There’s bad news for citizens of India, Indonesia and the Philippines. They won’t be allowed to enter Malaysia because of the prevalence of Covid-19 in their respective countries. And yes, that includes the non-citizen spouses of Malaysians.

In other news, PM Muhyiddin Yassin must be having a splitting headache cos Kedah, the state his party holds, will likely not be dissolving its legislative assembly if Parliament is dissolved in the near future.

We’ve also had a third Covid-19 death in four days; PAS is continuing to behave like a donkey with a brain injury; and, M. Indira Gandhi will finally get to meet our nation’s top cop over the daughter who has been missing for 11 years.

Stay away

No entry!

Less than two months ago, the government decided to let non-citizen spouses and children of Malaysians enter the country. It was cause for celebration for Malaysians who wanted to balik tanahair with their spouses but had been prevented from doing so during the movement control order (MCO) in all its editions. 
 
From Monday, however, that will not be the case for long-term pass holders from India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The new ruling applies to permanent residents, Malaysia My Second Home pass holders, expatriates, spouses and students. 
 
This, says senior minister (security cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, is ostensibly because of the large number of Covid-19 cases in the three countries, though our former colourful baju minister merely says the Health Ministry has advised that the move be taken to contain the infections here. And, the gomen is looking at other countries as well, so the list may just grow longer.
 
Izzy says Malaysians from these three countries will still be allowed to return as this is their constitutional right. They would, however, have to follow all the standard operating procedures in place, such as, of course, being quarantined for 14 days.
 
Here’s the thing, though. Why not allow non-citizen spouses to return as well? We can understand barring others, but why spouses? They can go through quarantine as well, together with their Malaysian spouses.
 
Here’s another thing. What about the US? Trump Land is the nation with the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the world, and that’s really saying something considering India is the world’s second-most populous country. So, how did we come up with a move to bar people from India, Indonesia and the Philippines without thinking about the US? Are we afraid of riling a world superpower? 
 
Let’s be clear. Our government has been doing a bang-up job of keeping our numbers down. And we’re hugely grateful for it all. But there are some measures that seem to be taken without much thought being given. This is one of them.
 
Anyway, our man Izzy also said two other things of note. The first was merely a statement that the targeted enhanced MCO, or TEMCO, in Aman Jaya, Kedah, would go on till Sept 10. But the second was a real can’t-wrap-our-heads-around-the-stupidity-of-some-people kinda thing. 
 
You see, there were a record number of people arrested for flouting recovery MCO (RMCO) regulations on Monday – 778 to be exact. The vast majority were nightclub and pub patrons. 
 
OK peeps. We understand guys (and girls) just wanna have fun and blow off steam. Hell, we’d love to do that, too. But why, after all this time keeping safe, would you do this now when our Covid-19 increases are still not consistently in the single digits and there is a resurgence in numbers worldwide?
 
As PM Muhyiddin Yassin noted, bars and pubs are among the few businesses still not allowed to open. And for a reason. It’s difficult to enforce physical distancing and other Covid-19 SOPs in these places, the gomen has said before, though we are perplexed as to why that is considering karaoke joints have been allowed to resume operations. 
 
Anyhoo, another Covid-19 death has occurred, the third in four days, bringing the fatality rate to 128. There were also 14 new cases, of which nine were local transmissions. Seven of these were part of a new cluster, that of detainees at the police lock-up in Lahad Datu, Sabah. However, there were 21 recoveries yesterday, meaning the number of active cases has now dropped to 151. 
 
The total number of cases in Malaysia now stands at 9,354, which is relatively low. But the rest of the world is still suffering, and that elusive Covid-19 vaccine can’t come soon enough.

Pharma company AstraZeneca has now become the third company to have its potential vaccine go into Phase Three testing. That’s good news for Malaysia, considering we are participating in Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is funding, among others, the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford University search for a vaccine. 

Signs ain't good for Bersatu

It sure isn’t looking good for Perikatan Nasional.
 
