According to PKR, it’s still committed to Pakatan Harapan. But is its decision to reject Mahathir Mohamad as the pact’s Prime Minister candidate just delaying the inevitable?

In other news, discounts on electricity bills are announced, Malaysia opens its borders a wee bit, and a three-way contest with only one possible victor looms in Chini.

Anwar or bust!

Quo vadis, Pakatan?

Okay, it may not be the end of days for Pakatan Harapan just yet. However, PKR’s announcement on Friday that it will support no prime minister but Anwar Ibrahim raises an important question: now what?
 
Yup, Brother Anwar and co. insist Pakatan is intact and that PKR remains committed to its allies. But what does that commitment really mean now?
 
From March 1, retaking Putrajaya appeared to be foremost on the Opposition’s agenda. Hence, that no-confidence motion and the incessant playing up of “the numbers”. Now, however, PKR’s refusal to back Dr Mahathir Mohamad for a third, six-month, term as PM means the coalition and its partners – Parti Warisan Sabah and Maddey’s Bersatu-ians – cannot possibly regain power.
 
Yup, 112 Members of Parliament is the magic number. And yes, it’s moot whether the so-called Pakatan Plus can get to that tally. However, the bottom line now, as far as PKR is concerned, is if Putrajaya is to be reclaimed, it will be done according to the Pakatan consensus, with Anwar at the helm.
 
But is that really the consensus? Especially when DAP and Amanah insist their backing is for Mads, and especially since Anwar just never had enough support.
 
According to the parties, the first option had always been for Anwar to serve as PM with Mukhriz Mahathir as his deputy. However only 96 MPs apparently supported that option. And even Anwar’s courting of Sarawakian parties under the loose Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) pact couldn’t increase that. Thus, their agreement with the second option of Mahathir leading, and the old man handing the reigns to Anwar in six months.
 
But wait, you say. Anwar was cosying up to GPS?! The same GPS that is now part of Perikatan Nasional?! The same GPS that days before throwing its lot in with Muhyiddin Yassin was all for Mahathir being PM?!
 
Yes, folks. Politics, as we’ve mentioned ad nauseam, is a funny business and allies turn enemies so quickly that it’s useless to predict who’ll be on whose side when. Nevertheless, what is indeed strange – and perhaps even disheartening – is how meetings were also apparently held by Anwar with PM Moo and Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin!
 
PKR chief whip Johari Abdul says that once it was decided the party wouldn’t back Maddey, Anwar was given space to talk to whomever he wanted, if that meant Pakatan returning to power. The question though is why? And wouldn’t negotiations in this manner – if it did result in another coup – be as bad as Perikatan wresting power from Pakatan? 
 
(By the way, it seems Mads was meeting friends and enemies too to shore up support for another bid at the crown – though his peeps deny it.)
 
Sigh … On the one hand, you’ve got to hand it to PKR and Anwar for not bowing to pressure and backing Mahathir yet again. (Anwar jokes that he didn’t want to keep suffering.) However, all this news of negotiations, both within and without Pakatan, makes one realise that an overhaul of our political system is needed before we can think about progress.
 
Of course, it won’t happen. But it’s needed.
 
Incidentally, it would seem that all the wheeling and dealing on the Pakatan side has rattled members of the ruling Perikatan government resulting in renewed calls for a general election to be called.
 
Yes, folks, they want an election. Like the kind held in 2018 and which delivered a mandate that these same people calling for polls now had no problem pissing all over.

Together in electric dreams

The last couple of weeks have seen Malaysians bitching about high electricity bills. And that annoyance got dialled up several notches last week when it suddenly seemed that only a further payment of RM5 would guarantee a shot at fairness. 

 

The problem with soaring bills was that there’d been no physical electricity meter readings for three months, from the start of the Movement Control Order. And when they did resume, domestic consumers were greeted with insane spikes in both their bacaan anggaran (estimated readings) and bacaan sebenar (actual readings) totals.

 

Now, the logical answer is that three months of unpaid bills would most definitely have resulted in high accumulated tallies. Also, since most everyone had been forced to duduk rumah for the duration of the MCO, it’s a given that domestic electricity consumption would’ve increased – which it did. Still, many felt hard done by, with most pointing fingers at TNB’s billing system.

 

You can get the full explanation here, but in a nutshell, TNB’s billing system employs different tariff blocks, with charges calculated differently the more you consume. However, to prevent from consumers having to fork out loads simply because their three-month consumption burst the various tier limits, what TNB actually did was divide the accumulated tallies into monthly amounts. 

 

Imagine it this way: say your usage was 1,400kWh over four months. Well, based on the tariff blocks, that figure would result in you having to part with RM681. With the prorated method, though, you only kena RM411.20, or RM102.80 per month.

 

Now, the mechanism is not perfect, and the powers that be have said that they will review the system further. However, at least as far as the three of our electricity bills go, we found that the accumulated totals had been prorated accurately. Yeah, we used more power over the lockdown – who didn’t? – but overall, and as much as it pains us to say, the calculations were correct. 

 

Anyhoo, regardless of that explanation and despite the TNB’s insistence that the charges were all above board, bulk concessions – which translate to free power from April to June (if your usage is under 300kWh or RM77 a month) or reductions of RM77 per month for that period if you used more than 3000kWh – were announced on Saturday. And things immediately blew up on social media.

 

Now, first things first, we wanna say that we’re all for discounts. And like us, there were many others who welcomed the government’s move.

