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  • ☕️ 1MDB star witness Jasmine Loo testifies - Jho Low's "living hell" threats, the 'Arab donation' letters

☕️ 1MDB star witness Jasmine Loo testifies - Jho Low's "living hell" threats, the 'Arab donation' letters

Highway operator Prolintas RM1.5 bil IPO - largest in 2 years. Pakistan-style unity govt - PM term goes 50-50. The Body Shop UK enters administration, 2k jobs at risk.

Gong Xi Fa Chai — hope everyone has had a good break over the long weekend, connecting with families, disconnecting from us and whatnot. We missed you, so now we’re back!


Information as of 0725 UTC+8 on Feb 15, 2024.


In December 2023, Malaysia's unemployment rate remained stable at 3.3%, with 567,800 individuals unemployed, slightly down from November's 569,000. The latest Labour Force statistics from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) also revealed a 0.2% increase in employed persons to 16.46 mil, compared to 16.43 mil in November. Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, the chief statistician, attributed these figures to the nation's steady economic growth and ongoing social activities. Unemployed is defined as the proportion of the unemployed population to the total population in the labour force, expressed as a percentage.

The Ministry of Housing and Local Government has set a target to construct at least 50 public recreational parks across the country each year. This initiative aims to enhance the number of recreational parks and create a greener and safer environment for residents in the surrounding areas. The minister, Nga Kor Ming, said his ministry would allocate around RM500,000 for every park. Kudos for allocating RM25 mil for the well-being of the rakyat.

According to Groupm, global ad spending reached a staggering amount of USD889 bil (RM4.24 tril), excluding American political spots. The worldwide ad spending is expected to grow at a rate of 5-6% annually for the next five years, driven by digital advertising. Amazon, one of the most valuable companies in the world, started selling ads alongside search results on its retail site over a decade ago. Amazon is estimated to have earned around USD45 bil from this strategy last year, which is more than the entire global newspaper industry earned from ads.

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1MDB-Tanore Trial - Explosive testimonies

Prosecution Witness #49: MACC investigating officer Nur Aida Arifin

  • MACC officer Nur Aida Arifin disclosed receiving instructions to halt investigations after Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad assumed the role of MACC chief commissioner in 2016. Despite not recalling the source of instructions, Nur Aida documented them in her investigation diary. 

  • Nur Aida said the removal of Dzulkifli’s predecessor, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, was a way to stop the anti-graft body’s investigation into the 1MDB scandal.

  • Nur Aida stated that Najib Razak never officially acknowledged the supposed Arab donors for the USD681 mil (over RM2 bil) transferred to his personal accounts over the years from 2011 to 2014. The defence relies on four letters stating the donations were given with no strings attached. 

  • No evidence exists from the Saudi side acknowledging the return of USD620 mil, which Najib maintained that he returned through Tanore (a company owned by Jho Low’s close associate, Eric Tan Kim Loong) to the donor in 2013.

  • She also highlighted additional fund transfers to Najib that occurred in 2014 through Blackrock Commodities and Vista Equity after the purported return of donations.

Star Prosecution Witness #50: Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, former 1MDB general counsel
Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, a key witness in the 1MDB trial who is currently under witness protection, made a discreet public appearance to avoid being photographed by the press. In her 63-page witness statement, Loo stated that Low threatened to make her life “a living hell” if she left Bangkok, Thailand, where she had been residing, prior to her return to Malaysia. This revelation sheds light on the factors influencing her delayed return to Malaysia.

A brief timeline of Jasmine Loo Ai Swan’s 1MDB saga:

  • Recounted meeting Jho Low during a job interview in October 2008 and subsequently joining UBG Berhad as an executive director of law, a company owned by Jho Low.

  • Earned a monthly salary of approximately RM45,000 from her employment at UBG Berhad.

  • Worked as general counsel under 1MDB in May 2011 at the invitation of 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi. 

  • Left Malaysia in April 2018 before the general election and stayed for five years until 2023. She testified that she faced numerous challenges in trying to return to Malaysia.

  • Loo described her early tasks at 1MDB, including reviewing joint venture documents with Petrosaudi International Limited.

Other noteworthy testimonies:


  • Westports eyes expansion with external investors amid Southeast Asia's port ambitions 🚢💰

    Westports Holdings Bhd, Malaysia's largest port operator, plans to nearly double its capacity with an RM39.6 bil expansion. Executive chairman Ruben Emir Gnanalingam expressed openness to value-driven partnerships. The expansion includes eight new container terminals, set to start operating by 2027, boosting capacity to 27 mil twenty-foot equivalent units, with the concession running until 2082. Aligned with neighbouring ports in the Malacca Strait, Westports faces potential competition from Singapore's SGD20 bil (RM70.82 bil) Tuas Port (the world’s largest automated terminal) and Thailand's USD28 bil (RM133.49 bil) "land bridge" proposal.

  • Prolintas revs up for milestone IPO in 1Q2024 🛣️

    Malaysian infrastructure giant Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas) gears up for a landmark RM1.5 bil IPO in 1Q2024, making it one of the largest IPOs in the past two years, beating out Khazanah-backed Farm Fresh Bhd and Creador-backed CTOS Digital Bhd. Prolintas will debut on Bursa Malaysia's Main Market through Prolintas Infra Business Trust, becoming Malaysia's pioneer highway business trust to go public. (think REIT, but infrastructure instead). The trust includes four highways — AKLEH, GCE, LKSA, and SILK. The IPO aims to raise approximately RM1.5 bil, valuing the highway trust at RM3.5 bil.

