A shiny new ordinance – courtesy of le emergency order – will allow our prime minister as well as state leaders to access national/state purses pretty much freely. Shopping, anyone?

Elsewhere in today's newsletter, it looks like PAS has finally 'picked' a side; more vaccines are a-coming; and could there be hope on the horizon for under-21 voters?

Money, money, money

Here kitty! Nice kitty!

Meow! The gomen’s gone and issued a new emergency ordinance (basically, a new law lah) that allows them free access to our kitty (a.k.a our money jars) without any Parliamentary oversight. 

This leaves Putrajaya, along with state chief ministers and/or menteri besar free to pass supplementary budgets and use consolidated funds without going through the legislature for as long as the emergency’s in force. 

How was this done, you ask? By suspending two older Acts – Government Funding Act 1983 and Treasury Bill (Local) Act 1946 – covering Parliament’s oversight on spending.

As explained here, the august House being suspended during the emergency would normally mean the gomen could spend first and be made to justify its expenses to lawmakers to get the supplementary bill passed later. That process has been removed now. 

In simple English, it’s a ‘spend first and no questions later’ law. 

As expected, practically everyone – apart from PM Muhyiddin Yassin and his merry crew, of course – are shouting it down. Lawyers have warned this could pave the way for totalitarian rule

Pakatan Harapan boss Anwar Ibrahim said Budget 2021 allocated sufficient funds to take on Covid-19. (Side note: Erm, weren’t you fighting for Budget 2021 to be increased, Anwar? Suddenly it’s sufficient now?)

They were joined by infamous ex-glorious leader Najib Razak, who richly preached that any gomen debt would not just be borne by the gomen of the day, but future gomens and the rakyat. Sorta like the kind borne by out-of-control sovereign funds you mean, Boss?

Other critics have pointed out without parliament scrutiny, PN gomen would have gotten away with the RM85.5 million allocation for propaganda arm J-Kom.

Problem with the emergency is that the gomen has been allowed to act without any justification. While Moo may well have a good reason for this (maybe, possibly), he hasn’t deigned to justify or explain to us mere mortals why this unfettered power is necessary. 

All of this, of course, is against the backdrop that any spending could drive up our debt ceiling (which was recently raised to 60%). 

This move does come a day after Moo managed hold on to his Cabinet and amidst speculation over impending snap polls increasing by the day. Could this be a power move? A way to distribute some feel good spending before then? Time will tell.

We can’t help but think of the ol’ Lord Acton phrase – “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Flippity floppity boo

Just a day after saying it won’t pick sides amidst the messy Umno-Bersatu divorce, PAS has now agreed to strengthen cooperation with PM Moodin’s Bersatu/PN and rejected any attempt at any new alignment after GE15. 

This, it said in a joint statement with Bersatu, with Moo later saying that this was a mark of strong solidarity. Now, the statement, which also warned against any attempts to “threaten the PN gomen” didn’t specifically refer to Umno and its going solo decision, it may well have. 

So any hope Umno may be harbouring of a unified Umno-PAS Muafakat Nasional pairing come GE15 is fast dissipating. 

Naturally, this didn’t sit well with Umno peeps, of course. Umno vet, Shahrir Samad, accused PAS of abandoning MN (no shit!) and said BN MPs might as well bugger off and not wait for Parliament to be dissolved. Did he mean to withdraw support from the PN gomen then?

Strongman Nazri Aziz tried to downplay the statement, calling the cooperation mere “window dressing” as PAS grassroots supposedly prefer Umno. He also slammed Umno prez Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for not immediately calling for Umno ministers to quit their gomen jobs immediately after the Umno AGM, saying he made Umno look weak. High stakes game of political chicken, this. 

Anyhoo, here are some more political shenanigans for you to laugh or weep about:

  • Khairy Jamaluddin has hit back at Jibby Razak for criticising his suggestion that the party hold polls before GE15 to settle internal chaos. 

    The Jibster had said this could lead to a split in the party and losses in GE15, but The Beard countered, saying Umno postponed polls before GE14 and still lost anyway. 
     
  • PM Moo has seemingly headed off potential trouble with Sarawak’s GPS, promising CM Abang Johari Openg that he would relook amending the Federal Constitution to strengthen the relationship between the state and federal governments in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963. Hmmm… for some reason, this Fleetwood Mac song is playing in our heads now. 
     
