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☕️ Bersatu: Bank accounts frozen by MACC, 9-figure party income declared in 2020, 2021
Parents beware - 2/3 child sexual abuse were "self-generated", perpetrated remotely. B40 goodies: RM5/plate Menu Rahmah at 15k food outlets. Corruption Perception Index: MY ranked #61, SG #5.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
#61 — Malaysia’s ranking on Transparency International’s (TI) 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) out of 180 countries, a slight improvement from 2021 when it was ranked #62 (SG was ranked #5 btw in 2022). However, in terms of CPI scoring, Malaysia scored 47 points (the lower the score, the worse the perceived level of public corruption), marking the third consecutive year of decline. President of TI Malaysia Muhammad Mohan said several reasons for the drop in CPI score include the rollout of Covid-19 stimulus packages without parliamentary scrutiny, politicians heading GLCs and lack of action against public officials that abused their power.
CPI calculation methodology is explained here.
252,000 webpages — the number of webpages the Internet Watch Foundation discovered containing images or videos of children being sexually abused in 2021, up from 153,000 in the previous year, making 2022 the worst year on record. The IWF attribute the rise in cases due to Covid lockdowns, leading to younger and younger children being targeted on an “industrial scale”. 97% of these materials identified in 2021 were showing female children. Read the full 2021 annual report here.
Parents, pay attention to this — two-thirds of the imagery investigated were categorised as ‘self-generated’, meaning the children sexually abuse themselves on camera while coerced by predators over the internet. In other words, child sexual abuse can be perpetrated remotely.
USD16.7 mil (RM71.24 mil) - the all-time earnings of Les’ Copaque Production, Malaysia’s highest-earning YouTube channel. A name not commonly known, but you may recognise one of its popular production, the animated series Upin & Ipin. It’s one of the few, if not the only YouTube channel from Malaysia to receive YouTube Diamond Play Button for achieving more than 10 mil subscribers in 2020. At this time of writing, it has 16.7 mil subscribers.
“Hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa. It’s not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered”
- Pope Francis, in his speech in DR Congo, demanding foreign powers to stop plundering Africa’s natural resources and pointing fingers at colonial powers such as Belgium in the exploitation of Congo.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Parti Bersatu: Of frozen bank accounts and audited financial statements
The MACC froze 2 of the party’s accounts two weeks ago to facilitate investigations under the Anti-Money Laundering Act and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act. MACC Chief Commissioner Azam Baki said the investigation is not related to the alleged misappropriation of the RM92.5 bil Covid-19 stimulus package (expect more fireworks to come). An anonymous MACC source claimed the action was over allegations that the political party received contributions from some 10 contractors who received projects when the party was in power amounting to more than RM300 mil.
Bersatu secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin said the party would cooperate with MACC but accused the government of using the anti-graft agency as a political tool and claimed that the move is to distract people from PM Anwar-led government’s “weakness, failure and practice of nepotism”.
To counter allegations that the party misappropriated the Covid-19 stimulus package, Bersatu released its 2020 and 2021 audited accounts on its Facebook page. The party’s listed income of RM147.9 mil and RM108.2 mil in 2021 and 2020, respectively. Nearly all income came from ‘penajaan dan derma’ (sponsorship and donations). Their annual income is a lot more than many small-cap Bursa-listed companies. What’s even more impressive is that its income achieved a spectacular 36.7% growth year-on-year from 2020 to 2021, considering the nation was smack right in the middle of a pandemic battered by multiple lockdowns. When I grow up and start a political party, I want to have such loaded sponsors and donors.
Curious to know how much income other political parties generated - at least we can have a benchmark to compare how much is a lot.
B40 goodies: RM5 Menu Rahmah and fixed-line internet Unity Package
The Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry launched the Menu Rahmah initiative, a RM5 balanced meal participated by more than 15,000 food outlets that cater to the B40, hardcore poor group. The initiative came to be with the cooperation of 7 associations (one of them called the Malaysian Tomyam Operators Association). According to minister Salahuddin Ayub, the price is capped at RM5 compared with the market rate of RM8 per plate, with the extra cost borne by stakeholders. He said that this is not a one-off initiative but added that it depends on how long the stakeholders are willing to offer this.
How would the food operators differentiate a B40, hardcore poor customer from others? In the absence of identification, this sounds like a blanket programme akin to our fuel subsidy, where the T20 enjoyed 53% of fuel subsidies. If the quality of food is as decent as the government claims, it will be abused even by those that can afford it. There’s no such thing as free lunch. Someone somewhere has to foot the bill - the private sector can only go so far subsidizing the cost differential.
Remember the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) during Najib’s administration, where these retail outlets offered cheaper goods for the lower-income group? The government spent RM300 mil on it, and Mydin claimed to have suffered RM100 mil losses participating in this initiative. The launch of Menu Rahmah took place at Mydin Subang Jaya Hypermarket. We hope Mydin’s balance sheet is a fortress for the sake of rakyat.
On the communication front, following the launch of the portable internet prepaid Unity Package, the government will introduce a fixed-line internet Unity Package specifically for the B40 households, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Radzil said.
Fahmi has also been appointed the government’s media spokesperson and the media can refer to him for confirmation on any issues. He will also be handling the media conference after the Cabinet meeting every Wednesday, should the PM is unable to attend.
PM Anwar defending Nurul Izzah’s appointment as senior adviser
PM Anwar justified an official position for his daughter Nurul Izzah as having no positions will raise questions and “it’s not transparent, nor is it proper”. He said that she has come to help to ensure tender and contracts are in order and not to “take over projects”. Her appointment does not come with any authority, nor it comes with a “non-functional” minister status.
