Britain has approved the use of a Covid-19 vaccine. This could spell very, very good news for us!

In other news, our Covid numbers drop back down to three digits (huzza!), but the cluster involving Top Glove is now spreading outside the company's employees (bugger!). Meanwhile, a particular politician is under pressure to prove his mettle in Parliament while another has given hundreds of reasons why he should be acquitted of corruption charges.

Far from equal

Cautiously optimistic

So, Britain’s become the first country to approve use of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, the same kind Malaysia has signed on to receive next year! 

The UK has said the vaccine, approved for emergency use and which has 95% efficacy (allegedly! allegedly!), will be rolled out as early as next week. That’s big news for people in the UK, which is among the hardest-hit countries in Europe. 

While we’re super happy for the Brits, this also means the good folks in the UK will effectively be guinea pigs for us and the rest of the world. We can monitor the effectiveness of the vaccine and if there are any potential side effects, before rolling out the inoculation programme on our shores.

Ingat, in the deal inked with Pfizer and co., Malaysia’s only set to receive 12.8 million doses of the same vaccine in stages, beginning in the first quarter of 2021. That’s enough to inoculate 6.4 million people (it’s a two-dose kinda thing).

Of course, there are still some questions. Naturally, people are looking forward to being vaccinated after putting up with this pandemic for the better part of a year. But equally naturally, there are concerns.

The European Union, for one, has labelled the UK’s move as hasty and possibly politically-motivated, while the World Health Organization has said it’ll review the vaccine.

We don’t have all the answers, but here’s what we do know:

  • The vaccine’ll cost less than RM100 per dose, though this is something for the gomen to worry about as it won’t cost us poor plebs.
     
  • As we covered earlier this week, the gomen has assured Malaysia has the super-cold storage facilities needed to house the vaccine, while Pfizer’ll be handling the shipping.
     
  • It’s been tested on 43,500 people in six countries with reportedly little safety concerns being raised.
     
  • You can have a gander here and here for everything else you need to know about the vaccine and how it works. The articles, though, are pretty much UK-oriented. 

Back to tanah tumpahnya darah kita, we’re not exactly sure what our gomen’s vaccination rollout plan is apart from that frontliners and high-risk groups will be prioritised

Still, will vaccinations only be carried out at public hospitals and/or clinics? Will private hospitals be roped in as well, or be allowed to purchase some vaccines? 

Given Malaysian’s favourite ‘it’s-who-you-know’ modus operandi, will there be checks and balances set up to prevent instances of people bribing their way up the list? 

One thing that the gomen needs to do, however, is to immediately start a campaign of information to prepare Malaysians for vaccination. This is important to counter any disinformation anti-vaxxers in the country may try to spread.

Since the announcement in the UK, several well-known folks such as Piers Morgan, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have expressed willingness to be vaccinated live on TV to allay fears. Heck, even PM Boris “BoJo” Johnson is considering doing the same. 

Perhaps we, too, should get celebrities or trusted figures to get vaccinated on live TV. Or, maybe, we should follow the suggestion of Polish author Monika Wiśniewska, which we’ve used as our Quote of the Day (we joke!).

A lotus flower that doesn’t smell as good

What is it with the good news-bad news kinda thing when it comes to our Covid-19 numbers? Still, we suppose it’s better than all bad news.

Example, the good news is the number of new daily cases have once more dropped to three figures at 851 yesterday, while the bad news is the number of recoveries nearly halved to 658 (from 1,552 the day before). That saw our active cases climb to 10,686, just as we hope we’re close to dropping below the five-figure mark after a long time. 

There were also 2 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 365, while five new clusters were identified in KL, Selangor and Johor, which BTDubs, has now become a hotspot. 

The most worrying cluster at the mo remains the Teratai cluster in Klang involving the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer Top Glove. It’s already seen over 5,000 infected, mostly the company’s migrant workers, over a hundred Malaysian staff and close contacts.

Authorities have since warned the cluster has begun to spread its wings, so to speak, to the local community. This includes a second-generation of infection involving workers’ family members. In fact, Meru assemblyman Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar is considering taking Top Glove to court on behalf of his constituents. 

Top Glove really is in a shitload of trouble. As we learned two days ago, 19 investigation papers have been opened by the Labour Department against it over the crappy housing conditions the company provides for its workers (allegedly! allegedly!), the very reason why the cluster has grown so large and so rapidly. 

But Top Glove isn’t the only one being investigated, apparently. Two other factories are being probed for the same reason. Sadly, the factories concerned weren’t named and shamed. 

The treatment of migrant workers really is a sad thing in Malaysia. We’ve all heard stories or read reports of the horrible conditions they are forced to live in here. BTL’s also released a special report on how the pandemic has exasperated xenophobia in the country.

