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☕️ New year, same move: Langkah Sheraton in 2020, Dubai Move in 2024

McD's MY sues BDS MY for RM6 mil over Israel boycott. Powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Japan, tsunami warning issued. Global politics, economy - what lies ahead in 2024?

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Information as of closing 2023


598,635 road accidents were recorded nationwide from 1 Jan to 30 Dec in 2023, an average of 49,886 cases per day. Of this, 12,417 involved fatalities - a death rate of 2.07% and an average of 34 fatal accidents per day. Selangor recorded the most accidents, with 173,129 cases, followed by Johor (87,3700 and KL (72.701).

At 99 meters, Sarawak’s newly launched flagpole has made it into Malaysia’s Book of Records as the tallest one in the country and Southeast Asia. This flagpole cost RM30 mil to build. Not sure if this is an achievement to be proud of or money well spent.

570 GB of data obtained from books, web texts, Wikipedia, articles, and other pieces of writing on the internet was used to train GPT3.5, the large language model that powers the free version of ChatGPT. To be even more exact, this data involved a whopping 300 bil words fed into the system. GPT3.5’s capability is limited to language. The more powerful paid version, GPT4.0, can recognise images, talk in 26 languages, and ‘hallucinate’ less or produce fewer factual errors. A simple and interesting read on large language models here. 

498,540 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in the first 6 months of 2023, almost a third of pre-pandemic levels. Neighbour Thailand expected 3.4 — 3.5 mil visitors from China in 2023. As Malaysia strives to attract five mil Chinese tourists this year and in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of China-Malaysia bilateral diplomatic relations this year, Malaysia recently announced that tourists from China would be able to enter the country visa-free for 30 days, a move mirroring Thailand.


Langkah Sheration in 2020. Dubai Move in 2024
Deputy Director General of the Community Communications Department (J-KOM), Datuk Ismail Yusop, revealed a purported scheme during a Dubai vacation by PN leaders. They were accused of trying to allegedly lure MPs to the opposition for bribes and establish a backdoor government. Ismail claims involvement from influential "Tun"-titled political veterans collaborating with foreign sources. He urged PM Anwar Ibrahim to investigate, predicting a Madani government collapse in early 2024.

PN leaders have rubbished talk of the ‘Dubai Move’. Tuan Ibrahim and Wan Ahmad Fayhsal reject the "Dubai Move," calling it a distraction from pressing issues. Fayhsal alleges a ploy to attract opposition MPs, while Ahmad Maslan highlights fines for switching allegiances of RM100 mil. Former PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob also distances himself from the alleged plot, stating that he had no knowledge and emphasising his current focus on performing Umrah in Mecca. Amidst the political turmoil, discussions on stability and economic strength persist.

New year, same game.

McDonald's Malaysia sues BDS Malaysia over Israel boycott, seeks RM6 mil in damages 💰
McDonald's Malaysia, represented by Gerbang Alaf Restaurants, filed an RM6 mil lawsuit against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Malaysia for alleged false and defamatory statements linking the fast-food chain to Israel's actions in Gaza. The suit claims the boycott movement led to revenue loss (RM3 mil), compensation for job cuts (RM1.5 mil), and expired materials (RM1.5 mil). Meanwhile, BDS chairman Nazari Ismail asserts they supported Malaysians who initiated it, and he urges Malaysians' financial support for potential legal costs. The suit seeks an apology, damages, and an injunction against BDS's boycott calls. 🍔🍟

Targeted subsidy progressing - PM to launch PADU🚀 
PM Anwar will be launching the Central Database Hub (Padu) today, with a presentation by Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC). Using specific criteria like dependents, Padu ensures targeted subsidies, preventing misappropriation of the RM81 bil subsidy budget. Padu, fostering a secure national database, facilitates analytics, policy formulation, and targeted implementation. Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli clarifies that Padu won't integrate with banks due to legal constraints.

Citizens aged 18 and above are urged to verify and update socio-economic data during the open period. Public participation is encouraged, with incentives like free Touch 'n Go NFC cards and discounts from Mydin. Updating personal information is voluntary until March 31, 2024, with no penalties for those who opt out.

AirAsia Malaysia CEO stepped down and takes advisory role amid company restructuring ✈️🔄
AirAsia Berhad’s CEO, Mr Riad Asmat, is set to resign on December 31, 2023, transitioning to a role on the board of advisers. The move aligns with the ongoing restructuring within AirAsia Aviation Group. Riad, who assumed the CEO role in January 2018, was pivotal in overseeing Malaysia-based operations. While specific details on the company's restructuring and personnel changes are yet to be disclosed, AirAsia has hinted at forthcoming updates. The development comes as Capital A, AirAsia's holding company, aims to diversify its services beyond aviation, anticipating its non-airlines business to surpass airline operations within the next five years.

