These old men
Same old song and dance
Ex-PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his successor Muhyiddin Yassin have been going at it hammer and tongs since the latter’s coup in late February. Last week, if you recall, the old man finally got kicked out of Bersatu, the party he’d set up with Muhyiddin way back in 2016.
The good doc, however, has steadfastly refused to go quietly into the night. And on Friday, a day after getting the boot, Mads occupied Bersatu headquarters, daring Moo and his supporters to eject him physically. That never happened, of course. But what was made very clear by Muhyiddin in his statement the next day is that the two are never ever, ever, ever getting back together.
Now, ostensibly, based on all of this, it would seem like the big fight is between Moo and Mads, right? But is it? Or is the main event still Mahathir vs. Anwar?
Twenty nine months on from GE14 , with Pakatan having both won an election AND been chased out of Putrajaya, still no one’s sure whether the coalition’s top dog is ex-PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad or never-PM Anwar Ibrahim.
For all intents and purposes, Anwar is now Pakatan chairman. So in theory, he’s the big kahuna. But can the Man Who So Desperately Would Be King truly claim to lead with Mahathir hovering close by?
But more importantly, why does it matter, since all these guys are no longer running the show? Well, here’s why.
According to the rumour mill, Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional, which only had a two-vote majority on May 18, has now lost even that. Question is, if this is true, and Members of Parliament who were previously aligned to the current PM have indeed switched their allegiances, would they want Mahathir or Anwar to lead them?
Former Flying Car Minister and current Minister in the PM’s Department Redzuan Yusof claims he’s still very much for Moo. Ditto
Doraemon Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun. But if they or other Bersatu MPs decide to no longer back Moo, it’s almost certain they won’t want Anwar leading them.
If you remember, Amanah’s Khalid Samad had claimed last week that Pakatan had already settled on its PM candidate but he wasn’t ready to spill the beans yet. Now, it appears the reason why no name was mentioned is ’cos Pakatan members themselves aren’t sure whether their leader should be Mahathir or Anwar.
And there’s another problem too: the coalition’s strategic partners from East Malaysia.
Pakatan can only dream of wresting power from Moo and co. if it has the support of Sabah and Sarawak MPs. But Shafie Apdal’s Parti Warisan Sabah was clear from even before the Sheraton Move that it supports Maddey for PM. Also, there’s the small matter of Parti Sarawak Bersatu, which now includes former PKR man and Anwar opponent Baru Bian.
And that’s why, months after all that shit about power transitions, we could see yet another one being drawn up between Maddey and Anwar!
Yes, folks. On Sunday, after months of apparently backing Anwar for PM, PKR’s central leadership council said it’s committed to any “power transition” plans by Pakatan Harapan. Now, of course, the party stopped short of detailing what said plans were exactly, but you probably wouldn’t be wrong in assuming it’ll be designed to win the support of potential crossovers. Which means we could be treated to the Mahathir-Anwar show once again.
The big, big question though, regardless of any potential negotiations, is are these two jokers really the right men to lead us?
Yes, Pakatan decimated Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional in the 14th General Election with Mads in the driving seat. However, are we to forget what happened earlier this year, which was effectively brought about by the old man’s constant reneging of the original power transition deal? He’s said, of course, that he was always committed to honour the pact between him and Anwar, but the fact the handing over of power went from soon to two years and then to after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit tells a quite different story.
As for Anwar, meanwhile, his one-time protégé and now rival Azmin Ali isn’t wrong, his old boss always wanted to be PM! And that – though he claims to have recently turned down advances from Moo and Umno with regard to this – has perhaps taken him way off the original Reformasi course and blinded him to what the rakyat actually needs.
Sadly, you know who might have been the most viable alternatives in place of Mads and Anwar as Pakatan’s leaders? Muhyiddin and Azmin. But well, we know what happened there …
Look Ma, it's a recession!
Covid-19’s hit the world economies hard. In fact, the World Economic Forum recently said forecasts suggest that by the end of the year, as many as 665 million people will be living below the poverty line.
The fallout from the pandemic is already being felt here in Malaysia, of course, with businesses folding and loads of people losing their jobs. However, as bad as it’s been, the signs point to it getting even worse, with a recession on the cards. At least that’s what the Department of Statistics says.
Now, there’re a number of reasons why we’re getting whacked pretty bad. But one of the main ones, it seems, is the Malaysian economy is heavily reliant on commodities-based industries, and those industries have taken a huge hit on account of the restricted movement control rules, one. And two, a global lack of demand.
Yes, we’ve resumed exporting crude palm oil to India and that should yield some positives. Unfortunately, by and large, thanks to global lockdowns and general downturns everywhere, there hasn’t been too much demand for commodities like tin, steel, timber, rubber and yes, palm oil. In fact, experts predict that interest in our commodities will remain low for the next three to six months. And that’s despite the rubber glove industry booming.
