- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ PMX vs Tun M & Co. heats up
☕️ PMX vs Tun M & Co. heats up
Daim's wife to be charged today. PAC to launch probe into RM3.46 bil MLFF project. Rising form of gambling amongst children - loot boxes.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Information as of 0720 UTC+8 on Jan 23, 2024.
Just how important is the opening of India’s new and controversial major Hindu temple that cost USD217 mil (RM1.03 bil) to build? Important enough that India’s USD4.3 tril and currency market was abruptly suspended on Monday to make way for the opening by PM Narendra Modi, undermining India’s efforts to adhere to global standards.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
If there’s one industry that boomed in 2023, it was the scam industry - more specifically, the investment scam. RM472.15 mil was lost last year to this scam, up 117% from RM217.5 mil in 2022, with 5,386 cases reported in 2023. This averages out to RM87.7k per victim. Taking the cake last year is a victim from Sepang losing a massive RM12 mil (USD2.54 mil), marking the highest loss recorded by a single person. The 46-year-old victim was invited to participate in a Chinese virtual currency project that promised returns as high as 50%. For any investment that ‘promises’ a return even higher than EPF’s, it is better to stay away. When something is too good to be true, it is indeed too good to be true. Btw, just merely parking that RM12 mil in a money markets fund can yield more than RM400,000 in interest a year.
Good news for Mother Earth’s lungs — deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon fell by nearly 50% in 2023, the lowest recorded deforestation rate in the last five years. 5,153 km sq of the Amazon were cleared in 2023, down from 10,278 sq km in 2022. For perspective, this is about 63.5% of the area of Selangor, with an area of 8.104 sq km. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged to end deforestation by 2030 when he took over office a year ago from his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro (aka Trump of the Tropics), who saw deforestation surging to a 12-year high.
Malaysians produce 1.17 kg of solid waste per capita daily, totalling about 39,0789 tonnes every day, according to the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp). Food makes up the biggest component of domestic waste at 30.6%, followed by plastic (21.9%), paper (15.3%), disposable diapers (8.2%) and hazardous household waste (4.2%). Currently, the national recycling rate is at 36.8% in 2023, with the target of hitting 40% by 2025. In Japan, their national recycling rate is approximately 50% of solid waste.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
PMX vs Tun M & Co heats up
In a special press conference hosted by Tun Dr Mahathir, the former premier was clearly unhappy as he did not expect PM Anwar Ibrahim to ‘repay’ him for the help he gave before this by investigating people who are close to him, including his son, Mirzan Mahathir and former finance minister Daim Zainuddin. The help that Mahathir meant was the assistance given by him and Daim when PM Anwar contested in the 2018 Port Dickson by-election. Mahathir added that PM Anwar is currently afraid of his own shadows and challenged the premier to call for a fresh election to prove that the rakyat is still supporting him.
Mahathir also refuted PM Anwar’s notion that it is hard to investigate Tuns as the government of the day holds more power* than Tuns such as himself. As an example, the attorney-general (AG) had the power to stop prosecuting the deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in the latter’s Yayasan Akalbudi case. Furthermore, the AG has the liberty to not justify those actions to the public as the Constitution protects the AG. According to Mahathir, the AG, which is appointed by the PM, is basically “a superman”.
MACC hot in action
The MACC is set to bring in a former finance minister, a businessman, and key government officials, amongst others, in relation to its investigation into the RM4.5 bil contract for procuring and managing the government’s fleet of vehicles. MACC chief Azam Baki said that one of the objectives of calling this long list of individuals is to figure out why the government vehicle project that was given to another company was cancelled despite it having received a letter of intent (LOI) from the finance ministry. So, I guess that both Berjaya and Naza may get the answer that has made them file a lawsuit to get one.
Na’imah Abdul Khalid, the wife of former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, will be charged in court today for allegedly not abiding by the MACC notice to declare her assets. The decision to charge Na’imah was made after MACC had received the consent.
The largest Sabah drug syndicate is being dismantled bit by bits
The largest organised drug syndicate in Sabah, dubbed Gang Upik, is finally facing the harsh reality of the law after eleven people linked to the syndicate were charged in Sabah. Among the eleven, it also included a 41-year Datuk Maslan Sani, who is believed to be the syndicate's leader. At the height of the syndicate’s operations, the Datuk utilised a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that he oversaw to cover his illicit activities since 2015. During the raid that led to the arrest and subsequent court charge for the eleven individuals, the police seized various assets including 18 luxury vehicles worth RM6.6 mil. Separately, Peninsular Malaysia also has its drug kingpin, who was arrested in Laos in late December and deported to Thailand. Malaysian authorities were interrogating him and said it could lead to the seizure of his assets in Malaysia worth THB 4 bil - in ringgit, that’s RM530 mil. Do you think he could be Datuk, too?
Financial authorities deny giving the nod to companies to operate
No to Hap2py - The Securities Commission (SC) has never permitted for Hap2py to operate its peer-to-peer (P2P) financing platform in Malaysia. SC is so adamant that it does not allow Hap2py to operate up to a point that the regulator initiated several actions and interventions against Hap2py, including placing it on the SC’s Investor Alert List, blocking its multiple websites and issuing a cease-and-desist notice. However, the unauthorised company still find ways to solicit investors from the market. According to SC, any entity that operates a P2P platform without SC’s authorisation can be fined up to RM10 mil or jailed for a maximum of 10 years or both.
