memo. It has apparently rustled up a committee to negotiate further cooperation with Bersatu, including looking for one of its own to be named deputy prime minister.

However, it’s claimed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin can’t accept Umno chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as his #2 due to the tiny little fact the man has criminal court cases pending against him.

If you remember, after a lengthy meeting Monday night, the Umno supreme council decided to continue supporting Moo’s Perikatan Nasional government, provided there’s improved respect and “political consensus”. What exactly said consensus will entail is the big question.

And, despite Zahid having come out to say Umno will continue to support the gomen, Umno insiders are saying there’s still no guarantee the party MPs will vote “aye” to the Budget Moo’s set to table on Nov 6. 
 
Apparently, according to this report, if the Covid-19 numbers have dropped when time to vote on the Budget rolls around, some of these Umno folks will urge Zahid to push for snap elections by voting against the bill. Can you say Covidiots?
 
And if you need any more convincing that things between the two parties are still not settled, we give you Umno man Nazri Aziz who said Umno’ll be ready to resume fighting the “flower party” once the country’s coronavirus situation is stable. Them’s fighting words indeed!
 
BT-Dubs, former Umno prez Najib Razak, who was roundly slammed for apparently suggesting Umno work with Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, has now claimed it was he who suggested the party continue supporting Perikatan. 
 
Say what Watson? So, you gave two completely different suggestions that are opposite of each other? Wrap your heads around that one, folks.
 
Anwar, meanwhile, has said PKR will work with any politician who is for a system free of corruption and abuse of power. He didn’t mention ol’ Jibby, though. Maybe that has something to go with Jib’s conviction and pending criminal charges?
 
Meanwhile, Pakatan Harapan parties Amanah and DAP, as well as ally Warisan, have all come out to say they’ll support PM Moo’s 2021 Budget if it benefits the rakyat. However, Muhyiddin must first engage all parties before he finalises the draft. 

We think that’s a fair request, don’t you? 

Too little, too late

After the third wave of Covid-19 has hit us, fanned by that fabulous Sabah state election, the Health Ministry is now saying that there should be no elections.
 
The ministry has said it would prefer not to have any further polls, but if unavoidable, then there needed to be stricter SOPs. This would include no cross-border and cross-district travels, no balik kampung for the election, as well as no mass gatherings or house-to-house visits. 
 
All this is well and good especially with the Batu Sapi by-election set for Dec 5. However, we’re very curious to see how this will be carried out, especially in allowing people to vote without having to return to their constituencies and without denying anyone their constitutional rights.
 
Also, we’d like to point out, the ministry can say no all they want to elections, but they can’t stop it from happening if our idiot politicians (again, we’re looking at you, Umno) decide to disregard what our King and ultimately push for Parliament dissolution.
 
This third wave, of course, has played merry hell with us. We’ve seen an explosion of new cases over in October alone which has, as we explained in an earlier edition of BTL, more than doubled our Covid-19 numbers. And, we’ve seen two days where the number of new cases breached the four-figure mark, including Monday’s record-breaking 1,240 cases. 
 
Yesterday’s numbers saw a slight dip back into the 800-case zone, however. We recorded 835 new cases, bringing the total to 28,640 cases since the pandemic began. There were also two new deaths, both in Sabah, bringing the total number of fatalities to 238.
 
On the plus side, there were 674 recoveries, bringing the total number of patients discharged to 18,499. The number of active cases has gone up to 9,903, just shy of the 10,000 mark which, if the current trend continues, will be crossed today. 
 
Two new clusters have been identified in Sabah and Labuan, while two places in Selangor and one in Sarawak have been placed on enhanced movement control order (EMCO). The EMCO at the Penang Remand Prison, meanwhile, has been extended till Nov 11
 
The good news is that the conditional MCO that Sabah, Selangor, KL, Putrajaya and Labuan have been placed under seems to be working, with the infectivity rate now down to 1.2. At one point, the R-naught, or R0, as it’s called, was a massive 2.2. It’s still a long way to go, though, as the goal is to bring the R0 down to at least 0.3 before the “curve” can be flattened. 
 
Anyhoo, here are some other bits of Covid-19 news that came out yesterday:

  • The gomen will meet with the Election Commission by Thursday to discuss stricter SOPs for the coming Batu Sapi polls.
     
  • More than 10,000 police personnel have been placed under quarantine, including 200 who are receiving treatment after testing positive for Covid-19. 
     
  • The NSC will announce the SOPs for celebrating Deepavali, which falls on Nov 14, by this week. 
     
  • “Weekend” husbands and wives are allowed to travel to meet their spouses in CMCO areas, but they have to seek police permission first. 
     
  • The ceiling price for three-ply face masks will be dropped to 70 sen a piece from Nov 1. Currently, the ceiling price is RM1 per piece.
     
  • A survey by Mercer Malaysia has projected that salaries in 2021 will still see increments of 4.5 percent despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. 

Odds and ends

As usual, there were a number of other interesting news items that appeared yesterday. Here they are in brief:

  • Two Petronas offshore workers were killed when a maintenance vessel collided with an offshore platform 14 nautical miles from Miri. The MV Dayang Topaz later sank but the other 185 crew members on board were rescued. 
     
  • The man who jumped the fence at the MACC in Putrajaya to avoid being rearrested by police on Oct 11 for alleged involvement in an illegal online gambling syndicate has been captured and remanded for three days. Now, perhaps, our coppers can concentrate on finding everyone’s fave fugitive financier Jho Low. 
     
  • Speaking of people on the lam, M. Indira Gandhi, whose ex-hubby Muhammad Riduan Abdullah fled 11 years ago with their young daughter, will file an RM100 million suit against IGP Abdul Hamid Bador for failing to carry out a court order to reunite her with the child. 
     
  • Three senior military officers, including Malaysia’s former military intelligence chief, have been charged with soliciting and receiving bribes of more than RM1 million to make a company a strategic partner of the Defence Ministry. 
     
  • A 21-year-old motorcyclist in Penang has the dubious honour of becoming the first person to be charged with drink driving under the newly-gazetted Road Transport (Amendment) Act, which carries harsher penalties of a jail term of up to two years, a maximum fine of RM30,000 and revocation of driving licence for two years or more. 
     
  • More from Penang, but this time a little good news. CNN has updated its list of the world’s 50 best foods and a local favourite, the humble Penang asam laksa has once again made us proud. It’s placed 7th, beating out even Thailand’s famous tom yum goong. 

“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so."

- Mahatma Gandhi -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • There have been more than 43 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide and 1.163 million deaths so far, with surges across the US and Europe as winter approaches. The World Health Organization has said that Europe alone has seen an increase of 40 percent in daily deaths from last week. 
     
  • The spate of anti-police protests in the US continued as Philadelphia braces for even more unrest following the shooting of yet another black man by police. More than 30 police officers have been injured in overnight protests after police shot dead 27-year-old Walter Wallace, whom they claimed refused to listen to orders to drop a knife he was allegedly holding. 
     
  • Hearings have begun in Nigeria a week after security forces opened fire on activists protesting police brutality, killing at least 12 people. 
     
  • A US federal judge has dismissed an effort by the Department of Justice to defend POTUS Donald Trump in a defamation suit brought by a woman who has accused him of raping her in the 1990s.

    The department had sought to put itself in the dock instead of The Donald, citing the Tort Claims Act, saying he’d been serving in his capacity as president when he denied the accusation. The judge, however, ruled that Trump is not an “employee” within the meaning of the law. 

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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