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  • ☕️ Improprieties found in Covid-19 vaccine procurement, white paper to reveal details - PM Anwar

☕️ Improprieties found in Covid-19 vaccine procurement, white paper to reveal details - PM Anwar

UiTM Holdings RM157 mil losses over 4 years, under MACC investigation. World Bank MY: MY macro headlines look good, BUT. A USD120 mil ETF powered by AI that's outperforming the market.



RM3.2 bil in losses related to fires was recorded in 2022; an average of RM180,000 got ‘burned’ a day, according to the Fire and Rescue Department. As for the cost of life, 130 deaths were connected to fires in 2022. Our government has just recently agreed to legalise fireworks and firecrackers.Watch: How to use a fire extinguisher using the P.A.S.S method.

Hong Kong’s government plans to give away 500,000 free airline tickets under its “Hello Hong Kong” initiative to revive its tourism industry and attract visitors back to the city. Before the pandemic, the city saw 56 mil visitors in a typical year. By 2022, that number has collapsed to about 100,000. The tickets costing USD254.8 mil will be made available by the city’s three airlines — flag carrier Cathay Pacific, HK Express and Hongkong Airlines. The ticket giveaway will be done across three waves — beginning March 1st for people across Southeast Asia, April 1st for people living in the Mainland, and May 1st for the rest of the world. To win the tickets, enter the flight ticket lottery here.

Malaysia-born actor and Crazy Rich Asian actor Henry Golding has been named the ninth most handsome man in the world (full list here). This isn’t based on subjective votes — after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is some science to it. The list is compiled by facial cosmetic surgeon Dr Julian De Silva based on two factors — the Ancient Greek Golden Ratio and the latest computerised mapping techniques. The Golden Ratio was applied by Leonarda da Vinci in his Vitruvian Man - the ‘perfect’ human male body.


Suspected transgressions in the public sector:

  1. PM Anwar said the government has found improprieties in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, that it did not follow procedure and was signed by the minister without the agreement of the Attorney-General’s Chambers. Other issues identified related to compliance, management and approval, as well as matters involving the cost and amount of vaccines. However, Anwar did not specify whether the minister involved was Dr Adham Baba or Khairy Jamaluddin, as there was an overlap between the two ministries in the vaccine procurement when Dr Adham Baba was Health Minister and Khairy Jamaluddin was the Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister. More details will be revealed in a White Paper on Covid-19 vaccine procurement, which Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa will be tabled in the upcoming Parliament session. Any updates, though, on the MySejahtera ownership controversy? 

  2. Following Utusan Malaysia’s reporting that Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Holdings Sdn Bhd suffered an accumulated pre-tax loss of RM157 mil over four years in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 (2020 not presented), the company spokesperson confirmed they are currently under investigation by MACC. It was “nothing new” as this happened two years ago against the old management. The majority of the losses were due to investments in local film production, and the remaining pertained to an investment in a resort in Section 7, Shah Alam, which has since shut down. UiTM Holdings is an investment holding company wholly owned by UiTM that manages eight companies in the energy, healthcare, tech and creative sectors. 

MY & ID weighing trade curbs against the EU for blocking market access to palm oilDPM and Minister of Plantation and Commodities Fadillah Yusof said Malaysia, together with Indonesia (both accounting for 80% of global palm oil supply), will take countermeasures, including trade curbs, if the European Union insist on its decision to implement a historical law in December that will ban products causing forest destruction from being sold in European shops and supermarkets. This will impact products like rubber, beef, coffee, palm oil etc, if it can’t be proven to be deforestation-free. Fadillah is in Jakarta to discuss strategies and will hold a joint ministerial press conference today. 

Teacher accused of encouraging a student to embrace Islam to become a national footballerParents of a 15-year-old student in Kuala Lumpur have filed a police report against a teacher, claiming that the teacher told their son to embrace Islam to boost his chances of becoming a national footballer and that “only Muslims are allowed to enter stadiums in Malaysia”. The boy’s mother learned of the incident after her son showed her Whatsapp group messages created for the class by the teacher. 

Attempting to convert a minor without parents’ consent is unconstitutional and illegal, against Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. 


  1. PM Anwar will be making a 2-day official visit to Thailand on 9 Feb at the invitation of Thai PM Prayuth Chan o-cha. Both PMs will witness the exchange of the 4 Memoranda of Understanding in energy cooperation and digital economy fields. Last year, Thailand was Malaysia’s 7th largest trading partner in the world and the 3rd largest amongst Asean countries, with total trade amounting to RM122.03 bil, up 17.9% from 2021. 

  2. The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) intelligence chief and five other policemen were charged with the murder of an e-hailing driver in Tawau last month. The chief was charged with abetting the murder of the victim, whilst the other five were charged with reaching a common intention to kill the victim. In addition, the victim’s ex-wife was charged with his murder last month. The motive was reportedly driven by jealousy and did not involve security issues in Sabah.

Business talk:

  1. AirAsia parent Capital A Bhd has applied for a license to operate regional flights from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (aka Subang Airport) following the federal government’s approval of the Subang Airport Regeneration Plan. Separately, Riding on the generative AI wave, AirAsia has enhanced and rebranded its chatbot “AVA” to “Ask Bo”, named after AirAsia airline group CEO Bo Lingam. 

  2. Social Security Organisation (Perkeso/Socso) has emerged as a substantial shareholder in the renewable energy company Cypark Resources Bhd after acquiring 42.05 mil shares (5.49% stake), leading to the company’s share price jumping by more than 14%. At closing, Socso’s stake is worth about RM48.7 mil. A person or organisation is deemed a substantial shareholder if they own more than 5% of a company, which must be publicly announced. Last month, textile trading and property developer Jakel Group emerged as Cypark’s single largest shareholder with a 27.33% stake.


