Despite the King's advice on Sunday, a bunch of meetings on Monday saw our politicians get back to what they do best – politicking. Numero uno on everyone's agenda was the fate of our prime minister after his royal emergency fail.

Meanwhile, brace yourselves for another record-breaking Covid-19 tally, several conditional movement control orders (CMCO) get extended, and could a confidence-and-supply pact really work for PM Moo?

The politics of 'not politicking'

You meet, they meet, we all meet!

Despite it being widely praised, we guess the Agong’s reminder on Sunday to stop politicking and put the interests of the rakyat first rolled off our politicians like water off an itik’s back. No one listened!
 

The planning and strategising began almost immediately after the King’s rebuff of PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s grand emergency declaration bid on Sunday. If you remember, a meetup at the PM’s residence took place later that night.

Monday only saw yet more meetings and plannings, with one main point on the agenda – the fate of Abah MooMoo. The long and short of it is that PM Moo’s safe on his thorny throne, for now. However, what also became clear is just how precarious his position is.

 

We’d point out the sheer moronity of holding yet more face-to-face meetings in the time of bloody Covid-19, but by now we’d sound like a broken record. In any case, here’s a breakdown of yesterday’s powwows:

 

Morning: Perikatan Nasional leaders’ meeting

 

PN party chiefs attended a gathering at the PM’s Office to supposedly be briefed about the failed emergency gambit. We dunno what was discussed, but at least according to MIC bossman S.A. Vigneswaran, Moo never mentioned quitting.

 

Vicky aside, the meeting was attended by MCA and PAS presidents Wee Ka Siong and Abdul Hadi Awang. Umno boss Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, however, was notably MIA. Zahid had said he couldn’t attend ‘cos of tummy trouble. But if that’s true, the miracle Poh Chai pills must’ve done wonders, cos by afternoon, our man was chairing one meeting and scheduled to lead another.

 

Late Morning: Special Cabinet meeting

 

Moo’s Cabinet as well as Attorney-General Idrus Harun were at this meeting. Regrettably, not a lot is known about what went down except the possible dissolution of Parliament was not discussed. And we know that ’cos Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he was not supposed to breathe a word about anything to anyone, but did so anyway.

 

Izzy’s denial came after a screenshot of a Whatsapp message had gone viral purporting that he and other Umno ministers were seeking for dissolution. Iz and gang have decried the message as fake, of course.

 

Afternoon: Barisan Nasional MPs’ meeting

 

Attended by BN lawmakers and chaired by the then miraculously recovered Zahid, this meeting was called to air everyone’s views on the emergency move, and find out how the coalition should move forward. On the agenda too, according to newly minted BN treasurer-general Hishammuddin Hussein, was whether Muhyiddin should call it quits as PM.

 

Of the many proposals brought up (that we know of), the one that raised the most eyebrows was the one to link arms with PM-forever-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim. And check this out – the suggestion was put forth by former premier Najib Razak! 

 

Jib’s since explained his logic like this: If Umno could work with Bersatu and Azmin Ali, what’s wrong with a conditional agreement with the PKR chief till the next GE? The Jibster’s proposal, though, came with a caveat: No DAP. This proposal also makes sense if you remember the presumption that Anwar’s short-lived government takeover dream was backed by many Umno MPs.

 

Still, it was a no-go for Bossku’s gran plan as while MPs had reportedly spoken about retracting support for Muhyiddin, the majority were unanimous in their rejection of Anwar and DAP. 

 

Night: Umno Supreme Council Meeting

 

Chaired by Zahid again, this was the big one! And on the agenda once more was Moo’s fate, the question of Umno backing Anwar, and a call for fresh elections to be held.

 

The meeting ran late into the night. However, after all the drama and calls for Moo’s head on a platter, what we got was a damp squib of a statement which reaffirmed Umno’s support for PN.

Honestly, it sounded like a rehash of last’s week’s statement. Still, no specific mention was made as to support for Muhyiddin himself. Also, the reaffirmation came with the stipulation that cooperation is improved “based on respect and political consensus”. So you gotta read between the lines (ahem) on that one. Could this see Muhyiddin making big changes to accommodate this new political consensus? Time will tell. Just don’t expect the drama to be over just yet!

 

P.S. It’s not just BN and PN doing all the politicking. Dr Mahathir Mohamad weighed in, telling our gomen to heed the Agong’s advice by not infringing on the opposition.

P.P.S. In the event you’re annoyed by all the politicking, just know IT’S ABSOLUTELY YOUR FAULT! According to Umno’s Zahidi Zainul Abidin – the very same guy who accused a young Uni student in Sabah of lying having to climb a tree to get Internet access – the current political impasse would not have come to, er, pass if the rakyat hadn’t voted in Pakatan Harapan in the first place. Sigh. Some men you just can’t reach.

Supply and demand

In yesterday’s BTL we noted that one of the proposals put forward for MooMoo to continue in his capacity as PM and get important stuff like Budget 2021 approved, regardless of how Umno’s support swings, is a confidence-and-supply type arrangement.

