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☕️ Elmina plane crash - what we know so far
Dedollarisation: Saudi's Treasuries at a 6-year low, India uses Rupees in oil trade. Genetically-modified pig kidney works in human for up to 32 days. US suicide cases hit a record high in 2022.
1. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The US witnessed a distressing rise in suicides, reaching a peak of 49,449 cases in 2022 (an average of 135 cases per day), a rise of 3% from the year before, as per recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data highlights a concerning trend, with suicides becoming more prevalent in the US than in any period since World War II. The CDC data showed that men accounted for approximately 79% of the total number of suicides in 2022. If you’re feeling lonely or in distress, seek help — here are some channels that you can reach out to — BeFriendersKL, Malaysian Mental Health Association.
In June 2023, global air passenger traffic surged by 31% compared to the previous year, showing ongoing post-Covid recovery. The figure represents 94.2% of the pre-pandemic levels, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). During the first half of 2023, there was a significant 47.2% increase in global revenue passenger-kilometres (RPKs) compared to the same period last year, although recovery patterns varied across different regions. Asia Pacific airlines experienced a remarkable 128.1% surge in traffic compared to the same month in 2022, the highest percentage gain among all regions.
The Panama Canal is grappling with a severe drought, leading authorities to limit the number of ships passing through each day. To manage the situation, the canal will now permit a maximum of 32 ships daily, a reduction of around 14% from the usual 36 to 38. This adjustment is anticipated to impact the canal's earnings, potentially causing a decrease of up to USD200 mil next year due to reduced traffic, though it is expected to bring in about USD4.9 bil before factoring in the drought. The 82 km-long artificial canal is vital to trade routes as it significantly shortens the travel distance between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean by 60% (see it on the map here).
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Final Destination-esque nightmares becoming reality
A Beechcraft Model 390 aircraft crashed at Guthrie Highway near Elmina, leading to the death of ten souls. This crash is the fifth incident involving Beechcraft in 46 years.
The aircraft that was ferrying eight individuals crash-dived into a car and a motorcycle, costing both the motorists’ lives. Only one of the 10 bodies recovered were intact. According to the Selangor police chief Hussein Omar Khan, the aircraft was travelling from Langkawi and only about 2 minutes away from landing at the Subang Airport. No emergency call was made by the aircraft before the crash.
Unfortunately, one of the deceased from the crash was the Pahang State Exco Johari Harun, as confirmed by the Pahang State Assembly Speaker. Condolences to the family of all the deceased.
The crash was recorded from a few angles on the surrounding cars’ dashcams - watch here, here and here (warning - disturbing).
One interesting but eerie fact, back in 1977, Elmina was also the location that witnessed the crash of a McDonnell Douglas (now known as Boeing) aircraft of Japan Airlines Flight 715 that was heading towards the same Subang Airport from Kai Tak International Airport in Hong Kong. Out of 79 people onboard, 43 individuals survived when the plane struck a 91-meter hill during a thunderstorm.
Another day, another roof comes collapsing down. A 32-year-old doctor literally cheated death when the roof of an apartment fell on top of him as he was in the midst of moving his car, which was parked directly below the location of the incident. The roof-popping incident happened at an apartment block in Sri Desa, Jalan Klang Lama, and fortunately, no one was fatally impacted.
A nighttime fishing trip turned into a traumatic experience for a 13-year-old kid in Gua Musang, Kelantan, when his motorcycle hit a 4WD vehicle that was parked illegally at the side of the road. The pickup truck was carrying bamboo poles that were used during the elections, and due to the impact, a two-meter-long bamboo pole impaled the victim’s abdomen.
A lot of freakish accidents happened this week. Not a good week for Malaysia.
UMNO’s post-election turmoil
UMNO supreme council member Isham Jalil said that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM - UMNO just had its AGM in June) needed to be held as soon as possible to calm down the anxious grassroots, especially after the humiliating performance in the state elections where UMNO only won 19 out of 108 seats contested. Isham was also calling out other UMNO leaders who were still in denial and hoping the crisis would be forgotten as time passed. Previously, Isham listed three main factors on why UMNO fared poorly during the elections, namely due to Zahid Hamidi being the president, the imprisonment of former PM Najib Razak and, of course, the party's cooperation with DAP (the bogeyman) in the Unity Government.
On the other hand, former UMNO supreme council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who was suspended for openly criticising Zahid, stated that forcing Zahid Hamidi to resign will not propel UMNO back to its former glory. He said that UMNO needed to re-correct its direction to its core mission of uplifting the economic, educational and developmental status of the Malay community. Nonetheless, Tajuddin said that Zahid still needed to be held accountable for UMNO’s poor performance in the polls.
Putrajaya denies the closure of hundreds of tahfiz schools in Selangor
Religious Affairs minister Na’im Mokhtar has denied the allegations that Putrajaya is closing down tahfiz schools in Selangor. What actually happened is back in 2021, the Selangor state government had enforced guidelines for all tahfiz schools to ensure the safety of their inhabitants, following the fire at a tahfiz school in 2017 that claimed 23 lives. To be fair to all parties, tahfiz schools were also given a two-year grace to comply with the guidelines, which ended this year. Thus, in a way, if you see any tahfiz schools closing down or have to relocate, it may or may not be due to the fact that those schools do not comply with the safety regulations and not salah DAP.
