For at least the third time since Pakatan took over the reins of the country, a Dewan Rakyat session was delayed thanks to a lack of quorum. We have 222 MPs, yet we can't even get 24 of these people to sit down quietly for a while and try to solve our problems. Potong gaji, we say.

Meanwhile, Anwar Ibrahim has kind of issued a warning asking Azmin Ali to stop the backdoor politics; we learn that the original audit report on 1MDB was shredded; and, we pay tribute to the nation's leading news organisation.

Off with their salaries!

Oops, they did it again

The Dewan Rakyat is often referred to as an “august House”, referring to the respect or dignity of the institution. And for all intents and purposes, it really is.

But sometimes, is that “august House” one full of “august People” (read MPs), or full of clowns? From feuding overlords to petty squabblers, and now, worst still, “invisible” men, you really have to wonder.

For at least the third time since last year’s general election, a Dewan Rakyat session was delayed yesterday when our beloved elected reps couldn’t even reach the miserable 26-MP quorum. Yeah, sure, the Master-at-Arms rang the bell again and four more MPs were found, but still? a grand total 28 out of 222?

Proceedings were delayed in July last year, and most recently just last month. And these are just the instances that we know of… who knows how many times a lack of quorum went unreported since Pakatan took over (not that we’re blaming Pakatan).

For context, there were more MPs (27 of them at least) at the not-so-secret Monday night meeting in Azmin Ali’s house on Monday night than there were at the Dewan at the start of the day yesterday. It’s shameful that MPs seem to have more time for clandestine backdoor politicking than they have for the bread and butter issues of the nation.

These lawmakers need to know that we, the people, elected them. They are receiving “salaries” of up to RM16,000 thanks to a hike in allowances just a few years ago (which they themselves voted for, mind you), not to mention allowances of RM200 for each day of Parliament they attend, to ensure the rakyat’s voices are heard, and our problems solved. The least they can do is turn up.

This kind of behaviour would not be tolerated in any workplace – try not turning up for work a few days in a row without proper justification and see what your boss tells you. In July last year, former minister Rais Yatim suggested MPs who don’t turn up for “work” should have their allowances cut. Perhaps its time to revisit this idea.

Revise MPs’ salaries to make them more attendance based. Cut their basic income down and increase the parliamentary attendance allowance for those that attend and complete a full day at the Dewan. That way, they will have to be more diligent in attending parliamentary sessions if they want higher “salaries”.

Do it the right way lah, Azmin

So it looks like that whole Anwar Ibrahim-Azmin Ali thing is still not over. Not that we expected anything else.

This time, PM-forever-in-waiting Anwar says he doesn’t mind if anyone wants to throw their hat in the ring to become our next premier — it just has to be done in the proper manner using the proper channels. In other words, don’t have all these backdoor meetings lah Azmin.

Errr… that certainly sounds good Anwar old boy, but even you know it’s never that simple.

In some democratic countries, proper channels would mean having elections just to determine who the leader should be. You know, like in the US, where people a few years ago seemed to think having Donald Trump as president would be the best idea in the history of best ideas?

That doesn’t quite work in Malaysia, where the leader of the party (or coalition) which holds the most seats is named PM. In this scenario, you gotta take control of a party or coalition in order to be head honcho. And just how do you do that then? Well, it has to start with shoring up support through, we guess, meetings, backdoor or otherwise.

Anwar himself is no stranger to backdoor maneuverings. We’d like to remind the PKR chief of a certain “Kajang move“? And people whose memories go back even further would remember there were rumours that Dr Mahathir Mohamad suspected Anwar of attempting backdoor shenanigans to plot a ‘palace coup’ against him in the 90s – a gambit that (allegedly, allegedly!) resulted in a sacking, and prosecution for sodomy and corruption. 

But… we do get where Anwar is coming from here. Basically, Azmin, if you wanna take over as the next PM and overthrow your current boss who is still playing bridesmaid to Putrajaya’s grand old man, at least have the cojones to do it in the open. But that’s asking a lot, considering Azmin isn’t even deigning to attend PKR politburo meetings anymore. 

Publicly at least. Anwar has been supportive of Maddey and biding his time (What’s a few more months or years when you’ve been waiting decades?) to ascend, even to the point of saying there’ll be no vote of no confidence moved against Mahathir in Parliament despite BN’s landslide victory in Tg Piai recently.

Maddey himself says the Pakatan presidential council has the right to sack him immediately if they wanted an immediate handover to Anwar, but warned changes “midstream” can create problems. So essentially, what the nonagenarian is saying is he’s still the best man for the job and Anwar will to wait a while more. 

