It’s not a lockdown. However, you can expect the next two weeks of the Movement Control Order to be tougher now that new restrictions are being introduced. In other news, Malaysia records the most Covid-19 recoveries in a day even as another location – a condominium – is placed under enhanced movement control.

Two weeks down, two to go

Moving to second base

It’s Day 14 today of the Movement Control Order, and tomorrow we head into Phase 2. It’s still neither a lockdown nor an EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Order) like the kind being implemented in Kluang (Not Kulai! Not Kulai!) and Hulu Langat, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says. Meaning leaving your house to get food and essentials is still allowed. However, the next two weeks will see stricter rules being put in place. 

These include:

  • Dawn-to-dusk (read: 8am-8pm) operating hours for all shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets, eateries, food delivery services and petrol stations
  • Reduced operating hours for taxi and e-hailing services (6am-10pm)
  • Unchanged operating hours for public transport operators (6am-10am and 5pm-10pm)
  • A maximum occupancy of one person per privately owned car
  • A blanket ban on all social activities, even in gated communities

The new rules aside, Ismail stressed that leeway will be given to people with disabilities to seek treatment. However, the minister stopped short of clarifying certain other things like, for example, if the dawn-to-dusk rule covers wet and wholesale markets, and whether the same leeway given to the disabled will be granted to senior citizens. Also, if public transport, e-hailing and taxis have to stop at 10pm, how the heck will frontliners without their own transport head home after their shifts?

Take this real life situation, for example: one of our sisters is one of the last to return to Malaysia. She’ll be arriving around midnight on Apr 4. With the new rules in place, there won’t be any transport from the airport back home at that hour. Which means she has to be fetched. But we called the National Security Council hotline and was told that we’d be turned away at the roadblocks – unless the cops manning it decide to go easy on us. This, despite previous communication saying that we can do airport pickups.

To make matters more complicated, because she has to be quarantined for 2 weeks, we can’t be in the same car with her, which means we’ll have to drive two cars and leave one for her and then have the two of us driving back in one car. Which is also against the law. So how?

In short, it seems that just like when the MCO was first announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin two weeks, there’re way too many things that aren’t very clear. So what the National Security Council certainly must do before tomorrow is make everything crystal. Seriously, guys. Three bozos running an email newsletter shouldn’t need to tell you this!

Anyhoo, all these new restrictions are being introduced following not just a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country, but also an increase in the number of people flouting the MCO (828 people were arrested yesterday alone!) for the stupidest of things. Like, you know, playing sepak takraw, getting together to gamble online and gathering for a cockfight. Yes! A bloody cockfight!

By the way, speaking of MCO dodgers, remember the cardiologist who gave Penang council officers a hard time for not allowing him to jog in a park? Well, the dude’s now claimed trial to charges of obstructing a public servant from discharging his duties as well as breaching the MCO. Dr Ong Hean Teik, who was released on bail on Monday, will now have to return to court in early June to begin his defence.

Oh yeah, just in case you’re wondering if there’s gonna be a Phase 3 or indeed an extension to the MCO, Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says that’ll really depend on whether Malaysians can be disciplined, exercise social distancing, and adhere to the rules over the next two weeks. Hmmm. We’d like to say we have faith in our fellow Malaysians to do what needs to be done. But a cockfight lah wei!

Cases climb as third lockdown ordered

The number of Covid-19 infections and deaths have climbed again. However, if there’s a silver lining from Monday’s figures, it’s that a record 91 people were discharged yesterday, taking the number of total recoveries to 479, or 18.2% of all the cases to date.

Even so, it’s way too early to smile, considering the increase of 156 infections and two fatalities from the previous day, which takes the overall tally now to 2,622 cases and 37 deaths. Also, the number of folks in intensive care has shot up again, from 73 to 94!

The increase in cases, the Health Ministry says, was particularly noticeable in Hulu Langat, where a spike was recorded on Monday, despite an EMCO being implemented in seven kampungs there. But why has there been close to 300 infections in the area, you ask? Well, according to Health D-G Noor Hisham, one of the reasons may be due to a number of villagers having attended the tabligh gathering in Seri Petaling in late February.

Meanwhile, a third area – an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, this time – has been placed under lockdown. However, while the 3,200 residents at Menara City One are barred from leaving the location, unlike at Kluang and Hulu Langat, residents here will be allowed to order food online and pick up their purchases from the lobby. Shops providing essential goods will also be allowed to operate. 

