Covid-19, Sri Petaling tabligh is the Epicentre in Malaysia


Covid-19 https://youtu.be/LBDAd1IZrc4

The hosts, the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jama’at, which traces its roots back to India a century ago, on Monday suspended missionary activities but did not comment directly on the Malaysian
event. – NSTP/ASWADI ALIAS.

Sri Petaling tabligh the epicentre of Malaysia’s second wave of Covid-19:

WORSHIPPERS slept in packed tents outside the golden-domed mosque, waking before dawn to kneel on rows of prayer mats laid out in its cavernous central hall. All the while, the coronavirus was passing unnoticed among the guests.

The gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur has emerged as a source of hundreds of new Covid-19 infections spanning South-East Asia.

It was attended by 16,000 people, including 1,500 foreigners.

While more than 10,000 of those who attended the event have been screened, the authorities are still trying to identify another 4,000 attendees, said Health Minister Adham Baba.

Out of Malaysia’s over 1,180 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Saturday, most of them were linked to the four-day meeting, he added. It is not clear who brought the virus there in the first place.

The hosts, the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jama’at, on Monday suspended missionary activities but did not comment directly on the event.

Malaysia has shut its borders, restricting internal movement and closing schools, universities and most businesses as it seeks to control the outbreak. All mosques have been closed for two weeks.

“I was actually very surprised that it went ahead,” said Surachet Wae-asae, a former Thai lawmaker who attended the event but has since tested negative for the coronavirus after returning home.

“But in Malaysia, God is very important. The belief is strong.”

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Health Ministry declined to comment further about the event.

The packed gathering, where guests had to take shuttle buses to sleep at other venues, was attended by nationals from dozens of countries, including Canada, Nigeria, India and Australia, according to an attendee list posted on social media. There were also citizens of China and South Korea – two countries with high rates of coronavirus infections.

“We sat close to each other,” a 30-year-old Cambodian man who attended the event told Reuters from a hospital in Cambodia’s Battambang province, where he was being treated after testing positive for Covid-19 recently.

“Holding hands at the religious ceremony was done with people from many countries. When I met people, I held hands, it was normal. I don’t know who I was infected by,” he said, asking not to be named due to fears of discrimination.

None of the event leaders talked about washing hands, the coronavirus or health precautions during the event, but most guests washed their hands regularly, two guests said. Washing hands, among other parts of the body, is part of the wuduk (ablution before prayers).

Another attendee from Cambodia said guests from different countries shared plates when meals were served.

That a large religious pilgrimage went ahead, at a time when the epidemic had killed 2,700 people and was spreading from Italy to Iran, has drawn criticism.

“That Tablighi event in KL … could also cause a regional spike and it was irresponsible of the authorities to have allowed it to be held,” Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said on his Facebook page.

At the time of the event, Malaysia was in political turmoil after the power struggle between former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his successor-inwaiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The country had a one-man government in the 94-year-old interim prime minister, who had quit and was re-appointed on the same day. His resignation led to the dissolution of the former government.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the new premier on March 1 and banned mass gatherings on March 13. Prior to that, there was only advice from the Health Ministry to minimise public exposure.

Some attendees defended the event, saying that at the time, the situation in Malaysia – which had 25 known cases by Feb 28 – was not yet severe.

“We were not worried then as the Covid-19 situation at the time appeared under control,” said Khuzaifah Kamazlan, a 34-year-old religious teacher based in Kuala Lumpur who attended the event but has tested negative for the coronavirus.

He said some worshippers who attended the event have since refused to be tested.

Karim, a 44-year-old Malaysian who attended the gathering and later tested positive for Covid-19, says the government should have cancelled the event.

“We are disappointed that this outbreak has been blamed on us. That view is unfair.

“There was no ban on our gathering,” said Karim, who gave only his first name.

“Now I am concerned because I am positive. Please pray for me.” — Reuters

How Sri Petaling tabligh became Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 hotspot

KUALA LUMPUR: Worshippers slept in packed tents outside the golden-domed mosque, waking before dawn to kneel on rows of prayer mats laid out in its cavernous central hall. All the while, the Covid-19 coronavirus was passing unnoticed among the guests.

The Muslim gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex here has emerged as a source of hundreds of new coronavirus infections spanning Southeast Asia.

A 34-year-old Malaysian man who attended the event died on Tuesday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said, the first death linked to the Feb 27-March 1 event.

It was attended by 16,000 people, including 1,500 foreigners.

Out of Malaysia’s 673 confirmed coronavirus cases, nearly two-thirds are linked to the four-day meeting, Dr Adham said. It is not clear who brought the virus there in the first place.

Reuters spoke to six attendees and reviewed pictures and posts on social media, and the accounts and evidence showed several ways in which the outbreak could have spread.

The hosts, the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jama’at, which traces its roots back to India a century ago, on Monday suspended missionary activities but did not comment directly on the Malaysian event.

Tablighi Jama’at did not respond to a request for further comment. The mosque where the event was held was closed on Tuesday and a guest said he was one of dozens of worshippers still there under quarantine. Calls to the mosque went unanswered.

Malaysia will shut its borders, restrict internal movement and close schools, universities and most businesses, as it seeks to control its coronavirus outbreak. All mosques will be closed for two weeks.

