Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ PM Anwar <> Elon Musk meeting this week
Twitter sues: Meta over "copycat" Threads, law firm over USD90 mil bill. Indonesian fish startup turns unicorn with USD200 mil funding. Canadian court: thumbs-up emoji valid as signature in contract.
1. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Roihan Ang, a Sabahan, has achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the first person to successfully dive to a depth of 164m in the waters of Sipadan island. His achievement has earned him a place in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR), and he was officially awarded the "Deepest Scuba Dive" certificate at the MBR office in Kuala Lumpur. The dive took him three hours and 30 minutes and used eight diving tanks to achieve the record. Congratulations! As for the world record, the depth was slightly more than doubled Roihan’s at 332.35m.
79,668 (54.985) out of 144,911 SPM holders who applied through the UPUOnline portal received offers to study at public universities for the 2023/2024 academic session, according to the Higher Education Ministry. The ministry added that 500 programmes are being offered for the 2023/2024 session – ranging from basic study courses, diplomas, bachelor’s degree and certificates.
Samsung Electronics anticipates a significant decline in its second-quarter profits, with an estimated 96% plunge YoY due to ongoing weak demand for memory chips. The company expects its operating profit for the quarter to be 600 bil Korean won (USD459 mil), marking its lowest quarterly profit since 2009. The company is set to release its full earnings report on July 27.
How did this happen? Inflation. Smartphone and PC manufacturers stockpiled memory chips as demand for consumer devices increased during the pandemic. But good times don’t last forever - ask the glove makers. With inflation persisting, consumers are buying fewer electronics, creating a glut in memory chips.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The commotion at KLIA, was it all a misunderstanding?
The incident at KLIA two weeks ago has opened another can of worms. Last week Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Azam Baki said an agent allegedly solicited a fee to help one of the women after she was allegedly prohibited entry to Malaysia is linked to a company based at KLIA. Tourists who are prohibited from entering Malaysia have a label — Not To Land (NTL).
The handling of NTL tourists falls under the purview of the airlines and the Immigration Department. How did a private company get involved? Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the private company is now being investigated. Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), which is sort of in the middle of this commotion, said it did not award the contract to the company to handle NTL passengers. MAHB clarified that the KLIA Airline Operators Committee (AOC), a committee of 40 airline operators at KLIA and 26 associates, was the one who appointed the private company.
Amidst all that, a source from MACC told Utusan Malaysia that no element of corruption was found in the incident. The source said the commotion was due to the agent telling the two tourists the amount needed to buy their ticket home and the agent’s fees — but the tourists misunderstood it as bribery.
Court cases update
Last Friday, the Court of Appeal granted Rosmah Mansor’s request to postpone her four-day hearing for her appeal against her conviction, 10-year jail sentence, and RM970 mil fine in the solar hybrid case related to 369 rural schools in Sarawak. The adjournment was granted pending the leave application to be heard at the Federal Court.
The presiding judicial commissioner, Jamhirah Ali, in the RM150 mil lawsuit filed by Mahathir Mohamad against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, has stepped down from the case due to her familial relationship with Anwar's lawyer, Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi. On another note, former PM Mahathir said Anwar’s failure to present evidence supporting the allegations of nepotism and cronyism indicates that Anwar had acted in bad faith towards him.
Bung Moktar and his wife, Zizie Izette Abdul Samad, get another chance at the High Court. The Court of Appeal has instructed the High Court to review the appeal regarding the Sessions Court’s ruling that they must present their defence in relation to three corruption charges. In 2019, Bung Moktar was charged with two charges of accepting bribes of RM2.2 mil and RM262,500 as an inducement to obtain Felcra approval to invest RM150 mil in Public Mutual unit trusts.
The High Court has granted liquidator Victor Saw Seng Kee authorisation to continue the operations of Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd and three other liquidating companies for a period of 365 days, starting from July 9, 2023. This decision, which was made in January and officially appointed Saw as the liquidator, is aimed at facilitating the beneficial winding-up process of the companies — SDHB, Serba Dinamik Group Bhd (SDGB), Serba Dinamik Sdn Bhd (SDSB), and Serba Dinamik International Ltd.
Nomura Research analysts reported that China’s economic slowdown is likely to have a negative spillover effect on Malaysia's macroeconomics and stock markets through various channels. “Reopening-theme” stocks such as Genting and GenM are both seen as vulnerable to the slowdown. The analysts stated the Chinese tourist numbers (to Malaysia) have not been more than 25% to 30% of the pre-Covid levels in the last couple of months. Even more difficult now, given the fracas last week.
PM Anwar Ibrahim announced that he will be meeting with Elon Musk to discuss Musk’s potential investments in Malaysia. Anwar shared this information during a speech at an event with civil servants, stating that Musk expressed interest in increasing his investments in the country.
MCA President Wee Ka Siong rejected Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor’s offer for the party to join Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the upcoming state elections. Wee stated that the party’s decision not to participate in the state polls was a form of silent protest against the chairman of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. It’s a low-value production of political drama.
Over the weekend, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi used former PM Najib Razak’s name in a bid to get voters, stating that a vote for Barisan Nasional - Pakatan Harapan (BN-PH) is a vote to free Najib. Not sure if this will sit well with the PH folks.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has initiated a collaboration with the University of Cyberjaya (UoC) aimed at enhancing the personal growth, mental well-being, and professional development of national badminton players. Around 120 shuttlers will benefit from the mental health unit. Kudos to BAM for recognising the importance of mental health!
