Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ MACC to charge Bersatu information chief and Tasik Gelugor MP over Jana Wibawa probe
Najib Razak's SRC Int'l conviction review begins. China to unveil Russia-Ukraine peace proposal on Feb 24, war's 1st anniversary. ChatGPT creator warns of “potentially scary” AI, calls for regulation.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The National Scam Response Centre has received 16,752 calls (an average of 133 calls per day) in the four months since it launched on 12 Oct 2022 until 31 Jan 2023, involving losses amounting to RM39,299,158.25. The 997 hotline is set up to provide faster response to cybercrime and is operational daily.
Talk about making money from old content. Disney has made USD8.6 bil (RM38.1 bil) at the global box office since 2010 by turning 11 of its classic animated features into live-action adaptations (e.g. Aladdin, Cinderella, Cruella). 7 of the remakes made more than USD500 mil globally, and four topped the USD1 bil mark. “The Lion King” tops the list, raking in more than USD1.65 bil in 2019. Following Disney’s success, Universal is taking a page out of Disney’s playbook - it will make a live-action adaptation of its animated franchise - How to Train Your Dragon.
123,139 - the number of drug addicts in the country in 2021, down by 4% from 128,325 in 2020, according to the National Anti-Drugs Agency. Kedah recorded the highest number of drug abuse cases in the country at 13,502 cases in 2021 (an increase of 28.4% YoY — what’s happening Sanusi?), followed by Johor (13,261) and Selangor (12,182).
“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Duo to be charged in relation to the Jana Wibawa program
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is expected to charge two individuals alleged to be criminally involved in the Jana Wibawa initiative. According to sources, contrary to popular belief, the duo weren’t Tengku Zafrul and Muhyiddin Yassin, but instead, one of the individuals is believed to be Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan. Under the Jana Wibawa program created to help Bumiputera contractors by expediting projects’ execution, 56 projects worth RM6.3bil were issued letters of acceptance. However, some letters of acceptance were awarded to family members of top leaders from a certain political party.
Najib Razak's excursion to the court:
Shafee Abdullah, Najib Razak’s lead counsel, felt that the last panel of apex court judges led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun made a grave error in the former prime minister’s SRC International appeal by not allowing the adjournment of the trial that would give time to Najib’s counsel at that time, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the case.
Najib Razak was found guilty of criminal breach of trust and laundering RM42mil of SRC funds, on top of being convicted for abuse of power by approving an RM4bil loan from Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC International.
The Court of Appeal has set August 11 to hear Najib Razak’s appeal regarding the Prison’s Department’s refusal to allow him to attend Parliament sittings last year. In October 2022, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided that Najib Razak’s application to attend Parliament sessions was academic. Consequently, the High Court dismissed his application, as Najib was no longer an MP following the dissolution of the Parliament to make way for GE15.
Siti Bainun reappoints her former lawyer to defend her in court
Shocked but not surprised as Siti Bainun rehired one of the five lawyers that withdrew earlier to defend her in the children’s abuse case. The prosecutor requested the court to record the chain of events that led to the withdrawal and subsequent reappointment of Mohammad Farhan Maaruf as the counsel for Siti Bainun. In this child abuse case, Siti Bainun is facing a possibility of up to 20 years of imprisonment or a fine of RM50,000 or both if found guilty.
Even with fewer ships, the LCS project still costs the same
Defence minister Mohammad Hassan reiterated to the Parliament that the cost for the littoral combat ship (LCS) project will remain at RM9 bil even though Putrajaya had reduced the total procurement of the ships from six to five vessels. The main justification for the unchanged price tag was that the project was a victim of many variation orders and cost escalation. Under the new arrangement, we will only see the first LCS ship to enter service in three years' time, as the first ship to be completed next year needed to undergo 22 to 24 months of harbour and sea trials.
Academy in Factory to accelerate the upskilling of thousands of youths
Economy minister Rafizi Ramli stated that his ministry would work with other related ministries to set up an academy under the government’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) program to quickly train up to 100,000 youths at companies, such as those in the manufacturing sector. These companies will provide the youth with the right skills to address the shortage of skilled workers and shorten the duration for youth to be absorbed into the workforce. In addition, this on-the-job training scheme dubbed ‘Academy in Factory’ will train the youth with in-demand skills such as digital skills.
