PM Muhyiddin Yassin's safe (for now!) and his 2021 Budget is steamrolling ahead after Anwar Ibrahim's big gambit to get the money plan scrapped during its third reading went down like the proverbial lead balloon.

In other news, the government agrees to open up more of the tourism sector and is doubling down on Covid-19 screenings. And sadly, Malaysia's lost a towering icon in academia.

Anwar's epic fail

Close but no cigar

James Ingram once crooned: “I did my best. But I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”

The opposition’s “best” certainly wasn’t good enough yesterday when it failed to derail Budget 2021. The RM322.54 bil budget passed the third reading at the Dewan Rakyat by a bloc vote of 111 to 108. One MP – Umno’s Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah – kept to his word and was absent

Still, it was pretty close. The final tally of 111 is a simple majority considering the Dewan Rakyat has 220 seats, reduced by two following the deaths of the MPs from Batu Sapi and Gerik. But, since one was from opposition party Warisan Sabah and the other from BN-Umno, the ratio in Parliament remained the same. 

Despite Pakatan Harapan’s last-minute plea, the vote went according to battle lines anyway, with all Perikatan Nasional reps in support while opposition parties and independents voted against. 

Before the vote, Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz did say all Umno backbenchers sans Ku Li would vote for the bill, not due to party lines, but to approve moolah much needed by the rakyat, civil servants and the fight against Covid-19.

Things could’ve been different, though, had a couple of Perikatan ministers who’d been ordered to undergo home quarantine not been allowed to vote. They, along with a Pakatan MP, were allowed to attend Parliament provided they wore Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), much to the chagrin of the opposition.

Yesterday, the gomen defended the decision, saying no SOPs were breached and the trio had the right to cast their votes. A little too convenient? Maybe. But who are we plebs to say?

After all, without the two stooges ministers and assuming Ku Li actually showed up, the vote would’ve been tied at 109 each. But hey, tears, spilt milk and all that, right?

The budget will now go to the Dewan Negara before being submitted to the Agong for royal assent. If it passes the Senate vote (and it likely will as the majority in the Upper House belongs to Perikatan), it looks like Budget 2021’s here to stay.

How now, brown cow?

Before the crucial Budget vote, the Education and Higher Education ministries both had their budgets passed by voice vote. 

That left the final score at committee level at Perikatan 27 – Pakatan 🥚, showing us that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s supposed strategy of letting the bill pass the first vote last month to fight it at the committee stage was strongly, formidably and convincingly a moronic idea.

Still, our PM-forever-wannabe has refused to acknowledge his spectacular cock-up. Instead, he went on the glass-half-full-I-forgot-my-glasses route, saying the narrow vote doesn’t inspire the people’s confidence in the Perikatan regime. Yeah, mate, but the fact you opposition fellas performed so “fantastically” doesn’t get us excited about y’all either. 

So, PM Moo gets to hold on to his keys to Seri Perdana just a little bit longer. Moo did a little bit of a victory dance (just picture that!), saying MPs who supported the bill had heeded the Agong’s call to stop politicking for the sake of the nation and to focus on the pandemic. In case you didn’t get the subtle dig, he was also twisting the knife in the opposition, who, you know, didn’t vote for his money plan.

MooMoo may’ve survived but will Mr Port Dickson? There were rumours Anwar’d offered to resign as opposition leader if he failed to prove majority support over the budget. But since he denied this later, we’re not holding our breaths for any such grand sacrifice on his part. 

Still, as this piece speculates, this heaping dose of humble pie’s sure to leave a rotten taste in his Pakatan comrades’ mouths; all of them now have to explain this monumental blunder to party members and voters alike.

What Pakatan really needs to do now is forget about Anwar’s delusions of grandeur and start preparing for the next general election (we’re not the only ones who think so). Moo’s already said he’d call for snap polls as soon as the country’s Covid situation is under control. Umno, meanwhile, is already making major GE15 preps.

And for Anwar himself? Well, with former PM-twice-over Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Warisan’s Shafie Apdal snapping at his heels and this debate disaster on his record, he looks like he’s on rather shaky ground, doesn’t he?

