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 ...

Thursday, August 20, 2020

1442H, end of a hiatus, a new beginning

Blessed 1442 Hijrah, dear Readers

Puchong: I've been down with a 'blogger's block'. Obviously. My last posting Why Mukhriz cannot, should not be the next Deputy Prime Minister was published more than a month ago (July 6 ) and since then the whole world has changed, former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng was charged in court, and his old boss Mahathir Mohamad, 95, has done the unthinkable (It's Pejuang: Mukhriz president, Mahathir chairman) to take Malaysian nepotism to the next level. And I didn't write a word on it. 
I don't recall a longer, more irresponsible hiatus on my part since I started blogging in 2006.
But today's the start of a new year, the time for new year's resolutions. In desperate need to unblock, I've resolved to blog regularly again. For King and country, of course, and my own sanity.

If I were to make excuses for myself. I'd blame this damn hiatus on this super newsportal I'm involved in setting up. You see, since mid-July, I've been helping my friend Mr Good Capitalist put together a team of extraordinary (and jobless) journalists who will help him launch the country's latest newsportal. 
Anifah Aman
Pic Malay Mail

Mr Good Capitalist wanted the newsportal up and running around Hari Malaysia. That's less than a month away. And he wanted to launch it in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Mr Good Capitalist had made these decisions way before Musa Aman led the  "frogs" to a coup attempt that would have made him Chief Minister of Sabah again if it had succeeded! Which wouldn't have been such a bad thing, really although his younger brother Anifah disagrees.

As it is, the 2020 Sabah election following the failed coup will happen on 26 Sept. A new start for the long-suffering state? Possibly. The newsportal I'm involved with would have been launched by then. A new beginning? Absolutely.

p.s. Last night I 'interviewed' a veteran journalist in the hope of bringing him on board the new portal.   As it turned out, he was doing the interviewing. Took a bit to convince him that Mr Good Capitalist, who is known to favour a certain political figure, will not use the new newsportal to promote the agenda of said politician. What Mr Good Capitalist wants out of the portal is your without-fear-or-favour journalism. I don't blame Mr Veteran Journalist for being cynical; he has been in the business very long. Maybe too long. He was already a reporter in 1962.


Monday, July 06, 2020

Why Mukhriz cannot, should not be the next Deputy Prime Minister

Or Shafie-62%-Afdal as PM, for that matter

TTDI, today: I had the privilege of sitting through the making of a pilot talk show for television at Wisma Bernama yesterday. It's an hour-long slot that will be aired soon on this new free-to-air tv channel (with an awesome name, I assure you). The host is a seasoned radio presenter and the guest a hardcore Mahathir supporter (a top lawyer to boot). 

A jaw-dropping moment during the engaging exchange between the two came when the host shot the lawyer a series of rapid-fire questions that required a YES/NO response. Lawyer had no problem whatsoever with the questions until the last one (she the host saved the best for last): Do you agree that Mukhriz Mahathir should NOT become our next Deputy Prime Minister?

Mr Lawyer hesitated just a tad too long. If this potentially awesome talk show ever makes it pass our censors, the audience will hear that deafening 3-sec silence.

Yes, I agree Mukhriz should not be given the DPM post.

The guest went on to explain why the son of Mahathir should not, cannot, must not be made the next Deputy Prime Minister. I won't disclose what he said as it would spoil the fun of actually watching the show. 

But the point I gotta make is this: even Mahathir loyalists are not too keen with the prospect of Mukhriz Mahathir becoming the next DPM. 

Neither are they with Shafie Afdal as Prime Minister candidate, for that matter. Why, even Sabahans are NOT excited by the prospect of Shafie as their PM! A poll conducted by his own party's organ Warisan Online hs shown that only 62 per cent of those approached were happy with the thought of Shafie as Malaysian PM! In other words, 4 out of 10 of Sabahans don't want Shafie as their - our - PM!

It should not come as a surprise, then, that the F-inicky Pakatan Harapan is back to supporting Anwar Ibrahim as their PM candidate! Read Pakatan says backing Anwar as PM candidate, 'full mandate' given to negotiate with all parties including Shafie. 

p.s. But still need to negotiate with Mr 62 per cent, ah?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The most powerful woman in Malaysia?