In order for Malaysia to compete with its regional peers, the country needs at least 45% of its workforce to be highly skilled. But as of last year, only 29.6% of the workforce are highly trained, and this ‘Academy in Factory’ program may be a ‘low-hanging fruit’ in order for the country to resolve its shortage of highly skilled workers.
Loss-making Pos Malaysia Bhd improved its performance by narrowing its net loss to RM98.42 mil n 4QFY2022, compared to a loss of RM123.21mil in 4QFY2021. Although the revenue declined by 11.61% to RM467.2mil, the postal company reduced its net loss by improving its customer segmentation, leading to better yields. The company has been in the red since 2019.
FWD Group Holdings Ltd had agreed to purchase a 70% stake (price not disclosed) in Gibraltar BSN Life Bhd to consolidate its position in the Malaysian market further. Bank Simpanan Nasional Bhd will continue to retain its 30% stake in the company. FWD Group Holdings is owned by billionaire Richard Li, son of one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest billionaires Li Ka-Shing.
In a right-pocket-to-left-pocket transaction, WCE Holdings Bhd agreed to sell its 40% stake in Radiant Pillar Sdn Bhd (RPSB) to IJM Properties Sdn Bhd for RM494 mil cash. IJM Properties was indirectly owned by IJM Corp Bhd, which holds a 26.65% stake in WCE. This transaction will result in WCE becoming a pure-play expressway operator and IJM Properties wholly owning RPSB, the developer of Bandar Rimbayu township.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Russia-Ukraine Conflict: China’s peace plan, Biden’s surprise Kyiv visit
China announced that it will unveil a peace proposal for the war in Ukraine on 24 Feb, the anniversary of the war. This was announced by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference. Wang Yi said China has already consulted Germany, Italy and France on its proposals. No details have been released yet about this proposal. China, to date, has refrained from condemning the war or calling it an “invasion” and has also blasted the sanctions imposed on Russia. Wang Yi was due in Moscow yesterday for a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
US President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion. He promised to increase arms deliveries and vowed Washington’s “unflagging commitment” in defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The White House gave Russia “hours” notice on Biden’s visit to Ukraine for “de-confliction purposes”.
ChatGPT creator warns of “potentially scary” AI, calls for regulation
Sam Altman, the co-founder and CEO of ChatGPT creator, warned the world that it may not be “that far from potentially scary” AI and regulating it will be critical. He shared his thoughts in a series of tweets below. In far, Altman has called for regulating AI as early as 2015 — read his thoughts here on this matter. Just last week, a journalist documented his bizarre (probably scary) experience with Microsoft’s ChatGPT-powered Bing search engine - the AI responded as though it had emotions and the desire to be a human.
Get verified on Facebook and Instagram with Meta Verified
Following the footsteps of Twitter Blue, Facebook and Instagram will allow users to get verified through its Meta Verified subscription bundle. It will cost USD11.99 a month on the web and USD14.99 on iOS and Android (the higher price is due to the steep commission charged by Apple and Google). Meta Verified will first be rolled out in Australia and New Zealand. Apart from verification (which requires a government ID), users will get more protection from impersonation, access to account support and increased visibility and reach (particularly useful for content creators). Read Meta’s announcement here on Meta Verified.
Adani Group and its collapsing empire
The Adani Group saga continues with Forbes publishing its investigation (tweet below), further reinforcing the findings by Hindenburg Research. Nearly a month since Hindenburg’s bombshell report, Adani Group has lost more than USD135 bil in market cap.
Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP, with USD75 bil assets under management, has dumped its entire shares in one of Adani Group’s listed companies, Adani Green Energy, over ESG (environmental, social and governance) concerns after discovering that Adani has pledged shares from its Green companies as collateral to obtain credit facility to finance a coal mine.
General Electric, an iconic American conglomerate founded by Thomas Edison, was a the brink of collapse during the height of the 2007/08 global financial crisis and was saved by Warren Buffett’s USD3 bil investment. This was revealed in author Bill Cohan’s new book “Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon”. Buffett’s support didn’t come cheap — it cost 10% annual preferred dividend and warrants to buy common shares at a fixed price in the next five years.
A quick guide on the football club ownership of the Middle East kingdoms.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Why cars in Malaysia are so expensive? 2 words — excise duty
Local fashion brand Bulan Bintang has created a Malaysia Book of Records for the biggest drone performance in Malaysia, involving 350 drones at its fashion show at Menara KL. It costs about RM2 mil to put up this drone performance, according to Azzim Zahid Azmi, the founder of Bulan Bintang.