Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ NGO Aman Palestin being investigated by MACC
Iconic Sydney Opera House celebrates its 50th birthday this month. MYAirline scandal gets interesting - luxury goods seized, money frozen. NVIDIA wants to eat Intel’s lunch - PC chips.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Chinese banks are increasingly concerned about undisclosed bad debts, further complicating the financial situation within the sector, according to The Economist. In a recent report, the magazine highlighted that local governments are facing challenges in repaying lenders at least RMB65 trillion (RM42.8 trillion) in off-balance-sheet debts. The report also noted that numerous major property developers in the country have already defaulted on offshore bonds and owe significant amounts of unbuilt homes to local residents, adding to the sector's financial instability.
One in every five Malaysians could be diabetic, according to a survey conducted by the National Health Institute. Consultant endocrinologist Dr Malathi Karupiah said this is a worrying statistic as diabetes is no longer a disease of the elderly as even teenagers are being afflicted with it. Dr Malathi said Type 2 diabetes, which is due to insulin resistance, was the most common in the country. Folks, please watch your sugar intake.
The iconic Sydney Opera House is celebrating its 50th birthday. To many, it’s more than just an opera house — it’s a place where people protest, it’s a place where Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd of 40,000 people in 1990 and its unique shape has also been used as a canvas to commemorate occasions. For the 50th birthday, the theme is “The People’s House.” As many as 233 designs were submitted for the Opera House international design competition held in 1956. It cost AUD102 mil to build (completed back in 1973), way more than the initial budget of AUD7 mil. There are more than one million roof tiles covering approximately 1.62 hectares over the structure. More fun facts about the Opera House can be found here.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
MOSTI x Bursa Malaysia to identify promising startups for listing, aiming to boost innovation
Malaysia's Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) is partnering with Bursa Malaysia to identify and support promising startups on their journey to potential listing. This initiative aligns with the government’s ambitious goal of ranking among the world's top 30 countries in the Global Innovation Index (GII) by 2025, as outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan. As of 2023, Malaysia maintains its 36th position in the GII rankings but has shown improvement with a higher GII score of 40.9. Malaysia ranks second among ASEAN countries, trailing Singapore, which ranks 7th on the GII.
Prosecution seeks amendment to charges against Najib in 1MDB Case
The prosecution has applied to amend three of the 25 charges against former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. This amendment request comes in light of recent testimonies by two key witnesses, Bank Negara Malaysia’s analyst Adam Ariff Mohd Roslan and Assistant Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Criminal Investigation Division ACP Foo Wei Min.
The proposed amendments involve one power abuse charge, reducing the amount from RM49.9 mil to RM44.6 mil, and two money laundering charges, with the amount involved in one charge, lowered from RM652.6 mil to RM515.7 mil and the other from RM12.4 mil to RM11.4 mil. The amendments will be subject to further discussion in court. Najib faces four charges related to alleged bribes and 21 money laundering charges amounting to RM2.3 bil, all connected to the 1MDB case.
MACC launches investigation into Aman Palestin's use of public donations amid transparency concerns
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has initiated an investigation into the utilisation of public donations collected by Aman Palestin Berhad (Aman Palestin), a non-governmental organisation. MACC Chief Commissioner Azam Baki announced that they are currently in the process of obtaining documents from Aman Palestin and collaborating with banks to scrutinise the handling of these funds. Concerns arose when reports indicated that the donations might not be reaching their intended beneficiaries in Palestine.
Do your due diligence before you donate.
Lynas granted a licence to import radioactive lanthanide concentrate until March 2026
The MOSTI Minister, Chang Lih Kang, has confirmed that Lynas, the Australian rare earth materials producer, will be permitted to import lanthanide concentrate, a naturally occurring radioactive material, until the expiration of its license in March 2026. This decision comes after the Atomic Energy Licensing Board amended two of the four conditions of Lynas's license. To ensure compliance, Lynas must construct a permanent disposal facility that reduces the radioactive levels in WLP residue to a point where it is free from legal restrictions. Furthermore, 1% of their gross revenue, approximately RM25 mil, will be allocated to fund local research and development.
Malaysia is preparing to send humanitarian aid worth RM7 mil to Palestine through Egypt, with a delivery expected by this Friday. The aid, consisting of about 50 tonnes of supplies, includes medicines, baby essentials, blankets, and food. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Mohd Na’im Mokhtar also presented a mock cheque of RM100,000, contributed by Lembaga Tabung Haji, to support the purchase of medical supplies for Palestinians affected by recent clashes in the region.
The MYAirline probe intensifies as Malaysian police have seized luxury cars, designer handbags, valuable watches, and jewellery in the investigation, along with freezing approximately RM5 mil in bank accounts. So far, authorities have confiscated 12 vehicles, six watches, eight handbags, two laptops, a CPU, 10 pieces of jewellery, and documents linked to i-Serve Technology and Vacation Sdn Bhd.