"Hello, Anneh (brother), looks like your friend Datuk Ainon is the most powerful woman in the country today lah ..."

I knew instantly what the caller was referring to. For days, rumours had been going around that Firdaus Abdullah's brutal tweets purportedly meant for Datuk Ainon Mohd, the Prime Minister's close aide, were going to cost the new Media Prima managing editor his job. 

This morning Malaysiakini landed a story to end the rumours:

Read the whole article h e r e

The article made no mention of Ainon or the tweets said to be aimed at her (although many including me at first thought they were aimed at Suhaimi Sulaiman, the new chairman of national news agency Bernama). I was told the management of Media Prima felt the tweet should not have been posted, notwithstanding who it was meant to, because they would be misconstrued as representing the company's position on a certain individual or subject.

Well, maybe Firdaus' "removal" had nothing to do with those tweets at all.  The fact of the matter is I don't really know. Both Firdaus and Ainon have not spoken to me for quite a while but we are friends, former colleagues at Balai Berita.

So, Ainon the most powerful woman in Malaysia? Naaaah. TS Muhyiddin Yassin's de facto press secretary is protective - maybe over protective - of her boss but that's what press secretaries do. I have dealt with press secretaries of earlier PMs to know that these former journalists sometimes had to do what they wouldn't have done as journalists.

The most powerful woman in Malaysia, if you ask me, is still Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the PNB chairman, who has just terminated the services of CEO Jalil Rasheed, who had been put there just a few months ago by The Most Powerful Young Man (and rumoured to be the youngest billionaire) in Malaysia, at least at that material time. - 23 June 2020, Bangsar

Monday, June 15, 2020

Can Wan Zul save Malaysia Airlines?

Wan Zul, can the ex Petronas boss save MAS?

Can anyone save Malaysia Airlines?
KL, June 14: If Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had said he was shocked by news that hard times were forcing local airlines to retrench, he'd be a First Class moron. Fortunately, Tengku Zafrul said no such thing. He knows, I'm sure, what the airlines are going through: Malindo has offered its staff VSS and AirAsia could cut 30 per cent of its workforce. What I'm not so sure about is why Zafrul hasn't seen the need to lift his finger and help out the airlines when some neighbouring countries are pouring in billions to keep them alive. I'm not the only one ...

       Case for govt to assist airlines
KUALA LUMPUR – June 13, 2020: Two experts agree that Malaysia will lose out if the government fails to assist home-grown airlines hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions. 
The country will, among other things, face a potential pricing power issue if the government decides to leave the fate of airlines solely to market forces, pointed out independent analyst Mohshin Aziz. 
He also referred to the multi-billion dollar rescue packages by other governments as a case in point. 
“Take Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines for example. The governments of Hong Kong and Singapore are forking out  US$13.3 billion (RM56.5 billion) and US$5 billion (RM 21.2 billion) respectively. (Cathay and SIA: Till death do us apart)
“There’s a reason for this, besides just ensuring the survival of the airlines, and that is to counter against potential pricing power by others. If these airlines close shop, the rest will have more power.
“If it is destined that the surviving airlines are not one of ours, we will have little say on pricing and locals could end up having to pay more to travel.” .
On a recent report that claims that Malaysia will fork out RM1.49 billion to help three airlines, Mohshin, a formerly an aviation analyst with Maybank, said the amount is in fact far from enough.
“If this is equally shared by the three airlines, it is not even a Panadol. Just take a look into the cost of operations of each airline.
“Looking into the annual report for AirAsia last year, I think the operating cost is close to RM2 billion and this is just AirAsia. Malaysia Airlines has an even bigger operating cost,” he said.
Last week, a foreign wire reported that the Malaysian government was planning a US$350 million package to help local airlines in the immediate term.
The Mole learnt however  that no such package was being considered.
“Not that we know of,”  said a source. 
Other unconfirmed reports suggest that airlines were resorting to desperate measures including retrenchments to stay afloat as a result of the pandemic.
“If the situation doesn’t improve and the government won’t help, we can expect more waves of lay-offs. In a worst case scenario, the carriers will have to close,” said Mohshin.
Associate Professor Ahmed Razman Abdul Latif of Putra Business School agrees that the government should assist.
He however suggested for the government to provide full assistance only to Malaysia Airlines while the shares of privately-owned AirAsia and Malindo should be bought by Khazanah Nasional.
The Star newspaper reported that Korea’s third-largest conglomerate SK Corp could buy up 10 per cent of AirAsia because it sees the potential of consolidating its own position this way. - The Mole

