States of disarray
Faizal... you're fired!
(BTL briefly summed up what’d gone down in Perak on Friday in our brilliant Kita Semua Penghasut edition over the weekend. No biggie if you missed it, we get into more deets here).
He’s said he didn’t see it coming. But Ahmad Faizal Azumu really had no reason to be so blur sotong. After all, there’d been rumblings of discontent over his leadership in Perak for a while now.
It all came to a head last Friday when the Bersatu man finally got unceremoniously dumped in a confidence motion initiated by Umno that saw 48 reps in the 59-seat state assembly calling for his ouster. Fun fact – he’s only Malaysia’s fourth chief executive to kicked out this way.
By all accounts, most folks agree Faizal’s done a piss-poor job of seeing to Perakians’ needs since being appointed state CEO. However, what seems to have particularly rankled the guy’s former allies is him apparently doing things like selling thousands of hectares of state land and appointing aides without first consulting his chums.
Anyway, following Friday’s vote, Faizal and his band of state excos handed in their resignations to Perak Ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah. Now the wait begins to see what the new state gomen’ll look like or even if elections will be called.
A numbers game
The problem with the Perak MB post, though, is no single party ever had a clear-cut majority to lay claim to the seat. Currently, Umno comes the closest with 25 seats (you need 30 for a majority).
Following the boot to Faizal’s rear, it might seem the logical course of action would be for Perikatan Nasional to maintain its power-sharing agreement and just replace him with an Umno man (we’d add “…or woman” but we all know the likelihood of that).
On the surface, everyone’s being all civil and polite, but they’re far from singing Kumbaya. Bersatu’s naturally taken their MB’s ouster personally — he’s the party’s deputy president after all — and new bestie PAS (which had supported Faizal during the confidence motion) has said it won’t be part of any new state gomen.
Umno’s already singled out its state chief Saarani Mohamad as Faizal’s replacement. So, it’s looking like it may need to make some unholy alliances if it’s determined to push on and take control of the Silver State.
At the mo, things are very fluid, and with even Bersatu and PAS seeking solutions to the current impasse. Even so, what we can say with certainty is that regardless of how this crisis ends, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s rep has taken a serious beating.
Umno bigwig Nazri Aziz had assured what’s happening in Perak will have no repercussions on a Federal level. Thing is, any which way it’s painted, it’s crystal that MooMoo and Bersatu have lost ground to Umno.
PS — For a while, the crisis in the north threatened to filter down to the Penisula’s Southern-most state following suggestions that Bersatu might wanna seek revenge for what happened in Perak by making a move against the current Johor MB Hasni Mohammad, an Umno man. At closing time on the final day of the state assembly sitting, however, nothing happened.
It’s all academic at this point, of course, but it might’ve been really interesting to see how the votes would’ve gone had a confidence motion been tabled against Hasni. The guy’s won admirers since taking over as MB by walking the talk and working towards an inclusive state government by among others, significantly increasing allocations for opposition assemblypersons and agreeing to work towards democratic reforms.
Perak and Johor aside, it was Darul not-so-Aman up in Kedah over the past few days. This has mostly to do with the discovery of rare earth elements (REE) which, besides causing Netizens to compare Kedah to Wakanda, can apparently make the state filthy stinking rich. The catch, though, is that extracting the mineral might cause irreparable damage to the environment.
According to MB Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, there’s huge demand for the stuff buried under the soil in Kedah. And that’s why the state gomen’s approved exploration work to be conducted in Sik.
The problem with this move? The likely site for mineral extraction in Sik is Bukit Enggang — a 20,230ha forest reserve.
According to Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, other places with reported REE deposits, like Gunung Bongsu, are similarly rich with flora and fauna. So any potential gain — reported at about RM62 bil (A far cry from the MB’s initial cry of RM43 trillion) — should be weighed against detriments.
