Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ MACC freezes >RM39 mil in bank accounts of a former senior minister, 2 Tan Sri businessmen and their family members
EPF topups - highest quarterly contributions ever. Diff govt, same U-turn pattern - chicken subsidies, JPA medical scholarships. Trump in trouble - former US president indicted second time.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
RM1.2 million — the price paid for the number plate FF1, making it the most expensive number plate in the country to date. Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar is the proud owner. Road Transport Department (RTD) collected a total of RM35.4 million from the special FF series number plates. The series was launched on May 14 to mark RTD’s 77th anniversary.
Amnesty International is urging for the immediate release of Vahid Afkari, an Iranian man who has endured 1,000 days (that’s 2 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days) of solitary confinement in prison. Vahid Afkari, along with his two brothers, was convicted of the murder of a security officer during protests against the cost of living five years ago. While Iran has a history of cracking down on anti-government demonstrators, it is uncommon for individuals to be subjected to such prolonged solitary confinement. Amnesty International's call highlights concerns regarding the conditions and treatment of prisoners in Iran.
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has announced that it received a record-breaking total of RM25.83 bil in contributions for the first quarter ended March 31, 2023 (1Q2023). This marks the highest quarterly amount ever received by the EPF. EPF has reported that it witnessed 116,423 new member registrations, resulting in a total of 15.79 mil EPF members as of March 2023.
VIew chart: Total EPF members’ contribution in Q1 FY2019 — FY2023
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Anwar Ibrahim went to his ‘alma mater’
PM Anwar Ibrahim went back to where it all first started, Dewan Merdeka, for the UMNO general assembly 2023 — 25 years after he was sacked from UMNO. It has become a tradition for the largest Malay party to invite its partners in the government, Barisan component parties and parties from Friends of BN — yes, chiefs from DAP (surreal to see DAP Sec-Gen Anthony Loke sitting in a sea of red), GRS, Amanah and Upko attend the event as well.
Anwar said he memorised the (party) song by heart. Cute. On another note, Fahmi Reza is back!
Different government, but same habits — Putrajaya made U-turns on:
On subsidies for chicken and eggs
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living, in a joint statement, said PM Anwar had agreed to the ministries’ proposal to continue with the subsidies given for chicken and eggs. Putrajaya wanted to remove the subsidies by July 1. All those talks of a ‘soft landing’ in the last few months were fruitless. No indication as to when the subsidies will be removed.
Scholarships for medicine, dentistry and pharmacy under the Public Service Department (JPA)
During the Temu Anwar programme at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), PM Anwar Ibrahim said he had asked JPA to review the scholarship, which was supposed to have been stopped. The review meant that PSD would continue with the scholarship programme for students pursuing studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. A study by the Health Ministry in 2019 projected the country will have an oversupply of medical officers from 2026 to 2030.
Five padi planting seasons every two years are in the works
In a bid to improve the country’s agro-food ecosystem, the government will consider five padi planting seasons every two years. According to the Global Food Security Index 2022, Malaysia's ranking among 113 countries has declined to 41st place, dropping seven spots from the previous year. This reflects the challenges faced by the government and highlights the need for more effective measures to enhance food security. The Agriculture and Food Security Ministry is also working to reduce the trade deficit by strengthening research and development of seed varieties planted in the country.
BNM gets a changing of the guard
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has announced the appointment of Shaik Abdul Rasheed Abdul Ghaffour as the new governor, succeeding Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, whose term with the central bank concludes on June 30. BNM stated that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has given consent for Abdul Rasheed to assume the position of governor for a five-year term, commencing from July 1, 2023, until June 30, 2028.
Ex-governor Muhammad Ibrahim said Abdul Rasheed is the right and most suitable candidate to be the leader of the central bank. Maybank group president and chief executive officer and the Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) chairman Khairussaleh Ramli believes the banking industry will thrive under the stewardship of Abdul Rasheed due to the latter’s impeccable track record, vast knowledge and experience.
Fallen UMNO politician Khairy Jamaluddin will be meeting Bersatu president Muhyidin Yassin to discuss the possibility of him joining the party, as revealed in the latest episode of his “Keluar Sekejap” podcast with Shahril Hamdan.
The investigation of the misappropriation of national funds amounting to RM2.3 bil had led the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to freeze some 192 bank accounts containing more than RM39 mil belonging to a former senior minister, two businessmen with the title ‘Tan Sri’ and their family members.
Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) has announced its acquisition of the full equity interest in Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) from Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) through a share deal valued at RM1.01 bil. According to the bourse filing on June 9, MBSB will issue 1.05 billion shares, equivalent to 12.78% of its enlarged share base, to PNB at an issue price of 96.52 sen per share as part of the consideration for the purchase.
