Time's almost up for Anwar Ibrahim to show who's the bigger tauke in the Dewan Rakyat – him or PM Muhyiddin Yassin – as Budget 2021's up for a crucial vote today. And if Moo should fall, might we just find a familiar nonagenarian back in office?

In other news, a young woman's political success in American causes a stir here; and a Top Glove worker has sadly died from Covid-19.

Budget D-Day

Last chance saloon

Perikatan Nasional has so far coasted through the first vote and the committee stage of the Budget 2021 debates. But there’s still a slim chance PM Moo and co. could find themselves out on their behinds by the end of Parliament proceedings today.

Ingat, the Pakatan Harapan-led opposition had made lotsa noise about the gomen’s money plan being inadequate. But for all Anwar’s talk, it’s been pretty obvious the opposition leader and friends just don’t have the numbers to defeat it, what with the bungled bloc vote attempt at the policy stage to being roundly trounced at the committee stage.

In case you’re keeping score, its PN 25 – PH diddly-squat following votes on 25 ministry budgets to date. Seven of those PH defeats had come from bloc votes that saw the opposition barely making a dent. 

Only the Education and Higher Education Ministries budgets are left for today. Once those are disposed of, it’ll be time for the Supply Bill’s (that’s the Budget) third reading and the last chance anyone’ll have to throw out the money plan, and maybe Moo too (as a budget defeat’s an alternative no-confidence vote against le premier).

A desperate Pakatan’s now calling on all MPs, regardless of political leaning, to make their votes count this time for the sake of A̶n̶w̶a̶r̶ the rakyat, of course! 

Naturally, questions abound. Like:

  1. Will the opposition, Parti Warisan Sabah included, put up a united front?
     
  2. Will certain fellas who’ve been happy to back MooMoo till now finally vote against him? 
     
  3. What will happen to civil servant salaries and the like if PN loses the vote? 

On 1 and 2, we honestly have no friggin’ idea. But for 3, based on convention and the Federal Constitution, only Moo and his cabinet need worry. Everything else should be able to jalan as normal.

It is funny how Pakatan’s now calling for elected reps to forsake party lines today. It was that damned sticking to party lines during the policy stage vote – when Pakatan reps begrudgingly decided to listen to Anwar’s less-than-brilliant (dare we say selfish?) plan – that messed things up in the first place. As Kak Alanis Morissette said, “isn’t it ironic?”

Also, considering how shambolic the opposition’s performance has been in the committee stage — yesterday, for example, saw a hissy fit walkout being staged over the presence of quarantined MPs in the House when what was really needed were debates — should these guys really be presenting themselves as champions of the common man? 

Country for old men

Speaking of cakap kosong kings, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s back y’all! This time, he and new BFF Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, would like us to believe they hold the key to Malaysia’s salvation.

The two, you’ll remember from Sejarah, are long-time rivals who once battled so hard against each other that Umno split. But like with that momentous Maddey-Anwar meeting in 2016, the bad blood between Maddey and Ku Li appears to have washed away, with the old foes now saying they’re all for working together to lead the country out of this current funk. 

To be clear, Pinky and the Brain the dynamic duo didn’t exactly outline their game plan at their joint press conference yesterday. But from what can be gathered, it all depends on MooMoo’s gomen collapsing during the Budget vote today and a majority of MPs lending their support to an alternative PM candidate. 

Could that candidate be Mads? Perhaps. (He did say that if everybody supports him, he’ll be PM again again again.) 

But it could also be Umno’s Gua Musang MP Ku Li, who’s repeatedly called for Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun to approve a no-confidence motion against MooMoo. It was Ku Li whom the Agong first met with after Anwar’s fresh I-have-the-numbers bid.

Nothing appears to be set in stone yet. But a few things do appear crystal: 

  • Our beloved PM4/PM7/PM9 wannabe and his new sidekick are attempting to revive the unity gomen — a grand, party-less coalition of elected reps — idea which Mads had first mooted in the days following the Sheraton Move.
     
  • Maddey is dead against working with Najib Razak.

Also, we’re not holding our breaths the Mads-Ku Li buddy cop act would last long. After all, GE14 has shown Mahathir’s willing to work with past rivals for the sake of political longevity, it’s him keeping his promises and sharing power that are the sticking points.

Anyhoo, it’ll be interesting to see if Moo falls plus how the Dewan and all its potential PM candidates — Mahathir, Ku Li, Anwar and Warisan’s Shafie Apdal — will vote if that happens. 

Ku Li has also said he’ll “maybe” be able to recruit some Umno MPs to his and Mads’ cause. But as Anwar could probably tell him, getting Umno MPs to defect in public is tougher than getting Jibby Razak to stop posting exercise vids on Insta.

