Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ National trainwreck in slow motion - nearly half of 2021 SPM leavers chose not to further their studies, up by 55% from 2020
PKR source: PM Anwar to reshuffle Cabinet post-state elections. Netflix says no more to password sharing, global crackdown begins. Rare out of SG - 2 ministers under investigation over homes.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The country had 27,745 unsold houses worth some RM18.45 billion at the end of 2022. Local government development minister Nga Kor Ming said most of these houses, or 9,323 units, were priced between RM500,001 and RM1 million. Nga said the ministry was studying the data for unsold houses to determine a suitable solution. What’s the amicable solution? Discount on the properties? Subsidies by the government? The government shouldn’t be bailing out property developers!
The property affordability issue isn’t happening only in Malaysia. The England and Wales census in 2021 found that 4.9 million young adults live with their parents, up from 4.2 million in the 2011 survey. The likeliest explanation is that many young adults cannot afford to buy or rent their own homes. According to Halifax, a lender, the average age of first-time buyers is now 32.
More than half of the world’s large lakes and reservoirs have shrunk since the early 1990s because of climate change, according to a team of international researchers. Some of the world’s most important freshwater sources lost water at a cumulative rate of approximately 22 gigatonnes per year for nearly three decades. Natural lakes and dams store about 87% of the Earth’s freshwater, although they cover just 3% of the planet’s surface!
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
From the Parliament - Numbers that matter, a lot
48.74% or 180,680 SPM students from the 2021 cohort chose not to further their education based on data from eProfil Kerjaya Murid (ePKM), according to Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek. Compared to 2020, this trend is worsening as only 115,939 SPM school leavers or 35.16%, chose not to further their studies. In absolute figures term, that’s a rise of 55.6%. Although the minister shared the steps taken to address the issue, factors leading to this trend were not shared. This is a trainwreck in slow motion for the nation’s future productivity and should be added to the list of crises alongside climate and retirement crises.
On children's health, safety and development
1,086 underage marriages were reported in 2021, down from 1,354 in 2020, according to Women, Family and Community Development Minister Nancy Syukri.
Breakdown by ethnicity group: 1,001 Bumiputra (92.2%), 36 Chinese (3.3%), 4 Indians (0.4%) and 45 from others (4.1%).
Breakdown by religion: 962 Muslims (90.1%), 124 non-Muslims (11.6%)
Back in Mar 2022, then Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun (if you couldn’t recall who she is, she’s the ‘Doraemon’ minister) said the government has no plans to ban underage marriages. Time for the Unity government to revisit this.
Sidetrack a bit here — following this Doraemon incident, Cilisos went down the rabbit hole to discover the woman who voiced Doraemon in Bahasa Malaysia for over 30 years — Ruhaiyah Ibrahim and the challenging dubbing industry.
On personal finance and bankruptcy
The main cause of bankruptcy cases is personal loans, comprising 49.22% of all cases, according to Minister in the PM’s Department (Law & Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman. This is followed by business loans (17.05%), housing loans (8.28%) and credit card debt (6.35%). 2019-2023 stats showed that the 35-44-year-old age group have the highest number of bankruptcy cases at 13,073 people. Bankrupt cases among men (25,104) are nearly 3x that of women (8,912). By ethnicity, cases somewhat proportionately reflect the nation’s breakdown: 58.28% Malays, 24.96% Chinese, 7.91% Indians and 8.67% others.
No statistics in Ringgit amount were revealed.
Cabinet spring cleaning coming soon
FMT reported that an anonymous, well-placed PKR source shared that PM Anwar will likely reshuffle his Cabinet after the state elections. A bottom-up approach will be taken, starting with senior civil servants, including secretaries-general and directors-general from unspecified ministries. Ministers come and go, but sec-gen and DGs are the ones that stay and run the day-to-day operations of the nation.
This source added that some ministers, especially from PH, do not know what they are doing, leading to the need to clean up. Loke, we would like to believe, backed by his performance, isn’t one of them. 15 of the 28 ministers are from Harapan - see the list here. There were rumours this reshuffling would occur after CNY, but PM Anwar dismissed it as certain quarters causing tension in PH.
Swatch fires back — to take legal action, replenish stock
Swatch said that 164 rainbow-coloured watches worth USD14,000 (RM64,281, RM392 per watch) were seized by the Home Ministry. A ministry official said the watches bore the letter “LGBT” and had 6 colours instead of the 7 in a rainbow. The watch giant will take legal action to seek the return of the watches and as per instruction from its Switzerland HQ, Swatch Malaysia will replenish the stock and display it on-shelf.
Apple CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter to announce that the tech giant will release a Pride Edition Apple Watch band. If you are wondering what’s with all this rainbow news, it’s because June is Pride Month.