“I was very surprised actually that it went ahead,” said Surachet Wae-asae, a former Thai lawmaker who attended the event but has since tested negative for the coronavirus after returning home.

“But in Malaysia God is very important. The belief is strong.”

The prime minister’s office and the health ministry declined to comment further about the event.

The Muslim gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex here has emerged as a source of hundreds of new coronavirus infections spanning Southeast Asia. – NSTP pic
The Muslim gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex here has emerged as a source of hundreds of new coronavirus infections spanning Southeast Asia. – NSTP pic

HOLDING HANDS, SHARING PLATES

The packed gathering, where guests had to take shuttle buses to sleep at other venues, was attended by nationals from dozens of countries, including Canada, Nigeria, India and Australia, according to an attendee list posted on social media.

There were also citizens of China and South Korea – two countries with high rates of coronavirus infections.

Social media posts show hundreds of worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder inside the mosque, while some guests posted selfies as they shared food.

It was not clear how many guests were residents of Malaysia, but cases linked to the gathering are popping up daily across Southeast Asia.

“We sat close to each other,” a 30-year-old Cambodian man who attended the event told Reuters from a hospital in Cambodia’s Battambang province, where he was being treated after testing positive for the coronavirus on Monday.

“Holding hands at the religious ceremony was done with people of many countries. When I met people, I held hands, it was normal. I don’t know who I was infected by,” he said, asking not to be named due to fears of discrimination at his mosque.

None of the event leaders talked about washing hands, the coronavirus or health precautions during the event, but most guests washed their hands regularly, two guests said. Washing hands among other parts of the body is part of Muslim worship.

Another attendee from Cambodia said guests from different countries shared plates when meals were served.

Only half of the Malaysian participants who attended have come forward for testing, the health minister has said, raising fears that the outbreak from the mosque could be more far-reaching.

Brunei has confirmed 50 cases linked to the mosque gathering, out of a total of 56 cases. Singapore has announced five linked to the event, Cambodia 13 and Thailand at least two.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, which had nearly 700 of its citizens attend, are all investigating.

That a large religious pilgrimage should have gone ahead, at a time when the epidemic had killed 2,700 people and was spreading from Italy to Iran, has drawn criticism.

More than 182,000 people have now been infected by the coronavirus globally and 7,165 have died.


‘IRRESPONSIBLE’

“That Tablighi event in KL (Kuala Lumpur) … could also cause a regional spike and it was irresponsible for the authorities to have allowed it to be held,” Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said on his Facebook page.

It is not the only religious event to spread the virus on a mass scale. Thousands of cases in South Korea are linked to services of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the city of Daegu.

At the time of the event in Malaysia, the country was in political turmoil. The country had a one-man government in the 94-year-old interim prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had quit and was temporarily re-appointed the same day.

Prime Tan Sri Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the new premier on March 1 and banned mass gatherings on March 13. Prior to that, there was only advice from the health ministry to minimise public exposure.

Some attendees defended the event, saying that at the time the situation in Malaysia – which had announced 25 known cases by Feb 28 – was not severe.

“We were not worried then as the Covid-19 situation at the time appeared under control,” said Khuzaifah Kamazlan, a 34-year-old religious teacher based in Kuala Lumpur who attended the event but has tested negative for the coronavirus.

Khuzaifah said some of the worshippers who attended the event have since refused to be tested for coronavirus, preferring to rely on God to protect them.

Karim, a 44-year-old Malaysian who attended the gathering and later tested positive for coronavirus, says the government should have cancelled the event.

“We are a bit disappointed that this outbreak has been blamed entirely on us. That view is unfair. There was no ban on our gathering,” said Karim, who gave only his first name.

“Now I am concerned because I am positive. Please pray for me.” – REUTERS

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All the majority Malays need to change is to abandon their fear of the minority non-Malays, well said Datuk Zaid Ibrahim



Malays say they are falling behind other ethnic groups in many fields. They seem to think that it is all because the non-Malays are in control of the economy and the country. The solutions offered to them by their political and religious leaders are the same; they were told that they must unite and that they must follow the real teachings of their religion. It is the same advice given to them all these years since independence. It did not work out to help the Malays and the poor. How much more unity can the Malays achieve, and how much more Islamic can they be?

I wish to offer the Malays a new practical solution to their problems. They need to abandon their political groupings where only Malays are members of that group. They tried UMNO PAS and lately Bersatu; for sixty years now, and what have they achieved? Very little. The Malays should abandon the Malay only parties altogether. They are not only useless but damaging to the welfare of the Malays.

For many years now, we are full of corruption and abuse of power; and where religion has become a political tool. The purity and sanctity of religion are compromised — the need for politics soils religious values every day.

They must now join the grouping that they believe is a “threat “to them. DAP is seen by many as a threat to the Malays, according to these failed Malay leaders. If that is true, then the Malays should join the DAP in droves.

You may say that DAP is a Chinese party, but that’s because the Malays refuse to join them. If we all join DAP then DAP becomes a multiracial party where Malays will be fairly represented. It will cease to be a Chinese party. It can be a dominant Malay party; not that it’s essential.

