Malaysia’s rubber gloves makers say ready to meet coronavirus needs – dpa international

Gloves being worn at Kuala Lumpur supermarket on March 17 2020, the day before the national lockdown due to coronavirus (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s rubber gloves manufacturers say they are gearing up to meet growing global demand for surgical and medical gloves spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and have appealed to the government not to curtail their operations during a partial lockdown scheduled to run from Wednesday until the end of March. “We shall re-strategize to ensure supply is adequate, at least to those severely affected areas,” said Denis Low, president of the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA), an industry association, in a Tuesday statement. Malaysia, the world’s biggest supplier of rubber gloves, has seen 673 confirmed cases of coronavirus and two deaths. A recent spike in cases prompted the government to state that most businesses – except shops like grocery and corner stores – would be forced to lock up during the lockdown.

Malaysia to impose lockdown after coronavirus case numbers swell – dpa international

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KUALA LUMPUR — Responding to a surge in coronavirus cases over the past week, the Malaysian Government has ordered sweeping travel restrictions, ordered most business except for shops to close, and banned foreigners from entering the country until the end of the month. In a 10pm address to the nation, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that the lockdown, which includes closing mosques across the Muslim-majority country, would apply from March 18-31, during which Malaysians will not be permitted to travel abroad. “The current situation of the outbreak requires drastic action to be taken to recover the situation as soon as possible,” Muhyiddin warned, adding that essential government services and banks will remain open. Malaysia reported 125 new cases of coronavirus on Monday evening, taking the country’s total to 553, 338 of which have been traced to an Islamic ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur’s outskirts in late February that was attended by an estimated 15-16,000 people and which spawned cases among worshippers from Brunei, Cambodia and Singapore. 

Malaysia’s coronavirus case number nearly doubles as Singapore adds new travel curbs – dpa interntional

Sign on a doorway at Kuala Lumpur pharmacy (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR —  Malaysia’s Health Ministry declared a near-doubling of its confirmed cases of coronavirus, recording a jump of 190 positive diagnoses for a region-high total of 428 as of Sunday evening. The ministry stated that “most of the new cases” are linked to an Islamic ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur’s outskirts in late February that was attended by an estimated 15,000 people. Cases linked to the event first emerged in Brunei last week and then in Singapore, which as of Saturday night had reported 212 cases of coronavirus. The three countries’ health ministries have appealed for people who attended the event to come forward for testing and to provide information about contacts and travel. Sunday’s surge in coronavirus cases in Malaysia was by far the biggest daily increase seen across the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since the outbreak began.

Malaysia bans mass gatherings, Singapore curbs travel from virus-hit Europe – dpa international

With concerns growing about the possible spread of Novel Coronavirus, facemasks are an increasingly-common sight in cities such as Kuala Lumpur (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — As Malaysia’s coronavirus caseload neared 200, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced in a televised speech on Friday night that all mass gatherings will be cancelled until the end of April. This includes international meetings as well as religious and sporting events, Muhyiddin said, adding that gross domestic product had contracted between 0.8 and 1.2 per cent since the coronavirus outbreak began in China, Malaysia’s biggest trade partner. As Muhyiddin was addressing the nation, the country’s Health Ministry confirmed 39 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 197.

Singapore hotel going ahead with durian festival – dpa international

Durian for sale in Singapore (Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA — An annual “Durian Fiesta” in Singapore will proceed as planned this year, despite 178 cases of the potentially-deadly coronavirus in the island city-state. The event starts on March 14 and will celebrate the Southeast Asian favourite, which proponents extol as “the king of fruits.” But wiill visitors brave the risk of infection for this of all fruits, given its odour elsewhere described – in some of the more polite terms – as akin to rotting flesh, sweat-laced clothes and festering garbage. The Goodwood Park Hotel organizing the event, running between March and July, concedes that the durian, with its spiky green husk and creamy texture, is “an acquired taste.”

Cruise ship barred by Malaysia and Thailand over coronavirus to dock in Singapore – dpa international

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JAKARTA – The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore said that the Costa Fortuna cruise vessel will dock at the city-state on March 10. The ship, which is carrying over 2,000 passengers, including 64 Italians, was refused entry to Phuket in Thailand and Penang in Malaysia over concerns about coronavirus, as the number of cases in Italy surged. The MPA and the Singapore Tourism Board said that the ship’s passengers, who departed Singapore on March 3, could disembark as they had “completed pre-embarkation checks based on prevailing policies for travel history and temperature screening as required by the cruise line and the terminal operator prior to boarding.” 

Graft-stained party gets Malaysia cabinet slots – dpa international

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arriving at Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 10 2020 for one of his ongoing corruption trials (Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA — A week after taking office, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin named members of a corruption-tainted party to his new cabinet alongside ministers who broke with the previous government led by Mahathir Mohamad. Several portfolios, including foreign affairs and defence, have been allocated to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) of former prime minister Najib Razak, who is facing multiple charges of corruption.  Muhyiddin on Monday mentioned the need for “integrity” in government and repeated promises made in his maiden speech last week that he would not appoint anyone accused of corruption.

Malaysia’s anti-corruption chief quits in the wake of change of government – dpa international

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arriving at Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 10 2020 for one of his ongoing corruption trials (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission head Latheefa Koya resigned on Friday morning but denied her decision was due to a change in government in favour of a party tainted by graft scandals. “Speculation that pressure was brought upon me is baseless,” Latheefa said, adding that she had “a cordial discussion” with new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on March 2. Latheefa testified this week at a corruption trial involving former prime minister Najib Razak, who is accused of stealing over 700 million dollars of public money. Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is the largest party backing Muhyddin and will likely be part of his cabinet after almost two years in opposition.

Malaysia’s new prime minister seeks wider support, denies treachery – dpa international

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KUALA LUMPUR — In his first speech since being sworn in as prime minister on Sunday, Muhyiddin Yassin appealed to Malaysians for a chance to govern and rejected accusations that he was a traitor who had turned on his former party colleague Mahathir Mohamad. “Give me some time to outline a path under this new administration which I will explain to the people as soon as possible,” Muhyiddin said, speaking live on national television on Monday night. “I urge you to support me to undertake this huge responsibility entrusted on me.” Muhyiddin said that he did not want to be prime minister but stepped forward as a power vacuum emerged in the wake of 94-year-old Mahathir’s abrupt resignation a week ago. “What kinds of options I have? Support Dr Mahathir, who did not have the majority support or accept the PM post?” Muhyiddin asked.

As anniversary approaches, MH370 flight mystery stirs ‘unimaginable pain’ – dpa international

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KUALA LUMPUR — Six years on, the unsolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 stands as one of aviation’s murkiest and most grimly compelling tragedies. Danica Weeks, whose New Zealand husband was among 239 people onboard, told dpa: “The not knowing of where or what happened to our loved ones causes us unimaginable pain.” At 1:19 am on March 8, 2014, as MH370 was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, a voice from the cockpit replied to air traffic control with “Goodnight. Malaysian three seven zero.” Those were the last words ever heard from the soon-to-vanish aircraft.  Amid apparent miscommunication between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, as the flight was to cross into Vietnamese airspace over the South China Sea, MH370 turned west, veering off-course across peninsular Malaysia. It went north over the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest maritime trade conduits, before heading out over the Andaman Sea and beyond the reach of radar around an hour later.