Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Arau MP (PN) calls for more diverse, minority representation in Parliament #notajoke
Only 8 nations with space launch sites - MY plans to be the 9th. Alien bodies shown in the Mexican congress. Indonesia dreams of its EV-era Proton - invites Geely to help build its national car.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
The European Central Bank (ECB) raised its key rate for the 10th time in a row to 4% from 3.75%, as it warned inflation was “expected to remain too high for too long.” Inflation in the eurozone was at 5.3% in August, well above the ECB’s annual target of 2%.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
45.7% or 64,295 of 140,544 motorcycles inspected by the Road Transport Department (JPJ) during a special operation between Sept 1 and 13 were issued notices for various offences. In other words, nearly half of motorcyclists failed to comply with the road safety regulations. Some breakdown of offences:
24,459 — no insurance coverage
19,928 — no or expired driving licenses
4,065 — beat traffic lights
Tidak apa attitude on full display. 1 in 2 of them have not adhered to road regulations and intentionally put themselves and other road users at risk. Tidak apa attitude on full display.
Corporations around the world are swimming, if not drowning in debt. For the Apr to June quarter, the cost of paying interest debt undertaken by corporations hit a record USD125 bil, up 30% from a year earlier and has grown by double digits for 5 consecutive quarters, largely due to interest rate hikes by central banks. During the same quarter, corporate debt jumped 93% from USD6.6 tril in the first quarter of 2009 (post-global financial crisis of 2007/08) based on 7,689 non-financial companies compiled by Nikkei. Corporate debt is now at historically high levels relative to the gross domestic product (GDP), shifting economic vulnerabilities to corporations from households, according to an economist from Nomura Research Institute.
Starbucks’ signature frappuccino is probably older than some of our readers. It has been 28 years since its introduction in 1993. Then-CEO Howard Schultz was sceptical of this product as it deviated from the company’s goal of offering high-quality coffee. Starbucks did not create the frappe but acquired the rights to “Frappucino” when it acquired Coffee Connection. The rest is history - cold drinks now account for 75% of Starbucks’ beverage sales.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
PN MP is calling for a more diverse Parliament
Let’s start Friday with something light and easy, perhaps something to humour our minds. Perikatan Nasional (PN), not Pakatan Harapan (PH), Arau MP Shahidan Kassim is calling for an electoral reform to make the Parliament more diverse to have more non-Malays. Shahidan said that we should follow a model like Singapore’s ‘group representation constituency’ (GRC) system. With the GRC system, teams of candidates compete to be elected into Parliament instead of individual candidates. In return, the composition of the Parliament will more or less mirror the population composition of Malaysia, empowering other minority races and groups.
One funny thing, though, is out of 169 parliamentary seats that PN contested in GE15, only 36 seats were contested by non-Malays, an abysmal ratio of 21.3%; not even one-third of the candidates were non-Malays. But, who are we to judge what PN can be in the future?
The scope for the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone will be finalised next month
Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi said that the term of reference (TOR) for establishing the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will be wrapped up by next month. The idea of an SEZ was mooted back during the 16th Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) in Singapore on July 14. Apart from the set up of the SEZ, previously, PM Anwar Ibrahim also announced that the Forest City project would be designated as a special financial zone that enjoys perks such as multiple entry visas, fast-track entry for those working from Singapore and a flat income tax rate of 15% for knowledge workers. Majulah
Bangsa Johor Malaysia.
Making sense for the rakyat
Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh announced the Y-Capsule initiative that provides lodging for as low as RM10 per day for Malaysian citizens aged between 18 and 40 years old. The program targets youth who are undergoing internship, job-hunting or anyone that are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living for a place to stay. The Y-Capsule initiative is located at the International Youth Centre’s (IYC) Residence in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras.
The addition of three new train sets under the RM1.72 bil Kuala Lumpur Additional Vehicle 27 (KLAV27) project has reduced the train frequency at the Kelana Jaya Light Rail Transit (LRT) line to 3.8 minutes. Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that the frequency will be further improved to 3 minutes by the end of the month. Under the KLAV27 project, a total of 11 out of 27 train sets have been received and the remaining train sets will be here in stages from this month until the end of next year.
PM Anwar Ibrahim said that the Special Cabinet Committee on National Governance (JKKTN) chaired by him agreed in principle to the enactment of a Freedom of Information Act in order to make the Government more transparent to the public. In line with this, the Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88) will also be amended accordingly.
Putrajaya, via the Malaysian Space Agency (MYySA), is formulating the feasibility study guidelines for the development of a space launch site. Quoting the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang, ‘If this becomes a reality, the facility will be the 16th in the world and will make Malaysia the ninth country to have one’. Malaysia’s proximity to the equator gives the country an advantage in setting up a launch facility.