The government has granted an annual allocation of up to RM1 billion for 10 years, starting this year, to secure the survival of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda). The contribution is also a part of the agency’s debt restructuring efforts. Felda was established in 1956 for the development of land and relocation with the objective of poverty eradication through the cultivation of oil palm and rubber.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Mother Earth and Outerspace
Looks like melting glaciers is unleashing more problems for the climate. Researchers have found hundreds of groundwater springs appearing in the Arctic as glaciers are melting and belching out vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is exponentially more harmful than CO2, trapping 80x more heat than the latter. This methane is believed to be millions of years old and has been trapped under the glaciers. The concentration of methane was so high in the springs that scientists were able to set fire to it.
With a new president in place, comes relief for Amazon - the rainforest. Deforestation in the Brazil side of the Amazon fell by 33.6% to 2,649 sq km in the first 6 months of President Luiz Inacio da Silva‘s term compared to the same period ruled by his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro. Lula has pledged to end deforestation by 2030 and has vowed to reverse the policies of far-right Bolsonaro, who promoted mining in indigenous lands in the Amazon.
The Amazon would be safe from Bolsonaro for at least the next 8 years as Brazil’s court has barred him from public office until 2030 over his conduct during last year’s tightly contested elections. Bolsonaro is nicknamed “Trump of South America” - this itself says a lot without elaborating.
A Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb believes he may have discovered pieces of alien technology from a meteor that landed off the coast of Papua New Guinea in 2014. The search after the fireball was spotted was conducted together with the government, the US Space Command. They found 10 small spheres that were very distinct in nature and the US Space Command confirmed with almost 99.99% that it came from other solar systems.
Twitter vs Threads - what’s happening?
30 mil people signed up for Threads in 24 hours. At this rate, Threads might overtake ChatGPT, to become the fastest-growing platform to hit 100 mil users. ChatGPT is currently holding on to this spot as it took 2 months since launch to hit this milestone.
After acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk swiftly laid off almost half of Twitter’s 7,800 workforce and publicly tweeted (see below) that “their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere”. It turns out that the elsewhere happened to be at Meta. As Zuck celebrates this milestone, Twitter sent a legal letter to Zuck threatening to sue Meta as it accused the social media giant of poaching former Twitter employees to create Threads and misappropriating Twitter trade secrets and other highly confidential information.
Twitter’s legal team must have been busy last week. The company is suing a law firm that was hired by Twitter’s former management last year to enforce Musk’s USD44 bil purchase of Twitter for exploiting (or overcharging) Twitter. The law firm, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, charged Twitter USD90 mil in legal fees — USD84.3 mil “success fee” and USD16 mil for hourly services - for “a few months” of work. A former Twitter director and board member had the most appropriate response (see below) when presented with the legal bill.
Jack Ma’s Ant Financial Group - peace finally
After 2.5 years of regulatory overhang, Chinese authorities have slapped Ant Financial Group with an RMB7.12 bil (USD984 mil) fine, making it one of the largest ever fines imposed on an internet company in China. This crackdown by regulators came right after Jack Ma publicly criticised the regulators in late 2020, scuttling its USD37 bil IPO. This good news sent Ant’s affiliate, Alibaba Group, shares flying by 6%.
The fintech giant has also proposed to buy back up to 7.6% of shares of each investor (instead of a complete cashout) to retain talent and offer an exit to investors. The planned repurchase values the company at USD78.5 bil, a steep discount of about 75% to the USD315 bil valuation it touted in the scrapped IPO in 2020. Prior to the IPO, various global funds invested USD10.3 bil in 2018 at a valuation of USD150 bil - this includes Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional, Singapore’s GIC, Temasek, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board etc.
The Wall Street Journal reported back in 2020 that Khazanah invested USD650 mil in the 2018 fundraising round. At USD78.5 bil, that’s a valuation markdown of 47.7%, which will value Khazanah’s position at USD340.2 mil, or a (paper) loss of USD309.8 mil. Assuming Khazanah sells 7.6% of its stake, the sovereign wealth fund will crystalise a loss of USD23.5 mil (RM109.75 mil).
A fish business turned unicorn
Indonesian agritech startup EFishery raised USD200 mil in its Series D round led by Abu Dhabi’s 42XFund, valuing the startup at USD1.4 bil, which is more than tripling its previous valuation of USD410 mil in 2022. Malaysia’s KWAP and 500 Global participated in this round and were joined by existing backers, including Northstar Group, Temasek and SoftBank.
The company started by building Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions to feed fish and evolved to include a marketplace for fish and shrimp farmers and buyers and also providing financing to farmers by partnering with financial institutions. The startup aims to list in the next 2 years. The cofounders’ stake is said to be worth more than USD100 mil after the latest funding round.
Be careful when you reply with a thumbs-up emoji to a legal document. A judge in Canada has ruled that the thumbs-up emoji is valid as a signature and can be used to enter a legally binding contract. The judge said although the thumbs-up emoji was a “non-traditional means” to ‘sign’ a document, under the circumstances of the case the judge was presiding, it was valid to convey the purposes of a signature.
Thailand had its general election on 14 May and 2 months on, is yet to have a PM. The nation’s Senate and House of Representatives will convene jointly on 13 July to elect a PM. At least 376 votes from among 250 senators and 500 representatives to become PM. If no candidate wins a majority, a second round of voting will be scheduled on 19 July.
A prominent newspaper investigates itself. The Guardian, one of Britain’s most prominent progressive newspapers, discovered that the newspaper was founded by men who profited off transatlantic slavery, researchers commissioned by the newspaper found.
Read: How we uncovered The Guardian founders’ links to slavery
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
#1 the late physicist Stephen Hawking made a famous visit to Malaysia in 1994, #2 his former nurse was a Malaysian from Ipoh and he made a trip to Ipoh as well to visit her.
Warm up your brain before you start the week with this puzzle below. You can count individually, but there’s also a formula to calculate it faster.