Turkey-Syria Earthquake Aftershocks

  • Erdogan acknowledges problematic first response to disasterTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan has admitted that his administration’s initial response to the quakes that have devastated Turkey and Syria had been problematic, which led to slow responses from rescue teams. However, Erdogan insists that operations will be better, stating initial problems with damaged roads and airports and how there are still issues with fuel supplies.

  • Turkish stock exchange suspends trading following USD35 billion selloffBorsa Istanbul has suspended trading for the first time in 24 years for five business days, following a selloff that obliterated USD35 billion from the value of its main equities gauge – the Borsa Istanbul 100 Index – after two devastating earthquakes hit Turkey. The loss represents a 16% drop in value. The selloff included panic selling from retail traders who still remember Turkey’s 1999 earthquake.

  • Erdogan in hot seat over earthquake tax as anger mountsThe poor response to the disaster comes mere months before Erdogan is to run again in Turkey’s general elections, which may not bode well for him due to the frustration and anger coming from the earthquake victims, as survivors face hunger and cold weather.This is despite an earthquake tax being implemented in 1999 following a similarly devastating earthquake, which was meant for the government to prepare in advance in case of such a disaster. Questions are being raised about what happened to the money collected, even as the elections are set to occur in May despite the tragedy – at Erdogan’s insistence.

Malaysia will also be donating USD2 million to Turkey (the Malaysian government and Sultan Johor will contribute USD1 mil each). It will be mobilising a second Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to Turkey as well.

Zoom & eBay next to axe staffVideo conferencing software provider Zoom has announced it will cut 15% of its workforce, about 1,300 workers. Founder and CEO Eric Yuan has claimed responsibility and will be forgoing his 2023 corporate bonus and taking a 98% pay cut for the coming fiscal year. Employees laid off will be offered 16 weeks of salary and healthcare coverage.

Ecommerce platform eBay will be laying off 500 employees as well, representing 4% of its total workforce. CEO Jamie Iannone stated the layoff will give the company space to invest in and hire for “high potential areas”.

IBM-backed AI-driven investment fund sees spotlight as AI interest skyrocketsAn exchange-traded fund (ETF) powered by IBM’s Watson supercomputer has successfully outperformed the S&P 500 so far this year. The AI Powered Equity ETF saw renewed interest from investors caught up in the ChatGPT hype. The fund is currently managing USD120 million and has reported a 14% return for 2023 so far, compared to the S&P 500’s 7% return. The fund makes use of machine learning, sentiment analysis, and natural language processing to select the stocks in its portfolio, which includes names such as Tesla and Prudential Financial.

Japan's Nintendo, Softbank, and Sharp fall from subdued earningsNintendo, Softbank, and Sharp all closed lower at the end of the trading day, having reported disappointing results that reflect the decreased global sentiment towards the tech sector. Nintendo closed 6% lower after reporting lower sales and profits, while Sharp fell 11.2% after announcing it foresees a loss-making year.

Softbank shares closed 6.2% on a quarterly loss after its venture capital arm saw a fourth quarter in the red. Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, who recently increased his stake in the company, now also personally owes the company USD5.1 billion due to side deals he set up to boost his compensation from the company.

US-China trade hits record high of over USD690 bil despite tensionsWhat tension? Trade between the US and China has been booming despite the mounting tensions between the two superpowers, with imports and exports between the two reaching more than USD690 bil in 2022, according to official figures. This is also despite the trade war kicked off by ex-president Donald Trump in 2018 when he imposed tariffs on China. The increased trade is attributed to the rising cost of living but is also an indicator of how reliant the two countries are on each other.

Biden presents political wishlist in State of the Union addressUS President Joe Biden presented his political wishlist in his 2023 State of the Union address, which included a ban on assault weapons, a minimum tax for billionaires, and access to preschool for children aged three and four.

He also stated it was time for America to “finish the job” of fixing the economy the country while maintaining a strong “America first” impression in his speech, which is touted as an attempt to bolster his approval ratings ahead of his attempt at a second term.

For key takeaways from the speech, where Biden spoke to a divided Congress, read more here.


  1. Qatari investors to make "huge bid" for Manchester United – The investors are supposedly a group of private, high-wealth individuals. Currently, the much-loved football club’s net debt has risen to about USD620 million as of September 2022. This also ties into a report that Qatar Sports Investments was considering a total takeover or a stake in either Manchester United or rival club Liverpool.

  2. Australia blocks a coal mine to protect national wonder – In a historical move, Australia has blocked the creation of a coal mine under environmental laws. The proposed mine was about 10 km from the Great Barrier Reef. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek called it an unacceptable risk to the World Heritage area. The mine was proposed by Central Queensland Coal and was to produce both thermal and coking coal over the next 20 years.


  1. French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has sparked outrage after publishing an insensitive cartoon, appearing to make light of the earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria. The caption in the cartoon below translates to “now we don’t even need to send tanks”. In Jan 2015, three heavily armed men attacked its office in Paris, killing at least 12 people. The magazine has drawn repeated threats for publishing controversial caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.

  2. Are Malaysia’s headline macroeconomic indicators actually reflecting a fundamentally improving economy? World Bank lead economist for Malaysia Apurva Sanghi breaks down these figures - we have got lots to worry for. That’s it for our newsletter today. Now, go attend to your work and reply your emails.