☕️ Budget 202(3A) - key highlights

NGO: 1k Msians victim of job scams in Myanmar. NASA's probe en route to an asteroid with metals worth more than the world’s economy. Pikachu x Van Gogh Museum collab gone wrong.



In 2022, on average, there were 26.03 million transactions made daily via e-payment methods. Assistant governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Abd Rahman Abu Bakar, said e-payment transactions grew to 9.5 bil last year (26 mil per day), compared to 7.2 bil in 2021. Each Malaysia made 291 e-payment transactions on average last year.

Which would you think is the more popular category or hashtags — Books or Beauty —on TikTok? It’s books — videos with #BookTok tags have been viewed at least 179 bil times, more than twice as many as #BeautyTok. According to Nielsen, a research firm, despite the high number of views, social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube contributed to only 3% of sales in Britain in 2022. However, we can’t downplay this — TikTok’s influence is significant and growing.

Malaysian International Humanitarian Organisation (MHO) has alleged that around 1,000 Malaysian citizens were coerced into working as 'call operators' for scams and frauds run by international human trafficking syndicates operating in Myanmar. Some of the syndicate members even threatened them and demanded hundreds of thousands of ringgit for their release. These syndicates are believed to be run by individuals from countries such as China and Taiwan but are managed by the locals.

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Malaysia Budget 2023A has been announced and it is BORINGThe content of the announced Budget 2024 (or, in some instances, 2023A, iykyk) is boring and this is good as a budget was supposed to be an avenue for the Government to fund existing policy directions and not a platform to announce big and grand policies. Let’s dive down to the details.

Budget 2024 is the largest budget ever announced at RM393.8 bil compared to RM388.1 bil for last year’s budget. However, it is just a 1.47% increase and if we factor in the inflation rate (2% inflation rate as of August 2023), Budget 2024 is more or less the same in size as Budget 2023. After the Finance Ministry (16.91%), the Education Ministry is the second-highest recipient of the budget, where 14.91% of the budget or RM58.7 bil is allocated to the ministry. Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry saw its allocation going up by 46.2%, the biggest growth in allocation for Budget 2024 compared to Budget 2023.

Putrajaya is allocating monies in tandem with its announced policies, especially the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR). For NETR alone, RM2 bil is being put aside to support the policy. PM Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the Finance Minister, also stated that the financial institutions will provide RM200 bil worth of financing to encourage a low-carbon economy transition. Moreover, he also encouraged companies to follow in the footsteps of Gentari (a wholly owned subsidiary of Petronas), offering a ‘Zero Capital Cost’ energy solution subscription model for residential housing. As announced in the budget, Gentari, alongside Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), will install solar panels at Government buildings in Putrajaya that will also power Putrajaya’s new official fleet of electric vehicles (EV). Is this a hint that Proton will be launching its own EV model soon? While talking about the sustainability agenda, in a pleasant surprise move, the Government will allocate RM4.7 bil to resume the proposed construction of five LRT3 stations that were previously cancelled. However, there was no mention of the status of the MRT3 project.

Subsidy rationalisation is real and alive. Under next year’s budget, the price ceilings on chicken and eggs will be removed (yay to the chicken cartels, gloomy days for consumers). Subsidies on diesel will also be phased out except for selected groups such as freight companies. PM Anwar said that all the savings from the subsidies rationalisation will be directed back to the rakyat in the form of Rahmah Cash Aid, where RM10 bil has been allocated for 2024, from RM8 bil in 2023. All in all, the national subsidy and social assistance bill for the country will be reduced to RM52.8 bil in 2024 from RM64.2 bil in 2023.

Putrajaya is also expanding its revenue base, but still no GST at the moment. The service tax rate will be increased from 6% to 8% for all prescribed taxable services except for food and beverage services and telecommunication services. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) will also be enforced on the disposal of unlisted shares by companies but CGT will be exempted for Bursa Malaysia-approved initial public offering (IPO) and share restructuring within the same group. Previously announced High-Value Goods Tax (HVGT) a.k.a. Luxury Goods Tax will also be legislated at a rate of between 5% to 10%.

