The shape of water
High and dry, and pissed off!
Residents in the Klang Valley are pissed at having to endure yet another water cut. As we’re among the Clan of the Showerless, we get it!
Really, four disruptions since the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) was first announced is one thing. What takes the cake is, like the big one that hit us in early September, the latest case is the result of pollution. Again!
If you remember, there was some big talk on ramping up enforcement and enacting tighter laws in the immediate aftermath of the Sungai Gong water pollution incident. It seems nothing’s come of that yet and authorities at both the state and federal levels are still making promises.
Hazy on the deets? Let’s catch you up – According to water concessionaire Air Selangor, the latest disruptions were triggered after odour pollution was detected in Sungai Selangor in the wee hours of Monday. The larger consequence of that is close to 1.2 million people being left high and dry.
This came as water supply was still being restored to homes following an earlier burst pipe.
Restoration of water supply is only expected to begin at 8am today and is set to be patchy. Which means that while some folks may be able to shower as early as tomorrow (lucky buggers), the rest of us must live with stinky ‘pits and icky cracks till Friday morning at the earliest. You can check the restoration plan here.
But here’s the thing – it’s not clear who’s responsible for the pollution this time round.
The Selangor government isn’t ruling out sabotage. Why? ‘Cos the pollution was detected late Sunday/early Monday, a time when factories don’t tend to be operating.
At this point though, it’s all just speculation. But the bottom line is until and unless a better system is put in place to police the state’s water resources and prevent unscrupulous buggers from messing with our H20, this kind of thing is probably gonna keep on occurring.
To this end, the state gomen has said it’s gonna introduce drones to monitor for river pollution as early as next month. The hi-tech thingamajigs, which will cost Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari’s administration a cool RM2 million, are touted as being able to zip all over the Klang River Basin, Sungai Selangor and Sungai Langat both night and day and screen for suspicious activity.
But while that’s pretty cool and all, the government’s only shelling out for four units which, given the size of the state’s water treatment areas, may not be enough.
Also, we do think it’s about damned time the state and federal governments and that special task force we’ve been promised start working on more permanent solutions. These include amendments to our currently inadequate environmental protection laws.
Honestly, we’ve been talking about tougher laws for longer than we have drink driving. What’s that popular phrase? Something about if there’s a will? The fact of the matter is that our water resources are areas of national security – so it’s time we began treating them like they were. Send in soldiers with machine guns to conduct patrols and guard the sites!
All of this is darkly funny when you think about how Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin spoke about his government’s commitment to environmental sustainability and water quality yesterday. Funny cos if we can’t laugh about this, we’d all be crying.
Selangor in the spotlight
When it comes to battling Covid, we’re constantly told how we must all work together. That must certainly include the federal Perikatan Nasional gomen and the Pakatan Harapan state governments, right?
Yet time and again, we hear grumblings by the head honchos at Selangor they’ve been left out of important decision making when it comes to developing responses to the pandemic.
More worrying than the state not being consulted on CMCO decisions is the claim that the federal government is crippling the state’s Covid-19 task force by denying it access to detailed data since earlier this month. In the words of task force chairman Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad: “You asked us to box in the ring, but you blindfold us.”
Yesterday alone, 101 new infections were registered in the state. Selangor remains the state with the third-highest number of active cases – 702 – after Sabah and Kedah.
Without the data, the good doctor Dzul said the special task force’s been unable to do stuff like proper contact tracing and mapping of Covid zones. Not just that – a request to integrate the state’s Selangkah app with MySejahtera has also been flat out refused (allegedly allegedly).
Everyone’s favourite Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in response, has said the data was held back to allow for them to be standardised first, to avoid any misinterpretation. The individual states were “never empowered” to carry out surveillance and intervention. Instead, they should educate and raise awareness on the disease.
The big problem with Noor Hisham’s explanation, however, is we’re dealing with a health crisis, not Visit Malaysia campaign. Accurate and timely information are vital in combating this disease and those things are only going to help states in their battle, not hinder them. Couldn’t Hisham’s team work WITH the states to make better use of state resources and expertise?
Also, if it’s true that Putrajaya was always against sharing granular data, then why was it done before? Oh, and this is a small thing, but do we really have to point out that the guy who’s running the show and in charge of interpreting the stats in Selangor isn’t just some old uncle? Dzul was the previous health minister handling our Covid crisis before the Harapan government’s collapse.
Increasingly, to us unwashed masses (ya know, ‘cos there’s no water and all) it feels like Noor Hisham’s words and actions are getting more and more political as opposed to the single-minded focus on public health a few months ago. It’s a shame if this is actually the case.
In other perplexing news, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said the National Security Council (NSC) is considering a proposal to put the whole of Selangor under an Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).
Selangor’s numbers have gone up, yes. But last we checked, active clusters are confined to just a few districts. More to the point, the state’s overall active caseload isn’t nearly as high as Sabah, where enhanced lockdowns have only been ordered for specific areas, not the whole state.
Yes, we noted in our newsletter yesterday, that some rules in CMCO areas probably need to be tightened. But tightening shouldn’t mean going from a CMCO straight to an EMCO. Again, more transparency in decision-making will allow folks to judge the thought process of what seems like a jump from A to Z.
