Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Federal Court commuted the death sentence, natural life imprisonment of 11 inmates in landmark review
Kepala Batas MP presented “reference material” for her allegations. Nepal bans TikTok for “disturbing social harmony”. Interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is at an all-time low.
Hey peeps, we made an editing error in yesterday’s issue with regards to David Cameron’s appointment into the United Kingdom’s PM Rishi Sunak’s cabinet. We wrote James Cameron, who was the director of The Titanic. Many apologies.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Markets are happy with the consumer price index data released by the US Labor Department, which was flat in October from the previous month but increased 3.2% from a year ago. The US markets surged while the price of goods and services remain expensive.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
A stop-start economic recovery in China and a brutal price war have likely kept the Singles Day sales subdue. Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall Group said that its gross merchandise value (GMV) – a measure of the total value of goods sold – as well as the number of orders and participating merchants, all recorded year-on-year growth during this shopping season, without disclosing the value. However, 402 brands each surpassed RMB100 mil (USD13.7 mil) in GMV, while 38,000 brands achieved over 100 per cent year-on-year GMV growth, according to Taobao and Tmall Group. How much did you shop during 11:11?
Vinyls are popular once again — outselling CDs in 2022. In 2022, Americans purchased 43.5 mil vinyl albums, up from 41.7 mil in 2021, according to Luminate, an analytics firm. In contrast, CD sales declined, with 35.9 mil units sold in 2022 compared to 40.6 mil in the previous year. The vinyl market was valued at USD1.7 bil in the same year, and it is projected to reach a value of USD2.8 bil by 2028. Demand outstrips supply too —pressing plants are able to manufacture only around 160 mil a year, but the global demand is estimated to be about 400 mil.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Datuk Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour stated that the central bank expects at least 50% of new financing by banks to be in line with climate-supporting or transitioning activities by 2026. Speaking at the Joint Committee on Climate Change (JC3) Conference “Journey to Zero,” he reiterated BNM's commitment to creating a facilitative policy environment for the banking industry to foster financial innovations and explore novel financial structures to address the substantial financing requirements for climate risk mitigation and adaptation. According to BNM’s 2022 Annual Report, a total of RM505 bil was disbursed to SMEs in 2022.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Kepala Batas MP presented “reference material” for her
Siti Masturah Muhammad handed to the police the “reference material” on her allegations that DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng were related to former Singapore premier Lee Kuan Yew and former communist leader Ong Boon Hua, popularly known as Chin Peng. Six police reports were subsequently lodged against Siti Mastura over the matter. Her defence lawyer said it was up to police to determine whether the material was authentic.
Does she think this is a comedy skit? Because if she does, then the joke is on us.
PM Anwar Ibrahim arrived in San Francisco for APEC
For the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM), Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim plans to share Malaysia's priorities and principles under the Madani Economy framework, emphasising inclusivity, sustainable development, and cooperation for shared prosperity at the meeting. Anwar will also take the opportunity to highlight the Palestinian situation to advocate global support, humanitarian access, and a just resolution to the conflict.
On top of one-on-one meetings with prominent business leaders in the States, Anwar is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with several Leaders of APEC Economies to explore means to further strengthen bilateral cooperation. May Malaysia's top salesman bring in more (quality) FDIs.
The reformasi no one spoke about: The abolishment of mandatory death penalty
In a landmark review, the Federal Court commuted the death sentence and natural life imprisonment* of 11 inmates convicted of drug trafficking to life imprisonment and whipping after Malaysia abolished the mandatory death penalty. With the enactment of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act, courts will now have the discretion to choose between imposing a death sentence or considering alternative penalties for certain offences, including murder.
*Natural-life imprisonment is when a convict is sentenced to be imprisoned until their death of natural causes.
Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said 95.8% (978 of 1,020) of eligible death row and natural life imprisonment inmates have since applied for their sentences to be reviewed since November 9.
On a death sentence-related matter, Sirul Azhar Umar — one of two former police commandos convicted for the 2006 murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu — will likely remain in Australia unless Sirul applies for his death sentence to be replaced with a jail term and whipping. According to senior criminal lawyer N. Sivananthan, the option of remaining in Australia as a free man would be more attractive to Sirul. A High Court in Australia has recently released Sirul after a landmark ruling against indefinite detention for foreign citizens who cannot be deported back.
Dialog Group Bhd reported a net profit of RM132.2 mil for Q12024 ended Sept 30, 2023, compared to RM125.8 mil a year ago. The oil and gas group said the better performance was mainly contributed by international operations and higher share of results from joint ventures (JVs) and associates. Dialog stated that its focus will persist on the midstream business and the continuous development of Pengerang Deepwater Terminals (PDT) with the aim of transforming it into the largest petroleum and petrochemical hub in the Asia-Pacific region. View its quarterly results here.
Local semiconductor company JF Technology Bhd’s (JF Tech) subsidiary JF International Sdn Bhd (JFI) announced a joint venture with HFC Industry HK Limited (HFCI), a subsidiary of Shenzhen HFC Co Ltd (Shenzhen HFC) to become a one-stop solution provider. The principal activities of the JV are to design and manufacture of electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding materials, thermal interface materials, absorbing materials, etc. However, the market doesn’t seem to favour this JV as JF Tech’s price dropped as much as 16% or 18.5 sen to an intraday low of 96.5 sen yesterday, prompting Bursa Malaysia to suspend the intraday short selling (IDSS) on JF Tech yesterday.
Malaysian Nurul Ain Haron arrives home from Gaza
Nurul Ain Haron, with her Palestinian husband, Mohamed AM Shaat, has finally arrived in Malaysia after an agonising ordeal since the start of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The couple’s safe passage out of Gaza was made possible by the personal intervention of PM Anwar, who sought assistance from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to facilitate the evacuation process.
