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  • ☕️ Malaysian grads are overqualified, underpaid - Khazanah Research Institute

☕️ Malaysian grads are overqualified, underpaid - Khazanah Research Institute

Berjaya founder Vincent Tan: Starbucks MY boycott "unnecessary". Shopee parent Sea reports first full-year profit. Teresa Kok reminds PAS that the party served halal BKT during by-elections.

This is too good not to share. The new SST rate of 8% went into effect on Mar 1 - here are the things that would cost more.


Information as of 0735 UTC+8 on Mar 5, 2024.


Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf revealed that a total of RM3.8 bil was transferred to bank accounts in 43 countries via 15 trading entities believed to be shell companies established by scammers. These transactions occurred between 2021 and late 2023. Comm Ramli emphasised the necessity of imposing stricter procedures and requirements for setting up businesses to address such illicit activities. Be vigilant if you have been asked to transfer to a suspicious account; check it out on Semakmule.

Instead of requesting cash, lawyers for an investor who persuaded a judge to throw out Elon Musk’s USD55.8 bil pay package are asking to have their legal fees paid in the form of shares in the electric car maker — about 29 million shares, worth USD6 bil (RM28.34 bil). It is probably the largest attorney fee that anyone has ever heard of. The fee works out to an hourly rate of USD288,888 (RM1.36 mil per hour = 909 months of minimum wage in Malaysia). An investor named Richard Tornetta had filed a case on behalf of shareholders. As a result of the investor's victory, Tesla is expected to receive about 267 mil shares that were promised to Elon Musk as part of his pay plan, according to the filing. Mad payday.

Salaries for new hires in business development and sales at Southeast Asian startups have surged by up to 20%, reflecting a push by young firms to generate revenue amidst a challenging funding landscape. According to an annual report by Glints and Monk's Hill Ventures, average salaries for these roles saw a greater increase compared to engineering, marketing, data, and product development roles, rising by an average of 2% from the previous year. This comes as startup funding in Southeast Asia declined sharply to USD7.96 bil (RM37.6 bil) in 2023, with fewer deals as investors prioritise profitability amid rising interest rates.


High court rejects Daim's bid for judicial review* of MACC probe
The High Court has dismissed former finance minister Daim Zainuddin's attempt, along with his family, to challenge the MACC’s investigation into their finances. Judge Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh ruled that they failed to prove the investigation was done in bad faith (mala fide) and that mere suspicion or allegations were insufficient to challenge the investigation.

Daim and his family also challenged that it is improper to initiate an investigation towards alleged offences that occurred more than 20 years ago, which is considered stale. The judge once again disagreed with this argument too, citing the Latin maxim ‘nullum tempus occurit regi’ applies, simply meaning ‘time does not run against the crown’ or actions by the government are not barred by any statute of limitation.

*Judicial review is the power of the courts of a country to examine the actions of the legislative, executive and administrative arms of the government to determine whether such actions are consistent with the Constitution. 

Transportation matters

  • Carbon levy (aka carbon tax) by airlines coming soon this April
    Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that Malaysian airlines can begin charging a carbon levy once amendments to the Malaysian Aviation Commission Regulations 2018 are finalised by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) in April. Loke highlighted that, unlike Singapore’s mandatory approach, Malaysia opts for an optional scheme, allowing airlines to decide on levy imposition, though he emphasised the importance of transparency in how airlines utilise the levy, adding that airlines can spend the levy on purchasing sustainable aviation fuel or acquiring carbon credit to offset their carbon emission. This levy is part of Malaysia's contribution to the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (Corsia).

  • HSR concept proposals evaluation to take two months
    MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd will take two months to evaluate 7 concept proposals of the KL-SG high-speed rail project and will subsequently submit the evaluation result to the government to shortlist the consortia for the next stage, namely the request for proposal (RFP). The Ministry of Transport said all interested parties had been informed there will be no loan guarantee by the government and the project is to be implemented through private capital with no financial backing from the government. The project is estimated to cost RM100 bil - now which companies have the balls of steel to undertake such a massive project (without government backing)? 


