☕️ National Walking Day: Opposition, Mogok Doktor MY and a Johorean doing their 'walks'
Mandatory death no more in Malaysia. TikTok parent ByteDance, founded in 2012, now as big as Tencent. WWE x UFC to form USD21+ bil sports entertainment company.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Oil jumped as much as 8% after OPEC+ announced a surprise round of crude output cuts. This would reduce daily output by about 1.16 mil barrels per day. OPEC comprises 13 nations that possess about 80% of the world’s proven crude oil reserves, and the ‘+’ is an alliance with other oil-producing countries, including Malaysia.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Three Malaysians — Ho Shu Xin from Ipoh and Pua E Rick and Sydny Lum from Kuala Lumpur — have been accepted into Harvard College, the undergraduate school of Harvard University, for the undergraduate class of 2027 — they are among the 14.5% of international students from across 102 countries selected to attend Harvard College. The college received a total of 56,937 applications with a 3.4% acceptance rate. Congratulations!
There are about 36,500 space junk pieces larger than 10cm orbiting the earth, posing a significant risk to space missions. However, there is a cheap and innovative solution to tackle this problem — moving out of the way. Avoiding junk costs US satellite operators a mere USD58 million a year. It is cheap compared to the prices of the satellites themselves.
USD3.5 mil — the cost to transfer 70 hippopotamuses (about USD50k a pop) from Colombia to overseas sanctuaries, nearly half the current population of 150. The environmental havoc caused by these animals is the legacy of deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar, who brought a small number of these African beasts to Colombia in the late 1980s, and after his death, the animals were left to roam freely.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Malaysia finally scraps mandatory death penalty
The Parliament made history by passing laws to remove the mandatory death penalty and abolish natural-life prison sentences (also called life imprisonment). Under the new reform, capital punishment will just be an option and the death penalty will make way for alternatives such as whipping and imprisonment of between 30 to 40 years. The amendments passed apply to 34 offences currently punishable by death. As a result, 1,318 inmates on death row may be spared the gallows after the passing of the law.
Opposition MPs storm out of the Parliament after the Speaker ‘rejects’ their request
Opposition MPs were sulking out of the Parliament when their request for a debate on targetted Employee Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal went unanswered. Previously on Friday last week, Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fahysal submitted a written motion on the matter. It normally takes about five days for the Speaker to respond to the written motion. However, since today is the last day of proceedings for this session, the Opposition tried to force the debate on the EPF withdrawal yesterday, albeit unsuccessfully.
Although not exactly what the Opposition MPs wanted, EPF announced Account 2 Support Facility program, where EPF depositors aged 40 and above could apply for personal financing up to RM50,000 with a repayment tenure capped at ten years, subject to the depositors’ EPF Account 2 balances. The interest rate for the EPF Account 2-backed personal loan is lower than the market rate. However, the loans can only be applied to participating banks, which are only MBSB Bank and Bank Simpanan Nasional at the moment.
Government agencies are still a treasure trove for commission, says PM Anwar
PM Anwar Ibrahim stated that the culture of third parties asking for commissions from government agencies when providing services to the Government is still well and alive and; even his office, the Prime Minister’s Office, is not spared from this culture. Therefore, PM Anwar is calling out every party to work together to eliminate this destructive culture.
Perhaps, PM Anwar should extend the call for action against ‘commission culture’ to the enforcement agencies, such as the police. Recently, a video post on Tik Tok went viral after a female tourist from China claimed that a police officer at a roadblock allegedly extorted her for RM200 after she failed to show her identification document to the police. Police have since launched an investigation into this incident.
Hartal Doktor Kontrak movement walks out from joining the planned strike, claiming they are not a part of it from Day 1
Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK) movement, the pioneer group formally organised a strike fighting for the rights of contract doctors back in 2021, told the media that they are not a part of the strike conducted by Mogok Doktor Malaysia (MGK) group this week. On top of that, HDK even requested to be included in the high-level committee formed by the Cabinet to address the issues of contract doctors.
The Opposition and HDK were not the only ones walking away for something, as was a 49-year-old taxi driver named Norazlan Ismail. The taxi driver turned record-breaking athlete allegedly walked for more than 300km in four days, from Skudai to Istana Negara, to get the attention of government leaders to allow the targetted EPF withdrawals. According to a rough estimation from Google Maps, it would take approximately 71 - 74 hours or 3 days non-stop to complete the journey. If he did complete the journey alone, I believe PM Anwar should give the man what he wanted and perhaps register him to represent Malaysia in the Olympics too. He couldn’t even answer a simple question on what time he arrived - watch below.
Corporate musical chairs
Creador founder and CEO Brahmal Vasudevan resigned as MR DIY Group (M) Bhd’s non-independent and non-executive director as Creador had finalised its exit from the home improvement chain operator. Last Friday, Creador announced that the company had divested its remaining 4.92% stake in MR DIY via a private placement exercise that saw Creador bagging RM664 mil.
