Jakim's gone and made a boo-boo by wrongly labelling Ponggal a religious festival. And the Education Ministry has compounded things by banning Muslim students from taking part in any celebrations of the festival. The combined brilliantness of both departments has, of course, irked (and that's putting it mildly) Indians in Malaysia. In other news, Anwar Ibrahim has dodged a bullet in the form of sexual misconduct allegations, and MACC chief commissioner Lat Koya has lodged a report on an alleged criminal plot against her.

Jakim's Ponggal blunder

Ponggal mystery

The Education Ministry has gotten Tamils in Malaysia in a right tizzy thanks to a gaffe about Ponggal.

You see, on Monday, Education deputy director-general Adzman Talib apparently issued a directive stating that the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had declared Ponggal haram. As such, Muslim students were forbidden from taking part in celebrations for it. Student were, however, told it was okay to wish their friends on the occasion.

Errr … sorry Adzman and Jakim. But, Ponggal happens to be a non-religious HARVEST festival. It’s celebrated by Tamils (yes, Tamils, not Hindus) of different faiths. It’s a cultural thing. Did Jakim perhaps mistake the “H” in “Harvest” for “Hindu”?!?!

The directive raised the ire of Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy, who also happens to be the state’s Education Committee chairman. Reminding the Education Ministry of its secular roots, Ramasamy questioned whether this was an example of the “deep state” at work, as Ponggal had never been an issue before.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran also took umbrage with the directive, adding that he will bring up the matter at the Cabinet meeting today.

How unlucky for PM Mahathir Mohamad having to deal with an embarrassing episode like this so soon after becoming Interim Education Minister. Maddey himself had wished Tamils a happy Ponggal and must surely be irritated that his new officers have already given him a headache.

But like it or not, Mads is going to have to deal with this. And not just with the ministry. But with Jakim as well.

Meanwhile, former PM Najib Razak, in a post on Facebook, wished Tamils in Malaysia, and even posted a picture of him taking part in the milk pot boiling ceremony, one of the things deemed haram by Jakim. Tsk tsk. Definitely going to hell lah laidet!

Incidentally, where is the so-called “National Unity Minister” in all this? This would seem like a good time for Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy to weigh in, wouldn’t it? But, of course, he still hasn’t.

Free as a bird

PM-forever-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim is off the hook with regard allegations that he’d made unwanted sexual advances (doesn’t that sound familiar?) against former researcher Muhammad Yusoff Rawther.

Solicitor-General Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek, in a statement, said the Attorney-General’s Chambers concurred with police recommendations that there was not enough evidence to warrant prosecution of anyone. However, should anything new turn up, investigations would be reopened.

(Side note: The reason Engku Nor Faizah, and not Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, made the statement is ‘cos Tommy had recused himself from anything to do with the case due to his former association with Anwar.)

Anyhoo, here’s a quick recap of what happened: In November last year, Yusoff had claimed to be the victim of indecent exposure, molest and a lewd proposal. He produced a statutory declaration on this, and later filed a police report. Cops then grilled him for several hours over two days, and Yusoff later offered to take a polygraph test, which he was submitted to on Dec 17.

Anwar, meanwhile, says he welcomes the decision to “bring an end to the matter” and commended the authorities on their professionalism. However, the PKR big boss maintains that he’ll pursue his civil suit against Yusoff as the allegations are an insult to his person.

Yes, yes, the probe can be reopened should new evidence turn up. But with the case now closed, who is really gonna investigate the matter and dig deeper?

I need a hero ...

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission head honcho Latheefa Koya has made good on her promise to lodge a police report about an alleged “criminal plot” against her.

Lat’s special legal officer, Sasha Lyna Abdul Latif, filed the report at the Putrajaya district police headquarters yesterday. However, she declined to reveal the names of the so-called plotters.

Deputy IGP Mazlan Mansor, meanwhile, has promised that police will scrutinise the report before deciding on what action to take, noting that it’d be premature to comment on it right now.

On Monday, Lat had claimed that several individuals, including a lawyer, were part of a criminal plot to besmirch (don’t you just love that word?) her good name. And according to her, the conspirators plan to “fabricate and distribute materials” to slur her reputation.

In other news, Latheefa is expected to be called in for questioning tomorrow over the release of the audio recordings which purportedly show a conspiracy to cover up the 1MDB fiasco. Investigations are being carried out under two provisions of the Penal Code (covering the disclosure of information by a public servant) and a section of the Official Secrets Act (with regard wrongful communication of official secrets).

Our questions yesterday are, of course, still to be answered. Who are the people involved in this so-called plot against Lat? What exactly have they done? Also, what are these “materials” which have been “fabricated and distributed” (we certainly haven’t seen or heard anything)? Plus, if the audio tapes have been handed over to the police ‘cos it is a matter for PDRM to investigate, why did the MACC take it upon themselves to release the clips in the first place?!

Here and there

Actually, quite a number of things happened yesterday which we thought important enough to include, at least in brief, here for your reading pleasure:

  • PKR must be really desperate for power. Speaking at a forum yesterday, several PKR MPs pushed for PM Mahathir to hand over the reins of the nation to party prez Anwar by May this year. Maddey, meanwhile, says he is prepared to leave now if the Pakatan presidential council demands it. Hmmmmm …
  • Police say they are waiting for the results of urine sample tests on Dengkil assemblyman Adhif Syan Abdullah before deciding the next course of action. Adhif was one of 17 people arrested at a drug-fuelled party over the weekend. If past cases are anything to go by, this may take a while.
  • The Election Commission will, for the first time, use video cameras to monitor voting streams during the Kimanis by-election. Bravo! But what are you fellas doing to curb alleged vote-buying by government officials (a claim denied by Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, by the way) despite the concerns of election watchdog Bersih?
  • Lawyers representing former 1MDB No. 1 Arul Kanda Kandasamy will not bother cross-examining witnesses in the ongoing audit tampering trial as he is expected to become a prosecution witness. Wow. Just wow.
  • The Attorney-General’s Chambers has dropped plans to charge journalist Tashny Sukumaran with criminal defamation over claims she had made against a dermatologist of allegedly touching her inappropriately during a consultation.
  • Hot on the heels of the government’s badly-received plan to grant discounts to those issued with fines for smoking in restaurants if they pay up early, PDRM has announced a 50% slash on tickets issued for traffic offences. When will they ever learn?

“Human blunders usually do more to shape history than human wickedness.”

- A.J.P. Taylor -


  • New security footage has revealed that two Iranian missiles hit the Ukraine International Airlines aircraft shot down in Tehran. Meanwhile, authorities say they have arrested the people responsible for the incident as well as 30 others involved in protests which have been held over the past four days. 
  • In somewhat related news, the Democrats say measures to rein in El Presidente Donald Trump’s actions regarding Iran will pass the Senate.
  • And in more Trump news, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has set Wednesday to vote for articles of impeachment against The Donald to be sent to the Senate.
  • An explosion at a chemical factory in Tarragona, Spain, has left one dead and several people injured, with at least one other person listed as missing.
  • Our WTF news of the day, meanwhile, comes from Mexico, where a man has had to undergo surgery after suffering a three-day erection caused by taking a sexual stimulant used for breeding bulls!


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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