Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ High Court orders former PKR VP Zuraida Kamaruddin to pay RM10 mil for breaking bond, party hopping
Uni. Teknologi PETRONAS ranks ASEANS's #1 private uni in THE Rankings . DAP's Tony Pua spoke the forbidden words. Spotlight: Ocean Gate's Titan submersible tragedy.
1. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
In May, Malaysia's consumer price index (CPI) increased by 2.8% compared to the same period the previous year. This growth was primarily driven by higher prices in the restaurants and hotels sector. However, the increase was lower than the forecasted 3% projected by economists in a Reuters poll. It was also below the 3.3% growth recorded in April 2023.
A resident of Raub, Pahang, experienced a life-changing moment when he became an overnight multi-millionaire by winning the jackpot prize of RM28.9 mil in Magnum 4D on Father’s Day last weekend. He was out buying a pair of shoes with his daughter, then decided to stop by Magnum 4D after the shop’s front liner waved to him. From buying a pair of shoes for his children to winning the lottery, talk about serendipity.
83,000 households, or the top 1% of domestic users of electricity, will see a 25% increase in their monthly bills from July onwards as the government has introduced an electricity tariff surcharge of 10 sen per kilowatt hour (kWh) on domestic users who consume more than 1,500 kWh per month. According to Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, they will no longer enjoy the 2 sen/kWh rebate provided previously, and their monthly electricity bill will see a minimum increase of RM187 or 25%! Another way to put it, 99% of households are not affected by this adjustment.
83k households x RM187 min increase per household = RM15.5 mil x 12 months = RM186.23 mil — that’s the minimum savings in subsidy the government will achieve.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
DAP veteran Tony Pua spoke the forbidden words
During a fundraising dinner last Friday, former Damansara MP Tony Pua of DAP said Pakatan Harapan (PH) should take the opportunity in the government to show Malaysians that a multiracial coalition is a way forward for Malaysia. However, he didn’t stop there. Pua stepped on the current Unity Government’s ally — Barisan Nasional and UMNO.
“Prove to them that a multiracial party that is clean and not corrupt … can actually do better than corrupt coalitions (sic) like Barisan Nasional, Umno and Bersatu.” —Tony Pua
DAP sec-gen Anthony Loke was quick to distance Pua from DAP itself, stressing that the latter spoke in an individual capacity and did not represent the party leadership. Loke added that the attack was uncalled for.
UMNO didn’t hold back — its secretary-general Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said he had asked DAP to ensure Pua does not contest in the coming state elections if it wants the Unity Government to continue. Weirdly, Asyraf pinned the current country’s economic weakness to Pua’s actions during his stint as the political secretary to the finance minister during the 2018 PH administration.
One “Langkah Sheraton” frog down, others incoming
The Kuala Lumpur High Court has ordered former PKR vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin to pay RM10 mil to PKR after breaching a bond with the party following her involvement in Langkah Sheraton in 2020. The court acknowledged that the defendant had made a commitment to pay RM10 million, which was contingent on three events, including one related to her termination from the party.
The PKR information chief Fahmi Fadzil said the central leadership council is considering the possibility of taking additional measures against other former members who resigned from the party after being selected as PKR election candidates and achieving victory.
Meta Platforms to face actions in Malaysia
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has expressed its intention to take decisive measures or legal action against Meta, the parent company of Facebook. This action comes as a result of Meta's inadequate cooperation in removing undesirable content from its platform. The MCMC has observed a substantial amount of undesirable content on the Facebook platform, encompassing issues related to race, royalty, religion, defamation, impersonation, online gambling, and scam advertisements. Bursa Malaysia expressed its support to MCMC as it had identified over 60 pages on Facebook impersonating its CEO Muhamad Umar Swift this year alone.
Watch out for scams!
A 37-year-old woman lost more than RM100,00 to an investment scam on Instagram. These scammers are really fast. The victim was approached by a foreign man on May 4. The suspect promised the victim guaranteed profits of 10% in 120 seconds. She then made 11 online transfers totalling RM113,875 to different bank accounts provided by the suspect since June 2. She realised she had been cheated after she could not contact the suspect.
One would say why so stupid to fall for such scams with unrealistic returns? Don’t be embarrassed if it happens to you. Actually, credit (or blame) got to be given to the scammers as they have mastered the art of manipulating human emotions. Know how to exploit greed and fear in humans and one’s logic will shut down. In the case of Macau scams, scammers exploit one’s fear to con them of their hard-earned funds. It doesn’t matter doctor, teacher, retiree - many have fallen for such scams. Here’s a case of a businessman who lost RM21 mil in a Macau scam and another victim here who lived in one of the most expensive locations in Hong Kong and lost USD32 mil.
Kudos to the police for nabbing 77 individuals believed to be involved in an online foreign exchange (forex) scam syndicate operating from a shop lot in Brickfields. The suspects comprised 43 men and 34 women, aged between 17 and 37. Brickfields district police chief ACP Amihizam Abdul Shukor urged the public to check bank accounts and telephone numbers of potential scammers at https://ccid.rmp.gov.my/semakmule/ before making any payment. What is a mule account? Find BNM’s definition here. Don’t simply lend out your account to receive funds.
PM Anwar Ibrahim aims to eradicate hardcover poverty in the country by the end of the year. He emphasised that it is crucial for the entire government machinery, particularly the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development and its associated agencies, to actively collaborate in putting an end to the issue. Some funds saved from the 83,000 households to retarget towards these hardcore poor households.
