Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Malaysia's July inflation at 2%, lowest for the year
Forest City to be special financial zone. World Cup Kissing Scandal - Spain’s MeToo moment. Day 1 after release: seawater sample around Fukushima safe.
1. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
In July 2023, Malaysia’s consumer price index (CPI) eased to 2%, marking the lowest point of the year. According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the slowdown in inflation was influenced by a slower rise in restaurants and hotels at 5.0% (down from 5.4% in June) and food and non-alcoholic beverages at 4.4%. Miscellaneous goods and services increased by 2.6%, while health and education groups both saw a 2.0% increase.
Read: Is a world without inflation possible?
In the first five months of this year, Sabah welcomed a total of 988,680 tourists — 282,450 were international tourists, while 706,230 were locals. This influx has contributed an estimated RM2.02 bil in tourism earnings from January to May 2023. With expectations set high, the state government envisions the arrival of 2.2 million tourists to Sabah this year, resulting in a revenue of RM4.1 bil.
Scrap the 10,000 steps daily myth — a new study revealed the key number is 4,000 steps based on the analysis of more than 226,000 people worldwide. Taking that number of steps daily was enough to start reducing the risk of dying prematurely of any cause. Every extra 1,000 steps beyond the 4,000 reduced the risk of dying early by 15% up to 20,000 steps. The study was conducted by a team from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Three-cornered fights for the two by-elections
Pakatan Harapan (PH), Perikatan National (PN), and independent candidates are vying for the Pulai parliamentary and the Simpang Jeram state seats. The by-elections are called following the death of the incumbent, Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Salahuddin Ayub. The Election Commission has set the polling for Sept 9.
For the Simpang Jeram state seat, PH’s candidate is Nazri Abdul Rahman, while PN’s is Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya and lastly, independent candidate S. Jeganathan.
PH’s candidate for the Pulai parliamentary seat is former Johor state assembly speaker Suhaizan Kaiat, who also served as political secretary to the late Salahuddin Ayub. He will be going against PN’s Zulkifli Jaafar and independent candidate Samsudin Fauzi.
PM: Forest City to be special financial zone
In a bid to spur the economy in Iskandar Malaysia, PM Anwar Ibrahim announced a slew of incentives for Forest City, including allowing for multiple entry visas, fast-track entry for those working in Singapore and a flat income tax rate of 15% for knowledge workers. Instead of competing, PM said Malaysia and the island republic could complement each other.
On another Johor-related matter, Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar said Johor has had a long-standing good relationship with China since the time of his ancestors. His Majesty added that the Chinese in Johor are not outsiders, as they were invited to Johor to cultivate gambier and pepper back in his great-great grandfather’s days. His Majesty’s efforts to bring in Chinese developers drew criticism as some assumed the leasehold lands would be taken away. However, it was clarified that converting leasehold lands to freehold will incur fees and fines.
Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) reported a net profit of RM568.74 mil for 2QFY2023 ended June 30, 2023 — 50.4% higher than the RM378.06 mil reported a year ago. It is also the highest net profit TM reported for over a decade — in 4QFY2011, TM reported RM598.3 mil in net profit. The increased earnings for the reviewed quarter were primarily attributed to reduced net finance costs and the acknowledgement of tax credits arising from the utilisation of previously unacknowledged tax losses. The company declared a dividend of 9.5 sen per share, to be paid on Sept 29.
During the earnings call, TM also said it sees a possible partnership with Elon Musk’s Starlink but did not elaborate further apart from saying TM playing the role of a network or infrastructure provider.
On the other hand, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) saw its net profit slumped 62.41% to RM327.9 mil for 2QFY2023 ended June 30, 2023, from RM872.2 mil a year ago. The decline in profit was due to negative fuel margins and foreign exchange translation losses. TNB said that the electricity demand growth of 2% in Q2 2023 was in line with the country’s gross domestic product expansion of 2.9% in the quarter.
CTOS Digital Bhd grows its footprints in the Philippines and Indonesia. The group is acquiring 100% ownership of Finscore Inc, located in the Philippines, for RM27.22 mil and securing an 80% stake in PT Prime Analytics Indonesia for RM2.2 mil. The financing for both acquisitions will be sourced from bank financing.
Eco World International Bhd released a statement clarifying the article by The Edge Malaysia titled “Eco World International declares bumper dividend; three shareholders stand to receive RM550 million.” The statement clarified the ownership and entitlement — nothing too interesting.
Najib’s application to recuse trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah fails yet again
The Court of Appeal’s three-member panel of judges comprising Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim and S.M. Komathy Suppiah, in dismissing the application, agreed with deputy public prosecutor Kamal Baharin Omar that there were no special circumstances shown to the court to grant the stay of proceedings for the RM2.3 bil 1MDB trial.
