Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Be prepared for National Service if you are between 16 - 35 years old
KJ says he takes full responsibility over Covid-19 vaccine waste. WeWork otw to bankruptcy - source. Comedy x earnings call can boost share prices - study.
Let’s start with the good news.
Check out the calendar here for the holidays ahead.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The US has said goodbye to 21 animal species as they have gone extinct. These 21 species removed from the endangered species list include one mammal, 10 types of birds, two species of fish and eight types of mussels. 8 of the 21 species were found in Hawaii. In 2019, scientists warned that up to 1 mil species of plants and animals were at risk of extinction. There are an estimated eight mil species on Earth.
HKD1.8 mil (RM1.1 mil) — the monthly rent Singapore banking giant DBS is paying for a 12,000 sq feet retail space in Central’s New World Tower in Hong Kong - that’s RM13.2 mil in rent alone per year. This is 18% below the asking price of HKD2.2 mil per month as Hong Kong suffers from a population outflow and rising interest rates. On a per sq feet basis, that’s about RM91.70 psf. For comparison, data from Knight Frank Real Estate Highlights 2022 showed that Suria KLCC and Pavilion KL command average monthly gross rentals of up to RM33 psf and RM26 psf, respectively.
More billionaires are becoming politicians globally. Based on a study by the Cambridge University Press, over 11% (242) of the world’s 2,072 billionaires in the Forbes Billionaires List have held or sought political office. On average, these billionaires held 2.5 political posts during their lifetime and focus their political ambitions on influential positions, have a strong track record of winning elections, and lean to the right ideologically.
Read report: Billionaire Politicians: Global Perspective.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
KJ says he takes full responsibility for Covid-19 vaccine waste
Following the release of the report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the matter, Khairy Jamaluddin, the then Health Minister, said he takes full responsibility for the cost of the wasted Covid-19 vaccines but not for the ventilators in his “Keluar Sekejap” podcast (watch it here). The PAC revealed that 8.5 mil doses of expired vaccine had cost the country RM505 mil. On the ventilators, he said that he should not be responsible as the ventilators were purchased in 2020, but he only became health minister in 2021.
He further commented that wasted vaccine isn’t unique to Malaysia and pointed out the Philippines had more than 50 mil vaccines wasted, Indonesia destroyed more than 40 mil doses and our neighbour down south wasted almost RM500 mil in doses.
Now everyone can do National Service
Defence Minister Mohamad Hasan said that only youths who have completed their SPM will be selected to undergo basic military training under the revived National Training Service Training Programme (PLKN 3.0). This is the interesting (or rather the most concerning part) — the programme is targeted at youths between 16 and 35 — good luck to those born after 1988.
From the sounds of it — the program is only meant for pre-SPM takers and SPM leavers. So, you likely won’t be part of PLKN 3.0 — assuming you’ve already completed your SPM ages ago.
There will be 2 phases. Phase 1 would involve Form 4 students and geared towards uniformed activities such as police, firefighters and scouts. Phase 2 will involve 45 days of training, 90% of which will include basic military training and the remainder, national building. The revived PLKN3.0 will cost RM100 mil a year versus RM500 mil for the former programme.
AGC rejects representation filed by Hamzah Zainuddin’s son.
The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has rejected the representation filed by 39-year-old Muhammad Faisal Hamzah to review charges related to the sale and storage of government-subsidised cooking oil, which is a controlled item. Faisal, the son of opposition leader and former Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, who was then a director of Rimba Merpati Sdn Bhd, a licensed wholesaler of subsidised cooking oil was first charged on Apr 5 for storing more than the allowed 50 metric tonnes of the commodity. They were also charged with providing false information, documents and invoices with regard to the volume of subsidised cooking oil they had in possession.
Controversial citizenship law reforms to proceed
The Home Ministry is to retain and table in the Dewan Rakyat the 8 proposals to amend relevant provisions related to the granting of citizenships under the Federal Constitution. Engagement with NGOs showed that stateless/undocumented children will be most affected by these amendments. Currently, there are three ways to receive Malaysian citizenship - operation of law, registration and naturalisation.
Citing an example, a child born in Malaysia to a Rohingya mother and an Indonesian father who is an undocumented migrant will be a Malaysian citizen through enforcement of law, but the proposed changes would require the child to register with the Welfare Department before applying for citizenship. Saifuddin explained that these reforms are required as when the Constitution was drafted in the 1950s, the nation did not face problems involving migrants. An interesting read here by MalaysiaKini further explains the controversial proposed amendments.
Independent power producer YTL Power International Bhd has emerged as a substantial shareholder of smaller rival Ranhill Utilities Bhd, with a 18.87% stake. At Ranhill’s current share prices, this would suggest YTL Power forked out between RM141.13 - 144.78 mil for the Ranhill stake. Ranhill surged 26.7% on this news, giving it a market cap of RM953.1 mil. Its share price has risen 61.5% this year. YTL Power's share price has been on a tear, too - up by 202% from 72 sen to RM2.18, with a market cap of RM17.8 bil.
