Thursday, March 19, 2020

China, where it had all begun, reports no new domestic Covid-19 cases

Puchong, Day 2 of The Movement Control Order: A couple of good news with regards to the coronavirus that has threatened to take over our lives.

1. China reports no new domestic Covid-19 after strict quarantine 

2. First batch of medical supplies from China en route to Sg Buloh Hospital

Come on, Malaysia. We can do it. Just stay put.

Monday, March 16, 2020

In facing Covid-19, the difference between us and them Jews

Here's how the politicians in Israel face up to Covid-19 ...

The whole story h e r e
March 15: President Reuven Rivlin hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chair Benny Gantz for an “urgent” three-way summit Sunday evening in an effort to encourage the two men to form an emergency unity government amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The hour-long meeting, held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, began with Netanyahu and Gantz each elbow-bumping Rivlin in accordance with instructions to avoid handshaking to stop the spread of the virus.
Signifying his intention to being negotiations immediately, Rivlin also invited the heads of the Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams to be present in the meeting,

Following the meeting, Netanyahu and Gantz released a joint statement saying that they had both “thanked the president of the state for inviting them to the joint meeting” and that “the two agreed that negotiating teams would meet soon.”
In a separate statement, Rivlin’s office said, “The president emphasized that [Gantz and Netanyahu] should continue and intensify direct contacts between them and between the Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams, and welcomed both sides’ willingness to do so. At the end of the meeting, the two sides agreed that the negotiating teams of the two parties will continue the discussions.”
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu went public with a pair of alternative offers for a unity government with Gantz, urging the de facto opposition chairman to choose either to serve under him in a six-month emergency government or replace him after two years as part of a four-year rotational coalition.
Rivlin, after September’s election, proposed a unity government between the two, with Netanyahu serving as prime minister for some six months before being replaced by Gantz. While both had a stab at forming a government, neither succeeded, leading to the elections in March, the third in under a year.
Rivlin’s proposal this time is based on the previous offer, but gives Netanyahu a full year as prime minister before handing the baton to Gantz, the Kan public broadcaster reported.
Immediately before the Sunday evening meeting, Rivlin announced that he will task Gantz with forming a government after the Blue and White leader received the endorsement of a majority of Knesset members.
His announcement came shortly after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman joined the Joint List and Labor-Gesher-Meretz parties in endorsing Gantz for prime minister. With the nod given by Liberman during consultations with Rivlin, Gantz picked up 61 of 120 recommendations, compared to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 58 endorsements.
Netanyahu’s Likud won 36 Knesset seats in the March election compared to Blue and White’s 33, but the Likud leader’s right-wing bloc again failed to muster a parliamentary majority.
Once a close ally of Netanyahu’s Likud, the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu has refused to join a coalition led by Netanyahu, after the previous two rounds of elections. Liberman in April 2019 backed Netanyahu for premier; he refrained from endorsing either candidate after the September vote.
Liberman’s backing for Gantz marked an unlikely alliance between the hawkish ex-defense minister, who has long condemned Arab lawmakers as “terrorist sympathizers,” and the predominantly Arab Joint List, with both aiming to unseat Netanyahu.
As of last week, Gantz’s only realistic path to a coalition appeared to be a center-left minority government backed on the outside by the Joint List, a controversial prospect that before the election the centrist leader vowed he would not pursue. Vocal opposition by rightist members of Blue and White, MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, along with Labor-Gesher-Meretz’s Orly Levy-Abekasis, who vowed to vote against a minority government, appeared to reduce the likelihood of that scenario.
Opening the consultations, which were being held with limited representation from each party and no press due to limitations on gatherings of over 10 people, Rivlin said that efforts to deal with the outbreak must not come “at the expense of Israeli democracy.”
“We are committed, more than ever, in light of the urgent need for a government, to hold essential democratic processes, even in a time of crisis,” Rivlin declared.
“These are not normal consultations; we need to work to form a government as soon as possible,” he warned.
The number of Israelis diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, rose to 200 on Sunday morning. The Health Ministry said two of the sick remained in serious condition, with 11 in moderate condition and the rest suffering light symptoms only.

