☕️ 20% employer EPF contribution - yay or nay

Govt mulling deal with UNHCR on managing refugees, asylum seekers. Hero hypermarket chain in talks to sell for RM445 mil. David vs Goliath - dating app giant Match vs Muslim dating app Muzz.



How’s your second day back at work after a combo of public hols? Bear a bit longer - the next long weekend will be in early June - Monday, 5 June will be the next national holiday to mark the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s birthday.

GBP50 - 100 mil — the estimated cost to taxpayers of King Charles III’s scaled-back coronation that took place over the weekend amidst the cost-of-living crisis in the UK and against a backdrop of strikes by doctors, teachers and other public servants over pay. A YouGov survey found that 51% of Britons do not think the event should be funded by the government. View survey analysis: Where does public opinion stand on the monarchy ahead of the coronation? 

500 days — the new world record of days spent underground in a cave 70m underground by Beatriz Flamini in Southern Spain, beating out the previous record of 210 days. Her feat, which started on 21 Nov 2021, was part of a project called Timecave, designed to study how someone would fare going solo underground for a long period.

USD8.02 tril — the revenue generated by the world’s 500 largest family enterprises that employed 245 mil people worldwide, up 10% according to the 2023 EY and University of St. Gallen Family Business Index. This averages USD16 bil revenue per family company. 17 companies (4 from Malaysia) from Southeast Asia made it on the list. 76% of companies on the list are more than 50 years old. View index and study: How the world’s largest family businesses are outstripping global economic growth.


No talks started yet on the 20% EPF contribution proposal, says PM AnwarPM Anwar Ibrahim stated that the discussion around the 20% Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contribution proposal is not in motion as of yet, revealed by him during the officiating of EPF’s new building in Kwasa Damansara. The proposal was part of the Union Network International Malaysia Labour Centre’s (UNIMLC) 12-point increase request.

Talking at the same event, PM Anwar also told the audience that EPF should reformulate its investment portfolio to comprise 70% of domestic investments by the end of the year. PM Anwar emphasised more on strategic infrastructure investments, including infrastructure assets such as PLUS Highway and SMART Tunnel. At the moment, EPF’s investments in the country stand at 66% - with assets under management of RM1 tril, rounding it to 70% means an additional RM40 bil of economic stimulus to the economy.. Another interesting fact, in 2022, real estate and infrastructure constituted about 7% of EPF’s total investment, contributing to 10% of EPF’s annual income or RM5.56 bil.

An analysis here on how higher contribution rates with capping to offset higher EPF contribution cost to employers could address the nation’s impending retirement crisis.

Ex-banker said 1MDB USD2.3bil investment only to prevent fraud detection, “no benefits” to 1MDBFormer senior banker of the shuttered BSI Bank in Singapore, Kevin Michael Swampillai told the court that the USD2.318 bil investment into two drill ships by 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) subsidiary, Brazen Sky Limited, was done to evade auditors that are checking the company’s account. Swampillai added that during that time, 1MDB officials were so fixated on the USD2.318 bil valuation for the two ships but the BSI Bank’s officials hesitated to ask more questions as they did not want to lose 1MDB as a client, a lucrative one to add. Swampillai is the 44th prosecution witness in Najib Razak’s misappropriation trial of RM2.28bil 1MDB fund.

The Federal Government is in the midst of redefining its role and responsibility over refugees and asylum seekers in MalaysiaDeputy PM Zahid Hamidi said that the Federal Government is mulling over an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in relation to the former’s role in managing refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Deputy PM Zahid stated that it is the responsibility of UNHCR to take care of the welfare of refugees in accordance with the Resolution 428(V) of the United Nations Convention 1950. Currently, there are 185,760 refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, where about 86% of them or 160,332 people, are from Myanmar.

The country should be proactive in managing refugees, providing them with a roadmap to settle down in the country, obtaining job opportunities and eventually becoming taxpaying individuals like the rest of us. If not, xenophobic incidents like the ones in Penang may be a frequent event. In Bagan Dalam, Penang, a meeting was held between the local residents and the refugees to discuss matters such as allegations that refugees are taking opportunities and facilities away from locals and breaking the law. Not even a few weeks ago, 50 Rohingya refugees were evicted from their homes in a village in Penaga, Penang.

