Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Azmin Ali to be DPM, according to Malaysiakini


The PM with his future deputy? Pic by Bernama

Bangsar, 24 Aug: This choker by Malaysiakini interrupted our lunch today:

Azmin poised to become DPM, according to Bersatu, Umno sources

Malaysiakini Team

Modified 1:14 pm

Gombak MP Azmin Ali is poised to become the country's next deputy prime minister, according to sources in Bersatu and Umno.

A Bersatu source, who is aligned to Azmin, told Malaysiakini there was a "strong likelihood" that the Gombak MP was going to become the deputy prime minister.

Three Umno sources, who are on the supreme council including two who are MP...

This is not the first time someone's betting on Azmin to be DPM. In April 2019, the former trusted aide of Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who later became Mahathir Mohamad's blue-eyed boy, was said to be in line for the No 2 job when Mahathir was PM7. Read the Malaysiakini report Azmin clueless about becoming DPM during Hari Raya celebration.  Well, we all know Azmin did not become DPM and that less than a year after that report, he helped mastermind the so-called Sheraton Move that swept aside Mahathir and led to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin becoming PM8. Azmin was made one of the four senior ministers under Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional government, with reports saying he even moved into the official DPM residence in Putrajaya (which was taken to strongly imply that he was the "chosen one"). In a twist of fate, though, Azmin was pipped by another senior minister, Ismail Sabri, to the DPM post. Ismail Sabri, with Azmin's support, is now PM9.  






Friday, August 20, 2021

Why Ismail Sabri may still be the shortest-lived PM in history

The 9th Prime Minister of Malaysia

Bangsar, 20 Aug: A top executive of the Parliament reminded me at lunch today that whoever the PM might be - Ismail Sabri or Anwar Ibrahim - he would have SIX MONTHS before he's got to dissolve Parliament and call for GE15. "Remember, that's the consensus," he said. 

Apparently, he was referring to the consensus alluded by Muhyiddin in a televised message just before he had to tender his resignation as PM (Malaysia PM seeks bipartisan support for vote on his leadership):

 "We have reached a consensus to consult with the leaders of parties outside (the ruling bloc) to approve the confidence motion," Muhyiddin said in a televised address.

"This will enable the current government to continue managing the pandemic until it is time for elections to be held."

The polls will be held by July 2022 depending on the state of the pandemic, he said.

Ismail Sabri is to be sworn in at Malaysia's 9th PM at 2.30pm tomorrow at Istana Negara. He will then need to seek a vote of confidence in Parliament to prove his legitimacy,

p.s. Muhyiddin was PM for 17 months, the shortest tenure for now

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Suddenly (but not surprisingly), it's 'semua BOLEH' as far as Muhyiddin the Caretaker PM is concerned

TTDI, 19 Aug: In a breathtaking U-turn, the caretaker government headed by just-ousted-PM Muhyiddin Yassin has given the OK to Malaysians and foreigners who live, hide, work or play in Phase 1 Covid-19 territories, such as Kuala Lumpur and Kelang, to dine-in and do other stuff they were barred from doing just days ago.


Dine-ins allowed for fully vaxxed in Phase 1 states from tomorrow

Some sports, night markets also get green light

Read the developing story HERE.

Ironically, the announcement came just after authorities had told us of another 225 deaths from the Covid-19 virus. Read Almost 23,000 cases today in new high

On August 8, when announcing his National Recovery Plan, the then-PM Muhyiddin had said dine-ins were allowed only in Phase 2 and 3 states. Which ruled out KL, Selangor, Kedah, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Melaka. Even for the other states, dining in restaurants and cafes must be regarded as "risky", he had contended, because "patrons are not able to wear masks while eating".

[If you ask me, I'm not clear if patrons in Phase 1 states are able to wear masks while eating. The CPM said the new relaxed ruling is effective at midnight tonight but I'm not sure if that means cafes and restaurants in Phase 1 states like Kuala Lumpur are now allowed to operate at midnight through to the wee hours of the morning.* (sarcasm)]

Muhyiddin resigned as PM on Aug 16 after weeks of stand-off with the Istana. 

But it looks like he is still very much the big boss. 

The sudden change in policy will be seen by some, of course, as an attempt to shore support for Muhyiddin's former deputy Ismail Sabri as the new PM.

Remember "Corruption on national television"?

Read also: Muhyiddin plays boss, says those facing criminal charges have no place in Cabinet if Ismail Sabri becomes PM 9

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

What's the worst case scenario post-Muhyiddin Yassin, you think?

Puchong, 18 Aug: I know - like, even - some of the former Ministers from Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's Cabinet.

Hishammuddin Hussein, for example, I consider an old friend, a motorcycling buddy with whom I've never ridden with. I've always liked Khairy Jamaluddin even if the feeling is not mutual: he's young and cocky but he was seen as working hard and trying to deliver the tasks given. I didn't like what Hamzah Zainuddin had become as Home Minister of the backdoor government but he had never not responded to my messages. Annuar Musa, if he had not breached the SOPs again and again, would have been my pick for Best Minister in the worst government we've ever had.

