So it looks like it's back to Parliament we'll go. Despite meeting almost every MP in the country, the Agong has been unable to decide who commands the majority in Parliament. And so, we'll need to head to the August House to see where MPs' loyalties lie. The only question is - will they be able to put this Humpty Dumpty of a political system together again? But despite all these shenanigans, regular programming must go on - as it was with the economic stimulus package, born in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, and announced yesterday. Let's hope it works as intended, because god knows we could use the good news right now. It's been an insane few days, and we're looking forward to letting our brains vegetate over the weekend. See you on Monday - it's gonna be another interesting week!

All the king's horses and all the king's men

The Malaysian imbroglio

It seems like every time Anwar Ibrahim is close to his holy grail – the prime minister’s seat – Dr Mahathir Mohamad throws a motherloving spanner in the works.

In a surprise announcement yesterday, the interim prime minister revealed that the Yang Dipertuan Agong couldn’t pick a PM-to-be as none of the candidates he spoke to had a “distinct” majority. As such, a special parliament sitting will be called on Monday so our esteemed (ptui!) lawmakers can determine who has majority support to claim the I̶r̶o̶n̶ ̶T̶h̶r̶o̶n̶e̶ premiership. 

And if we’re still at an impasse after all that? Well, it’s to the polls we go. Again. Naturally, many are not pleased with this option, with the likes of former Bersih chair Ambiga Sreenevasan saying we can’t afford to since fresh polls could set Malaysia back by almost RM800 mil. Yikes!

We’d just like to remind you that many of the idiots whose power trip have cost us our mental health, time and money (potentially RM800 mil of it!), are the same jokers who asked us to donate to their so-called Tabung Harapan, saying we, the people, needed to dig them out of the hole other clowns like themselves put the country in. There was so much sandiwara back then that they even managed to con(vince) a 12-year-old into giving them his piggybank. Where’s all that talk about saving money, finances, economics or Tabung Harapans now?

If you’re feeling a little blur, let’s recap – On Sunday, Bersatu, led by el-Presidente Muhyiddin Yassin, and a group of rogue PKR MPs led by Azmin Ali (no spoiler alert here) started a chain of events resulting in Bersatu and the rogues leaving Pakatan, and Maddey boy (who claims to have wanted none of it) resigning as PM and Bersatu chair. Malaysians were left government-less, cabinet-less and largely clueless. 

The Agong made Mahathir interim PM till he interviewed all MPs to determine if anybody had a “distinct” majority support to lead. And who knows what “distinct” majority means? That said, we only have ol’ Mads word that this is what the Agong (distinctly?) said yesterday.

But why couldn’t the Agong find somebody with that significant lead? Well, one rumour is that in private conversation with the Agong, some MPs picked different choices than their official party selections. Double talking, double crossing politicians? What a shock! 🙄

In any case, in a move bordering on pettiness, Anwar and gang called Maddey out for pre-empting the king in calling for a House sitting. Of course, one can’t entirely blame Anwar for being bitter; he’s in the lead insofar as MP support goes, with at least 92 to his name and Mahathir lagging behind with 64. He would have felt that he should’ve got the mandate to lead a minority government without things needing to go to this. 

To make matters worse for him, there is also the threat that the Umno-PAS bloc, which had rescinded their vote for Mahathir after finding out about the old fox’s plan for a unity government, could change their minds come March 2.

But that wasn’t the only bombshell Maddey threw yesterday. The man who JUST TWO DAYS AGO said he refuses to accept a government with Umno in it, has agreed to return to chair Bersatu, adding that he’d accept his party’s choice of possibly fronting party president Muhyiddin Yassin as PM.

Moo, a former Umno man and DPM, is one of the main reasons behind this whole bloody mess thanks to his itch to bring Umno back into the fold! And guess what? Moo is happy to take Umno on as a bedmate! What the effing eff!?!? It’s a complete 180 in the space of two days!

Things are not in any better shape state-wise either. Down South, the Johor palace and Menteri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal announced the collapse of the state Harapan government, claiming the majority sided with a “new coalition”. What’s puzzling though is this was announced after the sultan met with just 54 of the 56 assemblypersons, with votes going 28-26. In true form, this was immediately challenged by Johor Pakatan. It’s also interesting (and perhaps commendable?) that the Istana Bukit Serene didn’t take this opportunity to stick the knife into Maddey and twist it a little bit, considering their previous headbutting. 