  1. CGS appoints big guns to its board
    CGS International Securities Malaysia Sdn Bhd has appointed Shahril Ridza Ridzuan and former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin as independent non-executive directors. Shahril was formerly the managing director of Khazanah Nasional and CEO of EPF and is currently the chairman of Axiata Group and Ekuinas Nasional. KJ, who runs the Keluar Sekejap podcast, could be the first and only podcaster and director of a major financial institution. CGS, a unit of China Galaxy Securities, the fourth largest securities firm in China by revenue, was a JV with CIMB Group until it completed its divestment last December. 

  2. Berjaya Group advances with Four Seasons Okinawa while its founder urges calm amid Starbucks boycott storm ⛈️
    After a six-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand) secured an RM1.6 bil syndicated loan from Japanese banks and initiated the groundbreaking ceremony for its Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences in Okinawa, Japan (view on map here). Tan Sri Vincent Tan, founder of Berjaya Corporation Bhd, anticipates this project with a gross development value (GDV) of USD1.12 bil to generate a net profit of at least USD450 mil from the sale of 124 condo residences and 28 private villas, attributing it to the tax benefits for foreign investors provided by the Japanese government that allows for better returns.

    On his coffee business. Tan has also called the boycott against Starbucks Malaysia “unnecessary” as the US brand does not own any share in the Malaysian operations and 80-85% of its store employees are Muslim. Berjaya Food relies on Starbucks for 90% of its revenue. Tan also said that customers are starting to make a return and suggested boycotting “iPhone and iPad”, which pak lebais would definitely not agree to.


  1. The Human Resources Ministry rebrands as 'Kesuma'  for all official matters starting Mar 4. The acronym is derived from the initial syllables of 'Kementerian Sumber Manusia' (Human Resources Ministry) and translates to 'flower'. This rebranding aligns with its 3K mission (Welfare, Skills, Success).

  2. A Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) report reveals that 48.6% of Malaysian graduates are overqualified for their jobs in 2021, leading to low-paying positions. Only 43.4% of graduates secure jobs matching their qualifications. Despite a surge in tertiary education enrolment, high-skilled job creation remains insufficient, indicating demand exceeding supply. This situation has forced a significant portion of graduates to resort to non-standard employment (temporary or contract jobs, part-time, and self-employment), exacerbating job dissatisfaction and financial insecurity.
    View report: Shifting Tides: Charting Career Progression of Malaysia’s Skilled Talents


Yingluck got lucky - former Thai PM acquitted
All nine judges of Thailand’s top court have acquitted former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a corruption case during her time in office more than 10 years ago. This is another win for the influential Shinawatra family. Yingluck, 56, is the sister to Thaksin Shinawatra, a two-time PM of Thailand who was released on parole recently. She was Thailand’s first female PM from 2011 to 2014 until her government was toppled in a coup.

Yingluck and five others were accused of abusing THB240 bil (USD6.7 bil) and improperly running a bidding process for a 2013 campaign set to promote Yingluck’s government’s infrastructure projects. Thailand’s supreme court acquitted all defendants, saying that they found “no intention” to benefit the two major media outlets that were awarded the contract at that time. This isn’t the only court case she’s facing — like her brother, she has been living in exile since 2017 to avoid a 5-year jail term after the Supreme Court found her negligent in a rice subsidy promise to farmers in the 2011 election that caused billions of dollars in state losses.

Sea’s first full-year annual profit 
Shopee parent Sea Ltd. reported its first full-year annual profit since its IPO in Oct 2017. Some highlights:

  • Full-year net profit of USD162.7 mil, revering from a loss of USD1.66 bil in FY2022.

  • Revenue rose 4.9% to USD13.1 bil from USD12.4 bil year-on-year.

