☕️ KL-SG High-Speed Rail is on the cards, again

EPF's proposed mandatory monthly withdrawal option for those born from 2010 onwards. Temasek reported -5.07% return, lowest in 7 years. The most famous cryptocurrencies of 1H23 in SEA.


The annual World Drug Report published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveals that the global number of people using drugs increased by 23% from 2011 to 2021, reaching 296 mil. This growth exceeds the population increase, indicating a concerning trend in drug consumption worldwide. One main contributor to the increase is the surge in both supply and demand of cocaine.

Global corporate defaults in 2022 increased by 15% compared to 2021, with 83 defaults recorded, according to S&P Global Ratings. The defaults were attributed to regional and sectoral vulnerabilities, reflecting increased uncertainty in the global and Asian economies.

Charitable giving in the United States saw a decline in 2022, with Americans giving 1.7% of their personal disposable incomes, the lowest level since 1995. Total charitable donations also dropped by 3.4% compared to the previous year, amounting to approximately USD500 bil, marking only the fourth decline in 40 years. Adjusted for inflation, the decline translates to a 10.5% decrease.


New legislation and regulation in the pipeline

  1. Progressive wage - Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli stated that Putrajaya is mulling whether to introduce a progressive wage model requiring a mandatory salary increment annually. Rafizi said that this ‘necessary but unpopular’ crusade is crucial to alleviate the high cost of living crisis that most Malaysians are experiencing. Malaysia’s economic model has been based on leveraging cheap labour and this reform may finally pull us out of the middle-income trap.

  2. Senate president to propose impeachment law - Senate president and former law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that laws to impeach a sitting Prime Minister should be introduced like the ones in the United Kingdom. Although MPs in Malaysia can submit motions of no-confidence in the PM, only the ruling government can dictate the agenda of the Dewan Rakyat’s proceedings.

  3. Putrajaya to draft anti-rent-seeking law - PM Anwar Ibrahim said the Federal Government will be formulating an anti-’Ali Baba’ law that has cost the economy  1% loss in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). “Ali Baba” is a form of rent-seeking practice in which businesses which win government projects and contracts subcontract the actual work to others.

EPF monthly withdrawal option for those born in 2010 onwards and a new Account 3 for informal workers.

  1. The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) stated that the proposed mandatory monthly withdrawal option will only be applicable to new EPF members born in or after 2010 and registered with the EPF after the implementation date. However, current members can voluntarily opt in. EPF's chief strategy officer Nurhisham Hussein stated that EPF’s mandate is to conserve the members’ retirement savings to cover post-retirement expenses. He said that the current lump sum withdrawal does not make sense.

  2. EPF is also planning to introduce a special EPF account dubbed Account 3 that specifically caters towards informal workers. With this new Account 3, depositors can have the flexibility to withdraw their savings at any time. Existing members can voluntarily opt-in for this Account 3, where they can transfer their monies from either Account 1 or 2 to be used for emergency purposes.

Green initiatives

  1. MITI has granted EP Manufacturing Bhd (EPMB) a conditional approval tantamount to the full approval of a license to manufacture and assemble energy-efficient vehicles (EEVs), given that EPMB could fulfil the conditions within six months from the letter of approval. The license was awarded to EPMB’s wholly-owned subsidiary Peps-JV (Melaka) (PJVM), which will allow the company to manufacture and assemble four-wheel EEVs and electric vehicles (EVs) in both passenger and commercial categories. The news sent the stock flying 38%, valuing the company at RM214 mil.

  2. Suria Infiniti Sdn Bhd has awarded Samaiden Sdn Bhd RM181.34 mil contract to build a large-scale 50 megawatts solar power plant in Kuala Muda, Kedah. This new deal will push Samaiden’s total outstanding order book to a healthy RM388 mil.

  3. AmBank Group has approved the RM130 mil financing facility to Persada Mentari Sdn Bhd, which is an eventual joint venture between Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O) and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan), to develop Arica@Andaman Island in Penang. Andaman Island was awarded the provisional GreenRE Platinum Certification, which is the highest level of green building certification in Malaysia.

