The past three days have seen a crazy uptick to Malaysia's daily Covid-19 numbers. Could a backlog of unreported cases be the real reason?

Elsewhere in today's newsletter, the distinction between the eagles in gomen and us poor sparrows couldn't be more apparent; a former AG dishes dirt on his time in Putrajaya; and did Anonymous hack several government sites?

Dodgy numbers

Bang and blame

Well, our Covid numbers seemed to have “stabilised“, only not in the way we’d hoped. Our stats have been in the shitter since Friday, with over 5,000 cases daily, and 43 fatalities over the past three days.

Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said some weeks ago we might hit 5,000 cases daily by the third week of February. But it’s only Feb 1st, so what gives?

According to him, the surge isn’t ‘cos the infectivity rate’s gone back up. Rather, on top of large-scale screenings, a tonne of older cases (some even from 2020) hadn’t been reported; this backlog’s (allegedly! allegedly!) bloated the figures.

There does seem to be a problem with late reporting, including by private hospitals, clinics and labs. But could this have inflated the numbers so much? Also, if it’s true the backlog’s to blame, then the system –– and our numbers –– must have been [email protected]&$ed up for some time now.

The Malaysian Medical Association’s said it’s unfair to blame private practitioners and wants the gomen to reveal the number of cases that’ve been reported, and unreported, by private facilities. It’s also called for SOPs on reporting cases to be streamlined.

In any case, we’re really, really, looking forward to the vaccine rollout to begin in March. Sadly, while a lot’s already known (see last Wednesday’s BTL for the skinny), there’s much we still don’t know. Like if and how a local manufacturer of steel poles for street lights scored a deal to distribute a China-made vaccine.

Just like the curious case of MyEG some months ago, it seems yet another company, Mestron, with allegedly next-to-no health industry know-how is looking at playing middleman between a Chinese vaccine developer and us. 

But did Mestron even have gomen approval, to begin with? Our a̶i̶r̶ ̶s̶u̶a̶m̶ health minister (who checked with his deputy who, in turn, double-checked with his secretary) claim they didn’t issue any clearance letter for a “distribution” deal. However, the company claimed to have clearance to “initiate negotiations. Either way, a probe’s being initiated.

What we wanna ask is where’re the ministry’s detailed lists of which companies with distribution rights, how were they selected and why. Also, what treatments and trials have been approved and/or are being considered? 

Incidentally, a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine phase 3 trial’s begun in Kedah. FYI, this has zilch to do with the Mestron or MyEG.

Special kind of stupid

Lookey here – MCO 2.0 rules have been tweaked yet again. Once more, there’s a bunch of things that are strange at best, and ridiculous at worst.

Take the green light for pasar malams to resume operations. True, there’s a need to balance lives and livelihood. But with no clear guidelines on things like crowd limit and spaces between stalls, you’ve gotta wonder if this could result in, god forbid, a pasar malam cluster.

Another thing: the two-persons-to-a-vehicle rule no longer applies for folks travelling to and from work and, get this, for official gomen business! This on top of MPs and assemblypersons being allowed to cross state/district lines (in full capacity vehicles, no less) for constituency work.

Yes, elected reps are duty-bound to see to the rakyat’s needs and that sometimes involves travelling near and far. Still, there is a tonne of ways that leeway could be abused. So what checks are in place to prevent this, we ask?

Already, double standards abound. Take Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan. We dunno if he crossed 10km/district and state borders to get to Batu Caves to celebrate Thaipusam (while us plebs had to stay at home like good lil’ boys and girls) on account of kononnya being the Cabinet’s so-called Hindu Endowment rep.

But what we know is Sara flashed his pearly whites and his privileged status by visiting the temple in breach of the gomen’s Thaipusam celebration guidelines; removed his mask to be garlanded; and was accompanied by trumpeters on his walkabout of the grounds.

The minister’s claimed he had police permission and SOPs were followed. Only there’re pics proving physical distancing wasn’t maintained. Plus, last we looked at the National Security Council guidelines, being garlanded doesn’t exempt one from having to don a mask!

Sara’s not the only h̶e̶l̶a̶n̶g̶ elected rep/minister to prove there’re different rules being applied. FT Minister Annuar Musa faced heat for (allegedly! allegedly!) breaching NSC’s exercise rules when out on a morning walk with two other prominent fellows. 

Annu says it was merely a chance meeting. But did y’all have to stand near-near sans masks to pose for the gram? If it’d been a p̶i̶p̶i̶t̶ regular joe, would the cops buy the “just a coincidence” excuse and not hand over that RM1k ticket?

