Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ MUDA-Unity Govt Status: You go your way, I go my way
Double election victory for PH but nothing to shout about. Scammers, paedophiles' latest favourite tool - generative AI. Huawei Mate 60 Pro reigniting US-China tech war.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The Road Transport Department (JPJ) has raked in more than RM20 mil from the bidding of special ‘M_ _ M’ series vehicle registration number plates, which represent ‘Malaysia Merdeka’ in conjunction with the 66th National Day celebration. M1M received the highest bid at RM622k, followed by M5M at RM500k and M8M at RM450k. The most sought-after registration number is M101M, with 39 bidders.
The nation’s oldest elephant, Lokimala, has died at the age of 86 due to old age. The female elephant was brought to the country from Assam, India, in 1974 as part of an initiative to pacify and relocate more than 150 wild male elephants to conservation centres. Lokimala is about the same age as another elephant named Lin Wang in Taipei Zoo, Taiwan, which made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest elephant in captivity back in 2003.
31-year-old Neymar’s latest 2 goals for Brazil against Bolivia took his total goals scored for the national team to 79, eclipsing late 3-time World Cup winner Pele as the top goal scorer for Brazil’s national team with 77 goals. Brazil’s football confederation still considers Pele as its top goal scorer with 95 goals, as FIFA does not count goals that Pele scored at national team friendlies against clubs.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
MUDA quits the Unity Government
MUDA president Syed Saddiq announced that the party had withdrawn its support for the Unity Government under the leadership of PM Anwar Ibrahim, thus officially denying the Government two-thirds support in the lower house of the Parliament by just one seat. Saddiq said that he had informed this decision to the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat via a letter and stated that Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi’s discharge-not-amounting-to-an-acquittal (DNAA) was the last straw. As per Saddiq, MUDA will now play its role as a third force that will support progressive Government bills. MUDA's breakaway from the Madani Government was expected as the one-seat party has never been invited to any Unity Government coalition parties meetings.
Before Syed Saddiq’s announcement, DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke said at the DAP annual conference that Syed Saddiq won his second term as Muar MP in GE15 mainly due to Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s support back then. Some may have said Syed Saddiq may not win the next general election, given the current circumstances, and those people may probably be correct. Back then in GE15, Syed Saddiq won the Muar seat by a slim 2.53% majority or 1,345 votes. Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidate Uztaz Abdullah Husin gathered the second most votes with 18,616 votes, while the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate came in third with 14,581 votes. If the same trend in the Simpang Pulai by-election persists in GE16, where BN support shifted to PN, then Syed Saddiq may lose by a landslide.
Double wins for PH, but nothing to shout about
It was a good weekend for Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the Unity Government in the Johor by-election as they won both the Pulai parliamentary seat and the Simpang Jeram state seat. However, the Madani Government still need to be wary as even though PN lost, they had been gaining ground in the poll. According to Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara, PN garnered 9,000 more votes now compared to GE15 for the Pulai parliamentary seat, even though the voter turnout in Pulai was below 50%. PN candidate Zulkifli Jaafar of PAS polled 29,643 votes in the Pulai by-election, whereas in GE15, the PN candidate, Loh Kah Yong of Gerakan, only won 20,677 votes.
PN17 company Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd announced its second consecutive annual billion ringgit loss of RM1.3 bil for FY2022 ended June 30, 2023, compared to RM1.09 bil for the previous financial year. The company attributed increasing corporate expenses and elimination of intergroup transactions as the reasons behind the poor performance. Serba Dinamik recorded a 70% decline in revenue, from RM403.23 mil against RM1.25 bil a year ago. View its latest quarterly filing here.
Brahim-MAG saga: Brahim's Holdings Bhd (BHB) founder Ibrahim Ahmad told the media that BHB is willing to renegotiate with Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) after the latter ended its subsidiary, Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) in-flight catering contract with Brahim’s Food Sevices Sdn Bhd (BFS) last month. Previously, according to BHB, the thorn that led to the discontinuance of the contract was MAG’s request to include a new termination for convenience clause (allowing a party to terminate a contract for any reason by giving a written notice at least 30 days in advance) in the contract extension. Currently, post-BFS, MAB is relying on the service of eight in-flight caterers, including MAS Awana Services Sdn Bhd and POS Aviation Sdn Bhd.
At the same time, BHB also received multiple offers, both from local and abroad, to buy its stake in BFS. BFS is a joint venture between MAB and BHB where the former holds 30% of the joint venture while BHB controls the remaining 70% stake.
Pan Malaysia Corporation Bhd (PMC) who has already owned 51% of A&W (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd via an RM21.04 mil deal in 2021, is planning to acquire the remaining 49% stake from Inter Mark Resources Sdn Bhd in a proposed agreement worth RM69.45 mil, valuing A&W Malaysia at RM141.7 mil. The move to fully takeover A&W Malaysia is being done as part of PMC’s business diversification exercise. If you want to own A&W indirectly, you can invest in PMC since it is listed on Bursa with a market cap of RM150.8 mil.