Business News

  1. MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd (MyHSR Corp) will initiate a Request For Information (RFI) exercise to entice the private sector to submit concept proposals for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (KL-S’pore HSR). The proposed project will be adopting the public-private partnership model, and any interested private party will develop and operate the project.

  2. Abu Dhabi-based RoyalJet LLC and Sapura Resources Bhd (SRB) have inked a conditional agreement for the former to buy the latter’s aviation business at the Subang Airport. RoyalJet intends to utilise Subang Airport as the hub for private charters and its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business in order to penetrate the Southeast Asia market.

  3. Multi-billionaire and Westports Holdings Bhd founder G Gnanalingam passed away on Tuesday at the age of 78. In the current Forbes 2023 billionaires list, he had a net worth of USD1.45 bil, making him the 13th richest individual in Malaysia.


All eyes on NATO

  1. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey following Turkey's approval for Sweden to join NATO. However, Washington will still need to consult with Congress before the transfer. Turkey had previously posed challenges to Sweden's NATO accession, but with this recent development, the path is now clear. In October 2021, Turkey requested to purchase USD20 bil worth of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-16 fighters and modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.

  2. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it would be absurd if Ukraine was not invited to join NATO. He expressed his frustration and dissatisfaction with the positions taken by certain NATO countries as he made his way to the NATO summit. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that Ukraine would receive a "positive and strong message" regarding its membership aspirations and increased military assistance. However, due to divisions among member states, the invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance will not be straightforward.

Heavy rains impacting both ends of Asia

  1. Southwest Japan was hit by the “heaviest” rainfall ever recorded, wreaking havoc. The city of Kurume recorded its highest-ever rainfall of 402.5mm, according to the national weather agency. Flooding in southwest Japan caused by heavy rain has resulted in three fatalities, and three people reported missing. The rains caused rivers to overflow and hillsides to collapse. Roads and powerlines were cut, and thousands were ordered to evacuate as further downpours were expected.

  2. On the other end, India's weather department has issued a warning of ongoing heavy rains in the region, extending into the weekend. The capital city of Delhi is on high alert due to the rising water levels in the Yamuna River, posing a risk of flooding. Authorities have taken measures to relocate thousands of residents living near the riverbanks to safer areas.

Foxconn pulls out of its chip plan in IndiaFoxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker, has announced its withdrawal from a USD19.5 bil semiconductor joint venture with Indian conglomerate Vedanta. The joint venture, aimed at establishing semiconductor and display production plants in Gujarat, was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plans to boost chipmaking in India. Concerns over delays in government approvals for incentives were cited as a contributing factor to Foxconn's decision to exit the venture.


  1. A 90-day national health emergency was declared by the Peruvian government last Saturday due to an “unusual increase” of cases of Guillian-Barré syndrome — a total of 165 cases with four deaths. Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own peripheral nerve cells.

  2. You can now allow your customers to book paid appointments on Google Calendar. The company has partnered with Stripe for the facility, so users will need to connect their Stripe account to Google Calendar to start accepting payments.

  3. Amazon fights back against the European Union’s digital rules. Amazon has filed a petition to the general court in Luxembourg to annul its designation as a “very large online platform” under the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA — which is meant to police hate, disinformation and counterfeits online — allows regulators to police the safety and authenticity of products sold online.

  4. Singapore’s state-owned investor Temasek Holdings Pte warned of an uncertain road ahead as it reported its worst showing in seven years — a total shareholder return of -5.07% for the year ended March 31. Temasek’s net portfolio value fell from SGD403 bil to SGD382 bil. The group attributed the SGD7.3 bil loss to changes in accounting standards, although after adjusting for mark-to-market gains and losses, they would have reported a profit of SGD14.7 bil.


  1. Which cryptocurrencies are South East Asians most interested in? Read CoinGecko’s Southeast Asia H1 2023 crypto research here.

  2. Coffee isn’t getting more expensive — the operating costs of a cafe are! Based on a study in the UK from 2019, the actual coffee costs only ~4% of one’s morning cup.