At some point, Covid-19 can no longer be used as an excuse to not convene a full meeting of Parliament. That point is coming ever closer as voices questioning the suspension of the democratic process get louder and louder. The question is, will PM Muhyiddin Yassin listen?

Meanwhile, a deputy minister will be charged for flouting the MCO, AirAsia cabin crew get new Covid threads, and Covid recoveries continue to outpace new infections.

Lastly, if you didn't read the special email we sent out at 4pm yesterday, we urge you to click on this link as we have a very important announcement to make.

So, why isn't Parliament convening?

Hey, where did our democracy go?

As things stand right now, Malaysia is being led by a government it didn’t vote into office, and one, which for all intents and purposes, is running the country without the oversight of the usual democratic checks and balances.

The last time Parliament – that cornerstone of any democracy – met was in December 2019. Since then, we’ve had a change of Prime Minister, a new backdoor government, a postponement of a Parliamentary meeting from March to May and then, an announcement that the May meeting would be only for a day, due, ostensibly, to Covid-19. 

It’s a decision which has been met with howls of derision by opposition lawmakers, who say the one-day sitting makes no sense. The man who would be PM, Anwar Ibrahim, says the reluctance to convene a proper meeting of Parliament is cos’ Muhyiddin Yassin and co are afraid they can’t come up with enough MPs to support their claims that they enjoy the majority they need to form a government. 

And you know what? It’s hard to discount these claims when the government’s excuses are shot down by its own civil servants as well as, well, logic. De facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan had previously hammered opposition politicians over their demands for a full meeting of Parliament, calling them “premature and narrow”. 

Takiyuddin said the government will be guided by the Health Ministry in deciding its priorities – which presumably include Parliamentary sittings. This led to DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang questioning if the ministry had in fact advised the government against having a Parliamentary meeting. 

Well, yesterday, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah smacked that notion right in the face, saying the ministry is only advising the government on Covid-19 and nothing else – and certainly not on policy matters.

So, if the Health Ministry hasn’t specifically advised against having a Parliament meeting, why is this crucial democratic process being suspended? Especially since there’s a shitload of stuff to be hammered out even if you don’t go into the politics of our change of government. You know, things like our MCO exit strategy, the Covid-19 economic stimulus package PM Moo unveiled, or even the 12th Malaysia Plan, which will be reviewed ‘cos of Covid-19.

It’s especially hard to swallow the government’s lines when options clearly exist to hold meetings. A number of countries around the world have been having Parliament sittings via videoconferencing, so what makes us so special that we can’t do the same? If it’s good enough for our courts, why isn’t it good enough for our lawmakers?

What’s happening now is nonsense. The excuses given are nonsense. And the longer we let it go on, the more we risk our entire democracy being hijacked.

VIP gets in MCO trouble

We’ve been barking about the double standards in Movement Control Order (MCO) enforcement for days now, with regular folk arrested and jailed or fined for breaking the rules while politicians (and their kids!) seemingly getting away with it. 

And so, it gives us the greatest pleasure to inform you that, finally, a VIP is being called to account for breaking the MCO. The VIP in question is Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, who thought it would be a good idea to have a lunch banquet in the midst of the Covid outbreak. 

Noor Azmi and Perak exco member Razman Zakaria, who was also at the makan, will be charged in court today with breaching the MCO. About bloody time, if you ask us. 

On the average Joe front, it looks like people still aren’t learning their lessons. The latest case of dumbassery is the arrest of 13 men who had surreptitiously gathered at a shop in Seberang Perai. What were they doing? Gambling? Looking for prostitutes? Drugs, perhaps? No! They were waiting for haircuts! Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. 

And it’s not just the lawbreakers that get up to unbelievable crap either. Cops in Kedah are being investigated for (allegedly, allegedly!) bundling a teenager into the boot of a police car after detaining him for MCO violations. We kid you not. 

That said, Health D-G Noor Hisham has promised that one group of people won’t have to worry about being bothered at MCO roadblocks – and that group is blood donors. But in case you’re getting naughty thoughts about being able to BS your way through a roadblock by claiming you’re on the way to give blood, think again. You’ll need to carry either an appointment slip or your donor card

Anyway, in case you’re keeping track, here are yesterday’s Covid-19 statsOne more person died, 40 new cases were recorded and 95 patients were discharged. So far, 5,820 people have been infected in total, while 3,957 – or 67.9% – have recovered. 

Last but not least, we will soon be increasing our lab test capacity to 22,000 samples daily. Apparently, this is nothing to be sniffed at – for comparison’s sake, Guangdong in China, with a population of 110 million, only has a 30,000 daily capacity.

Here's the rest

To be honest, yesterday was a slow and boring news day in Malaysia. Nothing much happened. But here’s what little else was there:

  • Healthcare frontliners are no longer facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Really wonderful that the people putting their lives on the line don’t have to risk more than they absolutely have to. 
     
  • Speaking of PPE, this one is hilarious. AirAsia actually hired a fashion designer to design and manufacture PPE suits for its cabin crew. But here’s the thing – you can’t make PPE look good, Tony. What you’re making your cabin crew wear may save their lives, but it’s still ugly AF! On a more serious note, the airline has introduced new policies for passengers in light of Covid-19. AirAsia also beat expectations by posting an 80% load factor for Q1 2020, compared to projections of 77%. Expect Q2 to be a bloodbath though, for obvious reasons. 
     
  • The government is being urged to reunite families separated by the MCO. It must be horrible to be without your loved ones during this period, and hopefully something can be done to help these people.
     
  • Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (who wore a surprisingly plain shirt yesterday), is urging Malaysians to stay calm over the recent Rohingya issue. Ismail Sabri says the authenticity of inflammatory posts attributed to Rohingya refugees are being investigated. Meanwhile, MCA says the government must prioritise Malaysians first during this pandemic. It’s an argument which misses the point and is really rather silly. This isn’t a zero-sum game, and the government can look into protecting citizens as well as refugees. Also, last we checked, Covid-19 is quite capable of jumping from a Rohingya to a Malaysian, which means the health of ALL people should matter. 
     
  • Sapura Energy Bhd’s C-suite will take a 50% pay cut to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. But before you go all dewy-eyed about their big-hearted gesture, just remember that the Sapura Group CEO Shahril Shamsuddin was the country’s second-highest-paid CEO in 2018, earning a whopping RM71.92 million. In other words, he and his team aren’t gonna be on the bread lines anytime soon. And for that matter, neither will ex-Star Media Group Bhd CEO Wong Chun Wai, despite his claims that ‘we’ have become poorer. 🙄

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Globally, the number of people infected by Covid-19 has now exceeded the 3 million mark, with deaths crossing 210,000. The US alone accounts for almost a third of all the world’s cases and over a quarter of all deaths. And through all this, Donald Trump still doesn’t seem to have learned that the words of the President of the United States of America have power, and consequences.
     
  • Speaking of consequences, the US House of Representative foreign affairs committee will be investigating Trump’s decision to cut off WHO funding over Covid-19.
     
  • Over in the UK, Boris Johnson has gone back to work and is warning against relaxing the coronavirus lockdown in the UK. Looks like his brush with death has knocked some sense into BoJo’s nut.
     
  • Singapore now has more Covid-19 cases than any Asian country other than China and India. Yet, its mortality rate is a fraction of that of other countries. This could be why. Meanwhile, the country’s sovereign fund, Temasek Holdings, will spend over $563 million on combatting the spread of Covid-19.

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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