DAP is a party in government. Its a strong democratic party. Besides PKR, this is the party that the Malays should join and try to get better economic benefits for them by having a government with good policies for the Rakyat.

Some questioned if the Chinese will share the fruits of the country’s economic development with the Malays. Of course, they will. They have been sharing the wealth of the country with the Malays for three hundred years now. Except that in the past; the wealth was shared with the Malay elites.In Perak, the tin miners were partners with the aristocracy. Since the NEP the Chinese were partners with the Malay political leaders. I am sure you must know how many Malay political leaders become wealthy because they have good Chinese and Indian friends. I don’t have to elaborate.

In this religious country; PAS leaders tell you that we must elect Muslim leaders first. They conveniently do not follow what they preach. You must know that the big timber tycoons and developers in the country are mainly Chinese. PAS leaders, too, are close to wealthy Chinese people in the business. So you see the Chinese do share their wealth with the Malays.

What must change is that the ordinary Malays like you and me must get together to create a new political force and become a genuine business partner of the non Malays? Why should the Chinese deal with the ‘middlemen’ like they have done for hundreds of years when they can deal directly with the “Rakyat” to make this country prosperous and to share its prosperity?

The reason why our leaders, both political and religious, want to keep the Malays and the non Malays apart is to make them”relevant’ as power brokers. After sixty years of independence, I urge you, the people of this country, regardless of race, to take ownership of the country. Enough of the leaders using the politics of race and religion to divide the people; and enrich themselves.

When the Malays and the non-Malays have real political power and willing to collaborate as one, we can devise policies and programs that will benefit all Malaysians. We can do so directly; addressing the real needs of the people. Only then can we give real development to the people; without the need to continue with the services of the rent-seekers and wealthy politicians and wealthy civil servants.

All the Malays need to change is to abandon their fear of the non-Malays. After all the non-Malays have always been sharing their wealth with the Malays; since the days of Yap Ah Loy, the Perak miners and the estate owners. This time we just have to tweak the formula; Let the non-Malays unite with the Malays. Political and economic benefits will flow to the ordinary Rakyat instead of the elites of this country when politics ceases to be about race and religion.

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PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be in charge of all ministries and government departments until the appointment of Cabinet ministers, says the latest Federal Government gazette.

The gazette signed on Tuesday by the Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali, also stated that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, pursuant to Article 43 of the Federal Constitution, has appointed Muhyiddin as Prime Minister.

“This Order is deemed to have come into operation on March 1,2020, ” said the notice that was uploaded on the Attorney General’s Chambers website.

“It is notified that the Prime Minister, (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin) shall be charged with the responsibility in respect of all departments of the Federal Government and the subjects for which the departments are responsible until the appointment of other ministers in the Cabinet.”

Muhyiddin, who was sworn in as Prime Minister on March 1, met chief secretaries from the Education and Foreign Ministries yesterday.

The newly minted Prime Minister posted pictures on Facebook of him meeting the duo in his office that featured empty shelves and empty tables, a sign of someone who has just moved in.

In the Facebook post, Muhyiddin said Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas briefed him on developments and suggestions to upgrade the education sector.

Foreign Ministry chief secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob was also seen explaining Malaysia’s current diplomatic relationships and pending international conferences.

“Mohd Gazali gave explanations on developments in the education sector as well as statistics of achievements, and gave suggestions on how to build up the education sector.

“Shahrul of the Foreign Affairs Ministry briefed the prime minister on the current relationship between Malaysia and other countries, as well as collaborations and important conferences which will take place this year, ” said the post.

It is believed that one of the main subjects discussed was the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) inter-governmental forum that will be held in November in Kuala Lumpur.

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The Cabinet list jigsaw puzzle


Muhyiddin Yassin

GPS, having played the kingmaker in the political saga, expects to be well rewarded. Thus, drawing up the Cabinet list will be a more complicated task this time around, as there are just so many variables that need to be considered.


AS Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin thinks about the composition of his Cabinet list, he will certainly need to take heed as to how Sarawak should be rewarded.

There is no doubt that the 18 Members of Parliament from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) were the ones who made the critical difference in the numbers game last week.

The GPS consists of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

It was game over when these lawmakers chose Muhyiddin instead of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be prime minister.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg put it aptly when he told the media that “now you know the value of GPS votes.”

He said the ruling state coalition initially supported Dr Mahathir to continue leading the country.

“After that, he resigned. Then he resigned from Bersatu. After that, he was back again. So left, right, left, right, what else to expect?

“That’s why we supported Muhyiddin. At the same time, our Sarawak interest is uppermost, ” he added.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had hoped that GPS would remain neutral at least but the political reality was that GPS had to make a stand.

If there was one big factor that had made up the final decision of the GPS, it has to be the DAP.

Outspoken Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing has consistently said that GPS would not support a coalition that included DAP in the ongoing political crisis.

He blamed DAP’s “administrative arrogance” for this, adding that the party did whatever it pleased without listening to others, citing Lim Guan Eng as an example.

He pointed out that the former Finance Minister had announced that Sarawak would go bankrupt within three years when the DAP leader came to the state last year.

The reality is actually the opposite.

