Twenty-four hours or so after that Anwar Ibrahim announcement, the debate still continues as to whether he actually has majority support and, if so, whether the Agong will declare him our next prime minister or send us to the polls.

Meanwhile, regardless of what’s happening in Putrajaya, politicians are back to hitting the campaign trail for tomorrow's Sabah elections. All this comes as our Covid-19 numbers are still climbing at an alarming rate, so much so that the frustrated Health DG has actually pleaded with the people to follow those damned SOPs.

And the beat debate goes on

The King holds the cards

After Pakatan Harapan head honcho Anwar Ibrahim announced he had the majority support to dethrone Perikatan Nasional, our newsfeeds were inundated with everybody – from politicians, academics, constitutional experts, civil activists and Twitterjaya – and their mothers commenting on the whole messy business.
  
Was the man-who-may-be-PM justified in rocking the boat (especially after rocking it in 2008?)? Could he possibly have the majority MP support he says he does? And even if he does, does he truly have a moral or even constitutional leg to stand on in attempting to wrest Putrajaya from Muhyiddin Yassin’s clutches? 

While we wait for Saudara Nuar’s audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, we thought we’d present you with the skinny on all sides of the debate as it rages on, so you can make up your own mind over what’s now being called the Meridien Move.

Those who support PKR bossman’s claim to Putrajaya also support his claim that an Anwar premiership would represent a return to the mandate accorded by the people in GE14 in 2018. Anwar, himself, said this in justifying that his would not be a backdoor government. But is this really true? There’s an interesting Twitter debate on the subject, if you’re interested. 
 
After all, the Pakatan that toppled BN’s over 60-year reign in May 2018 had a different composition to the one we see today. For one, it had Bersatu and its leaders, including current PM Muhyiddin and one Dr Mahathir Mohamad as then prime minister. It also had a much less fragmented PKR, including Anwar’s once best bud Azmin Ali and his gang, before they and Bersatu decided to frog it over to the other side. 

Lest we forget, Anwar was still in the slammer serving his five-year sentence for sodomy and was only granted a royal pardon one week after GE14. 

Now, we know Mads and his new Pejuang party MPs are not among those supporting Anwar. The Bersatu peeps, too, are apparently all firmly behind Moo, meaning Anwar must be receiving support from BN/Umno MPs (15 of them if this report is to be believed) to justify his claim to the PM throne.
 
So, does it constitute a return to the people’s mandate if the very party they rejected in GE14 will now be a part of the new Pakatan administration? Does it constitute a return to the mandate if it doesn’t have Mahathir there? Or Bersatu?
 
Of course, there’s the argument Pakatan was voted in on the promise of Anwar taking over premiership from old man Mads. And one can’t fault Anwar for his former boss-turned-ally-turned-enemy’s decision to renege on that promise, no matter how many times the nonagenarian attempted to deny this. Yes, yes Maddey, we know, no timeframe for the handover to Anwar was ever given. 

But can Anwar and his allies, hand on heart, say that people voted for Pakatan because they wanted him as PM (eventually) – or was it just because they wanted a change of government?

So, now we wait for the Agong to meet with Anwar, but even that small thing is being debated hotly. There are some, such as constitutional law expert Professor Shamrahayu Ab Aziz, who think that only the PM can be granted an audience with His Majesty. 
 
Not so, say other experts. He can meet anyone he damn well pleases, including any MP claiming the sitting PM has lost the confidence of MPs. After all, this has been done at state-level many, many times in our history with our sultans and/or governors. Just take Sabah for example.
 
Isn’t it the Agong’s prerogative who he wishes to grant an audience to? After all, during the political crisis earlier in the year which resulted in Pakatan’s having to pack their bags and exit Putrajaya, his Highness met with Mahathir after the PM7 resigned in a huff.
 
Considering Anwar actually had been granted an audience with the King, albeit one which had to be postponed as the Agong was hospitalised, it’s likely he will get the chance to present his case. After all, it was this very Agong who had declared Muhyiddin the PM in March. 
 
Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who holds a law degree, has said a sitting PM can’t be replaced by any other MP, thanks to Article 43 of the Federal Constitution. Under that Article, if a sitting PM has lost the confidence of the majority of the MPs, then he must resign or ask the King to dissolve Parliament. Muhyiddin, Wan Junaidi pointed out, has yet to resign.
 
What this means is that even if Anwar does indeed have the majority parliamentary support, the King can’t give just Muhyiddin the heave-ho and make the PKR president’s fantasies come true. This situation is different from the one in March as Mahathir had resigned as PM and this allowed His Majesty to make his own decision as to who should be PM8. 
 
Perhaps the best way is what Maddey is now suggesting, that Anwar call for a vote of no confidence against poor ol’ MooMoo which, if successful, would then force him to choose. 
 
If Parliament is dissolved, GE15 called and Pakatan wins the day, then Anwar can still have his Year of the Three PMs. Best still, that would legitimately be the mandate of the people.
 