 

Curiously, though, there were also, as activist Fahmi Reza pointed out, a whole bunch of “people” who decided to praise the gomen while appearing to quote from pre-written scripts. And funnily, some of these “users” couldn’t be sure whether it was 7.66 million people who’d be benefiting from the government’s move or if Perikatan Nasional was forking out RM7.66 million.🤣

 

Also, adding to action on social media were former Pakatan minister Yeo Bee Yin and dear ol’ Najib Razak, who both took to claiming that consumers were now able to reap benefits simply because of measures their respective governments had put in place. It was really quite unnecessary, if we’re being honest. But hey, whatever gets you added brownie points, eh?

 

In any event, when she wasn’t battling Jib, Yeo did succeed in putting forth some valid points too, like for example, how discounts should also be extended to industrial users as well as how more energy savings could be enjoyed due to global energy costs having declined. And truthfully, these things should be looked at. But of course, whether they are, and whether Bossku has anything else to add is left to be seen.

 

P.S. TNB supplies power to Peninsular Malaysia only, not Sabah and Sarawak, so the tariff block system as well as the announced discounts don’t apply to consumers there. Nevertheless, there’ve been calls to extend to bulk discounts to folks from East Malaysia, and we have to say, we agree. We are one country after all, are we not?

Beyond borders

While Malaysia’s borders are still, generally speaking, closed, the government has declared an easing of restrictions, with citizens of green zone countries now welcomed.
 
Unfortunately, despite Friday’s announcement that seemed to permit the entry of medical tourists and expats from six countries  – Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea –  it appears that more deets need to be worked out.
 
For example, while Singapore says it’s prepared to work with Malaysia to address the needs of cross-border travellers, especially those who were previously commuting between the two countries, there needs to be an agreement on safety and health protocols.
 
In short, the message is: yes, we’re open, but please be patient while we get our shit together.
 
Green zones countries aside, it seems that international students at public and private universities as well as international schools here are also being allowed back in. However, registration with the relevant ministries in addition to evidence of screenings (in the students’ home countries or upon arrival here) and the fulfillment of self-imposed 14-day home quarantines are required before classes can be resumed.
 
By the way, these loosening of restrictions may not even have been considered if our recovery rate wasn’t steadily improving like it has – with the latest figure standing at 95.1% or 8,156 patients (of the total 8,572) discharged.
 
Anyways, here’re some other coronavirus-related bits and bobs from the weekend:

  • Non-Muslim weddings at places of worship can now resume. Unfortunately, ceremonies are limited to just 20 people.
     
  • Meanwhile, the occupancy limits previously imposed on restaurants has been listed, with eateries now allowed to pack ’em in. Standard health protocols, it seems, will still have to be maintained, though. However, doesn’t full occupancy render all the precautions useless?
     
  • Despite ever-improving numbers, new infection clusters have been detected in Kidurong, Sarawak and Sepang, Selangor. Thankfully, even with these infections, there’re only 295 active Covid-19 cases in the country!

Odds and ends

As usual, a bit more made the news over the weekend, and here’re the more important items in brief:

  • According BN’s Tanjung Karang MP Noh Omar, his decision to quit as MISC Bhd bossman had nothing to do with politics, though he did add that since company was profit-oriented, the role was only suited for corporate figures or those who’ve already retired from politics. Makes you wonder about the heads of all those other government linked companies, doesn’t it?
     
  • Despite the appearance of a three-way contest, the Chini state by-election looks destined to go to Barisan Nasional’s Mohd Sharim Md Zain. And that’s despite one of his opponent’s – Tengku Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin – being a rogue Bersatu man. Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli is the other candidate in the July 4 election.
     
  • If you noticed the sky darkening slightly on Sunday afternoon it was probably ’cos of the solar eclipse that only affected Malaysia slightly but saw many other parts of Asia descend into darkness.  
     
  • Parti Warisan Sabah’s Peter Anthony, who’s already been accused in court of money laundering and abetment, is set to face more graft charges today. The Sabah state minister is being investigated for abuse of power over infrastructure projects in the state.
     
  • Meanwhile, it appears that Warisan is in more trouble, what with 600 members from the Sepanggar division reported to have quit the party over a loss of faith in the division’s leader, Azis Jamman. Warisan, as we wrote last week, has a solid hold of the Sabah state government. Nevertheless, mass resignations like this are sure to make party leaders nervous.

“Roads go ever ever on, over rock and under tree, by caves where never sun has shone, by streams that never find the sea.”

- Bilbo Baggins -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • K-pop fans and TikTok users in the United States have succeeded where others have failed. They’ve embarrassed President Donald Trump. And all it involved was ordering hundreds of tickets for a Trump rally with no intention of showing up, resulting in loads of empty seats.
     
  • British police have ruled the killing of three people in Reading on Saturday a “terrorist attack”. A 25-year-old Libyan man, who’d previously been under investigation, is the main suspect.
     
  • Sir Ian Holm, the award-winning British actor whose career included stints with the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as a starring role as Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, passed away on Friday. He was 88.
     
  • Liverpool continued their march to their first English league title in 30 years. However, a goalless draw against city rivals Everton means they’ll have to hold on a bit longer to be crowned champions.
     
  • The acoustic guitar used by Kurt Cobain in Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged in New York concert has been sold to Australian businessman Peter Freedman for US$6 million. Freedman, who owns Rode Microphones, plans to display the guitar at exhibitions and channel all the proceeds generated to struggling artistes. We dunno, but we think Kurt might’ve liked 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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