In 2019, S&P Global Ratings has affirmed its ‘A-’ rating on Sarawak with stable earnings outlook and said the state’s exceptional budgetary performance and liquidity will likely mitigate its elevated debt, supporting its creditworthiness.

The state’s healthy financial standing and its stable socio-political environment have earned Sarawak commendable investment-grade credit ratings of A-, A3 and AAA by reputable international and domestic rating houses.

A Google search of the financial standing of the country’s largest state is sufficient to show that.

Lim’s hurtful remark, and other past disputes with the DAP, seem to have left a deep-rooted resentment of the party among GPS members, and last week, was payback time.

While it has been said that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics, this doesn’t seem to apply in the case of the GPS in this regard.

At one point, Masing even said the GPS was “more comfortable working with PAS than DAP.”

As the situation turned desperate, Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said the party was willing to make concessions with GPS to keep the Pakatan Harapan government intact, appealing to GPS “to put aside all past political differences and work together with Pakatan to save our country.”

Many interpreted the offer to mean the DAP’s readiness in not contesting in the upcoming Sarawak state elections.

But it came too late as the GPS had already made up its mind after having huddled together for two days at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

It remains to be seen what the GPS had asked for and what Muyhiddin has to offer.

It will be Sarawak’s gain over neighbouring Sabah as Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal opted to stay with Pakatan.

A statement from the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office on Feb 29 said GPS supported Muhyiddin to restore political stability in the country without sacrificing Sarawak’s interest.

It also said that GPS would be friendly to the new Federal Government but was not a member of the Perikatan Nasional coalition.

Some senior leaders of the GPS said privately that they wanted to see what would be on the table but expected to be rewarded accordingly.

Others said that they were prepared to wait till the state elections were over – as these veteran politicians were aware that Pakatan would most certainly use the alliance with Perikatan Nasional as a rallying call against the GPS in the state polls.

Unlike Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawakian leaders are more interested in protecting and keeping their state positions rather than federal posts.

“The interest of Sarawak is more important than the interest of lawmakers, ” Masing told this writer.

But the immediate priority would be to demand a higher oil royalty from the current 5% and if this was a sticky point under Pakatan, it will likely remain so for the new Perikatan Nasional government.

The other is the Malaysia Agreement 1963, or more popularly known as MA63.

The agreement – an 18-point pact for Sarawak and 20-point for Sabah – was signed on July 9,1963, before the formation of Malaysia.

It is an important document safeguarding the rights and autonomy of the two states.

The 18-point and 20-point agreement covers religion, language, constitution, immigration, the position of the indigenous people, finance, tariffs and citizenship.

Sabahans and Sarawakians are understandably annoyed when they hear “orang Malaya” remark that these two states “joined Malaysia”, pointing out that they had, in fact, helped to form Malaysia.

In the peninsula, the governing state leaders are known as state executive councillors but over in Sabah and Sarawak, they are known as state ministers.

That also explains why Malaysians from the peninsula side need their identity card or passport when entering these two states, and state immigration have the right to deny anyone entry.

“Orang Semenanjung” who want to work in these two states have to apply for a work permit.

The same goes for lawyers who wish to appear in the courts of either state – they have to get approval beforehand.

Most Malaysians may not understand fully what MA63 is all about, even if they have become contentious political issues.

But most believe that the Federal Government has not given due recognition to the MA63 or that these safeguards have not been honoured or taken away.

Sarawakians want a greater degree of financial and political autonomy as compared to other states in the peninsula and not end up being merely one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

It remains to be seen how or what posts would be given to the GPS MPs, and whether this state coalition wishes to wait till the state polls are over before moving in but what is certain is that the new Prime Minister certainly cannot ignore the Land of the Hornbill.

Abang Jo’s words (now you know the value of the GPS) would surely ring continuously in the ears of the Prime Minister.

And now, this explains why a tiny country like Malaysia, with a population of over 32 million people, has a big Cabinet – it is simply because the Prime Minister has to accommodate so many geographical and ethnic interests.

It is also very possible that the Prime Minister may announce the appointments in batches, starting with the crucial ones. This will allow him time to tinker.

Drawing up the Cabinet list will be a more complicated task this time, unlike previously, as there are just so many variables that need to be considered.

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促警方尊重宪法勿插手抗议集会 净选盟:后门政府不能成为常态

 

 Quality leaders, please 

 
Exchanging views: Muhyiddin (from right) with Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri and Chief Secretary to the government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali at Bangunan Perdana Putra. — Bernama
PETALING JAYA: With all eyes on who will make it into Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Cabinet, the business sector and moderation advocates are urging for quality over political loyalty.

Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia (Perdasama) vice-president Datuk Sohaimi Shahadan said the new Cabinet line-up must include those with enough experience and expertise in their respective ministries.

“They should not be appointed based on political appointment or connection, networking, or to pay back any form of political assistance.

“The individual must be highly educated, experienced, and understands his job scope to strengthen the current government,” he said.

He proposed that the Cabinet should be a mix of old and new leaders from various backgrounds, as well as professionals who could be appointed as senators to become a Cabinet minister.

“We have experienced ministers from the previous government who did not carry any weight, could not perform their duties well and incapable of executing government objectives.