Ironically, Malaysia Airlines has actually gained a new chairman in the middle of these layoffs. But what can one man do? This one man - Wan Zul - did well in Petronas but what are his chances at the ailing airline? Not good, really, especially now that the Finance Minister has said he had never even heard of the so-called  RM5b financial aid for the national carrier!

But then again, maybe Zafrul doesn't believe MAS should be rescued? We asked Prof Jomo Kwame Sundaram if the Malaysian government should emulate other governments that are pumping in billions to save airlines. Jomo mentioned only one airline.

"As you know, the fate of MAS has been politicized since the days of the late Aziz Rahman. The Dutch and Italians have given up the idea of nationally owned airlines and the US has none. In the context of C19, many industries will sink, and in our resource constrained circumstances, tough choices need to be made  on where to put money."

Saturday, June 06, 2020

The inevitable shake-up in Petronas

Updated: Taufik is new Petronas president/CEO
[Wan Zul shipped off to Malaysia Airlines as chaiman ...]

Original story

Out (eft) and In? (right) - pic The Star
Puchong, 6 June 20: Jose Barrock of The Edge has the story about Possible change of guard at Petronas, Wan Zul to step down but we all know it's inevitable, not just possible. "It's politics," one keen observer of the national oil corporation told me. Wan Zul's replacement as Petronas president and CEO may well not be an "internal" candidate as Mr Barrock suggests but, rather, a former  Petronas man. 
The name Anuar Taib has been bandied about. Anuar was the VP of the national oil corporation brought in from an international oil company by Wan Zul's predecessor to one day take over the helm, a plan derailed by the big but short-lived change in the Federal government (read Petronas confirms Anuar Taib stepping down, succession plan in place - 20 Sept 2019). Anuar's "shock departure" from the national oil company during the period caused quite a stir and the NST even dedicated an editorial on it (Trouble at the top, 28 June). 
Wan Zul's departure, assuming it does happen and happens soon, comes in the wake of a string of departures and replacements at the helms of Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) and other key organisations crucial to the Administration. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is probably saving the best for last. 

Thursday, June 04, 2020

5G: Why Singapore is concerned with Syed Mokhtar's Altel

Kuala Lumpur, 4 June: I'm not as big a fan of Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary as I used to be. The years have made me wiser, I suppose, or just that little harder to impress. But it would seem that across the Causeway, the Straits Times is even less enamoured by this richest Malaysian Melayu.

In its latest swipe at Syed Mokhtar, Malaysia hands 5G spectrum to little-known firm controlled by politically-linked tycoon, the Singapore government's mouthpiece reports: 

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has quietly awarded the highly sought-after 5G telecommunications spectrum to several players, including the little-known Altel, a firm controlled by the reclusive but politically connected tycoon Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary, seemingly without an open tender previously promised. 
The May 15 decision, signed off by Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, went unannounced to the public and appears to be the first major reversal of infrastructure policy by the three-month-old Perikatan Nasional (PN) government. 
Prior to being ousted in February, the Pakatan Harapan administration had promised an open tender to allocate the spectrum - reserved frequencies to avoid interference of transmission - but encouraged industry players to form a consortium that would avoid duplication of heavy expenses in rolling out infrastructure for the next generation broadband service. 

