Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ On Kedah: Sanusi in court, MACC investigates alleged RM13 mil bribery at Menteri Besar Kedah Inc.
PSA: Illegal to use phone during standstill during traffic jams, traffic lights. Proton parent Geely to invest USD10 bil in Tanjung Malim. Singapore's 3rd scandal in a week.
Sorry for the wrong headline on Tuesday, we made a mistake — Sanusi Md Nor is caretaker Kedah Menteri Besar, not Kelantan. Apologies for the confusion.
1. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
11th — Malaysia’s passport ranking, according to the latest Henley Passport Index. The country’s passport has visa-free access to 180 destinations. Check out the destinations here. No prize guessing the top spot - Singapore.
438km/h — the record set by National women’s badminton doubles player Pearly Tan for the fastest smash. The record was attempted at a gymnasium at Yonex Co Ltd Tokyo Factory in Saitama, Japan, on April 14 and was verified by the Guinness World Records judges. The speed of the badminton hit was measured by a NAC Image Technology ultrahigh-speed camera, capable of capturing 40,000 exposures per second. The speed of the shuttlecock is determined by the camera immediately following the moment of impact. Congratulations Pearly!
354,045 illegitimate children in Malaysia were recorded from 2013 to May 2023, according to Women, Family and Community Development Minister Nancy Shukri. There’s no definition under the law, but according to Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984, an ‘illegitimate’ child is one born out of wedlock and not conceived out of marital intercourse.
10,000 Tesla Model Ys were booked by Malaysians just 4 days after launch. A non-refundable booking deposit of RM1,000 is needed to secure this car starting from RM199,000, to be delivered sometime in early 2024. Upfront, Elon Musk has collected RM10 mil (did Malaysians just fund Tesla’s initial setup cost in Malaysia?), and if all cars were to be delivered, that’s a revenue of RM1.99 bil. For comparison, Proton sold 14,351 units n June (domestic + export).
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Spotlight on Kedah caretaker MB Sanusi
Caretaker Kedah Menteri Besar Sanusi Md Nor has pleaded not guilty to 2 charges under the Sedition Act 1948. The two charges are:
Uttering a statement with a seditious tendency could cause disloyalty towards Malay rulers.
Uttering seditious remarks questioning PM Anwar’s statement on the King’s decree on the formation of the unity government.
The government has been criticised by various groups for using the Sedition Act 1948 and has called for it to be suspended and repealed at the next Parliamentary sitting, though PM Anwar defended the action taken, saying that although the act is usually not used against anyone, Sanusi’s case was different as it is a question of the position and sovereignty of the Malay Rulers.
Read: What is Malaysia’s sedition law?
The police force was criticised as well for arresting Sanusi at 3 am. Inspector-General of Police Razarudin Husain conducted a press conference, streamed live on Facebook, to address this issue, saying that all calls to Sanusi and his reps were rejected and they could not locate him until the wee hours of the morning. Sanusi has denied this and said he has proof that he was in touch with a police officer from Bukit Aman.
With a massive media crowd gathering outside the court, Sanusi did not miss the opportunity to play the victim (watch here), accusing the government of stifling free speech and rushing the investigation as it took only three days.
Minister in the PM’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman said the government will hold discussions on 21 July with relevant parties, including Bar Council, NGOs, civil society organisations (CSOs), professional bodies and enforcement agencies to review existing laws and assess the need for a new law to deal with 3R issues.
Clearly, with the state elections drawing close, it was poor optics of arresting a Menteri Besar at that hour. Then again, let’s not forget PN pulled off the same move towards a poor old senior citizen. Having seen Sanusi’s speech, it is clear-cut that he went overboard and committed a 3R offence. As a leader, he should have known the sensitivity of the 3Rs, yet he went ahead with his comments and now complains about no freedom of speech. Not to forget political artist Fahmi Reza’s cases, too - tweet below.
Spotlight still on Kedah - now on corruption
The MACC has arrested a senior officer of the Mentri Besar Kedah Inc (MBI) and a woman director of a company to assist in investigations of corruption and power abuse in the rare earth elements mining activities in the state, allegedly involving bribes totalling more than RM13 mil. The bribe is believed to be given by the company to receive protection from certain authorities between 2020 to 2023, and the company was carrying out illegal mining activities.
Sanusi said he has not been summoned by the MACC on this investigation.
Road to PRN
The Kuala Terengganu by-election will be held concurrently with the state election on 12 August. The seat became vacant after the Terengganu Election Court annulled the victory of PAS in GE15 after it was found that corruption had taken place to influence the voters. Weirdly, no charges were made. The by-election will cost RM465,000 - enough to get 1 Mercedes E class with extra to spare.
In an impromptu announcement, PM Anwar said that current Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari will be retained as the state’s MB if the unity government wins the state election.
Regarding matters on the road
If you have a habit of using your phone a lot whilst driving, take note of this - it is an offence to be holding a cell phone when a car is in motion or even when at a standstill during traffic jams or at traffic lights. According to Federal Police Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department director Mat Kasim Karim, one can still use their phone with the aid of a hands-free kit or holder that is mounted. You may wonder — how about smartwatches? It is permissible as it is not a hand-held device. That said, wouldn’t looking at a smartwatch distract a motorist’s attention on the road too?
The road isn’t an extreme sports theme park. Johor police are seeking a group of teenagers skateboarding at high speed going downhill that nearly resulted in an accident with a motorcycle at night (watch here). These kids and their parents have learned nothing from the basikal lajak incident.