Why is it better to launch a spaceship from near the equator? The land at the equator is moving 1670 km per hour, and land halfway to the pole is only moving 1180 km per hour, so launching from the equator makes the spacecraft move almost 500 km/hour faster once it is launched. So, faster spacecraft consumes less fuel, equating to a lesser cost to launch one.
View map: Rocket launch sites across the world (2019)
Bursa Malaysia Securities rejected Pharmaniaga Bhd’s appeal to have an RM50 mil standalone second private placement to the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT). Bursa Securities instead asked the PN17 designated company to include the private placement exercise as part of its regularisation plan. Previously in July, Pharmaniaga had raised RM45.86 mil via a private placement where all the proceeds were used for the company’s working capital.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
EY jumps on the AI bandwagon
Global consulting and strategy giant Ernsst & Young announced it had completed a USD1.4 bil investment into AI and developed a series of in-house AI tools in the past 18 months. The company will train all 400,000 of its employees to use the technology. The firm developed its large language model called EY.ai EYQ, which will be used as an in-house chat interface. If you wonder if a consulting firm has the technical chops to develop this, EY actually built its technology on OpenAI’s GPT-3 and GPT-4 language models as it was given early access by Microsoft, a significant owner of OpenAI.
Mexican congress shown ‘alien’ bodies
Mexican legislators heard testimony on the possible existence of extraterrestrials and were presented with ‘evidence’ - the alleged remains of non-human beings. Researchers did an unboxing of these ‘aliens’ — the 2 tiny bodies displayed in cases had 3 fingers on each hand and elongated heads. An x-ray scan on one of them showed that it has “eggs” inside. The specimens had been examined at the Autonomous National University of Mexico and found that a third of their DNA is “unknown”. The two specimens were found in Cusco, Peru, and were estimated to be 1,000 years old.
NASA released its long-awaited study yesterday on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), a term which has officially replaced “UFO”. There were no bombshell findings in the report, unlike their neighbour down south. It did add that some encounters defy explanations, but there is a high bar for claiming that the objects have an otherworldly origin. NASA shared their preliminary observations in May, saying that existing evidence and data are insufficient to draw firm conclusions.
There have been more than 800 events collected over 27 years, of which 2-5% are thought to be possibly anomalous.
Earlier, an expert warned that the Russia-Ukraine conflict could escalate to an all-out war not by intention but by accident. And it nearly happened. BBC reported that in 2022, a Russian fighter jet pilot tried to shoot down a UK surveillance plane with 30 people on board after believing he had permission to fire due to vague communication — A second pilot did not think they had permission and swore at his comrade. The shot, fortunately, missed.
China is showing some love for Taiwan as it is implementing “special” policy measures to improve access for Taiwan enterprises to Fujian province across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese state planner announced a long-term cross-strait integrated development plan, including the acceleration of gas, electricity and transportation links between the city of Xiamen and Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands.
Byju, one of India’s hottest tech companies, allegedly hid USD533 mil in an obscure hedge fund run by an individual in his 20s and with an IHOP pancake restaurant listed as its principal place of business. This is the latest twist in an increasingly public battle between the education tech startup and its lenders over a USD1.2 bil loan. The startup was valued at more than USD20 bil last year when it considered merging with a special-purpose acquisition company.
Indonesia dreams of its own EV-era Proton - the country has asked Chinese carmaker Geely Automotive Holdings (which happens to be the owner of Proton, too) to help build a homegrown electric car by 2025 or 2026, a senior Indonesian minister said. It is not known if Geely is interested in exploring the offer. Indonesia has attracted multi-billion investments in its EV sector, but the two names it has yet to capture are Tesla and BYD.
Another incident of sexual harassment was caught on camera in Spain. A man was arrested after he approached a journalist from behind when she was on air and groped her before asking which channel she worked for. Such non-violent sexual harassment is described as ‘casual sexism’. Watch the incident here.
Weekend read: Gulf royal’s USD1.5 tril empire draws bankers and billionaires
Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a key member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, have positioned him as one of the world’s most influential dealmakers. In recent months, he has gained control of the largest sovereign wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates, with assets close to USD1.5 trillion. Sheik Tahnoon is also UAE’s security adviser and brother to its president (who is bff with our current Yang di-Pertuan Agong). What will be on his shopping list?
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Cowboy monkey riding a deer in Yakushima Island, Japan. This photo by Atsuyuki Ohshima is amongst the 16 highly commended photos (see the others here) in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition organised by the Natural History Museum, London. The contest had received 49,957 entries from 95 countries.
If you’ve got no time to read The Art of War by Sun Tzu, this 8-minute video explains the key learnings. My favourite - all warfare is based on deception.