Make no mistake. Drink driving is a serious issue that requires a serious solution. The question is though: are the fellas in power really serious about solving the problem or is the production, sale and consumption of alcohol once more, being used to score racial and religious brownie points?

Elsewhere in today’s newsletter, the Muhyiddin-Mahathir fallout continues, a beauty queen makes a pretty ugly racist boo-boo on social media, and Malaysians look forward to the current movement curbs being relaxed further.

But seriously ...

No place for stupidity

We’ve had yet another fatality involving a drunk driver. And no sooner had the cops clarified the facts of the case – there was some confusion initially as to whether the 44-year-old victim was a food delivery rider or merely delivering food his wife was selling – that stupidity reared its head again. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t PAS doling out more inanity, but partner-in-crime political bedfellow Umno.

Remember how our pals in PAS had called for a blanket ban on the production, business and sale of alcohol until issues related to drink driving are resolved? Well, the folks in Umno appear to be no better, though in their defence, they’re only urging for a freeze on liquor licences. Reason: Malaysia’s existing laws on driving under the influence need reviewing. So until we can get that sorted, all new sale of liquor licences should be suspended.

Look, no one is suggesting that we don’t need tough laws for drink driving. We do! But is a freeze on liquor licences really gonna solve the problem? After all, according to a recent Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research study (downloadable here), the use of mobile phones while driving has contributed to a high number of crashes too. Still, anyone with half a brain might agree that the imposition of harsher penalties for reckless driving is way better than suspending sales of iPhones.

At present, S.41 of the Road Transport Act 1987 provides for a jail sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to RM20,000 for drivers found guilty of causing death by reckless driving. However, that might not be punishment enough for offenders. So what those in office should really be doing is looking at increasing the penalties to oh, we dunno, maybe a 20-year prison sentence and up to RM100,000 in fines (if not more).

Do our suggested penalties seem familiar? Well, they should ‘cos they’re not actually ours. Those increased jail and fine penalties were mooted way back in February. By another government. 

For obvious reasons, of course, the proposals never made it beyond impassioned statements to the press. Even so, wouldn’t it be good to relook at the recommended amendments now and not arbitrarily chuck them out just ’cos they were Pakatan Harapan’s?

That is, of course, if this current government is really committed to curbing drink driving lah.

If it is, then not only should we be considering the earlier proposals, we should be looking at things in a serious and scientific way. For example, it would be good to also study if the current permissible blood alcohol limit for drivers of 0.08% (80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood) is way too lenient. Or if it is, in fact, time to be as non-compromising about the issue as France and Japan and lower the acceptable BAC limit to 0.05% (like in France) or even 0.03% (Japan).

The government might also, if it’s committed, want to look at how neighbours like Vietnam are dealing with the problem and how firm laws have caused a drop in alcohol sales without a single licence being frozen.

But like we said. This all depends on whether we’re actually serious about drink driving and not, once more, using the production, sale and consumption of alcohol to fan racial and religious flames?

Side note: We were researching the actual number of drink driving deaths here, but it seems almost impossible to find accurate, official data. On the one hand, we have this piece which says drink driving deaths account for an almost impossibly low 0.0008% of all accident fatalities. On the other, we have this piece, which states that it’s an impossibly high 25% of all fatalities. We also have this piece, in which we’re nowhere close to even the top 12 in terms of drink driving. And finally, we have possibly the closest we’ve found to a source of truth – the WHO – which states (go to page 187) drink driving accounts for less than 1% of all road deaths in Malaysia. That said, there’s also this 2012 Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research study, which found that 23.3% of fatal deaths in KL were alcohol-related (look for Alcohol and Drug Use Among Fatally Injured Drivers in Urban Area of KL). So many different versions of the ‘truth’! So maybe before we start on the knee-jerk, political reactions, we should actually identify the actual extent of the problem? 

But if the clowns in charge were really serious about making our roads safer, you know what they’d do? Ensure people wear seatbelts and helmets. Ensure people use handsfree kits or Bluetooth. Enforce speeding laws. Don’t let people get away with paying bribes! They’d be amazed at the results. 

Who's side are you on?

