- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ 6th Bersatu MP to support PMX, 10 PN MPs more to come
☕️ 6th Bersatu MP to support PMX, 10 PN MPs more to come
Another Tun M's son investigated by MACC. Palestine: Small win at ICJ, big loss in UN aid funding. Georgia's dark history - baby trafficking spanning decades.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Information as of 0730 UTC+8 on Jan 29, 2024.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
SGD1,088,888 (RM3.8 mil) — the price of a 1,088 metre-long “Celestial Dragon Yusheng,” and this is without GST. The promotional photo for the platter features yee sang ingredients arranged in the shape of a large orange dragon that covers several tables. The dragon's body is primarily made up of vegetables such as shredded carrots and white radish, with other key ingredients such as sauces, crushed peanuts, and salmon placed in small containers lining the edges of the tables. Talk about over the top.
Some economists expect a boom in GDP following the surge in the use of artificial intelligence (AI), as many believe AI can broadly substitute for human labour. However, there is currently not much evidence of a significant increase in investment in AI. Businesses worldwide are spending very little on capital expenditure (capex). Excluding firms driving the AI revolution, such as Microsoft and Nvidia, most of the S&P 500 companies are planning to lift capex by only around 2.5% in 2024. According to a study conducted by Goldman Sachs, only 5% of CEOs anticipate that AI will have a noticeable influence on their business within the next one to two years. However, 65% of them believe that AI will have an impact within the next three to five years.
— Best Ads Of All Time (@BestAdsTime)
Jan 27, 2024
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (US), there is USD117 bil worth of commercial mortgages tied to US office buildings that are set to mature this year. Unfortunately, many of these loans were taken out a decade ago when interest rates were much lower, and their owners are likely to face challenges refinancing them at current interest rates. As a result, investors are facing the prospect of significant losses, as commercial mortgage rates have nearly doubled, and many buildings have underperformed. If you have exposure to the US REITs, please be mindful!
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Instead of a coup d’etat, support is consolidating for the Madani Government
PM Anwar Ibrahim is confident that one by one, MPs from Perikatan Nasional (PN) will switch sides to support the Madani Government after the failed attempts to topple the Government. Bukit Gantang MP Syed Abu Hussin supported this narrative when he recently pledged support for PM Anwar-led Government. Syed Abu Hussin stated that Bersatu members were left demoralised after Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin decided to do a U-turn and intend to defend the president post after initially deciding to vacate the seat during Bersatu’s annual party congress. Syed Abu Hussin felt that most Bersatu members wanted to see changes happen within the party and he personally felt that Larut MP Hamzah Zainudin has the potential to take over the party’s leadership.
So far, six Bersatu MPs have pledged support for PM Anwar and Syed Abu Hussin claimed that another 10 PN MPs will do the same, hinting that an announcement will be made before the next Dewan Rakyat sitting (commencing on February 26). Quoting Syed Abu Hussin, “For the Northern region - Kedah, Penang, and Perak - there are five people. There are three from the East Coast - Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang - and another three from the central region (Selangor and Malacca)”. The eleven figures that will pledge support to PM Anwar, quoted by Syed Abu Hussin, include Tanjong Karang MP Zulkafperi Hanapi, who became the sixth Bersatu MP to pledge support for AI on Wednesday. Syed Abu Hussin added that this mass wave of support from Bersatu MPs may be a prelude for the Bersatu party itself to support PM Anwar in the next general election as Bersatu does not see PAS, which is the largest party in Dewan Rakyat at the moment, as a trusted ally.
One interesting piece of news that came out of all this was Syed Abu Hussin was recently appointed as the head of one of the clusters under the National Action Council on Cost of Living (Naccol). Syed Abu Hussin was previously the chairman of the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM).
MACC in the news
One by one, they are being investigated. After Mirzan, another Tun Dr Mahathir’s son, Mokhzani Mahathir, was given a 30-day notice by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to declare all his assets here at home and abroad. It was believed that Mokhzani’s case is unrelated to his brother, Mirzan Mahathir.
