600 Rooms in Six Days, China Is Full Steam Ahead for Construction of Quarantine Centres

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak in Shijiazhuang, a city up northern China that homes more than 1 million people, a quarantine centre with more than 4,000 rooms is being built at full speed.

According to the European Space Agency’s satellite images, what looked like a flat land on January 13th is now lined up by prefabricated houses. The official People’s Daily newspaper said that more than 600 rooms were ready by the 19th and another 3,600 will be added by the time of completion.

State media reported that workers and materials were transported from all across the country to help building the centre; it’s common for China to utilize nationwide resources when natural disasters or other crisis occur.

In 2020, it took merely days to build the hospitals, Huoshenshan and Leishenshan in Wuhan, the place where Covid-19 had originated from.

China who is known to have curb the virus domestically is battling outbreaks again this winter in its northern regions. The National Health Commission reported 145 new cases on Monday, including 11 in Hubei province.

According to the China News Service, each room is designed to house one person only, stands at 18 square meters and comes with bedding, a desk, an air conditioner, television and WiFi.

The centre is located in Zhengding county, a surburban area north of Shijiazhuang. Hebei on the other hand is roughly 260 kilometers southwest of Beijing.

A Year Later, Malaysia is Still Struggling With Covid-19

It’s been a whole year since Covid-19 first touched down on Malaysia soil, the first of many that started with three members of a family from China, a woman and her two grandchildren from Wuhan that had made the short trip to Malaysia from Singapore.

Fast forward 365 days later, it seems that we’ve seen ups and downs of various severities while we’re currently in one of the many downs – the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) itself yet once more.

The Covid-19 pandemic had spiralled out of control; back in October 2020, the record total daily new cases was 1,240 and a conditional movement control order (CMCO) imposed in Sabah and parts of Klang Valley.

It wasn’t until February and March when local clusters began to surface and breached the 2,000 mark with active cases.

Today the record high daily new cases is four times that amount, 4,275 that was recorded on the 23rd of January and of course MCO 2.0 as well.

March: Movement Control Order (MCO)

PERAK 20-03-2020. Police performed road block at Jalan Kuala Kangsar here following the movement control order tu curb the spread of Covid-19 infection.MALAY MAIL/Farhan Najib

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a nationwide movement control order on March 13th with it intended to curb the spread and enforce social distancing guidelines. By the 16 , it

was made known to the public that MCO would be in effect from the 18th until the 31st of March, it was then extended for an additional two weeks until April 14thfollowing a still constant number of high cases between the 100 and 200 mark. It was later further pushed until the April 28th and to May 12th consequently.

Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO)

After a majority of days with cases staying below the 100 mark, a conditional movement control order (CMCO) was implemented which allowed business to re-open under strict standard operating procedures (SOP).

June: An all-time low of cases leading to RMCO

MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star

After recording an all-time low of 2 new cases at that time on June 10th , it was decided that it was time that the nation move into recovery mode, a recovery movement control order (RMCO) that was to expire on August 31 . It was then extended until December 31st with selected sectors remained closed and travel restrictions from external countries.

July, August: A stagnantly reassuring and quiet time

SAM THAM/The Star Reporter

The first of July saw just 1 new case, yes you read that right. Cases largely remained single digits and well below the 20, 30 and 40 mark, signs were that the public were starting to regain the much needed trust in the government as they have done what they’re promised so far and days were seemingly going to be that less worrying.

September: Sabah elections

Even though many weren’t in favor to have it happen at times like this, the Sabah state election carried on as planned on September 26th . Experts are saying this is where the advantage was given back to the virus.

While many politicians and more members of the public in Sabah were out for the political campaigns, numbers were rising steadily as seen with 6 new cases on the 6th of September going up to 101 on the 29th of September even with strict SOPs in place.

On top of that, several high level-ministers and government personnel were questioned for not being in quarantine after travelling throughout states for election and governmental affairs. There was also the case of Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali flouting a 2-week quarantine upon returning from Turkey, which sparked the talk of how the government is practicing a double-standard with the strict SOPs in place.

October: Post-Sabah elections

(STAND ALONE) Party worker putting up party flag and poster party flag during Sabah Election. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

The country’s fight against the pandemic took a turn for the worst as clusters in Sabah began emerging after the state election, positive daily cases in Sabah took off with 118 at the beginning of October to having 957 at the turn of November and bringing the total cases in Sabah itself to 15,692, more than half of the total positive cases in the country.

Another surge was also taking place in Selangor with the current total number going up as high as 5,000 positive cases in the state itself.

November: Back to square one: CMCO and EMCO

Total positive cases in the country have gone past the 30,000 mark and the CMCO is already implemented in Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya; this also has been extended by another two weeks until Nov 9th.

