Just how does a man with an expired passport, on the run with a child without any documentation, manage to run to another country despite there being a warrant out for his arrest? That’s what M. Indira Gandhi is asking. Remember her?

In other news, we’ve finally found out the intended name of a former PM-twice-over’s new party; we find out the names of two of the candidates for the upcoming Slim by-election; and, a certain CM-turned-interim CM is doing what can only be deemed downright unethical in his bid to keep power. Plus other news, of course.

A mother's anguish

Where's that damn wally??!?

Remember poor M. Indira Gandhi, the woman whose ex-husband ran away with their youngest child?
 
The last we heard of her, she had threatened to go on a hunger strike if the child, Prasana Diksa, is not returned to her by Aug 31. Well, it seems the hunger strike will become reality. 
 
That’s because the Home Ministry admitted to the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that Indira’s ex-husband, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, has run off with the girl to another country and is moving from place to place to avoid detection. The ministry said police were working with their counterparts abroad to pinpoint his location and that he would be “brought to face the law” should he return. 
 
This must be a bad joke. Really. Why would Riduan, formerly known as K. Pathmanathan before he converted, return to the country? And how did he run off in the first place without the authorities knowing, considering he was ordered to return Prasana to Indira years ago?
 
After all, two years ago, the then IGP Fuzi Harun had said Riduan was still in the country. Does this mean a report which came out just a year later that the fugitive father was in Thailand was correct? 
 
Earlier this year, present IGP Hamid Bador said he knew where Riduan was and hoped the man would turn himself in before he was arrested. But then, nothing has been heard of it. Hamid came under a lot of fire for that, considering that it had been four years since the courts had ordered Riduan arrested. Does this mean Hamid knew Riduan was overseas and Malaysian police could not get to him? 
 
Understandably, an “exhausted” Indira was irritated with the Home Ministry’s statement. It has been five IGPs since Prasana was taken by her ex-husband, but not one of them as been able to return the child to her mother, nor have they given Indira a proper report. 
 
But here’s something else. Indira claimed her ex-husband’s passport has expired, and that her daughter does not have any legal documentation. So how did they manage to run abroad?
 
That’s exactly what we are asking as well. How did Riduan manage to go overseas when he has an expired passport and the child doesn’t even have any documentation? But there are other questions as well. He has another wife. Yet no one has ever said anything about questioning her. Surely she knows where he is, or at least the general area he is in.
 
How does a man who does not have the financial resources of another famous Malaysian fugitive, Jho Low, manage to stay abroad, moving from one place to another? He must either be a criminal mastermind of the highest order, or he is getting help from someone, somewhere (and we can bet it ain’t Jho-boy, cos Riduan ain’t no Paris Hilton or Miranda Kerr). And if Hamid Badut knew where he was, why didn’t the cops just grab him? 

What’s really baffling is that our police can move with lightning speed to find a Bangladeshi worker whose only claim to fame was to appear on an Al Jazeera documentary, but hem and haw and drag their feet for more than a decade over bringing to justice a scumbag who kidnapped his own daughter. Hell, they’ve never even revealed where he is! Makes one wonder if they’re protecting the innocent or the guilty in this case. 
 
For those of you who are wondering what the fuss is all about, or may have forgotten the details of the case, here’s the TL:DR version of what has been a long, sad and frustrating saga for Indira.
 
In 2009, Riduan converted to Islam and also unilaterally converted his three children with Indira. Shortly after that, he ran off with the youngest child, Prasana, who was just 11 months old at the time (Prasanna turned 12 earlier this year). Indira was granted custody of all three children and in 2014, the Ipoh High Court ordered police to find and retrieve Prasana and hand her over to her mother. 
 
Two years later, the Federal Court ordered the arrest of Riduan for not returning Prasana. In 2018, the apex court also found in Indira’s favour, ruling that the unilateral conversion of the three children to Islam by their father was illegal
 
But since then, there has been no happy reunion for mother and daughter. It has been 11 long years for poor Indira, and we feel so very sorry for her.

Really, there must be a special place in hell for those who would keep a mother from her child. It would probably be right next to those abetting them and those who have the power to act but do not.

