All he had to do was get in and get out. But two seemingly innocuous little words turn a minister's working visit to China into a national debate.

Elsewhere in our newsletter, MIC adds salt to the whole Bersatu-Umno divorce by palling up with le PM; Malaysia's got several plans regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine; and, some ballsy youths take the gomen to court.

Diplomatic faux pas

Oh, no he di'int!

By all accounts, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had quite a fruitful two-day official visit to China.

He and counterpart Wang Yi chatted about Myanmar and agreed that peace needs to return to that strife-hit country following the military coup and the violent reaction to pro-democracy protestors. There were even signings of MoUs for cooperation in a post-Covid-19 era. 

However, it all went south when H2O seemingly decided to describe China as Malaysia’s “big brother” during a joint address with Wang. So why’s this a big deal?

According to PM-forever-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, while China’s a friend and efforts should be made to improve bilateral trade, Hisham’s move was a big diplomatic no-no as it insults Malaysia’s non-aligned status. 

FYI, Malaysia’s long-time foreign policy stance is to be sorta neutral and not take sides lah. We’re even part of the Non-Aligned Movement, in which countries refuse to become member ketat with any major power bloc. With all this in mind, calling China “Big Bro” kinda makes us look like a puppet, sayeth Anwar.

This, you must remember, also comes amidst long-standing US-Sino trade war and a likely push by new US president Joe Biden to rebuild ties with Southeast Asia, not to mention our ongoing dispute with Beijing over parts of the South China Sea.

Hisham has since claimed he wasn’t referring to China, but Wang, who’s been at the job longer than he has. 

Ol’ Anwar’s having none of that excuse, though. He said the gaffe (allegedly! allegedly!) undermined Wisma Putra, could set our foreign policy back 25 years (where did Anwar get such a specific number ah?) and signal a change in our neutral stance under the PN gomen. And thanks to a suspended Parliament, there’s no oversight to keep such mistakes in check. 

There’s was no love for Vaping Hisham from former foreign minister Anifah Aman either. The latter told H20 to just admit to the faux pas already! Especially since this lack of tact caused some embarrassment for Wang, allegedly lah!

Anifah was foreign minister for nine years when he was in Umno. Perhaps he knows a thing or two, eh Hisham?

🎶🎶The MIC won't let me be🎶🎶

If Umno thinks it’s got a handful dealing from the fallout of its ongoing “divorce” from Bersatu and possible split with PAS, BN partner MIC ain’t helping none.

At the Indian party’s AGM over the weekend, the guest of honour was PM Muhyiddin Yassin (via Zoom link). Why’s this a problem? Cos Moo’s Bersatu is currently at war with Umno.

To add salt to injury, MIC’s also pledged to continue supporting Moo’s PN gomen, at least till the BN supreme council decides whether to go ahead with Umno’s plan to ditch Bersatu come GE15.

But, does party boss SA Vigneswaran know something we don’t? In his speech, Vicky said MIC would await any “new development” from the BN supreme council’s decision and “see political movements” in the near future. 🤷‍♀️ 

He also pointed out MIC was given a minister post by PN (Vicky’s deputy M Saravanan), even when no MIC minister, deputy minister and/or senator were nominated by BN (ouch!).

All that aside, Vicky ended up having to defend inviting Moo to give the keynote address, and said it’d be idiotic to imply this meant the party will join PN. 

To be fair, MIC usually invites the PM to give the main speech at the party’s AGM, but it’s usually the BN chairman who’s PM at the time. But that’s not the case now, issit? Besides, Umno chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also addressed the AGM later la. 

This isn’t the first time MIC’s been stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea when it comes to BN and PN. Last year, the party backtracked on a decision to officially join the PN coalition. Confused? BN’s part of the PN gomen, but NOT part of the coalition. Yeah, go figure.

It’s obvious, though, that MIC thinks BN’s way forward should be to stick to PN, as Vicky also called for Umno to be ready to give up 10% of its seats to other BN parties and PN for GE15. 

Will MIC’s wish for a happy family be granted? Time will tell, we guess.

Anyhoo, we’ve compiled some other political stories for you. Here’s the skinny:

  • Former Umno veep Muhammad Muhammad Taib has said Umno leaders with pending court cases should step down or distance themselves from the party to avoid negative impressions among the people. Of course, that means prez Zahid Hamidi, too.
     
  • Umno No. 2 Mohamad Hasan told leaders not to issue any statements that could worsen the party’s infighting. He also said expediting Umno elections would lead to a split, providing ammo for the opposition.
     
  • Could Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah a.k.a Ku Li be the next prime minister? The veteran’s opined he’s the best candidate for PM), just months after saying he ain’t looking to be PM. Self-praise is no praise, dude.
     
  • PAS has hit out at Umno for straying from Muafakat Nasional by dumping Bersatu. Yet Bersatu has said it’s still open to joining Muafakat. The ball’s in Umno’s court, it looks like.
     
  • Either way, Bersatu’s moving ahead with GE15 planning with PAS. It’s appointed 12 reps to a joint election strategy committee with the Islamic party. 

