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☕️ Parliament back in action and the already absent PAS President

Upin & Ipin levelling up - game consoles and theme park coming soon. US airman sets himself on fire to protest ‘genocide’ of Palestinians. South Korean company pays RM358k bonus per child to employees to give birth.


Information as of 0720 UTC+8 on Feb 27, 2024.


How many donkeys (as in the animal, not stubborn/stupid people) are there in the world, and how valuable are they? 53 mil and very valuable. Two-thirds of the donkey population is found in Africa. In recent years, donkey thefts across Africa have become increasingly common due to growing demand in China for the gelatin in donkey skin that is used in traditional medicine called Ejiao, believed to have health-enhancing and youth-preserving properties. According to Donkey Sanctuary, which has been campaigning against this trade, at least 5.9 mil donkeys are slaughtered yearly to supply the industry. Ejiao is a big business in China — its estimated market value increased from USD3.2 bil in 2013 to about USD7.8 bil in 2020.

An asteroid is considered “potentially hazardous” if it is larger than roughly 460 feet (140.2 m) across and intersects Earth’s orbit at a minimum of 0.5 astronomical units*. So far, about 2,300 potentially hazardous asteroids have been identified out there, and about 153 are larger than 0.6 miles (965.6 m) across, which is big enough to trigger a catastrophe if one strikes Earth. We don’t need to sacrifice a Bruce Willis to protect Earth if one is heading towards our direction. In 2021, NASA successfully tested its first planetary defence test mission by slamming an uncrewed spacecraft into an asteroid to shift its orbit away from Earth.
*Astronomical unit: defined as the distance between the Earth and the sun, which is about 150 mil km

The cocoa sector contributed RM8.2 bil to the national income in 2023, up 5% compared to RM7.8 bil in 2022, according to Deputy Plantation and Commodities Minister Chan Foong Hin. A large part of the amount is contributed from the export of semi-finished cocoa products such as cocoa butter and cocoa powder. There are 6,123 hectares of cocoa plantation in the country, of which smallholders cultivate 89%. Rising global demand has pushed cocoa bean prices rapidly in Malaysia to around RM17 per kg, compared to RM8 in 2022. If you are curious how Kit Kat is turned from cocoa into the finished product, watch here.


Parliament back in action 
The Third Session of the 15th Parliament kicked off with the royal address by the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Ibrahim that was blended with humour and gravitas. The king urged all to respect the unity government and chill on the politicking until the next election. Despite 60+ years since its inception, race relations still need work. He called upon the government to formulate policies aimed at enhancing national unity and understanding among different cultures. In addition, he also empowered Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul to take stern action, including 14 days suspensions, against MPs who misbehave. Sultan Ibrahim stresses the importance of MPs setting an example, maintaining decorum, and upholding parliamentary rules. 

Day 1 and already absent was PAS President and Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang. Hadi Awang has attended only 33 out of 103 Parliament sessions since July 2021. His political secretary, Mohd Syahir Che Sulaiman, stated that Hadi was on medical leave as he was undergoing recovery and follow-up treatments as advised by doctors. A letter and medical certificate were submitted to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker a day before the Parliament session.

New session, same ol’ players. Expect more shouting matches and less meaningful debates.

Upin & Ipin levelling up: From screen to game consoles 🎮 to theme park
Les' Copaque Productions Sdn Bhd, famed for the beloved Upin & Ipin series, ventures into gaming with upcoming console releases set for September. These upcoming paid games were developed with an RM15 mil investment in collaboration with a Malaysian-based international company. Additionally, an Upin & Ipin Theme Park is in the works to open in Melaka in 2026-2027, promising to elevate the brand's allure further, especially for Indonesian tourists. Recent accolades, including the Unity Film Award and the Child-Friendly Broadcasting Awards, reaffirm the enduring global appeal of Upin & Ipin. Disney buatan Malaysia in the making. 

Heatwave alert: MetMalaysia issues level 1 warning☀️🔥
To our northern folks, stay cool. The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has issued a Level 1 heatwave alert for areas in the northern region of the peninsula, including Perlis, Langkawi, Kedah, Perak, and Central Seberang Prai in Penang. With temperatures soaring between 35°C and 37°C for three consecutive days, residents are urged to take precautions amidst the transition from the northeast monsoon to the onset of the El Nino phenomenon.

Business: Spotlight on Bank Muamalat and Capital A

Bank Muamalat explores IPO amidst strategic shifts 🏦💼
DRB-Hicom Bhd, led by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary (who holds a 55.92% stake), is contemplating an initial public offering (IPO) for its 70%-owned banking arm, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd whilst the remaining 30% is held by Khazanah Nasional Bhd. Sources indicate that the move aims to comply with regulatory requirements that individuals cannot control more than 10% of a bank. Despite previous attempts, including merger talks, the IPO may now provide the avenue for DRB-Hicom to reduce its stake and meet shareholding regulations. 

Bank Muamalat has shown promising financial growth, posting record profits and asset expansion. Highlights:

  1. Being the country’s third standalone Islamic bank, it has over 60 branches, total assets of RM31.53 bil, and shareholders' equity of RM2.89 bil. 

  2. It recorded a record profit before zakat and tax of RM306.7 mil in FY2022, up 20.3% from the previous corresponding period, with revenue growing by 18% to RM1.34 bil.

