Warisan leader Shafie Apdal has apologised to Malaysians for his man’s foot-in-mouth moment in saying the whole bloody Lahad Datu intrusion had been orchestrated by the former BN government. But with early voting involving security forces having taken place yesterday, was it too little, too late?

In other news, a seventh cluster has been found in Sabah while Covid-19 patients in hospitals won't be allowed to vote in the coming polls; and, US banks have flagged Malaysia for suspicious activity which may point to us being a money-laundering haven.

An apology too late

Sorry no cure?

As OneRepublic sang it, “it’s too late to apologise, it’s too late”.

These words could well have been ringing in Warisan Plus chief minister candidate and overall head honcho Shafie Apdal’s ears as he apologises to security forces, their families and all Malaysians over the really stupid remark made by his own fellow MP.

This is over Lahad Datu MP Mohamaddin Ketapi’s own goal – the ill-conceived remarks that the 2013 Sabah/Lahad Datu/Kg Tanduo intrusion, which killed 10 Malaysian officers and six civilians, was merely a sandiwara made up by the then federal government to gain support for GE13. This is the same genius who declared last year there were no such things as homosexuals in Malaysia.

Yesterday, BTL highlighted how the recent remark could affect the Sabah elections come Saturday, especially as anti-immigrant sentiments were already strong in Sabah. Well, yesterday was also early voting day for close to 17,000 security force personnel and their spouses. The same security personnel who are super pissed with our man Mohamaddin’s statement. 

Bear in mind, it wasn’t just our women and men in uniform who were left wounded by the remarks. The entire nation felt the effects of the self-proclaimed Sulu Sultanate’s invasion. So, no matter in what context Mo made that statement, it was a huge snafu. Other leaders such as Shafie’s archnemesis Musa Aman and Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob also continued to press home the advantage by slamming Mohamaddin and deriding Warisan Plus. Hey, all’s fair in love and elections. 
 
It’s no wonder ol’ boy Shafie Apdal sought to do damage control although there’s no telling how big a hit the Warisan Plus election campaign has already taken. Even so, security personnel on duty yesterday would only be casting their ballots on Sept 26 with the rest of Sabahans, so there’s still hope for Shafie and gang.

Still, it wasn’t an all-out apology. There was that ever-present statement all politicians make whenever they screw up, that Mohamaddin’s remarks had been misunderstood. If we had a ringgit for every time we hear that one. You can view Shafie’s full statement here.
 
That being said, it’s quite refreshing to have a leader take responsibility for the actions of his/her party members and apologise for once. For the record, Mohamaddin, himself, has also expressed remorse. Perhaps our supreme leader PM Muhyiddin Yassin could take a leaf out of Shafie’s playbook over a certain m̶o̶r̶o̶n̶ minister’s breach of home quarantine regulations (even if Moo did give a statement that no one is above the law). Still, we suppose with face masks covering our mouths all the time, sorry is an even harder word to say for some nowadays. 
 
No amount of apologies, however, will spare Mohamaddin from being hauled up by Bukit Aman for questioning over his remarks. 
 
Our coppers will likely also be investigating the claim by Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin that an agent of a candidate had also tried to bribe the police to stay silent over the Lahad Datu issue. 
 
Speaking of the police, remember their warning a group of foreigners from a neighbouring country are planning to enter Sabah on polling day to stir shit up? It seems our security forces have gotten wind of such possible attempts by those who hold dual citizenship (holding two citizenships is illegal under Malaysian law, BT-dubs). 
 
Well, security has been tightened across Sabah for the polls, and our armed forces are ready to deal with any foreign threat, so rest easy. Well, a little bit easier, anyway. 
 
Meanwhile, the government has confirmed that Covid-19 patients being treated in hospitals will not be allowed to vote come Saturday. However, those under quarantine may do so as there’ll be a special voting stream for them and those who have symptoms but have yet to test positive.

Ain't no seventh heaven...

On the topic of Covid-19 and Sabah, a seventh cluster – the so-called ‘Bangau’ cluster – has been detected in the Land Below the Wind. 
 
There were 82 new cases yesterday, of which only 10 were imported. Sixty of these cases were in Sabah alone, with the Bangau cluster accounting for five. Ten cases were reported in Kedah and there were one each in Selangor and Sarawak.
 
This brings the total number of infections in Malaysia to 10,358 with 665 active cases left. Thankfully, there was no new death, so the fatality toll remains at 130. Meanwhile, 168 people were discharged, the highest since June 16 when 333 recoveries were recorded.
 
The case in Selangor was recorded at a healthcare centre during screening for pre-surgery. It’s understood this case is linked to the closure of a UOB branch in Kepong where a staff member who had recently returned from Sabah tested positive for Covid-19. 
 
Despite this, and the fact that 30 schools in Lahad Datu have been ordered closed, the Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said there’s no need for the Sabah elections to be postponed, nor for those returning from Sabah to be tested unless they display symptoms. 
 
With Sabah cases already spilling over to the Peninsula, we gotta say, the good DG’s optimism that health officials “hope to contain” the spread of the virus in Sabah is not enough to assuage our fears. It certainly doesn’t sound like the man we know who’d always preached about flattening the curve
 
Anyhoo, here are a number of other Covid-related stories that came out yesterday:

  • PM Muhyiddin, delivering Malaysia’s national statement at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN, has said access to Covid-19 vaccine, when available, must be given to all people and nations. Moo also called for a reform of the UN as it had failed to prevent the “scourge of war”. 
     
