Monday, September 14, 2020

Covid19 Sabah outbreak: Shouldn't we postpone the 26/9 polls?

updated Malaysia Day:

9,969 cases since Jan 25
"I'm quite worried ..." - PM yesterday

Original take:

Covid-19: New cases still emerging in Sabah, health staff told to be wary

"All frontline workers need to take note of this," said Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. 
COVID-19 | The number of people infected with Covid-19 in Sabah has continued to grow as a state election campaign is in progress.
According to the Health Ministry, there were 47 new Covid-19 cases detected in the country, of which 31 were found in Sabah alone as of noon today.
While most of the new infections in Sabah were linked to the Benteng LD cluster with 22 cases, there were also cases detected from screenings at health clinics (four), quarantine centres (two) and a police station lock-up (one). One case in Sabah involved a health worker and another involved someone who sought treatment for influenza-like illnesses. - Malaysiakini
Source: Malaysiakini

Puchong, Mon 13/9: Yesterday, 31 more new C-19 cases were reported in Sabah (out of 46 nationwide). The number is likely to be higher today. And in the days to come, too,  as bigger and bigger numbers of people from Malaya, including VIPs and VVIPs, head for Kota Kinabalu for the state's 'snap' election on 26 September. Some will be coming to KK via Sibu in Sarawak where the national-level Hari Malaysia celebrations will take place this Wednesday. 
If this wasn't a state election but a K-pop concert or a sporting even or a regional economic forum, chances are the authorities would have told  the organisers to pack their bags and come back next year if they still like to organise their events. The Ministry of Health has made us postpone or cancel many public gatherings and events since the MCO in March so it's quite easily done (and we didn't complain). 
But this is a state election, it involves powerful people and tons of money and must, therefore, be treated differently, I suppose. 
Or maybe, despite the new C-19 clusters and numbers and whatever Dr Noor Hisham tells us, there is nothing to really to be wary or worried about, really. 
P.S: The group I'm advising is organising a Hari Malaysia program in KK. As organiser, Personally, I hope we won't have to postpone it because of the spike in C-19 cases. But if we have to, we'll have to, you know what I mean?

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Facebook and news: Blackmail of the decade?

Facebook vows to block news stories in Australia rather than pay for them
A new proposed law in Australia would require companies such as Facebook and Google to pay for news organisations' content.  Read the story HERE 
Read also: What happens FB follows through on its threat to remove news in Australia?

SHOULD WE PAY FOR NEWS? As a newsman, I say yes, of course, someone should pay for news. News bring in advertising revenues and therefore those who produce the news - journalists like me and the companies we work for - ought to be paid. It's only fair. BUT (and that's a big but) I don't think the people should be the ones who should pay for news. The people should get their news for free. Corporations that make money from the news and from content produced by newspapers, newsportals, and new organisations should pay for news.

I've been a journalist for over 30 years and I treat what I do as a service to the people. Through this blog of mine, for example, I've been sharing and sometimes breaking news for over a decade, f.o.c. It has been a conscious decision on my part from Day 1 (that would be sometime in May 2006) to not involve even Google ads. I'm  (also because I don't want those "Looking for Malay girls?" kind of advertisements to appear anywhere on this blog). Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that people like you get news that are factual, news brought to you without fear or favour.

Corporations like Facebook have thrived partly because of the news content that they get from us. They should pay for content created by newspapers, newsportals, and other media organisations that produce news. It's only fair to professionals like me. If they don't wish to pay for the news, stop taking the news content from those news organisations and pretend like you're doing us a favour. The likes of Facebook should produce their own news then. Become a news organisation themselves and compete with the rest of us for advertising money on equal footing. At the very least, we will thank them for creating jobs for the journalists. Too many of us have been laid off in these difficult times.


Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Sabah's next Chief Minister

Who will be Sabah’s new CM?: (from top left) Shafie, Jeffrey, Hajiji, Bung Mokhtar, Musa or a new candidate?

IN Questions rife in Sabah elections, Philip Golingai, otai columnist and journalist of the Star, refuses to make predictions, even after having spoken to scores of voters on his 1,300 km sojourn around the North Borneo state to try and feel the mood on the ground ahead of the 26/9 polls. "Right now, it's still iffy ...," he writes in his column. Iffy, indeed. We aren't even sure if there will be elections in the first place (read Federal Court allows Musa Aman to challenge Shafie Afdal's appointment as Sabah CM). 

And if Sabahans do get to go to the polls, the dynamics of this snap elections are like nothing they have seen. "It's a free-for-all," says another seasoned reporter. 

Anifah, Masidi (bottom left), Kar Kiat (bottom right)

Already, we're seeing Anifah Aman, probably the best Foreign Minister this nation has ever had, drawing keen attention during his walkabouts at his ancestral hometown Beaufort. He's had heated exchanges with caretaker CM Shafie, a former Cabinet colleague, over the latest claim over Sabah made by the Philippines, an issue that will win (and lose) a lot of votes. This suited Anifah. Shafie and contingent, on other hand, were seen last week in Anifah's stronghold. Coincidence? Maybe, but some political observers think Shafie, a consummate politician, may have felt the need to see for himself the potential threat from those parts of the State. 

