It's almost a month since the Agong green-lit sittings during the emergency, but them Parliament doors remain closed. Both the opposition and t̶h̶e̶ ̶q̶u̶a̶s̶i̶ ̶o̶p̶p̶o̶s̶i̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ Umno wanna know why.

Elsewhere in today's newsletter, the gomen ramps up efforts to entice more Malaysians to register for Covid-19 vaccine; another tragedy hits the SUKE highway; and, are some graft cases are more equal than others?

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Closed for emergency, back in August

It’s been 70 days since our Agong announced the emergency and shuttered Parliament, almost a month (27 days) since His Majesty then greenlit Parliament to reconvene (and since our MPs started getting vaccinated against Covid-19), and 14 days since Parliament was supposed to begin sitting.

During this time, lockdowns have been imposed and lifted (sorta!), fines increased, a sweeping anti-fake news law created, as well as multi-billion ringgit stimulus packages announced and yet, no Parliament. 

But if anyone *cough Muhyiddin cough* thought time would heal all wounds, they’re sorely mistaken. If anything, opposition parties and Umno are amping up calls for MPs to be allowed back into Parliament’s hallowed halls.

The justifications for why the Dewan remains out-of-commission is piling up at the door. 

If you remember, there was that too-many-old-Covid-high-risk-MPs reason. Now de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan’s attempted to cover line by drawing comparisons to the 1969 emergency when Parli didn’t meet for two years. And as our lawmakers met only just last December to approve the budget, he said we’re good.

However, fellas like DAP’s Aziz Bari, a constitutional law expert, have called Taki out, noting that Parliament’s suspension was as ill-advised back in 1969 as it is now.

Aziz’s party boss, Lim Guan Eng, pointed out that unlike in the past, the Agong this time has made it quite clear Dewan could convene, so disregarding that could tantamount lèse-majesté (disobeying the monarch)

PS – Note, however, Malaysia doesn’t actually have any lèse-majesté laws.

PPS – Even though our Agong did say Parliament could convene, decision to do so must still be made at the PM’s advice. 

Why are MPs being kept out? Officially, it’s cos of the pandemic, yet some have pointed out that a sitting would allow for a no-confidence vote against Moo. However, you’ll recall Taki saying that those claiming the PM sought the emergency after losing majority MP support (allegedly! allegedly!) would run afoul of the new anti-fake news ordinance.

In any case, Pakatan Harapan head honcho Anwar Ibrahim’s calling le premier out. He noted that since Moo-Moo was so critical of the Myanmar military days ago, he might wanna look at parallels here and see how we’re the only country in Southeast Asia besides Myanmar’s that suspended Parliamentary sittings. Sick burn, bro 🔥 

At this rate, it looks like the August house is only gonna sit in, well, August. 

🎶 Darling, reach out, reach out for me 🎶

Phase 2 of the Covid vaccine rollout – for high-risk folks – is nearly upon us (the date’s yet to be set, but it’s set for April). However, low registration rate among us plebs has given the gomen cause for concern. 

As of March 1, only 6.1% of the targetted 80% (of our population) have registered to be inoculated. Remember, Covid vaccination is voluntary at this point. Still, we’d need to reach at least 70% to achieve the desired herd immunity. As such, the gomen’s ramping efforts to reach and register as many people as possible. 

Vaccines Tsar Khairy Jamaluddin has said measures to be taken include going house-to-house to help high-risk folks or those in rural communities and places like nursing homes manually register. Another is to phone up MySejahtera app users. Authorities are also already tracking down frontliners who’ve registered but failed/refused to turn up for their shots.

Why the hesitancy to sign up then? KJ’s said it likely due to many folks playing the ‘wait and see’ game to gauge how those already vaccinated are faring. As such, he’s confident the numbers will increase in time. We sure hope so! 

So, with all this effort to encourage sign-ups, it’s a real head-scratcher why the gomen’s also considering a deadline for registrations.

According to PM Muhyiddin, Malaysia can’t wait forever, so he may wanna set a cutoff date to make it easier for the immunisation committee to plan.

Erm, why can’t we wait forever? We have enough vaccines, after all. Why discourage those who may be hesitant at first but later change their minds? After all, isn’t herd immunity the ultimate endgame here? 

BT-Dubs, while you shouldn’t fear getting jabbed ’cos incidences of adverse reactions have been few and far between, the gomen’s assured it’s constantly monitoring the rollout. They’ll determine if precautionary notices should be issued in the case of certain treatments, like China’s Sinovac, where clinical data is patchy.

Anyways, here’re a few more Covid-related updates:

  • The downward trend of Covid numbers continues with just 1,116 new coronavirus infections and deaths recorded yesterday.
     
  • RM10 million is being set aside for peeps who suffer serious side effects from getting vaccinated. Those requiring long-term hospital treatment can get up to RM50k, while RM500k will be paid out in instances of permanent disability or death.
     
  • The halal status of the AstraZeneca vaccines will soon be announced. FYI, AZ has claimed no pork or animal products are used to produce its Covid treatment.
     
  • Still on AstraZeneca, a new large trial in Chile, Peru and the US indicates that the vaccine is safe for use. This after a scare in Europe when a small number of folks reported blood clots.
     