The fall out from Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s sacking from Bersatu continued Monday with a clear rift opening up in the party at state-level. 

At the moment, on paper, it seems like party president Muhyiddin Yassin is winning this particular tussle, with many state divisions choosing to back the current Prime Minister. However, Mahathir is also gaining support – and that could be crucial. If not in SabahMelaka or Kelantan, then perhaps in Johor, where according to one alleged highly-placed source, the Perikatan Nasional state government is on the verge of collapse.

Prior to the Sheraton Move, Bersatu had laid claim to the Johor Menteri Besar’s post. That, however, has since changed. And it seems that those Bersatu reps who just months ago chose to side with MooMoo are no longer happy.

At Federal level meanwhile, rumours continue to come thick and fast that certain Perikatan MPs are just waiting to break on through to the other side and ensure PM Moo’s downfall. However, at least one of the rumoured defectors – current Deputy Works Minister Shahruddin Md Salleh – is keeping his cards close to his chest, though he had no trouble fawning all over Maddey.

We’ll admit, we have absolutely no idea how this tussle for control of Bersatu is gonna play out and if, in fact, Malaysians will see yet another change of government as a result of it. We also have no idea how long this can continue before our country becomes a banana republic. However, what we can tell ya is that once again, the external signs suggest that not everyone in Pakatan Harapan is on the same page.

Take the lodging of a report against Moo with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) report by the youth wings of Pakatan++ yesterday, for example. Reps from DAP, Amanah and Bersatu were there. However, PKR was conspicuously missing from the action. The story we were fed is that the party’s youth chief Akmal Nasir had other matters to attend to and ya know, that might have even been believable if not for the fact that these PKR fellas keep playing hooky!

Pretty ugly

Protests have broken out over the killing of an unarmed African American man, for real in cities across the United States and the globe, and even virtually, in every nook and cranny of the cyber world. Why? Because what happened to George Floyd is unconscionable. Because those charged with protecting society took a life. In cold blood. And not because Floyd was threatening their own lives, but simply because he was the wrong colour.

However, though many of us who’ve watched the video and read the reports are seething at the injustice, at least one Malaysian thinks that African Americans need to “relax” and “take it as a challenge” because prejudice and bigotry and racism “makes you stronger”.

Former Miss Universe Malaysia Samantha Katie James may have had the best of intentions when she posted all those Instagram stories on Monday about needing to look beyond the anger and unrest. Unfortunately, for the beauty queen/actress/influencer, all her poorly-reasoned posts succeeded in doing was to show how ill-informed she is about racism, Black Lives Matter, Floyd, souls and choices.

Most bizarre was her statement that some people “chose” to be born as a “coloured person” in America “to learn a lesson”. She later said she meant the choice is made by a person’s soul, but whatever it is, it’s still some weird shit. 

Despite the organiser of the Miss Universe Malaysia pageant distancing itself from Samantha’s comments and many people on social media taking her to task for her views, Samantha’s stories did make us realise she’s not alone and that there’re loads of Malaysians who’re blind to systematic racism and think victims of injustice choose their fates.

These are the same people whom you’ll find making excuses for condos that bar African tenants or rental ads that read “medium room for rent, Chinese only.” They’d also probably tell you that Thomas Orhions Ewansiha, the poor Nigerian PhD student who died in custody here last year, must have done something wrong and/or had it coming.

Think we’re reading too much into dear Samantha’s ignorant posts? Well, this account by a Kuala Lumpur-based photographer and filmmaker of African descent as well as these other stories suggest that in general, Malaysians are warm and welcoming to light-skinned folks but utter dicks when faced with people of the “wrong colour”. ‘Cos you know, white is cool. White is pretty, handsome, whatever. Dark skin though… well, who wants that curse, right?

By the way, hours after Samantha’s posts, President Donald Trump vowed to send in troops into US cities to quell the “totally disgraceful” violence. We’re sure Samantha would advise all those who’ve taken to the streets in Minneapolis and everywhere else to just “relax”, though. Take it as a challenge.

Is the end in sight?