Up north, Kedah announced Mukhriz Mahathir will remain as menteri besar despite Bersatu leaving Pakatan. What the what? So Pakatan and Bersatu unfriended each other everywhere but in Kedah? The same Kedah that is a Maddey stronghold and led by his darling son? 

And to think, today is only the fifth day of this crisis. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that this is probably teaching us more about our constitution and electoral process than any history lesson every could. Yay?

Stimulate me baby

Though he was late to his press conference, thanks to his meetings with a neverending parade of MPs (and suckups, no doubt), Maddey certainly didn’t let the political drama swirling around him get in the way of his first official act as interim PM – announcing his much-awaited economic stimulus package.

In case you missed it amidst all this nonsense about defecting MPs, resigning PMs and political powerplays, here’s the skinny on it –  The stimulus package is worth a total of RM20 billion and will be based on three strategies: countering the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, boosting people-based growth and encouraging quality investments.

Despite this package, however, the government has still revised its GDP growth forecast down from the original 4.8% for the year to between 3.2% and 4.2%. And thanks to our spending on the stimulus package, our fiscal deficit will also increase to 3.4% of GDP, up from the initial target of 3.2%.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff to read about this stimulus package, but in our, errr, expert(?) opinion, Maddey’s statement is actually pretty straightforward and explains things in a very simple manner. The Star also has a roundup of the highlights if you’re interested. But if you want it to be even simpler, here’s our main points on the matter:

  • The primary focus is on boosting and supporting the tourism sector, the area hardest hit by Covid-19. There’s a whole slew of aid measures for the tourism industry, ranging from exempting the 6% service tax for hotels to providing a 15% electricity bill discount to hotels, travel agencies, airlines, shopping malls, conventions and exhibitions centres.

    Bank Negara will also provide a special relief facility worth RM2 billion to SMEs while Bank Simpanan Nasional will provide RM200 million in microcredit financing to affected businesses at 4% interest. Cabbies, tourist bus drivers, tourist guides and registered trishaw drivers will all get RM600 in one-off payments. 

    If you’re local, you get RM1,000 in tax relief on any expenditure you incur on domestic tourism and a further RM100 in digital vouchers for domestic flights, railway and hotel accommodation. So Visit Malaysia, folks!
     
  • Boosting people-based growth is the second pillar of this programme. What that means in English is that the gomen wants to encourage people to spur the economy by spending more. The biggest way they’re doing this is by reducing mandatory EPF contribution rates from 11% to 7%. The extra disposable income could potentially unlock RM10 billion worth of spending. 

    The RM200 eligible people get under the Bantuan Sara Hidup aid programme will be brought forward from its May payout date to March, which means you get to spend your money sooner. In May, those eligible will get another RM100. 

    There’s a lot more on this pillar, but these are the ones that affect the broadest range of people. 
     
  • The third and final pillar is more of a big business move which is aimed at having trickle-down effects. It’s essentially the gomen committing to sustaining public investments, expediting tenders and the implementation of development projects, and accelerating planned investment projects for 2020.

This may not be the most interesting of reads, but kids, you must eat your vegetables along with the junk food. Cos’ it’s good for you.

And for all the other stuff ...

We’re actually gonna keep this short this time. The idea is to not tire you out at the beginning of your Friday! So here you go:

  • In a week of annoying news developments, this has got to be the most irritating thing of all. Some idiot YouTuber decided it would be hilarious to go to Istana Negara and offer money to all the journos who’ve been camped out there for days on end. His reason? To make some sort of weird point about corruption or whatnot. He was given short shrift by the cops at the scene. Serves him right for pulling pranks while the nation is in crisis and the media is doing its work. Here’s hoping he got a tight slap from his parents when he went home.
     
  • This one’s more of a preview than anything else. While our political crisis has been going on, ex-PM and current King of Trolls Najib Razak is still facing trial over his SRC case. Monday is gonna be a doozy, as MACC chief Latheefa Koya will take the witness stand.
     
  • In a good news, bad news scenario, two more Covid-19 patients have recovered from the illness, while another person has been diagnosed with it. This brings the number of recorded cases in Malaysia to 23, but only one patient being treated. 
     
  • AirAsia Group recorded a net loss of RM303.72 million for the last financial year compared to a net profit of RM1.97 billion the year before. However, in its filing with Bursa Malaysia, the airline said FY19 will reflect a net operating profit of RM56.3 million after adjusting major one-off items. It’s all very clever financial stuff. Read it here.

“There is no good and evil. There is only power... and those too weak to seek it.”

- Lord Voldemort -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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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