Malaysia now has its first case of a local contracting the novel coronavirus. The man was in Singapore towards the end of last month and was only diagnosed a couple of days ago!

In other news, allegations of graft involving AirAsia has seen it lose a huge amount of moolah, Jibby Razak is swearing again while wifey Rosie is in hospital and Pakistan makes an unfulfillable a big promise.

Malaysian down with nCoV

An unwanted first

It was probably inevitable, but still comes as a bit of a shock to the system. Malaysia has its first case of novel coronavirus (nCoV) in a local, and what could be cases two and three.

The Malaysian cases are added to a growing daily global tally, which now stands at 23,858 infections and 492 deaths. Last night was the deadliest so far, with 65 people dying in Hubei province, the epicentre of the crisis. 

Meanwhile, in Malaysia the first local to contract the virus is a 41-year-old man from Selangor, who is believed to have been infected in Singapore last month, when he attended a conference which included delegates from China. He was one of two new confirmed cases in Malaysia, the other being a 61-year-old from China. There’s now a total of 10 confirmed cases in the country.

Though as yet unconfirmed, cases two and three could be two of the 107 Malaysians who were evacuated from China. The duo had failed their health screenings upon arrival from Wuhan on a specially-chartered AirAsia flight and were taken to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for observation.

The others passed their health screenings and were bussed to Akademi Kepimpinan Pendidikan Tinggi (AKEPT) in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan. There they will be subjected to twice-daily health checks and kept under quarantine until passed fit to leave. They could be there for up to two weeks.

A number of Malaysians, however, were unable to make the flight out of Wuhan. Reports said 34 were stranded, many because of logistical problems – mainly that they were unable to get to the Wuhan airport as the city has been in lockdown due to the outbreak. Wisma Putra will continue to monitor these Malaysians.

There is some good news, at least: a 4-year-old girl from China has recovered from nCoV and been declared fit to leave the Sultanah Maliha Hospital in Langkawi after a week in isolation. This is the first recovery since the virus was detected on our shores. In fact, recoveries in general have also been reported, with at least 757 people reported cured so far.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Immigration officers continue to deny entry to those from Hubei province. Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says 147 have been turned back since the outbreak began.

Even the ringgit is said to be taking a beating thanks to nCoV. Fears of the global impact from the virus outbreak was the reason cited for the pressure being asserted on the ringgit, causing it to open lower against the greenback yesterday.

That sinking feeling

AirAsia Group founders Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun apparently expressed shock at allegations of bribery in the UK leveled against “two top execs” in an internal memo sent to all company employees.

The duo cited jealousy as the motive behind the allegations. However, they didn’t elaborate apart to say that “when you are famous”, people will want to “bring you down”. Who exactly are these people jealous enough of them to want to bring them down, and how are these people so powerful as to instigate a bribery investigation into AirAsia? The Dynamic Duo didn’t say. 

In a public statement, Fernandes and Kamarudin called the investigation a clear violation of the legal principles of fairness and access to justice, claiming they had never been approached by the UK Serious Fraud Office during its four-year investigation.

In case you’ve completely missed this, the investigation was into allegations of bribery by planemaker Airbus, including the princely sum of RM50 million allegedly paid to high-ranking  AirAsia execs. Click here for an excellent background read into the entire saga.

AirAsia announced that Maverick and Goose the duo would be stepping down for at least two months to allow a fair investigation into the allegations. The company, however, has decided to retain both Fernandes and Kamarudin.

In the meantime, group president Tharumalingam Kanagalingam (nama glamer, Bo Lingam) will be the acting CEO of AirAsia. The only problem is that Bo is under investigation as well! This particular musketeer is among AirAsia execs being probed in India for money laundering. 

Needless to say, AirAsia and AirAsia X shares continued to plummet like anchors dropped by a cruise ship. Poor Uncle Tony and Pakcik Din (and anyone else who has invested in stocks in the low-cost carrier) must be cursing as AirAsia Group shares closed down for the seventh straight day, falling 10.16% to RM1.15, losing a whopping RM1.54 billion of its market capitalisation.

You know who managed to get out in the nick of time though? The Employees Provident Fund. EPF had dumped nearly 8 million shares in AirAsia Group before the graft allegations emerged, getting rid of 7.43 million shares on Jan 28 and another 492,500 shares the following day.

Did EPF have some sort kind of crystal ball into what’s going on in AirAsia? Or are the people in charge of investments just super shrewd or super lucky? If the latter, can someone please get us in touch with these people so we can get them to invest our own personal money? We sure do need it.

But… EPF still owns over 210 million shares in the company, giving them a 6.1% stake in the airline. So yeah, they still took a pasting, just like every other shareholder.

The Jibby and Rosie show

Najib Razak  sure does love his sumpah laknat.

In December last year, our former illustrious leader swore the religious oath at Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru, denying a statutory declaration by convicted Altantuya Shaariibuu murderer Azilah Hadri accusing him of giving the order for the Mongolian to be killed. Two days ago, Jibby swore another one while sitting in the witness stand at his SRC International trial.