  • The Tourism Ministry’s said it’s ready with travel bubble SOPs should our borders be opened soon. Hmmm. Should we be considering this when we can’t even control the spread of Covid despite interstate borders being shut?

What's going on, bud?

Are all graft investigations involving politicians equal? Not according to Anwar Ibrahim. And the PKR big boss and opposition leader is calling on current Attorney-General Idrus Harun and former AG Tommy Thomas to explain why some cases get prosecuted while others get dropped.

Brother Anu’s claimed that according to MACC boss Azam Baki, the graft busters probe all cases the same way, but it’s then up to the AG’s Chambers to prosecute or not.

Calls for the AG and his men to clarify their stands on cases ain’t new, you’ll recall – from Guan Eng’s dropped bungalow case to not going after ex-Umno-turned-Bersatu peeps who’ve allegedly, allegedly received 1MDB cash. Yet, with claims now of purported bribes and threats being made to get politicians to switch allegiances, the issue’s again in the spotlight. 

FYI, Anwar’s query also comes after the MACC recently claimed prosecutors decided to close the case of a PKR rep alleging she was offered an RM10mil bribe to change species from human to katak.

In another issue of illicit funds, meanwhile, an insider’s revealed to Utusan Malaysia that a certain Umno supreme council member has been pocketing RM20,000 monthly to leak secrets. It’s unclear if info is being leaked to the gomen or opposition side, but the source claimed a national political figure is at the centre of the scandal! Jeng jeng jeng!

BTW, remember IGP Abdul Hamid Bador’s big claims of a cartel of coppers trying to undermine him? Firstly, and rather abruptly (and rather potong stim), our man is now saying the problem is under control and will be dealt with internally.

Secondly, the top cop added that there’s also a culture of cops, even high ranking and retired ones, asking for money and favours.

Why is Hammy bringing this all up now? Maybe it’s cos he’s got mere months to go till retirement in May? However, he’s maintained that none of this is a tactic to have his term as top cop extended.

Another highway calamity and other matters

Seriously, again? Tragedy’s once more hit the still-to-be-completed Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated (SUKE) Expressway. 

Three people have died while another seriously injured in the latest incident, in which a construction crane tipped over and crushed a car. This accident comes just three weeks after another one which saw two people killed after a trailer hit a part of the highway.

stop-work order has been issued, and the Works Ministry’s said new safety protocols would be evaluated before work is allowed to resume. But really, perhaps the powers that be should pay more attention to highway construction site SOPs. SUKE aside, this piece highlights how mishaps have been occurring for quite some time now.

Highway construction accidents aside, here’re a few more things that made the news yesterday:

  • Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka has promised to replace the word “Keling” with “India” in its definition of “Tambi”. DBP explained its online dictionary draws from Kamus Dewan, Kamus Dewan Perdana and Kamus Pelajar, and the offensive definition had originated from a 1987 edition of Kamus Pelajar. The clarification makes no sense though as “Keling” was as offensive in 1987 as it is now!
     
  • Malaysia’s national debt stands at RM879.6 billion or 62% of our GDP. This includes offshore and other borrowings, Money Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz’s said. FYI, the ceiling for what is considered a ‘healthy’ debt-to-GDP ratio is usually 60%. 
     
  • Some 3,000 Orang Asli in Gua Musang have signed a petition to stop the construction of a hydroelectric dam there. Critics said the project, which will submerge an area the size of more than 43,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, would not only severely affect the environment, but also the Orang Asli’s way of life.
     
  • Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri’s said the High Court erred in interpreting a 1986 cabinet decision on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. Haniff, who’s represented former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the past and who acted for two parties in the recent court case, said this argument will be put forward in the appeal. 
     
  • A post mortem revealed that departed Cradle Fund boss Nazrin Hassan was already dead before a fire broke out at his home, the High Court heard yesterday. Nazrin’s widow, Samirah Muzaffar, and two teenagers, as well as one Eka Wahyu Lestari are charged with his murder.
     
  • Mokhzani Mahathir will replace Raja Tan Sri Arshad Raja Tun Uda as the chairman of Maxis Bhd. Mokhzani, the second eldest son of Dr Maddey, is the founder of Kencana Petroleum Bhd and the ex-chairman of the Sepang International Circuit.

“The most dangerous shackles are the invisible ones, because they deceive people into believing they are free.”

- Nawal El Saadawi -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The EU has imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials for human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The sanctions marks the Union’s first against China since an arms embargo in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square massacre.
     
  • A massive fire has swept through the Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, the site of a Rohingya refugee camp. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced as a result of the blaze. The death toll is still unknown.
     
  • Nawal El Saadawi, the prominent Egyptian doctor, feminist and writer who gained international recognition for her uncompromising work, has died aged 89.
     
  • A top candidate in the Republic of Congo’s presidential election died from Covid on polling day. Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, a former minister, had hoped to oust President Denis Sassou Nguesso.
     
  • Donald Trump’s former intelligence director John Ratcliffe has said there’s been a tonne more “difficult to explain” UFO sightings than have been made public. And the sightings have been made all over the world, not just in the US it seems. The truth is out there!

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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