Alibaba Cloud intends to collaborate with a broader range of Malaysian companies across different sectors to implement Energy Expert, its AI-powered sustainability solution. Since its global launch last year on June 30, 2022, Energy Expert has helped over 2,000 enterprises globally save energy or reduce carbon emissions.
Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) has reached a significant milestone by becoming Malaysia’s top-ranked university and emerging as the leading private university in ASEAN, according to the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia University Rankings 2023. Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) has made a remarkable leap in the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia University Rankings, moving up 32 spots from the 95th to 63rd position.
View the full rankings here.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Russia’s weird weekend coup
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the billionaire owner of the controversial Wagner Group, turned his back on Russian President Vladimir Putin and staged a coup on Friday, or what he called the “March of Justice”. Wagner Group is a private military that has been fighting alongside the regular Russian army in Ukraine. Tension had been growing between both sides, leading to this coup. Prigozhin is known to be a close ally of Putin and is usually referred to as ‘Putin’s Chef’, as he developed a catering business and won lucrative Russian government contracts, earning him that nickname.
Putin then issued an arrest against Prigozhin. The whole coup didn’t last more than two days — following the arrest order, the Kremlin and Prigozhin struck a deal brokered by Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko. All charges against Prigozhin will be dropped and he will exile to Belarus. A short incident it was, but analysts said this is signalling cracks in Putin’s administration and could change the dynamics of the war in Ukraine.
Read: Who is Prigozhin, the Wagner chief taking on Russia’s military?
Artificial sweetener aspartame - carcinogenic?
The World Health Organisation, through its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), will be releasing two new reports on the safety of the popular artificial sweetener aspartame in drinks like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi on 14 July. The IARC has assessed the possible carcinogenic effect of the substance. The US Food and Drug Administration has considered aspartame safe since 1974, but some parties have questioned that finding, pointing to “compelling evidence that it causes cancer and is a potent carcinogen”. An earlier report in May from the WHO found that artificial sweeteners do not help with weight loss.
The beverage industry associations argued that there’s broad consensus in the scientific and regulatory community that aspartame is safe. They have expressed their concerns that the WHO reports might conflict with or confuse consumers. Whether it’s carcinogenic or not, best to just cut down on sweet stuff to stay healthy.
Bankrupt online publisher Vice Media will be acquired by a consortium led by Fortress Group and includes Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital for USD350 mil. The transaction is in the form of a credit bid - meaning the acquirer paid for the assets via a full or partial cancellation of the debt. Vice Media, in this case, the debtor, owed USD474.6 mil to the Fortress-led lender group. At its peak in 2017, Vice Media was valued at USD5.7 bil. The House of Mouse (i.e. Disney) has written down its investment in Vice by USD510 mil.
Qatar continues its expansion in the sports world. The nation’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), plans to acquire 5% OF Monumental Sports and Entertainment in a deal that values the company around USD4 bil. Monumental owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards, National Hockey League’s (NHL) Washington Capitals and Women NBA’s (WNBA) Washington Mystics. QIA also owns French football club Paris Saint-Germain since 2011, the former club of Lionel Messi. Qatar, including Saudi Arabia, have been accused of sportswashing to burnish or launder its poor track record in human rights.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is offering to sell USD750 mil worth of insider shares, valuing the company at USD150 bil, up from USD137 bil in a transaction back in January when the company raised USD750 mil from investors. SpaceX is the most valuable US ‘startup’. This is considered a secondary sale as shares changed ownership, and the funds do not go to the company. SpaceX has USD5 bil of cash on its balance sheet, Bloomberg reported. Elon Musk just got a bit richer - on paper.
Japan’s largest bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, is breaking into crypto, or rather, stablecoin. Stablecoin, in short, is fiat currency issued on a blockchain. The banking giant is in talks with companies behind popular global stablecoins to issue tokens via its own blockchain platform, Progmat. Japan’s stablecoin law is one of the first among major companies that became effective 1 June. There’s about USD130 bil of stablecoins in circulation, predominantly in USD.
American singer Taylor Swift is matching Coldplay’s count — she added 3 more nights for the Singapore leg of her Eras Tour. The originally announced dates are 2-4 March, and the new ones will be from 7-9 March. Singapore will be the only venue in Asia apart from Japan for her global tour.
Read: How Singapore has become a favourite venue for top artists.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Spotlight on Ocean Gate’s Titan
Officials said the 5 individuals most likely died instantaneously in what it called a “catastrophic implosion”. An implosion happens within miliseconds, so fast that the brain could not register the pain suffered by the body.
Various parties had raised alarms over its safety but were repeatedly dismissed by its CEO Stockton Rush, who died in this tragedy. By the way, the submersible is controlled by a game controller. An interesting video below summarises the technical failures.
James Cameron, the director of “Titanic” and “Avatar”, compared the tragic loss of the submersible Titan to the very thing that may have led to Titanic’s own demise - overconfidence. Watch his interview here. He had visited the Titanic wreckage 33 times.
"I'm struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship, and yet, he steamed up full speed into an ice field on a moonless night,"
Cameron was interviewed over this matter, not merely because he was the director of the movie. He’s a submersible designer himself and has designed sophisticated vessels that dive to depths 3x than where the Titanic is. The USD10 mil DeepSea Challenger took Cameron to the deepest point in the ocean called Mariana Trench, which is about 10,000 m deep. Read up here on the engineering that went into building the Challenger and the number of safety redundancies in place in case of a failure vs the Titan.