The Kedah government, according to head honcho Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, may not dissolve the state legislative assembly if the 15th general election is held in the near future. This, he says, is because the Bersatu-led state government has strong backing right now, so they don’t need to go for a state election. 
 
Now, a number of states have said they won’t dissolve their respective assemblies should Parliament be dissolved and GE15 be called. The Pakatan Harapan presidential council, in fact, says the three states it controls – Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan – won’t be doing so
 
Of course, as we all know, the Sabah assembly has been dissolved, but this is for a totally different reason. So, Sanusi’s statement is of real significance as this is the first Perikatan-controlled state to buck the trend of not dissolving its assembly when Parliament is dissolved.
 
Under law, state elections are held independently of parliamentary elections, meaning that when Parliament is dissolved, there is nothing saying state elections have to be held. The general practice over the past few elections, however, are for state elections to be held simultaneously with parliamentary elections to save resources.
 
The exception has been Sarawak, which last held state elections in 2016 and are due for another next year. Should elections be called anytime soon, however, the Sarawak government has indicated that it, too, will dissolve its assembly and conduct the state election simultaneously with GE15. 
 
Kedah’s refusal to dissolve its assembly puts PM Muhyiddin and his band of merry Bersatu-ans in a bit of a bind. With Umno seemingly trying to consolidate its position (Umno and BN still refuse to formally join Perikatan, after all), Moo can’t afford to wait too long before calling for GE15.
 
This is exacerbated by the rumblings in Johor, where Bersatu member and former MB Osman Sapian seems to be doing all he can to be sacked from Muhyiddin’s party. Osman openly supported former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s yet-to-be-officially-registered new party, Pejuang, at the Slim by-election in Perak. Though Osman says he did nothing wrong as the Pejuang-backed candidate was actually an “independent” candidate and Bersatu is still not officially part of the Muafakat Nasional pact, formal complaints have been lodged against him. Fat lot of good those complaints will be though, if rumours of him to be on the verge of a frogging exercise are to be believed.
 
Any defection from Perikatan will see a hung assembly, so all likelihood is that the state assembly will be dissolved for snap polls. And former PM/Umno president/BN chairman and current king Internet troll Najib Razak says Parliament might as well be dissolved as well. And, he says, there is the opportunity for the elections to be held simultaneously with the Sabah elections. 
 
That would be a bit of a problem for Perikatan, though, as they are nowhere near being ready as far as seat allocations are concerned. The Sabah elections are slated for Sept 26, which is just over three weeks away and the main Perikatan players of Bersatu, PAS and Umno/BN have only just formed a committee to discuss seat allocation. 
 
BN maintains it will contest all the seats it won during GE14, including the ones where its incumbents eventually did a katak and defected to Bersatu, plus the ones where it came in second. That doesn’t leave much for Bersatu, though there are various permutations at work here. This article will give you a better idea of what this means for Bersatu. 
 
Muhyiddin, though, may find an ally in PAS in its struggles against Umno’s apparent attempt at domination. The Moo says PAS prez Abdul Hadi Awang was the first to back him as PM, so he may be hoping the Marang MP will play intermediary when seat negotiations are conducted. PAS no doubt would prefer a Moo government than an Umno one and a strong Bersatu instead of an invincible Umno, considering how richly they’ve been rewarded with ministerships, special envoy roles and god knows what else since Moo’s ascent to power. 

All in all, though, it’s hugely unlikely that GE15 will be conducted simultaneously with the Sabah elections, so don’t hold your breath. But we also don’t see that Muhyiddin has any choice but to call for early polls, considering the super anorexic majority Perikatan has in the Dewan Rakyat and erstwhile ally Umno/BN trying to consolidate power. 
 
It may happen this year. It may not. But it will likely happen soon. 

End in sight for tormented mum?

Remember M. Indira Gandhi, the woman whose ex-husband ran off with their youngest child, then not even a year old, never to be heard from again?
 
