☕️ Najib Razak: My rights, life, liberty and right to fair hearing is at stake
$AGMO, new ACE Market IPO popped +207% on first day. Rafizi Ramli: 1MDB MO to siphon RM192 mil from LCS project. Facebook, WhatsApp popularity in LatAm fuelling human trafficking industry.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
“The higher you climb any criminal ladder, the closer you get to government officials.”
— A Youtube comment by theHUMANAUT on VICE’s documentary on the modern slavery
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
75% increase in the frequency of heavy downpours in India’s central belt between 1950 — 2015, although rainfall fell by 10% during the same period. Concentrated rainfall into shorter periods is bad news in ways — dry spells are longer and heavy rain damaged farmland as it can’t penetrate and irrigate the soil, instead eroding it, especially in India, where 600 mil Indians — more than 40% of its population rely on agriculture for a living.
34 years imprisonment — Salma al-Shehab, 34, a mother of 2 young children and a Saudi student at Leeds University, was sentenced to serve prison time after being found guilty by Saudi’s special terrorist court for having a Twitter account (2,900 followers only) and for following and retweeting dissidents and activists. The prison sentence is followed by 34 years of travel ban. Ironically, one of Twitter’s biggest investors is Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed, who owns more than 5% of Twitter through his company, Kingdom Holdings.
GBP1.025 mil (RM5.51 mil) — the average pay of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) UK’s 995 partners in 2021, exceeding the GBP1 mil mark for the first time. As for half of its 24,000 UK employees, they received a 9% pay rise in July to retain staff in a hot labour market and respond to inflation.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
SRC Int’l Trial: Day 3 Updates
After the application to adduce new evidence and subsequent postponement of the trial was denied, Najib’s lead defence counsel, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, proceeded with the application to recuse himself as the lead counsel, stating that he cannot effectively defend Najib Razak given the limited time. For your information, Hisyam and Messrs Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners were hired approximately three weeks before this final appeal trial, although the time is limited, certainly you do not take the job unless you have a plan beforehand.
CJ Tengku Maimun and her panel of judges are having nothing of the nonsense and rejected Hisyam’s application to recuse himself, stating that Hisyam did not show enough causes to do so. Like a kid getting his candy taken away, Hisyam claimed that Najib, in essence, will not have legal representation as he believes that he is not able to effectively represent the former premier (again, why do you take the job anyway!). Among the other highlight from the hearing:
In one of the prosecution’s submissions in the trial, it was revealed that a ‘hands-on’ approach was used in securing a RM4bil funding for SRC International. Instead of sourcing the funds from the markets (as suggested and agreed by Najib Razak and his Economic Planning Unit at first), Najib Razak then overturned the decision and decided to source SRC International’s funding from Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) via a loan from the latter and only one letter from Najib Razak is enough to move RM4 bil from the pension fund to SRC International.
Seven days to go for Najib Razak’s final appeal in relation to the SRC International case at the apex court. August 26 is the final day of the hearing.
Done with SRC, moving on to LCS:
Rafizi Ramli has claimed that a 1MDB-like modus operandi was used to syphon off RM192mil from the LCS project, citing Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd (BHIC) internal probe on the project. He claimed that Malta-based Alizes Marine Ltd was among the offshore companies that received payments for services that were non-existent. Alizes Marine Ltd was also mentioned in the Panama Papers, which disclosed how offshore companies are used for illegal purposes.
As part of the revelation from the declassified Investigating Committee on Procurement, Governance and Finance (JKSTUPKK) report on LCS, the project faced a lot of manpower and commercial issues until it reached a point where the main contractor Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) hired
interns, inexperienced junior engineers, to design the ships. Much of the problems stemmed from BNS’ inability to ensure on-time payments to subcontractors.
Former defence minister Mohamad Sabu and his former deputy, Liew Chin Tong, released excerpts from a yet-to-be declassified forensic audit report conducted by the PH government on the LCS project, stating that there is an alleged intention by certain individuals to maximise personal gains over national interest. In particular, they point out that Ahmad Ramli, then managing director of BHIC and Anuar Murad, issued Letters of Agreements and Variation Orders, without consulting the relevant parties on the matter.
Small win for our healthcare system
A watershed moment for many in the healthcare sector as 4,053 health workers (medical, dental and pharmaceutical officers) are given permanent positions, the highest since the contract policy was introduced in 2016. The health minister stated that more permanent positions could be given if the healthcare budget is increased. On the same note, Khairy also mentioned that it is reasonable for a health service commission to be set up in order to create and fill jobs in the sector independently, taking away the responsibilities of the Public Service Commission or the Public Service Department.
Previously, Khairy had stated that the current public healthcare model is not sustainable to meet the existing and future demands. In order to maintain healthcare as a public good in this country, the healthcare budget needs to increase significantly, or else we will see a hybrid healthcare model (like the one in the United States) introduced in the future, where healthcare is no longer accessible to all.
