I want you to show me the way
I can't see clearly now
Yes, this first section is a long monster. But there’s a lot to unpack, so bear with us, k?
The day finally arrived when, like an excited little schoolboy, Anwar Ibrahim rolled up to Istana Negara to present the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with his claim to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s comfy chair in Putrajaya.
But it was only confusion from there as both the PKR big man and the palace issued somewhat contradicting statements following the big powwow. Not to be left out, MooMoo, in a shocking move, called a press conference soon after, only to pooh-pooh the whole thing. But why shocking? Well, it’s the first contact Moo’s had with the media in months!
Naturally, this compelled the nonagenarian with the mostest Dr Mahathir Mohamad to also have his say … and he really ended up saying it best by saying nothing at all.
Confused? Let’s break it down for ya:
10.25am: Anwar rolls up to Istana for his date with destiny. He leaves about an hour later and deigns to wave at the
peasants media men and women lining the streets.
2pm: The King begins summoning party leaders to the palace, with Umno vet Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah aka Ku Li surprisingly the first to be called.
2pm: Saudara Nuar, flanked by PKR sec-gen Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and wifey dearest Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, holds a press conference at le infamous Le Meridien Hotel to clue us all in as to what went down. Spoiler alert: He said a lot, just not much we didn’t already know.
3pm: Istana Negara issues a press statement clarifying Anwar’s claims.
5pm: PM Muhyiddin holds presser via FB Live. It’s marked by poor audio, grainy video, and on the whole, ignores Anwar and his dreams of Putrajaya. Also, considering it was attended by some of the country’s most senior mainstream media editors, the questions were weak AF, and gave the impression of being stage-managed (you can see our tinfoil hats are firmly on) to make Moo look good.
6.40pm: Former grand poobah Dr M issues a short, snappy and rather excellent looking two-minute vid.
10.45pm: Umno releases a statement on its cooperation with Perikatan Nasional that may or may not give MooMoo the heebie-jeebies.
What was said
Anwar: Legit docs verifying his claims of over 120 MP support have been presented to the King, who’ll now interview other political party heads in the coming days.
He promised no deals were cut with those facing criminal charges to secure said support, but neither will he pursue political vendettas against anyone.
He said his earlier olive branch to Moo was ignored (not a shocker la) but the latter should still resign what with the Perikatan Nasional government having collapsed and all (allegedly allegedly).
He remained non-committal on the matter of frenemy Mads, saying he cannot deny anyone participating in his “inclusive” government, as long as that person is committed to reform.
Side note: Anwar’s press conference was totally unnecessary and put the health and safety of the assembled media (who didn’t seem to practice any social distancing) at risk. There was nothing in the PC that couldn’t have been said via video, tweet or one of his stupidly vague Instagram posts.
Istana Negara: Yes, Anwar had presented his case to the King but here’s the kicker – he didn’t actually give any names of lawmakers who support his bid for PM to back up his claim! His Majesty has thus advised the premier wannabe to c̶h̶i̶l̶l̶ to respect due process. Considering everybody and his dog has denied allying with Anwar, not presenting the names of his list of frogs is a pretty big effing deal!
Incidentally, in light of the CMCO being reinstated in parts of the Klang Valley, the palace is in partial lockdown.
Muhyiddin: Managing the fight against Covid-19 and improving the economy are paramount concerns. And while Anwar was meeting with the King, Moo claimed to have been taking charge of that shit. Meanwhile, he’ll be leaving it to the Agong to decide what happens next.
Most of the presser was taken up with the PM answering questions on the nation’s Covid response and justifying the CMCO marching order for Sabah (which took effect yesterday) as well as KL, Putrajaya and Selangor (which started today).
He also took some time to insist he’d not been avoiding the press. Be that as it may, it’s troubling this is the first press conference our glorious leader has had since March! That’s seven months. That’s some Narendra Modi-level press dodging there!
We don’t know what Moo’s actual agenda was but one wonders why he chose yesterday to hold a presser when the press had been asking for one for yonks. Was it to actually answer questions and address the Covid issue? Or was it a giant middle finger, to show Anwar that Moo thought so little of his claims that he could relegate Anwar to a mere footnote in a press conference about other “more important” matters?
Mahathir: Thou shalt not take the name of Dr Mahathir Mohamad in vain! The former premier was firm that he does not support anyone’s bid for PM (in other words, Maddey fights only for the glory of Maddey). Plus his new party, Pejuang, is free and independent and aligned to no one.
