A statement from a Perikatan MP that Malaysia was "Tanah Melayu" has, predictably, rankled people from East Malaysia, with Sabah's No. 2 man saying yesterday that the statement was dangerous and, also, just incorrect.

In other news, a DAP MP has proven government MPs wrong by providing proof that his illustrious father has once played an audio recording in the Dewan Rakyat; the war of insults between two former PMs continues; and, two new clusters have been identified as the number of active Covid-19 cases continue to climb.

This is ‘Tanah Melayu’… not!

Dangerous definition

It seems like an age-old argument, but really it’s only a few decades old.
 
We’re talking about the whole argument about whether or not Malaysia is “Tanah Melayu” – or Malay land. Try telling that to Sabahans and Sarawakians, and see just what sort of opposition you get.
 
And so when Umno’s Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said a few days ago that Malaysia was Tanah Melayu and the Bumiputera have more rights than other citizens, feathers were ruffled. Well, it must have anyway, as Sabah and Sarawak MPs brought up the whole issue of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63). They asked the Perikatan government to re-table a proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution which would restore the status of the two states in line with MA63. 
 
That was all still a pretty civil affair, especially by Malaysian Parliament standards where name-calling and even comments bordering on the racist or sexist are relatively common. It wasn’t until yesterday that we saw a sterner response to Tajuddin’s statement.
 
It was Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau, who is also Tuaran MP, who hit out at Tajuddin, giving the lie to his “Tanah Melayu” claim. He said Tajuddin’s claim was dangerous and factually and historically wrong, and ignored the presence of Sabah and Sarawak. He also said the Umno man had the mindset that “this was still” the Federation of Malaya and not Malaysia. 
 
Wilfred is right. Tajuddin’s claims are terrible, considering it completely ignores the role of our East Malaysian states. But more than that, it keeps perpetuating the idea that non-bumiputeras are second class citizens, no matter how much Tajuddin says that every citizen has rights.

There’s also another issue – who exactly is “Malay”? Our Constitution states that a Malay is somebody who is Muslim, habitually speaks Malay and practices Malay customs. In addition to that this person would need to have roots in Malaysia prior to Merdeka to qualify as Malay. 

So what does this mean? Essentially, as this piece eloquently puts it, “Malay” isn’t so much a race as it is a defined class of people – which is why a person can claim to be Malay even if they may actually be of Ponorogo stock. As such, it’s a bit much to argue about “Tanah Melayu” isn’t it? 
 
But anyway, let’s just break down what Wilfred said, shall we? Tanah Melayu actually refers to the Malay Peninsula, and not Malaysia. And the one about Federation of Malaya and not Malaysia? Well, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, which was what was formed after independence in 1957, was Malaya, or the more formal name of Federation of Malaya. What we have now is the Federation of Malaysia. 
 
Malaysia, as we know, was formed in 1963 with Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners (though Singapore was to pull out just a few years later). And that’s where MA63 comes in.
 
But apart from the fact that Sabah and Sarawak are (supposed to be) equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia, it has to be said that to call Malaysia “Tanah Melayu” really is an insult to the people of the two states – not to mention the indigenous Orang Asli population, who are the truest ‘original people’ of this country.
 
According to the NGO Minority Rights Group International, Sarawak’s population is largely non-Malay. Malays make up roughly 24% of the population, and are mostly heterogenous, meaning they are indigenous people who converted to Islam and have been assimilated into the Malay culture. In Sabah, meanwhile, the Malay population stands at just over 5%. 
 
So, the majority of Sabah and Sarawak are made up of the various indigenous peoples of Borneo. And that, boys and girls, is why Tajuddin’s statement has rankled our friends from East Malaysia.

Ram rams his point across

Wilfred slamming Tajuddin didn’t take place in the Dewan Rakyat but in the lobby of Parliament. But that doesn’t mean there was nothing interesting happening within the august House.
 
The most interesting thing was a little spat between government MPs and DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh. We have to applaud the son of the late great Karpal Singh, cos yesterday, he basically “owned” de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan.
 
It all started two days ago, when Ramkarpal attempted to play an audio recording purportedly of PM Muhyiddin Yassin saying he would entice Umno members to join his party Bersatu by offering GLC positions. That was stopped by Deputy Speaker Azalina Othman Said, who said there was no rule in the Standing Orders that recordings could be played in the House, even though Ramkarpal claimed his father had once done so. 
 
Yesterday, Takiyuddin said the government couldn’t find any evidence of Karpal having played any audio recording in the Dewan Rakyat and issued an ultimatum to Ramkarpal to provide proof or face action. 
 
Well, that’s just what Ramkarpal did. He not only provided proof in the form of an excerpt from the Hansard, he even provided a YouTube video of dear old dad playing the audio recording. It must be noted, however, that perhaps Takiyuddin could be forgiven his mistake as Ramkarpal had initially said that the audio recording was played in 2007 while the excerpt and the YouTube video were from 2009. 

