☕️ Government is considering 'A' rated toilets requirement for F&B license renewal
First floods of the year, 12k evacuated in Johor, Sabah. Malaysia's first win against Sulu heirs' USD15 bil claim. US suing Google over monopoly, calling for break-up of its ad business.
1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
RM1.55 trillion — Malaysia’s export value in 2022, a 25% YoY increase, thanks to the upliftment of shipments to all its major trading partners. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) said the export value in 2022 exceeded the Twelfth Plan projection for 2025. Robust exports of E&E products, petroleum products, LNG, palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products, crude petroleum, as well as machinery, equipment and parts, contributed to the record figure.
Since Elon Musk took the helm of the blue tweety bird, 80% of its employees have been laid off, leaving the social media platform with around 1,300 employees. One former Twitter engineer says the team will be spread thin with fewer than 550 full-time engineers remaining.
Even the world’s fastest man and Olympic champion couldn’t run away from the scam — Usain Bolt said he lost USD12.7 mil in an investment scam by Stocks and Securities Ltd, a Jamaican investment firm, with just USD12,000 left in his investment account.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Malaysia is underwater — a first for this year
Continuous rainfall during the CNY holidays had brought despair to certain parts of the country, as close to 12,000 victims were evacuated due to floods in Johor and Sabah. In Johor, the Segamat, Kluang and Mersing were the most affected districts, while Kota Marudu, Kudat and Paitan were the worst-hit districts in Sabah. Flooding during this time of the year was expected due to the northeast monsoon that brought heavy rain from November until March.
Putrajaya condemns the act of burning the holy book of Quran
In his response towards the burning of the Quran by Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan, PM Anwar Ibrahim stated that Malaysia would not tolerate the burning of any religious book, including the Quran. On top of that, he applauded Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for taking an aggressive stance against the barbaric action.
Apart from condemning the action, Erdogan even refused to support Sweden's application into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which was a massive blow to Sweden's national security amidst increased threats from Russia. Will PM Anwar emulate President Erdogan’s response, i.e. boycotting Sweden or any Sweden-owned companies?
Rafizi double down on his attacks against eateries - now blaming them for inflation
According to the Statistics Department (DOSM), the inflation rate was higher in 2022, registering a 3.3% inflation rate compared to the 2.5% recorded in 2021. Economics minister Rafizi Ramli pinned the blame towards restaurants and eateries for not doing their part to reduce food prices while the government had spent RM2bil on subsidies to control the cost of raw materials such as chicken and eggs. Although the inflation rate in 2022 is higher than the year before, it has been downward since July 2022.
The problem with economists is they think everyone behaves rationally. However, are consumers rational?
Malaysia does not have to fork out USD15bil to pay the Sulu heirs for now
The Malaysian government enjoyed a small win in its bid to squash the self-styled Sulu heirs’ claim of USD15bil from Malaysia. In a press release published by the law minister Azalina Othman, she stated that a district court in Luxembourg had set aside an attachment order made by the Sulu heirs to enforce the arbitration award they won against Malaysia in a French court last year.
Siti Bainun was ordered to enter defence even though she was lawyer-less
In Siti Bainun’s abuse case against a Down Syndrome girl known as Bella, Judge Izralizam Sanusi had ordered Siti Bainun to enter her defence, even though she was not represented by a lawyer (all 5 of her lawyers withdrew from her case), to avoid any disruptions to the proceedings. However, the judge will postpone the cross-examination by the prosecution until Feb 20 to give time for Siti Bainun to have a lawyer present by her side on the said date.
Putrajaya instructed Touch ‘n Go to get its house in order
Due to the public outcry regarding the new Touch ‘n Go (TNG) Visa card, several government agencies and ministries had a sit down with TNG and below was the outcome of the discussions:
The government recommended TNG to rename its VISA prepaid card to avoid any confusion, as the card can only be used to purchase goods and services and withdraw money
TNG has been instructed to increase its sales channels and service centres to avoid any scalpers selling TNG cards at sky-high prices and to solve any other issues, such as expired TNG cards and the transfer of credits between old and new cards.
Other than that, under the previous government, it was set that barrier-less Multi-Lane-Free-Flow (MLFF) will be implemented by 2025. However, according to the domestic trade minister Salahuddin Ayub, several measures, such as enabling an open payment system (i.e. the end of TNG’s monopoly on toll payments), must be taken first.
Smelly toilets at eateries may have been a thing in the past as now toilets may turn into a BMW — Bersih, Menawan and Wangi
Local government minister Nga Kor Ming said that his ministry was mulling the idea that all food & beverage (F&B) outlets under the city councils must get an ‘A’ rating for their toilets before the F&B owners can renew their respective licences. If this proposal goes through, his ministry will implement it next year. Given that this new ‘clean toilet’ policy works for city councils, Nga stated that he will extend this policy to municipal councils and district councils.
Here’s an idea — give these restaurants a Madani star if they have clean toilets.
