Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Najib Razak seeking permission from Prisons Dept. to visit his constituency "once in a while"
LCS project - payment milestone that defies common sense and logic. 14th Parliament productive in passing key laws - take a look back. Cashback site Shopback raised USD160 mil.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
According to the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network (GLAMOS), Switzerland has recorded the worst melt rate of its glaciers since monitoring began more than 100 years ago. The glaciers have lost around 3 cubic kilometres (0.72 cubic miles) of ice in 2022 — approximately 6% of total volume.
RM31.50 — the ceiling price of bottled cooking oil in 5kg bottles, a drop of RM2 compared to RM33.50 last month. Prices of bottled pure palm cooking oil at the retail level will be decreased across the board — 3kg (RM19.90), 2kg (RM13.50) and 1kg (RM7.10). The prices will be effective from Oct 8 until Nov 7.
If you’re living near a slope in Malaysia, you might want to skip these stats (ignorance is bliss, at your own peril) — 49% of local authorities (n = 41) have no slope management expertise, and 81% don’t implement maintenance, according to a circular issued by Housing and Local Government Ministry in Aug 2021.
302,000 — the number of spectators at the Singapore Grand Prix over the weekend, the highest attendance in the race’s 13-year history. The three-day event’s tickets were sold out. Watch the highlights here.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The anti-stalking bill was passed by Dewan Rakyat
Dewan Rakyat has passed the anti-stalking bill that was tabled by deputy law minister Mas Ermieyati Samsudin back in August, after its third hearing. The bill will seek to amend the Penal Code in order to criminalise stalking, including the ones done virtually. Under this new bill, stalkers could be imprisoned for up to three years. In the bill’s debate, former women minister Hannah Yeoh vouched for offences such as doxxing, damaging properties and spying to be included in the list of stalking offences.
The 14th Parliament has been productive in passing key laws.
As the rumours for a GE15 are getting louder day by day, let’s look back and view the laws passed by the 14th Parliament that started after the last general election in 2018 up until now. As we have experienced three different governments (PH, PN and BN) during the 14th Parliament’s period, it is unfair to attribute the passing of one law to one specific government as the legwork to pass a law, in some cases, took years. The Star highlighted a few key laws that have been passed so far:
Constitution (Amendment) (No. 3) Act 2022 (Anti-Hopping): MPs who defect from the political party they represented as election candidates or those who became independent will have to vacate their parliamentary seats.
Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019 (Undi 18): The lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 alongside automatic voter registration.
Constitution (Amendment) Act 2021: Clarify the terms of the federation with Sabah and Sarawak, in line with Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Employment (Amendment) Act 2021: Better employee protection, including protection against termination on pregnancy grounds, flexible working arrangement and increased paid maternity & paternity leave. The enforcement of this law was postponed from 1 Sept 2022 to 1 Jan 2023.
All things 1MDB:
In Najib Razak’s misappropriation of RM2.28bil 1MDB fund, the defence lawyer, Wan Aizuddin, was trying his best to mix and match the figures in the so call ‘donation letters’ from an alleged Saudi royal with the amount of money that entered Najib’s Ambank account. In the latest update from the trial, Wan Aizuddin had presented a third letter from the alleged Saudi royal, outlining a promise of a USD800mil ‘donation’ to Najib Razak in 2013 for the former prime
sinister minister’s significant work in governing Malaysia according to Islamic principles and reintroducing the religion to the world. One thing in common in all of the three letters that originated from the alleged Saudi royal was that the donation of hundreds of millions of US dollars should not be seen as an act of corruption. How convenient. Maybe next time.
No more government land has been sold to pay for 1MDB-related debts, as confirmed by treasury secretary-general Asri Hamidon. This came after Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) purchased a 55.79 acres plot dubbed ‘Lot 41’ from the government in 2017, where the proceeds from the sale were used to pay 1MDB debts. When the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) conducted its investigation on the transaction, it was found out that BNM overpaid by almost 50%, having paid RM2.07bil instead of the RM1.42bil market value of the land. BNM reiterated that it will conduct stricter scrutiny in conducting future purchases.
The Prisons Department said no to Najib Razak attending Parliament sittings.
According to Najib Razak’s lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, the Prisons Department decided not to allow the imprisoned former prime minister to attend Parliament sessions due to security reasons. Shafee then ridiculed the prison department’s decision by mentioning that the Parliament’s buildings are more secure than the courts and hospitals, which are among the ‘known’ locations Najib has been commuting to after he is jailed. Shafee has submitted an appeal to the Home Minister in regards to the Prisons Department’s decision and if he does not receive a reply by Tuesday noon, he will file a judicial review on behalf of Najib.
Before we continue, let us quote the definition of prison from the Oxford dictionary — where a prison is a building where people are kept as a punishment for a crime they have committed.
Moving on, apart from the rejected request to attend the Dewan Rakyat’s sessions, Najib Razak also requested to meet his political aide for matters of his Pekan’s constituency and ‘once in a while’ be allowed to visit Pekan to serve his voters. Which part of being in prison does Najib not understand?
