That almighty heavyweight punchup between a two-time ex-PM and an ex-PM-in-waiting has escalated. The latter has 'offered' a reduced position on the Cabinet to the former should Pakatan Harapan regain power. The response? Basically, to take a long walk off a short cliff.

Meanwhile, the same ex-PM may have finally bitten off more than he can chew, attacking another former PM as well as the current PM; the Education Ministry has extended the school academic calendar to Dec 17; and, our Covid-19 numbers are back in the single-digit realm.

This means war

‘What’s up, Doc?’

PKR president and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is apparently open to offering a senior Cabinet position to former mentor-turned-foe-turned-frenemy Dr Mahathir Mohamad should Pakatan return to power. That senior post will be like the position given to late former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew when he eventually “retired” – that of “minister mentor”. 
 
In an interview with Singapore’s Channel News Asia, Anwar rejected the proposal for Maddey to return as PM for six months before handing the reins of the nation over to him as this would mean that there would be six months of not focusing on reform but arguing on when the proposed handover would take place. It was time to move on, he said.
 
And we can’t fault Anwar’s logic there. After all, Mahathir’s term as PM7 seemed to last longer than what was first envisioned and the transition between him and Anwar failed to take place. But we gotta say we don’t think giving Mads the title of “minister mentor” would be quite the same as LKY’s. Lee still had quite some influence when he assumed that mantle, some might even say he still called the shots in Singapore. In Mahathir’s case, it would definitely be a position of reduced power – or perhaps one of no power, if Anwar got his way.
 
And the ol’ politician knows it too. He flatly rejected the offer, saying that in the past, his advice to former PMs had fallen on deaf ears. Well, yeah. As the saying goes, advice is free, so you can either take it or leave it. Plus, you weren’t in any of their Cabinets. But, we understand where you’re coming from. 
 
The wily old fox, however, didn’t stop there. He then issued an ultimatum, saying he would stop his working relationship with PKR if the party continued to oppose his candidacy for the premiership. However, he will continue working with DAP and Amanah, the two other Pakatan components which continue to support him. 
 
What’s more, if the option for him to helm the nation for six months falls through, he would quit Pakatan Plus (the informal name for Pakatan and its allies, Warisan and the Bersatu faction led by Maddey). Maddey didn’t mention anything about Warisan, however, but it is likely he would work with the Sabah party as well, considering it has also come out in support of him. 
 
All this kinda reminds us of Looney Tunes. Specifically, we keep thinking of those many episodes where Bugs Bunny is taking the piss out of Daffy Duck, and a frustrated Daffy says: “Of course, you know this means war.” 
 
Should Mahathir continue to push through his bid, will that mean PKR will cut ties with the rest of Pakatan Plus, or vice versa? The suggestion has already been made, with DAP and Amanah having been accused of abandoning Anwar. 
 
But DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang has come out to say that it’s unfair to say the two parties have left Anwar by the wayside to rot. And, Amanah says the two parties will continue to mediate between Maddey and Brother Anwar in all this infighting, which by the way we have to stress will all come to absolute bupkis if Pakatan doesn’t take back Putrajaya. In fact, such nonsense may actually cause Pakatan to lose votes if it continues any longer. 

What’s clear is that Maddey has taken the nuclear option here, with his “Pick me or I quit” ultimatum. There’s no longer even a pretence of trying to work it out as both men jostle to be top dog. It’s also equally clear that for DAP, any vestigial loyalty to Anwar, coming from their long association, has been ditched in favour of the political calculation of the benefits of siding Mahathir. 

Even if they do officially work things out, has the relationship become so sour that the two men will never be able to trust each other enough to work together effectively?

Maybe the easiest way to solve this imbroglio is for Mahathir and Anwar to just duel to the death, Wild West style

Shut the cluck up

As if taking on a PM-wannabe isn’t enough, our former PM also took on another former premier yesterday. But before we get into all that, let’s delve into the background of the issue, which actually began several days ago.
 
