Not this shit again?
Lessons learnt from Sabah... NOT!
Two days ago, new youth-based party Muda launched #PauseMalaysia, a campaign calling for the temporary suspension on all forms of politicking – including elections and power grabs – till the Covid-19 health crisis is behind us (you can read our breakdown on that here).
We didn’t expect the campaign to last very long, but we sure as hell didn’t think it would have the lifespan of an adult mayfly.
The first to break this no-politicking-until-after-Covid request was Selangor exco Teng Chang Khim, who blasted the federal government for placing Klang under conditional MCO without consulting the state government.
It’s a fair point to make, #tbf, not least because the sudden lockdown (which begins today by the way) had led to confusion all around over the SOPs and the fact that nobody knew which areas would be affected. FYI, Klang district has several municipalities under it, including parts of Shah Alam. More on that in the next section.
Next up was the man with the prime ministership forever on the brain. Anwar Ibrahim is forging ahead with his Putrajaya takeover bid and will soon get his day in the palace. The PKY supremo has been granted an audience with the King for the coming Tuesday, where he will inform our YDP Agong that he commands majority parliamentary support (allegedly, allegedly la).
Anwar had first made the claim he’s amassed “solid majority” to take down the Perikatan Nasional government on Sept 23. At the time, his support reportedly included at least 15 Umno MPs. But that figure has since increased, if this report is to be believed.
Now, any Anwaristas out there hoping the good King will suddenly declare the PKR president the ninth PM then and there are misinformed and will likely be disappointed. As analyst James Chin tweeted, if Anwar has proven his claim, His Majesty will likely consult PM Muhyiddin Yassin and/or the Council of Rulers.
In fact, as we covered in one of our previous newsletters, the King can’t declare Anwar as PM9 just like that. Poor ol’ Moo will have to either resign or ask the Agong to dissolve Parliament. And no prizes for guessing which option our PM8 will choose.
Either way, we’re hoping none of this takes place any time soon, as the last thing we need is a messy changing of the Putrajaya guard just when our Covid-19 situation is in the shitter. If the Sabah elections contributed to this current surge in numbers, just imagine what will happen with a nationwide poll.
Perhaps Anwar could take a page out of BN and Parti Cinta Sabah’s playbook. Both parties have decided not to contest the yet-to-be-set Batu Sapi by-election, due to Covid fears. This is quite a clever move as BN knows the public is furious over the effect the Sabah elections stunt has had on the Covid situation.
Anwar could even look to his own Pakatan Harapan state of Penang for guidance – the state government will not push for the expulsion of four Perikatan assemblymen who had katak-ed it over to the other side to more by-elections.
Penang’s constitution, you see, states an assemblyperson has to vacate his or her seat if he or she jumps ship. Of course, this flies in the face of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of association, but that’s a debate for another time.
So what’s Anwar to do? We dunno, maybe ask the Palace to hold things off till we’ve flattened that darn coronavirus curve once more? Yeah, Anwar will curb his political aspirations when pigs strap themselves into a first class seat on a Boeing 747. 😏
The good, the bad and the fugly
It was a good news, bad news kinda day yesterday as far as Covid-19 numbers were concerned.
First, the good news. The daily infection numbers took a dip for the second day in a row, with 375 new cases recorded, down from the previous day’s 489. Sadly, that’s that for the good news.
Now the bad. There were 5 deaths, bringing our total fatalities to 146. Active cases have increased (to 3,703) and so’s the number of people in ICU, from 40 to 60. Also, five new clusters have been detected, in Sabah (two), Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak and Labuan.
Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has confirmed we’re now in the third wave of infections, adding we should expect more cases in Sabah, which had 271 cases yesterday. Oh, and he now says those who travelled to the Land Below the Wind before the travel ban in and out of the state should play it safe and get themselves tested for Covid-19 as well.
But how’s this for a head-scratcher? Apparently, those in quarantine after returning home from Sabah are allowed to have a ‘limited number of visitors’. What’s the point of a quarantine if the person isn’t, you know, quarantined??!?
Oddly, this seems in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines on home quarantine, only, the returnee shouldn’t interact with the visitors. But how well can you ensure that? After all, the ‘Bah Puchong’ cluster was triggered by relatives who visited one such returnee.
For a list of places nationwide where Covid-19 has reared its ugly head, you can refer here. Malaysiakini is updating the list on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, on the confusion surrounding the Klang CMCO (see above), our gomen dearest has clarified it’ll only affect the Klang sub-district, or mukim. There are 36 areas under CMCO; the list is here.
PM Moo has said the CMCO shouldn’t affect any economic sector and commercial vehicles transporting goods will be allowed to operate in Klang and the districts in Sabah which are also under CMCO.
There was one major SNAFU as far as the CMCO in Klang is concerned.
You see, the last time the country was in CMCO mode interstate travel was allowed if you get a permit from the police. So people in Klang who work outside the CMCO area, or who needed to travel to another state, have flooded the Klang Selatan police HQ for permits, only to be told that our coppers knew nothing about it.
To be clear, no authorisation from the police is required for travel outside the Klang CMCO area BUT you must have a letter from your employer. The CMCO was instituted so as to allow health authorities to conduct targeted screening of residents.
On other Covid-related news:
- New prisoners and detainees will be screened for Covid-19 and isolated for 15 days to ensure they don’t infect existing prison populations.
Prisons are a major hotbed of infections, accounting for three clusters nationwide – Tembok in Kedah, Benteng LD in Sabah and Penjara Reman in Penang.
- The Penang Remand Prison, the site of the Penjara Reman cluster, has opened a special treatment centre for detainees who have been infected with Covid-19.
