Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Cabinet reshuffling possible, soon - DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Msian economy: slowing manufacturing activity, employment levels down. Astro Go Shop closes shop. Annual Nobel Prize season is back - medicine award goes to Covid vaccine mRNA tech creators.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
3.9% — World Bank’s forecast for Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2023, a decrease from the 4.3% projected previously. The downward projection is due to the substantial deceleration in external demand. The lead economist for Malaysia, Dr Apurva Sanghi, said Malaysia needs to its services sectors like digital, legal, accounting, logistics and transport in order to continue attracting both foreign and domestic investments into the country. Sanghi cited a key indicator that has been on the decline — Malaysia’s investment-to-GDP, from a high of over 40% since the Asian Financial Crisis to below 20% today.
India has moved ahead once again with a bill to reserve one-third of seats in the lower house of parliament and state legislative assemblies for women. Women account for almost half of India’s 950 mil registered voters but only 15% of parliament (82 women members out of 542 seats) and about 10% of state legislatures. The bill has been nearly decades in the making since it was first introduced in 1996 but was repeatedly blocked by Hindi heartland opposition parties, arguing that such a move would only benefit educated and urban women and deprive their disadvantaged rural counterparts of so-called backward castes.
The astounding subscriber growth of YouTuber MrBeast on his birthday each year — 184 mil as of Sep 18, 2023. However, T-Series remains the YouTube channel with the most subscribers — 250 mil. T-Series is the official channel of the Indian record label and movie studio T-Series.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Malaysian manufacturing sector faces sharp decline in September 2023, PMI data shows
New data from September 2023 revealed that Malaysia's manufacturing sector had a tough time, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The S&P Global Malaysia PMI dropped to 46.8, showing the biggest decline since January. Export orders to other countries fell a lot, almost as bad as they've ever been.
Additionally, employment levels decreased for the fifth consecutive month. The data also revealed that outstanding business declined at one of the strongest rates since July 2012, indicating excess capacity in the sector. These developments raise concerns despite official GDP growth, highlighting economic challenges in Malaysia's manufacturing industry.
Persisting inflation + weakening economy = stagflation — here we come.
Malaysia takes action to address rice supply challenges
In response to concerns about rice supply, Malaysia's Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu has introduced four intervention measures:
Increasing the distribution of local white rice to rural areas;
Subsidising the cost of imported white rice in Sabah and Sarawak starting October 5;
Granting favourable terms for government-contracted white rice suppliers to access imported white rice at wholesale prices; and
A cross-ministerial task force has been established to monitor and enforce the rice supply chain.
This comprehensive approach aims to ensure a stable and fair rice supply nationwide.
PM Anwar Ibrahim said the government will spend almost RM400 mil to buy imported rice for government premises such as military camps, police and school dormitories as the country grapples with a shortage of local rice.
Possible cabinet reshuffle under Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's leadership, says Deputy PM Ahmad Zahid
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has mentioned the chance of some changes in the government’s leadership under PM Anwar Ibrahim's watch. One big reason for this could be filling the position of Minister of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living, which is empty after the passing of Salahuddin Ayub. While rumours suggest Ahmad Zahid may be appointed as the Home Minister, he has expressed readiness to take on any responsibility entrusted to him. He also hopes that the Federal Territory Ministry will be brought back soon. In politics, where there’s responsibility, there is opportunity.
High Court decisions on high-profile cases
The High Court has decided to handle former Attorney General Tommy Thomas' case differently. He had filed a complaint, known as an originating summons (OS), regarding investigations into his book, “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.” Instead of settling the matter quickly, the court has opted for a more detailed legal process, considering the serious nature of the defamation claim. This means there will be a full trial to resolve the issue. The judge will now determine which civil court will handle the case. Notably, the court has not decided whether the special task force (STF) that investigated the book was right or wrong; they are simply taking a closer look at the situation.
Learn: Difference between originating summons vs. writ of summons.
In the ongoing defamation lawsuit, the High Court has turned down Mahathir Mohamad’s request for specific documents related to his RM150 mil case against PM Anwar Ibrahim. The court ruled that these documents were not clearly mentioned in Dr Mahathir's defence statement and fined him RM2,000 for the request. Both sides will meet again on November 3 to discuss any further legal matters.