Local talent development is also the highlight of next year’s budget. RM6.8 bil is allocated for TVET education, including the spending of RM1.6 bil by Human Resources Development Corporation (HRD Corp) to train 1.7 mil workers. HRD Corp will also utilise 15% of levies collected from companies to be directed towards the retraining and reskilling of entrepreneurs, ex-convicts, the disabled, senior citizens and retirees. In 2022, HRD Corp collected RM1.8 bil in levies. Given that the collection for 2023 is more or less the same, 15% or RM270 mil is a substantial amount towards enhancing the skill level of the rakyat.

The military is also happy with the new budget. The Defence Ministry’s allocation for 2024 has been increased to RM19.7 bil, nearing the targetted baseline of 1.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) spending per annum. With the new increased budget, the military will spend on the acquisition of 12 new helicopters for the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the acquisition of key assets for the Malaysian Army, such as 60 infantry fighting vehicles, 50 High Mobility Light Tactical Vehicles (HMLTV), six Hovercraft Integrated Fast Interceptors, and 733 various types of support vehicles. Hopefully, no more LCS shenanigans this time, please. Plus, the Government has allocated RM20 mil to establish a single border agency amidst the constant harassment by China’s Coast Guards, violating our international borders and exclusive economic zone on a regular basis.

‘Budget 2024 delivers on a strategy working within the constraints of fairly flat government revenue. It ticks the box in terms of being slightly expansionary, reducing the deficit and addressing many of the needs of the Rakyat. However, more significant measures to increase government revenue will be required to provide the headroom for Malaysia’s transformation into a high-income nation'.

Jagdev Singh, Tax Leader, PwC Malaysia.

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  1. How a housewife’s theft revealed his almost ex-husband’s family fortuneLast Friday, a housewife was charged at the Ipoh Magistrate Court with stealing her police officer husband's luxury Rolex watches three years ago — the charges she denied. The woman is believed to be in the process of divorce. The Rolex watches caught the attention of many — how can a police officer afford six-figure watches? Apparently, the watches were bought with money from his family. Police yang ber-daddykasi. Here are the prices of a Rolex Sky-Dweller and Rolex GMT-Master II.

  2. Rent seekers with tiny cubicles — watch out!Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming issued a warning to owners that rent out tiny cubicles to tenants. This warning is issued following a recent news report that a shophouse in the Klang Valley had renovated its top floor by building 38 capsule-like rooms, with each measuring just 3.25 square meters, costing RM300 per month in rental. I guess this redefines the whole tiny home trend, where now, these homes can be converted straightaway into a funeral plot, as they are similar in size.

  3. NFC chairperson cleared of chargesNational Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) executive chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail has been cleared of all charges after a decade-long trial in 2012. Kuala Lumpur High Court has decided that Putrajaya failed to prove any wrongful use of the RM250 mil loan granted to the company. However, the court directed NFCorp to return RM33.7 mil of the unutilised loan amount to the Government. Remember the news where the authorities found a cow “living” in an apartment?

  4. National shuttler Lee Zii Jia has ended his 17-month title droughtLee beat his fellow Malaysian Ng Tze Yong 21-14, 21-15 in the Artic Open. The latest win meant Zii Jia has four World Tour titles to his name, others being the 2018 Taiwan Open, 2021 All England and 2022 Thailand Open.


NASA launches probe to asteroid worth more than world’s economyNASA has successfully launched a spacecraft on SpaceX Falcon Heavy towards an asteroid called “Psyche”, which is located between Mars and Jupiter and will arrive in 2029, over a 6-year-long journey. Psyche was the 16th asteroid ever discovered by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis in 1852 and is named after the Greek goddess of soul. 