And on a different topic, as stupid goes it can’t get much dumber than Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob for 1) doubling down on condos’ mandatory Covid-testing policy by saying it only applies to foreign tenants, 2) posting a tweet labelling two opposition MPs as pro-foreigner for simply criticising his endorsement, and 3) trying to cover line by deleting that tweet. Sorry Izzy, but Twitterjaya remembers. 👀

Anyway, here’re the last few Covid bits and bobs:

  • Singapore’s suspending its travel bubble with Malaysia for three months from today due to our upsurge in infections. Johor, though, hopes to nego a deal with our neighbours.
  • Happy hypoxia, a condition where patients appear to be functioning like normal despite low blood oxygen levels, has been detected in young Covid-positive Malaysians. Where undiscovered, the condition can lead to organ damage, and patients could also move around and infect others.
  • Private hospitals have claimed the RM100 million allocated to them under Permai only covers patients referred from gomen hospitals. There’re also spending caps.

The Putrajaya tales

Ex-AG Tommy Thomas’ new book, My Story: Justice in the Wilderness, has only been on the shelf for two days but it’s stirring loads of controversy. Chiefly, ex-PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad comes out looking more evil overlord than knight-in-shining-armour.

Remember last week’s disclosure of Maddey pressuring TT to resign on account of “Malay backlash“? Well, it seemed even though the former premier later had a change of heart, it didn’t stop Mads from hanging his AG out to dry some 20 months later.

The story Tommy tells is that Mahathir was set on forming a unity government with MPs from PAS and Umno in the days following the Sheraton Move and as such, informed his AG that his prospective allies wanted the lawyer out.

In another revelation, Tommy, claims ex-DPM Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had been set to replace Mahathir as premier when Mads quit his post. However, when the Agong proposed Kak Wan as interim PM, the nonagenarian put his own name forward instead.

There’s more. Despite apparently being content to leave legal matters to TT, like in the case of the LTTE 12, Mahathir repeatedly didn’t take Tommy’s advice to expel shit-stirrer Zakir Naik.

Mahathir aside, Mr T also expressed puzzlement (he used the words “mind-boggling”) at the coroner’s criminal findings following an inquest into the death of young firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim. Abid’d been injured during the Sri Maha Mariamman temple riot 2018. 

TBH, it’s hard to know if Tommy’s accounts are the whole truth and nothing but the truth but it’s sure as hell entertaining. Watch this space for more excerpts/reactions from what’s shaping up to be the read of the year.

We’ve got our popcorn out.

Can you hack it?

Days after warning of a cyberattack, hacktivist group Anonymous Malaysia has claimed to have successfully infiltrated a number of gomen websites.

Thing is while a message on the group’s FB page claims success, the sites listed as having been hacked — among them websites belonging to the Customs Department and Sabah government — appear to be working fine.

Did Anonymous manage to hack the sites before those portals’ admins cleaned up the mess? It’s unclear right now but we’ll probably find out soon enough.

In case you’ve forgotten, Anonymous’ cyberattacks are apparently in response an alleged lack of security on government sites that’s allowed scammers to steal heaps of people’s info.

Hacking aside, here’re a few more news items from the weekend:

  • PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s unveiled handouts for the urban poor in the FTs of KL, Labuan and Putrajaya, including over 5,000 sacks of rice have been set aside a week for those in need.

    It’s a good initiative, no doubt. But was a nationwide video address on Sunday really necessary? Couldn’t FT Minister “walk with me” Annuar make the announcement or was this just to shore up some PM love?

    Also, about the poor in other, non-FT, parts of the country? Does Moo want them to eat cake?
  • The gomen’s promised to bring those responsible for the tragic death of a kid in Melaka, allegedly from abuse, to justice.

    Zubaidi Amir Qusyairi Abd Malek, 7, was found to have drowned in a tub at his home. However, prelim investigations have revealed injuries suggesting he was abused while in the care of his mum and stepfather.
  • Azmin Ali’s responded to voters who’re suing him for skipping out on PKR noting that he lost faith in former mentor Anwar Ibrahim following reports of “immoral sexual practices”. Hmmm. Should a fella who’s faced allegations of sexual impropriety himself really be casting stones?

“Informed decision-making comes from a long tradition of guessing and then blaming others for inadequate results.”

- Scott Adams -


  • Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from her ruling National League for Democracy party have been arrested early this morning, sparking rumour of a coup. This follows mounting friction between her gomen and the military. 
  • Britain’s launched a new visa scheme that will enable Hongkongers fleeing China’s crosshairs to live and work in the UK. The visas will eventually allow holders to apply for British citizenship.
  • India cut access to the internet in several places near New Delhi over the weekend in response to large demonstrations by farmers protesting new agricultural laws. Authorities cited public safety concerns as the reason for the net service cuts.
  • Merriam-Webster dictionary has added a new term to describe a husband or male partner the country’s veep — “second gentleman“. Doug Emhoff, US Vice-President Kamala Harris’ husband, is the first-ever second gentleman.


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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