- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ MACC requested docs from Tun M's sons dating back to 1981, the year Tun M became PM
☕️ MACC requested docs from Tun M's sons dating back to 1981, the year Tun M became PM
Win for foreign workers - RM1 mil paid by errant employers to 733 Bangladeshis. Euthanasia decriminalised in Ecuador, 2nd country in LatAm. Disney's major collab with Epic Games, Taylor Swift.
Have a great Chinese New Year celebration all of our readers! We will be off for two days and will make a return next Thursday (Feb 15). Enjoy eating, and drinking (by this, we mean water, keep yourself hydrated), invest wisely and may probabilities be in your favour! If you want to give us angpow, you can do so here!
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Information as of 0720 UTC+8 on Feb 9, 2024.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
In 2023, China witnessed a concerning rise in foreclosed homes, with a 43% increase compared to the previous year, according to a survey by the China Index Academy. This trend reflects growing mortgage delinquencies amidst a prolonged property market downturn and uneven economic revival. The survey reported 389,000 foreclosed homes up for auction, with 99,000 units successfully sold, amounting to a total value of RMB150 bil (RM100.6 bil). The property market slump contributed to the sharpest decline in new home prices in nearly nine years, impacting the overall economic recovery. Despite challenges in the property sector, China's economy expanded by 5.2% in 2023, supported by redirected credit to manufacturers and investment in infrastructure.
The number of dengue cases in the country has risen by 65.6% compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Health Ministry. During the first five weeks of 2024, 18,247 cases were recorded, up from 11,127 cases during the same period in the previous year. The director-general of the ministry, Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, reported that there are currently 180 hotspots, with the majority of them in Klang Valley — 143 of them located in Selangor and 20 in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. Please dispose of stale water, use mosquito repellent and be vigilant during peak Aedes mosquito bites, between 5am and 8am, and from 5pm to 8pm.
In 2023, cat bond issuance reached an all-time high of USD16.4 bil (RM78.1 bil). These bonds transfer the risk of large losses to investors, who receive profits if a pre-defined catastrophe doesn't occur. Catastrophe bonds (cat bonds) dominate the insurance-linked securities category. Investing in insurance-linked securities was the best hedge fund strategy in 2023, yielding over 14% return. Returns were amplified due to a mild US hurricane season, leading to fewer triggers and more profits for investors.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
We need time to document our assets spanning 43 years - Tun Dr Mahathir’s sons
Responding to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner’s comment that the pair still have not disclosed their assets, both Mokhzani and Mirzan Mahathir stated that they still have until the middle of the month to submit their declaration of assets. According to the two brothers, based on MACC notices under Section 36 of the MACC Act, the pair need to declare assets dating back to 1981, when their father first became the prime minister. Failure to abide by the MACC notice will lead to both Mokhzani and Mirzan experiencing the same fate as Tun Daim and his wife.
On the other hand, MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki said that the anti-graft agency is mulling calling Tun Daim again for questioning after it suspected that he may have more assets that have not been declared to the authority.
In another unrelated news but still with MACC at the centre of it, the agency stated that it recovered RM23 mil of 1MDB assets from operations last year and earlier this year. Year to date, a total of RM29.03 bil of 1MDB assets has been retrieved, thanks to the MACC, the Special Task Force on 1MDB Asset Recovery and other foreign agencies. A relatively small amount compared to the RM160 mil discount Najib received.
The water dilemma
Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) CEO K. Pathmanathan said that although the state's water tariff has increased, Penang still has the second-lowest average domestic tariff in the country, second only to Terengganu. For example, the new tariff announced for domestic consumption up to 35 cubic meters is RM0.86/cubic meters. However, based on its 2023 data, only 22.7% of the domestic water users consumed more than 35 cubic meters. He also stated that most of the extra revenue generated will be channelled towards CAPEX for the purpose of upgrading the water supply infrastructure.
Selangor state infrastructure and agriculture committee chairman Izham Hashim told the media that the state has about nine months’ worth of water supply in reserve and is confident that Selangor can sail through the El Nino phenomenon. The state has learned its lessons from the 2014 drought and is deepening and widening the 56-km-long Klang River. The RM700 mil project will increase the river's capacity by 40% and is slated to be completed in 2028.
Cradle Fund ex-CEO’s wife and sons will remain free
The murder case of Cradle Fund ex-CEO Nazrin Hassan in 2018 will stay unsolved after the three-person Court of Appeal chaired by Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera decided to uphold the acquittal of Nazrin’s then-wife Samirah Muzaffar and her two teen sons. Vazeer said that the prosecution failed to prove the murder case as the evidence was circumstantial. Vazeer also added, “The allegation (raised by the prosecution) on financial motive, a (purported) attempt to divorce Samirah, and the allegation of bad relations are also unclear and ambiguous.”
Nazrin’s eldest sister, Che Elainee Che Hassan told the media that she has accepted the decision of the court. Che Elainee mentioned that although she is very saddened by the death of her brother, she also does not want Samirah and to be held responsible.
Stranded Bangladeshi workers awarded over RM1 mil in unpaid wages claim
In a rare occurrence of events and finally justice for foreign workers, the Human Resources Ministry has released a statement that a group of 733 stranded Bangladeshi workers in Pengerang, Johor, who previously marched to the police stations after being duped by employers has finally received their compensation. A mutual agreement between the employers and the workers has been reached where the former needs to remit RM1.04 mil in wages to the latter (RM1.36k average per person). The ministry also added that this case will serve as a precedent for future labour cases and warned employers not to take the matter regarding foreign workers lightly. Got to say these employers got off easy with a slap on the wrist, having to only make payment for unpaid wages, with no penalties. What is to deter such abuse in the future?