Sanusi has promised indiscriminate logging won’t be allowed ‘cos in fact, there’re no more trees in mineral-rich areas to be logged. Not everyone believes him. And one fella who’s taken to slamming the state gomen’s deal with a KL-based company for extraction of the mineral as awful for Kedahans is MIC big bossman SA Vigneswaran.
Of course, Vicky is right that any potential deal must benefit the people of Kedah first and foremost. Thing is, by his own admission, the Vigman has said that his scrutinising of Kedah’s REE activities is the outcome of a fallout between the MB and MIC.
PAS man Sanusi and MIC leaders, you’ll remember, had traded barbs last week over the demolition of an allegedly illegal Hindu temple. But the shit’s gotten way worse since then with Sanusi choosing to fan the flames of racism by accusing MIC leaders of being “drunk on toddy” and Vicky firing back that the MB was probably “drunk on ketum” when he made that RM43 trillion gaffe. Give it up for our adults in gomen folks!
Whether or not the temple at the heart of the spat — Sri Raja Muniswarar Temple — was built illegally or if PAS had backtracked on a promise to inform the Federal government before any non-Muslim place of worship is demolished is beside the point. What matters is that PN’s biggest wigs, for all their talk of unity, appear to have done nothing to check and censure its leaders from pissing all over the country’s racial harmony with bigoted insults.
But you know who has called out MB Sanusi for being racist? Umno Youth exco member Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris a.k.a. Papagomo, that blogger fellow who was previously found guilty of assaulting a Pakistani worker and accused of fuelling racist sentiments, that’s who.
Read into that what you will!
Mo extension, mo confusion
Good news for most of us! Most areas previously under conditional movement control order (CMCO) will revert to recovery MCO and see restrictions eased from today. CMCO, however, continues for another two weeks in KL, Sabah, and parts of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Johor.
This is great and all. However, we’re left slightly more confused as the powers-that-be have also announced these two gems for areas under CMCO:
- No more passenger limit for vehicles (instead, it’s based on each vehicle’s capacity);
- No more ban on inter-state and inter-district travel except for areas still under enhanced MCO (EMCO).
No doubt, this must be a massive relief for many who’ve been separated from family and for businesses struggling under the partial lockdown.
Still, if you remember, the regulations aimed at restricting the spread of Covid-19 previously restricted travel within districts in CMCO areas and to just three persons per household in a vehicle.
Yet the new rules, as announced by Senior Minister (so, Sinister?) Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Saturday, seem to suggest it’s now perfectly okay to pack an MPV with seven people and travel outta CMCO zones where certain things like swimming are still banned to green areas like Putrajaya to take a dip in a pool. (Note: The facial mask and social distancing rules still apply, among others).
We understand the country was apparently losing RM300 million a day throughout the CMCO, so we’re all for a gradual return to normalcy. But seriously lah, guys, it must make sense. Where’s the logic in okaying the above while still insisting on keeping things like pubs and bars closed?
Ridiculous rules notwithstanding, it’s not like infection numbers have dipped. In fact, the daily tally stayed above the thousand-mark on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a total of 3,599 cases and 6 deaths registered over the three days. Worse, Saturday saw a record 130 patients requiring intensive care with the number of those needing mechanical ventilation increasing to 57 (from 54) on Sunday.
In short, while the gomen may think it’s now okay for you to travel here, there and everywhere, the stats suggest we’re nowhere near out of the woods. So individual discretion (and common sense) advised.
Anyways, here’re a few more important Covid-related updates:
- The Health Ministry has said it needs further info on reports pharma company Pfizer is slashing the production target for its Covid vaccine.
Pfizer is reportedly facing challenges in obtaining raw materials for the production of its treatment that’s been developed together with BioNTech. We’re signed on to get 12.8 million doses of the vaccine next year.
- The quarantine period for foreigners entering Malaysia may be shortened to 10/12 days from the current 14.