Yesterday, Jibby again swore the sumpah laknat on the stand under re-examination by lead defence counsel Shafee Abdullah, saying he did not seek any self-gratification (that’s monetary gratification, you dirty fellers!), nor know that RM42 million (the sum from SRC International he is alleged to have received) had been placed in his bank account at any time.

The Jibster also said it was preposterous to think he would seek such a large amount of money and hope to get away with it. Basically, he said he ain’t that dumb.

(NOTE: The sumpah laknat is an oath in which the oath-taker calls for divine retribution should what he says not be the truth.)

Najib also took another swipe at fugitive financier and former best friend Jho Low. He said Jho-boy had baited him and left him, an innocent man, standing in the dock while he went on to live a lavish lifestyle courting well-known international beauties and heiresses and throwing mega parties. OK, so we added on to what Jibby said, but you get the picture.

The former BN chairman also said he never questioned the money coming into his accounts as he had always assumed they were donations from the Saudi royal family. He said he preferred getting donations from the Saudis as he didn’t want to be indebted to corporate donors. So he didn’t mind being indebted to a foreign power instead? Hmmm… 🤔

Meanwhile, Jibby’s blushing bride Rosmah Mansor has been hospitalised and will have to undergo treatment for several days. She was admitted on Monday night and her lawyer said Jibby, being the doting lover that he is, was present at her bedside.

Rosie, of course, created a bit of a sensation when she took an MC, so to speak, on the first day of her corruption trial on Monday, suffering from a variety of ailments. Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram had objected, saying he, too, suffered some of these ailments and yet was present in court.

See, Gopal? It’s so bad that she had to be hospitalised. Shame on you for doubting sweet Rosie and the medical report her lawyer provided!

Bits and bobs

Here are some other pieces of news that came out yesterday which we thought we should include, at least in brief:

  • A well-known dance instructor in KL is being investigated over accusations that he raped and sexually assaulted his students in separate incidents in 2017 and last year. 
     
  • Wanita MCA says IGP Abdul Hamid Bador’s statement on the whereabouts of M. Indira Ghandi’s ex-husband and their youngest daughter, whom he had kidnapped, were disconcerting and begs the question of how the man could have left the country. Frankly, we are asking the same question.
     
  • The MCMC has yet to decide on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s call to ban transgender entrepreneur Nur Sajat from posting on social media. Really? We have no words.
     
  • Police have seized more assets belonging to the suspected drug kingpin behind the RM2.4 billion cocaine shipment confiscated in Penang last year, bringing the total to RM371.7 million altogether. This time, the assets were seized in Klang, Selangor.

Here's a quick one for ya

Pakistan Prime Minister and cricket legend Imran Khan met with his Malaysian counterpart (and non-cricket legend) Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya yesterday. The meeting led to Malaysia and Pakistan inking an extradition treaty. Imran also declared Pakistan will do its best to rescue Malaysia’s palm oil industry following India’s threat to boycott palm oil products.

“It will involve anyone including terrorists or the common criminals who try to hide and seek refuge in both countries,” Maddey said, of the extradition treaty.

You know who else we signed an extradition treaty with? India! The same India with whom our relationship has been getting bad to worse with after our intransigence over deporting problematic preacherman Zakir Naik back to India, where he is wanted for money laundering. His preaching has been banned in countries like India, Bangladesh, the UK, etc under, get this, anti-hate or anti-terrorism laws. 

Zakir was one source of stress, but this whole India-pal oil kerfuffle really came about after dear Maddey shot his mouth off last year and accused India of invading and occupying Jammu and Kashmir, which the South Asia nation didn’t take kindly to. Hence them now turning the screw on us. 

What’s funny is that Pakistan thinks it can in any way make up for Malaysia losing India’s palm oil business. On the one hand, you have Malaysia’s largest palm oil export market and the world’s top consumer of edible oils, which may pull back its business from us, which constitutes 24% of our total palm oil exports. 

On the other, you have a country that currently constitutes a 6% share of our palm oil export market. It also generally has a pretty crap economy and has needed 13 financial bailouts in the past 30-plus years, including one just last year. And it’s got a GDP that’s wayyyy lower than ours.

Just how Pakistan is going to rescue anybody or any industry is quite beyond us. But hey, it sure does make for a great soundbite, doesn’t it? It really does remind us of that time when Jibby Razak, in his former incarnation as our glorious leader, said he would aid the US economy. #JustSayin

“Humanity is a virus.”

- Genesis P-Orridge -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that “a wind of madness is sweeping the globe”, citing escalating conflicts from Libya and Yemen to Syria and beyond.
     
  • Iowa Democrats are set to release the first results of voting or the party’s presidential nominee after serious delays. Get live updates here.
     
  • The US Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell has called for his fellow senators to acquit President Donald Trump as the fate of the country depended on it. Meanwhile, Trump will deliver his State of the Union address in front of Congress and is expected to push his case for another term in office and lash out at Democrats who pushed for his impeachment.
     
  • This is bananas. Lesotho’s first lady is set to be charged with murdering the first wife of her husband, the prime minister.
     
  • And in case you’re following the coronavirus story, here’s the latest on that

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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