Oh, and there may be a Cabinet reshuffle, but only in November next year, just before we host APEC.

Jibby's reputation in the shredder

It’s only been a few days, but already the trial of one Najib Razak over allegations of abuse of power in the submission of the audit of 1MDB to the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is getting super interesting.

If you’ve ever wondered about the workings of government as far as certain decisions are concerned, then you really should follow the trial. If what’s coming out in court is true, you’re in for a treat. It’s about how the powers that be sometimes work, though probably not the best in terms of moral value!

Former Chief Secretary to the Government (the highest civil service post in the country, in case you didn’t know) Ali Hamsa testified yesterday that the original audit report on 1MDB was ordered to be shredded following decisions made prior to a meeting he chaired. Instead, several versions of an audit report were to be prepared before one was chosen as the “final version”.

The day before, Ali had testified that then PM Najib Razak had not been happy with the audit report and had ordered several changes be made, including the removal of any mention of infamous fugitive financier Jho Low from the report.

Ali’s testimony yesterday, then, went to establishing that the original (or “real”) audit report was destroyed and what was served up to the PAC eventually was one of several “drafts” written up upon the orders of Jibby Razak and therefore, fake.

A more than two-hour long audio clip was also played in court yesterday as part of Ali’s testimony. The clip was purportedly of the meeting Ali chaired. A transcript of the clip was also handed over to the court.

Will Najib’s defence dispute the authenticity of the clip considering no minutes were taken of the meeting? In other words, how does one verify the contents of the clip are true?

Stay tuned, folks. This one promises to only get even more interesting as the days go by.

Happy birthday Kini!

Malaysiakini turned 20 yesterday, peeps. And what a ride these two decades have been for what began as Malaysia’s pluckiest upstart. 

When Malaysiakini first began in 1999, all we had were the mainstream media for news, most of which were either owned or controlled by the political parties that made up the Barisan Nasional government. Malaysiakini, born in the crucible of the Reformasi movement brought independent news and a critical approach at a time when it was sorely lacking.

How did they get away with it? Mainly because when launching the Multimedia Super Corridor, dear Maddey promised that the internet would not be censored. The rest, as they say, is history. One wonders if Maddey would’ve done the same had he foreseen just what a powerful thing the internet became for media and democracy.

The Kini journey wasn’t without its challenges, though. Numerous raids, lawsuits, sabotage, cyber attacks and whatnot have plagued the organisation through the years, but it survived and its reporting was a key factor in the gradual change in government from the 2008 elections, and culminating in last year’s GE14. 

Today, it’s the leading source of political news in the country and is thriving.

In this present landscape, that’s no mean feat. News organisations the world over are finding it difficult to survive. In Malaysia, we had Utusan group as well as Tamil Nesan closing down, though the former are expected to return next year. And recently, Media Prima Bhd – which runs the TV3 and the NSTP group, among others, announced cutbacks and layoffs soon.

One of the things that has helped Kini survive is that readers ponied up for subscriptions. Good money allows news portals to hire good journalists and .editors who create good content for readers. In short, in news media as with everything else, you get what you pay for.

Odds and ends, bits and bobs

Here are some of yesterday’s other news in brief:

  • Former DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi ordered RM17 million to be withdrawn from Yayasan Akalbudi funds to construct a building for the foundation. Tsk tsk.
  • Two Umno politicians who nearly came to blows over some silly matter in Parliament yesterday ended up making up with kisses on the cheeks. Truly the most literal definition of ‘kiss and make up’.
  • Unrepentant terrorist Yazid Sufaat has been freed from prison. Yes. You read that right. Unrepentant.
  • De facto Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Rawa will continue trying to convince reluctant states to ban child marriages. Good. We are behind you Mr Minister. Meanwhile, a father-of-two has started an email campaign to end child marriages (or can we call it what it is – pedophilia?)
  • An air mobility test of the much-touted flying car has not gotten the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, nor had the test flight on Nov 15. Sheesh. Get your act together, people.

“What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.”

- Angela Davis -
  • The US House has approved the Hong Kong Rights Bill. The measure now rests with President Donald Trump for approval or veto. The bill essentially voices support for the HK protesters, and is bound to strain US-China relations even more if approved by Trump.
  • The Vatican says the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is now in danger following the US move to recognise Israel’s building of settlements in the occupied West Bank.
  • Meanwhile, Israel has carried out “wide-scale strikes” on Iranian forces in Syria.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi will personally be defending Myanmar from allegations of genocide against the Rohingya.
  • Britain’s Prince Andrew says he taking a step back from his royal duties as the Jefrey Epstein scandal has become a “major disruption” for the royal family.

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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


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.

trident media logo

Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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