Eleven years on and there’s still no happy reunion for the mother of three and she threatened to go on a hunger strike if there was no word of her daughter Prasana Diksa by Aug 31. Well, it wasn’t a happy Merdeka Day for her, but yesterday we learned that IGP Hamid Bador has agreed to meet her tomorrow to give what is hopefully a complete briefing of the details of the investigation so far. As such, Indira has called off her planned hunger strike, at least for now. 
 
Indira had, last month, threatened the hunger strike after Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin told the Dewan Rakyat that her ex-hubby, Muhammad Riduan (or Ridhuan, depending on what report you’re reading) Abdullah was believed to be overseas and constantly relocating to avoid being arrested. 
 
As we said, it’s been a long, long wait for a reunion for the poor woman, so for those of you in need of a little reminding about the case, here’s the TL:DR version of her sad and frustrating saga. In 2009, Indira’s ex, K. Pathmanathan, converted to Islam. Shortly after, he ran off with Prasana (who turned 12 earlier this year).
 
Indira was granted custody of all three of their children in 2014, and the Ipoh High Court ordered police to find and retrieve Prasana to be returned to Indira. Two years later, the Federal Court ordered the arrest of Riduan for not returning Prasana to Indira. In 2018, the apex court then found Riduan’s unilateral conversion of the three children illegal
 
Hamid had, earlier this year, said he knew where Riduan was and had urged him to return Prasana and turn himself in. What’s really frustrating for us is that if he knew where the man was, why did our coppers not act? Yes, we understand international jurisdiction would require assistance from the authorities of the country he would have been in at the time. But seriously, why wasn’t this done?
 
The order for the cops to find and return Prasana was made in 2014. The order to arrest Riduan was handed down in 2016. In 2018, then IGP Fuzi Harun had said Riduan was still in the country. So, what the hell happened? 
 
Now, if this is frustrating for us, just how much more frustrating is it all for Indira? How much anguish can one woman suffer?

PAS needs to get its head out of its ass

There’s something seriously wrong with PAS these days – well more wrong than usual at least. 

The theocratic party which has gone from strength to strength since the change of government has recently been embroiled in two really silly controversies – both of which are entirely their fault, and both of which could be solved with two simple words: “We’re sorry”. 

But, what we’re seeing instead are these dummies doubling and tripling down on their course of action. Is it sheer stupidity? Hubris? Arrogance? Who knows. 

The first and bigger issue is that of Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali, who as most Malaysians know by now, broke quarantine after returning from Turkey recently. Khai, who’d gone there on a government trip, purportedly with his family while the rest of Malaysia was in lockdown, didn’t bother to observe the mandatory two-week quarantine and instead gallivanted all over the place. 

In fairness, PAS weren’t the only ones to defend Khairuddin. Umno’s Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim made the ludicrous statement that Khai brought back over RM80 billion in investments from the trip

But it’s PAS’ defence of this Covidiot that crosses the line into farce. From trying to pin the blame on the Health and Foreign ministries, to comparing this clown Khai to the “heroic” hoopoe, or hudhud, bird from the Quran, the party isn’t covering itself in glory in this affair. 

But what takes the cake is the doublespeak from PAS president Hadi that would make Orwell himself proud. Hadi sidestepped the question about whether any action would be taken against Khai by saying the party would “fire” those who committed “moral transgressions” but would leave any wrongdoings to the law. Way to be vague, Tuan Haji. 

The second issue is that of PAS MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh’s insensitive remarks about the Bible recently. Our friend in Parliament recently said all religions forbade the consumption of alcohol, and when he was corrected, Nikky doubled down, saying the Bible had been distorted and, worse still, that Christians had “no right to be offended“.

Ad the days have gone by, more and more people have come out to slam Nik Zawawi. PKR president Anwar Ibrahim said religious bigotry must not be tolerated, Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Jeffrey Kitingan has demanded an apology, while interfaith group Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism says he had crossed the line into bigotry. 