Slim hopes for Maddey's fighting party

Iswara, Wira, Satria… most of us would remember these names of classic Proton models with fondness. 

Well, it looks like Dr Mahathir Mohamad has gone back to that well for inspiration in trying to find a name for his brand new party – the result being something that follows in the ‘warrior’ branding of those car models.
 
In a blog post, dear ol’ Mads said the short name for the party was “Pejuang”, which means fighter. Later, our former PM4/7 said the full name for the party would be Parti Pejuang Tanah Air. 
 
Those who left his old party, Bersatu, can join Pejuang, he says, but if they are looking for money or positions, they should join other parties. Already there has been a spate of resignations from Bersatu, the latest being from the party’s division in Kota Tinggi. 
 
We assume that Pejuang (which, btw that king of trolls Najib Razak has nicknamed “Pejuwang” in an obvious reference to money politics, along with the hashtag #penjualanbelumselesai) would welcome with open arms any elected representative who wanted to defect, though. After all, isn’t that what Mahathir loves to do: get people to frog it over to his side?

Ironically, if any of these turned out be from Penang, they would have to give up their seats, cos’ apparently the Penang state constitution touches on this, despite a court ruling there can be no such law as this goes against the Federal Constitution which allows freedom of association. 
 
The name of the party isn’t official yet, of course, as it has yet to be registered with the Registrar of Societies. That may be a long time coming, and Pejuang will actually have its first test at the impending Slim by-election set for Aug 29, with nominations this Saturday.
 
Maddey named Syarie lawyer Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi as the Pejuang candidate, though he will have to contest as an independent. Earlier, BN had named acting Umno Tanjung Malim division chief Mohd Zaidi Aziz as its candidate
 
The by-election is being called after its incumbent, BN’s Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib died of a heart attack on July 15. Khusairi had won by a majority of just over 2,000 in the 2018 general election, beating a Bersatu candidate and one from PAS.
 
This time around, Zaidi looks set to be in a better position, though, due to the strong Umno cooperation with PAS thanks to the Muafakat Nasional agreement. And, he can likely rely on the support of Bersatu supporters – at least those who don’t side with Mahathir – due to Umno/BN’s support of the Perikatan gomen.
 
So, slim chance for Pejuang in Slim? Highly probable. But who knows? Maybe there will be some surprises.
 
By the way, since we’re talking about elections, we thought you’d like to know that de facto Law Minister Taco Bell Takiyuddin Hassan told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that, due to restrictions in place under the RMCO during the Covid-19 pandemic, any snap polls called now would cost a massive RM1.2 billion, which is more than double what it cost for GE14. 

So, let’s hope all these rumours about snap elections don’t come true. We can ill afford such folly, even if things remain politically unstable here in Bolehland.

Artifical sweetener

It seems that former and now interim Sabah CM Shafie Apdal is doing everything humanly possible to keep hold of power.
 
With the state elections looming large, even if a date has yet to be set for it, Shafie has, apparently, been crisscrossing Sabah to present native land titles. The granting of these titles has been a thorny issue, and a hot button one as they say, so we’re pretty sure Shafie is using this as an opportunity to gain votes. 
 
For years, native Sabahans have been at odds with government agencies and businesses over their claims to ancestral lands. Now, Shafie is believed to have handed out more than 1,300 land titles in just five days.
 
Of course, Shafie says he’s not trying to buy votes. The state government had been on a drive to hand over the land titles since last year, he says. Yeah, it’s just a coincidence that so many titles have been handed over in just five days, right Shafie? 
 
Seriously, though. Native Sabahans have been fighting for decades, but this thing is only happening now, when Shafie and Warisan are facing a huge battle with the opposition. Why is that? How can anybody with even half a brain believe it’s not an attempt to curry favour and votes?
 
Let’s be clear though. It’s not illegal, per se. But at the very least, it’s unethical. No matter how you term it, this is like an aramaiti moment for our friends in Sabah, so if you’re not trying to vote buy (and if you’re confident of winning), why not do the right thing and postpone giving out the titles till after the polls? 
 
