The country is maintaining its impressive Covid-19 recovery rate, which is among the best in the world right now. But with Hari Raya just around the corner, will there be an increase in infections, especially among those who may try to break the interstate travel ban and balik kampung, or even those who stay within state boundaries but don’t keep to social distancing norms?

Meanwhile, the Perikatan government claims the Agong’s opening address in Parliament vindicates them and is evidence it's a legitimate government; former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad still seems to think he's Pakatan leader; and, a lawyer wants the courts to review the decision to discharge Najib Razak’s stepboy Riza Aziz from money laundering charges.

Our biggest test beckons

What will Raya bring?

Malaysia continued its impressive Covid-19 recovery rate yesterday as the number of people discharged outnumbered new cases two to oneZero deaths were recorded, leaving the death toll at 114 so far. 
 
There were 31 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 7,009. However, 60 people were discharged from hospital after making full recoveries, bringing that total to 5,706 and nudging the recovery rate up to 81.41%
 
This is great progress and really heartening news. Much as we enjoy laughing at them when they screw up, the fact remains that our authorities (and yes, even our politicians) have done a generally sterling job in managing this crisis. 

That said, there are still astonishing lapses every now and then that threaten to undo a lot of the good work that’s being done. Take, for example, one of the latest incidents. This one happened in Kelantan, which has been a “green” state for quite some time – meaning the state is completely Covid-free.

A woman, 35 weeks pregnant, traveled from Ampang, a red zone, in Selangor back to her hometown in Kelate because she wanted to give birth there – and was then found to have been infected by Covid.

There are two big questions here. Firstly, how did she slip past every checkpoint between Selangor and Kelantan, considering interstate travel is banned? And secondly, how did she travel out of a red zone, since such things are not allowed? 
 
These kinds of slips are worrying because the long Hari Raya Aidilfitri weekend is just around the corner. It’s a time when Muslims traditionally balik kampung to celebrate in their respective hometowns. And while interstate travel is barred and the cops have already begun putting up additional roadblocks (and, in fact, have already blocked more than 3,000 vehicles attempting to cross state lines), some may very well slip through undetected. After all, a heavily pregnant woman managed to do it. And, what if, like her, anybody else who evades the blocks is also infected?
 
And, let’s face it. Interstate travel aside, there is still that worry the festive period may see many people moving around, ignoring social distancing and hygiene measures, and potentially spreading Covid-19 within state boundaries. Health DG Dr Noor Hisham has again come out to say there shouldn’t be any salam during Raya, and no travel between red and green zones (you know, like between Ampang and Kelantan?).

Also, Raya visits are to be limited to the first day, confined to family members within state boundaries, and capped at 20 people the entire day (depending on the size of your home). Additionally, congregational prayers at mosques and suraus are now being allowed, while standard operating procedures (SOPs) for religious gatherings for non-Muslims is set to be unveiled today

Failure to abide by any of these SOPs could spell catastrophe for the country. And, considering the incubation period of up to two weeks for Covid-19, it may take quite a while before we are made aware of the consequences of any lapses in judgements.
 
All in all, the next week is going to be crucial for Malaysia. Get through this period unscathed and we have a really good chance of being free and clear of coronavirus. Cock it up, and we’re gonna pay the price with more sick people, more dead people and a possible return to almost full lockdown. Time to say a prayer to your deity of choice. 
 
Meanwhile, here are a few other Covid-related stories which appeared yesterday:

  • From June 1, Malaysians returning from overseas will have to pay half the hotel charges incurred for their compulsory quarantine. 
     
  • Minister in the PM’s Department Mustapa Mohamed says the public and private sectors need to intensify collaboration to support the economy as the nation restarts businesses. 
     
  • Perak has begun relaxing restrictions, with the state government now agreeing to allow dine-in at restaurants as well as certain recreational activities in public parks. 
     
  • Immigration officers raided the areas around the Jalan Othman wet market in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, yesterday for undocumented foreigners, a move roundly slammed by PJ MP Maria Chin Abdullah. The good news, however, is that by the time you read this, the EMCO in the area would have already been lifted

2 legit 2 quit?

So, are you happy or pissed that as life slowly returns to normal, politics is again taking centre stage in the news cycle? Either way, yesterday saw the continuing recent trend of a great many people saying a great many things that don’t make a great amount of sense. 
 
Firstly, – and probably most importantly – several Perikatan Nasional and Gabungan Parti Sarawak leaders released a statement saying the YDP Agong’s opening address at the Dewan Rakyat earlier this week shows the current government is legitimate. They were probably referring to the fact our King had said PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin (one of the signatories to the statement, of course) had been appointed after political parties were given ample time to gauge support and field their candidates in a democratic manner. 
 
This is a disingenuous statement. Most people don’t agree that the Agong’s decision was illegal. What’s got people’s goat is the way things happened, because the mandate to administer the country was given to Pakatan Harapan, of which Moo’s Bersatu was a member.
 
That Bersatu left Pakatan and joined forces with the likes of Umno and PAS is considered by many to be a betrayal of that mandate, hence the widespread anger. 

In any case, a fair share of the blame is also on Dr Mahathir Mohamad for stepping down as PM in the first place, forcing the removal of the Pakatan Cabinet and all the crap that followed after.
 
Which is why to hear Maddey bleating now is really rather nauseating. Our PM4/PM7 says if he had wanted to betray the people, he would have become Perikatan’s PM. He also said he would remain loyal to Pakatan and promised “big trouble” for Muhyiddin’s government in that Opposition MPs would vote against every initiative brought to the Dewan Rakyat. 
 
OK. There are so many things we can say to those statements. How about we start with how Mads is still trying to peddle this image of himself as a saintly and supremely altruistic figure? Does anyone still believe that? Has anybody ever believed that? 
 