- Sabah will allow peeps into the state for social visits. Those entering the state are, nevertheless, required to undergo RT-PCR or RTK-Ag Covid-19 swab tests three days before making their journeys and test negative of course.
Of debt ratings, and other bits and bobs
International ratings agency Fitch has downgraded Malaysia’s sovereign rating from A- to BBB+. What that means for those of us who don’t know a whole load about business is that it’ll now be potentially more expensive for us to borrow dosh.
The rating, which marks the country’s first downgrade since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, is due to one major thing, and that’s Malaysia’s ongoing political uncertainty.
We’ve done pretty okay in rolling out Covid relief packages and tackling the financial and economic fallout from the pandemic. However, “deterioration in governance and continued political uncertainty”, the agency has said, could constrain economic growth and chase off investors.
Gomen Money Man Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, naturally, is of the view that Fitch’s evaluation of Malaysia is unfair ’cos it focuses more on politics that the country’s economic fundamentals and our response to the health crisis.
However, not everyone (read: Anwar Ibrahim and financial analysts) agreed with Zaf. One of the Finance Minister’s own partners in the current gomen — Umno No. 2 Mohamad Hasan — even noted that stability is crucial if Malaysia ever wants to recover and be among the best economies in the region. You’d think this was common sense, no?
Here’re some other important bits and bobs from the past three days:
- Jaya Grocer has shut the non-halal section of its newly-opened Puncak Alam outlet, and it’s all ’cos of a Selangor state assemblyperson’s protest.
According to the rep, Mohd Shaid Rosli, residents associations in the area complained to him and his protest note had only targeted the sale of alcohol at the supermarket, not non-halal food.
The issue is not whether non-halal food is okay or not, but whether 1) an elected rep has the power to lean on folks to get his/her way regardless of their rights and 2) whether it is lawful to pressure peeps to accede to the demands of a mob.
BTW, another supermarket in the area has also been sent a protest note over the sale of booze there ‘cos, and we quote, “This is Puncak Alam. This is Malay territory.”
- Twitter has suspended parody account BermanaTV for violating the platform’s community standards. The account, in case it ain’t obvious, is often confused with news agency Bernama.
- A total of 23 MPs have signed a statement claiming that deputy plantation industries and commodities minister Willie Mongin did flip the bird in the Dewan Rakyat last week.
Wee Willie denies acting in such a way, and Speaker Azhar Harun had even said he can’t determine from the vid if the fella did it or not. But these MPs, among them former Pakatan ministers Yeo Bee Yin and Maszlee Malik, swear it.
- Forty-two people were detained for brawling at Low Yat Plaza, Bukit Bintang on Friday night, over a dispute at a computer shop. All we can say is, SOCIAL DISTANCING PEOPLE!
“True friends stab you in the front.”
- Oscar Wilde -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Microwave radiation’s been found to be at the centre of a series of afflictions that hit American spies and diplomats in China and Cuba over the past few years.
It’s believed that the incidents were the result of malicious attacks that were targeted and deliberate. No country has been outrightly blamed for the attacks, however, a report points to Russia/USSR as having conducted research on the technology.
- The US’ House of Representatives has approved legislation to decriminalise cannabis while calling for the drug’s removal from the list of controlled substances. The Bill is, however, unlikely to be passed the Senate, which is dominated by Republicans.
- China’s unmanned Chang’e-5 moon mission has dispatched samples from the lunar surface to an orbiting spacecraft that will bring the cargo back to us. Meanwhile, Japan’s Hayabusa2 has also delivered the first samples from material beneath the surface of an asteroid to Earth.
- Speaking of space, here’s everything you need to know about those mysterious monoliths which appeared in Utah, Romania and California. Spoiler alert: It seems they’re art!
- Stadia San Paolo, the home stadium of Italian football club Napoli, has been renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in honour of the late Argentine legend. Maradona led Napoli to the club’s first Serie A title in 1987, adding a second in 1990.