Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Pfizer to increase price of its Covid-19 vaccine by 10,000% - People's Vaccine Alliance
Election goodies - DPM post from East Malaysia. Singapore invites billionaire Richard Branson to debate on death penalty, flight + accommodation sponsored. Rishi Sunak - UK’s first British Asian PM.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
Pfizer announced on Oct 20 that it will sell its covid vaccine between USD110 and USD130 per dose. The price is approximately 100 times the cost to produce it — USD1.18 per dose, according to The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of over 100 organisations working to end vaccine inequity. Pfizer has yet to challenge the estimate. The pharmaceutical giant cited increased costs of making and distributing the Covid-19 vaccine via the traditional model. That is some markup.
Liz Truss, 47, hacked her way to having a great retirement — she will receive £115,000 annually for having been the UK’s prime minister. The Public Duty Costs Allowance (PDCA) grants all former Prime Ministers a yearly allowance intended to pay them back for expenses spent while fulfilling public duties in the role. Truss endured 44 days to get the allowance. The average life expectancy of a British is 81.2 years. Assuming Truss lives up to 81 years, she will collect a total of GBP4.025 mil for just 44 days of work. Totally worth it.
163,567 spectators turned up at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix after a two-year hiatus. However, the figure fell short of Sepang International Circuit’s (SIC) target of 170,000 people. The last day’s attendance of almost 90,000 spectators indicated the race remained popular with motorsport fans.
“Forget Lambo and Gucci. Retiring your parents is the real flex.”
— Bastiaan Slot, business coach
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Road to GE15:
Both Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) were dangling deputy prime minister (DPM) positions to the Borneo states in return for their support in GE15. PH leader Anwar Ibrahim may name two DPMs, one from the peninsula and one from Sabah and Sarawak if they can regain Putrajaya. Zahid Hamidi, on the other hand, did not want to lose this race, as he one-upped PH by offering three DPM positions once BN successfully defended Putrajaya. The prospect of having a DPM from the Borneo states was welcomed with open hands by the current Sabah state government too. Sabah-based Warisan party said Borneo states should have the prime minister position instead, as Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners with the peninsula states in the federation.
Sabah ruling coalition, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), had suggested that the Election Commission (EC) should mandate the voters in Sabah to bring along their birth certificates and identification card during polling day, following the reported 54% rise in the number of voters in Sabah for GE15, compared to the previous general election. Politicians in Sabah have linked the rise of the number of voters with ‘Project IC’, an alleged systemic granting of citizenship to immigrants in Sabah that was done in the 1990s in order to alter the voters’ demographic in Sabah to favour the ruling BN government at that time.
PH leader Anwar Ibrahim hinted that the proposed cooperation between PH and Mahathir-led Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) coalition might not materialise for the upcoming general election.
The MUDA party stated that they only requested less than 15 parliamentary seats for the upcoming election from PH. According to the terms under their electoral pact agreement with PH, MUDA can only request seats that PH’s incumbents do not hold.
Related parties to continue negotiations over littoral combat ships (LCS) price
After the conclusion of the meeting between the French, the Malaysian government representatives and the French company, Naval Group, which is responsible for supplying the LCS, all parties agreed to negotiate the price of the LCS. This price negotiation is part of the six-month mobilisation phase that kicked off in June following the scandalous revelation of alleged corruption in the RM9bil LCS project. The first LCS vessel was supposed to be delivered to the navy in 2019, but until now, not one ship has been completed yet.
Proposed Labuan bridge is still on the table – PM Ismail Sabri
PM Ismail Sabri stated that the proposed bridge between the island of Labuan and Menumbok, Sabah, may still continue and has been discussed numerous times in Cabinet meetings. However, the federal government could not cough up the huge allocation for the costly project and may resort to the private sector for funding. Any land swap arrangement that comes together with private sector-led funding may involve half of the land in Labuan.
Starting with that assumption, Labuan has a land area of 92 square kilometers (half of it will be 46 square kilometers), and by using an estimated land value of RM161.5mil per square kilometre (which is the median price of land in Labuan), the cost to build the bridge might be around RM7.43bil. As a comparison, the cost to build the Second Penang Bridge is RM4.5bil.
Malaysia might get its first Michelin-starred restaurant
The Michelin Guide, the one and only way for any restaurant to get a Michelin star, has finally arrived in Malaysia. The Guide will focus on the country’s two major food hubs, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Although the Guide’s selection process is a mystery to most, the rating process will mainly focus on five main key criteria: quality of ingredients, the master cooking techniques, the harmony of flavours, the personality of the chefs as expressed in the plate and the consistency of the food over time. The announcement of the country’s first Michelin Guide may come sometime in December 2022.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
China’s New Era: Xi Jinping consolidates power
The Chinese Communist Party’s party congress, held every five years, has come to a close over the weekend, with Xi Jinping being re-elected to secure a third term as the party’s general secretary. He amended the constitution in 2018 to remove a two-term limit, essentially allowing him to be a president for life.
