It's Police Day, and we should be celebrating our women and men in blue. But public trust in the force, already eroding, takes further beating thanks to recent claims and events.

Also in today's newsletter, Myanmar nationals set for deportation get room to breathe; our Covid-19 immunisation plan rolls on despite hesitancy over one particular vaccine; and poor widdle PAS will have to hold its horses as there's a snag in their gerrymandering plans.

Bukit Aman blues

In Hamid we trust?

Today marks the 214th anniversary of the Royal Malaysia Police, a.k.a PDRM. 

Let’s go back in history for a bit. Back in 1807, during pre-Merdeka days, the force comprised mostly British officers based in separate enforcement orgs in various states. They eventually became one centralised unit – the Civil Action Force – after the Japanese occupation following WWII. 

It got the “Royal” prefix from the then King to become the Royal Federation Of Malayan Police in 1958 (the year our current IGP was born); became the Royal Malaysian Police after merging with the North Borneo Armed Constabulary and Sarawak Constabulary in 1963; and got its first Malay IGP in 1966. 

In all, 12 police chiefs have since served the force, the latest, of course, being outgoing IGP Abdul Hamid Bador. Sadly, despite the top dog’s promise of eradicating corruption in the force, you know, back in 2019, when he first got that shiny new police chief badge, public trust in PDRM remains a problem, as this piece points out. 

As detailed in our previous edition of BTL, Hammy’s been doing quite a bit to clean up the force of its dirty cop image, with errant officers being picked up for graftdrug activities and people smuggling, among others. 

Hamid, himself, has repeatedly warned officers against taking money as handouts and will embark on a major reshuffle of senior police positions next month (officially to give other officers a chance). More recently, police have said they’re completing the probe on their own officers suspected of releasing Macau scam suspects, while the probe on 31 other officers linked to the scam and online gambling activities are ongoing.

Yet, Ham can’t quite shake public distrust in the force. The situation isn’t helped by police blundering when it came to enforcing the Covid SOPs, issuing wrong fines, and failing to bring back wanted pirate Jho Low. This, and we haven’t even touched on the r̶e̶f̶u̶s̶a̶l̶ failure of five IGPs (?!?) to track down M. Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband and reunite her with the daughter he kidnapped.

And despite all this and accusations of selective investigations, Hamid yesterday denied the police are a tool for any political party. Is it any wonder though we’re sceptical? After all, the Hammer himself’s been the subject of news for openly and repeatedly declaring that corruption in the force goes all the way to the top ranks, and that a “cartel” of dirty cops want to influence the force and bring him down.

He’s insisted on keeping details under wraps though, so far refusing pressure to lodge a police report, reveal the blighters’ names, or for a transparent Royal Commission of Inquiry. These do not confidence make Mr IGP.

 

Well, he isn’t being let off that easy, Police Day or no. Puchong MP Gobind Deo has called on the MACC to investigate the matter. Hear, hear! The graft-busters should step in, whether or not they’ll ruffle feathers. 

Safe-ish for now

It would seem the voices of reason have finally won, for now at least.

Malaysia’s apparently decided to shelve any planned deportations to Myanmar for the time being.

According to this report quoting sources, this is being put off till after a proposed Asean summit on that country’s ongoing crisis. In case you’re blur, Myanmar has been rocked by a bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protests since the junta initiated a coup back on Feb 1.

Malaysia didn’t help any when it incomprehensibly deported over deported more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals back to the crisis-hit country, despite an interim court stay order! Worse, rights groups have claimed this included asylum-seeking children and refugees.

You can read our previous commentary on the matter here.

Towards the end of last month, our courts have allowed a challenge from two NGOs against the deportation to be heard and extended the temporary stay, but only to March 9!

So, for now, poor Myanmar folks being detained here can breathe a little sigh of relief, if only for a little while.

Speaking of courts, several related stories came up yesterday, and here they are in brief:

  • Despite the Federal Court declaring a Selangor syariah law criminalising “unnatural sex” invalid, the man who brought the case to the apex court is still facing syariah charges of attempted unnatural sex in the state.
     
  • The apex court has ruled that hoteliers can’t use 10% service charge to meet minimum wage requirements.

    In the landmark decision, the court ruled that monies collected from service charge do not belong to the hotels, instead, with eligible employees. As such, the hotels must pay employees the charges on top of their salaries.
     
  • Former glorious leader Najib Razak has filed a motion seeking to compel the gomen to disclose certain banking documents that he claims has links to 1MDB, including for companies linked to former Bank Negara guv’nor Zeti Akhtar Aziz. 
     
  • A lawyer has lodged a police report against an assemblyman and former Umno leader Lokman “Lobakman” Adam over allegations they made that he had benefitted from 1MDB’s RM16.63 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs. 

