☕️ Malaysia is the 59th happiest nation in the world

Top Glove reported another loss-making, but improving quarter for 2QFY24. Intel plans to spend USD100 bil to build & expand AI factories in the US. Can't get your Birkin bags - try suing Hermès.


Information as of 0725 UTC+8 on Mar 21, 2024

The US Federal Reserve has decided to keep interest rates the same and shared new predictions for the economy. They now believe that the economy will grow by 2.1% this year, which is higher than what’s considered the US economy’s long run potential. The central bank plans to lower interest rates three times this year and is confident that the economy will keep growing steadily.


59 — Malaysia’s rank according to the World Happiness Report 2024. The report, downloadable here, was announced yesterday to mark the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness. Happiness can be affected by both age and generation. Research shows that individuals born before 1965 (Boomers and their predecessors) tend to have life evaluations that are about one-quarter of a point higher than those born after 1980 (Millennials and Gen Z). Furthermore, within each generation, life evaluations tend to increase with age for individuals in older generations and decrease with age for those in younger generations. However, those in the middle age range tend to have little to no age effect on their life evaluations. In Malaysia, the young (below 30) are happier than the old (60 and above). As an old saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy so you can find out how our neighbours rank from the full report here.

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It’s tough being a Swiftie. According to the Singaporean police, from January 1 to March 12, at least 1,551 individuals were duped by e-commerce scams related to concert tickets. The total loss from these scams was at least SGD737,000. Among these victims, 960 individuals fell prey to scams involving tickets to Taylor Swift's sold-out shows in Singapore, resulting in a loss of over SGD538,000 (RM1.89 mil) — that’s an average of RM1,970 per victim.

The land Down Under is full of possibilities — in this instance, the record for the world’s largest blueberry. The fruit, which was picked in November by an Australian farm, has been kept frozen and weighs a whopping 20.4 grams — about 10 times the size of an average blueberry and the size of a ping pong ball. This monster blueberry is almost 4cm wide and is part of a new variety developed by the Costa Group in response to consumers’ demands for larger berries. After being frozen for 12 weeks, the blueberry has been certified by Guinness World Records as the heaviest ever documented.


Of sugar and rice

  1. Finance Minister II Amir Hamzah Azizan clarified that the financial incentive for sugar manufacturers is a temporary measure to ensure the continuity of supply and price of sugar for consumers. During yesterday’s parliament session, former transport minister Wee Ka Siong questioned why the government decided to provide an incentive of RM1,000 per tonne for coarse granulated sugar (CGS) for one and two-kilogram packs and refined sugar for one-kilogram packs. Amir explained that due to the global sugar price, local producers are producing at a loss momentarily hence, the incentive is required.

    Malaysia has the lowest retail price of sugar in ASEAN and amongst the lowest in the world. Malaysia also has the highest rate of diabetic cases in ASEAN and is ranked 16th globally. Correlation or causation?

  2. Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) has reduced the price of imported white rice to RM3,000 per tonne from RM3,200. Bernas' move is in tandem with the government’s announcement yesterday to reduce the retail prices of imported white rice by RM2 to RM3 per 10kg bag.

Does the abrupt end to GEG call for an RCI?
The Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) certainly thinks so. On the recent revelation by the Deputy Health Minister that tobacco and vape industry players had allegedly lobbied MPs to exclude the generational endgame (GEG) component of the tobacco control Bill in Parliament, CAP said the government should set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI). CAP’s statement indicates their belief that the tobacco and vape industry’s actions constitute a violation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention for Tobacco Control if they had indeed pressured the MPs.

On the other hand, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad refuted his deputy’s speech, calling it “factually wrong”. Dzulkefly said the GEG was snuffed out solely due to constitutional issues. However, Dzulkely said it is reasonable for industry players to engage with MPs in any mature and civil democratic Parliament.


