Resign! That’s what PM Mahathir wants Donald Trump to do. But is the good doc going a bit far in poking this particular beast? Elsewhere, a former minister tells of how he was belittled and pressured by folks linked to Rosie Mansor, and four works of art get removed from the National Art Gallery for apparently being obscene and offensive.

Spoiling for a fight?

You say it best, when you say nothing at all

He said it on Saturday and again yesterday: Donald Trump must resign. The question on lotsa people’s lips, however, is: does Dr Mahathir Mohamad know who he’s messing with?!

The PM’s initial accusation was that as Trump and the United States had facilitated an “utterly unacceptable” peace deal that favoured Israel and left Palestinians with not very much, he ought to go. On Monday though, Mahathir was more blunt: DJT needed to resign in order to “save America”.

Let’s be clear, Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” has been rejected by loads of folks, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations. However, it’s one thing to register your opposition, and quite another for a chihuahua to keep poking at a lounging Rottweiler with stuff like “Americans are nice but not Trump”, especially when the said mutt is known to be rabid, volatile and hypersensitive.

Yep, Maverick Maddey used to pick fights with international figures (read: George Soros, Britain, the United States, Lee Kuan Yew etc.) all the time in his first tenure as PM so much so that he was labelled a recalcitrant. But Trump is a different beast. To paraphrase Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post, the US president doesn’t have a foreign policy so much as a series of impulses. And his actions are usually unleashed, sans consultation, simply ’cos he feels he was made to look foolish and/or weak. 

The guy has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea after being called a dotard by Kim Jong-un and warned of “obliteration” after Hassan Rouhani suggested he had “mental disorder”. Heck, he’s even lashed out at a microphone (yes, a microphone!) for apparently malfunctioning. 

So the question here is: Do we really want that kind of enemy? 

At present, the United States is the third top export destination for Malaysian products. We ship ’em electrical machinery, optical and medical instruments, rubber, cocoa products and a whole load of other stuff. And in 2019, all that accounted for RM95.98 billion or 9.7% of our total exports. What are we gonna do if The Donald takes offence at Maddey’s comments and starts a trade war against us? Ask Imran Khan and Pakistan to pick up the slack?!?!

If the India palm oil kerfuffle has taught us anything it’s that Mahathir’s big mouth can and will get us into trouble. So before, it’s too late, perhaps the good doctor should learn that sometimes, it’s best to, ya know, just zip it!

Under pressure

Day 3 of Rosmah Mansor’s corruption trial saw former Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid continue with his testimony. And once again, he talked about how he was pressured to get his ministry to award a RM1.25 billion solar energy project for 300+ schools in rural Sarawak to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd.

According to Mahdzir though, not only was he pressed by Rosie to speed up the matter, he was also pressured and belittled by Jepak MD Saidi Abang Samsudin and Saidi’s business partner, one Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah. Worse, when Mahdzir complained to his boss Najib Razak about being disparaged, the then PM did absolutely nothing. 

In the end, the former minister says he grew tired of all the constant badgering and eventually, just gave in.

The best part though is that Mahdzir claims he was damn sure that Jepak wouldn’t be able to fulfil its contractual obligations. So in December 2016, a month after the contract was awarded, he instructed ministry sec-gen Alias Ahmad to stand by with diesel for generators to power the 369 schools. (Mahdzir was right too! Jepak didn’t do jack!)

The former minister said too that because of Jepak’s inexperience he’d initially only wanted to hand ’em a pilot project for 28 schools. However, that was never gonna happen once the Jibster got himself involved.

Oh, and despite the defence’s allegations, the minister claims he never ever received cash (allegedly RM50k) from Jepak for a family vacation in London.

Meanwhile, a portion of the Najib Tapes a.k.a. the “Can I advise you something” recording was played in court on Monday so Mahdzir could help establish the identities of the two voices heard. The ex-Cabinet minister identified the voices as belonging to Bossku Najib and wifey Rosie.

Rosie’s case continues today.

State of the arts

Four artworks by prominent visual artist Ahmad Fuad Osman have been removed from an exhibition at the National Art Gallery (NAG) and as you’d expect, the art fraternity and the artist concerned are pissed!

