PM-forever-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim's so-called big presser turns out to be a bit of a letdown. Still, he hints at a possible reunion with former Umno pals and insists he has the numbers to become glorious leader #9.

Elsewhere, the RM10k fine for violating MCO SOPs is here to stay; our gomen extends CMCOs for several states but makes certain allowances for upcoming festivals; and the fight over the word "Allah" continues.

The man who cried Putrajaya

Informal, premature, adequate?

In the end, it was much ado about nothing.

Following news he’s been in talks with Umno leaders, naturally, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim got everyone abuzz when he called for a press conference where he was expected to announce a possible marriage of convenience come GE15. 

Instead, he’d said discussions between PKR leaders and his former gang were informal and still in the early stages. Thus, it was too early to go shopping for a wedding dress. 

He also claimed he still has “adequate” numbers to form the next gomen, despite a rash of MPs frogging it from PKR. That may be, Anwar ol’ boy, but it’s still a far cry from the “strong, formidable and convincing” song and dance you did not six months ago.

Of course, the PKR head honcho didn’t deny the possibility of an Umno-PKR tie-up down the line but insisted he was dedicated to the principles held by his Pakatan Harapan coalition. 

Someone should tell Abang Nuar that he likely can’t have his kuih and eat it too. How exactly does he plan on (possibly! possibly!) having any Umno deal when the latter’s repeatedly said it’ll never work with DAP

FYI, despite some softening of its stance of late, DAP big boss Lim Guan Eng has said he’s only willing to cooperate with Umno on certain issues only, and certainly not in any elections. 

Amanah, meanwhile, said Harapan must answer some tough questions if it’s indeed okay with buddying up to Umno. Namely, has their former nemesis repented? Would they be willing to have Anwar as PM and play second fiddle to Harapan? And would this mean PH has changed? All good questions, which should prompt some soul-searching by Anwar and his geng – if they’re capable of such introspection, that is. 

Still, never say never, as the politics of convenience can lead to strange bedfellows. How would Anwar reconcile this with years of PH spent denouncing a kleptocratic and kakistocratic (allegedly! allegedly!) Umno and the hordes of criminal and graft charges levelled at several Umno leaders *cough Najib cough Zahid*?

Let’s not forget that this is the same guy who started as an Islamist, became a Malay nationalist with Umno, before later getting into bed with parties he had previously been rivals with, until finally allying with the very man who destroyed his career and jailed him. The guy has had as many ‘spouses’ as Liz Taylor! So, should anybody really be surprised he’s now giving Umno the come-hither look?

But watch out Anwar cos another opposition MP – former Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal – is also eyeing that cushy Putrajaya PM throne. At the same time, Bersatu-loving Umno man Annuar Musa is continuing to push for the holy triumvirate of Umno-Bersatu-PAS.

Oh, BT-Dubs, the ghosts of PH past have come to haunt the latest frog, ex-PKR man Xavier Jayakumar. Videos of him slamming past party hoppers and the unelected PN gomen –– which he’s now supporting ––  have been making the rounds. 

Speaking of party hopping, Anwar’s claimed several more of his MPs have received offers and/or threats to jump ship. He’s seeking a date with the MACC to nip this in the bud. 

Shoot first, question later

It looks like we’re stuck with them nasty RM10,000 fines. 

Party pooper minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said the gomen wouldn’t repeal the hefty fine for Covid-19 SOP violations. Once again, he reiterated the amount could be reduced upon appeal at district health offices. 

Our “MCO Minister”, though, did say that de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan and Health Minister Dr Adham Baba were meeting to kinda streamline the fines. Meaning, not all SOP violations will get you a full RM10k compound, and exemptions could be given to the less privileged. For example, there are cases such as this one, where there are questions if beggars were issued the RM10,000 compound. Beggars! 🤦‍♂️

The results of the meeting, he said, will likely be presented to the Cabinet today. All so very typical of our gomen during this pandemic, right? Implement first, clarify later!

Even so, there doesn’t seem to be any consideration for nullifying any fines. So what of summons wrongly issued, pray tell (like the couple allegedly fined while in their empty shop or another couple while eating)? Opposition MPs, too, have called for all RM10k fines issued before this to be cancelled

Meanwhile, Youth group Muda has lodged a police report against several ministers who crossed state lines to attend a wedding recently (allegedly! allegedly!) in a CMCO state. Those named and shamed include Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin; Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa and Moneybags Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz (again, allegedly! allegedly!).

It has to be pointed out that elected reps are allowed to cross state lines, BUT (we like big buts and we cannot lie) only for official gomen/MP/Adun business. Also, remember, interstate travel’s only allowed between RMCO states.

So, how now, Izzy? These fellas gonna get RM10k fines? Of course, it’ll probably not even put a small dent in their finances, but fair is fair, right? They can always appeal later, right.

Incidentally, the CMCO for Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Johor and Kelantan has been extended till March 31, and Sarawak to March 29.