A post shared by @tonyfernandes


  1. New Year's Eve tragedy: Fatal fireworks mishap at Port Dickson hotel
    A local man, 40, dies instantly, and his 39-year-old colleague is injured after a fireworks material explosion on a hotel car park building in Port Dickson. Both were employees setting up for a New Year's Eve show. Viral footage captures the tragic event. 😢🎆

  2. Gaza ceasefire pleas echo at US embassy protest led by Former PKR VP
    As the new year began, "Kepung Demi Palestin" protesters gathered at the US Embassy, led by former PKR VP Chua Tian Chang, urging a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The group, picketing since Dec 26, blamed the US for prolonging the conflict and outlined four demands, including ending apartheid in Palestine and seeking a fair, peaceful resolution. The night concluded with a candlelight vigil, declarations, and songs. Notable speakers, including former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, stressed the need for a lasting end to violence. The peaceful protest symbolically occupied areas near the embassy for six days. 🕊️

  3. Hat Yai's boom: Malaysians double visits, contribute RM267 mil 💸
    During the festive season, daily Malaysian visitors to Hat Yai doubled to 20,000, injecting over THB2 bil (RM267 mil) into the local economy - that’s an average spent of RM13,350, which seems a bit excessive unless this amount factored in spillover effects too. Hat Yai's diverse food, accessibility, and affordable hotels make it a favoured year-round destination, drawing 5,000 visitors on weekdays and nearly 10,000 on weekends. Peak season weekends saw an average of 20,000 Malaysians daily, contributing an estimated two bil Baht. Hotel demand surged, with downtown fully booked. Thailand welcomed 27.25 mil tourists in 2023, with Malaysians leading at 4.43 mil.


Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus convicted in Bangladesh
For the uninitiated, Muhammad Yunus, 83, is well known for lifting millions out of poverty with his pioneering microfinance through the Grameen Bank. Professor Yunus and 3 of his Grameen Telecom (one of the firms Yunus founded) colleagues were convicted under labour laws and sentenced to 6 months of prison. All four were granted bail pending appeals. His supporters decried this move as politically motivated, as his rising popularity has earned the enmity of longtime PM Sheikh Hasina. Yunus and colleagues were accused of violating labour laws when they failed to create a workers’ welfare fund in the company. 

Yunus told reporters that he had not profited from any of the more than 50 social business firms he set up in Bangladesh. In August, 160 global figures, including former US President Barack Obama, ex-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and more than 100 of Yunus’ fellow Nobel laureates, published a joint letter denouncing the “continuous judicial harassment” of Yunus. 

7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Japan, tsunami warning issued
A series of powerful earthquakes hit central Japan off the coast of Ishikawa (see map here), triggering tsunami warnings in Japan and some areas in Russia and North Korea. A major tsunami warning — the first since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan - was issued in Ishikawa but later downgraded. The earthquake destroyed several buildings and knocked out power to more than 36,000 households. 

Another Fukushima?
Japan’s NuclearRegulation Authority said no irregularities have been confirmed at nuclear plants along the Sea of Japan. The Shika plant in Ishikawa, located closest to the quake’s epicentre, had already halted its two reactors for inspection and saw no impact from the earthquake. 

Spotlight: Business in China

  • Huawei making a comeback
    The Chinese tech giant, which was hit hard by US sanctions in 2019, said it expects to report nearly USD100 bil in revenue in 2023, a 9% jump from USD92.4 bil recorded in 2022. However, this is still below the USD123 bil recorded in 2019. This is the fastest pace of growth in years, thanks to the boom in smartphone sales and robust 5G equipment sales. Huawei shocked the US when it released its Mate 60 Pro powered by made-in-China 7-nanometre chips. 

  • First made-in-China cruise set to sail
    After the first made-in-China plane made its first flight in May 2023, now, the first Chinese-made cruise called  Adora is set to sail from its home port in Shanghai for a 6-day trip to South Korea’s Jeju island and the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Fukuoka. This 323.6 metres-long ship, which can accommodate up to 5,246 passengers in 2,125 guest rooms, is a product of a joint venture between China’s largest shipbuilding company, China State Shipbuilding Corp and giant US cruise operator Carnival Corp. Check out Adora here.

  • China’s Elon Musk live streams 1,000 km single charge journey
    Chinese Tesla rival Nio has developed a groundbreaking battery technology with a range of 1,000 km. To demonstrate its capabilities, CEO William Li, who has gained a reputation as China’s Elon Musk (not this Yilong Ma), live-streamed his 14-hour, 1,044 km journey with a single charge from Shanghai to Xiamen. Despite a cold snap, he ended the trip with a 3% battery charge remaining. With great technology comes great costs — the 150 kWh batteries powering the alone cost USD42,100. That’s the same price as one whole Tesla Model Y in China. 

    To address this, Nio takes a different approach to EV charging by setting up more than 2,000 battery swapping stations across China, where owners pay a monthly subscription fee to access Nio’s network of swap stations. Its bold strategy has yet to pay off - the Financial Times reported that Nio is losing USD12,000 for every car it makes

Denmark’s queen to abdicate after 52 years on the throne
Queen Margrethe II, 83, made a surprise announcement during her annual New Year’s speech that she would abdicate the throne after taking over from her father in 1972 and would be succeeded by her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik. She was the longest-serving monarch in Europe following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and is the world’s only currently reigning female monarch.

Her 55-year-old son was somewhat known as a party prince in the 1990s, but the reputation started to clear as he became the first Danish royal to have completed a university education (adulting effect?). Denmark has Europe’s oldest ruling monarchy, which traces its line back to the Viking King Gorm the Old, who died in 958. 
Read: Who is Crown Prince Frederick, Denmark’s king-in-waiting?

Google settles USD5 bil lawsuit for incognito tracking
The search giant has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit for invading the privacy of its users by tracking them even when they were browsing in incognito or “private mode”. Incognito mode on Google’s Chrome browser allows users to surf the net without their activity being saved to the browser or device. However, the website visited can use tools such as Google Analytics to track usage. 


  1. Drones + fireworks New Year countdown at TRX Exchange


    A post shared by @placesmalaysia

  2. Global politics - what lies ahead in 2024? Channel News Asia breaks down the important upcoming events of the year.

  1. What lies ahead in 2024 the Economy version by Al Jazeera.

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