- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ NGO Aman Palestin's bank accounts frozen by MACC, alleged misappropriation of RM70 mil
☕️ NGO Aman Palestin's bank accounts frozen by MACC, alleged misappropriation of RM70 mil
Defence Minister: National Service will not start next year. Mysterious influenza spreading in northern China affecting children. The economic cost of Gaza war to Israel - USD270 mil daily.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
The US markets were closed yesterday due to Thanksgiving. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index hit an all-time high on Monday since 33 years ago in Mar 1990. This year alone, the benchmark is up 28%, making it one of the best-performing stock markets in the world. For comparison, the S&P 500 is up 18%. Bursa Malaysia? Sigh. It’s down -2.82% year-to-date (YTD).
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
More than 75,000 fans attended Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres concert at Bukit Jalil on Wednesday. The band performed its last show of 2023 for two hours in the rain. The frontman of the band, Chris Martin, treated the fans with a one-off song, Malaysia Rain. Chris said the band would love to come back to Malaysia to perform again — let’s see if more dates will be added next year!
62.3% — the GDP growth of Guyana, a South American nation (see on map here)with a population of 800,000 people, in 2022. It was the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). How did the country’s economy grow so much? Thanks to the good ol’ oil. Exxon Mobil has discovered the equivalent of more than 11 bil barrels of oil (at current Brent crude oil price of about USD81, that’s a massive USD891 bil in black gold) so far off the coast of Guyana. Its GDP is expected to grow by 38% this year — but exceptional growths come with its own sets of risks — notably in corruption and Dutch disease, she cautioned. Dutch disease is an economic term referring to the negative repercussions that arise from rapid development as a result of newfound resources, which paradoxically harms the broader economy.
The Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index experienced a 1.8% decline in October, reaching its lowest level since 2021. This index monitors prices for the 50 most traded watches by value on the secondary market and has now fallen by 42% since its peak in April 2022. Specifically, the Rolex brand index dropped 1.5% in the last month and is down 27% since the market's high in April 2022. According to data compiled by Bloomberg and Subdial, a UK-based watch trading platform, there are indications of further weakening in the market as supply increases and the time to sell used watches extends. Since August, the number of used watches available on the secondary market has risen by 5%, as reported by Subdial. Time to buy the dip! NFA
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Between Heaven (PAS version) and EarthPAS-led Kelantan State Government tabled an RM1.61 bil 2024 Budget with a deficit estimated at RM178.49 mil — in other words, they are spending 11.11% more than what they take in. The Kota Bharu Government expected the state to collect a revenue of RM967.25 mil where almost half of the revenue will come from land revenue amounting to RM377 mil. The Kelantan State Government will still be highly dependent on Putrajaya where the Federal Government is projected to contribute RM331.7 mil or about 35% of the state’s revenue in 2024.
The Johor State Government, on the other hand, tabled a planned surplus 2024 Budget of RM4.21 mil. The state government is projected to earn RM1.804 bil in revenue, increasing 4.03% from the previous year.
On the same day, he tabled the Johor State 2024 Budget, Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi told the Johor state legislative assembly that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Malaysia and Singapore related to the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JSSEZ) is scheduled to be signed on Jan 11, 2024. The MOU will accelerate the development of JSSEZ to the next stage. Onn Hafiz even added that the high-speed railway (HSR) and light rail transit (LRT) must be implemented immediately to support the economic zone from an infrastructure standpoint.
Three-member Court of Appeal struck down an appeal by four NGOs who want to ban the use of Mandarin and Tamil as mediums in vernacular schoolsA three-member bench chaired by Supang Lian stated that the use of Mandarin and Tamil languages as mediums of instruction in national or vernacular schools does not contravene the Federal Constitution. This decision reiterated the decision of the High Court back in December 2021 that dismissed the lawsuit brought by four NGOs — the Islamic Education Development Council (Mappim), the Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena), Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) and Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia (I-Guru) - that wanted to challenge the existence of vernacular schools and stated that the schools’ existence goes against the Federal Constitution.
One day, these Malay Muslim groups need to realise that non-bumiputras constitute about 30% of the population and their rights also matter. To live in a multi-racial nation, moderation, tolerance and acceptance are very very important.
In the realm of BolehLand, you can do something extremely well and bitterly wrong at the same timeOn the international stage, PM Anwar Ibrahim is consistently vouching for the plight of the Palestinians amidst the onslaught in the besieged Gaza Strip. Even during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in San Francisco, United States, PM Anwar bravely confronted US President Joe Biden in regard to the Israel-Hamas war.
On the other hand, there are certain parties that are allegedly profiting from this international crisis. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had frozen 41 bank accounts belonging to Aman Palestin and a number of other companies that are linked with the alleged misappropriation of funds amounting to RM70 mil. The investigation towards Aman Palestin is conducted under the MACC Act 2009, the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla), and the Penal Code. Aman Palestin is a non-profit entity created in 2004 to assist and distribute donations and safeguard the virtues and human rights of the Palestinian people.
National Service will not start next yearHuge relief for some of us as Defence Minister Mohamad Hasan told the Parliament that the National Service Training Program (PLKN) will not be introduced next year but the soonest is in 2025. Mohamad stated that the PLKN program is not budgeted in 2024 so it is impossible for the program to kick off next year. Plus, the Wataniah camps need to be upgraded first before they can be used for PLKN purposes.