Playing a factor in his resignation is the growing interest conflict of Creador in its investment in Eco-Shop Marketing Sdn Bhd, which is directly competing with MR DIY’s MR Dollar. Eco-Shop is planning to raise a RM800 mil IPO this year.
Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid, the former longtime senior executive of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, has been appointed as the new chairman of Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp). The previous MRT Corp’s chairman, Azhar Abdul Hamid, left the post merely 10 months after being appointed due to a clash of opinions regarding the implementation strategy of the proposed MRT Circle Line project.
MYAirline Sdn Bhd CEO Rayner said that the company aims to go public in three years’ time. At the moment, the new low-cost airline is still operating its eight routes within the border of this country and the company is looking forward to establishing new international routes to the region, supported by its planned fleet of 20 leased narrow-body aircraft by the end of the year. Hope MYAirline’s growth will pressure a certain competitor to improve most if not all aspects of its business.
MN Holdings Bhd inked a deal with China’s Shanghai DC-Science Co Ltd to build the latter’s first high-performance data centre outside China. The RM2.65 bil data centre will be built on a 20-acres site at the Sedenak Tech Park in Johor. This deal was also a part of a series of foreign direct investments PM Anwar brought home from China.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Murder Mystery in Russia: Pro-Russian military blogger killed in cafe explosion
Vladlen Tatarsky, a pro-Kremlin military blogger and vocal supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine with more than 500,000 followers on Telegram, died in an explosion at a St Petersburg cafe on Sunday evening. 30 others were injured in the incident. Authorities have classified the investigation as “high-profile murder”.
Tatarsky was a guest speaker at an event hosted by the cafe. According to Russian state media, Tatarsky was presented with a statue in a box as a gift, which had a bomb inside. Russian investigators have detained a woman who admitted she handed the statue that later blew up; however, it is believed to have been recorded under duress. Russian officials have hinted that Ukraine was behind the explosion. Ukraine blamed an “internal political fight”, resulting in the explosion.
Watch: The explosion caught on CCTV (warning - graphic)
ByteDance = Tencent in revenue
In an internal memo to investors, TikTok parent ByteDance said its revenue has surged more than 30% to USD80 bil in 2022 from about USD60 bil in 2021. Its revenue is nearly on par with China’s most valuable company and owner of WeChat, Tencent, of USD80.6 bil. Despite coming under attack from governments worldwide, the company said its video platforms, TikTok (global) and Douyin (China), drew eyeballs and advertisers from other social media platforms. In the US alone, TikTok has more than 150 mil, monthly users.
ByteDance was founded in 2012 and has rapidly grown into a tech behemoth in a decade and made its 39-year-old co-founder Zhang Yiming a very wealthy man - his 20% stake is worth about USD42.3 bil, based on ByteDance’s recent fundraising round that valued the company at USD220 bil. The other co-founder, Liang Rubo, ows just 1% of the company, but still enough to make him a billionaire with his stake worth USD2.1 bil.
WWE x UFC to form new sports entertainment company
World Wrestling Entertainment will be acquired by Endeavour Group Holdings, the company that runs Ultimate Fighting Championship, to create a USD21.4 bil sports entertainment company. Endeavour will take a controlling interest of 51% in the new publicly traded company, and the balance 49% will be held by WWE shareholders. The new business will be led by Endeavour CEO Ari Emanuel.
UFC and WWE’s revenues were nearly the same in 2022 at about USD1.3 bil each.
Watch: What everyone gets wrong about the WWE being fake
Banking giant Goldman Sachs goes buying Greek hotels
The Wall Street Journal reported that the banking giant is investing about EUR150-200 mil in 3 seaside resorts in Greece. The investment is made under the bank’s asset management division, which is funded with Goldman’s own money and that of the unit’s clients. The bank attempts to diversify and seek steadier revenue - asset and wealth management are less tethered to the market’s ups and downs as compared to Goldman’s bread-and-butter investment banking and trading businesses. Goldman brought in USD8.8 bil in asset and wealth management fees in 2022, a record for the firm and it aims to hit USD10 bil by the end of 2024.
The rushed and forced merger (a bailout in essence for Credit Suisse) between the two banking giants gave birth to a megabank with USD 1.6 tril in assets and more than 120,000 employees globally. What comes next is no surprise - anonymous internal sources said management is considering laying off between 20-30% of the combined workforce, meaning between 25,000 and 36,000 jobs. In Switzerland alone, 11,000 jobs are at risk of getting axed. Switzerland's federal prosecutor has initiated an investigation into this takeover whether Swiss criminal law was broken by government officials, regulators and executives of the two banks.
The Taliban has shut down Sadai Banowan, Afghanistan’s only women-run radio station, started over 10 years ago for violating Islamic laws and regulations as the radio broadcasted songs and music during Ramadhan. The name Sadai Banowan means women’s voice in Dari.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Dialogue between President Xi Jinping and PM Anwar
The State of Buy Now
CannotPay Later in Malaysia by yours truly
Suggest to re include all the external links at the end of the newsletter, so readers do not have to click on the link in the middle of reading (but still able to see the suggested external link), and able to jump to external sources at the end of the newsletter.