Keep calm and vaccine on

The Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine received a lot of bad press lately, but Malaysia’s Health Ministry has given its assurances that the vaccine, when it arrives here, is safe for use

Health Minister Adham Baba has said the data from clinical trials show no adverse side effects. This, after he claimed manufacturers of the drug met with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to explain recent concerns in Europe, where some countries stopped (but have since resumed) using the vaccine.

While some of us may have trouble trusting our “warm water” minister, it’s the NPRA that decides which vaccines are safe for use. Besides, both the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization (you can read more here) have given it the good ol’ Ngan Yin thumbs up

Meanwhile, national vaccine imperator Khairy Jamaluddin has said Malaysia and Singapore’s digital vaccination certs will be secured by blockchain technology that’ll come with a traceability feature denoting which specific batch of vaccine vial was used.

Sounds great, but what exactly does this mean in plain English? Tl;dr, this’ll allow authorities in both countries to check the certs’ authenticity and will be crucial when taking into account standards set by the WHO, International Air Transport Association and other countries. You know, for when international borders reopen. Eventually. Hopefully. 

Anyways, here are some other Covid-related stuff from yesterday:

  • We recorded 1,268 new Covid cases yesterday, along with 2 deaths, bringing the totals case count to date to 336,808 and the death toll to 1,246. Sadly, active cases went up slightly to 14,637
     
  • DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has reiterated his call for PM Muhyiddin Yassin to reconvene Parliament, promising not to try to oust him if he does. Awww… will Moomoo go back to the big house now that the mean ol’ opposition have promised not to pick on him? 
     
  • Guess who’s back? Deputy FT Minister Edmund Santhara has returned from his “holiday” in New Zealand. He’s found himself embroiled in another controversy, though, as two PKR MPs are asking why he’s so special he’s allowed to isolate at home when everyone else has to stay at quarantine centres. Yeah!
     
  • The Social Security Organisation (Socso) has channelled over RM366 million to 107,000 people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic last year. 

Of divisive moves and other stories

DAP head honcho Lim Guan Eng has whacked PAS for wanting to win a two-thirds majority in Parliament just so they can redraw electoral lines to favour Malay-Muslims. 

Nobita’s said such gerrymandering is divisive and irresponsible and will discriminate against, and deprive and deny the rights of non-Malays and non-Muslims. We couldn’t agree more.

We mentioned yesterday that PAS wouldn’t need a two-thirds majority in Parliament to approve a redelineation exercise. We should explain this is only IF it intends to stick with the original eight-year redelineation schedule of 2026 in Peninsula Malaysia, 2023 in Sarawak and 2025 in Sabah.

The last time boundaries were redrawn was in 2018 and anything earlier, or if PAS intends to add more MP seats, would require a change in the Constitution, which would require a minimum two-thirds vote in the Dewan Rakyat. 

PAS aside, here are some other stuff that we picked up from yesterday:

  • A PKR veep has said cooperation with Umno could take on many forms, including merely being an electoral pact. But, Umno prez Zahid Hamidi has shot down any speculation about cooperation with PKR. 
     
  • Kelantan Umno has severed ties with Bersatu and given an ultimatum to PAS to choose between the two parties. Err… jumping the gun there, fellas?
     
  • Mukhriz Mahathir has defended daddy-o Dr Mahathir Mohamad after PKR blamed the old man for ongoing defections from the party. That was met by another volley from the PKR info chief, who blamed Pakatan’s fall from power on Maddey. 
     
  • Gerakan is eyeing winning Penang back from DAP with the help of Perikatan in GE15. Okayyy … good luck. 
     
  • With the brouhaha still raging over the court decision to allow the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, Sabah CM Hajiji Noor has said a moderate brand of Islam must be practised to maintain harmony in multicultural, multireligious and multiracial Malaysia. Well said! 
     
  • Brace for water disruptions! Air Selangor will conduct replacement and maintenance work in several areas, which means supply cuts in several Klang Valley areas over the next few months. Bugger.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity."

- Dalai Lama -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Covid cases in the US have topped 30 million. Global cases stood at over 124.5 million, while the death toll’s exceeded 2.7 million worldwide.
     
  • The UK and the EU are working to improve relationships following weeks of tension over Covid vaccine supplies, just hours after the European Commission proposed tougher export controls for vaccines.
     
  • Meanwhile, India has reportedly barred Astrazeneca vaccine exports to meet rising cases there. The move, however, will hit the Covax global vaccine sharing programme.
     
  • In non-Covid news, the US and the EU have decided to restart dialogue on China and address Russia’s “challenging behaviour”. 
     
  • Facebook’s security team says Chinese hackers targeted Uyghur activists in the US in an attempt to spy on them. 
     
  • Myanmar has freed hundreds of pro-democracy protestors and a journalist even as businesses in Yangon are closed and the streets deserted due to a strike called by anti-coup leaders. 
     
  • German Catholic clergy have broken ranks with the Vatican over the latter’s ruling against same-sex unions, saying it’s discriminatory. 

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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