According to Bersatu man Rais Hussin, Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad is an exemplary minister. But is he really doing an ace job? Or was Rais just using Dzul to whack someone else? In other news, Rosie and Jib go to court (again), the WWF accuses us of consuming a shitload of plastic, and Malaysians make a name for themselves Down Under. Sorta.

This is Dzul. Dzul doesn't bodek. Be like Dzul.

Buat kerja! Jangan bodek!

It’s true. Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad has handled the Covid-19 (previously known as the Wuhan coronavirus) outbreak pretty professionally so far. To date, there’ve been 22 cases of infection in the country, and the good doctor and his ministry men and women have been on the ball, and quick with updates

Now, Bersatu’s Dr Rais Hussin says, Dzul’s performance proves government officials can, in fact, do their jobs without getting entangled in politicking, and more importantly, polishing the PM’s … errr … apples.

On Twitter on Monday, Rais, Bersatu’s chief strategist, singled the Amanah man out for praise, noting he’d done a “tremendous job” without “apple polishing the PM”. Question is: is that an accurate assessment?

True, Dzul’s pretty much stayed away from taking sides in the Dr Mahathir Mohamad vs. Anwar Ibrahim power transition debate. And yes, you’ll definitely not find him fawning all over Maddey. But “tremendous job”?!

Dzul, as we said earlier, has certainly been professional in dealing with Covid-19. However, he’s doing exactly what’s expected of a person in his position facing a crisis like this. Nothing more. So give him a pat on the back lah, but let’s not forget that this is the same health minister who has, until now, failed to adequately manage the houseman placement problem, power cuts and server breakdowns in government hospitals, and for quite a while during the Kuala Koh incident, didn’t have a clue as to how to help the poor Bateq people.

Anyhoo, it’s possible Rais was just blowing smoke up Dzul’s ass and the main point and target of the tweet was actually the unnamed “other minister” who “has become an expert in apple polishing but forgets to deliver on his ministry’s deliverables”. 

Rais didn’t name the joker, of course, but we do wonder whether it’s someone from his party or another Pakatan Harapan component. (Rais’ next post – a re-tweet of 12 ways a person can earn trust, which he marked as being great advice for all Malaysian politicians and which highlighted values such as “do not lie”, “say what you mean”, “deliver on promises”, and “do not brag” – was just as cryptic.)

Regardless, the Bersatu politician is right about PH ministers forgetting their role. Way too many people in the current gomen have spent more time on bodek-ing the boss than on fixing shit and delivering the things that were promised. 

Still, sir, perhaps if you really wanna make a difference, it might be advisable to, you know, “say what you mean” and actually name and shame. After all, isn’t that one sure way to earn trust? Or did your advice not apply to you?

Justice delayed

Itchy and Scratchy Rosmah Mansor and Najib Razak were back in court on Monday, and on top of more juicy allegations of power abuse, there was added drama and a couple of postponements thanks to an uncooperative witness, and the wedding of a defence lawyer’s son. Yes, really.

Rosie’s case was the more straightforward of the two yesterday, and the most interesting revelations from the seventh day of proceedings in her solar project corruption case came courtesy of two former ministry officials – Ex-Education sec-gen Dr Madinah Mohamad and former Treasury deputy sec-gen Othman Semail.

First up, Madinah, the sixth prosecution witness, told of a Jepak Holdings associate to who threatened to expose Jib and Rosie after the dude in question had a falling out with his partner. According to Madinah, the fella had had a tiff with Jepak boss Saidi Abang Samsudin and had made the threats ’cos he actually wanted to snatch the solar project from his former partner. (Yeah, ’cos that would have surely worked.🙄)

Othman, who took the stand next, revealed that the award for the solar project had been ordered by Jib himself, and was handed via direct tender without a price review.

Yes, it’s all a bit he said-she said at this point. However, what needs to be pointed out is that the testimonies on Monday weren’t delivered by any old joe but high ranking officials who appear to have had intimate knowledge of the project at the time it was awarded. 

If you aren’t already thinking these Jepak fellers are dodgy, then check out this allegation that they threatened to stop supplying diesel to 369 rural schools in Sarawak unless they got a RM92 mil payment from the Education Ministry. Princes among men, these guys.

Meanwhile, both Jibby’s cases – the SRC International one, where he’s being charged with pocketing RM42 million, and the 1MDB case, which involves money laundering and abuse of power in relation to RM2.28 billion – were postponed owing to odd and odder circumstances i.e. a defence witness refusing to meet the defence team before taking the stand and lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s son getting hitched.

The short story is the judges in both cases accepted the requests, and adjournments in both cases – the SRC case resumes Feb 24, while the 1MDB one is set for March 2 – were granted. Still, the big question we’d like answered is: are all these delays part of a ploy to drag the cases on until, oh, after the next GE maybe? 

Yeah, we get it. Postponements are part and parcel of court cases, but when dogssore eyes, a sore butt and weddings are given as excuses, you gotta wonder what the hell is really going on.

Life in plastic, ain't fantastic

Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans and 60% of that amount, it seems, is contributed by China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and us. What’s worse, according to a WWF report, is that Malaysians are apparently the biggest consumers of plastic packaging.

