To help you keep track of GE15 (and of your sanity!), BTL will be rounding up and distilling post-election news, issues and insights, along with all the thrills, spills and tantrums, every week.
A working cabinet
It’s leaner but not necessarily meaner than his predecessor’s. Still, Anwar Ibrahim’s shiny, shimmery cabinet’s gotten down to business this week. Well, at least some members have.
Elsewhere in this week’s roundup, House Putrajaya’s getting a clean-up; our current grand poobah points fingers at an ex-inglorious leader; and, a stellar showing by PN at the polls raises questions about BN-PH’s continued dalliance. Plus, is Umno sacking another strongman?!
Lost? Here’s our roundup of last week’s election news!
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Some assembly required
Anwar Ibrahim has finally installed a cabinet.
But despite the 28-strong team being way trimmer than the bloated mess that was Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s cabinet, not everyone’s pleased.
Especially over our inglorious leader’s decision to anoint BN head honcho Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as 1 of 2 Deputy PMs (along with GPS’s Fadillah Yusof); and name himself Finance Tsar.
Remember, Zed’s got a bunch of criminal charges pending. So, elevating him to within spitting distance of the Putrajaya swivel chair isn’t a good look. But Abang Nuar’s stand is his former protégé is innocent until proven otherwise. Plus, a unity/coalition gomen necessitates certain concessions.
As for taking charge of the Finance Ministry despite Pakatan Harapan’s previous railing against PMs taking on dual roles (see here and here), it’s apparently, purportedly “temporary”.
Seems it’s all about regaining biz/investor confidence and preventing sibling rivalry. To sweeten the deal, Anwar’s not taking any salary, while his new avengers have agreed to a 20% pay cut.
Also, we’re supposed to take PKR #2/new Econs Boss Rafizi Ramli’s word that PM Anwar ≠ PM Najib Razak, despite the obvious potential conflict of interests of PMs being FMs too!
Also, also, the entire super-team — sans International Trade Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, who was off in Abu Dhabi — has already gotten down to work.
Here’s what some ministry bosses have been up to:
- Moneybags Minister Anwar
- Slashing gaming company special draws from 22 to 8.
- Reviewing Malaysia’s 5G rollout.
- Suspending RM7bil in flood mitigation projects approved via direct tender.
- Promising to review Bernas’s rice monopoly; ordering payouts to poor farmers for 2022 (RM10mil) and 2023 (RM50mil).
- Econs Minister Rafizi
- Looking at turning Malaysia into a high-income nation.
- Pledging a fuel price review. (Hold the phone, Raf! Didn’t your boss promise that PH would lower pump prices the minute it took control?!).
- Digital Comms Minister Fahmi Fadzil
- Focussing on personal data protection and tackling online scams/misinformation.
- Meeting with TikTok folks on extremist videos, including them dangerously deliberate and inaccurate May 13 ones.
- Law Boss Azalina Othman Said
- Outlining plans to address outdated laws, among ’em the right of mamas to automatically confer citizenship on overseas-born kiddos. (Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has also made it his priority, allegedly, allegedly.)
- Getting the ball rolling on splitting the powers of the attorney-general and public prosecutor.
- Women and Fam Minister Nancy Shukri
- Pledging to work on the Elderly Persons Act and the Social Work Profession Act.
- Looking into Terengganu’s recently-passed Syariah enactments that, among other things, criminalise childbirth out of wedlock for Muslim women.
- Transport Boss Anthony Loke
- Riding the LRT Kelana Jaya line undercover (he wore a cap and 3-ply face mask) during peak hour.
- Meeting Prasarana bigwigs to solve related issues but has since told commuters to expect delays until Aug 2023. Reason being, not enough trains.
- Tourism Minister Tiong King Sing
- Besides referencing a viral vid featuring him boogeying, hasn’t said too much. In fact, kept mum for a week despite the arts and culture (A&C) community not knowing which ministry they belong to. Spoiler alert: A&C is still under his purview.
Now, note, there’s still no announcement on when deputy ministers will join the fun. But it seems, 35 names have been submitted by the various parties for consideration.
Never Be Out Of The Loop Again
The fine art of finger pointing
It’s clear from his announced plans (see above) that Anwar’s determined to put House Putrajaya in order.
But what the current gomen also appears set on doing is bringing PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin and his Gang to book over some (allegedly! allegedly!) dodgy handling of cash.