You see, Mads had slammed current PM (are you confused yet?) Muhyiddin Yassin for being two-faced and one of the things he brought up was the discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) for Jibby’s stepson Riza Aziz. Riza was given the DNAA after he agreed to return some of the money he allegedly took from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). 
 
Maddey said this was like stealing 11 chickens then being let go for returning one chicken. Najib later cried “fowl” over the bird analogy, giving his own by saying that this was more like receiving 11 chickens and giving back 13. The Jibster’s reasoning is a little confusing (deliberately?), so we’ll just leave you with his reply here
 
Anyway, back to the present. Najib’s reply also had a dig at Mahathir, alluding to “sweetheart deals” for our favourite nonagenarian’s children and cronies. Mads took umbrage at this, denying Jibby’s claims (did we expect anything less?) and daring him to provide documentary proof ala 1MDB of such sweetheart deals. 
 
Some would call Maddey a bare-faced liar but he’d probably grow a moustache just to prove them wrong. Let’s face it, this is not the first time he has been accused of nepotism and cronyism. His first premiership was lined with many accusations of such acts.

In the late 1990s, Anwar’s supporters within Umno brought such accusations to one of the party’s annual general assemblies, as recounted by this New York Times article from that era. Current supporters DAP also made these same accusations
 
And yesterday, Najib took up Mahathir’s challenge, taking the whole damn chicken analogy a step further by saying that “the entire henhouse” goes to the latter’s children and cronies “to be slaughtered”. He cited cases involving the non-political sons of Mahathir, Mirzan and Mokhzani. 
 
Of course, Jibby could have also cited the same two sons in more recent cases, specifically when Maddey once again became PM following the 14th general election. Almost as soon as that was over and done with, oil and gas company Petron Malaysia, linked to Mirzan, became one of the official suppliers of petrol to the Malaysian gomen’s fleet of vehicles. Mahathir also had to defend the appointment of Mokhzani as president of the Motorsports Association of Malaysia, which controls all motorsports events in the country. 

Mokhzani is also one of Malaysia’s richest people and even made it to the top ten list a few years back while the also fabulously wealthy Mirzan has a seat on the boards of numerous companies. And his other kids and their families aren’t exactly living on the breadlines either. Mukhriz Mahathir’s daughter Ally is known for her vacations in Whistlerfairytale wedding and for rubbing shoulders with Malaysia’s richest man, Robert Kuok. 
 
All of this remind us of that old, distinctively European saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But what can we say of Malaysian politicians? 
 
Oh, and by the way, if you think that all this infighting with foes-turned-friends and friends-turned-foes means Mahathir has forgotten his fight against Moo, think again. Maddey says he is determined to push through the vote of no confidence against Muhyiddin at the next sitting of the Dewan Rakyat set for July 13 – Aug 27. 

Yeah, so the man, despite his age, is continuing to fight on multiple fronts. Only time will tell whether that old warrior Mahathir has finally bitten off more than he can chew.

Can you hear the schoolkids groan?

The Education Ministry has issued an amended school academic calendar for 2020 following the three-month break due to the movement control order.
 
To cut things short, what the ministry basically said was that the school year is now termed as running from Jan 2 till Dec 17. Earlier, it ran till Nov 20. But there’s a little more. To accommodate all those lost days and still allow for the school year to end before 2021, mid-term and final breaks have been shortened. The final holiday is a no-brainer considering the school year now extends till Dec 17. The mid-term break is now just five days from Aug 20-24, instead of July 24-Aug 1. 
 
This affects all students, not just those taking upper level exams, who are currently the only ones returning physically to schools. Lessons for those not returning (no date for a return has yet been set) will continue online.
 
Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jinin has reiterated the government’s call for parents not to send their children to school if they are ill. He also explained that the gomen had decided that today would be the day those in the upper secondary levels returned to school merely so that the ministry and schools would have two extra days to ensure that everything was shipshape as far as standard operating procedures were concerned. Cos, you know, three months weren’t enough to do so.
 