Umno: The party is mulling withdrawing its support for Perikatan and is looking at setting new terms to their partnership. It’s unclear though if this has anything at all to do with Anwar as Umno-PN has been at odds for a while.
What comes next
Well, it’s tough to say, really.
As we’ve pointed out before, according to the Federal Constitution, Anwar can only become premier if MooMoo resigns or advises the Agong to dissolve Parliament. However, during his press conference, the PM barely addressed Anwar’s manoeuvrings, which suggests Moo’s confident he – not Anwar – has the numbers.
Having said that though, Umno’s statement late last night about needing to evaluate its cooperation with Perikatan might have caused the PM to wet the bed last night.
Umno and Muhyiddin’s party, Bersatu, haven’t been on the best of terms of late. And the sniping’s grown louder since the Sabah state election, which saw Umno having to concede to MooMoo’s men, despite having claimed more seats in the polls. But does this, in fact, mean that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and co. are now ready to junk their alliance with Muhyiddin for a new one with Anwar?
If they do, that’ll be major. Even so, the Agong would have to be convinced of that fact, and if he is, then the next step would be for Muhyiddin to resign or ask the King to dissolve Parliament.
Here’s something that may or may not be relevant in the grand scheme of things, by the way: Ku Li, who’s not even an Umno supreme council member, was summoned to the palace before Umno boss Zahid, who’s only scheduled to meet the King on Thursday.
Is that significant? Maybe. But as it stands, right now, we’re no clearer about this whole Anwar for PM thing then we were before yesterday’s press conferences and flurry of statements that revealed very little.
But how’s this for a potential scenario? Two and half years after being booted out of Putrajaya, Umno could very well be back in the driving seat, with Anwar at the helm. What a slap to the face of the rakyat that would be. We’d love to see how Nuar spins that.
At last, Covid clarity cometh
While there appears to be no let-up to the new wave of Covid-19 infections hitting us, Tuesday did at least see the powers that be serve up more clarity in terms of what can and cannot be done in areas affected by the CMCO. Before that though, let’s take a look at the latest numbers:
Facts and Stats
Tuesday’s tally of 660 infections means active Covid-19 cases have now surged to a whopping 5,345. The bulk of the new infections are, as expected, still being registered in Sabah (443 cases). However, significant swells have also been recorded in Selangor (76) and Kedah (60).
More worrying though is that the number of patients in ICU has now officially passed the hundred mark, settling at 101, which is just seven less than the record highest ICU patient tally of 108 on April 3.
Tuesday also saw 4 deaths (total so far: 163). All the victims, it seems, had pre-existing health conditions. But what’s perhaps most significant is that diabetes, a disease which affects one-fifth of adult Malaysians has been linked to 70% of Malaysia’s overall Covid-19 deaths.
Why are diabetics more vulnerable? Well, according to certain reports, diabetes can, among others, trigger stronger inflammatory responses when hit with Covid-19 and/or weaken immune systems.
Terms and Conditions
For example, thanks to Izzy’s notes, we now know that jogging and cycling and certain other non-contact activities are being allowed. Ditto dining in. However, restrictions are being enforced for a great many things.
This constantly updated guide from Malaysiakini, is particularly useful for keeping you informed on the latest SOPs. There is also this by the New Straits Times. Incidentally, Kini also maintains a list of locations affected by the outbreak you may wanna keep track of.
By the way, PM Moo has defended the imposition of the CMCO, noting it was necessary to enforce statewide curbs in places like Selangor as the government needed to think and act proactively. Even so, the PM at long last admitted his government dithered before dealing with the coronavirus in Sabah. Gee, no shit Sherlock. 🙄
Now, admitting guilt is great and all but it’s particularly galling in this as the bugger had the audacity to suggest the delay was “unavoidable” due to the state polls, and his attempt at blaming the spike in cases to undocumented migrants.
However, we can’t stress this enough, power grabs in the midst of a pandemic are VERY AVOIDABLE indeed sir!
Anyways, here’re some other important coronavirus highlights from yesterday:
- Malaysia will be on the priority list for a Chinese-produced Covid-19 vaccine once it’s ready.
The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein following a face-to-face meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Eh, quick question, H2O: how come Wang Yi didn’t have to quarantine ah considering he flew from China and made pitstops elsewhere before touching down here?
