Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi faces mounting pressure from all directions as he sets his sights on GE15 and becoming PM9. Is it all just a pipe dream?

In other news, a dreaded strain of Covid-19 from South Africa makes its way to our shores; people are still whacking the gomen over its free-spending law; and there's no sweeping the Undi18 issue under the rug.

Lonely... I'm Mr. Lonely...

ūüé∂ Under pressure ūüé∂

Who’s afraid of the BŐ∂iŐ∂gŐ∂ Ő∂BŐ∂aŐ∂dŐ∂ Ő∂WŐ∂oŐ∂lŐ∂fŐ∂ Ahmad Zahid Hamidi? Clearly, many aren’t.¬†

The Umno big boss is facing increasing pushback as the great debate on whether he’s right to lead the party away from the PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu-PN commune come GE15 is raging on (and on and on).

Let’s face it, Umno/BN lost the last election and are only in gomen now after holding hands with PAS and Bersatu¬†after¬†the latter threw a fit and broke away from Pakatan Harapan’s loving tentacles.

So,¬†not everyone’s¬†clamouring to leave the pact to face GE15 alone. It’s never been made entirely crystal how many of Umno’s 191 divisions actually supported the Bersatu divorce that was sanctioned at last weekend’s party AGM. Estimates vary, ranging¬†from¬†189¬†to¬†143¬†to just¬†99.

Uncle Zahid may have gotten his wish at the AGM (we covered it¬†in detail here) to¬†end things¬†with Moo’s team, but his fight is far from over. We’ve broken down the talk surrounding the Umno breakaway issue for ya:

  • Step down this way, sir

Umno is becoming more fractured than a sat on bag of chips,¬†significantly weakening¬†Zahid’s once iron-clad hold on his party.

Pressure now mounts for him to¬†step down. Those not on the Zahid train ‚Äď eg, ex-Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin ‚Äď want Umno to face¬†party¬†polls¬†before any nationwide one. KJ¬†is supported by Pro-Bersatu¬†Annuar,¬†Wanita info chief¬†Norshida Ibrahim, Arau MP¬†Shahidan Kassim¬†and others.

The Umno election is due in June, and a postponement till after GE15 (backed by former party prez Najib Razak) could see Zahid exceed his presidency beyond three terms.

Khairy ‚Äď who contested the president’s post last time around ‚Äď has said he’ll¬†decide what post¬†to contest once the polling date is set.¬†

  • The PAS equation

The¬†renewal of vows¬†between PAS and Bersatu has gotta make Zahid look somewhat a fool. PAS’ move shows¬†just how little sway Umno has these days and how far its fallen since¬†GE14.¬†

Despite the tough AGM talk of a supposed ultimatum for PAS to pick sides, Umno’s likely counting on the Muafakat Nasional agreement with the Islamist party to win as many Malay majority seats as possible.¬†

So, split the Malay votes and be prepared to lose more seats, sayeth PAS.

Zahid’s not giving up his Muafakat Nasional dream though, telling his “MN ally” not to repeat past mistakes. Zahid drove the knife in a bit further, reminding PAS of¬†the failed 90s¬†Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah¬†coalition with short-lived Umno splinter party¬†Semangat 46.

Sensing wounded prey, a Bersatu leader’s calling on¬†“friends” within the party¬†to deal with the Zahid sitch.

  • No support from BN?

Zahid or no, political analysts have said it’s time for BN to¬†name its PM candidate, at the very least to its component parties.

This after MIC said the coalition has¬†no clear-cut captain¬†to lead them into wŐ∂aŐ∂rŐ∂ GE15. That’s an ouch statement as traditionally, the BN chairman would be the Umno¬†taikor.

But Zahid faces¬†multiple graft charges, which isn’t a good look for any PM candidate. Frustrations are mounting for long-time BN partners MIC and MCA over Umno’s dickish ways as the party has repeatedly¬†made BN decisions¬†without consulting them, i.e¬†leaving the PN gomen.

