- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ MACC seizes Tun Daim's Menara Ilham that cost RM2.7 bil to build
☕️ MACC seizes Tun Daim's Menara Ilham that cost RM2.7 bil to build
1k+ undocumented foreigners nabbed in major operation by police. Grim milestone: 20,000+ killed in Gaza. ByteDance's revenue USD110 bil to exceed Tencent's USD86 bil.
Have a good long weekend and Merry Christmas folks! We will be back serving you on Tuesday! During this festive season, if you’re feeling a bit generous, do support us here!
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
A survey by Ipsos reveals that 76% of Malaysians encounter scams, with 51% falling victim in the past three months. Phone calls (56%) and WhatsApp (54%) are the primary channels used by scammers. Despite the prevalence, fewer than half of victims report the scams to authorities, with 48% doing so. The police receive the most complaints (62%), while other agencies, including the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (26%), CyberSecurity Malaysia (24%), and Bank Negara Malaysia (20%), have lower reporting volumes. Ipsos emphasises the need for a proactive, multifaceted approach involving law enforcement, education, and digital safeguards. 📈
42 mil tons of solid waste are discarded by Indian cities annually. While India produces only a third of the daily waste per capita compared to its European counterparts, the country lacks the public infrastructure to sort and collect its waste. Private energy companies are stepping in to solve the problem, but converting waste into energy is a messy and expensive process that creates emissions. India’s government estimates the country has a waste-to-energy capacity potential of as much as 5 gigawatts, almost 30x more than the nearly 168 megawatts capacity currently.
Despite the setback with the FTX exchange, the cryptocurrency industry is set to break its record for federal lobbying spending. In the first three quarters of 2023, crypto companies spent USD18.96 mil on lobbying, surpassing the USD16.1 mil spent in the same period in 2022. This spending trend reflects the industry's efforts to repair its reputation and advocate for favourable legislation. Is this why the Bitcoin ETF is gaining steam?
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
No kickbacks in multi-billion flood mitigation projectsNatural Resources and Sustainability Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad has refuted allegations by Bersatu information committee member Badrul Hisham Shaharin that the current Government received bribes in return for the government awarding flood mitigation projects. Nik Nazmi stated that all 33 projects have undergone a transparent tendering process, with only 19 offer letters of award issued. The minister also denied the total cost of projects had ballooned to RM16.6 bil. In reality, the total sum shrunk to RM11.8 bil from the RM15 bil allocated by the previous Government, where the former is the ceiling amount set by the Finance Ministry.
More than 1,000 undocumented foreigners were nabbed in a major operation by the policeKuala Lumpur Police Chief Comm Allaudeen Abdul Majid announced to the media that a joint operation by Bukit Aman's Internal Security and Public Order Department at Jalan Silang before lunch hour yesterday resulted in the arrest of 1,101 undocumented foreigners, including two children, due to various immigration offences. The police also seized RM104,530 worth of contraband. During the operation, some foreigners tried to slither away from the police. However, the authorities had cordoned off the area well, thanks to the 1,138 officers and security personnel involved in the operation.
Alona Passio, a local trader at Jalan Silang, said that the operation by the police was the biggest stint against the illegals since she started her business in the area 11 years ago. She added that these allegedly undocumented migrants have monopolised the business scene there, renting most of the premises from the owners.
The authority ‘Santas’ is reprimanding the ill-mannered kids as Christmas is around the corner
Bursa vs Serba Dinamik: Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd has put Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd on the ‘naughty list’ this year as 10 of its directors were fined for breaching six of the Main Market Listing Requirements (Main LR). Topping the ‘fine list’ is group managing director cum CEO Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah and executive director Syed Nazim Syed Faisal, who were each fined a staggering RM1.38 mil. Others were reprimanded financially between RM355,200 to RM785,400.
MACC vs Daim: As part of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe into an RM2.3 bil corporate transaction in 1997 involving the publicly listed Renong Bhd and United Engineers Malaysia Bhd (UEM), the investigation entered a new phase. MACC has now taken control of the multi-billion Ringgit Ilham Tower at Jalan Binjai, which former finance minister Daim Zainuddin owns. The seizure of ownership was done after Daim did not adhere to MACC’s asset declaration petition. For those who do not know, Daim Zainuddin, the former kingmaker of Malaysia, was a businessman who rose to prominence during the premiership of former PM Tun Dr Mahathir in the 90s and early 2000. And take a guess: How much did the building cost to build? Only RM2.7 bil.
HSR in the SpotlightFormer Prasarana Malaysia CEO Ridza Abdol Salleh stated that it is challenging for Malaysia to revive the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project due to unfavourable economic climate conditions. Despite Putrajaya’s considering reviving the project given that it is fully privately funded, Ridza said that Singapore will nonetheless enjoy the lion's share of the benefits while Malaysia will have to bear 90% of the project’s cost as most of the project’s alignment will be in Malaysia. The HSR will slash travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore down to 90 minutes.
DAP veteran Tony Pua also sang the same notion as Ridza and said that it is cheaper for the government to provide free flights to Singapore for Malaysians annually instead of paying the annual interest coupon of the HSR project. For example, given that it will cost Putrajaya RM80 bil to fund the HSR project at a rate of 5% interest rate, the Government needs to fork out a hefty RM4 bil every year just to pay the interest. Comparatively, fully subsidising flights to Singapore for a year will only cost Putrajaya RM2 bil. So, mathematically, according to Pua, it makes no financial sense to greenlight the project. But economically, there are multiplier spillover effects to consider — assuming at the right price tag.