But if anyone of them were to be picked as Prime Minister to replace Muhyiddin, it would be same old, same old. Bad.

But it wouldn't be the worst case scenario.

The worst case scenario, in my mind, would be for Ismail Sabri, who was the outgoing Muhyiddin's last-minute choice to be his Deputy Prime Minister to 'buy' the support of Umno and save his own skin, is made our new PM. 

And for Azmin Ali to the new DPM. 

That would be totally unacceptable. 

And yet that's the deal the Umno 'Derhaka' (the title given affectionately by Najib Razak to the party's faction led by Ismail Sabri) is said to be making with Muhyiddin's Bersatu, it seems. 

If I were the King, I would want something better. This nation deserves better. The People have suffered enough. 

If it's Ismail Sabri -Azmin Ali, we might as well bring Muhyiddin back!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

From hero to zero: Not just about Muhyiddin but also the story of Malaysia under Muhyiddin

From hero to zero: Muhyiddin’s spectacular fall from grace

Read The Vibes' headlines this morning chronicling Muhyiddin Yassin's short-lived reign as Malaysia's eight Prime Minister:  After praise in 2015 for stance on 1MDB saga, Bersatu president languishing following 17-month PM stint

I'm not shedding a tear for Muhyiddin, though. Because the really sad news is this other hero-to-ZERO story of how the Malaysian economy has suffered due to the pandemic as well as the government's failure to handle it properly.

Hence, why picking the right PM comprising the right people in his/her Cabinet forming a new political landscape is crucial for our health as well as our wealth. 

Fitch slashes Malaysia growth to 0% for 2021

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 16): Fitch Solutions has revised Malaysia’s 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 0% from its earlier estimate of 4.9%. 

This comes as the second quarter 2021 (2Q21) GDP growth numbers were below its expectation, at 16.1% year-on-year (y-o-y) but a contraction of 2% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q). 

In a commentary today, the research unit of the Fitch Group noted that the daily Covid-19 cases in the country have not come down despite the nationwide lockdown. 

Fitch Solutions does not think Malaysia will achieve herd immunity before the end of 2021 despite the accelerating vaccine rollouts, thereby ruling out a potential economic surge at the later part of the year.

“All segments of the economy from an expenditure perspective except government consumption are likely to remain stagnant or even contract slightly from 2020 levels. 

“We note further downside risks to our forecast given the high level of political risk since the beginning of 2H21 (second half of 2021) and the risk that the outbreak could still worsen over the coming months, which could further affect the economy’s performance,” added the research outfit.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as the prime minister today, with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong consenting to the Bersatu president staying on as caretaker prime minister until his successor is appointed.

While the expenditure components of GDP posted positive growth on a y-o-y basis, as it was coming from the low base set in 2Q20, Fitch Solutions opined that private consumption had in fact contracted 11.5% q-o-q, compared to the five-year 2Q average q-o-q growth rate of 2.4% pre-pandemic.   

“This demonstrates the severe impact the third wave of infections has had on the key growth engine of the economy — private consumption accounts for around 70% of GDP,” it added. 

Fitch Solutions is taking the view that the nationwide lockdown will likely last for the remainder of the year while localised lockdowns could potentially drag on into 2022. 

This, it believes, will in turn impact private consumption and gross fixed capital formation (GFCF). It revised private consumption growth to a contraction of 2% from 3% growth previously while it forecast GFCF to grow at a mere 1.5% from 4% previously. 

Fitch Solutions also sees unemployment rising in 2H21 as it has already been increasing in the latest data available for June at 4.8% from 4.5% in May.

The gloomy view stems from the research outfit's opinion that it would be unlikely to achieve herd immunity before the year-end. 

It also sees the risk that the vaccination drive could see a slowdown after this, as what has been observed in other countries such as the US and Singapore. 

“Finally, the vaccination programme is being implemented by a mix of six vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik and CanSino Biologics, with only around 50% of doses ordered so far from Pfizer-BioNTech, raising risks around efficacy and the sustainability of any easing of lockdown measures later in the year,” it added.

Still, nine states in the country, which account for 37% of the country’s GDP, have moved into Phases 2 and 3 of the National Recovery Plan since July. There has also been relaxation in Phase 1 states where 11 economic sectors are now allowed to operate. 

Along with Fitch Solutions’ dim outlook of the country’s economic prospects, it has also reduced its net export forecast. It now forecasts exports to grow by 16.1% and imports by 18.4%. 

It reasoned that despite the Malaysian government opening up more industries, external demand will likely be more affected than previously expected given the severity of Covid-19 outbreaks happening in the region. 

Besides that, while Fitch Solutions does not rule out more spending by the government in 2H21, it does not expect it to be material given that the total government debt has already exceeded its self-imposed debt limit of 60% of GDP. 

“Even if, as we expect, the government raises the debt limit again, the contracting economy means that this limit will be calculated off a smaller base, reducing the fiscal space such a move would provide,” it said. - The Edge