☕️ Public Health Institute: 188,020 children under 12 smoke either conventional cigarettes or e-cigarettes
Employment Act amendments: 60 to 98 days maternity leaves, 7 days paternity leaves, flexible working arrangements. Sapura Energy massive RM8.9 bil FY22 net loss. China Eastern Airlines flight crashed.
Today’s issue is brought to you by INFINITY8.
1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
9.6 million people in Ukraine have been displaced by Russia’s invasion, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration. The figure includes those still inside Ukraine and those who have fled to neighbouring countries.
USD14 bil — the amount China and its lenders will get from the poorest nations in debt servicing costs for this year. China was the largest single creditor after the World Bank’s International Development Association. Eight nations’ repayment costs will exceed their gross national income by 2%.
12% of people over 80 in Hong Kong are not vaccinated. Once famed for its low covid-19 count, Hong Kong is now recording the world’s highest death rate from the virus — case-fatality rate of 2%.
3. COVID-19 SUMMARY
China’s financial hub of Shanghai reported a record daily surge in local Covid-19 infections yesterday, forcing the Shanghai Disney Resort to close. The number of infections is low by global standards — 24 symptomatic and 734 asymptomatic — but it is the fourth consecutive day of increase in Shanghai’s local asymptomatic infections. China isn’t taking its chances.
Long Covid patients face significant and measurable memory or concentration impairments even after a mild illness, according to two new studies led by the University of Cambridge. The new research concludes there are “objective cognitive differences” between those who have and haven’t been infected with COVID-19.
Indonesia will expand its quarantine-free travels to the rest of the country following a successful two-week trial of the program in Bali, Batam and Bintan islands.
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4. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The Parliament has passed amendments to the Employment Act, providing better protection for employees. The amendment involves 46 clauses, which include 28 new clauses, ten new clauses and six repealed clauses. Some key amendments:
Extension of maternity leaves from 60 days to 98 days, in line with International Labour Organisation’s recommendations.
Introduction of 7-day of paid paternity leave for male employees.
Restrict the termination of female employees who are pregnant or suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, except on the grounds of misconduct.
Allowing staff to apply for flexible working arrangements depending on the suitability of the working hours, days or workplace.
Employers who threaten, deceive or force an employee to work and prevent an employee from leaving their place of work can now be prosecuted.
Employers are required to display notices at the workplace to raise awareness of sexual harassment.
188,020 — a staggering number of children below 12 smoke either conventional cigarettes or e-cigarettes according to the findings of the Tobacco and E-cigarettes Survey Among Malaysian Adolescents carried out by the Public Health Institute (PHI) in 2016 (data a bit dated, there should be on-going research into this area as smoking has a long-term systemic impact on our health system). 125,714 smoked conventional cigarettes, whilst 62,306 smoked e-cigarettes.
A separate study on oral health found 32,170 youths below 18 were smokers. No matter how one sliced this data (e.g. per capita, % of the population), it’s just too huge a number to digest, clearly indicating problems across various aspects of our society (e.g. parenting) and government (e.g. enforcement).
Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin said the ministry proposes that digital currencies such as cryptocurrency to be adopted as legal tender to help the younger generation who are active users of the currency, especially on NFT trading platforms.
Sounds like a piece of good news for the crypto industry, but from what is being reported, it seems like the ministry, or rather, the deputy minister isn’t entirely sure about what this proposal entails and its implications. Making crypto assets legal tender shouldn’t be due to uptake in NFT trading. Not even a fraction of cryptocurrencies are suitable to be legal tender. There must be a reason why countries like El Salvador and states in the US like Arizona and California proposed for Bitcoin only to be legal tender and not other cryptocurrencies.
Don’t get too excited yet. 3 weeks ago, Deputy Finance Minister II Yamani Hafez Musa said that cryptocurrencies are not recognised as legal tender in Malaysia as they do not exhibit characteristics of universal money.
What do Anwar Ibrahim (PKR), Lim Kit Siang (DAP) and Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS) all have in common finally? They were tested positive for Covid-19 over the past three days.
Beleaguered oil and gas company, Sapura Energy Bhd, reported a massive RM6.61 bil net loss in its Q4 ended Jan 31, 2022, compared to RM216.03 mil net loss a year ago, largely attributed to impairment of goodwill of RM3.29 bil and impairment on property, plant and equipment worth RM2.1 bil (these are accounting treatment, which later on could possibly be reversed and recognised as profit like how AirAsia X will reverse RM33 bil back into its profits).
The company wrapped up its 2022 financial year with its highest yet net loss of RM8.9 bil. Worst still, its cash on its balance sheet of RM717 mil is staring at a nightmarish debt of RM10.6 bil. Sapura has been granted a court order to enable it to negotiate with its creditors to undertake a massive debt restructuring, essentially buying time to address its debt obligations.
Sapura Energy Bhd’s largest shareholder is Permodalan Nasional Bhd, with a 40% stake and it extended a lifeline of RM2.7 bil in 2018. No doubt a large absolute amount but comprise a tiny percentage of PNB’s total assets under management (AUM) of RM337 bil at end-October 2021.
Berjaya Corp Bhd has appointed Vivienne Cheng and Syed Ali Shahul Hameed as its group co-CEO effective Apr 1, 2022, as Abdul Jalil Rasheed steps down. Both individuals are veterans in the company, with Cheng joining the group in 1989 (33 years) and Syed Ali joining in 1997 (25 years).
5. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 carrying 132 people on board crashed in a forested hillside in southern China. The plane was flying from Kunming to Guangzhou but lost height rapidly from its cruising altitude before hitting the ground. The country’s last major plane incident took place 12 years ago.
Ukraine has rejected Russia’s ultimatum to surrender the besieged port city of Mariupol. The city is an essential target for Russia as it is still struggling to take control of any of Ukraine’s biggest population centres or make significant territorial advances after more than three weeks since it first started its “special military operation”.
Argentina’s congress has voted in favour of a deal to restructure USD45 bil in debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from its record 2018 bailout, which it was supposed to pay in the next two years (see chart below). It is Argentina’s 22nd deal with the IMF since it joined in 1956. The government’s win removes the threat of an imminent default on USD19 bil of repayments due to the fund this year. The IMF will likely approve of the deal to save face.
China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL), the world’s biggest maker of batteries for electric vehicles, is thinking of investing in a USD5 bil plant in North America to supply customers, including Tesla Inc. CATL aims to build a facility that can produce as much as 80 gigawatt-hours per annum.
Goldman Sachs is the first major US bank to trade an over-the-counter (OTC) crypto transaction. Goldman traded a bitcoin-linked instrument called a non-deliverable option with crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital. The bank is taking on greater risk by acting as a principal in the transactions, a notable step in the development of crypto markets for institutional investors.
After complaining about the lack of good investment opportunities, Warren Buffett finally found a company to takeover — Alleghany Corp, the owner of reinsurer TransRe. Berkshire Hathaway Inc struck a USD11.6 bil deal to buy Alleghany Corp, which would bolster Berkshire’s already large insurance portfolio.