Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ DPM Zahid Hamidi: "Biggest donation in country's history" - Malaysia targets RM100 mil donation to Palestine cause
Forensic report: Batang Kali landslide due to heavy rain, not human activity. The good TSMY voted onto the International Olympic Committee. Baidu launches Ernie 4.0 to rival Chat GPT-4.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
casino trading volume of Bursa Malaysia last week saw 15.82 bil shares worth RM9.81 bil traded hands:
Main Market - 10.28 bil shares worth RM8.49 bil
ACE Market - 3.97 bil shares worth RM1.1 bil
Warrants - 1.57 bil units worth RM215.29 mil
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
According to Google search data, public interest in AI reached its peak a few months ago. Notably, the number of visitors to ChatGPT's website declined from 210 mil in May to 180 mil in August. Is the frenzy over? We think it’s just about to get started as more money starts to pour in. In the first half of 2023, venture capitalists invested over USD40 billion in AI firms, accounting for nearly a quarter of all venture funding this year. OpenAI’s most recent model, GPT-4, is estimated to have cost around USD100 mil to train, several times more than GPT-3.
Olive oil has joined the list of commodities with record-high prices. In August, the average price surged by 130% compared to the previous year, reaching unprecedented levels since 1996. The United States Department of Agriculture reported that global olive oil prices reached USD8,900 per ton in September due to arid Mediterranean weather, heightening the risk of supply disruptions. This price spike in the popular cooking oil and salad-dressing staple follows similar increases in the costs of several other food commodities, including cocoa, orange juice, wheat, and soybeans.
A significant number of teenage girls in the United Kingdom report experiencing sexual harassment in their daily lives and feeling unsafe when alone on the streets. In a survey involving 2,000 young people aged 13-18, over a quarter of girls (27%) acknowledged encountering some form of sexual harassment. Furthermore, 44% felt unsafe while walking alone on the street.
It’s how you stay informed. Get the daily newsletter of many Malaysians for free.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The major NOs of the day
No system enhancement, no contract extension — Putrajaya has decided to extend the contract to MyEG Services Bhd for another two years for the latter to provide immigration-related services on its platform. However, in order to make the contract extension valid, MyEG needs to complete a system enhancement. The value of the deal is undisclosed as MyEG stated that the value of the contract depends on the number of transactions performed over those two-year periods.
No deal, says PDC to Umech a.k.a Sunway — Penang Development Corp (PDC) has decided to u-turn its decision and nullify its collaboration with Umech Land Sdn Bhd to develop 558.96 acres of land in Byram, Seberang Perai Selatan into Batu Kawan Industrial Park 2 (BKIP2). The now-cancelled development BKIP2 was slated to have a gross development value (GDV) of at least RM3.5 bil. In the voided deal between PDC and Umech, Umech allegedly purchased the land from PDC at a low price. Penang CM Chow Kon Yew previously defended the collapsed deal, stating that the price agreed on the sale of land is based on the undeveloped land condition and Umech needs to cough up RM500 mil to build up basic infrastructure.
On the real reason why the deal collapsed, PDC said that the unapproved change of Umech’s equity structure was the culprit. A few days before the announcement of the deal between PDC and Umech, without informing PDC, Sunway Bhd injected RM23.33 mil into Umech, thus making Sunway the 70% owner of Umech. Sunway could have gone directly to PDC, but why didn’t they?
No human activity caused the Batang Kali landslide — Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi announced that based on the forensic analysis report, it was concluded that the tragic Batang Kali landslide that cost 31 lives was not caused by anthropogenic activity (environmental change caused or influenced by people, either directly or indirectly). Instead, heavy rainfalls were the main reason that led to the slope failure at the Father's Organic Farm campsite. Zahid stated that the full report on the tragedy can be accessed at the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma)’s website today from 10 a.m.