“A minister must be able to connect with those on the ground. For instance, we have many young business people who are doing everything online creatively. We want someone who is capable of connecting with them,” he said.

He urged the government to conduct a holistic review on the composition of the ministries as some could be merged or separated.

“Some ministries have too many agencies and departments under them while others have so few. The government should properly study and come up with a better structure,” he said.

Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) president Datuk N. Gobalakrishnan said ministerial positions should be given to those who are most qualified even if it means choosing an ordinary party member rather than a president or chairman.

“We would rather the posts be given not based on loyalty or who has the higher post in a party, instead to those who are most qualified even if they are just ordinary members,” he said.

The new government must also look into creating a more business-friendly environment for domestic direct investment (DDI), which has been sidelined in the previous administration’s focus to spur foreign direct investment (FDI), said Gobalakrishnan.

“There is a one-stop centre to give perks such as tax exemption and customs clearance under one roof to foreign investors, but there is no such facility for DDI.

“The government must focus on levelling the playing field for DDI so that the country stops losing local investments that are flowing outside as FDI to countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia,” he said.

Gobalakrishnan also expressed hope for a special allocation of RM500mil yearly to aid Indian businesses in moving forward.

He said they were put in the same basket as non-bumiputra businesses which caused stiff competition and Indian businesses to be sidelined from securing funds.

“When we are placed in a non-bumiputra basket, fundamentally, or predominantly, other people tend to get the funds rather than Indian businesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, moderation advocates said the main focus for the Cabinet ministers, when appointed, should be to get the economy back on track and to promote unity among a divided nation.

Anas Zubedy said boosting a dampened economy and bolstering unity among Malaysians would be the two “key concern areas” for the new Cabinet.

“The ministers must be individuals who not only can reconcile people between the races but also who can bring the Malays back together,” he said.

He said the Cabinet should be a mix of experienced veterans and young blood, depending on their past records.

“The Umno ministers who did a good job in the past should be brought back. It is about getting things done,” he said, adding that it must not be someone who currently has a court case.

“We must take the best talent from everywhere and I believe this was the best option for our country when the idea of the unity government was proposed,” he said.

Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, the son of former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, said education reforms and national unity would be some of the priority areas the new Cabinet must look at.

He said any potential minister must be financially independent and preferably be from a profession.

“This is so that this person will not only be less attracted to bribes but can resign on principle and go back to his or her profession,” he said.

He added that ministers must also be transparent in their family’s involvement in business. – The Star front page

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The euphoria among Malaysians following the May 2018 polls has now turned to despair and disgust after the political machinations that a…

 

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The games Malay politicians play in Malaysia


Calmer days: In this May 9,2018, photo, Dr Mahathir with Muhyiddin speaking to reporters after the results of GE14 was announced. Yesterday, the King declared Muhyiddin as the Prime Minister. – AP

 

“WATCH for the game within the game, ” a tycoon who bankrolls political parties told me over coffee in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

On that afternoon, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shockingly announced that he quit as the Prime Minister.

The tycoon and I were discussing the botched Sunday game plan to install a Perikatan Nasional (or is it Pakatan Nasional?) government.

Something awry had happened which went against the playbook of the Perikatan Nasional plotters.

Was it because the rule of the game was changed?

Was it that the politicians had played each other out?

Was there a game within a game?

In this fast-paced political game, the entire truth has not surfaced, but soon we’ll know.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s process of the King meeting 220 MPs (except for Dr Mahathir and Padang Regas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who was overseas) individually looked like a done deal. Pakatan Harapan, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (which quit PH on Monday), sacked PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and his 10 MPs, and other minor parties had endorsed Dr Mahathir.

Then came the game within the game.

On Tuesday, after their MPs met the King individually, PKR, DAP and Amanah (which are in Pakatan Harapan) announced that it had backed PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

From a quick MPs calculation, PH with 92 MPs minus Barisan Nasional/PAS/PBRS with about 60 MPs (who not all are voting according to party line) which voted for bubar (Parliament dissolved), it was clear that Dr Mahathir had lost the vote count.

Many thought that the master of the game, Dr Mahathir, kena game (had been played).

On Thursday, Dr Mahathir – without waiting for the King to reveal the outcome of his majesty’s face to face meeting with individual MPs – declared there was no prime minister candidate with a clear majority. The interim Prime Minister announced there would be a special Parliament sitting on March 2 to determine who will be the next prime minister.

However, on Friday, the Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Mohd Ariff Yusof announced that there would not be a special Parliament sitting to determine who will be prime minister.

On that day, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah decided to give party leaders who have MPs in the Dewan Rakyat the opportunity to nominate a prime minister.

The frontrunners to be our next PM were Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and PKR president Anwar. Seemingly, Dr Mahathir was out of the game.

The fight was shaping up to be Perikatan Nasional (a Muslim and Bumiputera majority government) versus Pakatan Harapan (a non-Muslim majority government).

From the WhatsApp messages I could barely have time to monitor, the rakyat choice depended on who they hated the most.

Some who hated DAP supported the Perikatan Nasional government and those who hated Umno and PAS preferred the Pakatan Harapan government.

Grassroots politicians were getting emotional. Some were hysterical that they have to swallow the hate words they uttered against their political enemies as they might be in the same government.

