It's Friday the 13th and there's a global pandemic going round. Are we the only ones that feel like this is an apocalypse movie script? ūüė≥

While the minister in charge of Islamic affairs doesn't see the need to cancel Friday prayers, the Catholic church in Peninsular Malaysia has decided to err on the side of caution by canceling all church functions, including Sunday and daily mass. This, as the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia hit 158, with health authorities gearing up to deal with more patients.

In other news, Maddey Mohamad whinges even more and makes liberalism, when it comes to PM-forever-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, sound like a four-letter word; and, there seems to be a whole bunch of unhappiness from Umno members, despite the party being back in the corridors of power (or so it seems).

Masses cancelled, Friday prayers go on

Catholics stay, Muslims pray

Following news of a Bruneian man who later tested positive for Covid-19 having attended a religious gathering of about 10,000 at a mosque in Sri Petaling recently, many have called for mass gatherings, including at religious functions, to be stopped temporarily. 

Taking heed of this and the Health Department’s¬†call for the postponement¬†of all mass gatherings, as well as the case of three parishioners of a church in Puchong having contracted Covid-19, the Catholic church in Peninsular Malaysia has decided to suspend the Mass until March 29.¬†

This includes daily Mass and is extended to all public functions and religious classes. A¬†pastoral letter¬†from the catholic bishops of Peninsular Malaysia said Catholics were exempted from attending Sunday masses, but added that they could watch a broadcast of the mass which would be televised on the archdiocese of KL’s website.¬†

Malaysia has just over a million Catholics, a third of its population of Christians. For Catholics, attendance at Mass on Sundays is obligatory and an exemption such as this is a very big deal.

This is also the Christian season of Lent, a six-week period that culminates in Easter, and which is considered¬†the holiest period in the Christian calendar. It’s marked by fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, and prayer. So yeah, cancelling Masses now just shows how seriously the church is taking this¬†second (and bigger) wave of infections.¬†

This is in contrast to Minister in the PM’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs Zulkifli Mohamad, who said Friday prayers¬†would carry on¬†for now as the situation as yet didn’t warrant a suspension of religious obligations. However, he did say the weekly khutbah would be shortened. Considering the millions who attend Friday prayers around the country, not cancelling prayers may not be the best move.¬†

Perlis seems to have taken the lead on this though, with the Raja Muda announcing that this Friday’s prayers will be replaced with¬†Zohor prayers at¬†homes¬†instead.¬†

In Singapore too,¬†mosque activities¬†have been suspended after the fatwa committee gave the green light for this to happen. Singapore’s Catholics had earlier been exempted from mass by the church hierarchy there, though this is due to end this weekend.¬†

Ultimately, we’ll need to come to some kind of landing on this – whether it’s through the Council of Rulers or through a fatwa of some sort. But with entire countries going into lockdown, the seriousness of this matter escalates every day.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry says a further¬†nine cases¬†of Covid-19 infection have been detected in Malaysia, bringing the total number to¬†158. It also said that Patient 131, earlier said to be a sporadic case (one which didn’t seem to be connected to any of the other cases) had now been identified as being linked to the same religious gathering as that of the Bruneian man – a religious gathering which some are still insisting¬†isn’t the cause of the infection.

Six¬†more patients have been discharged, bringing the number of recoveries to¬†32. Danish citizens have also been placed on Malaysia’s¬†“no entry” list¬†following the Scandinavian country’s decision to go into lockdown.¬†Denmark joins Italy, Iran and South Korea on the Do Not Pass Go list.

A host of other Covid-19 related news reports came out yesterday, and to make things easier for you, we include these in brief:

  • The¬†Selangor government¬†has cancelled several public functions, but¬†will continue with events deemed critical.¬†
     
  • The Health Ministry is ramping up preparations for more cases, with Sungai Buloh Hospital slowly¬†closing down some wards¬†to make room for the isolation and treatment of coronavirus patients. All other cases which are not related to Covid-19 will be referred to other health facilities.¬†
     
  • Even the 1MDB graft trial of former PM Najib Razak has been affected, with his entire defence team putting themselves¬†in quarantine¬†after lead counsel Shafee Abdullah came to know that he had come in contact with a person who had direct contact with a Covid-19 infected person. The trial judge wants proof though, so Jibby ain’t getting off the hook that easily.
     
  • The education ministry has postponed all sports and co-curricular activities in schools indefinitely. And while the upcoming¬†school break would¬†usually be a time¬†of big business for¬†tourism, concerns over Covid-19 are expected to lead to¬†RM150 million in losses¬†this time.¬†The airline industry has also been deeply affected. Both¬†Malaysia Airlines¬†and¬†Malindo Air¬†have asked employees to take unpaid leave due to the losses incurred from the virus outbreak.¬†
     
  • With all the depressing news going around, here’s one little report that warms the heart a little. A few Malaysian nurses have done their bit to help curb the spread of Covid-19 by coming up with a¬†short video clip¬†featuring them dancing out the proper way to cough safely, to the music of Icona Pop‚Äôs Emergency.

Maddey's verbal diarrhoea continues

Former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad is really coming across as a frustrated, grumpy old codger in his latest interview with Malay daily Sinar Harian.

A slew of reports came out of the interview on Wednesday, but apparently there was more to come as even more reports were published yesterday.

