Barisan Nasional secretary-general Annuar Musa's been given the boot in yet another indication the coalition's dominant force – Umno – is pushing for snap polls soon and moving towards a split from Bersatu.

In other news, family ties come out strong as the son of one Umno man defends his father and the daughter of another insists dad isn't behind her cushy new "job". A DAP father-son team, meanwhile, is facing a movement against them. All that, plus more deets on Malaysia's Covid-19 vaccine deal.

GE15 calling?

Movin' and shakin'

Umno leaders appear to be working up a head of steam to force for GE15 to be called and to break with PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu. 

If the fact that most Umno divisions have reportedly rejected any cooperation with Moo’s party in the polls isn’t enough, yesterday we hear that BN secretary-general Annuar Musa, who’s seen as being too pally-pally with Bersatu and the Perikatan Nasional folks, has been given the heave-ho

Umno sec-gen Ahmad “nasi goreng strawberry” Maslan will now be BN and Muafakat Nasional sec-gen. He’s insisted his predecessor wasn’t sacked, merely replaced. Conventionally, Umno sec-gens are usually also BN sec-gens. Really la! Sacked, replaced…tomayto, tomahto? 

Also, BN member party MCA has claimed to be in the dark about the whole Annuar being “replaced” thang. We know Umno prez Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is BN chairman and all, but surely such an important thing like replacing your secretary-general should be discussed with coalition members, no? 

But there’s more. Rumours also circulated yesterday that Zahid had ordered all Umno MPs to leave their gomen/gomen agency posts by month’s end. This was later denied, of course, but there’s usually no smoke without fire. 

In fact, Khairy “Janggut” Jamaluddin has said he’s ready to quit his ministerial post should he be ordered to do so by his party, while Machang MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub has quit as the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chair. Analysts have suggested an Umno Supreme Council meeting tonight may decide whether the party pulls out of the PN gomen. 

Meanwhile, Umno No. 2 Mohamad Hasan wants Bersatu to stay out of BN’s traditional seats in the coming polls. Go contest the seats belonging to Pakatan Harapan instead, he’d said. 

So is the writing on the wall for PM Moo and Bersatu? 

On the other side of the fence, 14 Pakatan MPs have blasted Umno’s constant push for a snap general elections, given the current situation with rising Covid-19 cases and floods that have displaced thousands of Malaysians. Them talking sense, of course, but we doubt Umno’s listening.

We are family

Malaysians are known to have a strong sense of familial or filial piety, and we all love our “Drama Minggu Ini”, but let’s not combine the two, shall we? 

If you remember, BTL covered the drama involving Prasarana Sdn Bhd and its chairman – Umno’s Pasir Salak rep Tajuddin Abdul Rahman yesterday. That saga continues.

Young political party (literally) Muda held a press conference yesterday claiming Tajuddin had chaired a meeting in which Prasarana agreed to compensate another company a cool RM87.7 mil for terminating its contract. This over a project at the Dang Wangi LRT station commissioned in 2012.

So, what’s the problem? For one, said company had only completed 15% of the work (allegedly! allegedly!) and another, the company’s directors were Taju’s wife and sons.

That’s not the best part, though. While Muda was busy slamming the Umno man, Tajuddin’s son Faizal gatecrashed the press conference and took over the mike to defend daddy-o! He claimed the project was won in open tender and did not involve gomen funds.

For the record la, Tajuddin was appointed Prasarana chairman long after the project was award to his family-linked firm. Taju has unsurprisingly called the Muda claims slander and demanded an apology within 48 hours

On the topic of possible conflicts of interests, Umno chief Zahid’s daughter Nurulhidayah has been appointed to the board of gomen agency SME Corporation. 

However, Nurul immediately moved to shut down critics by claiming she got the gig without dad’s help. She had submitted her résumé to Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar herself.  

Just wondering aloud here, isn’t Wan Junaidi a member of PBB, that Sarawak-based party formally a component party of BN? 

Before you start thinking family dynasties are only Umno/BN’s domain, we have to remind you of a certain father-son combo in DAP. Uncle Lim Kit Siang and his Brylcreem poster boy son Guan Eng, though, are reportedly facing stiff opposition from a movement to remove them

Ahhhh! Malaysian politics and families! Bring on the popcorn.

What's the deal?

We’ve finally gotten some details about our government’s deal with pharma companies for Covid-19 vaccines. Emphasis on the word “some”.

Minister Khairy aka KJ finally met with the Public Accounts Committee yesterday. Following this, PAC chair Wong Kah Woh has said while the committee respects the non-disclosure agreements the gomen has with the companies, the PAC won’t compromise on transparency. 

As far as details are concerned:

  • KJ has said the gomen will spend more than RM16 million on ultra-cold storage facilities for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which requires temperatures of -70°C for storage. 
     
  • This is also why, ostensibly, peeps in urban areas will be given the Pfizer vaccines, while those in rural areas will be dosed with vaccines from AstraZeneca, which do not require ultra-cold storage.
     
  • The vaccine will not be made mandatory for Malaysians.
     
  • The gomen’s still deciding if vaccines would be made available F.O.C for foreigners working here. 

In other Covid-related news, the gomen’s conducting risk-assessment on the Covid risk due to interstate or interdistrict travels. In the meantime, travellers are advised to voluntarily go for screenings before leaving red zones. Remember how Moo’s camp lifted domestic district and state travel restrictions on Dec 7? Well, that’s led to a whole bunch of new Covid clusters

Anyways, Malaysia continued its four-figure run in daily increases of infections with 2,027 new cases yesterday, with 8 deaths and 1,221 recoveries. This brings the active case count to 22,887 and death toll to 509

Meanwhile, 11 new clusters were detected in several states. Of these, seven clusters are workplace-related.

A little bit of this and that

Here are some news you may wanna know about:

  • Flooding in four states worsened yesterday as more people were evacuated and 17 water treatment plants in Pahang had to be shut down
     
  • The good folks of Pekan affected by floods will have to make do without the help of their MP as Najib Razak’s request to be excused from his 1MDB corruption trial to attend to them was denied

    In said trial, an ex-1MDB CEO claimed Jibby ran the show at 1MDB and that the former could not have possibly resisted any of Jibs requests or directives (allegedly! allegedly!).
     
  • The Malaysian Bar has said road users can take legal action against the gomen and relevant agencies following recent pothole-related deaths.
     
  • National bowler Shalin Zulkifli has finally hung up her wrist supports after a sterling 28-year career which saw her win 74 medals, including three world championships and being named National Sportswoman of the Year five times. 

“Hasta la vista, baby.”

- The Terminator -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • China has yet to grant access to an international team tasked to determine the origins of Covid-19, inviting rebuke from World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
     
  • The Republic of Palau  – an archipelago with just 18,000 people in the Pacific Ocean and one of the few places on God’s green earth free of Covid – could also be one of the first countries to be fully vaccinated. It recently received its first shipment of vaccine by US company Moderna.

    Meanwhile, India is set to start exporting a locally-made vaccine within weeks.
     
  • The World Bank has cut its 2021 global economic growth forecast to 4.0%, and warned that this could further erode if the Covid situation worsens.
     
  • The US state of Georgia votes today in runoff elections to determine two Senate seats. Democrats need to win both seats to force a 50-50 Senate and gain control with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris able to cast votes in the event tie-breakers are needed.
     
  • Bond “girl” Tanya Roberts, who was erroneously reported as having breathed her last, has now been confirmed as having passed, two days after the initial report. 

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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