But given that Singapore has always more than seemingly had more than a fleeting interest in Malaysia's telco industry (one of our telco players gunning for 5G domination is, in fact, partly owned by Singapore) one can't help but wonder if the editorial wasn't driven under the influence, so to speak. 
Now, is Altel the best choice to lead Malaysia's 5G push? 
In January, I wrote 5G's "single entity': Who will own it ultimately? but I'm certainly not the guy to ask if this company is more qualified than that company. My only concern is that this all doesn't turn into a monopoly. That's the last thing we need and new Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah will do well to reassure us that under his watch nobody - Syed Mokhtar included (or, rather, especially) - will own another monopoly yet again. And that we the people will get the best deal at the end of the day.
But to be fair to Syed Mokhtar's Altel, it has invested over RM1 billion of its own money as part of a loss-making concession to deploy digital TV infrastructure in Malaysia. As a result, 700MHz spectrum is freed from analog TV to he used for mobile amd wireless broadband.
In addition, the government is expected to earn some RM4 billion from the spectrum when allocated to telcos. Needless to say, it's a heathy sum that can be re-invested into better broadband infrastructure, especially for rural areas. And if the expected "marriage" between TM and Altel happens, that should be another plus for businesses and consumers in the country.
Three of our telcos - TM, Maxis and Celcom - are 5G-ready and a fourth - DiGi - will be, soon. All of them have invested huge sums and it is important that they get equitable share of  the 5G pie so that they can justify future investments in the industry in Malaysia.
The same goes to that Singapore-owned Malaysian telco, if it can step up its game quickly.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

But would DAP want Mahathir as a member?

Updated: "To quote Stephen King, 'To fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.'" '- Time to move beyond Dr Mahathir by Terence Fernandez/The Star

Original article: 
Puchong, 28 May: Muhyiddin Yassin's move to sack his own party's founding chairman is nothing short of sensational. The only other time this was done to Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in 1969 when Tunku Abdul Rahman, then the PM and Umno president, kicked him out of the party. But 51 years ago Mahathir was relatively a nobody. He wasn't even a Member of Parliament, having lost in the general election of that year. Today, the year of his own Wawasan 2020, Dr Mahathir is not just the country's only two-time Prime Minister or the oldest man in the world to ever be a PM of a free country, the Old Man has the media, billions, and the DAP solidly behind him. To sack such a man - who clearly wants to be our PM for the third time - must take more than just courage; perhaps even a death wish. 
But sacked him Muhyiddin did!
One's immediate concern now is the fact that the Tun is without a party. He can try and form a new party. There would still be a lot of followers as Dr Mahathir at 95 is still a big draw for young and old, Malays and non-Malays alike. 
But to form a new party takes time.
A better idea, one political observer mentioned to me, in jest or otherwise I couldn't tell, is for Mahathir to join one of his old partners in Pakatan Harapan. Preferably the DAP.  No, forget PKR and Warisan. It must be DAP. After all, the Old Man has nothing but good things to say about the DAP these days. 
Now, just imagine if the Old Man decides to join DAP. That would be far, far more sensational than his sacking today. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Will the real Opposition Leader please stand up?

TTDI, 28 Ramadan: While we were extending our short doa for Muhyiddin, Dr Mahathir Mohamad was promising "very big trouble" for his successor and his 'back-door' government. The two-time Prime Minister said the Opposition (Pakatan Harapan) would seek to oust Muhyiddin Yassin at every turn. The Opposition will reject all bills that Muhyiddin brings to Parliament. "If everything he brings to Parliament is rejected, how does he continue?" he told Reuters in a Zoom interview. 
Muhyiddin's reply (I'm guessing):

I am fasting

But Ramadan will end soon and Muhyiddin will need to respond to the threat. He will not take it lightly. This is an angry Mahathir, one who is not as "helpless" as when he brought down Pak Lah and then Najib. Unlike then, today's Mahathir has the media, the billions, and the DAP solidly with him. 
If it's any consolation, Mahathir is not a threat to Muhyiddin only. Anwar Ibrahim, the rightful Opposition leader, the two-time (and two-timed) former future Prime Minister, should be feeling even more insecure and threatened by the Tun's recent antics. Before the Reuter interview, Dr M had held a press conference after Monday's one-day Parliament and spoke on behalf of the Opposition. The zoom press conference was attended by DAP and Warisan leaders together with remnants of Bersatu. 
Anwar's absence/exclusion stuck like a sore thumb and he knows it.