    Financial snapshot:

    • As at end FY2022, revenue grew by 15.5% to RM369.99 mil from RM342.67 mil in FY2023

    • The company suffered after-tax losses of RM172.68 mil, compared to a profit after tax of RM142.61 mil in FY2021.

    • Total assets stood at RM17.33 bil vs total liabilities of RM14.32 bil

    View its IPO prospectus here.


  1. Malaysian JPA holders who are studying abroad can defer their return for up to three years to pursue employment and skill development overseas and will be taken into account the years in the bond of service. This requires application and only applies to those who are pursuing their first degree. The scholarship repayment continues through monthly instalments. Adjustments will be considered after the deferment period. Further details here.

  2. Amidst claims that 9 in 10 honey products sold in Malaysia are fake, the Health Ministry stated that just 6% of honey products have failed standards since 2016. They are enforcing regulations rigorously and working with agencies for authentication using global standards. A new Authentic Food Certification Scheme certified seven companies for honey products. Regulations require honey to contain at least 60% reduced sugar, no more than 10% sucrose content, and less than 80 mg of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) per kg.


Election Matters

  • Prabowo’s commanding lead could see a single-round victory for the ex-general

    Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has claimed a commanding lead in Indonesia’s presidential election, which could see the ex-general win in a single round. This is Prabowo’s third attempt at presidency. According to unofficial results, the minister has about 58% of the votes, compared to rivals Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo, who have 25% and 17%, respectively. Notably, Prabowo was feared in the 1990s as a top lieutenant of late Indonesian ruler Suharto. Prabowo also has the implicit backing of the wildly popular incumbent Joko Widodo, which is regarded as crucial for a victory on Prabowo’s part. Daddy has to support the son - Prabowo chose Jokowi’s son Gibran Rakabuming as his running mate.

  • Pakistan People’s Party & Pakistan Muslim League reached deal to form a coalition for political stability

    The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have come to an agreement to form a government in the name of political stability. How about no unity government and instead taking turns over the PM seat? The two parties are considering the idea of each appointing a prime minister for two and a half years. This follows the surprise election result that saw independent candidates backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) winning a majority of 101 seats, with PML-N and PPP securing 75 and 54, respectively. PTI is the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence for a corruption conviction.

Catching Rides

  • Lyft typo projects profit 10x higher than the actual figures

    Ride-hailing firm Lyft saw its share prices surging following a forecasted margin improvement of 500 basis points (5%, 1% = 100 basis points) for 2024. However, this turned out to be a typo, with the correction revealing an actual margin improvement forecast of 50 basis points (0.5%). While share prices dropped back down following the correction, the stock remained up 16% at the end of Tuesday’s trading. This is attributed to the company forecasting a healthy growth in ride volume for 2024. What an uber typo. 

  • Uber announces USD7 bil share buyback following first profitable year

    Uber Technologies has announced its first-ever share buyback scheme, with the firm looking to repurchase up to USD7 bil of company shares following its first profitable year. CFO Prashanth Mahendra-Rajah calls the authorisation of the share buyback a “vote of confidence in the company’s strong financial momentum”. The firm expects gross bookings growth “in the mid to high teens percentage” and adjusted core profit growth of up to 40% over the next three years. Uber reported a free cash flow of USD3.4 bil in 2023, up USD390 mil from the previous year.


  • Bezos sells over USD4 bil in Amazon shares
    Amazon reported that founder Jeff Bezos has sold 24 mil shares this month, with a plan to sell 26 mil more over the next year. The 50 mil shares are worth around USD8.4 bil at current prices. Still, Bezos is expected to save about USD280 mil in taxes from the sale of the shares, thanks to his move to Miami, Florida. The state of Florida does not have state taxes on incomes or capital gains. Not so easy to tax the rich after all. 

  • Bali enacts entry tax for foreign tourists 
    The tourist town enacted the levy of USD9.60 (RM45.80) as of February 14, with authorities stating the entrance fee aims to protect the island’s environment and culture. This comes after incidents where tourists have disrespected local religious sites and broken traffic laws. Tourism made up 60% of Bali’s GDP before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 2,000 UK jobs at risk as The Body Shop goes into administration 
    The British arm of The Body Shop has collapsed into administration, a form of creditor protection that could lead to a sale of the business or closure of stores, putting 2,000 jobs at risk. The firm currently has 199 British stores, having been one of the more popular ethical cosmetics retailers before facing stiffer competition from newcomers in recent years. The company had several owners, including L’Oreal and in November was flipped again for USD257 mil by Natura & CO. to private equity group Aurelius.

    The Body Shop in Malaysia is operated by Bursa-listed Innature Bhd, which saw its stock fall yesterday by 13.6% (view its financials here). 


  1. If someone offers you money, in this case, USD800,00 (RM3.83 mil), to face your biggest fears, would you do it?

  1. Accounting 101: A visual guide on how to understand financial statements.

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