What is more powerful than ‘power’? Influence. Power lasts as long as one has formal authority, but influence can outlast and outpower power itself.
Still having mixed feelings about this appointment. Nurul Izzah has proven herself to be a competent person — so the consolation here is that there is a potential outcome she will be able to prove critics wrong on her appointment. As compared to other previous advisors appointed, we pretty much knew what were the outcomes and results, which is zilch, even before they begin their stint.
Anyways, doesn’t take a genius to know her appointment is highly controversial and all this hoo-ha could have easily been avoided if he could altogether just pick another Malaysian - we have 32.7 mil of us for him to choose from (not adjusted for pak lebais, The Coffee Break keyboard warriors, Najib Razak, etc. — admittedly, the talent pool would shrink considerably after such adjustments).
International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Zafrul said he is looking to contest for the UMNO supreme council position.
Enjoy while it lasts — the current road tax exemption for electric vehicles will come to an end by 31 Dec 2025. Internal combustion engines’ road tax is calculated based on engine capacity, whereas for EV, it will be based on a kilowatt-based system. Paultan.org compiled a list of EVs and their corresponding road tax - ain’t cheap in most cases.
A prison warden is sentenced to death by the High Court after finding him guilty of distributing cannabis and methamphetamine weighing 410.07g in the Sg Buloh prison complex four years ago.
Bursa Malaysia targets 39 IPOs with RM10 bil IPO market cap in 2023 as compared to 35 listings with RM11.5 bil market cap last year, as recent listing successes have attracted small and medium-sized companies to consider listing on the ACE market. The bourse is expecting RM2.3-2.4 bil in average trading value on the exchange, given improving macro sentiment.
Proton Holding Bhd’s financing arm, Proton Commerce Sdn Bhd achieved a record-breaking year in 2022 with 22,467 loans issued and loan volume growth of 54% yoy. Proton Commerce is a joint venture between Proton Edar Sdn Bhd and CIMB. Visit its website to check out offers and apply for loans.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
IMF raises world economic outlook for the first time in a year
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its 2023 global outlook, its first upward change in outlook in a year. The change was due to “surprisingly resilient” demand in the US and Europe, bolstered by China’s economy reopening after its zero-Covid strategy was discarded.
Still, the fund warned that the world could still easily tip into recession, considering the raised outlook is only to a 2.9% growth from an October prediction of 2.7%, as interest rate hikes and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will continue to weigh on economic activity. This is compared to a global growth rate of 3.4% in 2022.
India's 2023 Budget sees Modi wooing voters
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled a pre-election national budget that will lower personal income taxes while ramping up infrastructure spending. The USD550 billion budget aims to win over voters for the election next year, along with ratings companies that prefer to see lower government debt levels to raise a country’s credit score. India’s Finance Ministry forecasts the country’s GDP to grow 6.5% in the next fiscal year, compared to the 6.1% predicted by the International Monetary Fund. For infrastructure, the Indian government has reportedly identified 100 new projects for last-mile connectivity, with plans for 50 additional airports, heliports, and aerodromes.
Pakistan mosque bombing sees death toll reaching 100
The bombing, which happened on January 30 in Peshawar, also saw over 200 injured, with most of the deceased identified as police officers. Rescue operations also faced difficulties reaching victims due to the roof of the mosque collapsing during the bombing. A splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack, stating it was in retaliation for the killing of the splinter group’s former leader in Afghanistan. However, a TTP spokesperson distanced the bombing from TTP, stating it was against their policy to target mosques, seminaries, and other religious sites.
Watch the explosion caught on video and the aftermath of the scene here (warning - disturbing)
PC market downturn sees Intel slashing pay, instead of slashing jobs
Tech giant Intel Corp reported it had made broad cuts to employee and executive pay following a lower-than-expected sales forecast, driven by a loss of market share to competitors, along with a general downturn in the PC market. The pay cuts range from 5% for mid-level employees to as much as 25% for CEO Pat Gelsinger. However, the pay of the company’s hourly workforce will remain unscathed. The downturn in the PC market comes after several years of growth during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Protestors hold "silent strike" as Myanmar enters second year of military coup
According to a pro-democracy activist taking part in the event, the strike is meant to “honour the fallen heroes and heroines and reclaim the public space as our own”. This strike follows fresh sanctions from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia against army-linked firms in the country. The Myanmar military has also stated the country is facing “unusual circumstances”, leading to doubts that there will be an election held this year as promised. An activist on social media also stated that the strike was proof that the public would not accept the military’s “rigged election”.
Western Australia can now chill - the radioactive capsule, smaller than a dice, has been detected by a vehicle equipped with specialist equipment, which was found about 2m from the side of the road.
Couples in Sichuan can have as many children as they want in latest policy change – With China’s population falling for the first time in 60 years, a policy change now allows couples in Sichuan, a province of 80 mil people, to have as many kids as they want, rather than being restricted to the three-child limit. This limit was put in place in 2021, while the one-child policy was scrapped in 2016, with both measures being taken by China to counter its declining birth rates.
Sneaker fans not impressed by Nike and Tiffany & Co collab – The collaboration, which marks a first for the sports giant and luxury brand, will result in sneakers that will go for USD400 a pair. However, sneaker collectors have been unenthusiastic, with some calling the revealed design lazy.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
This isn’t UFO - it’s a lenticular cloud spotted in Turkey, common in mountainous areas. Read how it is formed here.
Don’t worry - it isn’t our hearing degrading