Say NO to bullying in school — and workplace
In order to curb the rising bullying incidents at school, apart from the current channels, the Education Ministry is introducing an online portal for the public and parents to report any bullying incidents at school. Below are the channels that can be used to submit any school bullying reports:
Online portal: https://www.moe.gov.my/aduanbuli
Special hotline: 03-8884 9352
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through the ministry’s Public Complaint Management System
In the same spirit of eliminating the bullying culture everywhere, the Health Ministry also will implement a zero-bullying policy at all its facilities, citing rising cases of bullying and harassment, especially from senior doctors towards their more junior colleagues. According to the health minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, this toxic and unhealthy culture that can lead to mental health issues and even suicide, must not be accepted as the new norm.
Proton Holdings has inked a deal with Smart Automobile Co Ltd to sell and service Smart vehicles in Malaysia and Thailand. The Smart brand is a joint venture by Proton’s co-owner, Geely and Mercedes-Benz. We will see the first Smart model rollout from Proton showrooms early in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Agmo Holdings Berhad, a digital service provider, enjoys a successful initial public offering (IPO) on Bursa Malaysia’s ACE Market, where the company debuted at 80 sen, way above its IPO price of 26 sen — +207% gain in a single day had you successfully subscribed for its IPO. Much of the proceeds from the IPO, amounting to RM22.1mil, will be used to execute the company’s expansion plan, including establishing its footprint in Singapore.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
A deadly explosion ripped through a crowded mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, during Wednesday’s evening prayer killing 21 people and injuring 33 others. No one has claimed responsibility, though the Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed it was behind previous blasts. This comes a week after a prominent Afghan cleric was killed by a suicide bomb blast in Kabul, which has claimed responsibility for.
Japan wants its younger generation to drink more as the sober habit has hit the country’s taxes on alcoholic beverages. Taxes from alcohol made up 5% of total revenue in 1980, but in 2020 amounts to just 1.7%. To address this, Japan’s national tax agency launched a national competition for those 20 to 39-year-olds to come up with business ideas to reinvigorate demand for alcoholic beverages like sake, shochu, whiskey, beer or wine. This has received mixed reactions as some criticise it as a bid to promote an unhealthy habit.
The tax agency shows that people are drinking less in 2020 compared to 1995, from an annual average of 100 litres to 75 litres which translated to falling tax revenue on alcohol.
In Russia (Japan, take note), to address its falling population, President Putin is restoring a World War II award introduced by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944 to encourage women to have more children when the Soviet Union lost more than 26 mil people. Called the “Mother Heroine” award, the title will be awarded to women who give birth to 10 (that’s a real high threshold in modern times) or more children and will receive 1 mil rubles (approximately USD16,000) after their 10th child turns one.
A low-hanging fruit to stop a shrinking population — stop the war. From Jan to May, Russia lost a record of 86,000 people per month. Russian troops are willing to go as far as shooting themselves in the leg and escape the war. Russia’s population stands at 145.1 mil in 2022, a small decline from 148.3 mil since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 — 31 years on what were Russian adults doing?
Facebook’s parent Meta’s booming presence in Latin America has an unintended consequence — it is fueling the human trafficking industry. Since 2015, Meta has rolled out mobile plans to connect to basic internet services at no cost contributing to the widespread adoption of its services.
Human smugglers spread misinformation on Facebook and WhatsApp on false immigration policies (e.g. the US allowing everyone from Guatemala to enter), which drives up demand for their service to cross borders. To boost their reach, smugglers are using Facebook ads and even expanding their business to international markets in Africa, Afghanistan and Russia, as WhatsApp keeps their long-distance calls and communication free.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are 25 mil victims of human trafficking currently and the industry generates an illegal profit of USD150 bil per year!
Food delivery platforms Grab, foodpanda and Deliveroo in Singapore are joining hands to launch an association, Digital Platforms Industry Associations (DPIA), to set up frameworks, guidelines and policies, collaborating with government and stakeholders to further improve the welfare of its delivery staff and merchants.
Indonesia’s state-owned telco company PT Telkom Indonesia is planning to combine its broadband and wireless business in a restructuring. Its mobile business, Telkomsel, which is also 35% owned by Singapore’s Singtel, is the largest cell provider in Indonesia with 176 mil subscribers Indihome and its broadband business, has 8.6 mil subscribers, with a 80% market share. Telkomsel’s market cap stands at USD29.6 bil — way bigger than Malaysia’s most valuable listed company, Maybank (RM107 bil / USD23.9 bil).
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
If you started your business last year and you are enjoying the entrepreneurial journey, be mindful of this tax law — CP204! Basically, businesses need to estimate their future tax and pay it upfront.
An amazing mural, 8 m tall x103 m long, and one of the largest in Malaysia depicting paddy field in Muzium Padi, Alor Setar, Kedah. It was drawn by 60 artists and said to cost RM11 mil.