So what’s the best way forward? Well, according to chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin, it’s time for dynamic measures, diversification, new ways of doing business, and for industries and business to embrace technological advances.
Thing is, even though DOSM, like the WEF and United Nations, are championing digitalisation, you’ve gotta wonder from a lay, imminently-jobless worker’s perspective how jumping on the digital bandwagon is gonna help them put food on the table. Especially, you know, since sometimes, it could mean losing your job to artificial intelligence.
Anyways, despite the doom and gloom, at least one person thinks next year could see Malaysia in better economic health and that is Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz. Why? Because the government’s re-opening of the economy in the middle of last month and its commitment to a see through an economic recovery plan. Question is though, how do we dream of a better tomorrow with two million Malaysians out of work? Also, can we really hope to rebound without a Covid-19 vaccine in sight?
Incidentally, digitalisation and government-recovery plans aside, one economist has proposed an even better solution to our economic woes – reducing income tax rates for rich people!
Carmelo Ferlito, a senior fellow of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, says with more money in their hands, rich bugs will end up spending and consuming more, and that, ladies and gents, will help the poor hold on to their jobs. Now, it’s true, we three fellas were never very good with numbers and stuff at school, but does this suggestion really make sense when you keep hearing about the filthy rich weaselling their way out of paying their dues? And don’t even get us started on the wealthy jackasses who’re being allowed to hold on to cash they (allegedly?) pilfered from the country.
Ninth day with zero deaths
There’s not been a lot to cheer about of late. However, we should really be grateful that despite the daily number of infections yo-yoing a bit in over the last few days – it was 103 on Friday, then 30 on Saturday, and 57 on Sunday – we’ve had no deaths recorded for nine days now! Also, while Malaysia has now recorded 7,819 cases of infection, 6,353 patients have managed to beat the disease. That’s a recovery rate of 81.3%!
Still, even though we may appear to be in recovery mode (infection-wise, at least), Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says it’s still too early to decide on the government cancelling the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) which is due to end on June 9. But if Malaysians keep complying with the rules and the daily increases are manageable, he promises we could see more sectors – among them, sports and education – being opened up.
Regrettably, despite all the good news, new clusters of infection keep being discovered. However, most of them – like the one involving a cleaning services company and the three detected in Pahang – appear to involve foreign workers. Which is why, Noor Hisham says, there’s an urgent need to educate them on sanitisation, hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing.
And no, forcing all six to seven million foreign workers in the country to stop working until they’re screened won’t do because firstly, not only can’t our labs cope with such a load, screening won’t guarantee zero exposure to the virus. As such, just like with regular citizens, a targeted screening approach is being recommended.
Anyhow, here, in brief, are the other itty-bitty yet important and interesting coronavirus news pieces from the past three days:
- There’s still a helluva lot we don’t know about Covid-19. However, it seems that if you’ve contracted the disease but never displayed symptoms, you aren’t likely to infect others. And that, the Health Ministry says, is ’cos of the low “virus load” asymptomatic patients have.
- Around 17% of Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia have been made of smokers. Now, if that isn’t reason enough to dump that 20-pack in the trash, we don’t know what is.
- Married couples who’ve been forced to live apart on account of the lockdown will be allowed to travel interstate to get some TLC from today. Prior permission from the cops is still required, though.
- According to Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, raids on undocumented migrants were only sanctioned after they failed to step forward voluntarily to be tested. Err okay, YB. But how come we’re only now being given this
- About 1,800 people who were allowed to travel to Kelantan for Hari Raya Aidilfitri have tested negative for Covid-19. Yay, we guess, but just who are these people for whom the CMCO rules were bent?!?!
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
- Unknown -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Protests have erupted in more than 30 cities across the United States over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who was killed at the hands of police. However, instead of calling for calm, President Donald Trump has continued to stoke tensions.
- Meanwhile, in coronavirus-related news, The Donald has continued his war against the World Health Organization, vowing to terminate the US’ relationship with the organisation for apparently not taking China to task over the pandemic.
- Incidentally, El Presidente has also postponed the G7 summit, originally set for June, to September. Well, possibly. Trump says he ain’t too sure when the group will be able to meet, but he does know he wants more pals (read: Australia, Russia, South Korea and India) at the party.
- SpaceX and NASA have launched astronauts into orbit for the first time from US soil since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011. The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule also marks the first time in history a commercial aerospace company has sent humans to space.
- Artist Christo has died at 84. Christo was known for the monumental works of art he created with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, such as draping Berlin Reichstad and Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge in fabric.