The decision in the Nora Anne Quoirin inquest is out. Sadly, it offers little comfort for the late teen's family.

Elsewhere in today's newsletter, Umno and Bersatu's relationship deteriorates; le gomen tries to justify the axing of the KL-Singapore high-speed rail project; some people are finally charged over their involvement in that nasty meat scandal; and our healthcare system buckles under the pressure of increasing Covid-19 cases.

The sting of death

Where have all the flowers gone?

The verdict’s finally in. After an inquest which began in Aug and saw 47 witnesses testify, the Coroner’s Court has ruled that Nora Anne Quoirin, the French-Irish teen found dead in a Negeri Sembilan jungle in 2019, likely died from “misadventure”.
 
Questions were raised, at various points, about whether the mentally- and physically-challenged 15-year-old was abducted and murdered, or died of starvation and stress after having gotten lost in the jungle. She’d been holidaying at a nearby resort with her family the night of her disappearance.
 
The coroner ruled that evidence did not suggest foul play/third party involvement in Nora Anne’s death. Instead, she probably climbed out the window of her family’s chalet on the night of Aug 4 2019, wandered outside on her own, then got lost in the abandoned palm oil plantation where she was eventually found dead nine days later.
 
The girl’s parents though have always insisted their daughter, born with holoprosencephaly (a condition that affects balance and mobility), couldn’t possibly have climbed out the window. They’ve expressed dismay at the ruling and, apparently, are considering seeking a review. They’d hoped for an open verdict instead, in which the court would’ve at least acknowledged any suspicious circumstances around the death.
 
However, despite the heartbreak the family must be experiencing, the fact is that the evidence, including the results of two post-mortems, has never conclusively pointed to abduction/sexual assault/murder in the teen’s death. 
 
Still, Nora Anne’s folks, Meabh and Sebastien, have always claimed crucial evidence might’ve been lost due to the cops moving too slowly in their initial investigations. 
 
In any event, the case is now closed for the time being. And while it may be true that certain things don’t add up, the ultimate tragedy is that a child has died.
 
Rest, now Nora Anne. May your soul find peace.

Friends without benefits

Umno deputy boss Mohamad Hasan has insisted the party’s not out to destroy ally Bersatu. Yet, he seems to be singing a solo here. As the feud between the two bickering buddies gets more intense, other Umno fellas, such as monsieurs Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Nur Jazlan Mohamed, suggest most party peeps have had enough of PM Muhyiddin Yassin, Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional.
 
Ku Li and Nur Jazlan are probably right too. As of yesterday, 189 out of 191 Umno divisions have flat out rejected any sort of cooperation with MooMoo’s Bersatu in GE15. 
 
Of course, recent history could mean the relationship is likely still salvageable. Still, what’s really odd is that at least one Umno feller — Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman — has said junking Bersatu for a marriage of convenience with Pakatan Harapan may be possible. Oi vey!
 
The how, when and who of this supposed Umno-PH alliance is, obviously, not clear at this point. But the Umno-Bersatu spat, and courting of new bedfellows, show that it’s still all about political survival and not one jot about the rakyat. As we said yesterday, new year, same baloney.
 
Speaking of baloney, there’s trouble aplenty involving Umno-chaired Prasarana Sdn Bhd, which has the dubious honour of calling Tajuddin its chairman.
 
The issue is really convoluted, tbh, with a lotta he said-he said going on. But what it comes down to is that while the public transport operator tussles with its suspended CEO and LRT3 project contractors over allegedly close to a billion ringgit in unpaid project fees, everyday Malaysians are being shafted.
 
How? According to a letter from LRT3 contractors to the PM, every payment delay leads to a chain of events (allegedly! allegedly!) that affects suppliers, stakeholders, financial institutions and over 10,000 workers. The MACC is now investigating the matter.
 
And yeah, all this comes from guys who claim to be ‘prihatin’.

Under pressure

The Covid-19 death toll has now passed 500 (501 to be exact). But what’s perhaps more worrying is that a whopping 14 new coronavirus clusters, linked to interstate travel and social gatherings, have been discovered.
 
You’ll recall the powers that be had cited potential GDP losses of up to RM300 mil per day as a reason for ending the Conditional MCO for most areas in the country last month. While easing restrictions may have been a necessary evil, it seems to be exacting a heavy toll indeed.
 