Parkson Holdings Bhd reported its first net profit in a very long time of RM20.68 mil for Q1 ended 31 Mar 2023, as its retail operations performed better thanks to the holiday seasons and festivities. The last time it reported an operating profit was 20 quarters ago, for the quarter ended Mar 2018. That’s 60 months or five years ago! It did record a profit for the quarter that ended Jun 2021, however, due to an exceptional, one-off item. Now it begs the question of whether this is a turnaround or also a one-off situation. The company's market cap stands at RM172.3 mil.
Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd has defaulted on its payment totalling RM14.6 mil to Public Bank and Public Islamic Bank. The primary reason cited for the default is due to constrained cash flows. These two banks are considered secured creditors and have taken several land and buildings owned by the company as collateral, which it may seek to sell to recover the debt and also guarantees from individuals associated with Serba Dinamik. Serba Dinamik's share price now is 2 sen, giving it a market cap of RM75 mil. RM14.6 mil is just the tip of the iceberg — Serba’s total headache is 342x that. The group has nearly RM5 bil of total debt. All the best.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Netflix, passwords, and the additional charge
And so it has begun - Netflix has started cracking down on password sharing across its global markets, having delayed the launch from the first quarter of the year after cancellations in markets where “paid sharing” was implemented. Subscribers are now offered the option of paying USD8 per month to add a password sharer outside their household to their account.
Though there is plenty of consumer backlash, the company assured investors that despite cancellations during the rollout, the move would be beneficial to the company’s long-term growth. Co-CEO Greg Peters likens the cancellations to subscriber responses to price hikes.
Before the rollout, an estimated 100 million people worldwide were using passwords belonging to family and friends to binge on Netflix films and TV series, with the paying subscriber count at about 232.5 million people worldwide - in other words, Netflix has 43% ‘hidden’ users that it wants to start monetising.
Yes, Malaysia is affected too, with the price to add a password sharer coming up to RM13 per month.
China-Russia relations, for better or worse
The relations between the two countries are at an “unprecedented high”, according to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, as officials from China and Russia signed a set of agreements on trade and sports cooperation amid Western criticism and “sensational pressure”. This comes after both countries slammed the Group of Seven nations for singling out both countries on several issues, including Ukraine.
As an aside, China has also told NATO that it was not welcome in the Asia-Pacific region, following Japan acknowledging NATO’s plan to open a liaison office in Tokyo, its first office in Asia.
Regarding international relations, Russia has also arrested the director of a top Russian science institute, along with two other hypersonic missile tech experts, on suspicion of treason. The charge? That the arrested scientists were betraying state secrets to - wait for it - China. Alexander Shiplyuk, the director in question, maintained his innocence, stating the information offered was not classified and was freely available online. Maybe he got the information from a Discord server, like how Pentagon secrets were leaked?
Smart Tech: Apple seals deal with US chipmaker, even as AI could “surpass humanity within 10 years”
In a bid to diversify the source of its components, Apple has signed a multi-year agreement with US chipmaker Broadcom to see more US-made parts. This is part of a plan announced in 2021 where Apple will invest USD430 billion in the US economy in response to the escalating tech and trade war between the US and China. Apple has been diversifying its supply chains, with more of its devices now made in countries like India and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the creator of ChatGPT, OpenAI, has warned that AI could “surpass humanity in most domains” within the next decade. “Superintelligence” could lead AI to “carry out as much productive activity as one of today’s largest corporations”, according to OpenAI. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman earlier called for lawmakers to put rules in place to govern the development of AI, stating a need for a proactive approach to managing the potential risks and harms of the technology.
Read post: Governance of superintelligence
Hitler’s childhood house to be used for police human rights training – The house Hitler was born in will be used for human rights training for police officers, which marks the latest development in a lengthy dispute over what to do with the place. The government passed a law allowing it to seize it from the owner in return for over EUR800,000 (RM3.95 mil) in compensation.
Check out the previous plans for the building here. It’s a wild ride.
Florida Governor to make official 2024 US presidential bid on a Twitter event with Elon Musk – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will be making his US presidential bid at an event with billionaire Elon Musk on Twitter. He is expected to be the biggest rival for fellow Republican and former President Donald Trump. Musk has stated that his presence is not an endorsement of DeSantis. Instead, it reflects his desire for Twitter to become “more of a town square”.
Singapore PM opens investigations on cabinet ministers for luxurious living arrangements – Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has ordered an investigation into cabinet ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan, following questions from the opposition about how they can afford the rental of state-owned colonial-era bungalows in an exclusive location in the island nation. The Singaporean government takes pride in being corruption-free, and the investigation will establish if the “proper process” was followed. Singaporeans expressed outrage on social media as the people battle rising living costs, high inflation, and the rising prices of homes and cars.
An interesting history here where a minister during Lee Kuan Yew’s administration chose death (i.e. suicide) over fighting his innocence in a corruption allegation whilst the investigation was still ongoing.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Discovered this old tweet — any task that is time constraint, this delivery man has high expectations to live up to.
Meet the Monobloc — the grandfather of the humble chairs you sit in mamak, kopitiam and warung.