Several politicos are turning to the US of A for inspiration over an election process to possibly cure elected reps of their froggin' ways.

In other news, critics warn that 'vaccine passports' may not be all that; there are renewed calls to push teachers up the vaccine recipient list; and Jibby Razak's lead counsel steals the spotlight in Day 2 of the former PM's appeal proceedings.

Power to the people

Time for froggy practices to croak

Frogging politicians, as the last coupla months (years? decades?) prove, have become a national epidemic. But how do we end this nonsense, which is a betrayal of voter loyalty and a political farce, once and for all?

A webinar yesterday featuring a political scientist, activists and politicos has suggested the way outta this crap is via recall elections (a.k.a. representative recall/recall referendum/recall petition), which allow voters to boot out elected reps before their terms are up.

In the US, it’s been used against state senators, judges, mayors, governors and even TV city councillors (in Parks and Rec, Leslie Knope’s unceremonious sacking was via a recall). 

The idea is that unprincipled party hoppers and general bad performers (like, say, lawmakers who go on long international holidays when they should be seeing to their constituents’ needs) could be punished. Bersih is even working on a mock e-voting recall poll to give affected voters a taste of this system.

What’s heartening is the idea’s getting support from several Umno and DAP politicians.

Umno supreme council member Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who was joined by two of his party colleagues and DAP’s Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi at the forum yesterday, thinks BN should make it part of its GE15 manifesto. The ex-minister even committed to discussing this with Umno veep Khaled Nordin, who’s in charge of manifesto discussions (good luck with that!).

Umno, no doubt, has a vested interest in championing anti-hopping laws considering how it lost a bunch of MPs to Bersatu after GE14. But that doesn’t mean folks like Rahman Dahlan aren’t right in wanting to take a stand against frogging which have caused state and federal gomens to collapse. 

We wonder though, what a certain Mr Anwar Ibrahim would have to say about all this. After all, how many times has he promised to come to power via the support of froggy MPs? This recall election idea offers some free brownie points that Saudara Anwar may find hard to win.

Anwayyyy, another idea previously mooted to try to cut frogs at their bendy, sticky political knees was the party-list system, this one supported by Umno strongman Nazri Aziz.

The idea of recall elections in Malaysia isn’t new. Analyst Wong Chin Huat, also in yesterday’s panel, mooted the idea last year. He said this could give power back to the people, as long as proper regulations are in place to prevent abuse of the system, of course.

Thing is, as Pakatan Harapan proved with its grand manifesto of pledges that never got fully realised, kids politicians will say the darndest things to win votes when they don’t have ’em.

It’s a whole other matter once they get into office.

Passport to discrimination

As Malaysia gets ready to chat with Singapore about recognising each other’s vaccine certifications, some folk are warning that vaccine passport-type agreements could lead to more bad than good.

Granted, people the world over getting vaccinated is gonna go a long way towards opening up airways, reuniting loved ones, resuscitating tourism and boosting economies.

However, there’re concerns vaccine “passports” containing jab details — an idea mooted by European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen and even our own Azmin Ali — could be mucho problematic. 

For the mo, Covid-19 tests are all that’s needed for folks to travel. However, making vaccine certs mandatory could pave the way for discrimination, gomen control over people’s movementsinfringement on privacy rights, and could widen the gap between the haves and the have nots.

Need to travel for work but couldn’t get jabbed ’cos of your health/had no access to vaccines? Too bad. 

Got inoculated with China’s Sinovac vaccine, but geopolitics means the country you wanna get to only recognises the US-German Pfizer/BioNTech treatment? Bugger off.

Can’t get a job unless you reveal personal health and vaccination details to prospective employers? Tough beans.

And all all this isn’t bad enough, there’re ethical concerns too.

Right now, vaccine passports are only being mooted for international travel. But critics note it’s a short hop, skip and jump from this to stopping them from boarding boats and buses, dining at restaurants, enrolling at schools and universities, attending concerts and/or accessing gyms and swimming pools.

Let’s not forget there’s a whole bunch of folk who refuse to get vaccinated. Those who get jabbed may not agree with anti-vaxxers’, but should their choice (and let’s not forget, vaccination is still a choice) then mean they effectively become second class citizens in this brave new post-Covid world?

And lastly, all this talk of vaccine certs also mean nothing when there isn’t true vaccine equity, be it in Malaysia or on the global stage. FYI, vaccine equity means the fair access and distribution of Covid-19 treatments to all nations/populations/communities.

Yet, reports are already surfacing about rich countries hoarding vaccines at a huge cost to poorer nations, on top of affluent folks getting to do anything they damn well want — including having secret dinner parties — while us plebs are forced to deal with lockdowns, strict SOPs, and fines while struggling to survive.

To Sir, with Love

As more Covid-19 cases crop up in Malaysian schools, a group of opposition politicians, including former education and deputy education minister Maszlee Malik and Teo Nie Ching, are once more calling for teachers to be pushed up the list of vaccine recipients.

You see, only 55,000-odd teachers were accommodated in Phase 1 of the national immunisation plan. However, with all schools now open, it’s urgent that all 500,000 teachers to get inoculated. This is especially as children still can’t get vaccinated yet.

