☕️ Malaysia scores big win in Sulu sultanate case

Capital A to become plane-less biz, to sell airlines biz to AAX. 2 new digital banks to launch - Boost Bank, AEON Bank. Japanese convenience store giants aim Asia domination.


Information as of 0720 UTC+8 on Jan 9, 2024.


The big business of weapons. Think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that the weapons revenue of the world’s largest weapons-producing and military services companies last year dropped to 3.5% to USD597 bil (RM2.79 tril) in 2022. Of the top 100 companies it reviewed, 42 US companies on the list accounted for 51% of total arm sales, which fell by 7.9% to USD302 bil due to supply chain issues and labour stages during the pandemic. Meanwhile, companies in Asia and the Middle East saw arms revenue grow significantly in 2022, demonstrating their ability to respond fast to increased demand. With so much money at stake, no wonder the US is somehow involved in so many conflicts.

USD18 mil (RM83.8 mil) — the cost to produce one episode of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the mega-hit manga One Piece, which follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy with an elastic superpower, and his crew to search for the treasure “One Piece” and be the next king of pirates. With eight episodes in total, it would cost USD144 mil (RM670.3 mil) to produce the live-adaptation series, mainly due to the heavy use of advanced visual effects. As of Dec 2023, the manga had sold over 532 mil copies worldwide in 61 countries, making it the best-selling manga and comic series in history. The manga, first published in Dec 1997, is still running today with 107 volumes. Watch the trailer here.

In the fast-moving consumer goods world, just how much is consumer purchasing data worth? Tesco and Sainsbury’s, two of the UK’s largest supermarkets, make about GBP300 mil (RM1.77 bil) per year selling information on their customers’ shopping preferences to companies such as Channel 4, PepsiCo and Heineken, which then analyse consumer behaviour and make targeted advertising. This data is sold on an aggregate basis, with no personally identifiable information shared. Tesco Clubcard has 14.4 mil members (Feb 2023) and Sainsbury’s Nectar card has 18 mil members, giving a combined pool of 32.4 mil members. So on average, a single customer’s shopping profile can be worth GBP9.26 (RM54.71).

Get back up when you fail. Celebrate behaving like a human.

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor, Stoic philosopher and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, the peak of Roman civilisation.


Sabah’s brewing political storm
Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, declared that alliance decisions for the next Sabah election will follow the state assembly dissolution. While denying political turmoil in Sabah, he highlighted the focus on preparations for the upcoming polls in Sep 2025, emphasising unity in government formation. Even with the denial, the situation was urgent enough that Zahid Hamidi flew to Sabah on Sunday to address the matter. He also assured Sabah BN and UMNO autonomy in candidate selection for the election.

In January last year, Sabah UMNO withdrew its support for the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) state government under Chief Minister Hajiji Noor, who managed to stay in power with the support of Sabah Pakatan Harapan and renegades from Sabah UMNO. In Dec, talk of a tie-up between Sabah UMNO and Warisan to take on the incumbent grew louder.

Najib’s day in court and Netflix 🎬⚖️
Najib Razak's 1MDB corruption trial took an unexpected turn as his defence calls for removing the "Man On The Run" documentary from Netflix, alleging it to be breaking the law of subjudice and contemptuous, citing comments made by former attorney general Tommy Thomas, former US ambassador John Malott and Sarawak Report editor Claire Rewcastle Brown. Shafee said he had received instructions to file contempt against Tommy and a defamation suit against Brown for their comments in the documentary. In total, the defence team said they found 160 contemptuous comments in the 98-minute-long documentary and had asked the prosecution’s help to take the documentary down. Shafee, however, commended The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat’s comments in the movie, which he described as carefully made and not reckless.

Malaysia scores big win in Sulu Sultanate case 🏛️⚖️
Spanish arbitrator Dr. Gonzalo Stampa, who ordered Malaysia to pay USD14.92 bil to the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate, has been found guilty of contempt of court. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said announced that Stampa has been sentenced to six months in prison and barred from practising as an arbitrator for a year. The ruling comes as a victory for Malaysia in its efforts to address and counter the Sulu Fraud, marking a pivotal moment in the fight for justice. The French Court had previously annulled a related order, further strengthening Malaysia's position. Once and for all, this chapter is finally over.


  1. Capital A, AirAsia X announce major strategic overhaul
    PN17 Capital A announced that it will divest all of its short-haul airline businesses to AAX, including AirAsia Bhd, which runs its Malaysian airline operations and AirAsia Aviation Group Group Ltd, the holding unit of its airlines in Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. The deal value was not revealed as talks are still in progress. Analysts estimate the valuation of Capital A’s airline asset to be worth between RM2.5 - 5 bil.