Other than Anifah, who's very clear about his intentions (Anifah offers himself as alternative to Musa, Shafie), there's the extremely likeable and capable Masidi Manjun of Bersatu and there's the comeback (old) kid Cheong Kah Kiat, who was CM from 2001 to 2003. 

And as if Sabahans are not already spoilt for choice, there's talk that another former Sabah CM (1994-96) is on the way back. Salleh Said Keruak would tell friends that his application to become an Umno member has not even been approved, but there are already rumours about him - not Bung Mokhtar - being Umno's CM candidate for the 26/9 elections. Salleh may be fielded in Usukan, known for its beautiful cove, snorkelling and fishing.

All this, mind you, is just the warm-up. Looking forward to reading Philip Golingai's predictions for the Sabah elections ...

Monday, August 24, 2020

So who's behind Syed Saddiq's youth party?

Overheard at the airport, while catching a flight to Kota Kinabalu:
Man 1: Syed Saddiq is setting up a party for youths
Man 2: Syed Saddiq should get a real job first
Man 1: I would hire him as a model ... :

".. so that politics will never be chained by the same people."

Subang, 24 August: In the run up to the last general election, he promised youths free education and a solution to student debts, which he didn't successfully pursue after he'd won the election and made a Minister, the youngest anywhere in the democratic world. As Government, Syed Saddiq made it his mission to get youths gainfully employed, went as far as lobbying Gojek to come to Malaysia despite a fellow minister's worries about the obvious risks to the youth riders. One year as a Minister (which was his first job, really), Syed Saddiq announced that the government was going to set up a task force to create one million jobs for youths. Little was heard about the task force after the announcement but the task force's chairman, then-Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, last week set up his latest party and Syed Saddiq, a Mahathir loyalist non-pareil, followed that up yesterday, while campaigning for Mahathir party's candidate in Slim bye-election,  with a confirmation that he would set up his own youth party fashioned after Thailand's Fast Forward and Macron's En Marche in France.

My first thought: Ah, finally Syed Saddiq has found a means to get Malaysian youths gainfully employed!

But think what you like, the young man, who turns 28 this December, is on to something big. By the next GE, if it happens in 2023, there will be some 7 million young, first time voters joining the 14 million who voted in 2018.

Something tells me it is unlikely that Syed Saddiq is acting alone on this youth party idea. Behind every young man like him, I believe there's a very old and most wise man.  I may be wrong, but we'll see  ...

Saturday, August 22, 2020

With Azmin in, Muhyiddin's Bersatu to "grow up"

Puchong, 22 Aug: A fortnight ago, Anwar Ibrahim said this about Mahathir Mohamad's new political party [Another Malay party? We need to grow up - The Mole, Aug 9]. 
"I think after 60 years of independence, we have to mature from race politics. I represent PKR, a party that talks about reforms and justice. A party that transcends race and depart from the old thinking that there are no solutions besides that of race-based. True, the Malays need to be made to feel secure, but others must also be accorded similar rights in this country." - Anwar Ibrahim
Today, it would seem, Mahathir's old party PPBM or Bersatu, now led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, is heeding that call to "grow up" and evolve into a Malaysian political party that transcends race and religion. Interestingly, this move came right after Azmin Ali, former PKR deputy president and de facto Deputy Prime Minister, had officially joined Bersatu as a member. Azmin is said to have a sizeable non-Malay/Muslim support base from his PKR days as Anwar's longtime blue eyed boy.

From Malay-first to Malaysia-first?
PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he has proposed a new chapter in his party to accommodate and allow non-Malay and non-Muslim leaders to contribute and hold positions in the party.  
He said a committee has been formed under Bersatu supreme council member Tan Sri Rais Yatim to look into the matter. He said a committee has been formed under Bersatu supreme council member Tan Sri Rais Yatim to look into the matter.  
“We propose new chapter that could help associate members contribute ideas and hold leadership positions. The committee will look into it and bring the matter to the supreme council,“ he said in his speech at Kongres Negara today.  
He also said should the proposal be accepted, they will call for an extraordinary general meeting to amend the party constitution.  
He also said he will ensure that the party will process the applications of all the members of Pemuda Negara, Wanita Muda Negara, Nation of Women and Penggerak Komuniti Negara as quickly as possible.  
Newly minted Bersatu member Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali claimed that Penggerak Komuniti Negara alone has 200,000 members. This provides a much needed booster for Bersatu, whose members are leaving the party for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s new party, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air. - The Sun

Mahathir founded PPBM in 2018 as a Malay-Bumiputera party to rival his former party UMNO. The new party allows associate members from among non-Malays but they have no voting rights in the party and are not eligible to stand for party elections. Mahathir set up Pejuang on Aug 7 to rival both Umno and Bersatu for the Malay heartland. But if Muhyiddin's Bersatu decides to amend its constitution and allow non-Malays and non-Muslims into the party as members with equal rights, Mahathir, too, may want to "grow up" a bit ...