☕️ PM Anwar blames industry cartels for high cost of living, food security and unfair wages
A weekend of political unrest in Sabah. Alibaba founder Jack Ma cedes control of Ant Group, spotted in Bangkok. Whatsapp enables connectivity during internet blackouts, shutdowns.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
It took the US House of Representatives 15 rounds of voting to elect Rep Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the house, despite his party, the Republican Party (a.k.a. Grand Old Party, GOP), having the majority in the chamber. Republican members almost exchanged blows during the ballots that went to midnight. McCarthy won with 216 out of 428 possible votes.
Cagamas Bhd raised RM24.9 billion in 2022, 30% higher than a year ago and the highest since 1999. What does Cagamas do? It issues corporate bonds and sukuk to finance the purchase of housing loans and receivables from financial institutions, selected corporations and the public sector to promote house ownership. Cagamas is the second largest issuer of debt instruments after the Malaysian Government. Since its incorporation in 1986, it has cumulatively issued RM391 bil in financing.
Denmark reported a 100% decrease in bank robberies in 2022 — from one in 2021 to ZERO in 2022. Cash withdrawals at ATMs fell by about 75% over the last six years as Danes increasingly use cards and payment apps on their smartphones for transactions. ATM robberies were also ZERO in 2022.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Three things from PM Anwar Ibrahim’s Special Address on Jan 6
The Chief Justice of Malaysia and the country’s judiciary need to be given room to carry out their duties independently and professionally based on facts and laws, to provide a clear signal to Malaysians that there is a separation of powers. PM Anwar also said his administration told MACC not to cover up cases or be biased in terms of investigations.
His current administration will never recognise the LGBT group, secular state concept and communism.
PM Anwar also revealed the reason behind the high cost of living — industry cartels. He indicated that stricter regulations are one way to control these cartels. And the PM also thinks the RM1,500 minimum wage is too low for anyone.
Anwar makes his maiden official visit to Indonesia since taking office
PM Anwar is currently on an official visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, at the invitation of President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi. The working visit is expected to boost economic collaboration between both countries. Anwar witnessed the exchange of nine memoranda of understanding (MoUs) between Malaysian & Indonesian companies. During the same ceremony, 11 letters of intent (LOIs) involving 10 Malaysian companies to invest in new capital in Kalimantan were also exchanged.
Anwar also called Indonesia “a loyal friend”.
MACC investigating alleged misappropriation of RM92.5 bil stimulus packages
The CEO of a private company, who allegedly acted as a middleman for the distribution of the RM92.5 bil economic stimulus packages from 2020 to 2022, has been arrested by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) after giving his statement on Thursday (Jan 5) night. The suspect also allegedly took bribes to connect contractors to higher-ups.
The MACC had said in a statement that investigations were focused on the RM92.5bil under the stimulus and economic recovery packages. The RM92.5 bil figure came from the 10% of projects that have already started and are in the early stages of progress. In addition, investigation papers have been opened on at least five people believed to be masterminds or middlemen for several companies.
Sabah’s political fiasco
Sabah’s Barisan Nasional Chairman, Bung Moktar Radin, announced that they are withdrawing their support for Gabungan Rakyat Sabah's (GRS) Hajiji Noor as Chief Minister (CM) on Friday night. Bung said Hajiji, without a party, lost his locus standi and qualifications to be selected as Sabah’s CM.
All but five BN assemblymen were not in unison with the stance of Sabah’s BN. The five assemblymen pledged their support for Hajiji Noor to remain as CM. Seven assemblymen from PH also pledged the same for the sake of political stability.
Sabah’s state assembly has 79 assemblypersons. At the point of writing, Hajiji claims that he has the support of 44 assemblymen to remain as the CM.
Law Minister: Time for a full-time and independent children’s commissioner
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman Said is pushing the envelopes. She had proposed the appointment of a full-time children’s commissioner to look after children’s issues following the recent tragic case in Kedah. Azalina went on to explain that the establishment of an independent children’s commission is also in the pipeline.
Why is it time for a children’s commissioner? Bukit Aman reported that there were 4,031 victims of sexual crimes in 2021, of which 2,234 were children.
Did the daredevil couple really climb Merdeka 118?
Immigration records are saying no because it seems like they did not enter Malaysia. Utusan Malaysia quoted an anonymous source who said, “Inspections found that there was no record of them entering or leaving the immigration system”. The source added that closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage at the Merdeka 118 tower also did not capture any sign of the couple. Could the couple have entered Malaysia illegally?
Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) chairman Vincent Tan Chee Yioun pared down his stake in the group by 0.7% (40 mil shares) to his son-in-law SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin for RM10 mil. Subsequent to the divestment, Vincent Tan is left with a 25.33% stake in BCorp. The tycoon is paring his stake to 19.6% as required by BNM in order to own a financial institution, should any materialises.
Maybank Investment Bank (IB) expects Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) to record a growth of 4% in 2023 because of slower growth in private and public consumption.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
In Russia, Christmas falls on 7 Jan, Ukraine rejects truce
Orthodox Christianity is the main religion of Russia. It celebrates Christmas on 7 Jan instead of 25 Dec. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a 36-hour ceasefire on the Ukrainian frontline after a call for a Christmas truce from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Putin has requested for Ukraine to reciprocate but was rejected. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the truce is a guise of stopping Ukrainian advances in the eastern region and there will be no truce until Russia withdraws forces from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense’s response to this truce request — “isn’t it too late for the Kremlin to think of God?”
In China: Jack Ma’s shrinking influence, Afghan Taliban x China oil deal
Jack Ma: ceding control of Ant Group, spotted in Bangkok
Ant Group announced that its founder Jack Ma will no longer control the Chinese fintech giant following the government’s crackdown on the tech sector. To recap, Ant’s USD37 bil IPO in Nov 2020, which would have been the world’s largest, was cancelled at the last minute after Ma publicly criticised regulators in a speech. An analyst believed the crackdown also happened because the government needed to protect state-owned banks, which are the “backbone of the economy” as Ant is eating their lunches.
Ma, who holds a 10% stake in Ant, controls 53.46% of voting rights but is now reduced to 6.2% following the adjustment. Other changes include the 10 major shareholders, including Ma, had agreed to no longer act in concert when exercising their voting rights and would only vote independently.
Since the crackdown, Ma has hardly made any public appearances. He was recently spotted in Bangkok, dining at the famous crabmeat omelette shop Jay Fai and was reported to have met with Supanit Chearavanont, the chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), Thailand’s largest agribusiness group.
Taliban x China oil extraction deal
Taliban will soon enter into its first major oil extraction deal since it took over Afghanistan in Aug 2021 with China’s Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Company. The 25-year deal will allow the Chinese firm to drill for oil in the country’s north. Another Chinese state-owned company is also in talks to mine for copper in the country’s east. Beijing has not formally recognised Afghanistan’s Taliban administration but the country is strategically located smack in the middle of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Afghanistan is estimated to be sitting on USD3 tril worth of natural resources, including copper, natural gas, and rare earth metals but these remain untapped due to decades of turmoil and instability.
In an unrelated story, Prince Harry shared in his autobiography that he killed 25 people in Afghanistan during his time as a helicopter pilot. He has come under fire from senior members of the Taliban and high-profile British army veterans.
Avatar 3, 4 & 5 most likely to be made and released
Avatar sequel The Way of Water is currently the ninth highest-grossing movie of all time and that is enough to guarantee the third, fourth and fifth instalments to be made and released, according to director James Cameron. Cameron previously mentioned that Avatar 3 was already filmed but suggested that the fate of Avatar 4 and 5 rested on the success of The Way of Water. The next three movies are scheduled to be released in 2024, 2026 and 2028. When Cameron shared the script for Avatar 4 with the studio and creative executives, their response in email — ‘holy f*ck’.
It would be really awesome if the Na’vis bring their fight to Earth.
Fun fact: Bourne actor Matt Damon turned down James Cameron’s offer to star in the first Avatar movie. Damon was even offered 10% of the film’s box office profits. Total loss for Damon - north of USD250 mil.
Why does Avatar 2 look so real?
The baffling economics of Avatar 2
The making of Avatar: The Way of Water
Blocked, disrupted internet will no longer be a problem for Whatsapp anymore — the messaging giant will allow users to connect via a proxy server to ensure connectivity. This will be extremely useful in countries where freedom of speech is limited and the internet is shut down during protests.
Read: 8 things to know about the new Whatsapp proxy messaging workaround
Sony and Honda unveiled their first EV prototype, Aleefa, nearly a year after announcing their 50:50 joint venture to sell electric vehicles. The car is scheduled for preorders in 2025 and is expected to deliver in spring 2026.
Taiwanese officials said the nation is seeking investors to build its own satellite-based internet as tension with China rises. Taiwan’s digital master Audrey Tang said Taiwan was inspired by Elon Musk’s Starlink’s role during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Try again and again and again, until you win.
The future of fishing villages in Malaysia.