You're the inspiration

The success of a young woman with Malaysian roots being elected mayor in a California town in a causing a stir and at least one MP thinks the tale should inspire to young Malaysians to contribute to our country’s political development.

It must be pointed out that 25-year-old Jocelyn Yow, the new mayor, isn’t even Malaysia, she’s American by birth la. But she did spend about a decade in Alor Setar when her Malaysian dad and Vietnamese mum moved back here. 

Now, of course, the MP makes a fair point, and our youth indeed hold the key to Malaysia’s future. But what can’t be denied (as this Zunar comic directly points out) is there’re few areas in Malaysian government/business/education/whatnot where young people/women/minorities/disabled persons are allowed to rise. 

If anything, Yow’s story shows the success Malaysians find abroad (in this case her daddy-o) compared to back home. (Also, you can’t even vote for your mayor or local government rep in Malaysia!)

Need an example, how’s about the continuous infantilising of former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman every time he opens his mouth in Parliament? Or our lack of women in leading government roles? Or the ruckus when non-Muslims were appointed top gomen roles?

Or why don’t we just look north to Perak, shall we?

According to the new man in charge, Saarani Mohamad, the state gomen doesn’t currently have to have any non-Muslim excos because in Perak, PN doesn’t have any non-Muslim reps. Also, he said there’re already Chinese and Indians in local councils.

He’s right about the current elected rep make-up in his state. But what’s also true is the current ruling triumvirate of Bersatu-Umno-PAS has never ever prioritised inclusivity and representation. It’s the fact the powers that be continuously fail to recognise the importance of diversity in gomen that’s pissing us off.

So yeah, it’s good and all to be inspired, YB, but let’s call a spade a friggin’ spade lah.

Tragedy strikes

Top Glove, the world’s largest glovemaker, is in the news again, and this time it’s over the death of a worker from Covid-19.

Top Glove workers, you’ll remember, comprise a majority of the cases linked to the notorious Teratai cluster which has recorded over 5,400 cases.

On Monday, a 29-year-old Nepalese security guard at the company’s factory in Meru had succumbed to the disease. Worse, it seems that the poor guy, identified as Yamnarayan Chaudhary Tharu, couldn’t be helped when he was admitted to hospital, ‘cos the disease was already well advanced.

Now, the guard’s tragic death drives home the concern over migrant workers’ health and safety and just what big companies are doing to help their employees. Top Glove has already admitted to poor housing condition and had (allegedly! allegedly!) fired the whistleblower who highlighted the lapse in physical distancing enforcement for workers.

BTW, despite the above fatality, the National Security Council has decided to end the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) imposed on Top Glove’s workers’ hostel in Klang. It also said 14 of the 28 factories previously shut have been allowed to reopen. 

Is that worrying? You betcha! Especially as Hartalega, another massive glovemaker, has also confirmed Covid infection among its workers. We’re keeping our fingers crossed there isn’t another massive cluster in our hands.

Meanwhile, Monday’s overall Covid numbers rose by 1,371 new infections and 4 more deaths. Also, Selangor is once more topping the daily infections table, with a whopping 532 cases and 8 new clusters notched yesterday.

Here, anyways, are some other dangling odds and ends, both Covid and non-Covid, that made the news:

  • Funds allegedly linked to 1MDB and seized from Pekan Umno and the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) have been returned. It goes without saying that a certain Super Rings-chomping Pekan Umno leader will be mighty pleased.
     
  • Singapore has said it’s still in discussion with Malaysia over the high-speed rail project despite a news report claiming that Putrajaya will continue with the plan sans our neighbours and end the line — which starts in KL – in Johor instead of Jurong East.
     
  • Home Ministry will soon announce measures to speed up the applications of Malaysian-born individuals who’ve somehow never been granted citizenship.
     
  • The Health Ministry is mulling allowing those under home quarantine to be released after 10 days, instead of the previous two weeks. As we noted yesterday, we think cutting short quarantine is a really bad idea!

"Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid."

- Homer -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Issues with Google’s servers resulted in a massive worldwide outage that left millions of users without access to data. Multiple services and apps, including YouTube and Gmail, were offline for about an hour on yesterday.
     
  • An investigative report has claimed that Russia’s spy agency, FSB, poisoned Vladimir Putin’s political nemesis Alexei Navalny after trailing him for over two years.

    Meanwhile, Russia-linked hackers are being accused of cyber-raids against US institutions like the Treasury and Commerce Department.
     
  • Pornhub is removing millions of videos from its site following a revelation that a large number of clips feature underaged subjects.
     
  • Former Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier has passed away aged 73. The Frenchman, who underwent heart surgery just before his death, is best known for leading Liverpool to a unique treble of trophies in the early 2000s.

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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