Last night, a retired veteran journalist WhatsApp-ed me: “Instead of the tik-tok of the horse race and the numbers, why isn’t anyone reporting what this is all about: a battle for Malaysia’s future and what kind of country we want to be?

“A Malaysia focused on race and religion, or a Malaysia focused on building a better tomorrow in the Digital Age?”

I agree with him.

But the game is played fast and furious that we’re trying our best to keep pace with it.

Based on a quick calculation of MPs from political parties, in the numbers game, Muhyiddin had more than Anwar.

Bersatu 36 MPs (from 26 overnight it increased by 10 MPs with Azmin and gang), Umno 39 MPs, PAS 18 MPs, Gabungan Parti Sarawak 18 MPs and minor parties, Muhyiddin won.

Whereas Anwar only had his Pakatan Harapan ally (PKR 39 MPs, DAP 42 MPs and Amanah 11 MPs).

Game over for Anwar?

No. On Friday night, it became clear that the party leaders had no control of their MPs who had different allegiance. Karma had struck Bersatu – it was civil war between Team Mahathir and Team Muhyiddin.

Some sleeper MPs were awakened to go against their party leader.

Some MPs are honourable.

Some are for sale.

Not surprising as this is the games politicians play.

The shocker was yesterday. Dr Mahathir was back in the game.

The interim Prime Minister had thrown his name in the Game of Thrones. He was now the game-changer.

Some of those who backstabbed him when they met the King on Tuesday and Wednesday were now backing him.

Yesterday, the situation was very fluid. Too many games played and play outs.

I would have preferred a bubar endgame.

Let the rakyat be the kingmakers instead of MPs.

The endgame turn out to be the king declaring Muhyiddin as Prime Minister.

To the winners of the Game of Thrones, I wish them: GGWP (Good Game, Well Played).

Philip  Golingai

Malaysia’s economic stimulus package of RM20bil to mitigate Covid-19 impact


Video: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/28/gdp-target-within-reach?jwsource=cl

Minimum EPF contribution by employees to be reduced by 4% from 11% to 7%, with effect from Apr 1 to Dec 31, 2020. This will potentially unlock up to RM10 billion worth of private consumption. Malaysian workers have the option to opt out from the
scheme and maintain their contribution rate
    • KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had on Thursday unveiled the RM20bil stimulus package to offset the fallout from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Below are the highlights:

    • Based on three strategies: counter Covid-19 impact, boost people-based growth, encourage quality investments

 

    • • Bank Simpanan Nasional provides RM200mil micro credit at 4% interest rate

 

    • • MAHB to cut rental for tenants, landing charges and parking fees at airports

 

    • • Postponement of income tax monthly payment for tourism-related companies

 

    • • Bank Negara provides RM2bil guaranteed financial aid for SMES at 3.75% interest rate

 

    • • All banks required to reduce monetary burden in the form of postponement of payments or rescheduling of loans

 

    • • Temporary six months discount of as much as 15% for electricity bills for hotels, tourism agencies, airlines, and shopping centres

 

    • • Hotels to get service tax breaks from next month to august

 

    • • Economic growth for 2020 expected to be between 3.2% and 4.2%

 

    • • Minimum EPF contribution by employees to be reduced from 11% to 7%, with effect from april 1 to dec 31. This could unlock up to RM10bil worth of private consumption. Malaysian contributors have the choice to opt out from the scheme and maintain their contribution rate

 

    • • A payment of RM200 to all bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) recipients scheduled for May will be brought forward to March. an additional RM100 will be paid into the bank accounts of all BSH recipients in May. Subsequently, an additional rM50 will be channelled in the form of e-tunai

 

    • • As a result of the stimulus package, fiscal deficit estimated to increase to 3.4% of GDP from targeted 3.2%

 

    • • Grants of RM1,000 to RM10,000 for entrepreneurs to promote the sale of their products on e-commerce platforms

 

    • • Securities Commission and bursa Malaysia will waive listing fees for one year, for companies seeking listing on Leading entrepreneur accelerator Platform (LEAP) or Access, Certainty, Efficiency (ACE) markets, as well as companies with market capitalisation of less than RM500mil seeking listing on the main market

 

    • • Import duty and sales tax exemption on importation or local purchase of machinery and equipment used in port operations for three years commencing april 1

 

    • • Enough source of money for now, no issuance of bonds needed

 

    • • Stimulus package to be funded by RM2 trillion savings from bank Negara, Tabung Haji, EPF

 

  • • Bureaucratic procedures will be expedited to disburse stimulus

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Interim premier Dr Mahathir back at work in Perdana Putra; fight cronyvirus?


PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has returned to his office at Perdana Putra amidst the political storm raging over the last two days.

The vehicle ferrying him was seen approaching the protocol gate here at 9.29am on Tuesday (Feb 25).

This comes a day after the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir resigned as Prime Minister, when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong accepted his resignation.

However, the King has consented for Dr Mahathir to continue running the country as interim Prime Minister until a new premier has been appointed and a new Cabinet formed.

Dr Mahathir is the only one from the Pakatan Harapan administration who is left after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong cancelled the appointments of all Cabinet members.

