☕️ PADU deadline Mar 31 - have you registered?

Sabah PKR turmoil - state chairman called to step down #historyrepeats. Apple to use Google's Gemini for generative AI: Bloomberg. 13,000+ children killed in Gaza, more severely malnourished: UNICEF.

Let’s lubricate your morning brain with some oil and gas quiz.

Quiz: Who do you think is the largest oil producer in the world?

Answer at the end of the newsletter.

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Information as of 0720 UTC+8 on Mar 19, 2024.


There are 552 subsea cables (active and planned) spanning 1.4 km around the world, carrying 9% of intercontinental internet traffic. There are 60 repair ships worldwide on stand-by to fix broken cables, which happens every 2-3 days. Laying fibre-optic cables is expensive and used to be undertaken by telecom companies forming consortiums to fund the venture. Now, the big tech boys are taking over this role, given the massive connectivity required for their hyperscale data centres and the reliability they seek for themselves. Google has invested in at least 25 subsea cables, of which it owns 12 wholly. Meta has invested in 15 (owns one outright) and Microsoft partly owns 4. Such cables typically cost about USD30,000 - USD50,000 per km.

Malaysia consumed an eyewatering amount of onions and garlic, totalling 687 metric tons worth RM1.58 bil in 2022. Of this, 38 metric tons were shallot worth RM81.5 mil. Even more alarming and concerning is that the nation relied 100% of its supply on imports from India, the Netherlands, China, Thailand and Pakistan, resulting in high costs. Malaysians, on average, consume about 1.2 kg of onion and garlic per year per person. Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) began R&D in 2020 to produce suitable seedlings to be grown locally and to produce at least 30% of locally grown onions by 2030.
Learn: The difference between shallots and onions.

Kuala Lumpur takes the top spot as the city in Southeast Asia with the most skyscrapers, with 241 buildings taller than 150m in total, according to Seasia Stats. Jakarta (165) and Bangkok (142) took the second and third spot, respectively. Out of a total of 35 cities, 10 cities from Malaysia made the list. KL is the only city in Southeast Asia home to 6 buildings over 300m tall. Only if the quality of life and income for most rakyat is as high as our skyscrapers. View the rankings here. The latest Merdeka 118 Tower, said to be the second-tallest building in the world, incurred a development cost of RM5 bil.


The Ministry of Education reveals steps to tackle learning loss. Some highlights:
(The term ‘learning loss’ speaks for itself, but for better elaboration, read here)

  • Early detection program: A new program will be introduced to identify Year One students who struggle with basic reading, writing, and counting skills, known as the 3M skills (Membaca, Menulis, Mengira).

  • Introduction of the KSSR Alignment Document (Revision 2017) Edition 3 for Science and Mathematics: A new guideline document to update and reorganise Level One Science and Mathematics, covering Years One to Three.

  • Focus on Science and Mathematics: The ministry will focus on enhancing the Science and Mathematics curriculum, with future plans for Bahasa Malaysia and English.

  • Classroom-Based Assessment (PBD) reporting simplification: The PBD reporting will be simplified and accessible to parents online through the Integrated Assessment Management System, facilitating easier tracking of student progress.

The new curriculum is set to commence in 2027, allowing time for adjustments and preparations.

Padu data to be used for RON95 targeted subsidy 📊
With the deadline* for the Central Database Hub (Padu) approaching on March 31, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli is confident that the government will have sufficient data to implement it as a guide for policy planning. RON95 targeted subsidy will be the first and foremost. The government initially planned to roll out the RON95 petrol subsidy by Q3 2024, but a confirmed date is yet to be set.
* Deadline vs dateline — what’s the difference?

Despite Rafizi’s ambitious goal to create a reliable database, only 5.38 mil (18.05% of the population) have registered on the portal to update their data. Rafizi explains that Padu’s current data comprises three categories: existing administrative data from over 300 government and non-government databases; Department of Statistics Malaysia’s (DOSM) household survey data; and data updates by the public. He also said the government found that 4,752 localities who reside in the M40 and B40 groups are at risk of exclusion. Given the data on exclusion risk and low registrations, something seems to be lacking. Execution, maybe? Lack of incentive? Infrastructure? The data is endless.