  • Now that Zahid has declared he won’t work with Pakatan, oppo chief Anwar can’t say he has the numbers to take Putrajaya anymore. So the coalition’s focus will now be on GE15. Should have been that from the start! 

The more, the merrier

Malaysia’s set to receive the first batch of 600,000 AstraZeneca vaccines in June. Good news is they’ll come from Thailand and not India, meaning supply won’t be interrupted as the South Asian giant has stopped exporting vaccines to meet the demands in their own backyard. 

Malaysia has ordered 12.8 million doses of the vaccine and has had to assure Malaysians that regulators here have declared it safe for use following reports of blood clots forming in some recipients in Europe.

This scare led to several countries suggesting only folks of a certain age be given the vaccine, but the European Medicines Agency – the EU regulator – has since found there’s no specific age risk for the vaccine. 

So, more vaccines are headed our way, and that’s great. But it’ll mean squat if people don’t register for their jabs.

As such, Vaccine Don (not his official title!) Khairy Jamaluddin has said the gomen’ll be going all out to boost registrations, including using Pos Malaysia to distribute flyers and seeking the assistance of private companies like Grab and Parkson. Plus, the gomen’s decided there’ll be no deadline for registration, as had been suggested earlier. 

Meanwhile, Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, a day after saying even those who’ve been vaccinated would have to undergo mandatory quarantine upon entering the country, has now expanded on that by saying all travellers – vaccinated or not – will still have to follow all the SOPs. What about VIPs, bro?

Here are some other Covid-related stories:

  • Speaking of VIPs, police have so far opened 12 investigations into alleged SOP violations by our patrician citizens. Of this, two cases are ongoing, three have been closed as it was found the “suspects” were carrying out official duties, while the rest have been issued compounds. No names were given, of course. So, we’ll just have to take all of this on faith… assuming we have any, that is.
     
  • Malaysia recorded 1,482 new Covid-19 cases, a rather large leap from the day before. There were also 7 deaths. This brings the totals to 345,500 cases and 1,272 deaths, respectively. Active cases have climbed to 14,604

A little bit of this and that

The Cabinet has finally listened to l̶o̶u̶d̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶t̶e̶s̶t̶s̶ reason and will decide next week on whether to separate the implementation of the move to lower the voting age to 18 from the automatic voter registration (AVR). 

This after a proposal from the not-so-youthful Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican and Science Minister Khairy. 

Repeating basically what rights groups have been saying from the get-go, the ministers say if the AVR system is gonna take time, at least allow 18 to 20-year-olds to manually register as voters first. Surely the present system can handle that!

Despite this, our coppers will still question activist Ambiga Sreenevasan and three MPs over the Undi 18 protest held in front of Parliament building last weekend. Two days ago, they questioned eight oppo leaders (we covered this yesterday). Who next?

Here’re some other things we picked up in brief:

  • The Home Ministry has launched the national action plan on anti-trafficking in persons to stamp out human trafficking over the next five years. 
     
  • A former bank president and three others have been arrested over allegations of receiving RM8 million in bribes for approving a loan for a non-existent project. 
     
  • Adam Jaafar, better known as Prebet Adam, who ran amok in Chow Kit and shot several people in 1987 with his M16 assault rifle, has died at the age of 57. You can read his side of the story here

“April Fools Day is cancelled this year. Because no prank is greater than the joke that is running this country now."

- Anon -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • France has gone into its third Covid-19 lockdown, closing schools for at least three weeks. Meanwhile, experts are warning that India is facing a possibly deadlier and more devastating second coronavirus wave.
     
  • Pfizer has said trials of its vaccine in children aged 12-15 show 100% efficacy and a strong immune response, while Russia has come up with the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine for animals. Yay for kids, kitties and pups!

    Speaking of efficacy, China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines have also presented data proving efficacy in line with World Health Organization standards.
     
  • The WHO, though, has joined Europe and the US in recommending against using the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin, touted by the Bolivian gomen, to treat Covid.
     
  • Indonesian police have shot dead a female Islamic State supporter who opened fire at policemen at its national police headquarters. 
     
  • New York has legalised the use of recreational marijuana and expunged past convictions for actions that would be legal under the new law. 
     
  • Fans of Thundercats rejoice. It seems the movie adaptation of the hit 1980s animated series is on after all, with Godzilla vs Kong director Adam Wingard set to helm it

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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