In total, the six biggest offending countries consume something like 27 million tonnes of plastic packaging. And if you wanna know what that figure translates to for the average Malaysian, it’s about 16.8kg per person per year!

Part of the problem, WWF’s Thomas Schuldt says, is the plastic used for food delivery and product purchases in Malaysia and the five other countries. But there’s a bigger issue too, and that is that the Alam Floras (read: garbage collection services) in many parts of Asia have not been able to keep up with development. That’s the reason waste keeps “leaking” into the sea.

But while the WWF’s figures are damning, this isn’t the first time the issue’s been brought up. In fact, for a while now, experts have warned that Malaysia’s landfills are nearly full. So what we really ought to do is start listening, and actually make an effort to reduce plastic consumption.

Yes, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry already has a roadmap to get Malaysia to be single-use plastic free by 2030 and has even called on companies and businesses to work with it to find eco-friendly solutions to meet consumer demands.

Some of the nonsense that goes on here is unbelievable. How many times have you bought a banana only to have some plastic-wrapped monstrosity then put in another plastic bag and given to you? It’s a banana! It’s got all-natural packaging, dammit!

Anyway, rant over. Main thing is, it’s time for all of us to do our part if we don’t wanna drown in plastic crap.

Plane-ly speaking

We keep hearing about Malaysians making up the largest number of visa overstayers in Australia. Now, however, we find out that the Aussies actually have a name for us – plane people.

In case you didn’t know, “boat people” is what refugees who fled Vietnam by sea at the end of the Vietnam War were called. The first boat, carrying five people, is understood to have sailed into Darwin in 1976. Since then, more than 200,000 Vietnamese, and thousands more asylum seekers from other countries have resettled in Australia. Recently, though, the country’s been faced with another issue – asylum seekers arriving by plane. And according to recent stats, most of the so-called refugees who flew into Australia last month were Malaysians!

The Sydney Morning Herald, quoting official figures, says a total of 1,931 plane people arrived in the country last month. And from that number, 546 were Malaysian with the others comprising people from China (309), India (255), Fiji (83) and the Philippines (61).

If you’re wondering why so many people arrive claiming asylum though, it seems that it’s one way for illegal workers to enter the country. Also, according to Aussie senator Kristina Keneally, it can even sometimes be “a work scam run by people smugglers”. Then, of course, the are those, like this doofus, who enter the country on the normal tourist eVisas and then apply for protection visas simply to flout the law and stay on longer.

Needless to say, some 90% of all these so-called asylum claims are eventually found to be false. Which is why Australia is now working with Malaysia to stop this kind of nonsense from continuing to happen.

But if this shit does go on, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if our mates down undah start tightening entry conditions and visa requirements for ALL Malaysians.

This and that

A bit more made the headlines yesterday, and here’re a few of those stories in brief:

  • Mob boss Ayah Yie and 11 gang members have been arrested for the shooting of former Attorney-General Gani Patail’s driver. In the 2017 incident, the victim had been shot in the leg by two men on a motorcycle in front of his house. In announcing the arrests, Bukit Aman CID boss Huzir Mohammed said Ayah Yie’s gang had been terrorising Selangor folks, especially those in Klang, for over eight years. The actual shooter, though, has yet to be apprehended.
     
  • Mental health issues among employees may have cost Malaysia about RM14.46 billion in 2018, a mental health advocate says. And that, Dr Chua Sook Ning reckons, is because most businesses don’t hire such people, and when they do, these workers tend to receive low appraisal scores. The result, she says, is a huge talent drain that’s cost the country mega bucks.
     
  • Econs Minister Azmin Ali’s four kids have been joined with him as defendants in a suit by a travel company for the recovery of over RM300k in unpaid flight tickets and hotel stays. The company, YHA Travel & Tours, claims the amount owed is for travel between September 2018 and August 2019 for Azmin, his family, friends and ministry staff.
     
  • Developers and designers will soon also be liable for the safety of construction workers, HR Minister M. Kula Segaran says. Kula notes that the specific rules are currently being worked out by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health and the A-G’s Chambers. At present, only contractors are responsible for worker safety.

“The king appeared ... with his dogs and sycophants behind him.”

- Kathleen Winsor -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Ninety-nine more people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off Japan have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of infected persons to 454. Meanwhile, the global death toll for the disease stands at 1,775, with more than 71,000 people infected. 
     
  • A third major leak of sensitive Chinese government documents has revealed the system China allegedly uses to justify the detention – often on trivial grounds – of millions of mainly Muslim citizens in Xinjiang.
     
  • British musician and DJ Andrew Weatherall has died from a pulmonary embolism. He was 56. Weatherall, a pioneer of the 1980s acid house scene, gained public recognition when he produced Primal Scream’s Mercury Music Prize-winning breakthrough album, Screamadelica in the early ’90s.
     
  • This is shit. Really. Knife-wielding assailants stole hundreds of rolls of toilet paper following panic buying in Hong Kong on Monday, despite the government assuring citizens that there were enough rolls to go around.
     
  • An adviser to British PM Boris Johnson has quit following backlash over past comments that linked intelligence with race. Andrew Sabisky, who was brought in by BoJo’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings, announced his resignation as a “contractor” to No. 10 on Monday night.

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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