A 66-year-old from Miri who used to work in the private sector lost RM1.2 mil to a phone scam (aka Macau Scam). The victim is said to have received a phone call on April 18 from a suspect who said the victim was connected to a money laundering case. The victim knew it was a scam after the balance of the new bank accounts, which the suspect asked the victim to open, had suspicious transfers. When in doubt, call the scam hotline — 997.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Former US President Donald Trump indicted for second time
Federal prosecutors have laid 37 federal charges against Trump that alleged he hoarded and concealed classified documents containing national security information after he left the White House. This indictment is a lot worse than his first indictment of falsifying business documents. Of the 300 documents taken to his residence in Florida, about 100 were labelled top secret.
The 37 charges (read full indictment here):
31 of it relates to violations under the Espionage Act, which criminalises unauthorised possession of national defence information.
6 charges pertaining to Trump alleged scheme to hide the documents as federal authorities launched an investigation.
2 more accused the former president of making false statements to investigators (Trump lying shouldn’t come as something new though).
If found guilty and sentenced to the max, Trump faces 400 years of prison time and USD9.25 mil fine. Even under that scenario, it poses a new challenge - how to imprison a former president who holds national security information in his head and could expose it with a knife to his neck?
In Malaysia, we have a similar drama — back in March, opposition leader Hamzah Zainuddin said he had access to documents about government leaders that could implicate them in wrongdoings when he was the Home Minister but was still thinking about whether to use them or not. His comment raised a couple of questions: why no actions were taken against these leaders when he was in power, and would this be an offence under the Official Secrets Act 1972?
Political and business mess in the UK
Former UK PM Boris Johnson announced his resignation as a Member of Parliament in a lengthy and explosive statement accusing a parliamentary probe into the “Partygate” scandal (a party was organised at Downing Street during the pandemic lockdown) of driving him out, immediately triggering a by-election. His full statement here, which The Guardian broke down what the message Johnson really wanted to deliver. Following Johnson’s resignation, 2 other MPs also resigned, adding to PM Rishi Sunak’s headache of having to face three by-elections.
Former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested over allegations of financial misconduct by the Scottish National Party that the party misspent more than GBP600,000 (six hundred thousand only, no typos, no zeroes missing) in donations. If only Malaysia functions with such level of accountability and integrity.
UK’s biggest high street bank Lyolds Banking Group Plc, now owns one of the country’s best-known newspapers, Sunday and Daily Telegraph as it ran out of patience in its debt negotiation with its owners. The bank has forced B.UK, the holding company for the Telegraph Media Group, controlled by the Barclay family into receivership over GBP1 bil of debts. The bank now plans to sell the titles to possible buyers from rival media groups to wealthy individuals. Ritz Hotel, one of London’s most famous luxury hotels, was once owned by the family but disposed it in 2020 to a Qatar investor group for GBP800 mil to repay the bank.
General Motors to adopt Tesla charging standards in North America
Following Ford Motors footsteps, GM announced that it will be adopting Tesla’s North American charging plug standard and give GM EV buyers access to 12,000 of Tesla’s fast chargers in North America. GM said this partnership will allow it to save USD400 mil from its own budget of USD750 mil to build out EV charging infrastructure. Tesla, GM and Ford Motors saw their share prices jump following this news. Not everyone was a winner — independent charging networks such as EVgo and Chargepoint share prices were hammered 11%.
What’s in it for Tesla? Apart from earning additional revenue from non-Tesla EV owners by opening up its charging network to other players, Tesla could also access Biden’s USD7.5 bil funding to build new, high-speed chargers.
A little-known feature in Tesla has now gotten attention as wildfires pollute the air in the east coast — Tesla cars have bioweapon mode that uses HEPA filtration to filter air to surgical grade. Tesla said one can “literally survive military-grade bio attack by sitting in your car”. See the biodefence mode in action below.
Binance US halted USD deposits and trading after the SEC has asked the court to freeze its assets. The exchange will continue operating but purely as a crypto-only exchange. Trading app Robinhood said it will remove 3 tokens from its platform, namely Solana, Cardano and Polygon, as the SEC has identified these tokens as securities in its lawsuit against Binance.
Double trouble in the Albay province of the Philippines as the Mayon volcano is on high alert to erupt and the same region also might be hit by Typhoon Gulchol, forcing more than 6,000 villagers within a 6 km radius of the volcano to erupt. Mayon is one of the country’s most active volcanoes and last erupted violently in 2018.
Caribbean nation Honduras cut its decades-long ties with Taiwan to form diplomatic relations with Beijing as it opened an embassy in Beijing. This makes Honduras the ninth diplomatic ally that Taipei has lost to Beijing since May 2016.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Today is about 🍎
We know Apple is massive. The perception of its massiveness when compared to its peers never fails to amaze us.
Maybe, the few aspects that Apple loses out on is its share performance. USD10k invested in Apple in 2001 will turn into USD4.57 mil after 20 years in 2021, but the same USD10k invested in Monster Beverage will turn into USD11.19 mil. Still happy with a 457x return, nonetheless.