If there’s one thing Malaysia is good at, it’s coming up with names. Malaysia is launching the iESG - Industry Environmental, Social, and Governance Framework to fast-track sustainability efforts. The plan aims to help Malaysia go green and reach net-zero carbon emissions in just seven years or less. Additionally, it could unlock opportunities in a vast USD12 trillion market. The iESG Framework has two phases, running from 2024 to 2030, and focuses on guiding manufacturing companies, particularly smaller ones, toward eco-friendly practices. Malaysia’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gases and become carbon neutral by 2050, in line with international commitments.
Go Shop closes shop. Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd is closing down its home shopping venture, “Go Shop,” on October 11. They point to tough economic times and changing shopping habits as the reasons. This venture was run in partnership with GS Retail Co Ltd, with Astro Malaysia owning 60% and GS Retail holding 40%. How poorly did Go Shop perform? In its latest financial year, Go Shop recorded its lowest revenue in 5 years of RM183 mil, down 51.9% from RM381 mil in the year before and a loss of RM36 mil.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Annual Nobel Prize season is back
The annual award kicked off with the first award in medicine or physiology announced won by Hungary’s Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman of the US for developing the technology that led to the mRNA Covid vaccines. Traditional vaccines use dead or weakened versions of the original virus, whilst mRNA vaccines (i.e. Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines) allow for rapid development of vaccines by using the genetic code of the virus to create the vaccines. Other awards categories will be announced over the coming days: physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics. More interesting facts on the Nobel Prize here.
What do Nobel Prize winners get? Apart from the prestige, the winners will receive a Nobel Prize diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for a cool amount of USD1 mil (RM4.7 mil). The diploma isn’t exactly the diploma we know — it is a unique work of art created by Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The official ceremony takes place in Stockholm on 10 Dec, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, the creator of this prize, whilst the Peace Prize is handed out in Oslo.
Singapore’s first complete SPAC of live-streaming platform
Vertex Technology Acquisition Corporation (VTAC), backed by the city-state’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, became the first Singapore special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to acquire a target firm as it sealed a deal to acquire Taiwanese live-streaming platform 17Live for up to SGD925.1 mil (RM3.16 bil).
Founded in 17Live, the platform has roughly 87,000 live-streamers and is the top live-streaming platform by revenue in Japan and Taiwan, generating USD363.7 mil last year and has been EBITDA positive since 2020. SPAC (aka blank-cheque company) is essentially a listed shell company with the sole purpose of acquiring an operating company within a 2-year deadline. Check out 17Live here and the story of its founding here.
The ridiculous things crypto (fraud) king Sam Bankman-Fried did
Famed business author Michael Lewis (the author behind ‘Big Short’) is set to release his highly anticipated biography of disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon” (check out the book here). The release coincides with the start of SBF’s criminal trial today as well. Lewis was travelling and interviewing the 30-year-old SBF in the six months leading to the shocking collapse of FTX in Nov 2022 and has met SBF more than 100 times over two years. Here are some of the mind-boggling things revealed:
FTX spent USD1 mil removing a doorway and adding another when it was headquartered in Hong Kong- not for practical or aesthetic purposes but all in the name of feng shui.
SBF once wondered if he could legally pay former US President Donald Trump not to run for office in 2024 and what it would cost. USD5 bil was the number kicking around, though it was never learned if it was a serious figure that came from Trump himself.
SBF once discussed with the prime minister of the Bahamas to pay off the debt of the tiny Caribbean nation as it considered moving its HQ from HK there. This is to allow the country to fix roads and build schools more easily after the tourism-dependent country was hit hard by the pandemic. Back then, in 2021, the Bahamas debt stood around USD11.6 bil.
Watch Lewis’ interview on PBS 60 minutes below on his book and experience observing SBF.
Southeast Asia’s first high-speed train is officially up and running
Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared the official operation of the 142 km Jakarta-Bandung (Indonesia’s fourth-largest city) High-Speed Railway at Halim Station in Jakarta. The name of the HSR is “Whoosh”, inspired by the sound of the train and in Indonesian, it stands for “time-saving, optimal operation, reliable system”. Meanwhile, HSR in Malaysia was first mooted in 2010 and 13 years later, it still remains an idea.
In train-related news in Indonesia, Indonesian ride-hailing giant Gojek is teaming up with the nation’s main commuter railway operators to offer its users a one-stop shop for local journeys, giving it an edge over its rival Grab.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Children need to know the difference between a good touch and a bad touch.
Kinda fun, playing badminton on a floating court in the middle of a blue sea