Between the Lines - The Malaysian News you need to know

Measles on the move

Days after being told it's a deadly case of measles that's ravaging the Bateq tribe in Kelantan, we're hearing that two other Orang Asli villages, in Terengganu and Pahang, have also contracted the disease.

Meanwhile, a theory about the captain of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 hijacking the aircraft has re-emerged, stronger than ever.

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When it rains, it pours

Not a day after Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad revealed that it was measles that sickened over a hundred Bateq tribe villagers in Kuala Koh, Kelantan, at least 11 more cases have been confirmed in other Orang Asli villages in Terengganu and Pahang. This number could rise further once results from tests on nine other cases come out. 

But just how did indigenous people in three different states all get the same contagious disease at the same time? Well, there's a history of travel between the three villages, which kinda explains everything.

Dzulkefly had previously said the outreak in Kuala Koh was due to low immunisation rates rising from the Bateq's nomadic lifestyle, adding that malnutrition was also a contributory factor. If the same reasons are behind the Terengganu and Pahang outbreaks, then the breakdown is clearly systemic and our government needs to completely rethink how it provides nutrition, healthcare, education and other essential support to indigenous tribes without infringing on their way of life. 

Speaking of infringement ... there are plans afoot to move the Kampung Kuala Koh settlement to an area with a better living environment, and because it will ostensibly allow better monitoring of the community’s health and living conditions.

Will this be temporary or a permanent state of affairs? The last thing that should happen is for the Bateq to be taken from their ancestral lands and forced into a completely alien way of life simply because it's the easiest thing for the authorities to do.

We've already failed them once. Let's not fail them twice. 



Here we go again ...

Countless theories have surfaced over the five years or so since that fateful day Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing. Some have been plausible, some far-fetched, and some pure fantasy (Click on this link if you haven't had your dose of bullshit for the day yet).

Perhaps the most common theory is that the plane's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, hijacked his own aircraft, turned around and deliberately crashed it into the southern Indian Ocean. Well, that theory has surfaced once again. Only this time, it's an article written by notable aviation writer, William Langewiesche.

In a reaaaaally long piece in The Atlantic, Langewiesche says it was Zaharie who deliberately crashed the Boeing 777-200ER. And, he says, Malaysian authorities covered up the entire thing to protect jobs. And that it was no surprise because Malaysia then was being led by a "nasty man named Najib Razak, who was alleged to be monumentally corrupt".

Langewiesche also alleges that the Malaysian police and the Malaysian International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) investigation team covered up investigations into Zaharie, especially what was in his home computer's flight simulator.

The problem with Langewiesche's story is that there's nothing new and nothing substantiated in it. It's essentially a very long and nicely-written, trail of theories, suspicions and innuendo that doesn't offer proof to back its claims. Must've been a slow news month for The Atlantic.

For context, take a gander at this piece by columnist Clive Irving which appeared in The Daily Beast. Irving tackles many of the points put forward by Langewiesche and debunks them, saying there are "few things more monstrous than blaming the pilot on the basis of what amounts to little more than hearsay".



And the beat goes on...

If there is one thing good which has come out of this whole episode of a sex video allegedly involving Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, it's that the government is now mulling a law to make invasion of privacy a criminal offence (it wasn't before this?!?!).

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong says this follows the spread of the viral videos of two men involved in various sexual acts. One of the guys is one Haziq Abdullah Abdul Aziz, while the other is allegedly Azmin.

Meanwhile, a third round of releases, this time of video and audio clips. Gutter politics, it appears, knows no bounds, and at least one more clip is expected to be released soon.

PKR party members seem to be divided over this whole sordid affair. For instance, Azmin's advisor, Khalid Jaafar, has warned party president Anwar Ibrahim that PKR has to take action against Haziq. Failure to do so, he said, would be seen as a weakness.

On the opposite end, Anwar's political secretary says Azmin should step down if the evidence is overwhelmingly against him as this "would be the honourable thing to do". Anwar himself, however, has quickly distanced himself from his aide's statement, saying he disagrees with Farhash's reasoning.

Malaysians may be obsessed with their sex scandals but there is something that goes a little deeper in this case. It's not just about who did whom, but more about who did what to whom.

The factionalism that exists within PKR is become clearer and clearer in the way things are playing out now, and it's fascinating to see these games of sabotage (yes, yes... allegedly, allegedly) and counter-sabotage. More fascinating than grainy sex-videos, for sure. 



Bits and bobs

There are days when there are a variety of stories which are interesting, newsworthy, cute or important enough for us to highlight, but just not good enough for an entire section. Today's one of those days:

  • The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Wang Kelian human trafficking camps fiasco concluded yesterday. The report is expected to be presented to the King in September. Judging from what's been going on, what are the chances the report is gonna say the police really cocked up this one?
  • Rosmah Mansor caused a stir in court yesterday when she sauntered in for husband Najib Razak's trial. No biggie, right? After all, she was just standing by her bae. Well, the problem is that Rosie is a potential witness, meaning she can't attend the case. Can you say awkward? 
  • Four men in Johor have died and another blinded after consuming cheap alcohol laced with methanol. Feels like a case of time travel here. Last year, in a space of roughly a month, 33 deaths of similar circumstances were reported. 


“It is health that is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.”


- Mahatma Gandhi - 

In International News

  • Former French football great and former UEFA president Michel Platini has been "taken into custody" over graft claims in connection with the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Oh, how far the mighty have fallen. And you thought Malaysian football was filled with scandals!
  • Donald Trump is officially launching presidential his re-election campaign. Wonderful for TV ratings and news website clicks, terrible for everybody else. MAGA!
  • A New Zealand man has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for sharing video livestream feeds of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch 
  • Qatar Airways has been adjudged the best airline in the world. It had been pipped to the title by Singapore Airlines last year. This is the fifth time the airline has been given the title.

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About this Newsletter

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of three Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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