- The Negri Sembilan Health Department has issued a Covid-19 alert for passengers on a myBAS bus with registration plate number NDH2259 which departed KLIA2 to Nilai Sentral at 9pm on Sept 30.
No end to troubles for MAS
Malaysia Airlines really is in big trouble.
Parent company Malaysian Aviation Group (MAG) has warned leasing companies that state fund Khazanah Nasional will stop funding the group and force it into a winding down process if restructuring talks with lessors are unsuccessful. Should this happen, an alternative plan will be put in place, diverting funds to sister carrier Firefly.
Meanwhile, MAG has offered to retrain the airlines’ flight crew and frontline employees affected financially by the pandemic to work in IT, sales and other areas. This comes just days after MAG announced it was fast running out of funds. Equally important, is that the airline’s also offering staff mental health support to cope with the tough times.
Mental health problems among employees cost the country around RM14.46bil (1 percent of GDP) prior to the Covid-19 crisis, so can you imagine the cost now?
None of this is going to go away anytime soon, either. In July, the Transport Ministry said airlines would take at least 18 months to see a full recovery of the domestic sector and three years for the international sector. They were also projected to lose more than RM10 billion due to the slowdown from the pandemic.
Malaysia Airlines – formerly known as MAS – has had a history of ups and downs (and mismanagement. So. Much. Mismanagement.), as this article spells out. Things have been going from bad to worse for the national carrier since 2014, when the disappearance of flight MH370 was followed just a few months later by the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.
But one thing won’t happen this time though (at least if Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz is to be believed) – a bailout of the struggling carrier. Zafrul has essentially washed his hands and said the airline’s fate is up to Khazanah. This is good to hear as the country has already poured billions down the drain over the years to keep Malaysia Airlines afloat. It’s a steep price to pay for ‘national pride’, if you ask us.
It would be sad if Malaysia Airlines has to be wound down, both in terms of how many thousands will lose their jobs, and in how the airline is a symbol of the nation. But in matters of business, especially in tough times like these, we simply cannot afford for sentiment to overrule practicality.
The best of the rest
There were a number of other reports yesterday which caught the eye. Here they are in palatable little chunks for you:
- PAS finally has an assemblyperson in Sabah with the appointment of its Aliakbar Gulasan. STAR president and deputy chief minister Jeffrey Kitingan is none too happy with the idea of PAS in government, namely over concerns its ideals clashes Sabah’s multicultural sensitivity, but praised Aliakbar nonetheless.
- It’s MACC’s day in the news. It will charge several people in connection with the 2013 MARA property scandal in Australia.
The graft busters also claimed to have a list of celebrities and prominent individuals believed to be involved in a money-laundering syndicate and are calling for them to come forward voluntarily, or else..
Meanwhile, the commission has also seized a huge chunk of change – about RM85 million – and 23 luxury vehicles from members of a Macau Scam syndicate. Eight coppers have so far been nabbed, suspected of protecting these scammers. Buggers!
- In a case that makes our hearts bleed, M. Indira Gandhi, whose ex-husband ran away with their youngest child 11 years ago, will embark on a 12-day, 350km walk to deliver a letter to PM Muhyiddin in Putrajaya and the Agong in Kuala Lumpur to plead for justice.
The Indira Gandhi Action Team, a group formed to aide the distraught mother, has offered a RM50,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the girl, Prasana Diksa, now aged 12.
It’s sad that this poor woman has to resort to all of these measures just to draw attention to her plight and the fact that she has to do so is a sign of just how monumentally the police have been cocking this up for over a decade.
- A total of 28 areas in Kuala Selangor will experience scheduled water cuts from 9.30am to 10pm on Tuesday. This is due to the Sungai Sireh water treatment plant being closed temporarily to allow for work to replace valves.
- Incessant rain for two days has caused landslides and flash foods in Bukit Bendera, Penang.
- A woman claiming to be the common-law wife of former MIC president S. Samy Vellu has failed for a second time in her bid to be an intervenor in sonny-boy Vell Paari’s lawsuit to have daddy’s mental health determined by the court.
- And one final piece to end your week on a sweeter (or perhaps, bittersweet) note. Would you care to guess which KL’s largest bookstore is? If you said Kinokuniya or Borders, you’d be dead wrong. It’s this hole in the wall bookstore which has more than 3 million(!!!) tomes under its roof, including some incredibly rare titles. So if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, you’re welcome.
“Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power."
- James Madison -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- The WHO has reported a record single-day global increase in Covid-19 cases of 338,779, with Europe alone recording 96,996 new cases.
Meanwhile, a study by the International Monetary Fund has stated that while more severe lockdown restrictions will impact the economy in the short term, it will pay off in the long run.
- The vice-presidential debate involving current US veep Mike Pence and Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris took a similar, if less intense, route to Biden and President Donald Trump’s debate not too long ago, with Pence trying to shout down Harris as the duo tackled Covid-19, the climate and racism.
You can read about five takeaways from the debate, or an analysis here. Or you can just have fun and watch a vid of the real show-stealer – the now-infamous fly which landed on Pence’s head.
- The Donald, meanwhile, has refused to conduct his next debate with Biden virtually, despite the fact that he is down with Covid-19.
In fact, he’s touted the Regeneron drug cocktail, which he was given when he came down with Covid-19, as a coronavirus cure. And guess what, top US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci, who hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with el presidente on very many issues surrounding the pandemic, has said there’s a reasonably good chance that the antibody therapy actually helped The Orange Man.
- Thirteen people have been charged in an alleged domestic terrorism plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer.
- American poet Louise Gluck, 77, has won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature for works exploring family and childhood in an “unmistakable…voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.
Meanwhile, the Nobel committee is set to announce the winner of the prestigious Peace Prize today. Climate activist Greta Thunberg and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern are tipped to be among the frontrunners.