    Post divestment, Capital A will be a plane-less business with four main businesses:

    • Asia Digital Engineering Sdn Bhd - aviation maintenance unit

    • AirAsia SuperApp Sdn Bhd - super app business

    • Teleport Everywhere Pte Ltd - logistics units

    • BigPay Pte Ltd - digital payments business

  2. Digital banking space heats up with two more players going live
    Boost, the fintech arm of Axiata Group Bhd and its partner RHB Banking Group, has obtained approval from BNM and the Ministry of Finance to commence operation as a digital bank effective from 15 Jan 2024. Also announcing the same was AEON Credit Service (M) Bhd, that its unit AEON Bank (M) Bhd had obtained the approvals to commence business. For what it’s worth, Boost Bank (60% owned by Boost, 40% owned by RHB) is the first primarily Malaysian-owned digital bank to commence operations and AEON Bank would be the first Islamic digital bank to launch.

    GXBank, Malaysia’s first digital bank to launch back in December, hit the 100,000-customer milestone just two weeks after their services were first opened to the public. Of course, they threw a lot of goodies to incentivise customers to sign up, so the question is how good the retention rate is. 


The controversial election of Bangladesh, the world’s eighth-most populous country
With a population of 170 mil, of which 120 mil are eligible voters, the nation went to the polls on Sunday and results were announced on Monday. To nobody’s surprise, 76-year-old Sheikh Hasina secured her fifth term as Bangladeshi PM. She has been in power since 2009. The opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, had earlier called this election a “sham” with a “predetermined” outcome and urged people not to participate in the election. They claimed that Hasina’s party, Awami League, fielded “dummy” opposition parties to create an impression of competition even though all results were predetermined. 

Some other interesting highlights:

  • ‘Official’ voter turnout of 40%, its third lowest ever out of twelve parliamentary elections, compared to a turnout of 80% in the 2018 election. An hour before the poll closing, the Election Commission declared that turnout was about 27%, which suddenly jumped to 40% in the last hour and was called ridiculous.

  • The outcome was expected, but the runner-up was a surprise - independent candidates secured a total of 63 seats out of 300, the second highest after Awami League, creating a problem of finding a parliamentary opposition. Almost all winning independent candidates were rejected from Awami League but were asked by the party leadership to stand as “dummy candidates”. 

  • The night before the election saw more than 20 polling stations set ablaze.

Japanese convenience store giants aim Asia domination
Japan’s two largest convenience store chains, 7-Eleven and Lawson, are planning to open 10,000 new stores in the Asia-Pacific region by Feb 2026, especially in Southeast Asia, to capitalise on its growing middle-class population. As they take their fight away from their saturated home market, their total stores in Asia Pacific will number 63,000 from 53,000 as of last Feb. The combined overseas stores of the big three, including Family Mart, have already surpassed their domestic number.

Seven & i Holdings, the operator of 7-Eleven, operates about 46,000 Asia-Pacific stores through licensing agreements with local partners with a target of hitting 50,000 stores. As for Lawson, it plans to open 6,800 stores in China and Southeast Asia, doubling its presence to about 13,000 during the same period. Conventional wisdom is that a country’s convenience store market is ripe for nationwide expansion when per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) exceeds USD3,000 (RM13.9k). 

The 81st Golden Globes Award 2024 
Hollywood kicked off its annual awards season with the Golden Globes award on Sunday night, culminating with the Oscars on Mar 10. Some highlights:

  1. Oppenheimer won big, taking home the best film, best actor (Cillian Murphy), best director (Christopher Nolan), best-supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr and best original score (Ludwig Goransson) awards.

  2. Succession won the best TV drama award. 

  3. The best original song went to Billie Eilish for her song What Was I Made For? (listen here on Spotify) from the Barbie movie. The movie, which grossed more than USD1 bil, also won the Best Cinematic and box office achievement award.

  4. The first Golden Globe win for a non-English animated feature went to The Boy and The Heron, a Japanese animated movie by the animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, who won his first Golden Globe Award at the age of 82. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away won the Oscars in 2001. He came out of retirement to produce The Boy and Heron, which took seven years to produce and grossed more than USD136 mil worldwide. Watch the trailer here.

  5. How could we not mention our dearest Michelle Yeoh? She’s back this year but as a presenter, together with Naomi Watts, to present the best female actor award to Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon (watch the trailer here

The full list of winners and nominees here.

Transforming obsolete street cabinets into EV charging points
Street cabinets in the UK used to store broadband and phone cabling, but many are coming towards the end of their lifespans. BT Group (our Telekom equivalent) plans to convert up to 60,000 of it into electric vehicle charging points as it rolls out its pilot programme in Scotland. The UK government aims to have 300,000 charging points by 2030 from the current 50,000, a third of which are currently in London.

The US's first moon expedition in more than 50 years and lunar memorial service
Astrobiotic, the company behind the Peregrine lunar lander, launched on Monday in a bid to become the first private mission to land on the moon and the first US mission in more than 50 years. Apart from the standard scientific equipment it carries, the lander also carries human remains as part of a memorial service offered by private companies Celestis and Elysium Space. Both offer to take human ashes to space - Celestis’s service starts at USD13,000 (RM60.5k) - check out its website here. In its current Peregrine payload, the remaining onboard includes Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, actors who played in the show, and former US presidents George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.


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