Striking a balance

As if we needed any reminding, our man Sinister (Senior Minister la) Ismail Sabri yesterday said Malaysians must accept Covid is a reality we have to live with. As such, Captain Obvious said the gomen can’t control the people’s freedom forever.

This was his answer as to why SOPs have been relaxed somewhat over the past few weeks. In short, the gomen needs to find a balance between saving lives and livelihoods. Remember, he’d already claimed the country stood to lose up to RM300 mil a day if complete conditional MCOs (CMCO) were extended. 

Hence, the National Security Council has sorta agreed that certain tourist attractions – like Zoo Negara and Legoland – be allowed to reopen. But bars and nightclubs still can’t open. Last we checked, having a good time at night is a pretty popular tourist activity but there’s no way our beloved gomen practices double standards right? Right? Right??!?

Izzie had also threatened employers with court action if they failed/refused to cooperate with the authorities as far as coronavirus mass screenings were concerned. Mr Batik 2020 had a point, though, when he said employers would suffer if they had to close down their businesses is a staff member gets infected. 

On another matter, the gomen finally clarified the use of face masks in public is only mandatory in crowded public places. So next time abang polis comes around, tell him it’s not necessary to wear a mask if you’re alone or where physical distancing is being practised. 

Meanwhile, our daily Covid tally continued to be high with 1,772 new cases detected yesterday. With recoveries at 1,084, the number of active cases now stands at 14,515. There were also 3 deaths, upping our death toll to 422

There were no new clusters yesterday, but yet another glove manufacturer, Kossan, has confirmed Covid cases among its employees. However, it didn’t specify the number of cases. Kossan is the third glove manufacturer to report Covid-19 cases amongst employees, after Top Glove and Hartalega.

A bit of this and a bit of that

Several other reports caught our attention yesterday. Here they are in brief:

  • One of the country’s most renowned scholars, Royal Prof Ungku Abdul Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid, the first Malaysian vice-chancellor of Universiti Malaya, passed away yesterday at the age of 98. He was also the father of former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz. 
     
  • The Federal Court’s given minister Khairy “The Beard” Jamaluddin a second chance at appealing a decision against him in a suit brought by Anwar “I guess I don’t have the numbers” Ibrahim. This is over an alleged defamatory statement KJ uttered (allegedly! allegedly!) against the PKR boss 12 bloody years ago. 
     
  • Another minister, Zuraida Kamaruddin, has been directed to file her statement of defence in an RM10 mil suit brought against her by PKR over her party-hopping ways. 
     
  • Two Sabahans have filed a suit seeking a declaration PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had committed an offence under the Sedition Act against Christians. This over a statement in the party’s newsletter Harakah four years ago in which he said Christian missionaries had brought their work to Malaysia after having failed in the West because Christianity was “no longer saleable” in educated countries. 
     
  • Six years after his death, DAP stalwart Karpal Singh is set to receive Penang’s highest award. The Tiger of Jelutong will be awarded the Darjah Utama Pangkuan Negeri award which bears the title “Dato’ Seri Utama”. 
     
  • Our meteorological department has warned of rainy days ahead as La Nina is set to continue till May 2021.
     
  • Former glorious leader Najib Razak has questioned what Malaysia’s investment agencies are doing after US-tech giants Tesla, Amazon and Google are reportedly considering investing in Indonesia.

    Jibs also took the opportunity to wax lyrical about the way things were when he actually was the boss. Was he referring to all those millions and billions from 1MDB’s amazing investment strategies? 🤔

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

- Author unknown, definitely not Albert Einstein -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US regulators are believed to be close to approving use of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Moderna, the second one after Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, which is also nearing approval by the EU
     
  • The US Electoral College has officially declared Joe Biden the winner of the presidential elections, with the top Republican in the Senate also acknowledging the Democrat’s win.

    Meanwhile, kesian outgoing POTUS Donald Trump. The Donald’s facing an uncertain future and legal threats after he exits the White House. 
     
  • Officials across Europe have unveiled legislation that would give regulators new powers to take on tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook that threaten to break the companies up. Is this the end of the G-Mafia?
     
  • A Japanese man dubbed the “Twitter killer”, who murdered nine people in 2017 after contacting them on the social media app, has been sentenced to death

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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