But all that aside – what happens to the allegations re the video of Moo and his GLC carrots? And also, if the allegations are true – what about this statement from Tajuddin “Tanah Melayu” Abdul Rahman, who earlier this week claimed he is only being paid RM8,000 a month in his role as a GLC chairman? That’s a sorry-ass carrot right there. 🤨
 
Anyway… The other interesting bit to come out of the Dewan Rakyat was when former DPM Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail decided she was unhappy with what her successor as Women, Family and Community Development Minister had said in the House.
 
Current minister Rina Harun had said the Sexual Harassment Bill would be tabled for first reading in Parliament by the end of the year. The bill, started by the Pakatan gomen, was supposed to have been tabled in March but, of course, fate and a pandemic intervened. Now, apparently, the change in government structure means that the draft of the bill will have to be tabled again for Cabinet approval. 
 
Well, Wawi was most displeased, and who could blame her? After all, this was her ministry’s hard work. Wan Azizah said there were many victims of sexual harassment who didn’t have a proper channel to make complaints and urged the government to prioritise the bill.

We hope this is one of the few occasions where politics and/or theology are set aside because this is a really important law that should have been passed a long time ago.
 
Anyhoo, here are a number of other things of interest which came out in the Dewan Rakyat:

  • Umno veteran Nazri Aziz that the Election Commission Act be amended to enforce a party-list system instead of enacting an anti-party hopping law, which some people say is unconstitutional. What this means is that it is the party and not the candidate which wins a seat, so if an MP changes allegiances, then then the party has the right to appoint another rep for the seat. OK, so some MPs can actually think properly. This is an excellent idea and could put a big dent in party-hopping.
     
  • DAP’s Kasthuriraani Patto, a recent target of a racist comment from a Perikatan MP, proposed amendments to the Standing Orders to censure MPs who uttered racist and sexist remarks. Yes they should!  
     
  • International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali told the House yesterday that the Malaysian car industry was predicting a 34% drop in sales for 2020, but when talking about government efforts to help the industry, he came in for some stick for allegedly racist statements. Azmin had given examples of a Makcik Kiah purchasing a Perodua MyVi while a Mr Ong planned on purchasing a Mercedes, drawing the ire of some MPs. He then changed Mr Ong to Encik Khalid. Sadly, Azmin didn’t mention what Mr Muthu was driving. Perhaps he took the bus? 😒
     
  • Get this! The “Love My Palm Oil” campaign has been rebranded and renamed to “Sawit Anugerah Tuhan” (Palm Oil is God’s Gift). Just who in God’s name came up with that one? 

Jibby 1, Maddey 0

Dr Mahathir Mohamad is known the world over for his biting wit and hard-hitting talk. He’s at times reviled for his statements, at other times almost deified.
 
But yesterday, the good doc may have come up against a worthy opponent and, in our humble opinion at least, come away the loser. 
 
Much as it pains us to say this, it was none other than Najib Razak. Yes folks, Jibby Razak, that king of trolls who, it must be said, has somewhat taken over Maddey’s mantle.
 
You see, Mads took a swing at the Jibster yesterday, saying that if our former glorious leader was found not guilty in his SRC International corruption trial next week, he would want to be PM again. It was a good swing, one that connected pretty well. Unfortunately, it was not enough to knock Najib out. 
 
Our immediate reaction was to laugh. Yeah, there can be little doubt that Najib would love to be PM again. But seriously, kinda sounds like a “pot calling the kettle black” kinda situation, doesn’t it?
 
Well, Jibby must have been reading our minds, cos that’s exactly what he fired back. Najib called Mads a “strange individual” obsessed with the PM-ship. After all, says our intrepid PM6, wasn’t it Mahathir who became PM7 after being PM4? Wasn’t it Mahathir who wanted to be PM8? Wasn’t it Mahathir who said he wanted to be Pakatan’s choice for PM9? 
 
Ouch.
 
Anyway, Jibby also said he wanted to focus on clearing his name first before even thinking of Mahathir. Only then will he sit down to decide if Maddey’s public remarks against him were excessive. We gotta say that’s a bit odd, coming from the man who made that PM4/7/8/9 jibe. 
 
Entertaining as all that was, Najib was also in the news yesterday for a totally different reason. The High Court yesterday granted a summary judgment to the Inland Revenue Board in a suit to recover RM1.69 billion (yes you read that right) in income tax from our PM6. 
 
In effect, this means Jibby-boy has to pay the taxman the amount immediately, but in an FB posting later, our former PM claimed this was inaccurate. He claimed the court ruling merely meant the IRB could continue its claim. 