Business news

  • After Singapore, now Malaysians can make payments using a QR code in Indonesia after Bank Indonesia (BI) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) have jointly announced the Indonesia-Malaysia cross-border QR payment linkage.

  • Big 4 glovemaker Hartalega Holdings Bhd is decommissioning its Bestari Jaya production facility which might give rise to a RM347 mil impairment loss for FY2023 as the company shift and consolidate its operations at its Next Generation Integrated facility in Sepang. The Bestari Jaya facility comprises 30% of Hartalega’s overall capacity.

  • MY Hero Hypermarket Sdn Bhd, the operator of the HeroMarket grocery chain is mulling to sell the chain for RM445 mil and has approached private equity (PE) firms including Navis and Intermediate Capital Group (ICG). Currently, Navis is holding a stake in TFP Retail Sdn Bhd, which operates the Village Grocer and Ben’s Independent Grocer (BIG) premium grocery stores. Hero is started by Francis Teng, the brother of Teng Yew Huat and founder of Jaya Grocer, which Grab acquired for RM1.8 bil. A family made of supermarket kings. 


Fixing gun violence in the US - teaching kids emergency first aidA Texas lawmaker proposed a bill for children as young as 8 years old to receive annual training to man bleeding control stations in times of tragedy, such as school shootings. In 2023 alone, there were 25 school shootings and we have another 8 more months to go. Instead of banning guns (oh, Americans love for guns and their constitutional right to bear guns), lawmakers want children to provide a first-aid response during a state of panic when most adults can’t keep themselves calm and collected in such a situation. 

Pharma giant moving on from Covid-19 business boostAs the world recovers from the pandemic, BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner on Covid-19 vaccines, has seen its fortune shrinking (better than the glove makers, at least not making losses). Its quarterly net profit collapsed to EUR502 mil from EUR3.7 bil a year earlier as Covid-19 vaccine demand plunged. The pharma company is targeting EUR5 bil revenue this year, down 71% from EUR17.2 bil last year. 

Its wild pandemic-induced profit has helped built a EUR18.6 bil cash balance and receivables, allowing it to pursue a string of acquisitions and partnerships to broaden its work on cancer treatments. BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, which was developed using mRNA technology, could be repurposed to destroy cancer cells. Prof Sahin, co-founder of BioNTech, said mRNA-based cancer vaccine might be ready for use in patients “before 2030”. 

Shopee parent Sea - from layoffs to pay hikeIt has been a wild ride in the past year for Sea Ltd from pulling out from international markets, mass layoffs and restructuring, turning its first-ever profit 14 years after its founding and now a pay hike for its staff. Sea’s billionaire founder Forrest Li announced a 5% pay hike for employees who joined before March 31. Li said Sea has reached “self-sufficiency” as its cash balance starts increasing. This pay hike sent a strong signal to investors that Sea’s e-commerce and gaming business has turned the corner, sending its stock up by more than 6%. Seems a bit early for such a move, given that the company only achieved a single quarter of profitability. 

Slow news day on the global front, so we are supplementing with some interesting reads for mid-week:

A David vs Goliath battle unfolding in the dating app industry - The story of giant dating business Match Group, owner of Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid, attempting to destroy Muzz, a relationship app for Muslims with more than 9 mil users. 

F1 looks to unlock new riches with China’s rising star - Meet 24-year-old Zhou Guanyu, China’s first full-time F1 racer and the sports’ key to monetising the China market with over 70 mil viewers but lagging in comparable revenue.


  1. This is a rather wild stats - Facebook, a free-to-use app, makes more average revenue per user than subscription-based Netflix. There’s a saying - if something is free, ‘you’ are the product.

  1. Comedian Douglas Lim is back with a latest vid poking fun at recent political developments. You will catch all the double meanings if you have been reading out newsletter!