Through spectroscopy (analysing the light that bounces off an object), Psyche is categorised as an M-type asteroid, meaning it is metallic, with metals such as iron, nickel, platinum and gold making up about 30-60% of the 283 km-wide asteroid. Based on metal prices on Earth, this space rock is worth USD100,000 quadrillion (100 million trillion). The world’s GDP in 2021 was about USD96 tril. 

The probe will orbit the asteroid for 26 months to learn its history and analyse its composition. In other words, this is a research expedition instead of a commercial one — humans still lack the technology for asteroid mining, though we are inching closer. Of course, when this happens, Psyche wouldn’t be worth as much with supply flooding the market and cratering prices.Read: Economics of the stars: The future of asteroid mining and the global economy (Harvard International Review).

It’s a matter of when, not if, gold will be relegated to an industrial metal as space mining becomes feasible, hence losing its store of value properties. The next best alternative? Bitcoin #notfinancialadvice.This pre-eminent article here analyses the difference between gold and Bitcoin.

Israel intensifies attack, warns 1.1 mil to evacuateIsrael’s army has ordered the evacuation of all civilians living in Gaza to move to the south within 24 hours as it prepares for a massive ground invasion. Israel attempted to attack Hamas, which it claimed was hiding in tunnels in north Gaza. This will involve 1.1 mil people, or nearly half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 mil people. The UN has criticised Israel’s move as it is impossible for such a movement “without devastating humanitarian consequences”.

The relentless attack by Israel following Hamas’ attack on Israel has killed more than 1,500 people — about half of them children and women. Israel Air Force said it has dropped around 6,000 bombs on the Gaza Strip since Oct 7. For comparison, this is more than the US dropped in a month in its fight against ISIS, even during its peak.

Flash Coffee exits SingaporeFlash Coffee, known for selling coffee through tech-enabled kiosks and cafes, has shut all its 11 outlets in Singapore. At its peak in 2021, it had almost 30 outlets in Singapore. The company is under liquidation and is said to owe its staff salaries. The coffee chain is also present in Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea. Its co-founder claimed that its Indonesian market is profitable (the question is — what kind of ‘profitability and is it profitable at the group level?). The company raised USD50 mil back in May 2023 and counts Delivery Hero, the owner of foodpanda, amongst its investors. Seems like Chinese coffee giant Luckin Coffee has given Flash a run on its money since the former’s opening last year in Singapore, making the city-state its first overseas market. 

Pikachu x Van Gogh Museum collab gone wrongTo be clear, the collaboration was successful but was disrupted by the unruly behaviour of scalpers “scalpers” at the museum. The Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam said it will no longer hand out the prized Pokemon card after completing a quest in the museum. The limited edition card called “Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat” showed the iconic Pokemon in a pose inspired by the famous painter’s self-portrait.

This collaboration was launched last month to mark the museum’s 50th anniversary to attract younger visitors to visit the exhibition. The card has been changing hands for hundreds of dollars and a single eBay listing is going for an ambitious USD6,969. Fans can still get their hands on this card through the Pokemon Centre site herejust not in Van Gogh Museum anymore.


  1. Embattled Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings Co. received a USD300 mil interest-free loan from the founding family of the property developer. Once China’s largest property developer, the company warned last week it might not be able to meet all of its future offshore payment obligations, or in other words, it has to default. Country Garden’s total liabilities stood at USD194 bil by the end of June. 

  2. EHang, the Chinese maker of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL), has received approval from Chinese authorities to fly commercially, putting it ahead of its global rivals. The approval signifies airworthiness from regulators and will see the company conducting aerial tours for a start, though it has declined to comment on the cost of this tour. The 2-seater vehicle is priced at USD300,000 and can travel at a speed of 100 km/h for 25 minutes. The New York-listed company has received more than 1,300 pre-orders, including from Malaysia.


  1. How Israel was created. Again, the British were behind the mess. Also, it’s important to distinguish the difference between Zionist and Jewish, with the former giving the latter a bad name.

  2. Parenting 101 — why praising an outcome of a child’s action is detrimental to their development. Encourage the process instead.

Have a good start to the week folks!