PM Anwar announced that Chinese automotive giant and Proton parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd will invest USD10 bil (RM45.4 bil) to turn Tanjung Malim, Perak, into the region’s largest auto city. Anwar said the aspiration was conveyed via a 10-page letter, but little was revealed by the PM apart from this investment amount. Back in April, Geely and its local partner in Proton DRB-Hicome Bhd signed heads of agreement to develop the Automotive High-Tech Valley in Tanjung Malim as Malaysia’s next-generation vehicle hub. Geely owns 49.9% of Proton, with the remainder 50.1%, owned by DRB-Hicom.
Less than a month after aborting its land sale deal, Genting Malaysia Bhd reportedly received four offers for its billion-dollar Miami waterfront estate. The company plans to dispose of it for USD1.225 bil (RM5.56 bil). However, the Wall Street Journal said prospective buyers considered the price tag as too high given current borrowing costs. The property was acquired a decade was planned to turn it into a casino. GenM said the value of its investment has increased approximately 400% over a decade and is sitting on a gain of USD967 mil.
"We should be looking at our own flaws and not always blaming other people. The Chinese are not 10-feet tall. The notion that somehow America has to be that afraid of China — they don't."
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Southeast Asian Politics
Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the winning Move Forward party in the recent Thai elections, saw lawmakers void his nomination, with a majority of 395 out of 748 members in the National Assembly voting against him. This came shortly after the Thai Constitutional Court suspended Pita as a lawmaker over allegations that he had violated election rules by holding shares in a media firm. Pita had already been denied the position of prime minister once when he failed to gain a majority from the Thai Parliament in a vote last week. It remains unknown whether the eight-party alliance will nominate him as their prime minister candidate for a third attempt.
The Workers’ Party’s member of parliament Leon Perera and youth wing president Nicole Seah resigned after a video of the duo holding hands circulated on social media. The duo had previously denied their relationship when questioned in early 2021. This marks the third scandal to rock Singapore’s political scene in the past week, alongside the graft probe into Transport Minister S. Iswaran and the resignations of the speaker of parliament and a lawmaker from the ruling People’s Action Party over their years-long extramarital affair.
Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signed into law a bill creating a USD9 bil sovereign wealth fund, named the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), to boost economic growth and infrastructure spending, with Marcos pushing Congress for swift approval of the bill. MIF will draw most of its funds from the national government, including the central bank, gaming revenue, and two state-owned banks. However, critics warn that the fund is prone to misuse, with protestors calling it a “deception” that would “put public money in danger”.
Of note is that Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the father of the current president, saw widespread human rights abuses and corruption, with Marcos Sr., his wife, and his cronies plundering about USD10 bil in public money. Maybe the Philippines and Malaysia could exchange notes on the matter. 1MDB, anyone?
World of Fashion
The singer-actress behind the Birkin line of bags was found in her Parisian home, though no cause of death has been made known. Her death was confirmed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called her “a French icon” as she was a beloved figure in France, though she is British by birth. She inspired the Birkin line of Hermés bags (Rosmah has a vast collection of them) when her bag broke during a flight, where she complained that she could not find a handbag that fit her needs as a young mother. The person sitting next to her was Jean-Louis Dumas, the then-executive chairman of Hermès.
Cosmetic retailer Sephora, owned by luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, is looking to revamp its operations in China, including putting a new head of China operations in place. The retailer is considering improving VIP services for its premium customers as well. This comes as Sephora aims for an annual global sales figure of EUR20 billion in five years. This aligns with LVMH’s overall plans to further penetrate the Chinese market, a critical growth driver for the luxury sector. More foreign firms are looking to boost their presence in China, as an increasing number of Chinese customers prefer to stay home and shop domestically after Covid-19.
Sephora is on track for worldwide revenue of EUR13 bil this year and is LVMH’s second-largest brand after Louis Vuitton, though it ranked fifth in profitability.
Typo leads to sensitive US military info leaked over past 10 years – Dutch entrepreneur Johannes Zuurbier, who was contracted to handle the country email domain of Russian-allied Mali, an African nation (see location on map here), revealed that “millions of US military emails with sensitive information” has been received over the years due to a typo. The US military used “.mil” for its email accounts, while Mali’s emails end with “.ml”. Zuurbier had been trying to alert the Pentagon over the past decade, and the US military has put in place a system to prevent emails from being sent if they have the “.ml” domain.
China's iQIYI launches theme park in Beijing – The video streaming platform launched its first offline parent-child theme park to capitalise on its self-produced animation intellectual property, with the theme park, named QiBubble Space, positioned to be a family vacation destination. iQIYI founder and CEO Gong Yu plans to expand further into offline children’s entertainment content nationwide. iQIYI is backed by Baidu, the Google of China. It has an average of 128.9 mil average daily users.
Super Mario Bros theme first video game music ever in National Recording Registry – The Library of Congress in the US has selected the catchy tune by Nintendo composer Koji Kondo as one of 25 recordings selected to be preserved and showcased within its National Recording Registry this year. Since the registry was established in 2002, it has collected over 600 recordings, but the Mario theme marks the first piece of video game music to be added. Other selections this year include Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”, John Lennon’s “Imagine”, and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Understanding how Malaysia and Singapore manage their currency differently.
Remember Skype and its iconic ringing tone?