And you thought 2018 was extraordinary…

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We are only in July, but so far 2019 has served up some strange developments, writes Wandering Malaysia.

If you thought 2018 was eventful, 2019 is promising to be even more enthralling.

Here is a mid-year roundup of news items that promise to keep us at the edge of our seats in the coming months.

Sex, lies and WhatsApp

We have seen this movie before in 1998. A powerful politician is brought down by a gay sex scandal.

Twenty years later the sequel has a similar plot and cast of main actors but with a different protagonist this time. Is the self-confessed accuser telling the truth?

Who circulated the video clips over WhatsApp? Are these clips authentic and who will establish this beyond any reasonable doubt? Will we ever know the truth and are there more skeletons that will tumble out of assorted closets or CCTVs?

Nak malu apa, Bossku

Bossku and his wife seem unfazed by the 42 counts of corruption and money laundering charges against him and the 19 criminal charges against her.

His former deputy is back as party president wearing his 87 corruption charges like badges of honour.

And then there is the former owner of the superyacht Equanimity (now renamed Tranquility and available for lease at RM5.3m a week) who is still in hiding and proclaiming his innocence.

Will anyone go to jail anytime soon and will the money that was looted through 1MDB be ever recovered?

Preachers unleashed

One is single-handedly battling the evils of K-Pop which he has labeled demonic.

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Another declared last year that beer is the biggest of vice and is equally incensed by Oktoberfest.

A car belonging to a prominent cleric was torched at his house and arrests were made.

An imported Indian-born, Saudi preacher (for whom Malaysia has rolled out the red carpet) is the subject of an extradition tussle with India over charges of money laundering.

His Malaysian protégé, a rather overzealous recent convert, was arrested for disrupting harmony and transmitting offensive communications but has volunteered to surrender his Malaysian citizenship if his mentor gets extradited.

Then we have the enforced disappearances of two preachers allegedly at the hands of the police. Will we ever know what happened to them and will someone be held accountable for this heinous crime?

Choking in waste

More than 100 schools had to close and over 4,000 people were taken ill due to illegal dumping of toxic waste.

In another incident, air pollution led to the closure of over 400 schools with over 100 children falling sick.

Malaysia has become the world’s dumping ground for plastic waste after China imposed an import ban. Most of this waste is contaminated, low-quality plastic that is non-recyclable and is burnt illegally, releasing toxins into the air.

No one knows how much plastic waste is lying around (754,000 tons were imported in the first half of 2018 and the government has promised to return just 3,000 tons to their countries of origin).

Will those breaking the law be identified and held accountable? What will happen to the mountains of plastic waste already in the country including in containers stuck at ports?

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Poached to extinction

Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino died recently. Only around 200 Malayan tigers remain, and the species is likely to become extinct in the next couple of years.

The same goes for the sun bear population, which is down to less than 500 while the pangolin and other species are under threat.

Poaching and illegal trade in wildlife is a major factor but so are deforestation and habitat loss.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport has a reputation as a global transit hub for illegal trafficking in wildlife. More than 5,000 terrapins were seized recently but how many consignments escaped detection? Can the tiger be saved?

Celebrities gone wild

On a lighter subject, a celebrity said she took a sun bear home thinking that it was a dog.

Yet another commented on a woman’s messy eyebrows and dished out unsolicited beauty tips in a random encounter with a stranger that led to an online tiff.

A pregnant actress’s supposedly tight Raya outfit displeased some of her fans.

Finally, a 29-year-old former child star married a 71-year-old businessman and the number 2971 promptly won second prize in a lottery draw.

And we are only in July!

Wandering Malaysian is the pseudonym of a regular reader of Aliran.

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