But it’s not just employers who abuse these poor folk who are only trying to make a better life for themselves in a foreign land. Take, for instance, this report on a video which has now gone viral. The clip is of a foreign worker, said to be a Top Glove employee, being whipped by a member of the security forces (again, allegedly! allegedly!) over quarantine infringements. 

If the clip’s genuine, there is no justification for this act. For shame, indeed!

Anyway, there were a bunch of other things Covid-related that came out yesterday, in brief:

  • EPF has announced new deets on the i-Sinar facility. Some eight million members are eligible to take part, even if they have not contributed to the fund for some time, have lost their jobs, been given no-pay leave, are housewives or if their total income has been reduced by at least 30%.
     
  • The enhanced movement control order (EMCO) at the Seberang Prai prison and quarters ended yesterday, while those at the Sandakan prison and a temporary detention centre in Tawau will end today. However, the EMCO in zones B and C of Taman Meru 2C in Ipoh has been extended until Dec 10. 
     
  • Sabah has said it’s likely the condition MCO (CMCO) in the state will be extended beyond Sunday, while the Health Ministry is considering recalling medical frontliners sent to Sabah as the situation in Peninsular Malaysia continues to worsen. 
     
  • An aide to Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has lodged a police report over an unnamed article the former colourful baju minister has claimed was out to paint him and other gomen leaders in bad light. 

    Incidentally, Izzy once more denied he, Melaka chief minister and several others breached SOP at a function in the state, saying there’s no one-metre rule there (only a chair in between two people is enough apparently). FYI, Melaka’s no longer under CMCO.
     
  • Despite an earlier report saying that Zoo Negara was running out of money fast thanks to the CMCO, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Shamsul Anuar Nasarah has claimed the zoo has sufficient moolah if it manages its spending well and “transparently”.

    That didn’t stop the Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation from launching a fund to help Zoo Negara out. 
     
  • Voters in the Sabah state seat of Bugaya want an emergency declared to postpone the upcoming by-election there. 

     
  • Some businesses aren’t doing too shabbily, it would seem. Perodua sold 23,119 vehicles last month and, in fact, it recorded its highest-ever single-day sales of 5,027 units on Nov 30. 

Under pressure

Things really aren’t looking good for Anwar “I have the numbers” Ibrahim.

The opposition leader was criticised for his last-minute call preventing Pakatan Harapan from supporting a motion for bloc voting on Budget 2021 at the policy state. Despite his gung-ho promise they’ll fight it at the committee stage, the opposite seems to be true, with PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s side winning all ministry budget votes held to date at the Dewan Rakyat (we did warn you Anwar ol’ boy).

This includes the three ministries’ budgets passed yesterday, all on voice votes. That’s 8-0, if anyone’s keeping count. 

So badly is it working out for Saudara Nuar that Warisan has said there’s no point debating the various budgets now as Pakatan had allowed the Supply Bill to pass the first policy vote. Warisan, of course, has come under heavy fire for not supporting erstwhile partner Pakatan during the debates and its deputy prez has had to deny the party’s working with Perikatan and BN against Pakatan. 

What was meant to be a proxy vote of confidence on PM Moo has now turned to one on Anwar. And it’s becoming somewhat embarrassingly obvious our PM-forever-in-waiting doesn’t have the numbers of MP support he’d boldly claimed to have had just a few months ago. 

Pakatan member party Amanah, in fact, is rumoured to have given the PKR head honcho seven days to prove he has the numbers and oust PM Muhyiddin Yassin. However, its communications head Khalid Samad has denied this, saying a recent news report was done to worsen the party’s ties with Anwar. 

But it’s pretty telling that Khalid, who is known to be a strong supporter of Brother Anwar, should use the word “worsen”. That’s a pretty strong indication that his party isn’t too happy with the Pakatan head honcho. After all, it was Amanah No. 2 Mahfuz Omar who had tried to initiate bloc voting at the policy stage. 

Other Parliament affairs

In other news coming out of Parliament, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar “Art” Harun has refused to make a ruling on action against Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Willie Mongin for allegedly showing his middle finger during his winding-up speech on Tuesday. Artie has claimed he didn’t see what happened as he’s been having problems with his eyesight this week. 

That’s a pretty lame excuse, we think, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt cos he says he’s watched video clips and still couldn’t make out the hand gesture made by Willie. One MP still wants to file a motion to refer Free Willie to the parliamentary rights and privileges committee. 

DAP’s Teo Nie Ching has called for action to be taken against Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh over his remark that the US is a terrorist country for supporting Israeli actions against Palestinians. Her party has also issued a statement calling for Wisma Putra to take action as Zawawi’s actions would sour Malaysia-US relations. 