Aside from ministers, the duties of other members the administration including the deputy prime minister, deputy ministers and political secretaries ceased, effective Feb 24.

It is learnt that ministers have packed their belongings and left with them on Monday (Feb 24) night, following the announcement that the King had accepted Dr Mahathir’s resignation.

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Yeo Bee Yin remembers Sheraton PJ on May 10, 2018

Yeo Bee Yin remembers Sheraton PJ on May 10,
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China-Malaysia ties to remain on course amid surprise PM resignation

Regardless of who Malaysian prime minister will be, he will have vision and goals for economic development, which  China, especially through its BRI, can offer. It is expected that Malaysia’s next state leader will cooperate with China. And the same can be said of other Southeast Asian nations.

 

 Mahathir’s resignation not to affect China relations 

 

Image result for The Wit And Wisdom Of Dr Mahathir Mohamad

The Wit And Wisdom Of Dr Mahathir Mohamad

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Let’s come together in 2020


AS 2019 comes to a close let us reflect on how we have progressed as a nation in the past year. It’s time to take stock of our achievements and successes, weaknesses and shortcomings.2019 can be as Charles Dickens wrote in his book, A Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

The Government has succeeded in enhancing governance and reducing corruption and has unveiled a new shared prosperity vision. Nevertheless, the nation still remains divided with the state of race relations somewhat fragile and fraying.

Economically, whilst Malaysia has improved its international image and reputation and attracted new foreign investments, there are still concerns over the economy, particularly the cost of living and investor confidence.

I hope 2020 will be a better year for all Malaysians, a year of hope and reconciliation so necessary for us to be more united and harmonious.

I would like to propose that for the new year we look at the 4Cs.

Cultural divide: Let us close this divide to enhance our unity and social harmony by celebrating our cultural diversity instead of deliberating on what divides us.

Corruption: We need to instil a culture of ethics and integrity to enable us to fight corruption both in the public and private sectors. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s Act’s corporate liability clause which comes into force in June 2020 can be a game changer to eradicate corruption. We must wipe out this scourge of corruption.

Class competition: The growing inequalities and divide between the rich and poor is unsustainable. More must be done to improve the earnings of the lower middle class so that they can improve their livelihood. At the same time more must be done for the bottom 20 or B20. We have talked a lot about the B40 but the B20 needs a lot more attention.

Common values and common purpose: We need to promote and enhance common values that all Malaysians can uphold and celebrate like tolerance, harmony, trust and mutual understanding. We must also have a common purpose that transcends our political divide and brings us together as a nation.

I would also like to urge the 4As of unity – acceptance, awareness, accommodation and acknowledgement. We need to maintain an equilibrium of the legitimate interests of the various communities.

Finally, I hope all Malaysians will come together to focus on the 3Es which must also be prioritised by the Government.

Economic growth: To ensure we continue to enjoy sustainable economic growth of 4%-5%.

Employment: We need to have enough jobs for our younger generation and create jobs of the future.

Environmental sustainability: We need a joint coordinated effort between government, business and civil society organisations to promote and achieve environmental sustainability so essential for future generations.

These are our common challenges going into 2020. Let us strengthen collaboration to move forward so that we can together work towards upholding the 4Ps – people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnerships for a better nation and better world.

May 2020 be a better and happier year for all of us and a year of the new 3Rs – reconciliation, renewal and racial harmony.

In 2020 we need to also keep focusing on the 3Ds – democracy, divide and digitalisation. The need to continue to strengthen democratic reforms, closing our racial and religious divides and accelerating digitalisation should move the nation forward.

Let 2020 also be the year we accelerate efforts to get rid of the 4Is – inequalities, injustices, indifference and impunity.

Let us begin a new year with new hopes. Happy New Year to all Malaysians.

Together let us unite and move forward to make 2020 the best year ever for Malaysia and Malaysians.

Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, President Kingsley Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific

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KUALA LUMPUR: Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam said Malaysia’s Vision 2020 objective was “falling apart” with “alarming speed”, and he blames Tun Dr  Mahathir Mohamad for it.

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Jawi, a simple education matter is threatening to morph into a serious political issue?


Dong Zong president Tan (seated second from right) with other Dong Jiao Zong leaders at a press conference on Dec 12.

CHINESE educationists and guild leaders are going to display solid unity on Dec 28 – thanks to the Education Ministry’s move to marginalise the board of directors (BOD) in vernacular schools over a Jawi teaching issue.

Dong Jong and Jiao Zong, collectively referred to as Dong Jiao Zong, have championed the cause of Chinese education since the 1950s.

This coming Saturday, heads of Dong Jiao Zong from 13 states, as well as top leaders of 30 other national Chinese associations will be congregating at Dong Jong Building in Kajang to take a stand against a set of new guidelines on the teaching of Jawi issued by the Education Ministry to non-Malay schools.

Leading Chinese groups Huazong and Hoklian have declared their support promptly.

Hua Zong president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan said Chinese guilds need to unite in opposing the government’s move.

“The position of the Chinese community on Chinese language education, especially on this subject, needs to be consistent,” he said.