  • Performance by business unit:

    • Shopee (e-commerce): Revenue +23.5% y-o-y to USD9 bil from USD7.3 bil, net loss of USD550.5 mil;

    • Garena (gaming): Revenue -44% y-o-y to USD2 bil from USD3.8 bil, net profit of USD1.2 bil

    • SeaMoney (fintech): Revenue +44% y-o-y to USD1.8 bil from USD1.2 bil, net profit of USD490.2 mil

  • Cash position of USD8.5 bil

For 2024, Sea is guiding Shopee’s gross merchandise value growth to be in the “high teens”, with adjusted EBITDA to turn positive in the second half of the year. 

View infographic: Sea Q4 2023 Earnings Update.

The world of sea animals

  • The real apex predator of the sea
    If you think it’s the great white shark — it isn’t. It’s actually orcas, or killer whales. Scientists recorded an orca going “solo and swift”, which they called unprecedented killing a juvenile great white shark and consuming its liver - all in under 2 minutes. Watch it here

  • First-ever documented humpback whales’ gay sex
    For the first time ever, two humpback whales were photographed having sex, according to a new study published (view study here) in the journal Marine Mammal Science - but between 2 male humpback whales. Whale A, which was seen as weak and possibly injured, was penetrated by a healthier whale B. It is not clear what influenced the whales’ behaviour, but an explanation offered in the study suggested that whale B was possibly exerting dominance over an injured rival. Sounds like rape in the sea. This is not the first instance of homosexual activity observed in animals, with monkeys, dolphins, and penguins, among others, known to have engaged in such behaviour. 


  1. Apple fined EUR1.8 bil for bullying Spotify
    The European Union has fined the tech giant EUR1.8 bil (RM9.24 bil) following a 2019 complaint by music streaming giant Spotify, marking the first-ever antitrust fine slappy on the company by Brussels. The charge was triggered after Spotify complained that Apple prevented other music-streaming services from informing users of payment options outside of its App Store, which the European Commission considered to be unfair trading conditions. Apple said it would appeal the penalty.

  2. Haiti under emergency, turned into gangsta-land
    The government of the Caribbean nation (view on the map here) declared a 72-hour state of emergency after armed gangs stormed the country’s two biggest prisons, resulting in about 4,000 violent criminals escaping. The gangs are led by Jimmy Cherizier, a former police officer known as Barbecue, who is trying to force PM Ariel Henry out of power. Cherizier joins the ranks of Russia as he faces sanctions from the US, and also the UN. Henry, who was supposed to step down by early Feb, announced he would only hold elections by Aug 2025 once the situation was more stable.

  3. South Korea to suspend licenses of trainee doctors on strike
    About 9,000 junior doctors (out of South Korea’s 140,000 doctors) have gone on strike since Feb 20, affecting the nation’s healthcare system, to protest the government’s plans to increase medical school admissions. The government will suspend the licenses of those who ignored an ultimatum to end the strike by Feb 29. The plan to boost medical school admissions is widely popular with the public, but doctors are opposing it as they argue that the government should first address pay and working conditions. At 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people, South Korea’s rate is one of the lowest in the developed world.


  1. A heartbreaking scene of Gazans retrieving parachuted aid. The US conducted its first airdrop in Gaza consisting of more than 30,000 meals. The perplexing thing here is that the US is the biggest foreign aid funder of Israel and yet it couldn’t stop Israel from blocking aid delivery to Gazans. Something is amiss.

  1. Cat’s reflexes are at a next level - 10x that of a human and also much faster than snakes. Watch just how fast their reaction is.

  1. Bak kut teh is still a hot topic being discussed in Parliament. Seputeh MP Teresa Kok reminded a PAS MP of the time when the party served halal bak kut teh in several by-elections six years ago.

We would like to apologise for an editorial mistake we made in yesterday’s issue regarding the position of Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar. He is the Chairman of Bursa Malaysia, not the CEO. Thank you.