It really is a waste of time when the country is busy fighting a pandemic. The US is not likely to take umbrage with a small-time politician from Malaysia, or even hear about it. Secondly, the man said it in Parliament and is therefore protected. He can’t even be sued. The only thing that’s keeping this in the news, and potentially allowing it to be heard in Washington, is DAP continuing to kick up a fuss.

Anyhoo, here are a few other things that happened in Parliament yesterday:

  • Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz has said the gomen is aware of the need to listen to the people and ensure economic stability as the nation fights the pandemic, which is why proposals by the people and MPs were adopted in the budget. Riiigghht! 
     
  • Former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said the budget doesn’t do anything to pull farmers out of poverty. We agree, but Maddey, you had two stints as PM totalling more than 20 years and didn’t do that either! 
     
  • De facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan has said Perikatan Nasional gomen is open to suggestions to review laws such as the Official Secrets Act. But that’s not what the Home Ministry says, cos it had said in a written reply it’ll not repeal the Sedition Act, nor any other repressive laws. 
     
  • Taki, though, says the gomen is prepared to consider enacting a Freedom of Information Act to give better protection but also strike a balance between private and public interest. 

Jibby Razak’s appeal and other things

Former glorious leader Najib Razak is certainly dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s in his graft case appeal. He’s given a whopping 307 reasons in his petition of appeal against his conviction in the SRC International trial. 

Jibby, of course, was sentenced in July to 12 years in prison and an RM210 million fine for corruption-related charges in connection with SRC International Sdn Bhd – a former 1MDB subsidiary.

As expected, the Jibster has claimed the trial judge had erred for several reasons. Among the claims raised were the judge had: 

  • Erred in his findings in calling Najib to defend the charges and subsequently finding him guilty;
     
  • Failed to consider his defence that Low Taek Jho (nama glamer: Jho Low) had deceived him and manipulated his bank accounts;
     
  • Erred in findings that Low, a former SRC International CEO and Najib’s then-principle private secretary were tasked to ensure there were sufficient funds in Jibby’s bank accounts, and;
     
  • Erred in concluding transfers of money between 2011 and 2013 were not from Saudi King Abdullah.

As such, Najib has also claimed he wasn’t given a fair trial and further questioned why there was a sudden change of judges in 2018. 

 

Jibs aside, several other matters made the news yesterday. Here they are:

  • Five Finance Ministry employees have been fined for failing to report instances of corruption in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country. 
     
  • PM4/7 Mads Mohamad has offered himself as a witness in a suit filed by Gombak voters against senior minister Azmin Ali for deceiving them during campaigning for GE14 and then leaving Pakatan in the Sheraton Move. 
     
  • Meanwhile, Maddey’s controversial post following the terrorist killings in France was the first case selected by Facebook’s independent oversight board under which the social media company’s decisions to remove certain pieces of content from its platforms are being evaluated. 
     
  • Seven people who failed to stand up for the national anthem at a function have had charges of disrespecting the national anthem against them dismissed after it was ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case
     
  • Police, in a defence filed in a lawsuit brought by M. Indira Ghandi, have claimed they have are still looking for her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah. He kidnapped their youngest daughter 11 years ago and has been missing ever since. 
     
  • A celebrity preacher currently accused of sexual offences against several women was said to have used his status to deceive his victims and take advantage of them. Meanwhile, a hashtag in support of the preacher was trending yesterday on Twitter. 
     
  • Selangor police have said 180 “sextortion” cases have been reported in the state this year alone. 
     
  • Perikatan will set up a presidential council as a platform to discuss government policies and strengthen ties among parties within the government. 

“The vaccine should be tested on politicians first. If they survive, the vaccine is safe. If they don't, then the country is safe.”

- Monika Wiśniewska -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The UK may have approved the use of a vaccine, but the rest of the world, Europe included, is still in the grip of the pandemic. With Christmas and New Year’s coming, Spain has limited year-end gatherings to just 10 people while Italy has banned midnight masses and movement between regions. 
     
  • The UN is unlikely to take action following the assassination of an Iranian scientist which US officials say had been carried out by Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad. Meanwhile, Iran’s Guardian Council has passed a law which hardens the country’s nuclear stance and mandates a stop to international inspections of its nuclear sites. 
     
  • An election official in Georgia, which is going through a recount, has warned that US President Donald Trump is inciting violence and must bear responsibility for any that result from unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that he has stoked. 
     
  • Hong Kong’s most internationally-known pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and two others have been jailed between 10 and 13 and a half months for unlawful assembly for their involvement in mass protests last year. 

    Meanwhile, pro-democracy newspaper publisher Jimmy Lai avoided similar charges under the new security law but still faces up to 14 years in jail under fraud charges.
     
  • Canadian actor and star of shows movies like Juno and hit TV series The Umbrella Academy, Ellen Page, has come out as transgender and is now known as Elliot. His pronouns are he/they.

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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