Health director-general Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan said there are two recorded cases of monkeypox infection thus far. The incubation period before an individual starts showing symptoms of monkeypox is between five and 21 days from the date of exposure. If you’re noticing symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headaches, and maculopapular rashes, please seek medical attention.
Fake news: 54,000 Chinese nationals granted citizenship
Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzi said the news of the government granting 54,000 Chinese nationals Malaysian citizenship is not true. Fahmi clarified the figure was the total number of applications received from 2017 to 2022. In fact, Fahmi said Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail explained that only 45 individuals from China have been granted Malaysian citizenship since 2017 — that’s just a minuscule 0.083% conversion rate.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
World Cup Kissing Scandal - Spain’s MeToo moment
Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) head Luis Rubiales’ kiss on the lips of Spanish football player Jenni Hermoso (watch here) has caused a huge uproar, drawing criticism not just from footballers but also politicians from both sides of the aisle. He was even recorded grabbing his crotch (watch here) whilst celebrating the victory. 81 Spanish players said they will not play for the country until he steps down, and the entire Spain coaching staff from their World Cup win, except manager Jorge Vilda, have resigned as well.
During an emergency meeting last Friday, he rejected calls for him to resign, declaring four times, “I won’t resign,” to applause from an overwhelmingly male audience. During the assembly, Rubiales claimed that Hermoso consented to the kiss, and hours later, Hermoso stated that the kiss was not consensual. Rubiales didn’t stop there - the Spanish football federation will take legal action to defend its president against “lies”. Meanwhile, FIFA’s disciplinary committee has suspended Rubiales from all national and international level duties for 90 days pending investigation.
The long-awaited IPO of on-demand grocery delivery giant Instacart is finally here, making it the first significant venture-backed IPO since Dec 2021. Founded in 2012, the incorporated company, Maplebear Inc., filed its prospectus, revealing a healthy set of financials — it isn’t loss-making. In fact, the company has been profitable for five straight quarters. For the six months ended 30 June 2023, revenue came in at USD1.48 bil, up 31% year-on-year, with a net income of USD242 mil, compared to a USD74 mil loss a year earlier.
At its peak, the company was valued at USD39 bil in Mar 2021 and in Dec 2022, the company slashed its internal valuation to as low as USD10 bil. The filing also disclosed that PepsiCo Inc. will invest USD175 mil in preferred convertible stock. View its prospectus here.
Luxury watch brand Rolex is making a major move to get closer to its customers. Long relying on independent retailers to sell its watches, Rolex has acquired 135-year-old watch retailer Bucherer, which has more than 100 stores, for an undisclosed amount. This has raised concerns about whether Rolex will prioritise its own outlets to supply its products. One of its partner retailers, London-listed Watches of Switzerland, crashed 21% upon this news.
Flora & fauna: Of Penguins and plants
An estimated 10,000 emperor penguin chicks have been killed in the Antarctic, a level never seen before based on satellite imagery. This event occurred in late 2022, as the sea ice underneath the chicks melted and broke apart (no thanks to climate change) before the chicks could develop waterproof feathers needed to swim in the ocean. 90% of the species will be “quasi-extinct” by the end of the century under the current global warming trajectory.
Ease your Monday blues by watching these beautiful creatures waddling in a group, or even funnier, watching them waddling at 5x speed.
It is known that extreme heat makes leaves unable to photosynthesise, a critical process to keep plants alive. A new study in Nature reveals at what point this happens — photosynthesis begins to fail in tropical trees at 46.7 degrees Celsius. The study has also found that a small percentage of leaves (0.01%) have already surpassed this limit at least once per season.
If the world grows warmer, massive amounts of tropical canopy will die off. There will be a double whammy effect — no more plants to absorb carbon dioxide when they photosynthesise and when the plant dies, the carbon stored in its body is released into the atmosphere.
Read study: Tropical forests are approaching critical temperature thresholds.
Of radioactive water and Trump’s mugshot
Tepco, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, says seawater sample taken a day after the release of the contaminated water is safe. The analysis returned a result of 1,500 becquerels per litre, which is below the national safety standard of 60,000. Bq/L is the measure of radioactivity. Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang said four more Gamma Spectrum Water Monitoring Stations (GSWMS) will be installed in Malaysian waters to monitor radioactivity levels on top of the existing one in the waters of Sabah.
Former US President Donald Trump got his mugshot taken for the first time, although he is facing charges in four separate criminal cases. He booked himself at the Fulton County jail on Thursday night on charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. He took this opportunity to return to X, tweeting that he will “NEVER SURRENDER!” together with his mugshot and his website URL. This is where his website URL comes into play — never missing an opportunity to make money, supporters can contribute to his campaign via his site. Trump raised USD4.18 mil on Friday alone, making it the single-highest 24-hour period of his campaign to date.