PM Anwar is working hard to rally support for Gaza
PM Anwar Ibrahim has called out for the cessation of the bombardment by Israel and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor in Rafah, which borders Gaza with Egypt. PM Anwar also spoke to Hamas head of political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, stating Malaysia’s consistent support towards the Palestinians. This ‘support’ evidently goes beyond a mere lip service as previously announced in Budget 2024 speech; Malaysia aims to donate RM100 mil to Palestine, with Putrajaya providing RM10 mil in seed donation.
PM Anwar will also bring up the Israel-Palestine conflict during the ASEAN and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit on Thursday. Commenting on the calls from certain corners for Malaysia to send its troops to the besieged enclave, PM Anwar said that it is a complex matter and we need the permission of the neighbouring countries before we can start to consider sending our soldiers to the front lines.
Business — all about them FDIs
RM1.8 bil — China-based LONGi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd, via its Malaysia subsidiary, has launched a 140-acre Serendah Module Plant that costs RM1.8 bil in Rawang, Selangor. The new manufacturing facility within the UMW High-Value Manufacturing Park will house four production factories that will employ more than 2,000 Malaysians by the first quarter of next year.
RM1 bil — Japan-based chipmaker Koa Corporation is investing another RM1 bil into expanding its existing chip, microchip and electronics plant in Melaka. The Phase 2 development of its plant will be developed on 8.37 hectares of land in the Ayer Keroh Eco Park. Once completed in 2025, the expansion of the chipmaking plant will offer another 950 jobs.
RM654.5 mil — Global logistics solution provider DHL Supply Chain plans to invest EUR350 mil in Southeast Asia, with Malaysia getting the biggest slice of the pie, where EUR131 mil or RM654.5 mil will be invested in Malaysia alone. Parts of the new investment will be in the form of two new facilities in Penang and one each in the central and southern regions.
The Election Commission (EC) has announced that the polling day for the Kemaman by-election in Terengganu will be held on Dec 2. This umpteenth by-election this year alone has to be organised after the Terengganu Elections Court nullified PAS candidate Che Alias Hamid’s win during GE15 due to corruption during the election.
After announcing an additional RM1 bil additional units of Pelaburan Hartanah Berhad (PHB)’s Amanah Hartanah Bumiputera Scheme (AHB), PM Anwar Ibrahim said that Bumiputra now can own up to RM1 mil worth of AHB units. PHB currently has RM11 bil of assets under its management and aims to more than double the amount to RM25 bil by 2030. AHB was launched in 2010, which aims to give bumiputras the opportunity to hold a stake in prime commercial properties in the cities. Among its properties are KPJ Specialist Hospital Damansara 2, Menara 1 Sentrum, Wisma Cosplant and Maerks Warehouse in Shah Alam.
Tony Fernandez made the news for being shirtless. The post on LinkedIn was meant to inspire people with Capital A’s culture — which involves massage and management meetings. It was controversial — some praised the unconventional approach as a symbol of AirAsia's open-minded and progressive culture and some criticised the chief for being unprofessional. The post has since been deleted. You can view the NSFW photo here (via Bloomberg’s tweet — yes, Bloomberg tweed this).
Winning the Oscars ✅. Now, to the Olympics. Perak-born Michelle Yeoh was voted into the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday. She was one of the eight new members voted into the committee. Prior to the vote to the committee, Yeoh was introduced as “a Malaysia junior squash champion” by Britain's Princess Anne, the chair of the IOC's member election committee and she jokingly added that "Sadly, her other different skills took her away from her sporting life but a very fulfilled career and a lot of interest in sport throughout that." Recently, squash was chosen to be included in the 2028 Olympics (in Los Angeles) for the first time ever in the sport’s 170-year history.
Tough section ahead — from conflicts to layoffs.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Are Iran and the US pouring oil into fire?
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that “no one can stop” forces opposed to Israel if it keeps up its bombardment of Gaza. Khamenei said the Islamic Republic and its allied forces across the Middle East “have a responsibility to react” and will do so if necessary. Iran made support for the Palestinian cause a fundamental aspect of its foreign policy since the Islamic Revolution (aka Iranian Revolution) of 1979.