EMCO has been declared in three villages in Kudat, Sabah, namely Kampung Pengaraban, Kampung Tanjung Kapur and Kampung and Landong Ayang, starting on Oct 30 to Nov 12.

December: A different Christmas and New Year

As Malaysia overtook China in the number of total reported cases, one of the most festive times of the year was abruptly cancelled and rightfully so. A record high on New Year’s Eve itself of 2,525 new cases, near half of it was in the state of Selangor which had now leapfrogged Sabah into the state with most reported cases.

January 2021: MCO 2.0 and Breaking Records for All The Wrong Reasons

The nation went from a second implementation of MCO in certain states at first to now all of Malaysia, except for Sarawak.

Due to end on February 4th, none are even sure anymore if it’ll actually end there as daily new cases have been in the 3,000 and 4,000 margin since the turn of the year with a new record set every few weeks.

Did we also mention that the King had called a national emergency? Hence, the full circle of Covid-19 in Malaysia has now been completed.

MUDA to Push For Registration, Sues Home Minister and Registrar of Societies (RoS)

In a bid to push for the status of a registered political party, youth party Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) has sued the home minister and Registrar of Societies (RoS) in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

After months of waiting for approval, co-founders which includes Muar MP Syed Saddiq filed a lawsuit on January 12th and are  seeking to reverse the  home minister’s January 6th decision to refuse to register MUDA as a political party.   

MUDA is also asking  the court to issue a mandamus order to order the home minister and RoS to register it as a society under the political party category within seven days from the date of the court order.

As part of the lawsuit, it is also seeking compensation from both the home minister and RoS.

The thirteen who had filed the lawsuit are  Syed Saddiq, Amir Hariri Abd Hadi, Dr Mathen Muniasupran, Dr Teo Lee Ken, Dr Thanussha Francis Xavier, Lim Wei Jiet, Luqman Long, Mohd Fakhruradzi Tajuddin, Mohd Saufy Nizar Abdul Rahman, Nur Afiqah M. Zulkifli, Shahrizal Denci, Siti Rahayu Baharin and Tarmizi Anuwar.

The hearing for Muda’s application for leave for judicial review is set to be heard through video-conferencing at 10am tomorrow before High Court judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya.

Government Considering Economic Shutdown If Covid-19 Cases Don’t Improve By February 4th

Yahoo News Malaysia

In a letter issued by the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham Malaysia) to its members, an economic shutdown is set to be announced by the government if the nation’s COVID-19 cases fail to reduce by the end of MCO 2.0 on February 4th.

Authenticated by a source linked to the organization and Malay Mail, the letter describes a meeting by Eurocham Malaysia chief executive, Sven Schneider, with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI). It states that the Ministry of Health (MoH) “ has made a clear stand on the matter of a complete shutdown of the economy”.

“Should the infection rate not decrease, the Malaysian government will announce a shutdown/strict lockdown immediately after February 4, 2021. This is the current situation we are facing and Miti is appealing to all companies, foreign and local, to join the effort of reducing infections, breaking the chain, to keep the economy open for business,” it mentioned further.

Schneider was to attend a the “very important and urgent meeting” at MITI on January 22nd that was chaired by the ministry’s secretary-general! Lokman Hakim Ali.

The letter also mentioned of the MOH’s belief of the manufacturing sector being the main source of infection.

“Since in particular, dormitories and related activities (transportation, social activities) were identified as problems, while manufacturing sites itself usually demonstrate sufficient compliance, Miti brainstormed together with the present chambers of commerce a few potential measures.

“While we are awaiting more information from the Ministry and since time is of the essence, we share the preliminary outcomes here with you,” the letter said.

It also urged companies to assign basic measures to curb the rise in cases, especially in the dormitories.

“Companies are requested to establish basic quarantine spaces at their dormitories to ensure that suspected cases, close contacts and confirmed Covid-19 cases can be isolated/quarantined immediately and reduce risk of further spread. Any immediate and short-term measures are welcomed to reduce infections,” the organisation said.

The dreaded daily cases record was again broken yesterday, this time with the number going up as high as 4,275 in a single day. Daily recoveries on the other hand have also reached a new high, with a reported 4,131.

Selangor and Sabah continue to top the nation’s cases while total number of active cases stands at 42,769 and confirmed cases at 180,455.

Johor To Begin Testing “Smartbus” Automated Rapid Transit System (ART)

The first automated rapid transit (ART) system has arrived in Johor and soon to be set for a bus pilot testing program in Iskandar Malaysia.

According to the 51-49 joint-venture group, Mobilus Sdn Bhd (Ireka Corp Bhd and CRRC Urban Traffic Co Ltd, member of the CRRC Group), this testing comes after its original 2020 schedule was delayed due to the pandemic and is to cover a network of more than 2,000km in Phase 1.

“The arrival of the ART is a great step forward for our urban transportation business in the year ahead.” said Ireka group managing director Lai Voon Hon.

“The planning for the ART Bus Pilot Testing Programme in Iskandar Malaysia, which will showcase seven other bus manufacturers, is well underway after some delays due to the pandemic in 2020, and now we hope to have the project up and running by early 2021”.

ART is medium-capacity transit system for urban usage, and the vehicle are manufactured by the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRRC), which had previously worked on the KTM intercity vehicles.

Penang had considered the system back in 2018 but eventually kept it in consideration and continued their search for a better train system instead 

First presented by CRRC in 2017, the ART system was described as a “crossover between a train, a bus and a tram”. The trains are rail-less and measures up to 30 metres, features three carriages and runs on rubber tyres than rails.

A 10-minute charge on each of the vehicle’s batteries can last up to 24km for 300 passengers in three vehicles which is also expandable to 500 in 5 vehicles.

Other than the pilot testing program, the Malaysia Institute of Transport (MITRANS) and Universiti Tecknologi MARA will be conducting a technical feasibility study. At the end of the study and testing period, a feasible report will be available to the adoption of ART as a new urban transport system.

ART is currently being adopted cities across China such as Yibin, Sichuan. The T1 line which is the first of seven in the city was launched in December 2019 and runs 17.7km through central Yibin and connects to the high-speed railway terminus in the city.

Reports say that the system is used by more than 25,000 daily commuters and has reduced traffic congestion by 20% in the city.

Biden’s First Day as President of The United States

As president-elect becomes president, Joe Biden has since been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, taking office during a time of economic, health and political crisis.

“This is America’s Day” he said, after swearing in with his hand placed upon a 128-year-old family Bible, soon after Kamala Harris was sworn in as his deputy. In his inaugural speech, he made pleas for the country to come together whether it be “red or blue”.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”

Other than that, he also promised to hit the ground running with the first of many @POTUS tweets to come. 

Undoing Trump’s legacy

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Upon stepping in the Oval Office, President Biden unleashed a full-scale undoing on Trump’s pandemic response, the reversing of his environment agenda, anti-immigration policies, rebuild the economy, and to boost federal efforts at promoting diversity.

He had since re-joined the Paris Climate Accord, signed 17 executive orders, memorandums, proclamations on the pandemic, immigration, climate change, racial and LGBT equality, economy, and government accountability. He also ended the travel ban on Muslim countries on Wednesday afternoon. Many saw this as reversing the damages done to the country by Trump.

Reversing Trump’s agenda

CBC

Although he had urge American leaders and citiznes to “join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”, this was not to be seen with Trump as many were to erase the former president’s footprints from the White House.

Within four categories, the crisis that Biden had inherited from Trump includes the pandemic, economic struggles, immigration and diversity issues, and the environment and climate change.

In some cases, Biden single-handedly reversed policies and procedures that the Trump administration had put in place, or as Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, put it, “immediately reverse the elements of the Trump policies that were deeply inhumane and did not reflect our country’s values.’’

Trump’s Last Day as President of the United States

Wall Street Journal

Ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing in ceremony to the White House hot seat later today, Donald Trump is packed and getting ready to head out as he wouldn’t be present at the succeeding president’s inauguration ceremony.

What is his final hours of the presidency, it’s not what one would associate with a president as apart from inciting a mob and being in denial of an election result, Trump is also facing an impeachment trial for the second time in just two years,

Here’s how Trump is scheduled to do on his last day as President.

Trump’s final presidential schedule

LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

 “The President and The First Lady will depart the White House at 8:00AM for Palm Beach, Florida.”, it says. 

That’s it, there’s even no mention of a send-off ceremony scheduled at Joint Base Andrews that is expected shortly after Melania Trump leaves the White House.

White House officials not up for a departure ceremony

Megan Varner/Getty Images

A number of former administration officials were invited to Trump’s departure ceremony, but many are passing on the invitation due to recent happenings which had fueled their disgust with Trump.

According to CNN, one former senior White House official said, “Is there a disappointment factor, yes!”.

“Sending the mob was a red line,” a senior White House adviser said.

Another former senior White House official noted that invitees can bring five guests, describing that as “a sign of desperation”.

Even the president’s right hand man, Vice President Mike Pence, won’t be attending Trump’s departure ceremony tomorrow, according to his public schedule.

Sources have blamed the logistical challenge of having Pence at both the departure ceremony and at Biden’s inauguration, but those close to the vice president have also made their frustration with Trump clear ever since the riots happened.

Trump to start new political party?

Washington Post

After being denied a second presidential term, Trump has raised the idea of starting a new political party, a senior Trump advisor confirmed but has dismissed it as not serious.

Another White House adviser has called the idea “lame” and another noted that Trump is “disgusted” with Senate Republicans who will soon decide whether the president will be convicted in his impeachment trial.

It remains unclear to how Trump will plant the seed to his on political party. In his farewell message video, he has vowed that his movement will carry on although latest polls show that Trump has the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.

Leaving as a figure that has made the news for all the wrong reasons, the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump may call his new party the “patriot party”.

“Tak Suka, Tak Payah Apply”: Criticized for Enquiring About A Job’s Salary

The job market hasn’t been ideally a smooth ride for those in search for a job as while they’re working tirelessly to look for one, many with jobs are being laid off from their as well.

Like any other employer out there, a local TV host had a job opening and wanted it to be known to the public. She had gone on to social media to promote the opening for a full-time media executive or media officer earlier, some were quick to mention to her that the job responsibilities were inclusive of three different roles instead which is photography, videography and also video editing. 

After being called out, she made another video explaining her situation and mishap; she had then said that she wasn’t expecting high-level studio quality from the work as this is a junior role and won’t be forcing anyone to pick up the job as she already has people working on those roles.

However, she then took a quick jab at those who had enquire about the position’s salary as they were said to be allegedly provoking her instead of wanting to know more about the job.

She ended the video thread saying that those interested should apply instead to know more, but took another unusual turn with her stance saying “I’ve seen your name, tak tau la you dapat ke tak”.

Netizens were quick to jump in saying that it’s the right for people to know these details when applying for a job. Other than that, some were also questioning if the undisclosed amount is in fact lower than the basic of RM2,000.

Noor Hisham: Time to Take This MCO Seriously, Worst is Yet To Come

As the country records 4,029 daily news cases yesterday, health director general Noor Hisham has once again reached out to remind people on how “the worst is yet to come”.

“If we do not get this MCO right, the worst is yet to come. A daily reminder to all “please stay at home”. Stay home and stay safe” he said in a tweet yesterday upon news of the record breaking daily new cases.

He also mentioned of how red zones will be a common sight if this MCO is not taken seriously.

In an earlier Facebook post, he also mentioned of the challenges faced by healthcare workers who are barely managing the burial rites for victims who had from Covid-19.

“It is not an easy task for the health frontliners to manage the remains of patients who died from Covid-19.

“Under the hot sun, they (health and medical staff) would be drenched in sweat since they are required to don complete personal protective equipment (PPE) until the remains of Covid-19 patients are laid to rest and the burial rites concluded.

“I hope all of us understand the odds and challenges faced by all frontliners. Let us all help (to control the spread of Covid-19 in) the country by continuing to embrace the ‘Kita Jaga Kita’, ‘Kita Jaga Keluarga’ spirits.

“May all of us be protected from the fury of Covid-19,” he said.

Trump: The First U.S. President To Be Impeached Twice

Fresh out of inciting a mob that ran rampant over the U.S. capitol building, Donald Trump, who is clearly making headlines for all the wrong reasons is currently facing an impeachment trial again and critics aren’t writing out the possibilities of him being impeached again after the U.S. House of Representatives had voted to do so.

Trump was always one to go out with a bang, this however, may not be the bang that he was hoping for as the final days of his presidency comes closer.

Incitement of Insurrection

Following hours of debating, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an article of impeachment that charges Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly riot at the US Capitol. The mob had done so in a bid to overturn the “stolen” election but had failed as Joe Biden’ presidency was confirmed by the joint session of Congress.

On a 232 to 197 vote, the House’s impeachment article called on Vice President Mike Pence to remove the powers of presidency from Trump, but Pence later on wrote a letter to speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi that he would do so as it “would set a terrible precedent.”

With that option out of the window, the House has moved to impeach the president by holding him accountable for actions of sedition against the U.S. government.

Democrats and Republicans alike

Although the impeachment was a go to for most democrats, a number of republicans in the house were also vocal for Trump’s impeachment, such as Rep. Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kitzinger, Sens. Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski on the Senate side.

According to the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly leaning towards convicting Trump, believing the president offenses are impeachable.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Trump said, departing the White House for an event in Texas. 

“For Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

Other than that, Trump also defended his now deleted speech to the January 6th mob, calling it “totally appropriate”.

Requirements for an impeachment

A total of 216 are required from the House of Representatives; a trial is then heard in the Senate where two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to convict.

A process that often takes months, the house intends to sped up the process and bring the articles of impeachment to a floor vote.

In short, the house votes, the article of impeachment is passed and presented to the senate where a trial must be held, the House prosecutes while the Senate sits as jury and Supreme Court Chief Justice presides, Trump is given the opportunity to defend himself.