On another matter, the ministry says preschools and kindergartens would still open on July 1, despite concerns voiced by the National Union of the Teaching Profession. This was imperative, says Deputy Education Minister Mah Han Soon, as parents had now returned to work following the resumption of most economic activities. 
 
Meanwhile, in other Covid-related news:

  • It’s back to single digits, with three new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 8,590, but only nine recoveries for a total of 8,186 people discharged (a recovery rate of 95.3%). With no new deaths, leaving that total at 121, that leaves only 283 active cases still in the country. 
     
  • Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says the Kuching church cluster, which saw 191 of 2,751 people testing positive for Covid-19, has ended
     
  • The Malaysian Human Rights Commission has opened a probe into the death of Covid-19 of an Indian national detained at an Immigration depot. The man and his relatives had entered Malaysia just a few days before the MCO began and was arrested after his visa expired as, with all travel in and out of the country suspended, he was stuck here. 
     
  • A Malaysia-led push for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic has gotten strong support from UN member nations. You’d think a ceasefire during a pandemic would be a no-brainer. 
     
  • The government has launched a programme aimed at supporting youth in the post-Covid gig economy ecosystem. Yay, we guess? 

Odds and ends

Here are a few other things which came out in the news yesterday:

  • Sabah BN is doing its best to get the state’s ruling Warisan party assemblymen to frog over to them and engineer the fall of the state government. State BN chief Bung Mokhtar Radin sounds pretty pleased with himself.This odious cretin is actually proud of the fact that he’s subverting the democratic process. 🤬
     
  • The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will appeal the KL High Court decision to dismiss the government’s application to stay the ruling to return RM194 million it has seized from Umno, Wanita MCA and two companies during its investigation into monies taken from1MDB. 
     
  • The Penang government has revealed another reclamation project, this time adding another 60ha off the Free Industrial Zone in Bayan Baru. At this rate, Penang will soon be bigger than Singapore. 
     
  • Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz says the government subsidy programme has saved some 2.4 million jobs. That said, the economic stimulus measures deployed could see the country hitting its debt ceiling of 55% by the end of the year. 
     
  • After resigning his position as MISC Bhd chairman, Umno’s Tanjung Karang MP Noh Omar is said to be set to assume the chairmanship of Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd. It must be nice to be a government politician. 
     
  • DAP MP for Segambut Hannah Yeoh has praised the professionalism of the police investigating allegations of sedition against her after she was questioned for two hours. Yeoh is being investigated for an alleged statement which she has said was attributed falsely to her. 
     
  • PAS strongman Subky Abdul Latif, who founded the party’s political mouthpiece Harakah in 1978, has died aged 79. A veteran journalist who started out with Utusan Melayu in 1963, he had also been instrumental in the setting up of the now-defunct Watan and Suara Merdeka
     
  • Speaking of veteran journalists, Mahathir loyalist (some say, the Mahathir loyalist), Firdaus Abdullah, has been removed from his position as Media Prima TV Networks managing editor. Firdaus had earlier been reported to have acted unprofessionally when he called the PM’s Office director of communications Ainon Mohd a “nincompoop” and a “fat lump of waste” on Twitter. 

“Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.”

- Mao Zedong -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong has dissolved Parliament, sending the island republic to the polls on July 10, despite the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc there. 
     
  • More than a quarter of a billion of the world’s children didn’t have any access to education in 2018, according to the UN. 
     
  • Police reforms in the US have been hamstrung by deadlock in Congress. On the upside, a review of videos of police violence against protestors which went viral shows that while most remain under investigations, some have led to unusually speedy action against the perpetrators. 
     
  • Europe is considering barring entry to Americans due to concerns that the country has failed to contain Covid-19. Meanwhile, the lockdown in the UK is set to be relaxed from July 4. 
     
  • Men’s tennis World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and three other players have tested positive for Covid-19 after taking part in an exhibition tournament he recently organized in Serbia and Croatia. 
     
  • Joel Schumacher, the director of “St Elmo’s Fire”, two “Batman” movies and teen cult classic “The Lost Boys”, has succumbed to cancer at the age of 80. 

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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