Public Service Announcement
Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) has announced an impressive 5.25% dividend rate for its flagship fund, Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2023 (FY2023). This equates to a total payout of RM9.3 bil that will put a smile on 10.8 mil ASB unitholders. The almost no-risk (somewhat) security even outperformed Maybank’s 12-month fixed deposit rate.
Newly minted Deputy Works Minister Ahmad Maslan announced that motorists will enjoy a toll-free journey on highways nationwide on Dec 23 and Dec 26 in conjunction with the Christmas long weekend. The toll holiday this weekend will cost the Government RM40 mil. In 2023 alone, Putrajaya spent RM206.19 mil to provide toll exemptions, where all of this money was distributed to the respective highway concessionaires.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has announced the one-month closure of Jalan Semantan, KL-bound, again, starting today to make way for the second phase of construction of the flyover in the area. To ease motorists, DBKL has provided 18 alternative routes for you to choose or you can just let Waze choose it for you.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The state of Gaza
A grim milestone — 20,000 lives have been taken in the Gaza Strip in more than 10 weeks since Israel began bombarding the enclave, excluding those trapped under the rubble. At least 8,000 children and 6,200 women were among those killed.
For Gazans who are fortunate to be alive, they face another obstacle of a bleak economic prospect. Nearly 66% of jobs or 192,000 jobs have been lost since the conflict erupted, according to data from the International Labour Organization (ILO). The spillover effect of this conflict is also felt in the occupied West Bank, with a one-third reduction of employment, equivalent to about 276,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is still dragging its feet to pass a resolution for the suspension of hostilities and deliver humanitarian aid, with the vote being postponed for the third day in a row all thanks to politics over the use of the word “suspension” instead of “cessation” the US disagreeing to transfer the control of aid inspections to the UN, which is currently controlled by Israel.
The rise of ByteDance, the fall of Bird
The rise: TikTok parent ByteDance saw its revenue surge by 30% in 2023 to USD110 bil (RM512.4 bil) from USD80 bil in 2022, according to sources, potentially overtaking its tech rival Tencent. Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) surge 79% in 2022 - assuming the same EBITDA margin of 31.25%, 2023 EBITDA could come in at USD34.4 bil, we estimate. ByteDance is expanding beyond social media and is eating into Tencent and Meituan’s lunch as its Douyin (TikTok of China) morphs into a super-app. The world’s most valuable startup was valued at USD268 bil, down 11% from a year ago in a recent USD5 bil share buyback offering.
The fall: Electric scooter pioneer Bird, once dubbed the Uber of electric scooters, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company has raised USD1.2 bil since 2017 and, at its peak, was worth USD2.5 bil in 2019. Now? USD1.34 mil (no typo). Bird was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and is trading over-the-counter now. It was listed in 2021 and in lost 90% of its value in the first six months.
REIT but for solarSingapore’s Keppel Infrastructure Trust (think REIT, but for infrastructure) is acquiring a 45% stake for EUR109 mil in a solar portfolio from Enpal, Germany’s first green-tech unicorn. Enpal is one the largest solar installers and fastest-growing energy companies in Europe, installing more than 2,500 new solar energy systems monthly. Its solar solutions are bundled and leased to households under 20-year lease agreements, contributing “highly predictable cash flows”, according to KIT. This transaction brings KIT’s assets under management (AUM) from SGD7.3 bil to SGD8.4 bil, with renewable energy making up 22% of its AUM.
What’s in the portfolio?
60,000+ bundled solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across Germany, with a projected combined generation capacity of 565 megawatts.
55,000+ battery storage systems
30,000+ electric vehicle charging equipment
British Sign Language (BSL) to be part of school syllabus BSL will be taught as a GCSE in England from Sep 2025 and will be open to all students, who will learn about 1,000 signs - an important life skill and advance inclusivity. The BSL was officially recognised as a language last year. The British Deaf Association estimates that about 151,000 people use BSL in the UK, with 87,000 being deaf. Learn: What is GCSE?
8-year-old girl crowned best female player at blitz chess champion Bodhana Sivanandan from north-west London was crowned best female player at the European Blitz chess championship in Croatia, defeating an international master and drawing with a grandmaster, which is described as “unbelievable”. She started playing at age five. Blitz chess is a quick form of chess where players have minutes on their clocks for their moves, taking between 3 and 5 minutes. What were you doing at 8?
Favourable prison rules for former Thai PM?Thailand’s new prison rule announced this month allows inmates who require medical treatment or job training to serve their sentences outside of prison, sparking accusations of favouritism for jailed former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin returned to Thailand in August after 15 years of self-exile. He was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption and other charges, but his sentence was reduced to a year. He was later moved to a police hospital for health reasons.
Weekend read: ‘Elephant in the room’: The US military’s devastating carbon footprintTwo 2019 reports revealed that the US military is the world’s largest institutional customer of fossil fuels, producing more emissions than industrialised nations like Portugal and Denmark. It has more than 750 overseas bases in about 80 countries. As a whole, militaries are amongst the world’s biggest consumers of fuel, accounting for 5.5% of global emissions.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
The price we pay for convenience. The FaceID feature may seem safe until it becomes vulnerable.
Mr Money TV just dropped Episode 2 of Are We OK? - its latest show with former MP and former deputy minister Ong Kian Ming.
Last joke before we sign off: Know the difference. Santa, Satan and Santana. Merry Christmas!