Meanwhile, the CMCO for Perak and large parts of Kedah and Negeri Sembilan will end today, putting these areas under RMCO, except for Kuala Muda, Kulim and Seremban (sorry folks, ya’ll be still under CMCO. But hey, misery loves company!).

Also, good news for Muslim and Chinese folks –– Terawih prayers and Ramadan bazaars next month (OK, this one all of us can enjoy) will be allowed, as are Cheng Beng activities, all under strict SOPs, of course. 

As much as we’re sure many are relieved by this, we do hope it’s the right decision. We don’t want any Ramadan/Cheng Beng cluster after all.

🎶 Downbound train 🎶

As far as Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 caseloads are concerned, the downward trend continued yesterday as we registered 1,063 new cases. That’s the lowest we’ve gone since Dec 9 (959 cases) and just a smidge above three-digit figures!

With 1,365 recoveries, this brings our active cases down further to 15,204. There were 5 deaths, bringing total fatalities to 1,218.

And all this while our National Immunisation Programme continues to roll out. Coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said the gomen aims to set up large scale vaccination centres capable of handling 8,000 shots daily in every state. In so doing, it hopes to complete all three phases of the programme by the end of the year. 

Tok Janggut also said Malaysia is in talks with India to purchase the Novavax vaccine, encouraged by the vaccine’s clinical data. The problem, though, is that India’s pushing its homegrown Bharat Biotech, which has no phase three trial clinical data yet. 

Oh, and the federal government has given the green light to states intending to procure vaccinations on their own, subject to availability

Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related stories from yesterday:

  • Suhakam has urged the gomen to review the new emergency ordinance law, which deals with so-called fake news and reconvene Parliament ASAP so there can be accountability. 
     
  • IGP Hamid Bador has said the person called up for questioning by police in connection to allegations of vaccination queue-jumping by the Kelantan state secretary’s staff wasn’t the whistleblower, but had merely tweeted about it. Hamid stressed that the person wasn’t a suspect either. 

God by any other name and other stories

The fallout from the High Court’s decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word “Allah” continued yesterday following news the PN government had appealed the verdict.

Lawmakers on both sides of the great political divide from Sabah and Sarawak have united to urge the gomen to withdraw the appeal. They said this would help end not only the 35-year-old pain felt by Sabahans, Sarawakians and the Orang Asli, but would be a positive legacy for PM Muhyiddin Yassin. 

Sarawakian party SUPP, however, took a harder tack, lambasting the federal gomen by saying this went against the promises made in the Malaysia Agreement 1963. SUPP prez Sim Kui Hian said this was Peninsula imposing their version of Malaysia on Sarawak and was all about securing Malay votes for an unstable gomen. Ouch! 

Meanwhile, a Jakim committee head, in justifying a PAS push for federal legislation to restrict the spread of other religions to Muslims, said such legislation could serve as a guide for states to update their enactments on the matter. 

Currently, only Sabah, Sarawak, Penang and Perlis don’t have such state enactments, while the lack of federal legislation means the FTs don’t either. 

Here are some other interesting bits of news for you from yesterday:

  • Ahead of its report on Malaysia, the World Bank’s lead economist for Malaysia has said the country’s investment slump shows the need for structural reforms. But Moneybags Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz chose to focus on the positive, saying the bank believes Malaysia will reach high-income status in five years’ time. Go sing that song to the B40, Zaf. 
     
  • The prosecution in the 1MDB-linked case against Roger Ng has told the court that the former Goldman Sachs banker is expected to return to Malaysia only on June 1 as the US Department of Justice has a case against him in New York. 
     
  • The High Court has allowed OCBC Bank to auction off “missing” ex-1MDB lawyer Jasmine Loo’s apartment in swanky Mont Kiara to recover an outstanding loan of RM308k. 
     
  • Top Glove has been charged with failing to provide Labour Department-certified housing for its foreign workers, meaning they were given shitty places to live. 

“Everything before the word ‘but’ is horseshit.”

- Jon Snow, Game of Thrones -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • More European nations have suspended the use of the AstraZenaca Covid-19 vaccine, although experts are saying benefits far outweigh the risks and the European Medicines Agency claimed there’s no indication it causes blood clots. 
     
  • A US intelligence report has said Russia attempted to interfere in the 2020 US elections. Is anybody surprised? And does anyone really think Russia is the only nation to indulge in this kind of shit-stirring? No idea what we mean? Read thisthisthis or this.
     
  • Moderna has begun clinical trials for vaccines for children while researchers from Hong Kong, the US and Denmark say a leprosy drug is effective in suppressing Covid
     
  • The international team that flew to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus has delayed its report to next week. 
     
  • The UN has decried surging deaths in Myanmar since the Feb 1 coup, warning that detained protesters face torture and that hundreds have disappeared.

    Meanwhile, the EU is expected to approve sanctions against the business interests of those responsible for the coup. 
     
  • China, concerned by the huge sway Alibaba Group has on public opinion, wants Jack Ma’s outfit to sell off its media assets

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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