 

To recap, confidence-and-supply arrangements are usually undertaken to ensure that sitting (often minority) governments are not voted down on matters of confidence and finance. To achieve this end, an administration has to reach out to rival MPs and settle on a sorta pact. This would tie in nicely with the promise of a political ceasefire for the greater good of us, the people, in the interest of combating that pesky Covid-19 pandemic.

 

It’s not to say such bipartisan support is unheard of in the Dewan Rakyat. Just look at the Undi 18 Bill. The question is would Moo, with his head on the chopping block, even consider such a thing? Also, what would the implications be should he move in this direction? 

 

Certain politicos have already gone on record to say they’d support the arrangement. PKR’s Fahmi Fadzil, too, has claimed the opposition would readily back any bill that benefits the rakyat provided that scrutiny, as well as checks and balances, could be maintained.

 

This is certainly a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, as a BN man has pointed out, the best of intentions may not be enough to pull this off in practice.

 

The man, Selangor BN info chief Isham Jalil, noted that should such an arrangement be agreed upon, many MPs would find themselves in a no-win sitch ’cos not voting against the current administration might be construed as support for the PM’s leadership. Muhyiddin could use the passing of stuff like the Budget to show the people he has the support of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat.

 

Another point to ponder is, regardless of any agreed ceasefire, what’s certain is our the political headache isn’t gonna end any time soon. Meaning to say Moo and his gomen could well find themselves booted out before long. And if that were to happen, it’d be unreasonable to expect the next government to implement financial measures that were prepared by its predecessor.

 

The Budget aside, Moo will also need to decide on the Batu Sapi by-election that’s set for Dec 5 pronto.

 

On the surface, it seems simple – hand the seat to Parti Warisan Sabah, as many have suggested, to preserve the status quo in Parliament and avoid potentially worsening the health crisis. Question is, given his presently wafer-thin support in Parliament, would Moo be tempted to back a candidate for the Batu Sapi polls with the sole intention of adding to his numbers?

 

Kesimpulanya, it’s anything but an easy fix. However, if Moo wants to survive, we suggest he start thinking of compromises and fast.

The real deal with Covid

Sadly, while Muhyiddin’s PM drama was playing out, our Covid-19 numbers shot through the roof again.

Just two days from the daily infection tally surging past a thousand cases for the first time, yesterday saw another four-digit day with 1,240 new cases, which our Health DG has sworn is totally legit

 

Rumours have been swirling of late that our health authorities were made to fudge the numbers, hence the sudden uptick in new cases. Well, the good doc Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has gone and pooh-poohed such claims, maintaining the data is collated daily from a public healthcare info system.

 

Back to the numbers, Sabah’s figures show no sign of letting up, with a whopping 927 new cases and all of the country’s fatalities recorded by the state yesterday. Despite that, Noor Hisham has insisted Sabah’s healthcare system is still very capable of dealing with the current surge, as only nine out of 24 hospitals there are presently being used to treat Covid cases.

 

If you recall, there’ve been numerous reports of hospital beds running out and healthcare workers in the Land Below the Wind having to go without scrubs and personal protective equipment (PPE). Thing is, our DG has deemed those reports false, even though fellas like Masidi Manjun, Sabah’s local government and housing minister (they still don’t have a state health minister!), have said otherwise.

 

In danger of collapse or not, the stats show the state is currently dealing with a total of 7,443 active cases. And that, any which way you look at it, cannot be good. Meanwhile, yesterday’s numbers bring the nationwide tally to 27,805 cases, of which 9,744 are active, and 236 deaths. 

 

Anyway, here’re a few other important coronavirus bits and bobs from Monday:

  • The CMCO for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya has been extended by another two weeks to Nov 9. The original order was supposed to end on Oct 27.
     
  • Separately, Nilai in Negeri Sembilan has also been placed under a CMCO from Oct 28 to Nov 10. Meanwhile, two localities in the district with worker hostels are being placed under enhanced MCOs.
     
  • With a state of emergency now off the cards, Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg says the state has no choice but to make preparations for the 12th state polls. Uncle, tunggu kejap boleh tak? Elections aren’t due for a while more, you know?
     
  • A 13-year-old schoolboy has been identified as the index case of a Covid-19 cluster in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan involving only kids. Four other children have been linked to the cluster.

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything."

- Thomas Sowell -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Everyone’s favourite infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said a Covid-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of the year. Unfortunately, it might only be widely available months into 2021. Better late than never we guess.
     
  • In a major victory for el presidente, the US Senate has voted to confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee judge, the right-leaning Amy Coney Barrett.
     
  • Scientists have finally confirmed water exists on the moon. The discovery means future lunar missions may be able to use the H20 for drinking as well as rocket propellant. 
     
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has pissed off a lot of people by publicly backing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Calls are also growing in Jordan, Kuwait and a number of other Muslim countries for French products to be boycotted. Islam largely prohibits visual depictions of Muhamad.
     
  • Jack Ma’s Ant Group is aiming to raise over US$34.1 billion when its shares debut on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets this week. The figure is the world’s largest initial public offering. Chinese financial technology giant Ant is backed by Ma’s company Alibaba.
     
  • According to a study that tracked more than a 100,000 people over 10 years, artificially sweetened diet drinks are as bad for your heart as regular sugary beverages. And not just that, you risk strokes too!

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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