However, a more pressing issue is that as of yesterday, Malaysia has 22,089 active cases but only 23,000 beds at government facilities nationwide! Even our quarantine centres are reportedly operating at close to full capacity. [email protected]!
 
The situation is so dire, the Health Ministry’s considering letting asymptomatic people stay at home, and discharging quarantined patients after a mere 10 days if their infectivity levels are low.
 
We can only hope these measures will ease the situation as the country’s healthcare system is currently under immense strain.
 
While we chew on that, here are other important coronavirus news:

  • All Penang districts are now Covid red zones. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has, however, called for calm, noting the surge in cases was due to the screening of foreign workers at construction sites and factories.
     
  • Khairy Jamaluddin will brief Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Malaysia’s Covid vaccine deals today. Pothole Boy and the gomen had previously been questioned over the costs, which were not made public due to the non-disclosure agreements signed with vaccine manufacturers. 
  •  
    Frog King Jeffrey Kitingan is the latest politician to test positive, while Badminton Association of Malaysia coaching boss Wong Choong Hann joins a growing list of infected national athletes and sports officials.

This is getting rail-ly messy

The project may have derailed, but the back and forth over the axed KL-Singapore high-speed rail line continues.
 
Minister in the PM’s Department Mustapa Mohamed is insisting cancellation was the right move. However, Singapore claims the deal fell through cos Malaysia sought to remove an assets company meant to manage the project, ensure accountability for both countries and minimise the possibility of future disagreements and disputes.
 
Not so fast, Singapore! According to Tok Pa, Malaysia sought the removal, not ‘cos our gomen wanted to dole out contracts to cronies — as one Najib Razak alleges — but because the assets company model Singapore wanted was just too costly. Wait. What? We were complaining about the management fee for a company to handle a RM60 bil project? How much did these friggin’ guys cost??!?
 
Failed rail deals aside, here’re some other odds and ends that made the news yesterday:

  • Four people from two frozen meat importers have been remanded for four days over the smuggling of meat. The MACC, meanwhile, has identified the importers believed to be linked to the meat cartel scandal. Incidentally, here’s everything you need to know about the scandal. 

 

  • Two people have died in the last two days after their vehicles hit potholes. Folks are pissed that action isn’t being swiftly taken especially when just about a week ago, the Public Works Department was falling over itself to make amends when Tok Janggut KJ was involved in a similar accident.

 

  • The floods are getting worse across the country. There are now close to 20,000 evacuees at relief centres.

 

  • The gomen is giving RM200 e-rebates for Malaysians to buy locally-made energy-efficient refrigerators and aircons. However, based on an announcement from last year, only 140,000 households might be entitled to the rebates.

 

  • Finally, this is a little late, but it’s time to bid farewell to the iconic Penang ferries that ended their run on Dec 31, 2020. 
  •  
    The ferry service has actually been around for over a hundred years. But it’s the boxy, double-decked 1971 vessels which are most recognisable.  FYI, the ferry service is being upgraded with new vessels. However, a few old ships will remain as floating museums and tourist attractions.

“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.”

- Rabindranath Tagore -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Iran has seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in what many observers are labelling a challenge to the West and outgoing United States President Donald Trump. Tehran has also increased uranium enrichment at its nuclear facility in defiance of a 2015 nuclear accord.
     
  • The UK has imposed strict lockdowns, including closing schools as Covid continues to worsen due to a new, more contagious, strain. 
     
  • A British court has blocked the United States’ request for Julian Assange to be extradited to face espionage charges, ruling that such a move could severely affect the WikiLeaks co-founder’s fragile mental health.
     
  • Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of terror group Jemaah Islamiah, will be released from an Indonesian prison this week. The 82-year-old has been incarcerated since 2009 for funding a terrorist training camp in Aceh. 
     
  • The music world is in mourning today following the deaths of Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers, songwriter Geoff Stephens and modern metal icon Alexi Laiho.
     
  • And in more sad news, Tanya Roberts, who played Bond girl Stacey Sutton in A View to a Kill also passed away. If you’re keeping score, that’s now three Bond girls (we really hate that sexist phrase), including Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg, and Bond himself (Sean Connery) gone in the last 12 months.

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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