The bone of contention lies in the new guidelines issued by the Education Ministry on the teaching of Jawi scripts for Standard Four pupils in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

In the guidelines issued earlier this month, the teaching of Jawi scripts will be optional. But if 51% of parents vote in favour of it in a survey conducted by Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), then schools will have to teach Jawi.

In this PTA survey and voting process, the school BOD is totally left out.

Responding to Dong Jiao Zong’s Dec 12 press conference, deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching told Bernama the ministry prioritised the opinion of the PTAs as well as the parents and students themselves.

Heng: ‘We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining the school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools.

– Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai

“We will let the PTAs make the decision because it’s about their children’s learning. Parents are the guardians, so you should get their consent if you want to do anything,” she said on Dec 13.

But to the Chinese community, the BODs are the dragon heads of schools. Hence, they cannot be sidelined in any decision-making.

In a Chinese school, BOD members – who could include businessmen, parents, alumni and trustees — are expected to donate money, raise funds and formulate policies.

As government funding for Chinese primary schools is often lacking, raising funds for development and repairs of schools often rest on the shoulders of the BOD.

Dong Jiao Zong has argued that this new guidelines not only “defies the decision made by the cabinet”, but also “goes against Article 53 of the Education Act 1996” in which authority is vested in the BOD in schools.

“By allowing the parents to have the final say on this matter, the harmonious and amicable relationship among parents and students from different races will be undermined. This will also marginalise the school board as well as PTA,” Dong Jong chairman Tan Tai Kim said in a statement last weekend.

Dong Jiao Zong’s statement also noted that in the new Bahasa Malaysia (BM) textbook for Standard Four, the appreciation of Chinese caligraphy and Tamil writing are left out.

In the past, pages on Jawi, Tamil and Chinese writings appeared in the Standard Five BM text book; and Dong Jiao Zong was happy with the multi-racial content.

The new BM text book for Standard Four contains three pages on Jawi scripts, without Chinese and Tamil writings.

“The key point to note here is: we are not anti-Jawi or anti-Malay or anti-Islam. There is no issue if students are asked to learn all cultures. But we don’t want to see the gradual Islamisation of Chinese schools and the marginalisation of BODs,” says a Chinese educationist, who declines to be named.

Due to the sensitivity of this matter which could be racially or religiously distorted, Dong Jiao Zong — the organiser of the Dec 28 meeting – has advised invited community leaders to register early.

In the latest statement on Wednesday (Dec 18), Dong Jiao Zong said to ensure the meeting could be effectual and held smoothly, no one is allowed to bring banners and other publicity materials to display slogans.

Provocation is the last thing Dong Jiao Zong wants to see, given that there are already two Malay groups challenging the constitutionality of Chinese and Tamil schools in the country.

The congress is likely to adopt a resolution urging the Jawi Scripts Learning Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education to be withdrawn, and the text book be amended to reflect multi-culturism in the country.

Apart from Dong Jiao Zong, there are other independent groups and political parties voicing similar concerns.

One group that recently sprang up is the one led by Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai, who heads the school board of SJK(C) Sentul KL.

At a recent press conference, the businessman opined the teaching of Jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools should be a co-curricular activity.

His group, consisting of representatives from vernacular school BODs and PTAs around Kuala Lumpur, has called for a dialogue with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

“I wish to emphasise that we are not against the teaching of Jawi in schools. We are only opposing the ministry’s decision to include it in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus, ” he told a joint press conference with an Indian group.

“We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools, ” Heng said.

With school boards being the founder and pioneer for Chinese primary schools for over 200 years, Heng said school boards always had the authority in deciding school policies.

Gerakan, a political party in the former government, last week announced its plan to appeal against an earlier high court ruling that the court has no authority to interfere with Government decision on introducing Jawi into vernacular schools.

From the education point of view, many academics – irrespective of race – do not see the need for students to learn Jawi.

They have asked: What could students learn from three pages of Jawi in a year? Is there any benefit to their future career? Shouldn’t there be more emphasis on the teaching of English, Science and Maths to prepare Malaysians to be competitive internationally?

Indeed, this current education issue is not the first to stir up an uproar this year.

The first controversy erupted several months ago when the Education Ministry attempted to introduce khat (Arabic calligraphy) into vernacular schools. This decision was later withdrawn after many quarters opposed it.

But the new set of guidelines on Jawi writing is creating another unwarranted chaos.

There is suspicion in the Chinese community that there are elements within the Education Ministry scheming to gradually change the character of Chinese schools.

This deep-rooted mistrust against the Ministry cannot be easily erased because Chinese education has often come under different forms of suppression since the 1950s.

From the political perspective, there is talk that the ruling parties are pandering to ultra Malay politics to gain Malay support.

As the controversy escalates, the DAP – a major Chinese-based party in the ruling Pakatan coalition – appears to be the one feeling the most heat.

This is because the DAP drew most of its political support from the Chinese and Indians in the last general election.

The DAP leaders in Cabinet are expected to reflect the fear and sentiment of the non-Malays to the Education Ministry and the Prime Minister on the Jawi issue.

But so far, only Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow – also a DAP national leader – has openly voiced concern over this baffling issue and said it should be resolved speedily.

If the voice of non-Malays is not taken seriously, and the government continues to ignore inclusive politics, the ruling Pakatan coalition risks being rejected by the people.

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