Anwar: Pakatan secretariat will lay down "a few rules we should follow"

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A very short doa for Abang Din

"Muhyiddin has done a goood job. If my view could represent the people's feelings, brother, then the people have no complaint against the Prime Minister. He is calm, displays great administrative skills and delivers results at the end of the day despite all the political ruckus around him. I never thought I'd say this, but I have only praises for him!" - Mr D from Sentul, KL

Puchong, May 20: You don't get calls like this one everyday, to hear someone singing praises for the Prime Minister, any Prime Minister. But this morning, after listening to Mr D, I realised that we actually have heard very little, if at all, badmouthing Muhyiddin Yassin. Much of the 'ruckus' comes from his former political bedfellows, mostly those who lost plum jobs and mighty positions after the so-called Sheraton Move (which landed Abang Din the unenviable job as Malaysia's 8th Prime Minister), and their faithful followers. Their drama, mainly, is about their fear of the death of democracy, their perceived betrayal of the Rakyat's mandate, or their resentment towards a so-called backdoor government that has no support of the majority (which was set straight in their red faces at the one-day Parliament sitting two days ago). 

Without doubt, the people's appreciation for their Prime Minister is due to his Administration's prihatin handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lim Kit Siang tries to pin the blame on Muhyiddin (Covid-19 woes due to 'Sheraton Move' and ensuing political turmoil - Mkini, May 20) but he spits at the sky, as the Malays say it, and he ends up with phlegm and mucus on his own face. 

If anything, the so-called Sheraton Move saved us from a socio-economic failure that had seemed inevitable - even if there had been no pandemic - because we had too many nincompoops in the government. We shudder too, Kit Siang, to imagine the disastrous outcome for the country if we had to depend on the political leadership of the PH government to guide us out of the pandemic when the PH leaders themselves, Kit Siang and son included, couldn't even get their act together after coming to power in May 2018. 

In any case, I was listening to the FM yesterday while waiting for the azan to break my fast. It dawned upon me that this particular station had been replaying the same doa during bukapuasa (without announcing to the listeners who the doa reciter is). Most people heard this doa the first time when their Prime Minister addressed them on the 8th day of the Movement Control Order, when he told us that we could win this.

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ. حَمْدًا يُوَافِيْ نِعَمَهُ وَيُكَافِئُ مَزِيْدَهُ
يَا رَبَّنَا لَكَ الْحَمْدُ كَمَا يَنْبَغِيْ لِجَلاَلِ وَجْهِكَ الْكَرِيْمِ وَعَظِيْمِ سُلْطَانِكَ 
Ya Allah Ya Rahman Ya Rahim Engkau ampunilah dosa-doa kami
Engkau rahmatilah diri kami, keluarga kami dan negara kami
Engkau lindungilah hamba-hamba Mu yang kerdil ini dari segala musibah
Engkau jauhilah diri kami dari penyakit yang merbahaya dan wabak yang mengancam nyawa
Engkau hindarilah kami dari bala yang berat dan takdir yang buruk 
Ya Allah Ya Rahman Ya Rahim
Engkau berilah kekuatan, kecekalan dan kesabaran kepada kami untuk menghadapi dugaan-Mu yang berat ini
Engkau tiupkanlah ketenangan dalam jiwa kami Sesungguhnya setiap dugaan yang Engkau turunkan kepada kami Ya Allah tiadalah ia melainkan untuk meningkatkan ketaqwaan dan keimanan kami kepada Mu 
Ya Allah Ya Rahman Ya Syaafi
Engkau berilah kesembuhan kepada saudara-saudara kami yang dijangkiti wabak Coronavirus walau di mana sahaja mereka berada
Sesungguhnya tiada penyakit yang tidak dapat Engkau sembuhkan Ya Allah
Tiada mara bahaya yang tidak dapat Engkau jauhinya dari kami Ya Allah
Kami bermohon kepada-Mu Ya Allah 
Lindungilah kami
Selamatkanlah kami 
Sejahterakanlah hidup kami 
 بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الذي لَا يَضُرُّ مع اسْمِهِ شَيْءٌ في الأرض ولا في السَّمَاءِ وهو السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ 
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ 

Muhyiddin is not expected to have an easy time, with his enemies (who now include two-time PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad) working hard to fail him at every chance, from inside as well as outside PN. But for getting us out from the worst of the pandemic safe and sane,  I agree with Mr D that the Prime Minister deserves a tip of our hat. I'm not good with prayers but here's my doa for Abang Din's - and his loved ones' - safety and well-being. Amin.