Read also: Netanyahu's corruption trial postponed over Covid-19 restrictions, March 15

.... and here is how our politicians choose to do it:

Former PM's son challenges PM for party post that may make him PM

PETALING JAYA: The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) elections is set to be a mouth-watering affair with Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir challenging Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for the party president’s post. 
Another relative unknown in the party, Cheras division deputy chief Mohd Faiz Azlee Sham, will also contest the position, it was confirmed yesterday. 
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, meanwhile, will remain as the party’s chairman at the post was uncontested. 
Bersatu elections committee chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said this in a press conference after nomination closed at 3pm today. 
However, he said the party polls, which was supposed to be held on April 18 at the division level, has been postponed until at least June 30, after the Registrar of Societies ordered all party meetings and conventions to be suspended in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Faced with a formidable enemy, the Jews unite, even for a brief moment, so all resources can be used to defeat that national threat. Our politicians and leaders are not Jews but maybe some of them should try to behave like the Jews once in a while. Especially now. Then maybe, in the face of Covid-19, they will start thinking of us instead of their own little egos and endless greed  for power.

Steady, Tuan Ibrahim and Saifuddin Abdullah!

Bangsar, 16 March: Hats off to these two ministers from this so-called "backdoor" government for swiftly coming to the defence of a local news portal journalist who was being heckled by Netizens over a report she did on Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.  
"I disagree with any personal attacks towards a reporter. Mistakes, misinterpreted information that strayed from the actual context are common," Tuan Ibrahim, the new Environment Minister, said in Stop the attack against journalist. 
"Any threat or attack against a reporter on duty is totally unacceptable," Saifuddin, the new Multimedia and Communications Minister, said in Attack against journalist unacceptable.  
When Pakatan Harapan was the government for a brief spell, Saifuddin was the Foreign Minister while Tuan Ibrahim was in the Opposition. 
Personally, I see the swift and strong response of the two YBs as an early good sign for the future of Malaysian journalists who have been facing tough times during the last couple of years under the previous government as a result of various new hurdles, including newspaper (and news portal) closures, an unprecedented lawsuit (read Reporter faces criminal charges for FB postings), and online censorship.
Saifuddin has been consistent where his position on media freedom is concerned and this should augur well for the on-going initiative by journalists in this country to establish a Malaysian Media Council.

Selangor Sultan: Backdoor govt label inaccurate 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

From fear-mongering to pandemic

Bangsar, 12 March: The last time I stepped out of a courthouse with moderation advocate Jahaberdeen Yunoos, he was my counsel in a high-profiled defamation case brought against me (and one Jeff Ooi) in 2006 by a news conglomerate and four of its top execs, an affair that would bog (dog?) my career as a journalist and blogger for 5 years (and helped make Jeff Ooi a two-term Member of Parliament). Jahaberdeen was the last in a string of lawyers who offered to defend me pro-bono.  
Seeing him again yesterday at the Magistrate court in Jalan Duta, acting as counsel to journalist Wan Noorhayati Wan Alias, 41, gave me a strong does of confidence. It's hard not to feel alright when Jahaberdeen is on your side. 

Outside the court house yesterday
I sincerely hope the new Attorney-General would agree to drop the charges brought against 'Ibu Yati' just a little over a month ago by the previous AG. We all know the Covid-19 better today: the World Health Organisation (WHO) has just declared it a pandemic, Indonesia reported its first death from the virus, and Germany feared that 60-70 per cent of its population will be infected, Tom Hanks is in hospital after testing positive, and our own health authorities have also come out to encourage people to call of public events and gatherings, including religious ones. Even foes agree when it comes to this virus: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stopped shaking hands with the people and Anwar Ibrahim has adopted a "no-hugging" policy ...

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dennis Ignatius' idea of a Ketuanan Melayu Cabinet

TTDI, 11 March: In his angry latest article A Ketuanan Melayu Cabinet, Dennis Ignatius declares that for non-Malays, PM Muhyiddin Yassin's Cabinet is "the most regressive Cabinet we've ever had". 
Out of 70 ministers and deputy ministers, there are only two non-bumiputra ministers and five deputy ministers, the lowest representation in terms of percentage we’ve ever seen. 
A very disturbing statement, especially coming from a man who had spent 36 years living and working abroad as a Malaysian diplomat. For someone who crucifies Muhyiddin for his Malay-first remarks, Dennis Ignatius doesn't seem or sound like a Malaysian-first Malaysian, either. 

I counted 70 Malaysian ministers and deputy ministers in the new Cabinet. 