No to Quantum Metal - Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) had denied that the central bank has given approval and license to Quantum Metal Sdn Bhd (QMSB) to conduct its activities, despite Quantum Metal being a reporting institution under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA). A ‘reporting institution’ under the AMLA means any person, including branches and subsidiaries of that person, who carries on any activity listed in the First Schedule, where Quantum Metal deals in precious metals or precious stones, which are included in the First Schedule of AMLA. Being a reporting institution does not mean one is registered, approved and licensed under laws administered by BNM, according to the central bank.
AMLA First Schedule | Credit: BNM
PM Anwar Ibrahim confirmed that a candidate has been submitted to the King for the Sarawak Governor position. PM Anwar added that Sarawak Premier Abang Johari decided on the candidate that would finally replace Abdul Taib Mahmud, who has been in power as the chief minister and then the governor since 1981.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, told the media that her committee will commence the probe into the RM3.46 bil Multi-Lane Free Flow (MLFF) toll collection system. Representatives from the Works Ministry and the Malaysian Highways Authority (LLM) will be summoned to assist in the investigation.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Hamas explains its attack in a 16-page report
The document titled “Our Narrative” (view PDF here) was released on Sunday in both English and Arabic by the Hamas Media Office and is the first public report from Hamas on the attack, which it named the attack Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. Hamas listed the reasons that led to the attack that date back a long time, citing Israel’s campaign of settlements construction, the Judaization of the Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians since 2000.
Hamas also acknowledged that “faults happened” in the planned attack that targeted Israeli military sites and captured soldiers as a negotiation card to pressure Israeli authorities to release thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. It added that harming civilians “is a religious and moral commitment” and that civilians targeted happened accidentally amidst the chaos. It also blamed the Israeli army and police for killing its own people due to their confusion.
Meanwhile, the death toll has now exceeded 25,000, with 178 deaths reported on Sunday, making it one of the deadliest days in the war so far.
Rising form of gambling amongst children - loot boxes
Sell loot boxes, earn USD1 bil. That’s what the game “Counter-Strike” made in selling loot boxes — virtual cases of players can purchase containing random virtual items of varying value. To be exact, they made USD980 mil last year selling loot boxes. This controversial feature has been deemed as gambling by some regulators and they have long debated whether they promote underage gambling.
The UK Parliament published a report in 2020 that found around 55,000 people with a gambling problem between 11 to 15 in the UK. The report recommended that “loot boxes” in video games be reclassified as gambling under the country’s 2005 Gambling Act. A separate study found that 71% of the top games on Steam from 2010 to 2019 contained purchasable loot boxes. UK’s Gaming Commission said it can not act on loot boxes because the Gambling Act does not cover this activity.
In the absence of regulation, some recommendations have been made to “enhance player protection”, such as restricting anyone under 18 from purchasing loot boxes and games disclosing the presence of loot boxes before buying.
US-China relations by 2035 — 4 plausible scenarios, none positive
Non-profit PAX Sapiens organised a study seeking the insights and theories of 25 experts on both countries, including former senior Obama and Trump officials, retired researchers from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and academics on both sides on the future of US-China relations. Summary in one word - grim. Their opinions, in summary outlined four major plausible scenarios that could unfold by 2035:
Both countries rule separate blocs of the world
A refusal from both parties to cooperate
Both countries communicate regularly while their economies slowly decouple
Notably, none of the scenarios is positive and excludes the outcome many investors and the business community hoped for of “shared growth” in the 1980s in the post-Cold War era.
View the interactive report here.
Chain-smoking marathoner disqualified
A 52-year-old Chinese man, popularly known as “Uncle Chen”, has been disqualified, although he completed the Xiamen Marathon in 3 hours 33 minutes for violating the race’s rules against smoking on the course. He gained internet fame two years ago after photos and videos (view here) showed him running the race with a cigarette in his mouth. Chen previously said cigarettes helped him with fatigue. Just imagine his lung condition without smoking - it could be Olympian level.
Boeing’s growing problems
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommended that airlines inspect another type of Boeing Co 737 aircraft, the 737-900ER model, following the door blowout on the Max 9 jet on Jan 5. The 737-900ER is an older generation and not part of the Max’s family, but has the same door plug design. 505 of this model have been delivered globally, mainly to US airlines.
Pandemic-era puppies suffering behavioural issues
A study by the Royal Veterinary College found that puppies bought during the pandemic have high rates of behavioural issues such as separation anxiety and aggression. These dogs suffered from the lack of interaction with people and other dogs, which is crucial in the dog’s long-term mental and emotional well-being due to the lockdowns. UK’s dog population rose by about a million to an estimated 11 mil, with many people becoming first-time owners.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Apparel brand and giant Lululemon launched its exclusive capsule collection to welcome the Year of The Dragon and got Michelle Yeoh to star in its campaign. Many would not realise just how big it is — its market cap stands at USD58.17 bil, about 38% of Nike’s USD152.1 bil market cap. A short history of Lululemon’s founding here.
The rise and fall (and hopefully the rise again) of Sea Ltd, the parent company of Shopee. At its peak, Sea Ltd was worth USD197 bil during the height in Oct 2021 of the pandemic and now is trading at a USD22.8 bil market cap, down 88.4%. Pretty good documentary made by YouTuber Chun Weng — check out his other videos.