CIMB Group Holdings Bhd has concluded the 100% acquisition of KAF Equities Sdn Bhd from KAF-Seagrott & Campbell Sdn Bhd for a reported RM147.94 mil. The acquired entity will be renamed CIMB Securities Sdn Bhd and headed by Ruzi Rani Ajith as the CEO.
Sustainable energy player Reneuco Bhd has been classified as a Practice Note 17 (PN17) by Bursa Malaysia based on the findings of its auditor that expressed an adverse or disclaimer opinion on the company’s unaudited consolidated financial statements for the period ended Sept 30, 2023. Reneuco last closed at seven sen on Thursday with a market capitalisation of RM78.54 mil.
Disclaimer of opinion is one of the four conclusions an audit firm will express regarding a set of financial statements it audits. The other three are unqualified, qualified, and adverse opinions — learn more here.
From air to rail - in making it easier for its customers to switch between flights and trains, Malaysia Airlines has partnered with AccessRail to launch MHrail. This service offers passengers integrated rail connections through a unified booking system. Now, customers can book Korail KTX train tickets in South Korea and connect between London Heathrow and various UK cities via London North Eastern Railway and Avanti West Coast with MHrail, which is accessible via Malaysia Airlines’ website and all Global Distribution Systems travel agencies.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Mother Earth keeps getting hotter
For the first time on record, global warming has exceeded temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius over a 12-month period, measured between Feb 2023 to Jan 2024. Jan 2024 was also the warmest January on record, surpassing 2020 in records going back to 1950. We might still have hope as scientists said the world has not yet permanently breached the crucial 1.5C warning threshold target above pre-industrial levels, a point of no return that was outlined during the historic Paris Agreement in 2015 that saw at least 200 governments commit to phasing out fossil fuels in the second half of the century.
Learn: Climate Change: The 1.5C threshold explained.
McDonald’s eyes 1,000 new outlets this year in China
No matter the global boycotts and China’s slowing economy - McD’s is charging ahead with its aggressive expansion in China. The company aims to open about 1,000 new outlets in 2024 to hit a total of 10,000 outlets in the country by 2028. Where’s the growth coming from? The expansion will focus on lower-tier cities, which account for almost two-thirds of new McD’s openings across all its international markets. McDonald’s direct competitor, Yum China Holdings, the company that owns Pizza Hut and KFC in China, already has 14,000 locations in China and plans to hit the 20,000 mark over the next two years.
In Nov 2023, McD’s raised its minority stake in its China business from 20% to 48% by buying out US private equity giant Carlyle for USD1.8 bil. The remaining 52% is owned by Chinese state-owned investment firm Citic Capital.
Learn: Chinese tiered city system (article + infographic)
Euthanasia decriminalised in Ecuador
Ecuador has become the second country in Latin America after Colombia in 1997 to decriminalise euthanasia. Euthanasia is commonly referred to as mercy killing, where someone is killed to stop the person from experiencing further suffering. Ecuador’s constitutional court voted 7 to 2 in favour of allowing doctors to help a patient die, making homicide no longer a crime for clinicians working to preserve the right to a dignified life. The Roman Catholic Church, to which most Ecuadorians belong, strongly opposes euthanasia.
The lawsuit contesting euthanasia as a crime of homicide was brought by a woman suffering from a neurological disease known as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), the most common form of motor neurone disease, a rare condition that progressively damages parts of the nervous system, leading to muscle weakness. She told the court that she was experiencing pain, loneliness and cruelty and wanted to rest in peace. A prominent person who suffered from ALS is Stephen Hawking.
How would her parents feel? Mixed feelings, according to her father. On one hand, he said his daughter was part of a “historic event” and a “legacy for Ecuadorian society”, but they are heartbroken as the outcome also means the death of their daughter.
In Switzerland, assisted dying itself is an industry, costing GBP15,000 (RM90.13k), a legal option for residents and foreign nationals, but it can only be done under strict circumstances and subject to rigorous application processes and safeguards.
Read: Inside the Dignitas house, the world’s first assisted suicide centre (2009)
Disney announced major collabs
Disney x Epic Games
The House of Mouse is making its biggest bet yet in the gaming space with a USD1.5 bil investment in Epic Games, the creator of the popular Fortnite game. Disney did not disclose the valuation of Epic. Through this investment, Disney said it would be creating new games and entertainment universe leveraging on its Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar franchise, and many more. Dragon Ball, Stranger Things and Family Guy have made crossovers with Fortnite.
Disney x Taylor Swift
Disney scored a massive win with the Swift universe as it obtained the exclusive rights to stream Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour film on its streaming service Disney+ from Mar 15 onwards. The Eras Tour grossed over USD260 mil globally at the box office (this is more than Disney’s The Marvels released last year, which grossed USD205 mil globally), making it the top-selling concert movie of all time. On Sunday night, Swift announced her latest album, The Tortured Poets Department, which will be out in April.
Weekend read: Will Taib Mahmud’s stepping down impact his family’s business empire?
As the ailing Taib Mahmud steps down as the governor of Sarawak and is replaced by Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, The Edge looks at how it would affect his sprawling business empire. Taib was the chief minister of Sarawak for 33 years since 1981 and was appointed as the seventh Yang di-Pertua in Mar 2014. According to filings with Bursa Malaysia and the Companies Commission of Malaysia, Taib & Co.'s collective interest in 8 public-listed companies on Bursa is worth RM1.8 bil - see table here.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
The legend of the 12 Chinese zodiac — all started with The Great Race by the Jade Emperor, ruler of the heavens, to measure time.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon for the Chinese. Many couples are attempting to procreate to coincide with this year. Learn why the mythical dragon is central to Chinese culture.