On their own, the likes of MIC and MCA are small fry and can’t¬†really dent¬†Umno at the polls.¬†But the last thing Umno needs is to lose what little non-Malay support these two parties bring. If things go on the way they do, the Malay vote at the coming polls will be very fractured indeed, turning the Indian and Chinese voters¬†into kingmakers.

The worst thing for Umno,¬†as this guy’s claiming, would be if¬†PN¬†were to lure¬†the two parties to its bŐ∂eŐ∂dŐ∂¬†side.

  • Muhyiddin shoring up support

Our glorious leader, as we said yesterday, headed off a potential problem, promising Sarawak to look into strengthening its rights under MA63. 

It seemed to have work as, ahead of Moodin’s¬†working visit¬†to the state, CM Abang Johari Openg’s said the GPS coalition was firmly¬†with the PM.¬†

What can we say.¬†You gotta lie in the bed you made, Zahid ol’ chap.¬†ūü§∑¬†

Out of (South) Africa

There was somewhat concerning news on the Covid front yesterday. It’s been revealed that¬†the new South Africa strain of the virus has made its way here, and has¬†been¬†detected in nine people¬†so far.¬†

Why’s this a big deal? Cos’ as far as coronavirus strains go, this bugger is nasty as it renders some vaccines less effective.

It’s so far believed all nine local cases originated from one source. Rest assured, the Health Ministry’s keeping a close watch on the strain as the cluster it has created is still active.

Pfizer/BioNTech have said their jointly-created vaccine is¬†highly effective¬†against this particular strain. However, not all of us will get the Pfizer vaccine. The South African gomen themselves¬†halted use¬†of another vaccine, AstraZeneca (also to be used in Malaysia), due to “limited” efficacy against this strain. Note though, experts have said the vaccine’ll still offer protection.

But how bad is this strain and, which vaccines work best? This writeup will give you a better picture. 

Speaking of vaccines, there’s some good news for those of us with ants in our pants. Vaccine imperator¬†Khairy¬†and PM Moo have said fully-vaccinated peeps could possibly be¬†allowed to travel, even¬†overseas!¬†

We understand the need to incentivise folks to register for inoculation. Right now, though, this move may only widen the vaccine equity gap between those already vaccinated/pushed ahead of the line (such as politicos, possible haj pilgrims) and those waiting at the back of the queue. All the more reason to ensure transparency and fairness in the vaccine process.

Phase 2 of the immunisation programme has been¬†brought forward¬†to April 17. This phase involves the elderly and those in other high-risk groups, but possibly “healthy” folks initially placed in Phase 3. YASS!¬†

Anyhoo, here’re some other Covid-related stuff from yesterday:

  • Malaysia will start receiving the China-made CanSino vaccines¬†this month. Meanwhile, the relevant ministries will¬†decide next week¬†on the policy for vaccine procurement for private hospitals.¬†
     
  • The chief secretary to the gomen has¬†warned civil servants¬†against expressing anti-vax sentiments. He’s said action could be taken under the existing laws against those who do. Hear, hear!
     
  • Vaccinations during Ramadan will be¬†carried out at night. Meanwhile, the SOPs for worship during the fasting month will be¬†announced soon.¬†
     
  • Jibby Razak, who recently got into a spot of bother for flouting Covid SOPs, is¬†now pointing a finger at PM Moo¬†and asking why he’s not being investigated for¬†recently breaking the mask rule. Oh Jibby, you tattletale.¬†
     
  • Our daily Covid numbers dipped again, with¬†1,178¬†new cases¬†yesterday and¬†6¬†deaths. Total cases now number¬†346,678, the death toll¬†1,278¬†and¬†active cases¬†14,399.¬†

We're all Aprils Fools

The amendment to the Emergency Ordinance, which gives the PM¬†free rein¬†when it comes to spending, continued to be a hot topic of debate yesterday. Spoiler alert: Folks aren’t happy!

If you’re blur on what’s going down, we got ya! BTL¬†covered the news yesterday¬†on the new money plan.

Former finance minister and Brylcreem advocate Lim Guan Eng continued his tirade against the new law, calling it a “cruel April Fool’s joke”.