In case anyone’s keeping count, there’ve been 41 reported Covid clusters in education institutes in Malaysia this year alone.

On the subject of vaccines, Malaysia reiterated it’ll be going ahead with the Oxford/AstraZeneca shots as, according to Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, clinical data shows the drug’s benefits outweighing its risks.

In any case, as we covered on Monday, our gomen’s got backup plans in case they do decide to drop the UK vaccine, including possibly more of the Pfizer/BioNTech goods.

Despite concerns over that particular treatment, though, Dr Air Suam Adham’s warned that folks spreading vaccine “fake news” could find themselves hauled to court.

Sure, guarding against misinformation and disinformation is important, especially given the health crisis we’re facing. However, as we pointed out a few months ago, laws must complement other efforts aimed at cluing in folks who aren’t necessarily media literate.

Meanwhile, on worries of a new Covid surge, the overall infectivity rate rose to 1.03 while infection spikes recorded in East Malaysia — 385 cases in Sarawak and 112 in Sabah — yesterday suggest that concerns of a new wave hitting might be more real than first imagined.

There were 1,300 new cases and 5 deaths yesterday, bringing the total number of active cases nationwide to 14,161 and the death toll to 1,300

Shafee in the spotlight and other stuff

We hope Ex-PM Najib Razak’s bringing a cushion (you know, for his backside!), as his appeal against the SRC International conviction is set to go on in the Court of Appeal. 

Still, it wasn’t self-proclaimed Bossku, but his lead lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who stole the limelight in yesterday’s proceedings.

Our favourite dog tamer was in generally fine form, but got so carried away in his criticism of the case’s trial judge — calling Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali “hopelessly incompetent” — that he earned himself a reprimand by the Appellate Court.

Excitable defence counsels aside, here’s a summary of Jibby’s main appeal arguments from yesterday:

That case aside, we also found out yesterday that Jibby’s been served with a bankruptcy notice over his failure to pay a whopping RM1.69 billion (how many Hermes Birkins would that buy?) in income tax arrears. Bossku’s claimed the move to bankrupt him is all part of a ploy by rivals to bring him down. 

Maybe? But this could also mean the man who used to run this country and serve as finance minister allegedly thought it was okay not to pay the taxman between 2011 and 2017.

While you chew on that, here’re a few more important bits and bobs from Tuesday’s headlines:

  • According to ex-AG Mohamed Apandi Ali, Malaysia never sought legal help from other countries in our 1MDB investigations outta fear any assistance would prejudice ongoing local probes at the time. R-r-r-right.
     
  • The court in Tronoh assemblyperson Paul Yong’s rape trial will decide on a request for two key witnesses to deliver their testimonies behind closed doors and without the accused present. One of these witnesses is the reported victim, while the other claimed to have received death threats over the case.

    Err… isn’t revealing that the person received death threats almost akin to revealing the person’s identity? Or were death threats being sent out like restaurant flyers?
     
  • Former Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation chief a.k.a ex-spy chief Hasanah Abdul Hamid bought six luxury watches with cash she allegedly pilfered from the gomen, the KL High Court heard yesterday.
     
  • On the subject of luxury items, a yacht, cars and two helicopters were among the items seized from a “Datuk” suspected of being the ringleader of “project cartel”. Cash totalling RM3.5 million was also discovered at the dude’s home. Damn!
     
  • Sugarbook’s members include “extremely influential people in power“, founder Darren Chan has claimed. He doesn’t plan to disclose the names of these sugar daddies, though.
     
  • Despite the protests of human rights groups, de facto Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri has said the gomen’ll go ahead and enact tougher laws against the country’s LGBT community. However, any laws and/or amendments on the issue will have to be first tabled in Parliament, which is currently suspended.
     
  • A total of 6,013 undocumented migrants have been deported since the start of the year, with 18,694 more remaining at detention centres.

    This particular announcement has come amidst the promise that undocumented persons who turn up to get inoculated won’t be arrested.
     
  • This is very sad. Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, a Rohingya Muslim refugee and activist living in Malaysia, has said he has been afraid to leave his house for over a year following death threats to him and his family.

    The threats came following false news that he allegedly claimed he demanded citizenship for Rohingyas in Malaysia.

“You politicians have stayed professionals only because the voters have remained amateurs."

- Katharine Hepburn, State of the Union -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • An AstraZeneca trial on kids has been paused as investigators probe a link between the vaccine and rare blood clots.
     
  • Meanwhile, Europe’s drug regulator denies it’s already found a connection between the vaccine and blood clots.

    Concerns previously arose after about 30 cases of rare blood clots in adults (resulting in seven deaths) have been linked to the 18 million AstraZeneca shots given in the UK to date.
     
  • North Korea has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics due to Covid fears. Kimland, for the record, has always claimed it’s free of the disease. 
     
  • Newly-crowned ‘Mrs Sri Lanka’ Pushpika De Silva was injured in an on-stage bust-up moments after her win. The altercation occurred after the prize’s 2019 winner tried to remove the crown from the new queen claiming the latter is a divorcee and thus, ineligible. The title has been restored to Pushpika.
     
  • Dutch cops have arrested a man over the theft of Van Gogh’s masterpiece The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring. The dude’s also alleged to have nicked Frans Hals’ Two Laughing Boys.

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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