After months of back and forth, investigations into the home quarantine breach by Turkey Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali have come to naught due to a 'technicality', thanks to some idiot health officer.

In other news, it's confusion city as the gomen's clarification on its CMCO work-from-home order raises far more questions than it answers; and, dreams of Malaysian domination by one politician appears to have ended, for now.

No double standards, our arse

Mana rotan, Abah?

I guess we all could’ve smelt this coming a long time ago.
 
In case you haven’t heard, it looks like Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali is off the hook for failing to home quarantine after returning from a questionable half-work trip to Turkey with his fam bam in July.

This after the Attorney-General’s Chambers decided not to take any action against the minister due to a technicality. It’s classified the case as ‘NFA’ for No Further Action, or, as Twitterjaya’s aptly pointing out, more like No Fucking Action, as the case failed (allegedly allegedly) to meet the burden of proof.
 
Apparently, some health officer at the airport here used his “discretion” to not issue Khai Khai the necessary form ordering him to undergo 14 days of home quarantine, as stipulated under Section 15(1) of Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988). This was despite the 14-day isolation being mandated at the time for all international arrivals.

If you’re a little blur on the deets of the case, here’s a quick recap:

  • Our man Khairuddin decided it was the best idea to visit Turkey for work and play from July 3 to 7. Upon his return, he was NOT quarantined. 
     
  • This information only came to light well over a month later when his predecessor as minister Teresa Kok questioned this in the Dewan Rakyat. Not only did Khai not self-isolate, he went on a functions spree, even attending Parliament on July 13, potentially exposing hundreds if not thousands (not to mention elected reps and government leaders) to the coronavirus.
     
  • Kok later dropped more bombs, revealing the minister brought his family along for the trip.
     
  • King K later apologised for breaking quarantine and donated four months’ of his minister’s salary to the national Covid-19 fund. The Health Ministry also claimed to have fined the bugger an itty bitty RM1,000 for violating Act 342. 
     
  • Naturally, there was a huge fuss, and cries of double standards rang from us plebians, especially seeing as how other lesser mortals like the Sivagangga superspreader (whom Khairuddin himself kutuked) and this old auntie, received much heavier fines – and even jail time – for not quarantining.
     
  • Our glorious leader PM Muhyiddin Yassin actually took to TV to try to ease our concerns by assuring us repeatedly there are no double standards. In his now infamous Abah guna rotan speech, Moo said even ministers were required to follow Covid-19 SOPs or face action. (Hah!) 


But apparently, there was no rotan for Khairuddin. Many have questioned the AGC’s reasoning, especially in light of the fact the former was fined by the MOH in Aug. If he hadn’t broken any laws, what was he fined for?

Section 15(1) says an officer may give a home surveillance order to a person, but it doesn’t say he or she has to give it for the order to take effect. Let’s not forget that Khairuddin, as a minister, has no excuse to not know what the entire country know – you travel, you quarantine. Yet he gets off scot free while some poor Myanmar guy has to stay in jail for 14 days just cos he wasn’t wearing a face mask
 
But we’re no law experts, so we decided to turn to some loyar buruk friends (sorry guys, we couldn’t resist 😊) to try to make sense of it all. All were disgusted with what happened, all said the AGC could have taken the case to court solely on the fact that the SOP was clear at the time, that all must home-quarantine upon return from overseas.

However, a retired top police officer whose opinion we also sought offered this insight: a good lawyer could possibly argue and win the burden of proof angle the AGC had put forward as no home surveillance order had actually been issued. The AGC is less likely to take something to court they are not reasonably sure of winning.

Here’re a couple of follow-up questions to that. What happens to the money he paid as a fine now? Can he claim it back? Can he sue the Health Ministry?
Also, why did it take so long for AGC to determine this in the first place? No one has yet explained what was so urgent about this trip that necessitated Khai and his family travelling to Turkey, especially as overseas travel was banned (the minister himself admitted it was a semi-formal trip). Did his family also fail to home quarantine?