Jordan is set to host a four-party summit in Amman, with the participation of U.S. President Joe Biden, Egyptian, and Palestinian leaders. The summit aims to address the “dangerous” repercussions of the conflict in Gaza for the region. President Biden is emphasising the U.S.'s strong support for Israel. The Democratic administration has committed to providing military assistance and has sent U.S. carriers and aid to the region. Additionally, they are planning to request over USD2 bil in additional aid from Congress, intended for both Israel and Ukraine.
A gunman shot dead after killing two Swedes
A Tunisian gunman suspected of killing two Swedish football fans on Monday in Brussels died after being shot by police in a cafe yesterday. Another Swedish national was also wounded. The 45-year-old attacker identified himself as a member of the Islamic State and claimed responsibility in a video posted online — in the video, he said he had killed Swedes to take revenge in the name of Muslims. However, the Belgian federal prosecutor has stated that there is no evidence linking the attacker to the renewed conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants. The suspect, who had illegally entered Belgium after an unsuccessful asylum attempt in November 2019, was known to Belgian police for involvement in people smuggling.
Job cuts Rolls Royce
Rolls-Royce Holdings plc intends to reduce up to 2,500 positions worldwide, or about 6% of its global staff, as part of the corporate overhaul. The restructuring efforts are focused on minimising role duplication within the company's three primary business segments — civil aerospace, power systems, and defence. Analysts at Citi believe the cuts could save the company as much as GBP200 mil per year. The stock is the best performer on the FTSE 100 Index this year — up 128.76% year-to-date.
Goldman Sachs CEO hangs his boots on DJ-ing
Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon decided to retire his DJ-ing career after widespread criticism of his hobby. The Financial Times reported the board of directors weren’t happy with Solomon’s side gig. His last gig was believed to be in July 2022 at Lollapalooza. Why the criticisms? The investment bank reported its eighth straight quarter of falling earnings — with the latest a fall of 33% year-on-year. For its 3QFY23, Goldman Sachs reported a profit of USD2.1 bil. The decline in profit was primarily attributed to losses incurred from divestment of parts of its consumer-lending business and a significant reduction in revenue within its asset and wealth-management division.
Putin arrives in Beijing
President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Beijing, marking a rare trip abroad for the Russian leader, who currently faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Putin's visit is seen as a demonstration of support for Xi's signature Belt and Road project, which has backed approximately USD900 bil in infrastructure and other initiatives since its launch in 2013.
Baidu launches Ernie 4.0, to rival Chat GPT-4
Baidu’s CEO Robin Li demonstrated Ernie 4.0, the search engine’s latest version of its artificial intelligence model. Li said it is not inferior in any aspect to GPT-4 and prompted Ernie to generate marketing materials and come up with a martial arts novel complete with personalised characters. Ernie 4.0 is only available by invitation for now.
U.S. Department of Commerce plans to set up new rules in the coming weeks to close loopholes that popped up after last year’s restrictions on AI chip exports went into effect. The restriction of the sale of more advanced artificial intelligence chips to China will likely affect Nvidia, Intel and AMD. Companies that want to export AI chips to China or other embargoed regions will have to notify the U.S. government.
South Korea is becoming the next “big brother”
Following the tragedy of last year’s Halloween stampede in Gangnam, Seoul, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will implement a people counting system which automatically detects crowds through closed-circuit televisions and notifies authorities of danger signs. By the end of the year, 909 cameras will be installed in 71 crowded places in Seoul to ensure public safety.
Read: What is “big brother”?
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Brace yourself for a recession or not; it depends if you trust the economists. Top business and academic economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal think the chances of a recession in the US in the next 12 months are less than 50%. However, the median stood at 50:50 — i.e. a coin flip.
Adobe unveils Project Primrose at its MAX Conference last week- a new futuristic digital dress that lets the wearer change patterns on its surface. Another way to look at it — like wearing a walking screen.