Monday, May 18, 2020

One of the great legal mysteries that's Tommy Thomas

Malaysia, May 18: Tommy Thomas is trying too hard to defend his integrity over the DNA deal that his handpicked lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram made last week with Riza Aziz. The former AG says he "would never have approved sweetheart deal with Najib's stepson"
Words are cheap. The prominent lawyer Faisal Moideen took to twitter to remind the mudah lupa of what Tommy Thomas is capable of: 

Check the twitter thread here

Like a dear reader said, time to re-evaluate all the decisions made by this man when he was AG.



"Someone who is well-versed and familiar in numerous branches of private and public law, particularly the technicalities of corporate, commercial, banking-finance, contracts, property, trust and criminal laws." - Tommy Thomas. AG says 1MDB-Tanore a complex case that needs experienced prosecutor Sri Ram, Nov 2019

"(Harun) Idrus said he was subsequently advised by Sri Ram that Thomas had agreed to the suggestion in principle, with then MACC chief Latheefa Koya also suggestion the proposals laid down in the letter of representation be accepted by MACC." - AG: I acted upon the advice that Tommy Thomas agreed to Riza Aziz's settlement 'in principle17 May 2020

"Once AG (Harun Idrus) has made a statement, that should be the end of the matter." - GSR, Controversy over decision to DNA Riza Aziz should end with AG's statement, May 17


"The MACC would like to stress that the decision was made by the Attorney-General's Chamber, and not by the MACC." - Anti-graft agency 'shocked' at Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng's acquittal, 3 Sept 2018

Friday, May 15, 2020

Rise in bogus news: Is Hamzah looking to bring back Fake News Act?

Puchong, May 15: If you are looking for alternative take on Malaysian politics that's provocative but not fake, I suggest you give the Third Force a shot. Their news sense these days is quite spot on, right down to the selection of pictures accompanying their articles, I must say.  
Take their take on the warning issued by Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin against perpetrators of fake and seditious news:

Peningkatan kes hastan, berita pulsu aman kenara

The article is in Malay but a picture, they say, tells the story. And in this case, the story is about the sorry state of our social media so infested by fake and seditious news. Since 2018 (which happened to be the year Bersatu-led Pakatan Harapan took over the government), the Bersatu sec-gen said fake news has become "so rampant" among our Netizens. And he warned that he was in no mood to compromise with anyone who "deliberately tries to trigger provocations or threaten public safety and security".  
The Third Force included the full brief statement by Hamzah:

It would be hard to call it a coincidence that the statement was issued about the same time with the release of 73-year old media personality Patrick Teoh from police remand for allegedly insulting the Crown Prince of Johor.  
Since Hamzah was part of the government that pushed for the Anti-Fake News Act in 2018 (scrapped in Dec 2019 by the PH government) a lot of people will be wondering if he's going to propose for a similar legislation to deal with the issue. I'm not trying to be provocative here, but I'd wager all my salary during the MCO that the Home Minister  would do it.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Malaysia's 13% jobless: Prospects and challenges

Puchong, 16 Ramadan/May 9: While those guys up there are playing yet another episode of their ugly, filthy games of throne, the real folks down here are struggling to bring food to the table and keep a roof over their heads. 

Unlike those up there, who don't have to worry about basic needs, the men in the street are losing their battle. Businesses are struggling to survive and when they are forced to shut, and more companies are being forced to shut, workers lose jobs.

Source: The Malay Mail

And more folks will lose their livelihood if those political scumbags, to borrow lawyer-activist Matthias Chang's word, don't start caring for other than themselves. The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) says the country is looking at a 13 per cent unemployment rate as a result of Covid-19, the Movement Control Order (Phase 4 ending May 12), and the global economic fallout.

The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research says that's about 2.4 million Malaysians who can - and want to - work but will not have jobs! (As in February, according to our Department of Statistics, our unemployment rate was 3.3 per cent or around 525,000 people). 

I hope Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan stays clear from the scumbags' ugly, and filthy games of thrones. Someone has to deal with the unprecedented unemployment mess. And, YB,  please don't pooh-pooh the MEF's numbers (or MIER's) like your predecessor did when he was in power (and when he wasn't sitting on the Human Resources Development Fund people to sue some poor journalists for reasons best known to himself and a particular advisor of his). 