Petronas and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), via their respective subsidiaries, will jointly develop algae production technology with the end goal of producing sustainable aviation fuel. Fueling jet aircraft with algae is not some new technology in the block. It has been here for a while and you can see here how Japan does it.
HelloGold, a shariah-compliant gold savings platform launched in Malaysia in 2017, will be closing its shops in Malaysia and Thailand. The company will pivot its business plan into an entirely business-to-business (B2B) model. The platform had over 60,000 active users with investments amounting to more than RM25 mil, though its CEO Robin Lee said 60k isn’t a number that is sustainable.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Lebanon top prosecutor, judges charged over Beirut port explosion
Prosecutor General Ghassan Oueidat and three judges have been charged with homicide, arson, and sabotage over the Beirut port explosion, one of history’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, alongside five others. Judge Tarek Bitar resumed his investigation into the 2020 explosion after strong political pressure delayed the investigation by over a year. The Beirut port blast destroyed most of the port and claimed more than 215 lives, and injured more than 6,500 people. Previously, Bitar had charged five officials, including former ministers and former prime minister Hassan Diab.
The explosion is surreal, like out of a movie. Watch a compilation of videos of the explosion here (warning - disturbing).
Donald Trump’s Facebook, Instagram ban lifted after two years
Facebook parent Meta has lifted the former president’s ban for the first time in 2 years after the US Capital riot on 6 Jan 2021. On its decision, Meta said the safety situation has changed and determined the risk had “sufficiently receded”. Nevertheless, Meta said there would be new “guardrails” in place to prevent Trump or other public figures from abusing its platforms.
In the aftermath of the riot, Trump was also banned by Twitter, YouTubeand Snapchat. So far, only Twitter has lifted the ban, but Trump has not tweeted since.
Read Meta’s updated policy on restricting accounts with special rules for public figures during civil unrest.
US Justice Department, eight states suing Google, calling for the break-up of its business
US authorities are ramping up their antitrust battle against Alphabet’s Google and have called for the break-up of the search giant’s ad technology business over alleged illegal long-standing monopolisation of the digital advertising market. This marks the few times the Department of Justice (DOJ) has called for a break-up of a significant company since it dismantled Bell Systems in the 1980s. Google published a post on its blog here to counter these allegations.
Google is the dominant player in the USD278.6 bil US digital-ad market, controlling about 26.5% of the market, which slipped from a high of 37.4% in 2015. DOJ said Google’s dominance allows it to keep at least USD0.30 of every dollar advertisers spend through its advertising tools. The DOJ is also seeking damages from Google for overcharging federal government agencies that purchased online ads.
Antitrust (aka anti-monopoly) law seeks to ensure that big companies do not abuse their market dominance to bully consumers and/or competitors. In Malaysia, we have the Competition Act 2010, but it's arguable whether this law has many fangs. A particular payment company should be paid a long overdue visit by this law.
Fun fact: What do oil giants BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron have in common? They originated from Standard Oil, which authorities broke up in the early 20th century.
“Air” — the movie that is about who should get the credit for signing Michael Jordan to Nike
The drama behind the messy debate over who convinced legendary basketball player Michael Jordan to sign with Nike got turned into a movie, “Air”, starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and set to be released on 5 April. The central players have given differing accounts of who should get the credit.
Why this drama matters? The Jordan brand is a massive business for Nike today - it did USD5.1 bil in sales for Nike in its latest financial year, contributing 10.9% to its USD46.7 bil revenue. Nike signed Michael Jordan in 1984. Nike then wasn’t the Nike today - it was struggling to grow and even did consider selling itself. The launch of the Jordan brand became a pivotal moment for Nike. Nike sold USD130 mil of Jordan’s signature shoes in its augural year; the rest is history.
Spanish police have arrested a 74-year-old man on suspicion of sending letter bombs to high-profile targets, including the country’s prime minister and the US and Ukrainian embassies. A total of 6 bombs were sent across Spain — all but one were diffused, injuring a worker in the Ukrainian embassy.
Riot Games, the maker of the popular online multiplayer game “League of Legends” confirmed that it was hit by a cyberattack and has rejected the hackers’ ransom demand of USD10 mil in exchange for not leaking the game’s source code, which could make cheating easier if revealed to the masses.
Weekend read: ‘We have no one’: The women and girls sold as brides in Kashmir
Bride for sale for as low as USD35. Al Jazeera reports on the Indian women and girls that are being tricked and sold by traffickers and forced into marriages against their will
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Another step closer to Earth turning into the Terminator movie - Boston Dynamic’s Atlas got an upgrade, and it can now run, jump, grab and throw. It could do some basic parkour and dance moves, just not too long ago.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s response to the neverending issue (for PAS) on the uniform of air stewardess. On a separate matter, Anthony Loke’s grandfather created yee sang — and yes, yee sang is a Malaysian thing, in case any Singaporeans try to claim it.