Anyhoo, there were, as we said, lots of other reports on the Anwar Move, and we’ve compiled some of the more important ones here (because if not, today’s BTL would be the length of a phone book!):

  • Muhyiddin may be campaigning for the so-called Gabungan Rakyat Sabah in the state elections there, but he couldn’t resist plumping for himself. He’s said he may not be an extraordinary PM, but he was up against extraordinary challenges like Covid-19 and its effects on the economy and so has had to make extraordinary decisions. Not bad, playing the humble-yet-not-so-humble card, Tan Sri. 
     
  • BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who said many BN MPs supported Anwar, fueled further speculation of a fallout with Muhyiddin and PN by not showing up at a big GRS event in Sabah.
     
  • Several Umno peeps have denied being among those looking to hop on over to Anwar’s camp. Among them, Umno veep Mahdzir Khalid and Besut MP Idris Jusoh. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein aka H20 has come out strongly to say that any Cabinet minister supporting Anwar should resign immediately
     
  • Pakatan insiders and analysts have said Umno MPs (and BN ones, we guess) stand to win big by supporting Anwar’s bid as they hope this will trigger fresh elections which they hope BN can capitalise on. 
     
  • In the same vein, Umno’s Khaled Nordin has called for elections to resolve the political uncertainty in the country, ostensibly as it’s the rakyat who are the boss. 
     
  • PKR Youth have said that a poster allegedly showing the wing congratulating Anwar on his “swearing-in ceremony” is fake
     
  • Pakatan partner Warisan will never work with Umno, its deputy president Darrell Leiking says. So, how lah Brother Anwar, if you need Umno’s support to become PM? 

On the road again

As the initial shock of Anwar’s announcement is easing, it was back to the campaigning grind as candidates not quarantined – and their party leaders – doubled down in the final few days.
 
With some 1.08 million people eligible to cast their ballots tomorrow, parties are going all out for the win. Both DAP and GRS held “grand finale” rallies yesterday, attended by hundreds of people. 
 
At the GRS event, PM Muhyiddin said he expected a landslide victory for the pact due to the solidarity member parties have shown. We’re willing to bet Warisan Plus leader Shafie Apdal would beg to differ. 

And along with all, that there was also the strange (or not so strange anymore?) sight of frogs taking centrestage. Billboards have been put up, threatening dire (but delicious?) consequences for frogs. PKR and Warisan Plus went one step further, firing up the grill to serve a frog dinner at a Kota Kinabalu hawker centre. 

But it’s not all fun and games. The reality is the elections will go on amidst a resurgence of Covid-19 infections in the state. Yesterday saw another 71 new cases nationwide. Even though the notorious Benteng LD cluster in Lahad Datu and Tawau is showing signs of slowing down, the vast majority of cases (63, to be exact) were detected in Sabah. 
 
The Health Ministry will expand Covid-19 screening in Lahad Datu and Tawau and caretaker CM Shafie has acknowledged the risks involved in holding the elections (no shit!), adding to growing concerns amongst the people. 
 
BN sec-gen Annuar Musa, meanwhile, has tested negative for Covid-19 but has been ordered to undergo quarantine after coming into contact with Umno supreme council member Mohd Razlan Rafii. Razlan had tested positive earlier whilst campaigning in Sabah. 
 
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces has denied rumours some of its personnel contracted Covid-19 after taking part in early voting. Quite frankly, though, those spreading such rumours are loco as it would be too soon to tell if anyone was infected, considering early voting was only a few days ago. 
 
While we’re on the topic of security forces, this is a little late, but something we thought worth including anyway: At least 72 police reports have been lodged against former Warisan minister Mohamaddin Ketapi for claiming the 2013 Lahad Datu intrusion, in which 10 members of our security forces lost their lives, had been cooked up by the then BN federal government. Our coppers say Mo will be called up for questioning soon. 

Finally, since this is the last newsletter before Sabah heads to the polls, we thought we would include these two excellent guides to the battle royale in East Malaysia. If you’re still a little blur as to who is who and what exactly this is all about, you can go here and here to get some insights. 

Please, please, pretty please

We, as a nation, did so well flattening the Covid-19 infection curve all these months, but now there has been a massive resurgence of cases. It’s no wonder the Health Ministry is super frustrated.
 
So much so that the ministry has now taken to pleading for the people “regardless of status and stature” to comply with the government’s SOPs. Despite their best efforts, including placing Kota Setar in Kedah under enhanced MCO, infections continue to grow in that state and Sabah. 
 
So, Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has reminded Malaysians that even though much of the country are “green zones”, that blighted coronavirus is still out there in the community and everyone must continue to observe SOPs. You’d think the man would not have to say such obvious things.
 