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MAHB secures extension for the next 45 years ✈️
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has secured an extension with the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to manage 39 airports in Malaysia until 2069, expanding their concession by 35 years. The new agreements aim to enhance airport services and allow for strategic investments and developments. MAHB should have more flexibility in funding expansions, including through an Airport Development Fund and various financing models.

Additionally, the MOT has set a new, brought-forward deadline for the completion of the KLIA aerotrain project by the end of 2024 instead of their initial Q1 2025 target. The project, currently in progress by a consortium including Alstom Transport Systems, IJM Construction, and Pestech Technology, aims to replace the existing 25-year-old aerotrain service.

Side note: Pestech was terminated from the project last year due to its “non-performance”. IJM Corp emerged as a substantial shareholder in Pestech after acquiring a 44.8% stake for RM124 mil. 

A little on politics

  • Appeal on DPM Zahid Hamidi’s acquittal postponed to Sep 9
    The Court of Appeal has delayed the hearing against Deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's acquittal in the foreign visa (VLN) case to Sep 9, as the Attorney General’s Chambers is still reviewing Zahid's latest representations made in February. A letter of representation is usually sent by lawyers to either ask for a reduction or withdrawal of the charge. The delay was mutually agreed upon, although the court warned against unnecessary postponements. Zahid had been cleared of 40 corruption charges related to the visa case by the Shah Alam High Court in September 2022, with the court finding the prosecution's evidence inadequate.

  • Sabah PKR turmoil: Chairman Sangkar Rasam called to step down
    15 of 26 Sabah PKR divisional chiefs are challenging the leadership of Sangkar Rasam, the party’s state chairman,  due to perceived poor leadership. The fifteen chiefs publicly called for his resignation, criticising his lack of initiative in key party-building activities. While a replacement is in mind, the dissenters chose to keep the name anonymous for now. The discontent with Sangkar’s leadership began a year after his appointment in 2022. PKR President and PM Anwar Ibrahim is informed of this internal dispute, highlighting concerns over the party’s readiness for upcoming state elections.

    Ironically, this situation mirrors the crisis two years ago, where the former Sabah PKR Chairman, Datuk Christina Liew, faced similar strong opposition but remained in position until the 2022 party elections when Sangkar assumed her position.


  1. MEASAT satellite signals potentially disrupted by solar radiation from Mar 15 to Mar 22, services including Connectme Now and Astro. As satellites align with the sun, we may experience a disruption in satellite signals due to solar radiation, known as a Sun Outage phenomenon. It should last for 12 minutes at most.

  2. As we read multiple unfortunate cases of parents or caregivers forgetting their child in their care, it’s good to know if your car can remind you to check your belongings or rear seats as you exit. Several carmakers, including Proton, have installed a child-reminder feature in various models. The feature is available in the Proton Saga MC2, the X90 flagship SUV, and the new S70. Additionally, Waze has a Child Reminder feature in the Settings menu under Reminders. Stay vigilant, stay safe.


Russia’s election results — no surprises here
And the election winner goes to 71-year-old Vladimir Putin, with preliminary results showing that he won at least 87% of the votes. Putin secures his fifth term as the president for another six years (meaning an increased likelihood of the Russia-Ukraine war being extended the same amount of time). His nearly quarter-century rule will overtake Joseph Stalin to become Russia’s longest-serving leader in more than 200 years. Other candidates that competed in the election were from parties loyal to the Kremlin, therefore offering no serious competition.

Putin’s victory was never in doubt as his critics are mostly jailed, in exile or dead, like in the recent case of Alexey Navalny, who died in an Arctic prison last month. During his victory speech at his campaign HQ, Putin brought up Navalny for the first time since his death, saying he had supported Navalny’s release in exchange for prisoners held in Western countries. He even claimed that he agreed to the exchange even before the person who was talking to him had finished his sentence. 