Malaysia has been under conditional restricted movement rules since May 1. However, sometime this week, the Health Ministry should be making its recommendations to the National Security Council (NSC) on relaxing (or not relaxing) the curbs. It all depends, of course, Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says, on whether or not there’s an increase in the Covid-19 infection rate.

 

The recent numbers have been good, though. And even, a much-anticipated Hari Raya Aidilfitri spike hasn’t materialised. But that said, it’ll take up to two weeks for the Raya impact to be see. So yeah, fingers, toes and eyes crossed. 

 

Easing the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) would, however, mean the government will have to work overtime to formulate guidelines for businesses/services that haven’t as yet been allowed to open like barbers/hairdressers, gaming shops, pubs and even child care centres.

 

For the moment, at least as far as childcare centres go, Noor Hisham and his team look set to present proposed Standard Operating Procedures to the NSC today. However, nothing’s quite clear for other businesses/services. In fact, our man whose shirts look like batik had an affair with G2000, senior minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, says guidelines for barbers and hair salons have not even been discussed. 

That’s strange, really, considering all the reports of illegal haircutting, and the fact that haircuts were one of the things this government was so eager to greenlight way back in April.

 

Anyhoo, Monday marked yet another day (the 10th straight day!) without a coronavirus-related death, meaning fatalities are still at 115, even if the rate of infections did rise slightly – there were 38 new cases yesterday – to record a total of 7,857 cases.

 

Here’re some of the other important Covid-19 news items from yesterday, by the way:

  • As many as 1,500 people (700 staff members and 800 prisoners) at the Sungai Buloh Prison will be screened for Covid-19 after a former inmate was confirmed positive for the disease. The prisoner, who was detained at the facility from 2016, was released in March and has now been found to be infected.
     
  • Despite a recent relaxation to the rules, the government insists that interstate travel is only allowed in four situations: in emergencies, for attending a death in the family, for work, and for married couples who’re living apart to see each other.
     
  • Selangor has extended its ban on prayers in mosques and suraus to June 30. However, the prohibition is due to be reviewed next week. 
     
  • The Health Ministry has clarified that asymptomatic patients can actually infect others, especially two or three days before showing signs of being infected. These patients are only not a threat when their virus load is low. 

Dangly bits

A wee bit more happened on Monday that you should definitely know about, and here’re those bits and bobs in brief:

  • Next Monday, June 8 has been declared a public holiday in conjunction with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s official birthday. The Human Resources Ministry says the day’s a gazetted compulsory holiday, meaning it can’t be replaced with another day.
     
  • Lim Guan Eng has come under fire for apparently asking ex-Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to lift restrictions on a property tycoon’s bank accounts. The former finance minister, however, has denied the accusation, claiming he never interfered in matters outside his jurisdiction. 
     
  • Air Selangor says its water bills will be recalculated based on guidelines issued by National Water Service Commission. It’s insisting, nevertheless, that the recent water bill spike consumers have complained about is ‘cos of an increase in water consumption and leaky pipes. Our special report tells a quite different story, though.
     
  • By the way, consumers aren’t just pissed about their water bills, but their electricity bills too! Energy and Natural Resources Minister Shamsul Anuar Nasarah was due to meet Tenaga Nasional reps yesterday to get the skinny on the situation. We’re still waiting for the full story.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Russia will roll out a “game-changer” anti-influenza drug for the treatment of Covid-19 as early as next week. The drug, Avifavir, has apparently shown encouraging results in clinical trials, with most patients responding positively in just four days.
     
  • Hong Kong has banned the annual Tiananmen Square vigil citing Covid-19 as the main reason. The current prohibition marks the first time the vigil has been cancelled in 30 years.
     
  • Prolific Bollywood composer Wajid Khan, who together with his brother Sajid scored a number of films starring Salman Khan, passed away from coronavirus-related complications on Monday. He was 42.
     
  • Facebook appears to be fighting battles on many fronts. Most notable of these quarrels is a new row with Singapore over the island republic’s misinformation laws as well as a tussle with its own employees who’re pissed at the company’s inaction over US President Donald Trump’s posts that have allegedly, incited racism and violence.

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.

trident media logo

Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap