MCO 2.0: Surprised? Not Really

Choo Choy May/Malay Mail

As Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the second round of Movement Control Order (MCO), the public have responded with mixed reactions as some of them already saw it coming from far away.

According to an interview by The Star with retail marketing executive from Kuala Lumpur, Effendi Elias, he had expected MCO to be reinstated and says that it’s inevitable that it happens in the fight against Covid-19.

He had also mentioned that he had to scrap plans of wanting to ‘balik kamoug and also “I’ve been going back to see them almost every other weekend since the recovery MCO, ” he says. “Both of them are elderly so I’d like to spend as much time with them as possible, and of course see my nephew and niece (sister’s children) too, ” says Effendi.

“But understandably, with so many cases –more than 2,000 daily – we need to curb the spread of the infection so it’s necessary to implement the MCO again and I feel that the Prime Minister made the right decision, although it may be an unpopular one and some people may object, ” he says.

Effendi is just one of many that will be affected by the second round of MCO, but Malaysians had earlier already stated that they wouldn’t be surprised if MCO was reimplemented, as netizens who had took to Twitter earlier to express this.

Shannon Teoh, the Malaysia Bureau Chief for The Straits Time said that the increasing number of daily cases was a clear sign that this was going to happen and it wasn’t a matter of “if” but instead a matter of “when”.

“I think many Malaysians saw this coming, the numbers from a few hundred to a thousand to two thousand. Last week, we went past three thousand.” Teoh said in an interview with The Straits Times.

“A lot of people started talking about if further restrictions was going to be imposed. There were also word leaking out from of official sources that the health ministry had recommended returning to MCO. 

“It didn’t really come as a surprise, in fact, many people were waiting for the announcement”. 

Although the news doesn’t come as a shock, netizens were quick to point out that instead of surprising the public with the news on a fine Monday evening, the government should’ve planned for the announcement earlier as most people and especially the vulnerable would have just a day to start preparing for the lockdown-like situation.

One in particular mentioned on how MCO was announced as if it’s a birthday party.

Wong Shu Qi, the MP for Kluang, Johor also led in voicing out the timely decision made by the government’s announcement.

Some on the other hand already expect MCO to be longer than the said two weeks and are questioning the proposed two-week period instead of a longer one.

Trump’s Twitter Ban Births Multiple Parodies

As many have saw Trump’s indefinite ban on Twitter coming, especially since the various misinformation violations during the U.S. elections last year, it finally happened after groups of pro-Trump supporters stormed up the Capitol and into the U.S. Capitol building drawing all eyes to the U.S. for all the wrong reasons.

Although unsure if the ban is going to keep Trump from being vocal until the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden, the internet couldn’t but help to start having some fun themselves as people were starting to create fake Trump profiles, depicting the now banned @realdonaldtrump account trying tweet.

The first of many “Johns”, a Twitter user called John Barron, who is “just here to make some friends and also America great again” surfaced on January 9th after the presidential ban where he/she mocked Trump’s desperate attempts to get back on Twitter.

“Hello I am brand new to Twitter. What are you guys up to?”, the account’s first tweet said, with a picture of Trump donning a mustache and glasses. The first of the many Barrons have now gathered up to 427,000 followers on Monday.

Soon after, John Barron started taking over Twitter as more came about pretending to be John Barron pretending to be Trump.

At this point we’ve seen @barronjohn1946, @JohnBarron1946, @barronjohn19461, @JohnBarron1946_, and they all use pictures of Trump with either a moustache, a pair of glasses or both; Barron who had been through multiple cases of stolen identities now had a few things to say about this.

Of course, somebody had to create an account with a twist depicting the first lady even though she wasn’t banned.

Amid all these, the real John Barron was finding it all too uneasy by now.

And it didn’t take long for a John Barron Jr. to jump aboard the Barron train.

Why Mahathir was Listed as a “Dangerous Extremist”

According to a New York based Counter Extremism Project (CEP), Mahathir Mohammed, an inclusion of the 2019 TIME’s 100 list, has been listed among the “top 20 most dangerous extremists”.

The non-profit that combats the “growing threat” from extremist ideologies by “pressuring financial and material support networks, countering the narrative of extremists and their online recruitment, and advocating for smart laws, policies, and regulations”, had released to list over the week that also “highlights the last known location, deaths attributed to these harbingers of terror” and analyses “the influence these extremists have had over their group” and followers.

“CEP has considered extremists from across the spectrum of ideologies and beliefs, from ISIS to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the anti-Muslim Buddhist group in Myanmar to Generation Identity, all are considered a huge threat to international security,” the New York-based nonprofit said in its report.

The list also mentioned of the likes of Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, a designated a terrorist organisation, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, the current ISIS caliph, along with three women that includes Beate Zschäpe, a member of the neo-Nazi terrorist organization National Socialist Underground.

So why was Mahathir listed?

It all lies down to “controversial opinions” that led to “international condemnation” even though the he was not directly responsible for acts of violence.

“…his controversial opinions have led to international condemnation as it was alleged Mahathir supported extremist violence against the West,” CEP wrote.

Nice attacks and to “kill the French”

Back in October 2019, the 95 year old leader had sparked wide criticism after his infamous “Muslim have the rights to kill French” Twitter thread.

Mahathir’s statements came after three people were killed in Nice, France where he had also mentioned “angry people will kill regardless of the religion they profess”.

The former prime minister, however, did not make a direct reference to the attack in Nice and had addressed the beheading of a history teacher that happened in Paris instead.

He later issued a statement, saying that he was taken “out of context”.

Every Platform That Has Banned Trump So Far

While America tries to deal with the Trump-catastrophe happening, more so after the pro-Trump riots at the U.S Capitol, social media companies in the other hand have also been busy to help curb the spread of misinformation and also any that could incite more violence.

Most notably with Twitter who have long been flirting with the move of banning Trump’s personal Twitter account, a lot more have been joining hands to prevent the current U.S. president to spark more violence.

Here’s a list of social media platforms that Trump is currently banned from.

1) Twitter

The first of many, Twitter banned Trump’s personal account, followed by his campaign Twitter account and also deleted tweets from his official government account hours after the riots and look to have a near permanent ban moving forward.

2) Facebook

A video where Trump spoke to and “professed his love” for the rioters proved to be the last straw for Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and co have deleted said video and have banned his accounts from posting for at least the next two weeks in a bid to allow a peaceful transition of power to president-elect Joe Biden.

3) Instagram

Being owned by Facebook, the same two week ban until the successful transition of power also applied to Instagram as well.

4) Snapchat

Being one of the first to take serious action on Trump’s content, Snapchat spokesperson Rachel Racusen told Axios “earlier today we locked President Trump’s Snapchat account,” because it believes the account promotes and spreads hate and incites violence.

5) TikTok

Following trending hashtags like #stormthecapitol, #stopthesteal #qandanon and #patriotparty, TikTok has and continues to remove said content and hashtags citing that “Hateful behavior and violence have no place on TikTok. Content or accounts that seek to incite, glorify, or promote violence violate our Community Guidelines and will be removed,”

In other words, TikTok banned Trump before Trump banned TikTok.

6) Apple

After reports of people using right-wing friendly social media app, Parler to spread riot information, Apple has pushed the app to lay out a plan to moderate its content with said email being sent to Parler.

“We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property. The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”

7) YouTube

YouTube has fast forwarded their efforts to reducing violent inducing content, which began with removing the video Trump posted Wednesday that addressed the Capitol violence without fully condemning it.

“Due to the extraordinary events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have been certified, any channel posting new videos with these false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike, a penalty which temporarily restricts uploading or live-streaming. Channels that receive three strikes in the same 90-day period will be permanently removed from YouTube,” Alex Joseph, a YouTube spokesperson, told Axios.

8) Reddit

The subreddit group “r/DonaldTrump,” has been banned, according to a spokesperson that confirmed to Axios on Friday. Although not an official group or page hosted by the president, it’s one of the company’s largest political communities dedicated to support for President Trump.

9) Google

Google has pulled “Parler” from its Playstore after its users had been accused of promoting violence. A spokesperson for Google added that it “require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence,”

10) Shopify

Shopify took down two online stores affiliated with the President for violating its policies on supporting violence. Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause. As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump.” – a spokesperson told The Financial Times.

WhatsApp: Share Your Data With Facebook Or Risk Being Deleted

With over 2 billion users worldwide, WhatsApp is the most used instant messaging platform in the world; however, in a time where privacy is often taken for granted, WhatsApp’s new privacy policy is starting to have its users worried about the amount of data they’re collecting.

In a bid to force users to share data with its parent company, Facebook, WhatsApp said users would have to agree to let Facebook and its subsidiaries collect WhatsApp data including users’ phone numbers, contacts’ phone numbers, locations, and more. Users who don’t agree by February 8th can expect to lose access to the messaging platform by then.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman told Ars Technica that this was to allow businesses to store WhatsApp chats using Facebook’s broader infrastructure.

A WhatsApp spokesman did not clarify why the platform decided to make the change but said it would not affect EU and UK-based users.

“There are no changes to WhatsApp’s data sharing practices in the European region (including UK) arising from the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. For the avoidance of any doubt, it is still the case that WhatsApp does not share European region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or advertisements,” the spokesman said.

So what exactly is WhatsApp gathering data on? Here’s all of them.

Device ID

User ID

Advertising Data

Purchase History

Coarse Location

Phone Number

Email Address

Contacts

Product Interaction

Crash Data

Performance Data

Other Diagnostic Data

Payment Info

Customer Support

Product Interaction

Other User Content

WhatsApp has actually been sharing your data with Facebook since 2016, but the latest option to not have an option is deemed as crossing a line for many.

In a recent release by Apple’s App Store, “App Privacy” labels also shows how much data are being collected by WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy revisions don’t actually alter the messaging service’s behavior, but it’s still significant that users may have thought the company was offering an opt-out option all these years that didn’t actually exist, according to Forbes.

A level of data-sharing that some users disagree with and even fear has already been going on under their noses for years, and people are starting to realize it.

Drones Made Out of Pineapple Leaves?

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane?”, if you have a solid guess in your mind, you’d better hold your horses as it it’s drones instead of a red-caped flying man.

Somewhat a cultural phenomenon for gadget enthusiast, the creation drones undoubtedly enhance our lives as helping us reach places we couldn’t and also to see things we can’t. What is often made out of carbon fiber or plastic materials may have taken a turn for the better of Mother Earth, as researchers from Putra University has figured out a way to make drones from pineapple leaves.

Before we move to the specifications, it’s important to mention that the drone frames ar the ones made out of pineapple leaves. In an interview with Reuters, Professor Mohamed Thariq Hameed Sultan who had successfully found a way to turn fiber from pineapple leaves into material sturdy enough to make drone frames, said that drones built with the material had a higher strength-to-weight ratio than frames made with synthetic fibers. They’re cheaper and lighter, too, making it easier for them to fly greater distances and greater speed.

So how does a drone made out of pineapple leaves help nature? Drone flyers may be familiar with the dreaded feeling when your drone flies beyond your sight and connection, only to crash land somewhere untraceable. If remained uncovered for a long amount of time, one may give up the search to get a new drone instead while their lost plastic drone sits somewhere in the dirt, for almost eternity.

These new biodegradable drones help fix that problem, as the researchers say that A damaged frame can be buried and the bio-composite material will degrade within two weeks.

Prototypes made from the material have also flown to around 1,000 meters and can stay aloft for about 20 minutes, much like any other drone.

Started in 2017, the project helps finding sustainable uses for pineapple waste. Farmers are known to burn or discard these leaves after harvest, which can cause air pollution. Selling the waste to these research would help increase their income and may benefit the environment instead.

KL-Singapore HSR: “We Had Done Our Best for The Interest of The Country”

While Malaysians and Singaporeans alike were excited to hear about the billion ringgit Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) in the beginning, they may not have to look forward to a direct route to and from anytime soon as the project has been ultimately scrapped a few days back.

Citing that both nations being unable to reach an agreement on several changes proposed by the Malaysian government, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong broke the news in a joint statement on December 31st last year.

“In light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Malaysian economy, the government of Malaysia had proposed several changes to the HSR project. Both governments had conducted several discussions with regard to these changes and had not been able to reach an agreement. Therefore, the HSR agreement lapsed on Dec 31, 2020.

“Both countries will abide by their respective obligations, and will now proceed with the necessary actions resulting from the termination of the HSR agreement,” said the statement, released in the morning of January 1st.

The termination was also confirmed by The Edge who called it in their article as “Malaysia to go it alone with HSR project, pay RM300m compensation to Singapore — source”.

Due to contract regulations, it is also understood that Malaysia is to compensate 300 million ringgit in result of the termination. Proposed back in 2010, the change of government in 2018 and COVID-19 pandemic had also put the project on halt at one time and went pretty stale after that.

Changes proposed by the Malaysian government was to change the alignment to link HSR to KLIA and it didn’t sit well with our counterparts; ultimately, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed took to Facebook to further explain the cause of termination and reasoning behind it.

“Other changes proposed by Malaysia include that the HSR be connected and integrated with the available transportation network in the country,” he said in a lengthily post.

“The proposed new structure could also help the country avoid committing RM60 billion for 30 years, apart from providing the government with flexibility in terms of funding for the HSR project.

“In addition, the government also proposed several other changes, including to the design of the rail stations, which would help reduce almost 30 per cent in expenses for the project,” he added.

“Our Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) also had a video conference with his Singaporean counterpart (Lee Hsien Loong) on Dec 2 last year. However, we failed to reach an agreement (over the proposed changes to the HSR project).

“As an individual who was directly involved in the discussions for the project over the past six months, (I can tell you that) we had done our best for the interest of the country,”.

Sources say that Malaysia is to switch their focus towards undertaking the project with a new alignment stretching from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru instead of joining both the Southeast Asian capitals and offering another alternative to one of the busiest flight roads in the world.

Work From Home: Expectation vs Reality

Sebastian Gollnow/The Star

If you haven’t start working from home yet and expect it to be a breeze when it comes about, think again as you just might be setting yourself up for disaster.

As work from home became a new norm for us throughout 2020 and perhaps even for the majority of 2021, let’s take a look at a few misconceptions of working remotely and how unrealistic expectations brings out the worst of working from home.

1) Work schedule

Expectation: “Who needs an alarm clock when I can start whenever I want to?”

Reality: You still have deadlines to meet and colleagues to communicate with. If you don’t have a set work schedule for yourself, don’t expect the same for others as work from home means more conference calls than usual now that everyone is not seeing each other in the office anymore.

2) Resting hours

Expectation: “Yeah I’ll stop working whenever I want, who’s here to stop me from taking a day off anyway”

Reality: You won’t be calling it a week on Thursday and give yourself an early weekend. In fact, you might find work hours overlap with your resting hours since work and rest are all in the same space. Tasks that aren’t done before the weekend might just roll on over and take up your resting days, get a solid understanding of how you can maximize productivity while you’re still in the week.

3) Work-life balance doesn’t exist at home

Expectation: “I feel more productive today, I think I might as well work throughout the night while at home”

Reality: Burnouts happen whether you’re overworking in the office or at home. Take time off occasionally to tend to your own well-being and life when you find yourself taking off more than can chew. While overworking can be a might convenience, it is far too easy to slip into the dark hole of overworking yourself to the extremes.

4) Distractions

Expectation: “Home is so quiet, there should be lesser distractions for me when compared to the annoying co-workers I have in the office”

Reality: Even an everyday object such as a flowerpot is enough to stray your attention away from work. Don’t underestimate your senses as the teeniest tiniest bit is enough to break your focus, this reflects much more especially when you have pets that are constantly on the run or simply doing nothing, laying there in all that cuteness.

5) Alone time

Expectation: “Imagine all that I can get done with all this alone time! This is the ultimate work experience!”

Reality: Too much alone time may be the reality we are facing now, but it might just be the bit that breaks us as well during this whole pandemic situation. With long periods of time spent at home, face-to-face interaction is often taken for granted until one realizes of the overwhelming quietness of long periods without human interaction. 

Meet the Biker Group That Is Fixing Potholes Around KL Themselves

redchili21

Potholes are such a common sight in Malaysia that when we drive on the streets, we are used to avoiding them with the occasional driving on them, resulting in various damages to our vehicles.

With all the news regarding casualties and injuries due to potholes lately, such as Khairy Jamaluddin’s incident, a story from the past about how a group of people are taking it upon themselves to fix these potholes.

Lando Zawawi

Led by actor Azlan Sani Zawawi, also known as Lando Zawawi, “Ikatan Silaturrahim Brotherhood” is doing what DBKL were lacking in at times.

Lando Zawawi/Facebook

According to Lando, the Brotherhood bikers would act when complaints were made to DBKL and if their response were either delayed or lacking. Using their own funds, they would purchase their own equipment and materials and start fixing potholes themselves, leaving a “calling card” on their repair work when it’s finished.

In an interview with The Star, they shared that they have been doing this since 2007 and does this for other people to be safe. The work is done mostly by volunteers almost every night in several states using a cold mix of asphalt and bitumen membranes.

The Star

Other than that, one of the crew members himself was also a victim of a pothole back in 2012, when a car hit had him after hitting a pothole, resulting in him losing one of his legs. 

The Star

With this act, many netizens are thankful and are offering donations; however, the group is reluctant to receive any and instead would be more than welcome to have them buy Brotherhood merchandise instead.

To learn more about Brotherhood and their work, click here.

Will Bad Blood Between UMNO and DAP Make a Partnership Almost Impossible?

As the new year comes about, so does new politic feuds as seen recently with the alleged UMNO-DAP partnership to form a new government and several political leaders who have appeared on both sides of the feud.

Can UMNO and DAP really put aside their differences to unite though? Analysts interviewed by FMT have sme serious doubt about that and rightfully so based upon the history between the two.

(2020) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA

After ousted BN- secretary-general, Annuar Musa had said that several supreme council members within UMNO had been in talks with DAP, prominent members Najib Razak and Lim Guan Eng had downplayed the statement, with Najib rejecting the idea completely while Guan Eng maintains that any cooperation should first be discussed by both the party leaders.

Azmi Hassan

According to academic Azmi Hassan, “blood runs deep” between the two and it would take a mighty effort from the UMNO leaders that Musa had mentioned about to convince their colleagues of the partnership with DAP.

“The leadership of both parties might be able to work together, but the same can’t be said for the grassroots. It’s up to the leaders to articulate the importance of this kind of partnership.” said Hassan when interviewed by FMT.

“If the grassroots put out a big ‘NO’ towards working with PPBM, it’s an even bigger ‘NO’ when it comes to DAP.”

James Chin

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute on the other hand, had dismissed the possibility entirely, citing that the differences between the two play a major part as to why it would not work.

“Talks will not lead to any agreement, ideologically they are too far apart. I doubt very much they can come together and actually form a government.

“DAP doesn’t believe in separating the country into bumiputera and non-bumiputera, but for Umno that is their minimum requirement for the country, to practice Malay supremacy,” he said.

Chin also added that UMNO would be abandoning their whole principle and ideology of Malay supremacy if they had chosen to partner with DAP.

Although bad blood, Azmi said that prior working relationship between PAS and DAP is reasons why the UMNO-DAP partnership shouldn’t be out of the question, but he ponders on the legality of the move by UMNO.

“Maybe Umno is trying to weaken Pakatan Harapan (PH). Maybe they have no intention of working with DAP. They just want to rattle PH and raise doubts about their cohesion. The possibility is there.

“Annuar’s bombshell will no doubt rattle Umno too, especially the president. In my opinion, Umno will face the most negative effects.”

Nonetheless, Azmi believes that such partnerships can be “momentous” and could be the key to patching up the often shaky relationship between Chinese and Malay communities.