Vaccine back up plans

Malaysia will still be going ahead with UK’s Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine despite concerns over potential blood clots, as our health authorities assured the benefits outweigh potential risks. 

For some context, out of 18 million AstraZeneca shots given in the UK to date, there’s been about 30 cases of rare blood clots linked to the jab in the UK, resulting in seven deaths.

As previously pointed out, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (tasked with evaluating the safety of the vaccines in Europe) have assured there’re no increased risks of blood clots from the vaccine, and the pros far outweigh the cons in fighting Covid-19.

But have no fear, sayeth our national vaccine supremo Khairy Jamaluddin. Malaysia has backup plans should we decide to stop using the vaccine after all. E.g, it’s got an offer for an additional 12.8 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Malaysia’s special committee on vaccines will be meeting with several experts following the blood clot claims in the UK before deciding the matter.

Meanwhile, almost 280,000 Malaysians have been fully vaccinated. Still, the Health Ministry will be looking into why the number of folks who’ve registered for their shots is still low.

Perhaps many are concerned with potential side effects from the immunisation jabs. Well, Air Suam Health Minister Adham Baba has revealed only 3.5% of the more than 700,000 recipients so far have experienced side effects, and of these, 99.5% with mild effects. 

Meanwhile, police have declared a viral message that a cop died after receiving the vaccine as fake. Sheesh! 

Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related news:

  • The Malaysian Rating Corporation is expecting the gomen to lift the interstate travel ban soon to prevent any further economic scarring. Errr… a little early, we think. 
     
  • Minister in the PM’s Department Mustapa Mohamed’s said fresh grads should be grateful even if they have low-paying jobs cos many folks lost their jobs during the pandemic. Say what now? 
     
  • The nation’s daily Covid numbers were like a rollercoaster on FridaySaturday and Sunday, with many ups and downs. Our numbers increased by 4,281 over the last three days (bringing total cases to 350,959), and our death toll went up by 10 for a total of 1,288

🎶🎶Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to court we go🎶🎶

Our youths are fighting back! A total of 18 youths are hauling the PM, gomen and the Election Commission (EC) to court over the delay in implementing Undi18. 18 youths representing Undi18, geddit?

Pakatan Harapan Youth, meanwhile, have mooted a sixth Bersih rally if the EC still refuses to lower the voting age by July this year, as per the original promised timeline.

That’ll hopefully go down better than the demonstration held in Jalan Parlimen recently, which has seen a number of folks being called in for questioning by the cops for allegedy not following Covid SOPs

Our police chief has said “more than four people” have had their statements recorded so far, including one time when Maddey Mohamad showed up in support of those being questioned (funny how he keeps showing up at rallies when he did his bestest to put them down when he was in power in the 80s and 90s). 

FYI, Bersatu, PM Moo’s own party, has also called on the EC to speed up the implementation of Undi18. Will this have any effect on things? We dunno, but we hope it ain’t just lip service. 

Here’re some other stuff we picked up:

  • A High Court has quashed a preventive detention order signed by Moodin, as acting home minister, in March last year. Why? Cos he used his nama glamer Muhyiddin, instead of what’s on his MyKad, Mahiaddin Md Yasin. 😂

    We wondered then whether he’d done that often, but we soon got our answer… all emergency declarations used his actual name
     
  • MIC prez Vicky has come under fire from DAP’s P. Ramasamy after calling on Hindus not to “insult the Gods” by building temples illegally cos, apparently, when the temples are torn down and the statues broken, it’s their fault. Sheesh.
     
  • Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has said Facebook and Google’s decision to skip Malaysia for their undersea internet cable has nothing to do with the cabotage policy on foreign ships repairing them. OK. Sure. 
     
  • The Environment Ministry has proposed an RM15 million fine for scheduled waste pollution offences. With all the water cuts we’ve endured, we so agree! 
     
  • Six kindergartens in Kelantan are being watched over allegations they’re being used to spread deviant Islamic teachings. Kindies?!?! WTF??!?

“Diplomacy is more than saying or doing the right things at the right time, it is avoiding saying or doing the wrong things at any time."

- Bo Bennett -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Eastern and central Europe escaped the worst of Covid last year, but it’s peaking there now, ruining Easter for the predominantly Christian populations.

    Meanwhile, Pope Francis, in his Easter message, has slammed weapons spending during the pandemic. 
     
  • Global vaccine sharing scheme Covax aims to get vaccines in over a hundred nations within the next few weeks.
     
  • Speaking of vaccines, the US gomen’s stopped the Baltimore plant that ruined Johnson & Johnson vaccines from making AstraZeneca vaccines.
     
  • Two of India’s perhaps most well-known people – cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood star Akshay Kumar – have come down with Covid.
     
  • At least 50 people were killed and over 200 injured in Taiwan’s worst train tragedy in decades after a flatbed truck slipped down an embankment and caused a train to derail on Friday.

    The truck driver, who’s being questioned by police, has apologised.
     
  • Personal data from 533 million Facebook accounts, including email addresses and phone numbers previously leaked in 2019, has now been posted on an online hackers forum. No ‘Likes’ for this post!

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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