The EMCO for Menara City One – which was ordered after 17 infections were recorded there – marks the first time an entire building has been locked down.

Lockdowns and numbers aside, it seems nationwide disinfection exercises have now been initiated by Putrajaya. However, while large-scale spraying and cleaning may succeed in putting a lotta people’s minds at ease, more than a few experts, have questioned the effectiveness and use of exercises that generally focus on roads and pavements. In a nutshell, the major complaint these folks have is that it’s a waste of money to spray roads because few sane people are gonna rub their hands on roads and then touch their faces. 

Other Covid-19 matters

The main stories notwithstanding, other coronavirus-related items did make the news too. Here’re the important ones:

  • Zoo Negara, which was already facing cash flow issues prior to Covid-19 hitting Malaysia, says it’s now been forced to dip into emergency funds to keep the zoo running. It seems the cash is only enough for three months though.
     
  • global condom shortage could be looming thanks to international lockdowns which have forced major condom manufactures, like Malaysia’s Karex Bhd, to halt production. The company was given a special exemption on Friday to resume operations. However, with only 50% of its workforce back in action, there’s a real worry global demands won’t be met. So… a condom shortage and people stuck at home for weeks on end. A baby boom coming soon?
     
  • Lawyers and the public will be allowed to wear face masks and gloves during court proceedings to help prevent against Covid-19 transmissions. All civil and criminal trials are postponed for the duration of the MCO, by the way. However, remand and bail applications are going on as usual.
     
  • Speaking of face masks, the government has set RM1.50 as the new ceiling price. However, at least one manufacturer is threatening to cease production as the new price doesn’t make it monetarily worthwhile to continue. 
     
  • Finally, a man in Terengganu found a novel way to get his young neighbours to stay indoors during the MCO – he dressed up as a ghost, got his wife to take pics of him standing atop a van dressed all in white, and loaded the shots on Facebook. Genius! Traumatising for the kids, probably. But genius!

Dan lain-lain

While Covid-19 did dominate the headlines on Monday, there were, nonetheless, a few other bits and bobs.

  • Cops are investigating the theft of about RM250,000 in cash (IN CASH!) from Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s home. We agree, the culprits should certainly be caught. However, could the police also find out why the MP had so much loose change at home, how a 27-year-old got that kinda dough, and also, why the guy was not working from home when this happened? We’re asking on behalf of an inquisitive friend.
     
  • Education icon Dr Mohd Rashdan Baba has passed away. The renowned academician – who served as the first vice-chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (from Sept 1, 1969, to March 31, 1971) as well as the first vice-chancellor of Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (from 1971 to 1982) – was 85.
     
  • The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has received reports of possible abuse of power in relation to the resumption of the East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) project. Although MACC boss Azam Baki has refused to reveal if the abuse was linked to members of the former Pakatan Harapan government, Harian Metro claims at least one complaint is against ex-Council of Eminent Persons member Daim Zainuddin.

“Restriction generates yearning. You want what you cannot have.”

- Portia de Rossi -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Donald Trump has backed off plans to re-open businesses by Easter, and extended the United States’ stay-at-home guidelines to April 30. Meanwhile, a field hospital has been set up in New York’s central park to deal with the influx of coronavirus patients there.
     
  • Covid-19 has claimed more than 37,000 lives worldwide already. And among some of the more famous names to have succumbed to the dreaded disease are Japanese comedian Ken Shimura, country music star John Diffie, and Alan Merrill, songwriter and singer of the original version of I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.
     
  • Cops in England have dyed a popular “lagoon” black to deter people from flocking it to it during the nationwide lockdown. The lagoon in Buxton, that’s actually a disused quarry, regularly sees tourist visits, despite repeated earlier warnings from authorities that the water contains toxic chemicals. 
     
  • Kerala is considering allowing the online sale of alcohol during its 21-day lockdown following reports that at least two people committed suicide after not being able to get their hands on liquor.
     
  • Remember how our brilliant Health Minister Adham Baba advocated air suam to fight Covid-19? Well, he’s not the only genius politician out there with insane solutions to the problem. other wacky suggestions from jokers from ex-Soviet bloc countries include vodka, hockey and folk medicine. Though, tbh, we’d rather have the vodka than the air suam.
     
  • And in today’s WTF news, a Kazakh bodybuilder has postponed plans to get married to his life-like sex doll due to, wait for it, self-isolation rules ‘cos of Covid-19!

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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