In other military-related news, Mohamad also clarified that Putrajaya’s decision to stick with Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) for the RM11.2 bil littoral combat ships (LCS) project is mainly to prevent the Government from writing more cheques to plug the holes of this sinking project. The alternatives - starting a new open tender process or finding another original equipment manufacturer - will be costlier to the Government.
Genting Malaysia Bhd (GenM) recorded a net profit of 15 times over compared to last year for the period of 3QFY2023, amounting to RM177.41 mil vs a measly RM11.38 mil a year ago. The exceptional performance was mainly due to the post-pandemic recovery of the company’s leisure and hospitality businesses. View earnings results here.
YTL Corp Bhd also did a similar feat akin to GenM when the company recorded a 14-fold increase in its net profit, posted RM521.7 mil for 1QFY2024 compared to RM36.62 mil recorded in the same quarter last year. This performance, net profit-wise, is the best quarterly net profit recorded for the company since 2006. YTL’s utilities and cement businesses contributed the most to this positive performance. Both units — YTL Power International Bhd and Malayan Cement - are also listed on Bursa. View earnings results here.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Mysterious influenza spreading in northern ChinaThe World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially requested from China for detailed information on an outbreak of mysterious influenza-like illnesses that appears mostly to be affecting children. The rise in cases in northern China has overwhelmed hospitals’ pediatric units and stoked fears of a new national epidemic. In one hospital, more than 13,000 patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours and calls have been growing for schools to close. Did we learn anything from The Great 2020 Pandemic and how prepared are we as a nation and globally to face new potential pandemics?Learn: Epidemic, endemic, pandemic: What are the differences?
The one thing that could make Israel rethink its hostility and violence - growing debtThe conflict that erupted on Oct 7 has been running for around 7 weeks and each passing day means expenses are quickly adding up for Israel. Israel’s Finance Ministry estimated the war cost the economy USD270 mil every day and according to Leader Capital Markets, a financial advisory powerhouse in Israel, the total fiscal bill for 2023/24 could come up to 180 bil shekels (RM225.8 bil) of which Israel will bear two-thirds and its sugar daddy, the US, finance the rest.
This has to be financed through none other than debt, adding to Israel’s USD300 bil debt pile (about 60% of GDP). Markets, at least domestically, are still absorbing Israel’s debt issuance — for now. But on the global stage, the big 3 credit rating agencies have lowered the outlook to negative and the cost of insuring Israel’s sovereign bonds against default has roughly doubled since the war began, signalling investors’ concern towards the war.
In the Middle East, boycotts are having an impact on Western fast-food chains deemed to be in support of Israel. An unnamed employee at McDonald’s corporate offices in Egypts said its Egyptian franchise’s Oct and Nov sales fell by at least 70% compared to the same months last year.
OpenAI Drama: Board warned of powerful AI ahead of CEO OutsterReuters reported that several OpenAI staff researchers wrote a letter to the board of directors warning of a powerful AI discovery that could threaten humanity, according to its 2 sources. The sources cited the letter as one of the main factors leading to the firing of OpenAI's old and now new (he’s back) CEO, Sam Altman over concerns about commercialising these advances before understanding the consequences. OpenAI acknowledged that there is a project called Q* (Q-Star), but did not elaborate further. Some at OpenAI believe Q* could be the breakthrough in the startup’s search for what’s nown as artificial general intelligence (AGI) - the holy grail of AI. OpenAI defined AGI as an autonomous system that surpasses humans in most economically valuable tasks.
After shutting down its Singapore business, Flash Coffee has now exited Thailand, selling its business, where it currently has 82 stores to a Singaporean venture capital firm Turn Capital for an undisclosed sum. Turn Capital aims to open more than 100 new stores in Thailand in the coming 2 years.
Short-selling legend Jim Chanos is closing his main short-focused hedge funds after 38 years. Chanos is best known for his bet against Enron, the energy firm that collapsed in 2001. His firm, Kynikos Associates was founded in 1985, using a Greek word that is associated with cynicism. Since the firm’s inception, its funds have returned almost USD5 bil of profits to investors.
What do you do if you struck a USD36.5 mil (RM170.8 mil) lottery jackpot? In the case of this man in his 60s in Montreal, he went back to his work as a driver for a catering company next Monday, clocking in at 4.30 a.m. and has no plans to stop working. He said he couldn’t leave the company alone and his absence would affect operations — a sense of responsibility remains intact in the face of tens of millions.
Weekend read: Mapping love: How 27 different types of love manifest in the bodyA study by researchers from Aalto University in Finland suggests that our bodily perceptions of love extend far beyond the heart and are experienced in. various parts of the body. 27 types of love were identified including feelings for humans (e.g. self, siblings, neighbours) and non-human living objects and ideas (e.g. wisdom, one’s country).
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
For those of you who are still recovering from the Coldplay concert, here’s an inspiration for a car-aoke session. Please be informed that the video below was recorded in a highly controlled environment, do not try this at home.
K-pop girl band Blackpink were presented with honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) medals by King Charles at Buckingham Palace in recognition of their role in advocating for environmental causes , during the state visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeool. During the changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace, instead of marching tunes, the guards played K-pop songs including Blackpink’s Ddu-du Ddu-du and Psy’s Gangnam Style - watch below.
The good, heartwarming kind of prank — giving roses to strangers to give to their partners. Have a good weekend folks!