Who is Dennis Ignatius, again? [Taken from Arise Ambassadors]
Dennis’ passion is to help raise up ambassadors for the Kingdom who are passionate about God, committed to serving Him with excellence, and determined to honour God with a life lived well. 
Drawing on his vast experience as a career ambassador, consultant, human rights advocate, author, newspaper columnist, itinerant preacher, and motivational speaker who has travelled extensively, he brings a unique perspective to the challenges of staying passionate for God, finding purpose, and living the faith we believe. 
Dennis Ignatius was a Malaysian diplomat for 36 years serving in London, Beijing and Washington, D.C., before being appointed ambassador to Chile and subsequently to Argentina. While in Latin America, he served concurrently as ambassador to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay. From 2001 to 2008, he served as High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Canada before retiring from the foreign service.
Following a dramatic encounter with Jesus in 1986 in Washington, D.C., Dennis has been active in sharing his faith, preaching and ministering internationally. He has appeared on Christian television and speaks at conferences and seminars. 
He is the author of Fire Begets Fire, a book about the passionate pursuit of God. His email devotional, Fuel For The Fire, has an international circulation. 
Dennis has also been engaging Christians in politics, business and diplomacy with a view to helping them define their purpose and strengthen their role in public life. Christians in the public square who understand their purpose and are committed to their calling have a tremendous capacity to influence culture and disciple nations. 
He is a fellow of the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity, a Toronto-based evangelical Christian organization committed to the training and equipping of Christians in the areas of Christian apologetics, missiology and the cultural mandate. 
Dennis is also deeply concerned about human rights and justice and seeks to voice the concerns of disenfranchised and persecuted groups. He is Diplomatic Advisor to First Step Forum, a Helsinki-based group of Christian professionals, business leaders, and politicians committed to helping persecuted minorities of all faiths by building bridges and promoting dialogue with national governments. As well, he is an international affairs columnist & commentator. 
Dennis and his wife, Cherry, divide their time between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Ottawa, Canada.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Will we see PH-style 'execution' of GLC leaders?

Puchong, 8 March: One the first things that the ill-fated Pakatan Harapan government did in the short-lived Malaysia Baharu era was to unceremoniously sack government-linked companies (GLCs) chief executives as they were deemed to be allied to the BN government that had just lost to PH in the May 2018 general elections. 
Wahid, driving for charity
Marching orders for the likes of Abdul Wahid Omar and Shazalli Ramly and other gems who had been handpicked and groomed for years and years to lead and grow the GLCs. 
Less than a handful from the BN-era GLC corporate leaders survived. 
The PH government had then proceeded to put their own people to head the GLCs. Gelojoh. We heard of  tussles between the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister's Office over some of the appointments involving  very strategic GLCs. In some cases, the new management and the government seemed to have colluded to accuse the old of mismanagement and abuse. Curiously, as in the case of Tabung Haji, none was ever charged, leading to suspicions of high-level hanky-panky involving some elements high up in the PH government. 

Agree with Tok Mat. If there were mismanagement and abuses, the Government should take those responsible to court, even if that person is the former Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng. The Umno deputy president said it wasn't about revenge but ".. this concerns national integrity and we must defend it." (Read "... 15 national assets sold to foreigners during PH's reign. ") 
But back to the GLC leaders who came in after May 2018. The likes of Zety Akhtar Aziz, Jalil Abdul Rasheed, Shireen Ann Zaharah and many more ... should they expect the same fate that had befallen their predecessors like Abdul Wahid Omar and Shazallii Ramly? 
Should they offer to resign like Tommy Thomas and Latheefa Koya did or should they wait for the marching orders? 
Whatever it is, I hope the new government would not do to the post-May 2018 GLC leaders what PH had done. If the Prime Minister wishes to replace all of the GLC CEOs, that is his prerogative to do so, but do it with due respect. What they did to AWO, Shazallii and the other GLC leaders after May 2018 - and how they did it -  was insulting, vengeful., jahat.
I'm sure you remember, the PH witch hunt did not stop with the GLC leaders. The PH government had frozen bank accounts of certain corporate leaders who were seen as close to the previous government and raided their offices. 
One prominent businessman was paraded, for all and sundry to see, in and out of the courthouse like a criminal over deals allegedly made for the government when he was head of a tourism board. 
Did you hear of that individual being charged with any crime or mismanagement afterwards? NO. 
Why not? You tell me.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Why Ku Nan's assets don't turn me on

TTDI, 5 March: If you were expecting Latheefa Koya to quit like the other political appointee, you are going to be disappointed at least for now. The MACC chief is not just staying put but she has lunged ahead and opened an investigation into Ku Nan's multi-million ringgit assets, an issue that has been seized by her poor former colleagues in the Pakatan Harapan still seething from having just lost the government after only 20 months of tumultous rule.