  3. Bank Muamalat accounts for about 8.6% of DRB-Hicom's revenue and 47% of its profit.

  4. Home financing constitutes almost 31% of Bank Muamalat's business, followed by personal financing at 28%.

AirAsia seeing blue skies ahead
In an interview with Bloomberg, Tony Fernandes painted a rosy picture of the aviation industry, describing it as a "purple patch" with soaring demand for seats, long wait for new aircraft and shortage of pilots hindering fresh competition. With most of AirAsia's fleet back in the skies, Fernandes expresses unprecedented optimism, dubbing it the carrier's "best-ever period." Some highlights:

  • The merger of AirAsia and AirAsia X is expected to be completed mid-year, with a fundraising goal of USD 600 mil; AirAsia aims to raise up to USD 400 mil through equity sales,

  • Additionally, a USD200 mil revenue bond, collateralised by new route revenues, is in the pipeline. 

  • The merged entity, named AirAsia Group, will absorb AirAsia X's listing on Bursa Malaysia, potentially dropping the AirAsia X branding. 

  • With plans to expand globally, AirAsia eyes its inaugural Central Asia route to Kazakhstan this year. 

  • Tony Fernandes, retaining an advisory role post-merger, will continue as CEO of Capital A, overseeing non-aviation ventures like Teleport and Move. 

  • Move, its online travel agency that also operates a ride-hailing business, is finalising a USD30 mil capital raising. Teleport has raised USD35 mil in debt. The company’s aircraft maintenance arm, Asia Digital Engineering has also managed to raise USD100 mil.

  • Capital A seeks to raise over USD1 bil in debt and equity, potentially listing some businesses via a notable purpose acquisition (SPAC) listing with Aetherium Acquisition Corp on Nasdaq.


US airman sets himself on fire to protest ‘genocide’ of Palestinians
25-year-old Aaron Bushnell, an active member of the US airforce, set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington to protest against Israel’s war in Gaza. He was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries. He livestreamed (warning - graphic footage) himself on the social media platform Twitch, saying that he would “not be complicit in genocide” before dosing himself in liquid. He then lit himself on fire while yelling “Free Palestine”. 

Meanwhile, in Palestine, the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) warned against a “looming famine” in Gaza as humanitarian aid has not reached people in northern Gaza for more than a month, with the last food delivery aid made on Jan 23. Aid agencies claimed that Israel has been delaying deliveries. 

Alexis Navalny was about to see freedom but death got to him first
Navalny, Putin’s biggest political nemesis, was on the verge of being freed as part of a high-stakes prisoner exchange before his sudden death, according to his staffers. Anti-corruption activist Maria Pevchickh said in a YouTube video that he was supposed to be freed in the coming days as they had received a decision on his exchange and alleged that Putin had him killed as Putin did not want the exchange to go through.

Pevchickh shared that Putin was offered to swap the Russian secret service FSB killer, Vladim Krasikov, who is serving time for murder in Berlin, for 2 American citizens. Krasikov and Navalny. Brokering the negotiation is Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who delivered the proposal swap Navalny to Putin. Abramovich was the former owner of Chelsea football club before it was seized by the UK government as part of the sanction on Abramovich. 

How to improve fertility rate - big, fat cash bonus
South Korea is experiencing an ageing population, with its national fertility rate of 0.78 in 2022, below the optimal rate of 2.1 to maintain a current population. So dire is the situation that the private sector is taking matters into its own hands. Ssanghangwool, an underwear company, is offering up to USD75,000 (RM358.3k) to employees to have children. The company would give workers USD22.4k for child #1, another USD22.4k for child #2 and USD30k for the third one.

This announcement came after a construction firm, Booyoung Group, announced earlier this month that it would give a USD75,000 per-child bonus to employees who have babies and are eligible for both men and women. The company’s employees have collectively had at least 70 children since 2021, translating to a bonus payout of USD 5,25 mil (RM25.1 mil) in cash to its workers.


  1. Ant to acquire Credit Suisse’s investment bank arm in China
    Jack Ma’s fintech group outbid Citadel Securities (part of hedge fund giant Citadel) in a surprise move. Citadel made an offer between RMB1.5 - RMB2 bil (RM1 - RM1.33 bil). UBS Group, the Swiss banking giant which owns Credit Suisse now, is forced to sell this business as it already owns a securities firm in China and can’t hold two licenses in the same business. UBS is faced with a dilemma to choose between a lower bid from Citadel that’s more likely to win regulatory approval or Ant’s higher bid but one that comes with scrutiny. 

  2. Mercedes-Benz walks back on full EV future 
    In 2021, Mercedes-Benz announced it would go full EV in 2030. Now it has walked back on its goal during its earnings call last week, saying that it would allow customers’ demand to “set the pace” for how much of its fleet will be electric vs fossil fuel. The carmaker expects EV sales to reach just 50% by 2030, from the current 19-21% expected this year. 

  3. VCs get creative with ‘exits’
    Exits, in general means, realising or selling an investment. What happens if you can’t find a buyer for your investments? Sell it to yourself. Enters financial engineering. Continuation funds, common in the private equity (PE) world, are making their entry into the venture capital (VC) industry. The investments in the old fund are sold to a new fund raised by the VC. This is rationalised as new investors in the existing portfolios invest reflecting “today’s valuation”, addressing repricing concerns and potential conflict of interest. Learn more about continuation funds here.


  1. Chinese EV giant debuted its most expensive car on Sunday, the RMB1.68 mil (RM1.1 mil) electric supercar, to go up against gas-guzzling rivals such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. The Yangwang U9 will initially be sold exclusively in China and can hit 100 km/h 2.36 seconds and reach a top speed of 309.19 km/h. Read the review here.

  1. Scientists have discovered a previously unrecorded species of a giant anaconda in the Amazon, which can grow up to 7.5 m and weigh close to 500 kg, making it the heaviest and largest snake known in the world. Until now, four species of anaconda were known. Watch a researcher swimming beside this giant snake. Now that’s real, real, real, Nicki Minaj would say.

  1. Thinking out lauk of the coming Raya celebration.