Even former glorious leader Najib Razak commented, saying if nothing else, Khai had been morally wrong to breach quarantine regulations. What’s that we hear? Oh,i it’s just you sniggering about the irony of Najib talking about morality.

All this has led Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to remind all Covid-19 frontliners to follow the SOPs. Of course, he was conveniently mum to questions as to why his officers were given authority to decide who does and doesn’t get a home quarantine order form and why was Khairuddin fined if he wasn’t in the wrong?

To summarise, Your Honour, the government well and truly screwed the pooch – hard – on this one. The only question is whether it’s due to incompetence, or duplicity. We’ll let you decide.

Volte-face Part I

Confusion reigned yesterday following the earlier work-from-home announcement by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob for those in supervisory and management roles in both the private and public sectors in conditional movement control order (CMCO) areas.
 
Despite the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) and the Public Service Department (PSD) issuing further details as promised, inconsistency reigned and piecemeal messages came out of Putrajaya in dribs and drabs.

So, of course lah people were confused. They criticised the lack of coordination, saying all the gomen agencies should sit down and discuss things (wait, that’s what we’ve said too!) to work out the details before things are announced. 
 
According to MITI, only 10 percent of a company’s supervisory and management employees could work. However, they are only allowed to be in the office for four hours, three times a week. The PSD, meanwhile, said gomen departments would see only 30 percent of their workforce present in the office for the remainder of the CMCO. 
 
All that, however, didn’t quite clear things up for most people. And the confusion only became worse as our man Izzy then said the work from home order he spoke about only covered the civil service and industries under MITI
 
And if that wasn’t enough, there was another about-turn when Izzy said swab tests for those working in red zones within the CMCO areas were merely “recommended” and not mandatory, except for foreigners and those displaying symptoms of infection. Can you say “flip-flop”? 
 
Oh, and if you’re wondering, there are 26 red zone districts in the country, though not all are in the CMCO areas of Sabah, Selangor, Labuan, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. 
 
The National Security Council has decided to place two more areas under enhanced MCO (EMCO). These are the Seberang Perai Prison and staff quarters, and the Taman Harmoni People’s Housing Project (PPR) in Sandakan. 
 
As far as new infections are concerned, the country finally saw a dip below the 800-case mark after four days. There were 732 new cases, bringing the total infection numbers in Malaysia to 22,957. With recoveries coming in at 580, the number of active cases is now 7,827
 
Sabah again had the vast majority of new cases at 535, with Selangor coming in second at 116 cases. Sadly, there were also 6 new deaths, bringing the total death toll to 199.
 
Meanwhile, eight new clusters have been detected – three each in Sabah and Selangor, and one each in Labuan and Kuala Lumpur. 
 
Anyway, here are a few more Covid-related articles which made the rounds yesterday:

  • Almost 70 percent of recent cases in Selangor are not linked to people who returned from Sabah. There are currently 18 active clusters in the state, of which only eight are linked with Sabah returnees. 
     
  • Kota Kinabalu is expected to see a spike in cases in the coming days thanks to the Kepayan Prison cluster, where 60 percent of those whose tests have been returned have tested positive so far. 
     
  • This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Efforts to screen some villages in Sabah are being hampered as fearful villagers are hiding from the authorities and police help has to be sought to round them up. Those who test positive are also causing problems as they have to be forced to seek treatment. 
     
  • The Employees Provident Fund is closing all its offices in Selangor, KL and Labuan until further notice due to the work from home directive in CMCO areas. 
     
  • A day after rumours that Melaka would be placed under CMCO had to be dispelled, another rumour has surfaced – and been denied – that 11 Melaka hospital staff had contracted Covid-19. Be careful with what info you share, peeps. 

Volte-face Part II (and some other stuff)

It would seem perennial bridesmaid Anwar Ibrahim’s dream of becoming PM will remain a fantasy, at least for the time being.
 
Remember the so-called Anwar Move (or Le Meridien Move, depending on who you ask), where the Opposition leader said he had a solid majority to overthrow the Perikatan Nasional gomen under MooMoo Yassin? Well, that was premised on the thinking that Saudara Nuar had the support of at least some Umno MPs. 
 