Barisan Nasional (BN) names former chief of defence forces as its Kemaman candidate
Former chief of defence forces General (Rtd) Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor will be on the voting paper representing BN for the Kemaman parliamentary by-election in Terengganu, slated for Dec 2. BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is confident that the party can regain the Kemaman parliamentary seat.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Israel-Gaza: Multiple Fronts
As Israeli forces advanced into Gaza, the conflict has moved to the point where the frontline of combat has reached several hospitals. The IDF has stated it is not targeting hospitals directly but acknowledges that there have been “clashes” around the medical facilities. While Washington maintains their support for Israel’s “right to defend itself”, US President Joe Biden has called for Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, to be “protected”, stating he hopes to see Israel take “less intrusive action” at the medical facility. Hospital staff had to bury 179 people, including seven babies and 29 intensive care patients, in a mass grave. The 179 died when the hospital ran out of fuel to power its equipment.
Meanwhile, Israel is making enemies of neighbours, with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan severing ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though he kept communications between the governments open. Considering Turkey was the first Muslim-majority country to recognise Israel’s sovereignty in 1949, Netanyahu may have single-handedly killed any chance of warmer diplomatic relations with Turkey. The clash along the Israel-Lebanon border has also heated up, raising concerns that the conflict could spread out into a wider war. Netanyahu has issued a warning to Hezbollah that it was “playing with fire”. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant stated that Israel would “attack Beirut” should Hezbollah cross the line. Iran-backed Hezbollah has been trading fire with Israel since the start of the conflict on October 7.
China shows record monthly sales amid global EV sales increase, even as investors pull out billions from the country
Global EV sales grew 34% year-to-date, 26% in European markets, and 78% in North America. China, the world’s largest auto market, managed to hit record monthly sales with a year-to-date growth of 29% in September. The Chinese government stopped an 11-year subsidy scheme for EV purchases in 2022, but this was offset by local authorities continuing to offer aid or tax rebates to attract investments, as well as subsidies for consumers.
However, investors are continuing to pull billions in profits from China, with foreign businesses doubting the country’s economic potential due to its slowing economy, low-interest rates, and tension with the US. China saw a deficit of USD11.8 bil in foreign investment in the July-September period, the first time since records began in 1988. While US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping are slated to meet at the APEC summit to discuss “strengthening communications and managing competition”, investors are already erring on the side of caution and moving money out of the country rather than reinvesting their profits.
Back to EVs, Hyundai broke ground on a USD1.52 billion plant dedicated to making EVs in the southeastern city of Ulsan, South Korea, in its continued shift away from petrol-powered cars. Construction is expected to end in 2025, with the plant capable of an annual production of 200,000 units.
Foxconn sees surprise increase in quarterly profit but holds on to conservative 2024 outlook
The Taiwanese electronics manufacturer and Apple supplier posted a net profit of USD1.3 billion for its third quarter, despite a 12% drop in revenue in its second consecutive quarter of revenue decline. The firm attributed the 11% increase to its investments in subsidiaries, interest revenue, and foreign exchange gains. Chairman Young Liu maintained a conservative outlook for 2024, stating that the expected market growth of 5% could “easily be offset by geopolitics”.
Meanwhile, Foxconn founder Terry Gou has collected three times the amount of signatures needed to qualify to run in the upcoming Taiwanese presidential elections. Independent candidates had to gather 300,000 voter signatures to qualify, and Gou gathered over 900,000. He has vowed to work hard to achieve “peace across the Taiwan Strait” and keep Taiwan from becoming “the next Ukraine”. Gou stepped down as Foxconn’s chairman and CEO in 2019.
Sea Ltd swings back in the red in the latest quarter – The third-quarter net loss of USD149 mil was attributed to intensifying competition in its mainline of e-commerce from rivals, both existing ones like Lazada, GoTo, and TikTok, as well as new ones like Temu. In its previous quarter, Sea reported a net profit of USD322 mil.
Nepal bans TikTok for “disturbing social harmony” – The ban was decided at a cabinet meeting, with Nepal’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma stating that TikTok was consistently used to share content that “disturbs social harmony and disrupts family structures and social relations”.
Air taxi service targets New York launch in 2025 – Joby Aviation is already in the third of five stages of certification with the Federal Aviation Administration. The idea is that users can book their flight the same way they book a ride on a ride-hailing app. While the cost of a trip has not been confirmed, the firm aims to make it “comparable to a rideshare in a car”. Uber might be waiting around the corner to acquire this company if it takes off, literally.
You can now delete Threads without losing Instagram – Previously, users could only deactivate their Threads account if they wanted to keep their linked Instagram profile active, something that was heavily criticised. Users will also gain more control over their Threads experience soon, as Meta will soon allow users to opt out of automatic sharing of Threads posts to Instagram and/or Facebook.
India races to save 40 workers trapped after tunnel collapse – The workers were working on a tunnel in Uttarakhand when part of it caved in due to a landslide. Rescuers have already made contact with the workers and are providing food, water, and oxygen. The plan is to drill and insert a metal pipe of 900mm diameter into the part of the tunnel blocked by debris, and hope the men will be able to squeeze through the narrow pipe to safety.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
While the crypto bull run seems to be back, the interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is at an all-time low, based on transactions on OpenSea since the peak in January 2022.
John Oliver delivers again on a complex topic.
“Look, it is true that Gazans did at one point elect Hamas (the last election was in 2006). But if you think that makes them all complicit in war crimes their government commits, then boy, do I have bad news for you about decades of U.S. foreign policy.” — John Oliver.