☕️ After Bon Odori, Religious Affairs Minister is coming after Oktoberfest claiming it will disrupt social harmony and safety
100% of MPs (less 11 absentees) voted for anti-party hopping bill. Nikolai Patrushev - Putin's potential replacement. Jack Ma reported to give up control on Ant to appease regulators.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
USD2.8 mil — the price paid for the space jacket worn by Buzz Aldrin (one of the first two men that set foot on the moon)during an auction in New York. It is one of 69 personal belongings that Buzz has decided to put up for sale. In total, the astronaut’s personal belongings sold for USD8.2 mil.
USD41,280 (RM183.7k) — the most expensive ticket for the first night of Adele’s concert residency, “Weekend with Adele” in Las Vegas, which runs from November to March. A concert residency is basically a regularly scheduled performance at a single venue over a period of time. Basically, a concert tour but all in one single location.
9,000% — the jump in streams of Kate Bush’s 1985 single “Running Up That Hill” made popular in the latest season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” with 497.4 mil streams so far. The song was also featured in 2.7 mil TikTok videos. Check out the song here.
“Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.”
— John Shirley, American fantasy, sci-fi writer.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Democracy rejoiced and the ‘katak’ frowned as the anti-party hopping bill was passed by the Dewan Rakyat, with 209 MPs voted for it with none objecting, albeit 11 MPs not present during the voting session (including Abdul Hadi Awang, among others). The introduction of the bill was catalysed by the infamous Sheraton Move that led to the fall of the Pakatan Harapan Government. On top of that, the Bill is also included in the MoU between the government and the opposition.
Indonesia agreed to lift the migrant worker freeze beginning August 1 after both countries resolved the confusion surrounding the recruitment mechanism of the manpower from Indonesia. A new system called One Channel System (OCS) would be used and a three-month pilot project would be conducted before the full application of the system in order to ensure operational reliability.
Bukit Aman’s classified investigation unit (D5) has begun investigating former attorney-general Apandi Ali for alleged abuse of power in the 1MDB probe during his time as AG under the Najib Razak-led government. As revealed by High Court judge Azimah Omar when dismissing Apandi Ali’s defamation suit against Lim Kit Siang, Apandi Ali did not even meet the alleged Saudi royal family donor to verify the huge ‘donation’, which is at the centre of the 1MDB fiasco.
Sabah is in the limelight for the wrong reasons again — a 92-second clip went viral on social media showing children having to use the water pipeline to cross the river on their way to school. Upon contacting the relevant local leaders, it was revealed that the application for a suspension bridge in the area was approved, pending a tendering process to identify a qualified contractor to build the bridge, which would cost about RM100,000.
Deputy Home Minister Ismail Mohamed mentioned in Parliament that several laws will be amended to allow authorities to tackle online scams that have become more prevalent lately. The proposed amendments will allow authorities to freeze the scammers’ bank accounts and punish individuals that allow their bank accounts to be used as mules. Malaysians have lost RM5.2bil to scammers between 2020 to May 2022, which is the size of a small country’s GDP like Seychelles.
Sad news for Marvel fans as Golden Screen Cinemas announced that Thor: Love and Thunder will not be screened in Malaysia, the second major movie this year after the movie Lightyear.
Popular satirical cartoonist Fahmi Reza rejected Tengku Mahkota Johor’s invitation to meet him right after the former ridiculed the latter for blocking him after Fahmi created a satire about TMJ.
Religious Affairs Minister Idris Ahmad (yup, the same one involved in the Bon Odori saga) says that Oktoberfest, a German cultural event, should not be held in Malaysia as it may disrupt social harmony and safety.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
What happens if Putin is no longer fit to run the country? Rumours about Russian President Putin’s deteriorating health have been swirling for months amid conflicting reports. Bookmark this name — Nikolai Patrushev. Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of British intelligence, said that Patrushev is ‘almost certainly’ to replace Putin. Patrusheve is a former KGB comrade of Putin and also holds the position of Security Council secretary, equivalent to the national security adviser in the US.
The US Federal Reserve hikes the interest rate by 75 basis points (0.75%) for the second consecutive time, taking the benchmark rate to between 2.25-2,5% back to the same level as Dec 2018.
How much more room the Fed has to raise rates to fight inflation? Little, considering the US is officially in a technical recession. Q2 2022 GDP shrunk by 0.9% on an annualised basis, following a 1.6% contraction in Q1. However, the recession this time around is a bit different - other indicators such as job growth, initial unemployment claims and consumer spending are still holding up.
Germany and its energy problems:
Germany’s cabinet approved a EUR177.5 bil (USD179.7 bil) funding plan to reduce the country’s reliance on Russian energy. The fund will be utilised to diversify Germany’s energy supply, decarbonisation efforts, and development of the hydrogen sector, among other initiatives. In 2021, Germany relied on 55% of its gas supply from Russia.
The country is rethinking its anti-nuclear stance as it considers postponing the shutdown of the nation’s last three nuclear power plants, which was supposed to happen this 31 Dec as the threat of a winter energy crunch is staring at its face. The Fukushima incident in 2011 led to Germany abandoning nuclear power.
The Philippines, a close US ally, cancelled a USD227 mil deal to purchase 16 Russian military helicopters as Manila fears running into possible sanctions under US federal law. The agreement was signed last November and approved by then-President Rodrigo Duterte, who nurtured close ties with President Putin (once calling Putin his “idol”) and China’s President Xi Jinping. In February, the Philippines signed a USD571 mil deal to purchase 32 Black Hawk helicopters from Poland-based aerospace manufacturer PZL Mielec.
Facebook’s parent Meta reported its first-ever year-on-year quarterly revenue decline. Some highlights:
Revenue for Q2 2022 came in at USD28.82 bil, 1% lower than USD29.07 bil YoY.
Net income got hit hard — down 36% YoY to USD6.7 bil from USD10.4 bil.
2.88 bil people use Meta’s apps (e.g. Facebook, Whatsapp) daily (4% YoY growth) — that’s 36.2% of the world’s 7.96 bil population. Facebook alone has 1.97 bil average daily users.
The company holds USD40.5 bil in cash and cash equivalents.
The total headcount of 83,553 as of June 30, 2022, up 32% YoY.
The US Federal Trade Commission has filed an injunction to block Meta’s USD400 mil acquisition of Within, the maker of VR workout app Supernatural, over anti-competition issues. Over the years, the FTC signalled that they would make M&A hell for the tech giant.
Dow Jones reported billionaire Jack Ma plans to relinquish control of Ant Group Co to appease regulators following a lengthy crackdown that shelved its USD35 bil IPO in Nov 2020, which might be delayed again for another year. Ma controls 50.52% of the voting rights in the company. Ideology aside — in China, the government, not the rich, calls the shots.
TikTok’s parent company Bytedance filed for “TikTok Music” trademark, suggesting it is going after Spotify’s and Apple’s lunch boxes.
Apple hired Luigi Taraborrelli, a 20-year veteran of supercar maker Lamborghini to work on its electric autonomous vehicle programme. Taraborelli has worked at Lamborghini for nearly 21 years. Apple’s car ambition, Project Titan, launched in 2014, looks to be still alive.