- Speaking of quarantine, all travellers from Sabah will now be required to FINALLY undergo a 14-day home confinement. The decision was made, the Health Ministry says, after it found that the number of Covid-19 cases involving folks from Sabah had continued to rise. File this one under the No-Shit-Sherlock folder too!
- Kelantan is calling on all those entering the state from the Klang Valley to self-isolate at home for two weeks. No mandatory confinement order is being introduced though.
- Malaysians who’ve been previously infected with Covid-19 are being urged to participate in a new study on the response of neutralising antibodies in Covid-19 patients. The study is being done by researchers from the Health Ministry’s Institute of Medical Research (IMR).
- Up to 19 cops from the Cheras district HQ have tested positive. Here’s hoping they spent the last few days drinking kopi, enjoying rokok and slacking off instead of, you know, doing their jobs and coming into contact with the public.
All the icky dangly bits
As usual, a number of other things made the news yesterday, and here’re the more important ones you should know about:
- The Finance Ministry has refuted a report it’s offered a RM1 billion loan to help AirAsia crawl out of its financial funk. The report had claimed the loan would be made under the government’s Danajamin Prihatin Guarantee Scheme, which is meant to help companies cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
AirAsia has already cut loads off employees from its books and is understood to be looking at downsizing its fleet.
- In other aviation news, it looks like Malaysia Airlines’ days are most certainly numbered. Here’s a great explainer of what’s gone wrong with MAB and why, Covid-19 notwithstanding, it’s in the shit it is right now.
Thing is, it’s not as simple as the company winding up. If MAB goes down, it’s gonna cost the government a cool RM11.7 billion – and of course, it’ll be John Q. Taxpayer who ends up paying through his arse for it.
- The Batu Sapi by-election has been fixed for Dec 5, with nomination day set for Nov 23. The Election Commission has also announced strict protocols for campaigning and voting will be put in place.
Meanwhile, the EC’s view is that while the Batu Sapi by-election can’t be avoided, it’s the wrong time for polls to be called in Sarawak. EC boss Abdul Ghani Salleh says the current pandemic could result in a whole load of unwanted crap if polls were called now. Sarawak only needs to call for polls before Sept 2021.
- Cleaning up and investigations are in progress following the discovery of an oil spill off the coast of Port Dickson. The source of the spill, which was detected three nautical miles off Tanjung Tuan, has yet to be determined.
- Eleven more prosecution witnesses will be called to give evidence in former PM Najib Razak’s 1MDB audit tampering trial. Seven witnesses have already appeared for the prosecution, but lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram insists that 11 more “is a safe (number)”.
Whatever that means. The Jibster is accused of ordering amendments to the 1MDB audit report before it was presented to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). He is being charged together with former 1MDB chief exec Arul Kanda Kandasamy (no relation to our BTL editor Darshini Kandasamy! 😂).
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."
- Groucho Marx -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly & Co. have halted their respective Covid-19 clinical trials over safety concerns. This is not the first time major companies have paused coronavirus treatment trials. Last month, AstraZeneca temporarily stopped tests after a participant fell ill.
- We. Just. Cannot. China, Russia and Cuba have won seats in the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council despite opposition due to their less-than-stellar human rights records. Saudi Arabia, however, lost. Guess Mohammed bin Salman’s pockets aren’t deep enough to buy him a seat at the big kids’ table.
- United States President Donald Trump marked his return to the campaign trail, following his Covid-19 diagnosis at a huge-ass rally in Florida where he didn’t wear a face mask, mocked rival Joe Biden and told the crowd he feels “so powerful” he could “kiss everyone in the audience”. Ewww!
- Meanwhile, a number of American news outlets, among them The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, have refrained from assigning reporters to travel with the Trump campaign citing concerns safety protocols continue to be disregarded by monsieur l’orange and his peeps.
- Apple has officially unveiled the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini which the company claims will usher in a new era for 5G smartphones. Now, we really dunno about Apple’s lofty claims, but the phones are most definitely gorgeous!
- Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of his country’s UEFA Nations League match against Sweden.
Ronnie’s teammates are all said to have since tested negative but you’ve gotta wonder why UEFA isn’t calling the match off when there’s still clearly a risk of Covid having been passed on to the team. After all, Ron Ron is the third Portugal player to get infected.