Clearly, the West was not happy with the results. The White House criticised the election as “neither free nor fair” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the election as “fraud with no legitimacy”. Back at home, thousands of Putin’s opponents staged a protest against him 

Apple x Google getting tight in AI collab, Bloomberg reported
How’s Apple gonna catch up to the generative AI race? Just like its search engine* playbook — it rides on another player, in this case, the same partner of its search engine feature. Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the situation, that Apple is in talks to license Google’s Gemini AI engine to power some new features in its upcoming iOS 18, especially those involving generative AI features, whilst complementing Apple’s own AI models. It was also reported that Apple was also in discussion with Microsfot-backed OpenAI. Unlikely any deal would be announced until June when Apple plans to hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

* Google pays Apple 36% of its Safari search revenue, which is reportedly worth USD18 bil in 2021, in exchange for default status on all of Apple’s devices.

An upcoming IPO and a delayed IPO

  • Upcoming: Encyclopedia Britannica
    The encyclopedia is keeping up with the times. Encyclopedia Britannica, the education technology company and publisher of books that include the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is seeking a valuation of about USD1 bil in its IPO, though the actual valuation and timing have not been determined. In Sep 2022, its CEO Jorge Cauz said in an interview that the company saw its revenue that year approaching USD100 mil. Founded more than 250 years ago, the historic namesake encyclopedia claimed it is the oldest English-language general encyclopedia. Britannica’s products have over seven bil page views annually and are used by more than 150 mil people (including ourselves!). 

  • Delayed: Ninja Van
    On the other hand, logistics provider Ninja Van has postponed its IPO, the latest sign of tech startups’ struggles and falling valuations. Backed by Alibaba Group, the company is focusing on improving profitability before going ahead with its IPO, its CEO Lai Chang Wen said. Found in 2014, Ninja Van operates in six markets in Southeast Asia and delivers more than two mil parcels a day. The company turned into a unicorn in 2021 following a Series E fundraising round of USD578 mil, valuing it well beyond USD1 bil. Alibaba’s Lazada and Shopee are among its clients and competes with J&T Global Express and also Shopee’s own in-house logistic arm, Shopee Express.


  1. Uber Australia to pay USD178 mil to settle lawsuit
    The ride-hailing giant has agreed to pay USD178 mil to settle a class-action lawsuit with taxi and hire car drivers in Australia who say they lost their earnings to Uber. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 8,000 taxi and hire car owners and drivers in 2019, and the outcome was one of the top five class action settlements in Australia. Say the settlement is to be divided amongst 8,000 drivers — this averages out to about USD22,250 per driver. 

  2. 13,000+ children killed in Gaza, more severely malnourished: UNICEF
    The UN’s children agency said Israel had killed more than 13,000 children in Gaza since Oct 7, and many more are suffering from severe malnutrition to the extent they do not “even have the energy to cry”. As the death toll keeps ticking up, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his threat on Sunday of a ground assault on Rafah, the town bordering Egypt where 1.4 mil Palestinians have taken refuge. Whilst Gazans are suffering, Netanyahu continues the genocidal agenda. The West is running in circles in a state of confusion - it wants to deliver aid to Gaza yet at the same time is supplying Israel with weapons. In fact, military aid provided to Israel in recent times might be underreported

  3. Crashing plane saved by plane’s built-in parachute
    A man, his wife and a 2-year-old girl survived a plane crash with only minor cuts and scratches after the plane deployed its parachute system. The plane’s engine lost power 5 minutes into the flight, prompting the pilot to activate the plane’s built-in parachute system, helping it to slow its descent and landing 100 feet off the ground, entangled in trees. 

    Read: Why commercial flights don’t have parachutes for each passenger


  1. Ways different religions fast in Malaysia brought to you by Wiki Impact, a media for the impact industry.

  1. 99 Speedmart IPO - such wow, very excite. We summarised some interesting findings in a thread.

Answer: The US of A!