In the case of accepting bribery in return for securing millions of ringgit worth of tenders in a ministry, MACC confirmed that the agency has obtained an order to extend the remand of a former political secretary to a former minister and a businessperson with the title of ‘Datuk Seri’. As part of the investigation for this case, MACC seized several luxury cars that were believed to have been bought with the proceeds of corruption.
Another year, another data leak
A database seller claimed to have the entire Telekom Malaysia database and had since put them up for sale. The database includes Telekom customers’ names, genders, addresses, and phone numbers alongside MyKad numbers, salary range, and marital status. The total size of the data is 80GB and also comprises documentation for Telekom’s customer database architecture created by a local vendor, Vision Technology Consulting (VTC).
In response to this matter, Telekom Malaysia stated that the said data is outdated and recycled. This finding is based on Telekom’s internal investigation after the telco had received a ransom note from the database seller. Even then, if it can be used to identify a person’s personal details, it’s still a data leak!
KLCC Prop to fully own Suria KLCC at a price of RM1.95 bil
KLCC Property Holdings Bhd (KLCCP) is in the midst of buying the remaining 40% shares in Suria KLCC Sdn Bhd that it does not own for a staggering RM1.95 bil, valuing it at RM4.875 bil. The share purchase agreement has been entered with Ocmador (Malaysia) City Retail Centre Sdn Bhd, Port Moresby Investments Ltd and Bold Peak Sdn Bhd for the proposed acquisition. The proposed purchase will be funded by external borrowing and will be concluded by 2Q2024.
Khazanah wants to join the Oyo party
Khazanah Nasional Bhd is in discussion to lead an RM1.89 bil funding round into India-based Oyo Hotels & Homes Pvt. This fundraising is believed to finance Oyo’s expansion plan and to reduce its debt. Once valued at USD10 bil as India’s Airbnb, SoftBank, the largest investor in Oyo, in 2022 marked down the value of its holding in the startup, giving it a valuation of USD2.7 bil — a steep mark-down. In this latest round, the valuation is estimated to be around USD6 bil.
Sarawak gets a new governor
Former Dewan Negara president, Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, was finally appointed as the 8th Governor of Sarawak on Friday. Wan Junaidi replaces Abdul Taib Mahmud, who held the post for ten years from March 1, 2014.
The abolishment of pensions also applies to politicians
PM Anwar Ibrahim confirmed that any future proposal to abolish pensions for new civil servant hires would also apply to politicians. Despite all of this, existing civil servants who are already in the existing pension scheme will not be affected by future changes to the system. Previously, Finance Minister II Amir Hamzah Azizan said that Putrajaya has already allocated RM31 bil for this year’s pension payments for retirees.
Perak will do its study on pensions
On a related news, Perak Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad said that the state government will study the impact of implementing a non-pensionable scheme in the future, which is currently mooted by Putrajaya. FYI, the state government has the independent jurisdiction to dictate the salary scheme for civil servants hired under the state government.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
South Africa/Palestine 1 - 0 Israel but no end in sight
The 17 judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or World Court made its interim ruling last Friday on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, issuing Israel 6 provisional measures in relation to its bombardment of Gaza but stopping short of calling for a full ceasefire. As members of the UN, both South Africa and Israel are bound by the court’s rulings and cannot appeal a decision, though the ICJ is akin to a toothless tiger, lacking any mechanism to enforce its orders. The one that can truly enforce actions against Israel is the UN Security Council, which can take punitive action against Israel, though one UNSC member and Israel’s big brother US, tends to get in the way. Read more here on these six provisional measures and how the judges voted.
This small ICJ victory was quickly met with a rather massive setback as funding towards the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was cut. This agency of the UN was set up in 1949 to assist tens of thousands of Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homes by Jewish militias from areas that currently form part of Israel. Top funders, mainly from EU member states, were quick to suspend funding after 12 UNRWA staff members were accused of involvement in the Oct 7 Hamas attack. For context, these 12 individuals were out of the 13,000 employees of the agency in Gaza. UNRWA is the main organisation providing aid to Gaza’s more than two mil population and received USD1.17 bil in total pledged in 2022. See UNRWA funders here.
