Good morning, here’s what you need to know today.
- Rise of Arifin Zakaria
- Balik kampung strategies
- Undi18 ‘soon’
Rise of Arifin Zakaria
Arifin Zakaria retired as the Chief Justice in 2017 but under Muhyiddin Yassin’s government, the ex-top judge is now increasingly in the public eye as he assumes key positions, proving himself as a trusted go-to figure for the prime minister.
Arifin was reportedly tipped for a third government appointment, this time as the potential replacement for Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who is leaving as the Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) chairperson.
Just last week, Putrajaya appointed Arifin as the advisory chair to the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC).
Muhyiddin also handpicked Arifin to lead the special committee advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the emergency.
While Muhyiddin was the home minister under the previous Pakatan Harapan government, he also controversially appointed Arifin to head the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mass graves at Wang Kelian.
Critics had, among others, complained about Arifin’s track record in recommending his successor Md Raus Sharif as an additional judge in order to bypass the constitutional age limit that required top judges to retire at the age of 66 and six months.
Balik kampung strategies
The Education Ministry and Higher Education Ministry appear to be adopting slightly different strategies in managing students’ movement during the Hari Raya season.
There won’t be interstate balik kampung trips this Hari Raya but the government is making an exemption for more than 100,000 university students on campuses.
The Higher Education Ministry said they may go home from May 7 to 12 and then return to campus between May 15 and 20. This exemption does not apply to those under enhanced MCO areas.
In contrast, the Education Ministry does not want school students to immediately return after the Hari Raya season.
Education Ministry Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin had expressed concern that students may contract Covid-19 during the festivities and it would not be safe to bring them back to schools.
The plan is to keep school students at home for additional weeks after Hari Raya and for them to engage in online learning.
The cabinet has asked the Election Commission (EC) to take “immediate” action to ensure the implementation of automatic voter registration and new minimum voting age of 18 soon.
However, there is scepticism as to whether Putrajaya is committed to the target or is merely placating Umno ministers who have pushed the cabinet to urgently implement the new voting age.
Undi18 activists pointed out the glaring absence of a timeline and want to know how soon is “soon”.
Undi18 proponents have proposed proceeding with the new voting age immediately by using the existing manual registration system and saving automatic registration for later.
However, de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan didn’t indicate whether the government was taking up that suggestion and instead focused on the EC’s need to, among others, expedite its software update.
Last month, the EC said it had to postpone Undi18 to next year as efforts to put in place a system that will allow automatic registration, including those aged 18-20, was taking time.
The general election could be called as early as August if the emergency is not extended and 18-year-olds are unlikely to be eligible voters if they are not registered soon.
The electoral roll takes up to four months to be updated.
A daily glance at Covid-19
- 3,332 new cases yesterday (April 29), another new high since the resurgence that started in early April.
- Active cases continue to rise rapidly to 28,093, up by over 10,000 in just two weeks. We have around 34,000 Covid-19 beds but some hospitals have already hit capacity due to uneven distribution.
- The situation in Selangor continues to deteriorate with more than 1,000 fresh infections for the second consecutive day.
- For trends on daily cases, tests, hospital beds capacity, vaccination progress and more, follow our Covid-19 tracker.
What else is happening?
- Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has been infected with Covid-19. He is yet to be vaccinated.
- The employer of a foreign worker who allegedly committed suicide after being owed five months of wages has promised to repatriate his remains and provide backdated wages and goodwill support for his family.
- The Sarawak government rejected the federal government’s offer of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- The government decided to reimpose the 14-day quarantine period for travellers from 40 countries, where more dangerous Covid-19 variants are spreading. It was previously reduced to 10 days.
- Gombak police denied a video of two men being beaten with a rubber hose was related to the death of A Ganapathy, who saw his legs amputated and later died in the intensive care unit after being released from police custody.
What are people saying?