Essentially, it’s claimed that:
- Billions in emergency cash had been misappropriated during Moo’s time on the gilded Putrajaya toilet seat;
- PN’s election funds were obtained from gambling companies; and
- Magnanimous Moo had handed BN-Umno a truckload of cash during the 2020 Sabah state election.
As it stands, official probes have been initiated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) with regard to #1 and #3 above.
But such public displays of a̶f̶f̶e̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ finger-pointing by our new premier ain’t on, and many smart folks have pointed to the need for a transparent probe. Not only ’cos there’s a lack of clarity over everything (e.g. did MooMoo misspend RM530bil or RM600bil?) but also ’cos at least 1 of those linked to the emergency funds affair — ex-moneybags minister Tengku Zaf — is currently in PM10’s cabinet!
Also, also, rights groups have questioned the point of graft probes if it’s the same old MACC, whose officers (allegedly, allegedly) twiddled their thumbs and were slow to investigate when the previous regimes were in charge.
As such, a better solution might be to allow Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to look into things, seeing as how it’s bi-partisan.
Incidentally, PAS is especially butthurt over the allegation of gaming funds being used by PN, claiming that it’d never ever condone such a thing, seeing as how it’s so anti-gambling.
Thing is, the Islamist party’s leaders and its friends are refusing to open their books and disclose PN’s source(s) of moolah, their message being — we’ll only do that if a law to regulate political funding’s in place.
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New PN wave
1-1. That’s the official score from Wednesday’s twin by-elections in the Kedah parliamentary constituency of Padang Serai and the Pahang state constituency of Tioman. Practically, though, it was anything but close.
In point of fact, the contests have offered clear evidence of Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) ascendancy.
This, despite BN and PH holding hands in Putrajaya and the state administrations of Perak and Pahang, and having supported each other in this week’s polls.
Yes, Tioman was retained by BN’s now 4-term rep Johari Hussain. But before you pop open that bottle of sparkling juice, know that his 2018 majority was seriously slashed to a mere 573 votes!
And if you think that’s bad, the story’s far worse in Padang Serai, with PN froggo Azman Nasrudin (he was with PKR till 2020) claiming victory over PH’s Mohamad Sofee Razak by a ginormous 16k+ votes.
So, how did PH and BN get mugged so bad when the expectation was that the pooling of resources, sharing of ceramah stages and withdrawal of candidates (PH’s Fadzli Ramly in Tioman and BN’s C. Sivaraajh and Warisan’s Bakhri Hashim in Padang Serai) would see the 2 new bedfellows romping to victory in both constituencies?
Well, if you ask PN boss Muhyiddin Yassin, it’s ’cos voters don’t trust the Anwar-led unity gomen and/or approve of BN and PH working together that even former supporters of the 2 parties have switched allegiance and thrown their weight behind his crew.
Ex-PM “Don’t call me Mahiaddin” has even deemed the BN-PH alliance as “the biggest electoral fraud ever“.
He wasn’t too wrong about voter confusion, though, like in Padang Serai in the run-up to the polls. Plus, the likes of once-sworn enemies Zed Hamidi and Raf Ramli singing Kumbaya (no, not really) and campaigning together (yes, really) might’ve pissed off voters.
Yet, Wednesday’s results are also in line with what we saw in the 15th general election (GE15) i.e. that the Bersatu+PAS PN combo is the new force in the north of the country (it cleaned up in Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan and Terengganu). And that its wave of Malay-Muslim politics might well be moving further down the peninsula.
The question is — how do you stop such an unstoppable force?
An Umno leader’s suggested that a post-mortem of BN-Umno’s rejection by voters might be a good start. But DAP’s ex-Klang MP Charles Santiago believes the answer is straightforward — look into the people’s needs and deal with cost of living issues, and all things will fall into place.
Could it be that simple? Somehow, we doubt it.
Everything else, all in one
Yesterday’s Covid-19 sitch —
New cases: 1,616 (Total: 5,006,855)
New actual deaths: *4 (Total: 36,742)
Active cases: 21,473 (ICU: 81)
Double vaxed: 84.3% (Population) 98.3% (Adults) 94% (60++) 91.8% (12-17) 43.4% (5-11) (State breakdown here)
Boosted: 49.8% (Population) 68.9% (Adults) 71.4% (60++) 1.6% (12-17) 0.1% (5-11)
Double boosted: 1.8%(Population) 2.6% (Adults) 5.4% (60++) — (12-17) — (5-11)
*Numbers could change as gomen updates data
Here’s the rest of the week’s biggest news, in (somewhat) bite-sized chunks:
The many (legal) suits of Anwar
He may not be fond of being called Papa, but PM10 may go down in history as the Papa of Legal Action.