Sorry Najib, but the learned judge’s ruling clearly states that tax laws in Malaysia require a person appealing to the Special Commissioner on Income Tax for reassessment of taxes, as you are doing, will have to pay up first before the SCIT can rule on any reassessment.

But worry not, Jibby. Between your mega-rich in-laws and your gifted accountant cum multimillion-dollar recording artist wife, we’re sure you’ll be able to scrounge the cash up. But in any case, you may want to cut down on the quinoa for now and go back to jasmine rice. 

House of the rising numbers

The number of active Covid-19 cases in the country continues to rise, with 16 new cases and only four recoveries reported yesterday. This brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 8,566, with active cases now standing at 142
 
Worryingly, among the 16 new cases yesterday was a passenger aboard a KL-Kuching flight, the second case from the same flight. It is now known as the PUI (person under investigation) Melbourne cluster, as the first case was a student who had just returned from the Australian city. 
 
The PUI Melbourne cluster is one of two new ones, the other being the PUI Hyde Park cluster, which has four cases. Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, however, says this cluster has no chance of local transmission as all four were taken straight to hospital after disembarking from a ship, while others aboard the ship, for which the cluster is named, have returned to their countries of origin. 
 
Though one cluster in Sarawak was declared ended, the continued rise of our Covid-19 numbers has led to calls from medical experts as well as the Malaysian Health Coalition for the use of face masks to be made mandatory. 
 
And this is just what the government is going to do, according to Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali. He says the gomen is in the process of gazetting an order making the use of face masks compulsory in public and is currently discussing the setting of a date for this. 
 
Meanwhile, here are some other Covid-related news for you:

  • The government has issued a set of guidelines for korban activities ahead of the Hari Raya Aidiladha festivities next week. 
     
  • The Selangor government is reviewing its SOPs in light of the increased number of Covid-19 cases, as many people seem not to be complying with current SOPs following the implementation of the RMCO. 
     
  • Another Covidiot has been photographed breaking home quarantine regulations, this time in Klang. Is it any wonder then that Selangor is reviewing its SOPs? 
     
  • Fitch Solutions says Malaysian middle-class households will experience a disproportionate fall in their incomes, but not for long as the country is expected to experience a strong and rapid recovery next year. 
     
  • Academicians say Malaysia will suffer a wider deficit if another MCO is imposed. Well, no shit Sherlock. 

Odds and ends

As usual, a number of other things came up yesterday which we thought should be included in our humble newsletter, so here are the highlights:

  • The National Film Development Corporation’s claim that Al Jazeera needed a licence to film its controversial documentary regarding the treatment of migrant workers during the MCO is not valid, says the news org, as the 101 East current affairs show does not fall under the corporation’s own definition of films that require licences. 
     
  • Meanwhile, Astro has been fined by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for airing another AJ documentary, this time on the murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu. The documentary was aired in 2015 and the notice of the fine was sent this month, five years after the show aired and smack in the middle of the controversy over AJ’s migrant workers documentary. Make of that what you will. 
     
  • The husband of a Malaysian YouTube sensation has been remanded for three days for domestic abuse after allegedly attacking his wife in the parking lot of a hospital in Perak. Domestic abuse is horrifying, but what makes this worse is that the whole thing has been splashed all over the media; some media – we’re looking at you, Star – even went so far as to name the couple involved.

    These are just YouTubers, not politicians or people whose private lives are a matter of public interest. Putting all the sordid details in the media puts the entire family and not just the accused through the hell of this trauma and stigma being played out in the public sphere. On top of that, the guy hasn’t even been charged yet – merely remanded. But hey, anything to drive those clicks and that traffic, right? That must be why The Star decided this was worth putting as the main story on their site and sending a news app alert for.
     
  • Former Finance Minister and Penang CM Lim Guan Eng was grilled for almost seven hours in connection with anti-graft investigations into the state’s proposed undersea tunnel project, and will have to go back for more questioning on Saturday. 
     
  • The public can now access asset declaration details of government ministers. PM Muhyiddin, btw, tops the list with earnings of RM93,000 a month. Dayum, it sure pays to be the PM. 

“There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race — scientifically, anthropologically."

- Toni Morrison -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The US has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, saying it is the “epicentre” of the theft of research by the Chinese military. The move has led observers to say that US-China relations could suffer lasting damage
     
  • US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is sending a “surge of federal agents” to several cities to fight violent crime in an escalation of his “law and order” theme going into the November presidential elections. 
     
  • The number of Covid-19 cases worldwide has now surpassed the 15 million mark, with more than 610,000 deaths. With the number of cases in the US approaching the four million mark, the US accounts for a quarter of the world’s cases
     
  • Researchers in Milan have concluded that the earliest Covid-19 strains in Italy did not come from China. The likely source was Central Europe. 

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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