Tony Fernandes has announced Capital A’s strategic plan, following FT’s leak last week. Capital A will list on Nasdaq its AirAsia brand royalty business and aircraft leasing unit by merging with special purpose acquisition company Aetherium Acquisition Corp, with an indicative valuation of USD1 bil. Brand AA Sdn Bhd, the brand management business unit of Capital A, is the registered proprietor for all the rights under the AA brand and has the right to collect royalty fees from AirAsia Aviation Group Ltd, Capital A’s aviation division.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
UN human rights official resigns with scathing letter condemning UN
Craig Mokhiber, director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, shared his resignation letter on Twitter with journalists and activists, calling the Gaza conflict a “textbook case of genocide” due to the “wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people”. He also pointed to the governments of the US, the UK, and several European nations as being “wholly complicit” in the genocide.
Poll numbers show dissatisfaction for Biden among Arab Americans
The approval rating for the current US president among Arab Americans fell to an all-time low of 17% due to his decision to back Israel in the Gaza conflict. The numbers are just another sign that the Democrat will be facing his reelection run next November, having lost the support of many Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim American advocates. Critics are also claiming the Biden administration is dismissive of the Palestinian plight, with accusations made that Biden’s office has conflated calls for a ceasefire with anti-Semitism.
Qatar succeeds in mediation, evacuation route to Egypt now open
The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt is now open due to a deal mediated by Qatar, with evacuees and wounded already entering Egypt even as the Israeli offensive continues. The deal between Egypt, Israel, and Hamas stipulates that some foreigners and critically wounded people will be allowed to leave the territory. At least 20 Palestinian patients and 110 dual nationals have left Gaza so far, with up to 88 injured Palestinians and around 500 foreign nationals to be allowed out in this first phase of the deal. However, there is no confirmation as to how long the border crossing will remain open.
WeWork to file for bankruptcy
A source revealed that workspace provider WeWork could be filing for bankruptcy as early as next week, with shares falling 30% after the news first broke. WeWork’s shares have fallen 96% in 2023. This follows the firm raising “substantial doubt” about being able to continue operations in August and the departure of numerous top executives. From a peak valuation of USD47 bil to bankruptcy in a short span of a few years - just spectacular.
New Carlsberg CEO reaffirms stance against Russian seizure of assets
CEO Jacob Aarup-Andersen stated Carlsberg has cut all ties with its Russian business and continues to refuse to enter any deal with the Russian government that would make the seizure of its assets look legitimate. Carlsberg has also ended license agreements for its brands in Russia that have enabled its subsidiary, Baltika, to produce its products. Carlsberg had eight breweries and about 8,400 employees in Russia and took a USD1.4 bil write-down on Baltika last year. Former Russian president Dmitriy Medvedev proceeded to mock Carlsberg for “thinking it could quit Russia without penalty”.
MAS imposes a six-month pause on acquisitions on DBS Bank due to repeated digital banking disruptions
The temporary ban is part of a six-month pause on the bank’s non-essential IT changes imposed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) following “repeated and prolonged disruptions” of DBS’ banking services this year. DBS is also not allowed to reduce the size of its branch or ATM networks in Singapore during the six months. The bank has provided a technology resiliency roadmap, seen and approved by MAS, with the regulator to review the progress made at the end of the six months.
UK AI Safety Summit to address dangers of “frontier AI”
The event marks Britain’s first AI summit and aims for attendees to “work towards a shared understanding of risks” of frontier AI, defined as “highly capable foundation models that could possess dangerous capabilities sufficient to pose severe risks to public safety”. The agenda includes the possible misuse of AI by terrorists to build bioweapons, with the UK government also announcing a “world first agreement” on how to manage frontier AI, signed by countries including the US, the EU, and China.
Big-name attendees with heads of state, top AI companies, civil society groups, and research experts, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and X CEO Elon Musk. Musk had also warned about “extinctionists” and how AI could be used to end humanity on a podcast ahead of the summit.
On a side note, “AI” has been declared the word of the year by the Collins Dictionary, with the use of the term having quadrupled this year.
India opposition claims government trying to hack phones after Apple alert – Several opposition leaders made the allegations after receiving warning messages from Apple that their phones were “being targeted by state-sponsored attackers”, though the messages did not specify who the attackers could be. Federal ministers dismissed the allegations but have vowed to investigate the notifications.
Juries find Tesla's software not defective in autopilot death trial – The EV maker won the first US trial over allegations that its Autopilot driver assistant led to a death, a win amid the other ongoing lawsuits and investigations into the same software. The outcome shows the growing effectiveness of Tesla’s argument, namely that the driver is ultimately responsible.
Indonesian court jails CEO over lethal cough syrup – Four officials, including the CEO of Afi Farma, were sentenced to jail for violating drug safety laws in producing a cough syrup that contained “excess amounts of toxic material”. The cough syrup led to the deaths of more than 200 children. Prosecutors charged the four for “consciously” not testing the ingredients despite having the means and responsibility to do so.
Comedy could help share prices after earnings calls, finds study – Researchers using machine-learning tools found to analyse a sample of 12,000 earnings calls that execs who show a sense of humour during an earnings call could give their company’s share price an immediate boost, along with a positive effect on subsequent analyst behaviour and future firm performance. A joking exec “can soften the disclosure of negative news and signal relatively stronger future firm performance”, according to the study. Moving forward, a CEO is aka Comedian Executive Officer.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Got yourself a new iPhone? Here’s a good guide on the camera settings for amazing photos. Watch it not just to learn how to take good pics, but to be a better cameraman, bf and husband.
Luckin Coffee vs Starbucks. How Luckin Coffee overtook Starbucks to be China’s largest coffee chain. Luckin coffee hit the 10,000-outlet mark back in June.