Nobita¬†said supplementary budgets could’ve been delayed till the end of the year for parliamentary approval, so the whole amendment was unnecessary, to begin with, unless this was a sign the emergency’ll be¬†prolonged past August. ūüėĪ¬†

Another ex-finance minister pointed out that the gomen’s latest move could¬†spook foreign investors.

Politicians aren’t the only ones up in arms, with the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (with the oh-so-original abbreviation of IDEAS) calling it an¬†affront to accountability. The Constitution gives the gomen enough flexibility to draw on public funds for emergencies.¬†

Unsurprisingly, the official response by PM Moo & Co. has been cricket sounds for now.

Undi18 and more

That hullabaloo about the delay to Undi18 is still going strong. 

One of the latest to chime in is ex-AG/the man with the two first names, Tommy Thomas. He’s called Undi18 “the best thing we ever did” and claimed the ones who supported the bill are now the geniuses holding it back (his words!).¬†

The Undi18 bill, to lower the voting age to 18 and to institute an automatic voter registration (AVR) system, was voted in two years ago with all 211 MPs present in the House giving the nod. A full Dewan has 222 lawmakers.

On the opposite spectrum, Dewan Negara prez Rais Yatim has¬†once again¬†said Undi 18¬†can’t¬†be implemented¬†yet. This time, he said this is as the¬†Elections Act¬†and¬†Election Offences Act¬†haven’t been amended. Tl;dr, there’s no vehicle for it to be implemented.¬†

That’s kind of a dud argument, though. Neither of those acts mention the voting age. So, while amendments may be required for the AVR, it doesn’t/shouldn’t stop 18 and 20-year-olds manually registering, right?

Meanwhile, Muda leader/ex-minister/ Undi 18 bill initiator Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has supported the move by two ministers to propose to the gomen that lowering the voting age and the implementation of the AVR system be separated. 

Anyways, here’re are some of the more interesting stuff we picked up from yesterday:

  • According to the Statistics Department, fresh grads’ salaries¬†fell¬†to minimum wage levels¬†last year, thanks to the pandemic.¬†
     
  • Police have¬†submitted an application¬†to place the head of the Geng Nicky syndicate on Interpol’s wanted list.¬†
     
  • The lawyer for former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng and his wife argued in court yesterday that the money found in their bank accounts was¬†not linked to 1MDB.¬†

    Meanwhile, another court has set 10 additional days in September and October to hear the 1MDB audit tampering trial involving inglorious former leader Najib Razak and 1MDB head honcho Arul Kanda Kandasamy. 
     
  • Say hello to A. Annamah, who, on her 110th birthday on Wednesday, was officially recognised as¬†Malaysia’s oldest living woman.¬†

“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way."

- General George S. Patton -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The WHO has¬†sounded warnings¬†that crowded indoor gatherings can trigger a fresh surge in infections as religious celebrations such as Easter and Ramadan approach. It also called the vaccine rollouts in Europe¬†unacceptably slow.¬†
     
  • For the¬†second year in a row, out of respect for those who have suffered during the pandemic, Google didn‚Äôt pull its¬†usual April Fool‚Äôs Day prank.¬†
     
  • More than 40 children¬†have been killed in the violent crackdown on protests in Myanmar since the Feb 1 military coup, a rights groups has said.¬†
     
  • The US has been hit by another mass shooting, this time in Orange County, California, in which four people, including a 9-year-old boy, were killed and at least one person wounded. The shooter, who apparently¬†knew his victims, was also wounded.¬†
     
  • Aung San Suu Kyi¬†has been charged¬†with breaking Myanmar’s colonial-era official secrets law. It’s the most serious charge levelled against her, and a conviction could see her in jail for up to 14¬†years.
     
  • Video analysis of a recent massacre in Tigray, in northern-Ethiopia, has indicated¬†the country’s military¬†could have been behind the brutal killing of at least 15 men.
     
  • The cause of the car crash involving Tiger Woods¬†has been determined¬†but won‚Äôt be released unless the golf legend permits it.¬†

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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