Former minister Zuraida Kamaruddin criticised Dewan Rakyat speaker Johari Abdul for banning the use of derogatory terms such as “kafir”, “Yahudi” (Jews), and “Zionists” in Parliament. She deemed the move inappropriate, stating that it limited the freedom of Members of Parliament (MPs) to speak. Zuraida emphasised that these words were commonly used in political discourse. Johari had instructed MPs to refrain from using such "sensitive" words, deeming them "hurtful and divisive" during the 2024 supply bill debate. Glad she’s no longer in the government.
The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has identified seven dams in Melaka, Kedah, Penang, and Johor as high-risk in a report addressing the potential impact of climate change on public water supply. SPAN Chairman Charles Santiago emphasised that while these dams are not at a dangerous level, their water supply is at high risk. Santiago called for a review of the design, safety, maintenance, and audits of these older dams to ensure their continued reliability, especially in the face of climate change.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Israel-Palestine Conflict Updates
Death toll: 5,791 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes, including 2,360 children
French President Emmanuel Macron visits Israel with a four-point plan to de-escalate the situation. The trip comes more than two weeks after Hamas fighters stormed into Israel, killing at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, including about 30 French citizens. Macron wants to prevent escalation, free the remaining captives in Gaza, guarantee of security for Israel and also wants to work towards a two-state solution.
The world’s largest social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube and TikTok — are said to be shadowbanning pro-Palestine content. Authors, activists, journalists, filmmakers, and everyday users from various parts of the world have reported that posts containing hashtags like "FreePalestine" and "IStandWithPalestine" are being concealed or hidden on social media platforms. The majority of these platforms are denying the shadowbans.
Hamas released two women hostages following mediation from Qatar and Egypt and for “humanitarian reasons and poor health grounds.” One of the hostages, an 85-year-old woman, gripped the hand of one of the masked Hamas captors as she was released and said “Shalom”, a Jewish salutation. At the press conference, she said her Hamas captors had shown “care” and “gentleness” towards them.
All about China
China’s legislature approved a plan to raise the fiscal deficit ratio for 2023 to about 3.8% of gross domestic product (GDP), above the 3% target set back in March. When the government spends more money than it earns, it will face a fiscal deficit. Raising the ratio either means the government wants to spend more (to drive the economy) or the GDP is coming lower than expectations.
China will also be issuing additional sovereign debt worth RMB1 trillion (RM650 bil) in the fourth quarter to support disaster relief and construction. By issuing the bonds, the government will have more room to spend.
China sees another leadership shake-up
Li Shangfu has been removed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, with the reasons undisclosed. The removal came after weeks of speculation over the fate of the US-sanctioned general, who was said to be missing since the end of August. The announcement was made shortly before a Pentagon delegation’s scheduled arrival in Beijing for a regional security forum. This move could potentially facilitate long-delayed, high-level military discussions between the two sides.
China’s top diplomat to meet top Washington officials
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to travel to the United States later this week. This visit has been long-anticipated and is occurring amidst heightened tensions in the Middle East. US officials are hopeful that Beijing can contribute to efforts to manage these tensions. Wang will be in Washington from October 26 to 28, where he will meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, as per the officials’ announcement.
NVIDIA wants to eat Intel’s lunch
After dominating the artificial intelligence computing chips space, Nvidia is coming after Intel’s longtime stronghold of personal computers. Reuters reported that the AI chipmaker has begun designing central processing units (CPUs) that would run Microsoft’s Windows operating system and use technology from Arm Holdings. The AI chip giant’s new endeavour aligns with Microsoft's initiative to assist chip companies in developing Arm-based processors for Windows PCs. And Nvidia is not alone. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) also plans to make chips for PCs with Arm technology.
How did it come to this? Thanks to Apple’s custom chips — it started with the M1. Microsoft wants to match Apple’s silicons, which have given the Macs a better battery life and speedy performance than its rival chips.
Nvidia and AMD could sell PC chips as soon as 2025 — after Microsoft and Qualcomm’s exclusivity ends in 2024.
Iceland’s PM leads the protest at gender pay gap and gender-based violence
Ten of thousands of women in Iceland went on a work strike yesterday by refusing paid and unpaid work, including household chores. The planned walkout marks the first full-day women's strike since 1975. The irony is that Iceland has been ranked the best country in the world for gender equality by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for 14 years in a row. However, the country is not completely equal, with the WEF assigning it an overall score of 91.2%.
Four defecting North Koreans caught
A small wooden boat carrying a group of North Koreans has entered South Korean waters, as reported by Seoul's military. This event appears to be a rare defection across the maritime border. The boat was transporting four North Koreans who expressed their intent to defect. Over the years, more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea to escape repression and poverty since the Korean War from 1950-1953.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
The World Bank’s Lead Economist for Malaysia gives his take on the current situation for our beloved ringgit. TLDR: We can’t solely blame the Government — there is a need to look at issues plaguing the country and also external factors.
Humans’ love for protein (meat) is out of this world.