  1. Top Glove reported another loss-making quarter for 2QFY24
    Top Glove Corp Bhd reported a narrowed net loss of RM51.19 mil for the second quarter ending Feb 29, 2024 (2QFY24), compared to RM164.67 mil a year earlier. This improvement was driven by stronger sales volume growth, as customers placed new orders following the depletion of excess inventory. Despite the improved performance, revenue for the quarter decreased to RM550.33 mil from RM618.01 mil in the same period last year. The company anticipates a revenue increase of over 20% in its third quarter ending May 31, buoyed by rising sales in March and April, as well as an upward adjustment of the average selling price (ASP) of gloves. Top Glove remains committed to its goal of returning to profitability as early as August this year. View its earnings here.

  2. Yinson Holdings Bhd wants to raise RM283.2 mil
    Yinson Holdings Bhd has announced a proposal for a private placement of 120 mil new shares, aiming to raise RM283.2 mil to support the expansion of its renewable energy and green technology business. The issue price for the placement shares has been set at RM2.36 per share, representing a discount of approximately 4.9% to the five-day volume-weighted average market price of the shares up to March 19. The proceeds from the placement will primarily be utilised for energy transition initiatives and the expansion of both renewable energy and green technology ventures.
    Read: What and How Private Placement Affects Share Price.


  1. Two fewer GSCs in Malaysia
    Golden Screen Cinema (GSC) Sdn Bhd has announced the closure of its outlets in Klang Parade Mall and Heritage Mall Kota Tinggi effective April 1. No thanks to streaming services as the convenience and the plethora of content on the streaming platforms have dampened the need to visit a cinema, according to industry insiders.

  2. Johor Umno Youth leader to be charged over allegations of sexual assaults
    The suspect had been arrested on Monday after police reports were lodged accusing him of sexually assaulting one boy. Police then said there were two victims. Subsequently, four more teenagers came forward to lodge a police report against the same individual. According to Malaysiakini, the suspect is believed to be an Umno Youth leader who is active in volunteerism and NGO programmes. A wolf in a sheep’s clothing.


Gaza Conflict updates
Israel reported that its forces “killed around 90 gunmen and arrested 160” in its most recent raid on Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital, issuing a statement claiming “the troops eliminated terrorists and located weapons in the hospital area”. Hamas has denied these allegations, stating that those reported killed were actually wounded patients and displaced persons in the hospital, calling the Israeli raid a war crime and part of a genocide being conducted by the Israeli occupation.

Meanwhile, Israel is being called on to prioritise providing aid to those in need as “100% of the population in Gaza is experiencing severe levels of acute food insecurity” according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. UN agencies have shown that north Gaza could face famine by May if there is no pause in the fighting and surge in aid provided.

As it stands, aid is still making its way into Gaza, with over 2,000 tonnes of British food aid entering Gaza via Jordan, which will feed over 275,000 of Gaza’s two million inhabitants. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron stated that sustained humanitarian access by road is needed to get more aid in, with Cameron promising that the UK will continue to push Israel. A US-based charity also contributed almost 200 tonnes of food aid, which arrived at a makeshift jetty off Gaza a week after being sent from the Cypriot port of Larnaca. Still, aid agencies are calling for Israel to allow more aid in by road, as the food delivered by sea to Gaza is “completely inadequate for the scale of people’s needs”.

Tech Industry Takes

  1. Microsoft steps up AI game by hiring Google DeepMind co-founder

    Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Google’s DeepMind, is now the CEO of Microsoft’s AI division, reporting directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He will be leading all consumer AI products and research, including Copilot, Bing, and Edge. This marks Microsoft’s latest move in the battle for AI supremacy against competitor Google, which had been pulling ahead, including being in talks with Apple to integrate its AI chatbot Gemini into the iPhone. Google acquired Deepmind in 2014 for USD400 mil.

  2. AI infrastructure firm raises USD713 mil via IPO

    Semiconductor connectivity firm Astera Labs raised USD713 mil in its IPO, pricing its shares above its already-elevated market range. 19.8 million shares were sold for USD36 each, though the marketed price was between USD32 to USD34 per share. This places Astera’s market value at around USD5.5 bil, and the IPO is noted as one of the largest of the year so far.