After CIMB and TNB, it is now TT Vision Holdings Bhd’s shares turn to be disposed of by Khazanah Nasional Bhd. The country’s sovereign wealth fund sold a 4.62% stake in the ACE Market-listed company for RM25.92 mil. The stake was sold for RM1.20 per share, 252.94% higher than TT Vision’s IPO price of 34 sen when it made its debut in Jan 2023. Khazanah’s cost is not known, but safe to say they made a handsome return given the share price rally since the IPO.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The new smartphone intensifying US-China tech war
Huawei on 30 Aug released its latest high-end smartphone, Mate 60 Pro, without much fanfare and it has surprised the West how fast and far China has caught up despite sanctions imposed on Huawei by the US, further escalating geopolitical tension. TechInsights tore apart the phone to examine its components and discovered that two-thirds of it was sourced domestically, up from a third 2-3 years ago. In fact, the phone was powered by a new advanced chip at 7 nanometers, far exceeding expectations that China would be stopped at 14 nanometers (the smaller, the better), produced by China’s top contract chipmaker SMIC, which is also sanctioned by the US. Following this, the US government has begun an official probe into Huawei’s advanced 7 nm chip on the efficacy of its sanctions.
Learn: Chip nanometer technology explained and why the smaller, the better.
The US was dealt a double blow, albeit an indirect one, as Beijing had ordered central government agency officials not to bring iPhones into the office or use them at work. The ban may also be extended to workers at state-owned companies and government-backed agencies. Apple’s share price fell about 6%, wiping out close to USD200 bil in market cap. China is Apple’s third-largest market, contributing 18% of its total sales last year.
Generative AI in the world of crime
Australia has unveiled new regulations requiring search engines such as Google and Bing to prevent the spread of child exploitation material, including synthetic images created by AI. Earlier this year, BBC reported that paedophiles have been using generative AI Stable Diffusion to create and sell life-liked child sexual abuse material on content-sharing sites like Patreon.
Another (wrong) application of generative AI — scam. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned that AI has “turbocharged” fraud, increasing the tech sophistication of scammers. Once reliable facial and voice identification security measures have now been bypassed by AI. With audio clips as short as 30 seconds, a scammer can clone the voice of a child to sound indistinguishable from the real voice to fool their parents. Images from social media can be used to create masks that can bypass face ID.
We have made life easier for scammers to obtain their scamming ‘ingredients’ - Our audio clips and images can be easily found on social media, so be very careful nowadays with what you share publicly. This is no longer sci-fi. Seeing is no longer believing. Exercise greater caution.
Whilst the application of AI takes off for scammers, OpenAI’s ChatGPT experienced its third consecutive month of decline in website visits in August, down 3.2% to 1.4 bil visits, following roughly 10% drops from each of the previous 2 months.
Ryan Salame, a former top executive at bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, became the fourth high-level FTX executive to plead guilty. He will pay USD6 mil in fines and more than USD5 mil in restitution to FTX and will forfeit 2 properties and a Porsche. He also could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The other 3 — Nishad Singh, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang — have already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate against former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, whose trial will commence in October.
29-year-old Faruk Faith Ozer, the founder of collapsed Turkish crypto exchange and his sister and brother have each been sentenced to 11,196 years, 10 months and 15 days in prison. Once one of Turkey’s largest crypto exchanges, it suddenly went offline in Apr 2021, and Ozer went missing, fleeing to Albania. More than 400,000 users lost more than USD2 bil in cryptocurrencies. The extraordinary prison sentences came about after Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 and the defendants were sentenced separately for multiple crimes against 2,027 victims, leading to the enormous number of years in the judgement.
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck near the historic city of Marrakesh, Morocco, on Friday night, killing more than 2,000 people. This is the biggest earthquake to hit central Morocco since 1900. Hong Kong also had to face its own natural disaster as it was slammed by the heaviest rainfall in 140 years, causing floods on streets, shopping malls and subway stations - view here.
Indonesia’s Gojek, a top ride-hailing service operator in Indonesia, aims to replace all two-wheelers with electric motorbikes by 2030. The company is reported to have more than 2 mil registered drivers of motorbikes and automobiles. According to a Gojek driver, he used to spend 100,000 rupiahs (RM30.40) every few days on petrol but the cost has now halved after switching to an e-bike made by Taiwan’s Gogoro. Indonesia is the world’s third-largest market for two-wheeled vehicles, with annual sales of more than 5 mil units.
In Malaysia, Grab will encourage its roughly 80,000 riders to switch to e-bikes from Chinese brand Blue Shark, produced by auto parts maker EP Manufacturing Bhd with whom it has teamed up.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
A Wall Street Journal journalist tries to replicate herself with AI. Not perfect, but scarily close if you let your guard down and don’t pay attention.
Comedian Max Fosh reversed his yellow card in a YouTube All-Stars charity football match using a Uno reverse card. Not sure if it worked. The sold-out match raised USD4.7 mil for 4 UK charities.