See, Anwar’s been on a legal action spree of sorts over the past month or so. The latest coming in the form of a letter of demand for an apology issued to Kuala Terengganu MP Ahmad Amzad Hashim over the latter’s claim that though Bang Nuar was only paid RM1 nominal sum annually as Selangor economic adviser, he had claims amounting to a cool RM15mil.
This comes just a day after our new supreme leader issued a similar letter to PM8 Muhyiddin/Mahiaddin Yassin, also for making a similar allegation concerning RM15mil.
For the record, letters of demand have also been issued to the Kedah MB and the Baling MP for various claims, while a defamation suit’s been filed against a Perak PAS leader.
New Comms Minister Fahmi Fadzil has proclaimed that the unity gomen will defend free speech, BUT there’re lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
This comes on the back of claims by certain quarters (you know who they are) against the gomen, dis- and misinformation being spread, and especially, TikTok vids talking about another May 13 incident.
A Tale of 2 Fahmis
It’s “funny” that Fahmi the minister is pinky swearing that the new gomen will honour free speech. ‘Cos just a day before, USM students were questioned for having attended a democracy forum by a different Fahmi — graphic artist/activist Fahmi Reza.
Lawyers for Liberty has slammed the new gomen for “allowing” police to question the 4 students, 3 of whom attended the forum and the other having only replied to Fahmi’s speech.
Students from a primary school in Serdang, Selangor, thought they’d be attending a fun motivational camp last week. Instead, some of the 60-odd students allegedly endured brutal “punishments” for merely getting caught chatting. They were allegedly stripped to their underwear, hosed down, forced to do hundreds of squats, beaten with broomsticks and even slammed against a wall.
Allegations have also surfaced of abuse at an immigration detention centre in Kimanis, Sabah. A vid clip and pictures of emaciated, alleged detainees at the centre have emerged, the former showing a foreigner claiming that detainees weren’t given enough food and were denied medicines.
Najib’s pegged back again
Inglorious ex-leader Najib Razak’s attempt to get documents relating to Goldman Sachs’ alleged dealings with the family of ex-BNM governor Zeti Abdul Aziz has failed.
Nothing seems to be going well for him, so his supporters are urging Umno/BN to stand firm and demand he gets a fair trial. The Malaysian Bar, however, has warned people against painting the poor iddy-biddy Jibby picture and from claiming his trial was unfair.
Ex-BN sec-gen Annuar Musa has reportedly been unceremoniously given the ol’ heave ho and sacked from Umno for allegedly supporting the enemy. This sources story states that Annu’s 1 of 3 people sacked, the others being the Wanita chiefs of Umno’s Arau and Maran divisions.
It was reported last month that the 2 women were suspended for supporting the opposition candidates in their constituencies — their husbands, Umno men who held the parliamentary seats but were dropped by BN and frogged it over to PN.
Done in 30?
DPM Fadillah Yusof sayeth his boss, PM10 Nuar, has given him 1 month to settle unresolved demands related to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). Wait, what? Folks from various past gomes have been trying to solve this for years (see here and here). Yet Fadi and Anwar think 30 days is enough? More power to them!
- The US and Russia have exchanged jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. The former’d been sentenced to jail by Moscow for possession of a gram of cannabis oil while the latter, who was held in an American prison for 12 years, is one of the most prolific arms dealers ever.
Efforts to secure the release of ex-Marine Paul Whelan, jailed in Russia for alleged espionage, have failed. Whelan has apparently slammed his government for their failure, but his family’s said they understand.
- Iran has hung a man for injuring a paramilitary officer, the 1st known execution linked to the protests that have swept the country.
- US-China ties are facing a new test after Washington announced plans to boost arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing has continued to claim as part of China.
- The US Senate, in a landmark bipartisan vote, has passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex and interracial marriage.
- Singer Celine Dion has revealed that a rare incurable neurological disorder has made it difficult for her to walk and sing. She’s had to postpone tour dates as a result.
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