The most intriguing must have been Maddey’s claim that prodigy-turned-nemesis-turned-ally Anwar Ibrahim was too “liberal” to have the full support of Malays. He also admitted that he¬†had issues with Anwar¬†but decided to work with him because he thought then PM Jibby Razak was “more dangerous” than the former.¬†

So why exactly is this claim intriguing? Well, first of all, Mads makes it sound like being liberal is a plague upon that little bit of God’s beautiful green earth we call Malaysia. We’d like to remind the good doctor that the word liberal is mentioned in the¬†Rukun Negara, as something which the nation aspires to be.

Secondly, Maddey’s statement about Anwar just shows that he never really buried the hatchet with the latter. Basically, he chose between the devil and the deep blue sea and¬†the last two years or so was all just political expediency.

What’s odd is that while Maddey used¬†Anwar’s relationship with DAP as a sign of his “liberalism”, in the very same interview, he¬†went out of his way to point out that¬†Guan Eng isn’t anti-Malay. Talk about sending mixed messages. Perhaps the old man knows that with next to no support on his own anymore, and with PKR increasingly distancing itself from him,¬†DAP has him by the short and curlies. So, he can’t afford to alienate or piss them off.¬†

Mahathir also said he¬†didn’t care¬†about his personal image, as he didn’t have long left before he died. So his priority was ridding the country of kleptocracy and to “correct the situation for the Malays”. We’ll leave it at that. Make of it what you will.¬†

Our PM4/PM7 also took another swipe at successor Muhyiddin Yassin, saying that Moo had betrayed the Bersatu struggle and¬†misled everyone¬†by constantly saying he did not want the PM’s post. He then all but confirmed that he would¬†go up against Muhyiddin¬†for the Bersatu presidency in the party’s upcoming elections. Is that a step down from chairman? Well, if it gives him control of the party, then we guess not.

Umno hogs headlines

Since somehow engineering a way back to Putrajaya, Umno has been in the news a lot. But not all is hunky-dory.

El Presidente Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has voiced support for the new Cabinet lineup under PM Moo, saying Umno will serve as¬†check and balance¬†for the new Perikatan gomen (sounds vaguely like PAS president Hadi Awang’s ruminations, no?). But this statement comes amidst reports of unhappiness over the lineup among some Umno leaders.¬†

Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said continued her tirade against the lineup of Cabinet ministers, which she claimed was disproportionate. Bersatu, which accounts for 28% of the total MPs in Perikatan, has two senior ministers and the PM, while Umno, which makes up 35% of the number of MPs in the coalition, only has one. This follows what she said a day before, that it would be fairer if Umno MPs were given more prominent Cabinet posts such as the home; finance; women, family and community development; rural development; and agriculture and agro-based ministries. 

Veteran politician Shahrir Samad echoed Azalina’s sentiments, saying the Cabinet lineup didn’t reflect the¬†en bloc spirit¬†of Perikatan, which he added had seen a coming together that had gotten Muhyiddin appointed PM. He also questioned why Sabah Umno had been left out altogether.¬†

Amazing, eh? These guys are lucky that after two years of scheming, they’ve managed to worm their way back to power. And already they’re bitching and moaning about not having the choicest cuts at the smorgasbord.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Zahid said Umno had a list of¬†six demands¬†(amboi!) for the Perikatan gomen. They want an RCI to probe Pakatan’s accusations of BN wrongdoing; a review of asset sales by government-linked bodies; reopening all cases involving political personalities that were dropped by the Pakatan government; expedite investigations and press charges against those involved in the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim; cancel the IPCMC (???); and, a freeze on plans to reduce the size of the civil service.¬†

Seriously, some of this shit is so stupid,¬†petty or pandering to communal politics we don’t even want to start talking about it.¬†

Last but nowhere near the least, we have news that Ahmad “nasi goreng” Maslan has been¬†appointed Umno sec-gen¬†to replace Annuar Musa, who has been appointed the new FT Minister.¬†

Guess we can look forward to more recipes and other advice about food from now on.

‚ÄúWHEREAS OUR COUNTRY, MALAYSIA nurtures the ambitions of ... guaranteeing a liberal approach towards her rich and varied cultural traditions.‚ÄĚ

- Rukun Negara preamble -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

It’s all about Covid-19 today as the virus took hold of news all over the world.

    • Chinese¬†studies have revealed¬†that the mass quarantine measures put into effect in China may have “changed its genetic course”, meaning that it caused the virus to mutate and potentially made it more ‚Äúinsidious‚ÄĚ and harder to detect.¬†
       
    • In the US of A, New York City has declared a¬†state of emergency, while¬†Disney¬†will shutter its parks¬†in California for the month. Meanwhile, Wall Street¬†stocks plunged¬†dramatically as a new US travel ban spooked investors, ending a record US bull run.¬†
       
    • France¬†will close schools in a bid to contain the coronavirus spread, while¬†Germany¬†is mulling a similar policy for schools and nurseries.
       
    • The¬†death toll in Italy¬†has jumped 23% in a day and now stands at 1,016.¬†
       
    • The English Premier League will hold¬†an emergency meeting¬†after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus. Will the rest of the season be suspended? The pandemic has also affected many sporting events around the world.¬†Here¬†is a list of these events.

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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