Sabah, especially, has seen many infections – too many, it must be said – and there is now evidence that the infections there have spread to Peninsular Malaysia. This includes a case in Kelantan, the first in the state since July 30, where the patient was found to have visited Kota Kinabalu and Kundasang

It’s not hard to read between the lines (get it, get it?) of Noor Hisham’s statement. The poor guy must surely be feeling as frustrated as the rest of us about just how slack people have been recently. And we take that barb about ‘regardless of status and stature’ as an unsubtle jab at politicians, who seem to be among the worst miscreants (were looking at you Turkey-visiting Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali). 

Noor Hisham got even more pointed yesterday, saying that anybody who visited red zones in Sabah should get themselves tested even if they were asymptomatic. So people. For god’s sake listen to the man. 
 
Meanwhile, here are some other bits of Covid-related news for you:

  • All non-Malaysian citizens must now pay RM4,700 immediately upon arrival in the country as full payment for the mandatory 14-day quarantine process. The fee covers “fixed operating charges” and hotel expenses. 
     
  • The Attorney-General’s Chambers has instructed for further investigations be conducted against Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin for breaching mandatory home quarantine regulations after returning from Turkey in July. Just what the heck do the cops need to investigate further when he’s already admitted doing so?

    The man returned in July, the SOP breach made public on Aug 20 and yet cops are still investigating? To compare, it took just one month for the Sivagangga cluster superspreader to be hauled to court for a similar case.
     
  • The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers has lauded the move by the government to extend the wage subsidy programme for employers for another three months, saying this will provide much-needed support for industries in sustaining their business and safeguarding employment during the pandemic and MCO. 
     
  • However, the Perikatan government has been slammed by Lim Guan Eng for failing to extend the loan moratorium. The former moneybags minister says the targeted bank assistance and selective moratorium extension was a “very much inferior” initiative

Odds and ends

There were a number of other news articles that didn’t really warrant whole segments of their own, so we’ve compiled them into our usual odds and ends section:

  • A new World Bank report has concluded that anti-corruption efforts in Malaysia received a boost in 2018 when Pakatan took over from BN. Political interference, the report said, was the main obstacle hampering such efforts during the BN administration. 
     
  • Anti-corruption efforts aside, one group that probably didn’t think too highly of the Pakatan administration must have been Cuepacs, the union for civil servants. The Pakatan gomen terminated the services of 55,000 government contract workers and Cuepacs now wants them reinstated
     
  • AmBank Group, one of the banks reportedly mentioned in a leaked document of the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has refuted any wrongdoing, saying it’s strongly committed to adhering to all banking rules and regulations. 
     
  • Two executives of a company who have been accused in the US of hacking have resigned their positions and have agreed to being extradited
     
  • A 46-year-old woman began an eight-year sentence for abusing her young Indonesian maid yesterday after losing her final appeal in the Court of Appeal. Rozita Mohd Ali had caused grievous hurt to 19-year-old Suyanti Sutrinso using a knife, a mop, a clothes hanger, an iron bar, a cat’s toy and an umbrella at a house in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, in 2016. A video of Suyanti, seriously injured and lying near a drain in a housing area in Mutiara Damansara, went viral in December 2016. 
     
  • The prosecution will appeal a Court of Appeal ruling which upheld the acquittal of a woman charged with murdering her Indonesian maid, Adelina Lisao, two years ago. Adelina was found dead of multiple organ failure outside her employer’s home in Penang, her head and face swollen and covered in wounds. 
     
  • After being in a coma for a week following a carbon monoxide poisoning which claimed three lives, including that of her twin sister, Nor Aqilah Mohd Safwan has finally regained consciousness. Nor Aqilah, her sister and two others had fallen asleep in a car parked at a petrol station in Sama Gagah, Seberang Jaya, with its engine left running. 

“Politics have no relation to morals."

- Niccolo Machiavelli -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • With global Covid-19 infections nearing 32 million and over 976,000 deaths, experts are warning of more tragedy in Europe with winter and the flu season fast approaching. Coronavirus cases are reaching record highs in Europe, thanks to a second wave of the pandemic there. 
     
  • US President Donald Trump will be campaigning in Florida today, even as outrage spreads over his refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose November’s presidential election. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, however, has promised an orderly transition
     
  • Speaking of The Donald, el presidente was greeted with boos and chants of “vote him out” as he turned up to pay his respects to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose remains are lying in repose at the US Supreme Court. 
     
  • Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong’s been arrested for taking part in an illegal assembly in 2019 in what he claimed was an act of intimidation ahead of another planned rally set for Oct 1. Ironically, he was also accused of breaching the anti-mask law last year, what with the current mandated used of face masks due to Covid-19 fears.
     
  • Indian farmers have intensified protests over new agriculture and labour laws recently passed by Parliament. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, however, has claimed the new bills were aimed at reforming antiquated laws.
     
  • Meanwhile, also in India, legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam, who was struck down with Covid-19 in early August, has reportedly taken a turn for the worse. If the 74-year-old, who is now said to now be on life support, dies it would plunge a nation – and many among the Indian diaspora – into mourning. 

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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