Incidentally, speaking of Sabah, former chief minister Musa Aman issued an open letter yesterday in which he blamed the surge of Covid-19 cases in that state on Parti Warisan Sabah boss Shafie Apdal and his allies.
Washing his hands of guilt, the Umno man has said when it was clear Shafie had lost the support in the state assembly, what the latter should have done was to “resign responsibly” instead of “selfishly” and “recklessly” forcing an election during a pandemic.
You can read the whole letter for yourself here, but the kesimpulan is basically this: elections bad, power grabs and frogging good.
On the up and up
For the third day in a row, Monday saw the country register over 800 Covid-19 cases (865 to be exact).
Yesterday’s 3 fatalities – all of which were recorded in Sabah – means our death rate is now at 190, while active cases up to 7,456.
Thankfully, recoveries were also equally high. But while 455 hospital discharges are great news, we’re warned we could be seeing a four-digit spike in daily cases if the rate of infection isn’t brought down.
As we noted yesterday, one of the steps being proposed by the Health Ministry is a tightening of the rules in areas currently under partial lockdown. However, we’ve yet to get any clear indication of whether the NSC’s taken the suggestions on board. So it’s just wait and see for now.
Meanwhile, here’re a few more Covid-19 highlights:
- The Kepayan Prison and its staff quarters will be placed under an EMCO for two weeks, beginning today. A total of 184 positive cases have so far been linked to the Kepayan cluster.
- Friday prayers and marriage solemnisations in Selangor will now only be allowed in green zones. You can view the red, yellow and green Covid-19 zones here.
- The NSC is working on SOPs for the upcoming Deepavali celebrations and will announce the recommended guidelines soon. Deepavali will fall on Nov 14.
- So far, only the steroid Dexamethasone has shown to work in Covid-19 patients here. The drug, which is often used to treat allergies, skin disease and asthma, has been administered to patients here since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
- And finally, if you’re keeping track, here’s that list of places hit by Covid again.
More than meets the eye
With Nov 2 Dewan Rakyat date fast approaching, two meetings were expected to clarify Umno’s stand on its continued partnership with PM Moo Yassin and Perikatan Nasional. However, both have been postponed with no announcements about make-up dates made yet.
The official story is both events – one on Monday to deliberate on Bersatu’s entry into Muafakat Nasional and a Tuesday Umno supreme council meeting to consider the party’s cooperation with MooMoo’s administration – were called of ’cos of the CMCO and on the NSC’s advice. But what’s also possibly, probably, maybe, could be true is that a bit of horse-trading is going on behind the scenes.
In any case, regardless of what may or may not be happening away from everyone’s sight (no, we’re not talking about our politikus’ sex lives), there’re at least a couple of Umno fellas – namely Annuar Musa and party Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki – who now say a truce should be declared until Malaysia’s Covid situation is brought under control.
Their proposal is kinda similar, if you remember, to what Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s been advocating with #PauseMalaysia. Unfortunately, like the Boy Wonder’s call, the fact of the matter is that unless a large enough number of individuals get on board with the idea, the politicking is gonna likely continue.
Anyways, game of thrones and tussles for power aside, here’re some other odds and ends from the news yesterday:
- Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar ‘Art’ Azizan Harun has maintained he was right about Parliamentary Speakers having no power to push no-confidence motions ahead of Government matters, even though a 2015 vid apparently shows him to be saying the opposite.
- A 23-year-old woman died while undergoing liposuction at a beauty salon that wasn’t licensed to conduct the procedure. Police have arrested the salon’s owners over the incident.
- The inquest into the death of Irish-French teenager Nora Anne Quoirin was postponed Monday after a witness was found to have been in close contact with a Covid-19 patient. Proceedings are due to resume today with the said witness and a number of others testifying via Zoom.
- Cops in Melaka are investigating a viral message that state assembly Speaker Ab Rauf Yusoh committed sexual assault. According to docs being circulated, Rauf sexually assaulted the woman on Oct 2. The alleged victim has, however, lodged a police report denying the claim.
“Filthy water cannot be washed.."
- African proverb -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Six Russian military officers have been charged in the United States over an elaborate hacking scheme that targeted major global powers and former Soviet bloc nations, and tried the thwart investigations into Russia.
Separately, according to UK intelligence reports, Russia had also planned to initiate cyber-attacks on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, before the games had to be postponed due to the coronavirus.
- US President Donald Trump has lambasted top public health advisor Dr Anthony Fauci as “a disaster” and said Americans are tired of hearing from the doc and other health “idiots”.
This after the good doctor had said he wasn’t surprised Trump contracted Covid and claimed the White House restricted his media appearances.
- Protests in Thailand against PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha continued Monday for a fifth straight day even as police ordered an investigation on four news outlets and imposed restrictions on messaging app Telegram.
Meanwhile, an alliance has developed between Hong Kong and Thai protestors, dubbed the Milk Tea Alliance.
- NASA has granted Nokia $14.1 million to build a 4G mobile network on the moon. Will we soon be able to FaceTime with the man on the moon? Here’s hoping.
- Despite being the first country to be hit by Covid-19, China’s economy appears to have bounced back, with a 4.9 percent growth registered between July and September. This is a positive sign for the rest of us, we hope.
Yesterday we spoke of Jacinta Ardern and her Labour Party’s big win at the Kiwi polls. And while we all cinta Jacinta, it’s actually Jacinda.