Shafie has also been whinging about the state of the Sabah economy and the fact that he and Warisan have been blamed for that malaise. A PBS veep had recently claimed Sabah was doing well three years ago under the previous BN administration but had seen a downturn in the economy ever since Warisan took over
 
Well, Shafie says that’s not exactly true as the economy has been sliding southwards for the past 10 years or so. He also says the Covid-19 pandemic and “Covid politics” had made things even worse
 
All this may be true. But Shafie’s claims that all his hard work trying to implement economic development was being met with interference sounds like mere excuses. As the CM, the CEO of the state, your job is to overcome such interference and develop the state.
 
In other Sabah elections-related news, a political group based in the state has lodged a police report against Shafie and Governor Juhar Mahiruddin for abuse of power over the recent dissolution of the state assembly. Gerakan Kuasa Rakyat Malaysia claims Juhar should not have consented to Shafie’s request to dissolve the assembly as he didn’t have majority control. Instead, the governor should have met with assemblypersons before making any decision. 

We don’t think the claim holds water, though. It is the right of the CM to seek the dissolution of the assembly should he lose majority support. And you can’t compare it to what happened in the federal government, either, as Maddey Mohamad resigned as PM and did not seek a dissolution of Parliament, leaving the way open for Muhyiddin Yassin to swoop in and claim the throne.

Odds and sods

Here are a number of other things we’ve compiled from yesterday:

  • There were 11 new Covid-19 cases reported yesterday, eight of which were imported and the other three “sporadic” local infections, meaning they are not linked, as yet, to any cluster. There were also eight recoveries, so the number of active cases has climbed slightly to 172
     
  • The good news is the whole of Sarawak has been declared a green zone as there have been no new local cases for the past 14 days. 
     
  • The number of Covidiots in Malaysia, however, has increased by two after a couple were nabbed after having removed their pink wristbands, which denote that they are from a TEMCO area in Perlis, to go shopping. 
     
  • DAP believes unemployment data in the country shows that the blanket loan moratorium should be extended. OK bros, perhaps you guys should read our special newsletter on the moratorium. Basically, if you can afford to, you should continue servicing the loan as the moratorium doesn’t cover interests. So, the targeted approach which the government announced is probably a good idea. 
     
  • It’s been more than two weeks since Jibby Razak was found guilty of charges in his SRC International graft trial and the former PM is thankful that there has not been a “Najib cluster” from the rally to support him that had held outside the court complex. Right. Maybe you should have told your supporters beforehand not to gather. Just saying. 
     
  • In what must surely be a blow to the prosecution in Jibby’s trial where he is accused of using his position to order amendments to 1MDB audit reports to be presented to the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, former Audtor General Ambrin Buang testified that he was never ordered by the then PM and Finance Minister to choose between conflicting financial statements, nor change anything in the original report. 
     
  • Speaker Azhar “Art” Harun denies allegations that he sides with Perikatan in Dewan Rakyat proceedings, but is merely doing his job. 
     
  • No summons will be issued to motorists with children sitting in their vehicles without a child restraint system, more commonly known as child seats, until the end of the year. 
     
  • While some idiots on social media are calling for a ban on alcohol, there’s a little bit of boozy good news. Malaysian whisky Timah has won a silver medal at the annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. There was some debate within the BTL team as to whether or not this competition is legit since it seems most entrants win some sort of medal. So we decided the only way to assess the quality Timah is to buy some and try it ourselves. 😜

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

- William Makepeace Thackeray -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • As the world reacted to Russia’s claims of having come up with the first Covid-19 vaccine, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered to be a guinea pig
     
  • UK economic output shrank by 20.4% in Q2 of 2020 thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, pushing the country into the deepest recession of any major global economy. 
     
  • Joe Biden formally announced Kamala Harris as his pick for VP in the duo’s first campaign event together in Delaware, even as countries rushed to celebrate he former’s choice of the latter as running mate. 
     
  • Singer and actor Trini Lopez, known for hit songs “Lemon Tree” and “If I had a hammer’ in the 1960s as well as a role in classic war movie The Dirty Dozenpassed away on Tuesday of complications from Covid-19. 

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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