Apple’s App Store walled garden open to third parties, with catch
Apple is begrudgingly opening up its walled garden for the first time since its launch in 2008, which will specifically take effect in the European Union by March to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). EU regulators found Apple to have an unfair stranglehold over the app market, for which Apple took a 30% commission from developers. Third-party stores will soon be allowed to distribute Apple apps and allow developers to bypass Apple and its commission will be reduced to 17% plus 3% for payment processing.
Yet, many are still unhappy. Even though it allows third-party stores, Apple is still gatekeeping as it will have tight control over which app stores can operate in its ecosystem and will still charge fees on these platforms once one reads the fine print. Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel EK has criticised Apple’s reaction to the DMA as “a masterclass in distortion” and a “new low” — he shared his thoughts on X here.
Twins reunited through TikTok after being separated by baby trafficking syndicates
Identical twins in Georgia reunited after one of them noticed the other looked strikingly similar and tracked her down. They were separated and sold shortly after birth. Their biological mother was falsely informed that the twins died shortly after death. These twins were not the only such case in Georgia and a dark chapter in Georgia’s history was blown wide open in 2021. A journalist, Tamuna Museridze, in 2021 discovered she was adopted and set up a Facebook group (which has now grown to in search of her own family and ended up exposing a baby trafficking scandal.
She discovered a black market of adoption that stretched across Georgia and went on from the early 1950s to 2005. She estimated up to 100,000 babies were stolen and believed to be run by organised criminals and involved people from all sections of the society. 100k is rather significant, considering Georgia’s population is just 3.71 mil. Some of these stolen babies were discovered to be ‘adopted’ by foreign families in the US, Canada, Cyprus, Russia and Ukraine. Though it’s not known how much a baby costs, Tamuna said it is about the equivalent of a year’s salary. The Georgian government launched an investigation in 2022 into this historic trafficking but little information on the progress has been disclosed. As for Tamuna, although she has reunited hundreds of families, she’s still searching for her own.
Drunk Uncle Sam’s debt binging
The amount the US is set to borrow, or nicer sounding, raised through selling bonds is set to become the biggest investors have ever seen. On Tuesday and Wednesday, USD60 bil of 2-year notes and USD61 bil of 5-year notes were sold with each amount matched the most ever for the tenure. The biggest-ever size for any Treasury note or bond auction was USD62 bil for 7-year notes sold back in 2021. As interest costs balloon, the US is entering a debt spiral, having to borrow more to pay off interest. The US total federal government debt now stands above USD33 tril and is showing no sign of slowing down.
Mona Lisa got souped
Two environmental protesters threw pumpkin soup at the 16th-century painting by Leonardo da Vinci calling for the right to “healthy and sustainable food”. Watch the incident here. The painting displayed in the Louvre, Paris, was behind protective glass and was not damaged. Besides soup, Mona Lisa had seen acid and cake thrown at it in the past. The famous painting was also stolen in 1911 and recovered 2 years later when the thief tried to sell it to an antique dealer.
Man robs bank, acquitted and robs bank again
A man recently declared innocent of bank robbery robbed another bank within days of his verdict. In his first attempt in Dec 2021, he wrote a note saying something with the effect of “give me the money”, prompting the employee to hand in some cash. This is where semantics matter - his defense was the legal definition of robbery requires the use of threat or force, which he did not use. He pulled off the same stunt again but this time prosecutors were a bit smarter to charge him for theft, which does not involve intimidation.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Watch how Malaysia’s traffic police create a win-win situation! There’s a joke about how efficient our summon system is: issuance and settlement can be done on the spot, the fastest in the world.
A frozen alligator in ice but it isn’t dead. The alligator is in a state of brumation, which is a type of hibernation for reptiles and certain cold-blooded animals (perhaps your exes too). They lower their heartbeats (3 beats per minute in this case of the alligator) and remain very still in such a state. But unlike mammals in hibernation, creatures in brumation can still have moments of activity, especially when the temperature goes up.
#alligatorsoftiktok #gatorcountrybmt #hibernation #fyp #garysaurage