MACC probes Ku Nan's astronomical wealth

Latheefa was made MACC chief in June last year by the then PM-7 Dr Mahathir. The appointment was seen as controversial as it flouted PH's own principles. 
As I see it, the MACC had very little choice but to start the probe into Ku Nan's wealth. But if you expect fireworks, I think you're in for a major disappointment.
Because even before he joined the government (then led by Dr Mahathir the PM-4), Ku Nan was already a filthy rich guy. During the 90s, he was known as the business partner of Vincent Tan, a wealthy Malaysian and a friend of Mahathir's. The two - Ku Nan and Vincent Tan - had even gotten a KDN to start The Sun to challenge the media moguls or NSTP and The Star. The first time I met Ku Nan was in Langkawi in 1991, the year of the inaugural LIMA. I was covering it for Business Times and Ku Nan was on  the island to supervise the completion of his beachfront resort. It was a period when Malaysian tycoons were not just building chalets and hotels from Langkawi to South Africa, they were placing orders for private jets and yachts like our children order stuff these days via Grab or from Amazon.
Along with Ku Nan, high fliers of the Nineties included Amin Shah ioOmar Shah, Shahrani Abdullah, Tajudin Ramli, Ting Pek Khiing, Ananda Krishnan, Vincent Tan, Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah, Francis YTL, John Soh Chee Wen and many more. Ku Nan wasn't the richest but he was already there before he became a politician (unlike many who became rich AFTER they entered politics). 
Still  ... nowhere near Syed Mokhtar and friends.

p.s It would be interesting to find out how Ku Nan's assets had fallen in value (from RM900 m to just a little over RM700 m) after he'd joined politics. I thought politics would have increased his worth by leaps and bounds!
So, looking forward to Cik Lat's findings. I sincerely hope she doesn't quit halfway ...

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Going by this Tommy principle, shouldn't other political appointees resign as well?

Bangsar, 4 March: Kajol joined us for coffee at our regular earlier today, just as Tommy Thomas was explaining to FMT in another part of town why he had resigned as the Attorney-General at the height of last week's "coup". 

Kajol, a lawyer by training, wouldn't have any of Tommy Thomas' "bs".

"It's an abdication of responsibilites, that's what it is. Tommy Thomas was appointed by the office of the Prime Minister, not by the individual (Dr Mahathir). 

"The responsible thing to do, therefore, was wait till a new Prime Minister was appointed. Only after that should Tommy Thomas have offered to resign or left it to the new office of the Prime Minister to ask him to stay or go," she argued.

Mmmm. our Kajol is not just a looker she's got brains, too.

p.s. But if you go by the former Attorney-Genera's principled decision to quit because the PM who appointed him had quit, then shouldn't it be incumbent as well upon the other political appointees, such as Latheefa Koya, the Inspector-General of Police, the Bank Negara governor, the various heads of GLCs (including Zeti of PNB and Rosli Man of Telekom Malaysia) to resign?

p.p.s Kajol told me, by the way, that Tommy Thomas wasn't appointed by the PM, anyway. The Prime Minister only proposed, it was the Yang diPertuan Agong who appointed him. 

"Big" cases were dropped in 2018

TTDI, 4March2020: Marina Mahathir was supposed to address a closed-door gathering of women entrepreneurs  sometime this weekend in a plush hotel in the city. The organisers had marketed the exclusive conference months ago as a golden opportunity for these entrepreneurs to mingle-and-giggle with the daughter of the prime minister. But after last week's "coup" in Putrajaya, the organisers have called it off. I'm not sure if that decision has got anything to do with Marina's rantings against the man who "betrayed" her father and is now the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia. But they were enough to make me cringe.

Why cringe, you ask? Because less than two years ago, the Government did drop some big cases involving politicians who were part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition (still) led by Dr M. 

I don't remember Marina making any noise about any of it, do you?

In Lim Guan Eng's corruption case that was dropped by the AGC in September 2018, which took not just the ordinary people but also the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission by complete surprise, a retired senior Judge had warned Dr M that allowing it to happen would be of bad faith. Justice should be seen as being done, the former Judge had said. 

But  it was allowed to happen. And more big cases were dropped subsequently.  
They (MACC) have a right to be shocked. If they want to be shocked, they can be shocked. I am also shocked.” - Dr Mahathir also "shocked" at court's decision to acquit Guan Eng 03Sept2018

Me, I'll be shocked if Abang Din doesn't learn from that and doesn't listen to the people (including Marina-lah) and goes ahead to drop the so-called "big" cases. Or include any of the politicians involved in those cases to his Cabinet (Guan Eng was made Finance Minister even though the corruption case against him was ongoing).

Please read
The rule of law is dead in Malaysia, says Ismail Sabri  after AG withdrew appeal against Rafizi's acquittal - Mkini, 10 Dec 2019