The detailed design for LCS is almost completed.
Responding to the Parliament, deputy defence minister Ikhmal Hashim stated that contractor Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) has completed 94% of the detailed design of the littoral combat ship (LCS), including the critical zone of the ship. The critical zone comprises any area of the ship that is situated below the water level. On top of that, Ikhmal also mentioned that the payment for the LCS project by the government was not based on the progress of the project, but it was based on ‘whether the activity and the contract for all ships can be executed’. This brilliant payment scheme is why Putrajaya has paid RM6.08bil for the RM9bil LCS project, with no ships to be seen yet.
Petronas: We will protect our assets.
In response to the media report stating that the heirs of the Sulu Sultan will initiate a second raid for Malaysia-owned assets, in particular, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas)’s assets in the Netherland, Petronas said that the company will defend its legal position in the matter and any legal claims initiated by the Sulu party are baseless.
PNB to diversify into infrastructure assets.
Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), which managed RM336.7bil of assets in 2021, is looking into infrastructure assets as one of the components for its portfolio next year, as the country’s largest asset manager intends to steer through the current high inflationary environment. PNB group CEO Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn said that the infrastructure asset class has matured well, where you can treat it like real estate.
In Malaysia alone, there are huge opportunities for PNB to look into, from kilometres of highways to metropolitan public transportation systems such as the Klang Valley’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
UK PM’s humiliating u-turn on tax cuts
Just 10 days after announcing a mini-budget, new UK PM Liz Truss succumbed to pressure from her own Conservative Party to reverse plans to cut the highest rate, announced by UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister basically) Kwasi Kwarteng. Interestingly, the removal of the top tax rate only made up around GBP2 bil of the GBP45 bil in Truss’ tax-cutting plan, but it was the most controversial item that was to be funded by government borrowing. Senior members of the party have publicly criticised this move as politically risky as it looks as though the government prioritises the wealthy over the average people during a cost-of-living crisis.
Credit Suisse CEO’s “critical moment” in an internal memo sparked rumours about the bank’s Lehman moment.
Last Friday, the Swiss banking giant’s CEO Ulrich Koerner told its staff in a memo that it was a “critical moment” for the bank ahead of its restructuring plans that will be revealed on Oct 27. The memo achieved its opposite intention — instead of calming everyone, Twitter and Reddit ran with it and wildly speculated that the bank is imploding and facing its Lehman moment, raising concerns of the potential collapse of the global financial system. This rattled investors, causing its stock to drop 12% on Monday morning, extending its decline to 60% this year. The bank updated its memo over the weekend to note that it has a USD100 bil capital buffer.
Lehman moment, derived from Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy in 2008, generally refers to a situation when problems and failure of one financial institution spreading to other financial institutions, causing a contagion effect.
The Pope, Lego and Russia.
The Pope has spoken — Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, has for the first time directly appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the “spiral of violence and death” and called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to consider proposals to halt the fighting.
Danish toymaker Lego in Russia will be replaced with a new brand called “World of Cubes”. Inventive Retail Group, Lego’s franchise partner in Russia, will take over the operations and seeks to expand its number of outlets. It will continue selling the Lego brand despite Lego stopped shipping to Russia since March. To get these products into the country, including iPhone 14, parallel import is done where the products imported from another country did not receive the permission of the intellectual property owners.
Oil cartel to reduce output.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+, plus referring to non-OPEC members in this alliance) is considering reducing its oil output by more than 1 mil barrels per day. This alliance, consisting of 23 oil-producing nations, including Russia, will be meeting in Vienna, Austria, this Wednesday to decide on its production policy. In August, 19 of the OPEC+ countries produced around 38.69 mil barrels per day. This news caused oil prices to jump by 4% and is expected to push oil prices back to USD100. Inflation is just going to persist and stay stubborn in the near to medium term.
Poland has sent Germany a diplomatic note, formalising Poland’s demand for World War II reparations of 6.2 tril zlotys (USD1.26 tril). About 6 mil Poles, including 3 mil Polish Jews, were killed during the war and Warsaw was destroyed to the ground in 1944.
TV reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian has agreed to a fine of USD1.26 mil by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for advertising the cryptocurrency EthereumMax on her Instagram page without disclosing she was paid to do so. She received USD250,000 for the shoutout.
Shopback, the cashback site from Singapore, has raised USD80 mil from 65 Equity Partners Holdings Pte Ltd, Singapore’s state investment fund Temasek’s late-stage fund, bringing the round to a total of USD160 mil. After raising more than USD310 mil, the company is yet a unicorn — this funding round values it at close to USD1 bil. No stats were shared on how the company has been performing.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
To all builders out there, keep persevering, keep fightin’.
A whale-watching group caught on video a rare encounter of orcas and humpback whales fighting that lasted for 3 hours. No death was reported.