Like it or not, retrenchment is going to be part of this so-called, post-pandemic new normal. 

The thing is, what do we do about it?

First and foremost, ensure that workers who are retrenched get fair compensation as provided for under the employment laws. That money will buy food on the table and roof over their heads and, yes, open up new opportunities for them. Provide the environment for every employee to re-skill, up-skill and be redeployed (and make sure the retrenched don't spend their retrenchment money unwisely). The HRDF was created for this purpose (not for suing journalists), with employers contributing 1 per cent of their wage bills for employee training, retraining and the sort of contingencies like the one we're facing now.  

Start a retrenchment fund. And, like the MEF says, help businesses stay afloat. Handouts are welcomed, we're not shy to say. The current subsidies aren't going to cut it. The Federation of Malaysian Manufactures (FMM) says three-quarters of respondents in its survey feel that the wages subsidy given by the government isn't adequate to retain employees. Eight our of 10 of the companies surveyed say they will have to lay off at least 30 per cent of their workforce.

These past few months, I've seen hundreds of my fellow journalists lose their jobs. Most of them got their compensation and learned new craft (like driving Grab) to survive while some joined forces to start news portals (like Bebas News) to keep their passion for journalism alive. The saddest bit is when a publishing company has to fold permanently, as in the case of Blue Inc. which was for years the home of Malaysia's glossy magazines. That was an example of a total loss. I would rather companies lay off some workers (and fairly compensate them) in order for their business to survive the current challenges (with the remaining of the workforce) and to thrive (and to hire) again in the forseeeable future, as in the case of, perhaps, Media Prima.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

After two years of political prosecutions, the MACC is back!

A Singapore Straits Times report 

TTDI, May 6: A lot of people are jumping with joy over news that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the award of projects worth RM30 million to supply the Health Ministry with equipment related to Covid-19. They say here is proof that this new government, which they called the "backdoor" government, is corruptible to the core.  
Former advisor to former Pakatan Harapan PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad went one up on everyone else: Why did this PN government, which is a Malay-Muslim government, award those contracts to some Chinese businessmen? 
Latheefa Koya
I am jumping with joy, too. But only because this is proof that our graft busters are alive and kicking (ass) again. For nearly two years during the Pakatan Harapan rule, the MACC was headed by Latheefah Koya, a lawyer but more importantly a senior Pakatan Harapan politician. And for those nearly two years, the MACC was really focusing only on cases that involved political rivals of Pakatan Harapan and the one issue that helped the coalition bring down Najib Razak's BN in 2018: 1MDB. 
We should be happy because the real graft busters are back!

 (That's) why a politician can't lead the MACC -  Rocky Bru, 10 Jan 2020
Ex-PM's advisor questions MOH's contract for 'non-Malay' company - FMT

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

PNB, falling profits, last elevator ride down

Menara PNB 118

TTDI, April 5: There's money to make even in the worst of times, and that's what Permodalan Nasional Berhad group CEO Jalil Rasheed is telling investors when he talks about picking up cheap foreign stocks in turbulent times and tripling offshore assets by 2022. Unfortunately, Malaysians will pay scant attention to corporate messages of hope and optimism.  
So while Jalil says the future may not look as bleak, the fact remains that PNB has suffered a 37 per cent drop in net profit for 2019. That' is going to stick. Remember, this is for 2019, before Covid-19 turned our lives upside down. The 37 per cent will stick a lot longer than other 'cover' headlines like PNB to expand overseas allocation to 30% or PNB records 4.5% increase in assets under management.  
It will stick even more if there are elements of politics to spice up those stories even further. And, with PNB, unfortunately, there has always been a lot of politics at play. Even when it was making good money.  
Tan Sri Zeti
A still-blogging former CEO of a public listed company says head must roll. He thinks Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the PNB chairman, should "head for the door and take her last elevator ride down from the iconic Jalan Tun Razak building" instead of waiting to be sacked. 
Read his latest posting The Prize of PHantomette (sic). 
If the former central bank governor goes or is told to go, it won't come as any surprise to the market, or to Malaysians, who have been witnessing a series of sackings of GLC leaders appointed by the PH government soon after it had come into power in May 2018.

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