The new 7-member Politburo Standing Committee, which represents the highest political body in China, reflects Xi’s consolidation of power — it was unveiled with four new faces and all members are Xi loyalists. In a surprise major reshuffling, one of the four that were removed included Premier Li Keqiang, No.2 in the committee. A brief background on all seven individuals here.
There was some drama as Hu Jintao (mentor of Li Keqiang), former president (2003-2013), who was seated beside Xi Jinping, was escorted out from the hall (watch here) in front of the global media. No official statement from the government on this incident, but according to states news agency Xinhua, the 79-year-old had not been feeling well and was in a frail condition. What most media left out was Hu Jintao was escorted onto the stage a few days ago (watch here). Power play by Xi Jinping or a genuine health issue?
In 2019, President Xi Jinping offered an ideological alternative to “Western democracy”, introducing the term “whole-process democracy” that downplays the need for an election. The Western model has been heavily criticised and is being derided as a “game of the rich” focusing on promises and winning elections instead of governing. Its official definition is vague and full of terminologies.
Singapore invites billionaire Richard Branson to a debate on its drug policy and the death penalty
The city-state’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has invited Virgin Group founder and billionaire Richard Branson to a live televised debate with its minister K Shanmugam on its drug policy and the death penalty in response to a blog post by the billionaire published on Oct 10, the World Day Against Death Penalty, criticising Singapore on the subject. The ministry even offered to pay for his flight to and accommodation in Singapore according to its published statement (not that it would entice Branson with a net worth of USD3.6 bil).
Singapore refuted Branson’s remarks and defended the government’s drug policy, holding no punches. MHA’s statement here - the best part:
Mr Branson is entitled to his opinions. These opinions may be widely held in the UK, but we do not accept that Mr Branson or others in the West are entitled to impose their values on other societies. Nor do we believe that a country that prosecuted two wars in China in the 19th century to force the Chinese to accept opium imports has any moral right to lecture Asians on drugs.
Biz news: Marijuana, Pizza and Telco
Thai regulators have cleared the final hurdle and green-lighted the merger between Telenor’s local unit, Total Access (Dtac) and True (backed by Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group and China Mobile) to form Thailand’s largest mobile operator. Dtac, with 19 mil subscribers and True, with 32 mil subscribers combined, will be valued at USD7.3 bil, surpassing market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS), which has 44 mil subscribers. The 5-member regulator board was split on approving the decision, with the chairman exercising his powers to clear the deal and another member abstaining.
Selected Circle K stores in Florida will begin selling marijuana in 2023 - but only for medical use. The convenience store operator is partnering with Green Thumb Industries Inc to sell marijuana at 10 of its 600 Florida locations. This will give easier access to more than 700,000 Floridians that are registered active cardholders with the state’s medical marijuana programme.
Chinese franchisee of Domino’s Pizza, DPC Dash Ltd, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Rising demand for pizza deliveries in the past three years has pushed its store growth by 170% to 547 outlets, with 56% located in Shanghai and Beijing. Revenue in 2021 came in at RMB1.61 bil (RM1.05 bil), ranking the company third among the top 5 pizza brands by revenue. The Chinese pizza market size in 2021 was RM23.8 bil, with 49.2% (RMB17.9 bil / RM11.7 bil) from sales of delivered pizzas.
Rishi Sunak - UK’s 3rd PM in a year
Rishi Sunak will become UK’s first British Asian PM and the youngest PM in more than 200 years after his only contender, Penny Mordaunt, withdrew a few minutes before the result was announced. He received the backing of more than 200 Conservative MPs. Opposition parties have been clamouring for a general election, arguing that Sunak was not democratically elected to be the PM. Sunak’s appointment makes him the fourth consecutive PM after Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss to take power without a general election. BBC quick guide on Rishi Sunak here (TLDR: Indian origin, MP for only seven years, thought to be one of the wealthiest MPs — worked as an investment banker and wife is a daughter of an Indian billionaire, the couple’s fortune estimated to be GBP730 mil)
If, for whatever reason UK changes PM again in the coming month(s), there’s a better candidate the British people should consider - one that will never give you up, let you down, run around and desert you, make you cry, say goodbye, tell a lie and hurt you.
Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz died at the age of 78. He discovered Krating Daeng, the drink that would be Red Bull, during his travels in Thailand and in 1984, founded the company with the drink’s founder Thai Chaleo Yoovidhya and made himself a fortune of USD25 bil.
Taylor Swift’s 10th album “Midnights” crashed Spotify for a few hours during its release on Friday. The album’s 13 songs tell “the story of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life” according to Swift on Twitter. Listen to the album on Spotify here.
After tomato soup and milk, a new protest weapon of choice - mashed potatoes. An environmental group called the “Last Generation” protested by throwing mashed potatoes at the USD110 mil “Les Meules”, or “Haystacks” painting by Claude Monet in a German museum.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
The relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer (in the US). Spurious correlation or causation?
We inserted the wrong link last week — RyanAir trolling Liz Truss. Here’s a video below, a UK PM recruitment ‘ad’ to ease your return to work from a long weekend.
Drone footage showing Saudi Arabia kickstarting construction on its futuristic city concept ‘The Line’ that will house 9 mil inhabitants over a 170 km long glass building.