  3. Dell: “Come back to the office – or else”

    The tech giant makes a turnaround from its decade-old pro-hybrid working culture by telling employees to return to the office with a strict mandate, warning those who choose to remain fully remote that they will not be considered for promotion nor be able to change roles, including applying to new roles in the company. Those who take the hybrid option have to come in three days a week to an “approved” office. This has led to disgruntled staff who complained about the matter behind closed doors, with a common theme being that Dell’s stated reason for in-person connections will not work for most teams due to the geographical distances between team members.

  4. US warns of possible cyber attacks on national water systems

    The US government is warning state governments to be on guard against cyber attacks against water systems from hackers linked to Iran and China, citing ongoing threats. The warning issued states that hackers affiliated with Iran attacked drinking water systems, while Volt Typhoon, a Chinese-sponsored group, “has compromised information technology of drinking water and other critical infrastructure systems”.
    Apart from cyberattacks, space attacks are another warning too. A US Space Force general warns that China could be planning to attack US satellites from the moon and warns urgent consideration of the matter. He warns of potential attack vectors from China’s space and lunar exploration programme and is the latest voice to raise concerns over China’s potential military plans in space.

  5. Intel plans to spend USD100 bil to build and expand factories in the US

    The chipmaker plans to spend the USD100 bil across four US states to build chip factories, revamp sites in New Mexico and Oregon and expand operations in Arizona. This is part of Intel’s five-year spending plan, which includes creating the “largest AI chip manufacturing site in the world” near Columbus, Ohio, starting as soon as 2027. Part of the funding will come from the US government through the CHIPS Act, a total of USD19.5 bil. Intel hopes to secure a further USD25 bil through tax breaks. Spend USD100 bil, with a USD44.5 bil rebate. Worth it.

Asian Highlights

  1. Vietnam president resigns a year in, raising concerns on national stability

    President Vo Van Thuong’s resignation has been accepted by the Vietnamese Communist Party, with the government stating that Thuong had violated party rules, which “negatively impacted public opinion, affecting the reputation of the Party, the State, and him personally”. The Ho Chi Minh City exchange saw a 3% drop after word spread that Thuong was resigning. This resignation comes a year after Thuong was sworn in and may cause foreign investors to lose confidence in the country due to the political instability that comes after such an event. 

  2. Article 23 passed in Hong Kong, critics call it “final nail in coffin”

    The pro-Beijing government has unanimously passed a new security law, locally referred to as Article 23. This law, which targets a range of offences deemed treasonous, allows for closed-door trials, gives police the right to detain suspects for up to 16 days without charges, and penalties that include life sentences. Officials say the law is essential for stability, but critics call it a repression of freedoms in Hong Kong. Of course, it probably does not help that Hong Kong’s most pro-democracy leaders are either in jail or in exile, according to this NYT report.


  1. Scientists say gene-editing tech can cut out HIV from cells – A team from the University of Amsterdam claims they have successfully eliminated HIV from infected cells by using CRISPR gene-editing technology. However, the work remains a proof of concept and is not becoming a cure any time soon.

  2. Two Californians sue Hermès over difficulty in buying Birkin bags – The duo proposed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that the luxury brand is unlawfully tying the purchase of Birkin bags to buying the company’s other products. Hermès has not responded to the complaint.
    Check out this podcast, Acquired, which breaks down the history of large companies in a long-form style. Coincidentally, their episode last month was on Hermès (4 hrs 10 mins).
    Learn: What is a class action?


  1. Samsung is South Korea's biggest company by market capitalisation at USD375 bil. In comparison, the next biggest is SK Hynix, which has a market capitalisation of USD72 bil. These big companies in South Korea are known as chaebols - large family conglomerates. The top 10 chaebols collectively contributed to about 60% of the country’s GDP in 2021.

  1. Be amazed by how good this school toilet looks. Yes, it’s a school’s toilet. not a shopping mall’s. In fact, a Malaysian school’s toilet. Indeed, a BMW toilet.