Talk of this was furthered when the Umno political bureau decided the party should rethink its relationship with Perikatan and even formalise the Umno-PAS Muafakat Nasional coalition, seemingly without Muhyiddin’s Bersatu. 

Yet, in the way things go with our politics, the tide seemed to have shifted back in Moo’s favour. Umno man Annuar Musa said the party’s political bureau might negotiate a new deal with Bersatu. If that was a threat, it was a veiled one as Annuar also said he still believed in the Perikatan gomen. 
 
Then came this doozy by Umno chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who, saying the party would back PN, called for a political ceasefire so efforts could be concentrated on battling Covid-19 and improving the economy.

So did Anwar get played out again or is Umno merely playing both sides (as usual). Or has it finally managed to “read the room”, picked up on public anger over all the damned politicking and decided the political ceasefire “gambit” is the way to go? Or have negotiations with Moo and the Gang given them what they want?
 
Anwar, ever the cool politician, merely said he “respects Umno’s decision” but would continue working to return the people’s mandate (read: install Abang ‘Nuar as PM). 
 
So, on the surface at least, it would appear the people have got their wish and the gomen will finally be able to concentrate on battling Covid-19. Still, it will be interesting to see in the coming days whether Umno will get a bigger role in Putrajaya (Umno DPM, anyone?).
 
The question remains, though, if whether this spells the end of the Anwar Move. After all, the Agong is still set to meet with political party leaders over this and with Parliament to resume on Nov 2, there’re the many motions of no confidence against Moo to contend with. There could still be fireworks yet.
 
Meanwhile, here are some other bits of news that came out yesterday:

  • The Selangor government will push through amendments to the Selangor Water Management Authority Enactment to allow for larger fines and mandatory jail sentences for polluters. 
     
  • Meanwhile, efforts are underway to relocate factories built near rivers in Selangor. However, MB Aminudin Shari says this will take time, of course. Honestly, this is gonna take years, if not decades.
     
  • Eight people, including the director of a construction machinery sales and repair company and his father, have been arrested over the odour pollution in Sungai Selangor that caused the latest water cuts, which is at least the eighth
     
  • New investors are being roped in for Penang’s RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel and three road projects, with Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd having its key shareholding structure changed to “remove persons with liabilities” due to recent probes by the MACC. 
     
  • Sarawak has allocated RM250 million for the development of archives to preserve and store materials and records on Sarawak and will seek the return of state treasures being stored outside Malaysia. 

“So, if we lie to the government, it’s a felony. But if they lie to us, it’s politics."

- Fake Bill Murray quote -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Europe’s hospital systems are at risk of buckling under the strain of soaring Covid-19 infections, with Spain being the first European nation to hit the one million case mark. Meanwhile, 32 of the 50 US states are reportedly in the danger zone, with the Midwest and Mountain regions particularly badly hit. 
     
  • Five South Koreans have died after getting flu shots. Even though health authorities have said it’s too early to determine if the vaccine was the cause, the deaths have stirred concerns over its safety. 

    This comes as the country expanded its seasonal inoculation programme for winter and to head off potential Covid-19 complications. This further boosts public distrust in vaccines.
     
  • Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, and several states have been placed under curfew as violence broke out during anti-police protests. Security forces reportedly gunned down civilians during the fighting.
     
  • More than 40 million people have already cast their ballots in early voting for the US presidential elections. With just under two weeks to go to the Nov 3 elections, former POTUS Barack Obama has joined the campaign trail in support of his ex-Veep Joe Biden. 
     
  • In his clearest remarks yet on gay relationships, Pope Francis has said same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws, adding that homosexual people are “children of God and have the right to a family”. 
     
  • Dozens of precious artworks and ancient artefacts have been vandalised at several Berlin museums. Police have yet to present any possible motive for the attack but the media have linked it to Covid conspiracy theorists including those who propagate the batshit crazy QAnon conspiracy

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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