Even fellow Perikatan Nasional member, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, are cautiously disagreeing with their bedmate. GPS man Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar says while the Sarawak coalition doesn’t share Nik Zawawi’s views, nor that of other parties within Perikatan, what the PAS man said was his personal opinion.

But despite all this, PAS is still standing by their man that what he said was accurate. PAS Youth chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin has proposed an intellectual discourse between those dissatisfied with Nik Zawawi’s statement and the PAS MP. 

Having an ‘intellectual discourse’ with these guys would be unfair because they don’t seem to have enough of an intellect to begin with. In any case, let’s imagine the shoe is on the other foot. Had somebody mentioned something offensive about Islam – regardless of how true – do you think PAS would invite them for an “intellectual discourse”? Or would they be baying for blood, claiming sedition and organising protests after Friday prayers?

At the end of the day, both of these issues boil down to the same thing – an election is round the corner and PAS does not want to look weak in front of its constituents and voter base. And with that in mind, they will defend their actions – however wrong those actions may be – till they’re blue in the face. 

Flotsam and jetsam

As usual, there were loads of other things which came out yesterday. In the interests of keeping things as short as possible, we’ve compiled briefs of the more important or interesting of the stories:

  • DAP sec-gen Lim Guan Eng has questioned why the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has not taken action against Deputy Defence Minister Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz for writing to the Armed Forces Fund Board recommending that his son be made a director the country’s largest pharma company, Pharmaniaga, which the board owns directly and through subsidiary Boustead Holdings. He’s got a valid point there. Come on, MACC. 
     
  • While lauding the gomen’s plans to hike Social Welfare Department’s monthly aid by RM1,000, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress says assistance should be extended to all B40 wage earners and social security pensioners. Meanwhile, PM Muhyiddin says the government is willing to implement even more economic stimulus initiatives if the need arises. 
     
  • Four senators are set to vie for the Dewan Negara president’s post, a blow to Bersatu’s political veteran Rais Yatim, who was considered a shoo-in for the post previously. Forgive us if we don’t weep tears of blood for the old buzzard.
     
  • The inquest into the death Nora Anne Quoirin, a Franco-Irish teen with learning disabilities who went missing from a jungle resort near Seremban while holidaying with family last year, was told there was no trace of foreign DNA on her body. However, chemist Nor Aidora Saidon said the hot and humid weather and the fact the girl’s body was found partially submerged in a stream could have affected the findings. 
     
  • Klang Valley Double Track Project contractor Dhaya Maju LTAT insists its appointment was lawful and has questioned the government’s move to open the tender for the project. The project was listed recently as one of 101 which had been purportedly “awarded” by the Pakatan government during its 22-month tenure. 

“We are defined not by our borders, but by our bonds.”

- Barack Obama -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US President Donald Trump has visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, the site of civil unrest following the shooting of a black man by a white police officer, but instead of urging racial healing, he went to back law enforcement
     
  • China has mounted military exercises in the Bohai and Yellow seas in what is seen as another show of force to the US and Taiwan. Meanwhile, tensions are also rising between the East Asian giant and India, with Beijing claiming Indian troops have been trespassing into Chinese territory
     
  • Porn star Ron Jeremy, one of the biggest names in the adult film industry, has been charged with 20 more counts of rape and sexual assault, including against a 15-year-old girl. He had been charged in June with the rape of three women and the assault of a fourth. The latest charges bring the number of victims to 17. 
     
  • Facebook says it can block or remove any content that poses a regulatory or legal risk to the company even if the content isn’t illegal. It’s perfectly understandable that Facebook wouldn’t want to stick its neck out for some random jerk shooting his or her mouth off on the site. But just, you know, don’t then go out and pretend to be guardians and champions of free speech, eh?
     
  • Superstar singer Mariah Carey has joined the growing list of people who have criticised Ellen Degeneres, saying she was forced into revealing her pregnancy on The Ellen Show in 2008. 

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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