  • The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry has signed a Letter of Intent with the Russian Embassy in Malaysia for Malaysia and Russia to collaborate on the Sputnik V vaccine. 

    However, Noor Hisham has cautioned that a vaccine wouldn’t be a “silver bullet solution”, as adhering to SOPs is still more important
     
  • World Health Organization (WHO) rep to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, Dr Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline, has said Malaysia is well-prepared to handle a spike in Covid-19 cases but it needed to address several weaknesses. This includes preventing infections at detention centres (we hate to say we told you so) and strengthening surveillance system by increasing awareness within the private healthcare sector. 
     
  • The Dewan Negara has approved the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Bill 2020 which seeks to support the government’s initiatives to restore the country’s economy. This is not to be confused with the bill to finance Covid-19 measures approved on Monday.
     
  • Sports-related businesses such as futsal and badminton courts can now operate until 2am. Recently, the gomen allowed eateries and convenience stores to open till 2am and apparently sports-related business owners cried foul over being left out. 

... but a money laundering haven

What does Malaysia have in common with countries like Angola, Togo, Cambodia, Niger, Indonesia and the British Virgin Islands?
 
Well, like them, Malaysia is a “destination for money laundering” (allegedly, allegedly). This after US banks have flagged various transactions involving leading Malaysian financial firms as “suspicious”. 
 
Several reports filed by the US banks to the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) state Malaysia is a “high-risk jurisdiction for money laundering and financial crime”. The reports name nine Malaysian banks as facilitating suspicious transactions worth more than US$18 million. The banks are OCBC Bank, Public Bank, United Overseas Bank, AmBank, Standard Chartered, CIMB, Alliance Bank, HSBC Bank and Maybank. Damn!
 
According to media investigations, however, the reports are not proof crimes have actually taken place. In fact, in some instances, the links to actual criminal elements are tenuous.
 
That being said, some reports were linked to 1MDB transactions facilitated by AmBank amounting to millions of US dollars. In an earlier article, it was reported that US banks didn’t act on 1MDB-linked transactions till it was too late
 
Yet, international money-laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force has not placed Malaysia on its list of high-risk jurisdictions for money laundering and global terrorism, so glass half full?
 
The glass-half-empty viewpoint, however, is that the fact US banks have flagged us, coupled with the 1MDB scandal, doesn’t do a whole lot of good for Malaysia’s image in the global finance world. You can bank on that.
 
Sadly, only CIMB has come up with any sort of statement. CIMB Group Holdings Bhd has said it is diligent in filing Suspicious Activity Reports and adheres to a “robust due diligence process in a secured and controlled environment”. 
 
Interestingly enough, two of the banks mentioned as having flagged Malaysia  – JPMorgan Chase and Bank of New York Mellon – were themselves also named the previous day as being among five global banks revealed in secret US government documents as having defied money laundering crackdowns. This, they did reportedly by moving large sums of illicit cash for “shadowy characters and criminal networks that have spread chaos and undermined democracy around the world”. 

Make of that what you will.

Bits and bobs

As usual, there were lots of odds and ends that came out yesterday. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of the more interesting and/or important ones for you here:

  • Former supreme and now not-so-glorious leader Najib Razak has applied for more time to file an appeal against his conviction and sentence for corruption-related charges in his SRC International trial. Yeah. Take your time. You’ll probably need it. 
     
  • The five people charged with the release of hazardous materials into the Sungai Gong river have been released on bail of RM400,000 in one surety each. If you remember (how can you forget?) the pollution led to a week-long water cut and over a million unwashed Malaysians in the Klang Valley.
     
  • The Court of Appeal has reaffirmed a High Court decision to acquit a woman of the murder of her Indonesian domestic helper Adelina Lisao two years ago. The court, however, also ruled there’s nothing stopping the prosecution from filing other charges, and NGO Tenaganita wants them to do just that. Adelina’s case had sparked global outrage and is seen as a example of cruelty and discrimination domestic helpers often face.
     
  • The prosecution has filed an appeal against the acquittal of outspoken lawyer Siti Kasim over a charge of obstructing a Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department officer from carrying out his duties during a raid on a private transgender event in 2016, which became a high-profile case. 
     
  • A Bersatu senator wants the gomen to set up a “Pribumi Ministry” to look after the wellbeing of Malays, Orang Asli and Sabah and Sarawak bumiputeras. OK Senator, what about separate ministries for the Chinese, Indians dan lain-lain then? 
     
  • The YDP Agong has been admitted to the National Heart Institute after complaining of feeling unwell. Istana Negara has said his condition is not worrying and the King is expected to be discharged soon. 

“Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, which I've practised for many years."

- Prince Philip -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Apart from PM Muhyiddin, other world leaders addressed the UN yesterday including American President Donald Trump. US-China relations had taken centre stage with the president accusing Beijing of unleashing Covid-19 onto the world, to which China replied “lies!”.
     
  • UK PM Boris Johnson has announced a set of new Covid-19 restrictions that he says could last for six months
     
  • The world has now seen more than 31.4 million Covid-19 cases and 967,000 deaths. The US alone has reached 200,000 deaths so far. India, however, has recorded the lowest number of daily infections in a month.
     
  • In a first joint statement since the de-escalation talks began in May, India and China have agreed to strengthen communication, refrain from any action that could make things worse and not send more troops to the frontline at the Sino-India Ladakh border, a.k.a the Line of Actual Control.
     
  • US Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett is said to be The Donald’s current favourite to replace the late great Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Supreme Court Justice, according to insiders. 

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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