The display, which kicked off on Oct 28, 2019, was meant to be a mid-career exhibition of Fuad’s works. Unfortunately, it seems that on Jan 21 this year, the artist was informed that four of his pieces – an LED panel piece featuring “Missing” poster paintings of Anwar Ibrahim, a UV print on mirror called “Dreaming Of Being A Somebody Afraid Of Being A Nobody”, an oil painting titled “Imitating The Mountain”, and an installation work “Mak Bapak Borek, Anak Cucu Cicit Pun Rintik” – had been removed following complaints.

NAG says it’s well within its rights to remove any artwork that touches on the dignity of any individual, religion, politics, race, tradition or country and that the decision to do so was taken at a meeting following complaints. However, Fuad, claims that he’d been previously been told it was all ’cos one butthurt NAG board member had found the works political and obscene.

Art censorship in Malaysia is nothing new, and we truly seem to have turned it into a sorta tradition, but here’s something to think about: if the works in the current case were (are?) really offensive, why did it take NAG so long – close to three months from the exhibition opening, in fact – to make a decision?!?!

Speaking of censorship and offending sensibilities, Media Prima Television Networks appears to be now set to take “adequate measures” if it’s found that local rock group Drama Band violated the broadcast content code with their performance at this year’s Anugerah Juara Lagu.

The band had parodied several local events and personalities during their performance on Sunday night, and at one point, seemingly took a dig at Rosie and Jibby by featuring a couple in clown makeup. 

The group has since apologised for offending folks but maintains they were just trying to “tell the story of life”. 

But regardless of what their motivations were, should the group even have bothered saying sorry? 

Yeah, there’re lines performers and artists probably shouldn’t cross. Ever. However, have we become such a hypersensitive nation that we can’t even take a bit of ribbing and roasting?

This and that

A bit more made the headlines yesterday, and here’re are some of those stories in brief:

  • Tamrin Abdul Ghafar, the son of former DPM Ghafar Baba, was questioned by cops for over three hours over a blog post which allegedly criticised Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (nama glamer: TMJ). The former MP, however, says that he’d prefer to address the accusations in court as that way, he can subpoena TMJ. Tamrin, who was acquitted of a sedition charge last year, added that he’ll pen a new blog post, entitled “Saya ke Bukit Aman sekali lagi”, following Monday’s grilling. Baller!
     
  • Police will soon record the statements of Jibby, Rosie and ex-Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission boss Dzulkifli Ahmad over a bunch of leaked audio clips that, according to the MACC, raise issues of power abuse and criminal conspiracy. The recordings were first exposed by the MACC in early January.
     
  • A 31-year-old Malaysian man who visited China in February is the 18th person in the country to be diagnosed with novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The Health Ministry says the patient’s movements prior to being warded are currently being traced. Meanwhile, the global death toll from the virus is now 1,013 with more than 42,500 people infected!
     
  • It seems that 930ha of the Kuala Langat (Utara) Forest Reserve is set to be de-gazetted and converted for development despite it being earlier sanctioned as Orang Asli ancestral land. The site was apparently gazetted in 1927 with a provision that’d allow the Orang Asli to live and derive benefit from the forest. However, folks familiar with the situation claim that some 90% of the area has been de-gazetted and developed in the last 40 years.
     
  • And in our WTF news of the day, a man from Myanmar was stopped at the Penang International Airport on Sunday for attempting to smuggle 780g of dried rat meat into the country. Yes, rat!

“A fool is known by his speech; and a wise man by silence.”

- Pythagoras -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Parasite won big at the 92nd Academy Awards, taking home the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film. The South Korean film is the first foreign language film to win the coveted Best Picture trophy. Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix became the second actor to bag an Oscar for portraying the Joker.
     
  • A 28-year-old British man has been found guilty of planning terror attacks in busy London hotspots, including at Madame Tussauds. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, who was acquitted of terror charges in 2018 after being arrested with a samurai sword outside Buckingham Palace, was charged alongside his sister who was convicted of failing to disclose information about the attacks. 
     
  • Qatar and Kuwait have warned their citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Singapore on account of a large portion of the 43 cases in the island republic being locally transmitted ones. Britain has also included Singapore in a list of countries from which returning travellers who develop symptoms should self-isolate.
     
  • Tottenham Hotspur star Dele Alli has said sorry for posting a vid on Snapchat in which he wore a face mask and appeared to make fun of the coronavirus outbreak. The footballer has since deleted the clip and issued an apology on Chinese social media site Weibo.

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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