☕️ RM5 mil spent on "Keluarga Malaysia" campaigns
QSR postpone its USD500 mil IPO, again. Sabah state cabinet, assemblymen getting 40% pay hike. Amazon fights fake reviews, by suing 10,000 admins of Facebook groups.
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Yesterday wasn’t a slow news day for Malaysia. Enjoy today’s issue!
1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
If you’ve got a Video Home System (VHS) tape laying around somewhere, don’t throw it. A Back To The Future video cassette went for USD75,000 at a sale by Heritage Auctions last month. However, not all VHS tapes are the same — the trend is mostly focused on blockbuster titles. First editions and sealed copies can fetch higher premiums.
RM10.46 bil — the loss suffered by Malaysia’s oil palm industry in the first five months of 2022 because of manpower shortage, according to the Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (and yes, she retains her post after meeting with Ismail Sabri, a couple of weeks back).
RM5 million — the amount the government spent on its Keluarga Malaysia campaign as revealed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Special Functions) Abd Latiff Ahmad in his written reply to Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil. What can you do with RM5 million?
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said he was disappointed with the Members of Parliament (MPs) over the chaos in the house on Monday over the Sulu Sultanate claim issue. Azhar said the motion was rejected because it would be subjudice as there were ongoing proceedings involving the matter abroad.
On another note, former prime minister Najib Razak wants the issue to be debated, but it wants the Pakatan Harapan administration to answer his questions.
Current prime minister Ismail Sabri vows to protect the country’s assets using every channel available. He added that Petronas and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar would explain to Parliament soon on the seizure of Petronas assets in Azerbaijan.
Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said there is a slim chance of Malaysia going bankrupt like Sri Lanka. However, he revealed some concerning facts — Malaysia's debt service ratio was currently at 16.3 per cent and was expected to rise to more than 18 per cent this year. He explained that for every ringgit in revenue the government collects, almost 20 sen will be used to service the debt interest, not including the principal sum. Gulps.
Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd has a huge bill to settle — some RM97.31 mil, comprising RM66 million in sales tax and RM31.31 million in penalty incurred for late payment — for its two oil units operating in Sabah to continue operation. Sabah has threatened to cancel the working permits for Repsol Oil & Gas Ltd and SEA Hibiscus Sdn Bhd, both of which are wholly owned by Hibiscus, should Hibiscus fail to settle the arrears. The oil and gas service provider is committed to resolving the issue with Sabah authorities.
QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd, the Malaysian operator of KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants in Southeast Asia, has pushed its USD500 mil (RM2.2 bil) initial public offering (IPO) back due to the poor macroeconomic conditions that could hurt its valuation. QSR initially wanted to go public by the end of 2022 but is now looking to launch its IPO next year, with the aim of a market valuation of at least RM6 bil. QSR runs more than 850 KFC and 500 Pizza Hut restaurants in this region.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Dr Adham Baba said a National Space Board would be formed to enforce the recently-gazetted Space Board Act (Act 834). The board has actual tasks — creating and enacting rules and regulations related to space exploration in accordance with international treaties. Netflix has a comedy series called ‘Space Force’ on the US’ attempt to set a military branch focusing on space featuring Steve Carell and John Malkovich. It’s a good laugh — watch the trailer here.
Azeez Rahim (Baling-BN) said using expletive or vulgar words is a “bigger offence” than making sexist remarks in response to Teo Nie Ching (Kulai-Pakatan Harapan)’s accusation of several Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs of uttering sexist comments in Parliament. Is it really?
Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Dr Ronald Kiandee assured Dewan Rakyat that Malaysia is not facing any issues of rice shortage. He added the country’s existing stockpile is sufficient to last over seven months.
Three lawyers — Haris Ibrahim, Nur Ain Mustapha and Sreekant Pillai — have succeeded in getting the Federal Court to look into constitutional issues. Two issues at hand:
i) whether the enforcement authorities can initiate a criminal investigation against a sitting superior court judge and;
ii) whether the prosecution can initiate criminal court proceedings against a serving judge of the superior courts.
The Sabah state assembly passed a Bill to increase the salaries of members of the state Cabinet and assemblymen by 40% across the board. During these times of austerity, it is bizarre how lawmakers are only concerned about their well-being. It will only cost the state an additional RM5.6 mil per year.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Russia’s state-owned natural gas company, Gazprom, has declared “force majeure” on supplies due to “unforeseeable circumstances” — it is not able to comply with gas contracts in Europe. European officials have become increasingly concerned about the possibility of a complete shutdown of gas supplies from Russia, causing an energy crisis. EU is looking at contingency planning which includes financial incentives for companies to cut gas use and encourage alternative fuel sources.
Austerity mode: ON. Big techs are slowing hiring and starting layoffs. Although generally beating Wall Street performance estimates in 2023, Apple has plans to decelerate hiring. Some teams were given lower budgets and some groups won't get increased headcounts.
Apple is not the only tech giant planning to slow down. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said in an email to staff that the company is “consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining processes”, while Meta CEO Zuckerberg has warned that “there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn't be here”.
Crypto firms and tech firms aren’t the only ones who are downsizing — giant investment bank Goldman Sachs, which went on a hiring spree last year and increased its headcount by 15% to 47,000 employees — has slowed its hiring as the investment bank prepares for tougher times ahead. Fun fact — the firm set aside USD7.78 bil for workers’ compensation and benefits through June 30 — an average of USD165.5k per worker.
E-commerce giant Amazon is fighting against fake product reviews — by suing more than 10,000 Facebook group administrators. These groups recruit people to post glowing feedback in exchange for money. Amazon has been plagued with reviews that artificially boost product ratings. Fake reviews dominated some product categories, including bluetooth headphones and health supplements.
UK’s heatwaves hit a record temperature of 40C, causing airport runways to melt. Flights at Luton airport were stopped because of bits of tarmac melting on the runway. Train services were delayed as trains across Britain were limited to a 90mph maximum, as the risk of track buckling is high as steel gets too hot, expands, and in serious cases, buckles. Explaination here why UK tracks couldn’t take the heat, unlike other countries.
Australia’s environment is in a shocking state. Its new environment report shows 19 ecosystems on the brink of collapse and the country has lost more species to extinction than any other continent. Climate change is real and has caused Australia to suffer severe drought, bushfires, floods, and six mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. Read the report here.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Big tech firms spent close to USD70 mil in 2021 on lobbying the US government.
Seven Singapore-registered luxury cars were caught driving dangerously on Malaysian roads.
What a smart way to use TikTok. It caught my attention, not gonna lie. SFW content — we promise.