Secondly, saying the opposition will vote down all the bills brought to Parliament by the government just reeks cutting off the country’s nose just to spite its face. The job of a parliamentarian, whether in government or in the opposition, is to work for the people, and not yourself. So even if a bill being proposed by the gomen is good, or necessary, you’re gonna vote it down anyway? Talk about throwing your toys out of the pram! Also, you’re not the opposition leader – that mantle is on the shoulders of your frenemy Anwar Ibrahim.
 
So, you’re not the PM, and you’re not the opposition leader. But you’ve declared support for Pakatan. All well and good. But you’re still a Bersatu member and still claiming to be party chairman, and last we heard, Bersatu is part of the government and therefore aligned against Pakatan. So why aren’t you and your supporters not leaving the party? Join another party, or start another one of your own. 
 
Mahathir’s position within Bersatu, in fact, is one that is on the edge of a precipice. The Registrar of Societies records say he had resigned and that Muhyiddin is now acting chairman. And though when nominations for party positions closed, he technically won the chairmanship unopposed, the party elections have yet to be held. So, officially, he’s not chairman yet and will only be chairman again after party elections are held.
 
Political analysts also say his position is still unclear due to his battle with Muhyiddin. The party could move to take disciplinary action against Maddey for not toeing the party line. And let’s face it – people have been sacked for less.  
 
Overall, political analysts say Pakatan, with or without Maddey and his gang, should just wait till GE15 and not attempt to force another change in government. If not, they run the risk of giving the impression that they are really obsessed with power. Our politicians? Obsessed with power??!? Perish the thought! 

You erred, Yang Arif

Mahathir’s fight with Muhyiddin has become so all-encompassing that it’s even spilled over to the controversial court decision to grant Hollywood film producer and Najib Razak stepson Riza Aziz a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) on charges related to the theft of 1MDB funds.
 
Maddey hit out at the PM’s Office for issuing a statement the other day denying any involvement by Moo in the case. He said he couldn’t understand why the statement had to be made because, as far as he knew, nobody had accused the PM of being involved. 
 
It’s a pretty clever statement, actually. By doing so, Mads was implying there must have been some guilty feelings on MooMoo’s part. But let’s face facts. While there has been no one (that we know of, anyway) who has come out to say the PM or his officers were involved, many are thinking it. After all, Riza is Jibby’s stepson, Jibby is an Umno member, and Umno is part of Perikatan. Q.E.D.
 
Anyhoo, the decision for the DNAA was made last week, but the controversy has yet to subside. That whole Tommy-Thomas-agreed-to-it suggestion, even though denied (repeatedly!) by the former attorney-general (A-G), is still out there. And if this report quoting sources is to be believed, then the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has records showing Mr T actually knew about the deal every step of the way when he was A-G. 
 
That, however, hasn’t stopped a senior lawyer from filing an application to review the KL Session Court’s decision to grant the DNAA. Shahrudin Ali, who filed the application yesterday on his own volition, claims the court had erred in law in granting the DNAA. 
 
Riza, as all know, was granted the DNAA in a deal with the prosecution led by Gopal Sri Ram, in exchange for the return of just over US$100 million in funds allegedly taken from 1MDB. Riza has also agreed to testify against the Jibster in the latter’s own 1MDB trial, though it is unclear whether this is part of the DNAA deal.
 
And speaking of the 1MDB trial, ex-1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi was back in court yesterday to be grilled by lead defence counsel Shafee Abdullah.
 
This time, Shahrol claimed he was being made a scapegoat after Shafee pointed out a report by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee which stated Shahrol should be held accountable for weaknesses and blunders which led to 1MDB losing money.
 
Shahrol admitted telling the 1MDB board of directors of the risk of opposition politicians putting a negative spin on 1MDB information given to the PAC, but denied withholding information in a bid to hide wrongdoings by everybody’s favourite felonious financier, Jho Low. 
 
Shafee also questioned Shahrol about the independence of 1MDB board member Ong Gim Huat, who reportedly had a business relationship with Jho boy’s father, Larry Low Hock Peng. However, Shahrol said he was uncomfortable commenting on Ong’s independence though he added that throughout his tenure as CEO, he found that Ong had always acted in the best interests of the company. 
 
Najib, of course, is facing several court cases in connection with money laundering and graft. Besides the 1MDB case, he faces charges in regards to one-time 1MDB subsidiary, SRC International, which is now at the submission stage. Both the prosecution and defence have replied to these submissions. Meanwhile, the joint trial of Jibby and another former 1MDB head honcho, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, for allegedly tampering with the Auditor General’s report on 1MDB, will resume on June 15

Oh, and while all of this is going on, somebody may want to remind the Jibster of social distancing SOPs, coz he seems to have forgotten.

“The diseases that destroy a man are no less natural than the instincts that preserve him.”

- George Santayana -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The World Health Organization has given a stark warning that the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over as the largest single daily rise of infections, at 106,000 globally, was recorded. The total number of infections moves closer to the 5 million mark, with more than 4.95 million people having now been tested positive for Covid-19, with more than 323,000 deaths. 
     
  • Two studies have shown that monkeys infected with Covid-19 have developed immunities, evidence that people who have become infected do develop immunities and that vaccines being developed in labs could work. 
     
  • New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has launched a pilot UV light programme in efforts to kill Covid-19 on its buses and trains as well as its stations. 
     
  • Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis says his country will reopen its tourism season on June 15, with international charter flights to popular locations resuming in July. 
     
  • Cyclone Amphan is threatening millions of people in India and Bangladesh and has killed at least 12 so far in the former. Catch live updates here

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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