In a right-pocket-left-pocket deal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, UEM Group Bhd, secured shares in a sustainable energy solutions company called Cenergi SEA Bhd from Khazanah. No financial terms were disclosed. This deal signals UEM Group’s emphasis on prioritising renewable energy as one of the key sectors. Cenergi has 23 biogas power plants and 20 solar projects across Malaysia and Indonesia.
Plenitude Bhd is mulling over investing in a 13-storey hotel in Seoul, South Korea, for a healthy sum of RM114.3 mil. This proposed deal will be financed via a combination of internally generated funds and/or bank borrowings. At the moment, the company owns 11 hospitality assets in multiple countries, including another hotel in South Korea called Travelodge Myeondgdong Euljiro, which is performing well, evidently having an average occupancy rate of above 80%. Check out its rather impressive portfolio of hotels here.
Sanusi news alert. Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) founder Vincent Tan had obtained a restraining order effective until 25 Aug against Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi that prohibited the latter from making similar defamatory remarks towards the former in relation to the Selangor Maritime Gateway (SMG) project. Previously, Sanusi accused Tan had received a 600-acre land worth about RM10 bil from the Selangor state government via the SMG project.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Intel calls off deal to acquire Israeli chipmaker due to China review delay
Intel and Israeli contract chipmaker Tower agreed to terminate the USD5.4 bil deal, with Intel to pay a termination fee of USD353 mil to Tower. The merger agreement expired while pending regulatory approval from China, and both parties agreed to terminate the contract after receiving “no indications regarding certain required regulatory approval”. Previously, chemical firm DuPont was forced to scrap a USD5.2 bil deal to acquire speciality engineered materials firm Rogers Corp last year, also due to Chinese regulators not providing timely approvals.
Baby steps to De-dollarisation
Saudi Arabia’s strategic shift to de-dollarise is becoming evident as its US Treasuries drop to a six-year low, hitting USD108.8 bil. This forms a part of a broader move to riskier assets, with investments diversifying into ventures like Lucid Group, Uber, and even Newcastle United, with Saudi’s external wealth now 40% invested in riskier assets.
Move aside petrodollars. India is utilising Rupees to settle an oil deal with the UAE, sidestepping dollars and minimising costs. With India being a major oil player, the shift is quite significant as the trend towards de-dollarisation across nations, including China and Russia, continues to nudge the greenback’s global reserve dominance.
India works with Russia to tackle inflation
India is in discussions with Russia to import wheat at a discount amidst surging global prices, aiming to curb food inflation ahead of elections. The move intends to intervene in the market to lower wheat costs, which drove inflation to a 15-month peak in July. The government is cautiously exploring import options via private trade and government-to-government deals.
Although India needs 3-4 mil metric tons to fill the wheat gap, the country is considering importing 8-9 mil tons from Russia to depress the prices further. Limited supplies of wheat have caused wholesale prices in India to have surged approximately 10% over the past two months, reaching a seven-month peak in August.
SGD1 bil seized in one of Singapore’s largest money laundering probe
Singapore's police, involving more than 400 personnel, have seized around SGD1 bil (RM3.41 bil) in assets, including properties, vehicles, luxury goods, and gold bars, as part of a major money laundering and forgery probe. Ten individuals of various nationalities have been charged in connection with the investigation. Simultaneous raids took place across Singapore’s luxury housing areas, targeting a group suspected of laundering proceeds from organised crime activities, including scams and online gambling. The Monetary Authority of Singapore noted that financial institutions had raised red flags about suspicious fund flows and documentation.
A genetically-modified pig kidney that was implanted in a brain-dead patient was functioning for 32 days without being rejected by the body. This groundbreaking experiment, with only one gene modification required to stop the body from immediately rejecting an animal organ, is aimed at shortening and fast-tracking the transplant waitlist. More than 103,000 people are waiting for transplants in the United States, 88,000 of whom need kidneys.
OpenAI, known for ChatGPT, has made its first public acquisition by taking over New York-based startup Global Illumination. The startup, backed by investors like Paradigm and Benchmark, specialises in AI-driven creative tools and digital experiences. The acquisition terms remain undisclosed. On another note, OpenAI reportedly spent upward of USD540 mil last year to develop its world-bending ChatGPT and recorded revenue of USD30 mil in 2022.
Fashion retailer H&M is investigating 20 cases of labour abuse in Myanmar factories supplying its products as worker rights have deteriorated since the 2021 coup. Allegations include wage reduction, theft, unfair dismissal, and more. The move follows Zara owner Inditex's decision to cut ties with Myanmar suppliers. British human rights advocacy group BHRRC tracked 156 cases of worker abuse from 2022 to 2023, indicating a deterioration of workers' rights since a military coup in February 2021.
Weekend Read: Starbucks Vietnam: Why the US chain cannot crack a coffee-loving nation
10 years since Starbucks entered the market in 2013, the giant US coffee chain only captured 2% of Vietnam’s USD1.2 bil coffee-drinking market. It has only opened 92 outlets, which works out to less than 1 for every million people, compared to Thailand and Indonesia with about 7 and 2, respectively. In Malaysia alone, there were 356 Starbucks stores as of June 2022, which is about 11 stores per one million Malaysians. Few reasons for its lack of dominance: price, menu lacks diversity and beans (Starbucks uses 100% Arabica beans, whereas Robusta, the stronger flavour and higher caffeine beans, is more popular in Vietnam.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Grab has its own marching contingent during Singapore’s National Day Parade. Quite a lucrative gig as each of them got compensated SGD5.7k (RM19.4k).
If you’re a fan of Post Malone, you might just enjoy this.
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