Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Previous two PMs spent RM700 mil on publicity and promotion work
Bombshell: RM1 bil investment scam orchestrated by a 'Datuk'. PMX hat-trick - 3rd Bersatu PM declared support. WeWork goes WeBankrupt. Nike sues New Balance & Skechers for patent infringement.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Lung cancer is the second-highest form of cancer among men in Malaysia after colorectal. National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) managing director Dr Murallitharan Munisamy said almost 95% of lung cancer cases are detected late. It’s likely due to the fact that low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), the recommended screening for lung cancer, costs between RM1,000 and RM2,000 per test at private healthcare facilities. Government facilities simply can’t afford to provide these tests annually. According to the “Lung Cancer in Malaysia” paper, published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology in 2020, one in 55 Malaysian males had a lifetime risk of contracting the disease.
SpaceX has a big goal for 2024 — to have 144 rocket launches — as the company rolls out Starlink Direct to Cell in partnership with T-Mobile. That is one launch every 2.5 days. SpaceX has already smashed annual records for launches by a private company in 2023 and hopes to bring the tally to 100 rockets by December. More than 4,000 Starlink satellites have been put in orbit since May 2019.
RM700 mil — the amount former prime ministers Muhyiddin Yassin (RM500 mil) and Ismail Sabri (RM200 mil) spent on publicity and promotion work during their tenures as the leader of the nation, according to current PM Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar stated that he had instructed the Finance Ministry to limit the allocation for publicity work in 2024 to no more than RM100 mil. Indera Mahkota MP Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the high spending during Pagoh’s time was due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Bendera Putih days, anyone?
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The best of PAS
During her political speech in Kemaman, Terengganu, PAS’ Kepala Batas MP Siti Mastura Muhammad alleged that Lim Guan Eng’s family has family ties with Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew and former Communist Party leader Chin Peng. On top of that, Siti Mastura also claimed that Lim is related to other DAP leaders such as secretary-general Anthony Loke, Nga Kor Ming, Ngeh Koo Ham, and Teresa Kok. Guan Eng threatened to take legal action against Siti Mastura but has given her until Nov 9, 2023, to provide proof of the family ties. You can watch the video here, but don’t waste your time — she couldn’t even get Lee Kuan Yew’s name right and referred to him as Lim Kuan Yew instead.
The official media pass of the PAS-owned publication Harakah has been revoked by the Information Department, which is an agency under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry. It is believed the reason was because of a Nov 6 article that alleged the government of being “timid” in its support for the Palestinian cause. The revocation means Harakah journalists will not be able to enter government premises, such as the Parliament, to report on events there. PAS information chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari was crying foul, saying that Harakah has never experienced such actions. Well, there’s always a first time.
Scammer at the elite level — a local businessman with ‘Datuk’ scammed victims of RM1 bil
Numerous victims have stepped forward to reveal an investment scam valued at RM1 bil, allegedly orchestrated by a local businessman holding a ‘Datuk’ title. This said individual has been involved in fraudulent activities for over 15 years. The modus operandi —the scammer promised valuable returns and used names of influential parties to lure potential investors to invest in the companies. When the investors asked for clarity on the investments, the scammer even threatened to report the investors to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) for evading taxes from the investments.
An investor from the UK claimed he lost RM60 mil to this Datuk. One of the victims, Shah Abdul Malek, contended that the Datuk is well protected by a Tan Sri who has influence in the government. Shah is asking more victims to come forward and file a joint police report to further escalate the case in their favour.
Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd’s (F&N) posts its highest profit in 13 years for the financial year ended Sept 30, 2023 — a net profit of RM536.90 mil, from a revenue of RM5 bil (11.88% higher than the year before). The profitable year was due to festive sales, increased out-of-home consumption, and contributions from snack and candy maker Cocoaland Holdings Bhd. F&N has recommended a dividend of 50 sen per share — comprising a final dividend of 33 sen and a special dividend of 17 sen.
The Edge Malaysia reported the sale of Malaysia-based private hospital operator Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care could be concluded as early as this week, with Columbia Asia (backed by TPG) said to be the frontrunner to buy the entity for around USD1.5 bil (approx RM7 bil). Another buyer is at bay — a consortium comprising Hong Kong-based private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners and Indonesia-based hospital operator Mitra Keluarga. An earlier effort to sell Ramsay Sime Darby to IHH Healthcare Bhd for USD1.2 bil fell through last September because a binding agreement could not be reached.
Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin received criticisms from netizens after sharing a video on X (Twitter) and then captioned it: “Adolf Hilter knew them better than us.” The video was of a child searching through lifeless bodies for a particular individual. After finding the person, the child knelt down and kissed the deceased's face. It is believed the video was from the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Labuan MP Suhalili Abdul Rahman, who expressed his support for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister last week, has been suspended by Bersatu’s Disciplinary Board Committee for six years. The Party’s Disciplinary Board Committee found him guilty under Clause 22.1(f) of the party’s constitution. Meanwhile, Gua Musang MP Mohd Azizi Abu Naim declared his support to PM Anwar Ibrahim last night, becoming the third Bersatu MP to do so. Are cracks beginning to show in the opposition camp?
During the cross-examination of the 48th prosecution witness, Foo Wei Min, in the RM2.27 bil 1MDB corruption trial involving former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, it was acknowledged that Najib’s legal funds were used to pay millions of ringgit to political individuals and entities. Foo also confirmed that these legal funds were not used to purchase a yacht. However, based on the money tracing analysis, Foo was confident that the billions of ringgit that flowed into Najib’s account were ill-gotten gains from the sovereign fund.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Israel-Gaza conflict key topic in Japan's G7 Summit; Russia concerned by Israeli nuclear remark
The foreign ministers of the G7 nations will be meeting in Japan to discuss the group’s response to the Israel-Gaza conflict. The plan is to convey the need for a pause in fighting and allow humanitarian access. Japan and France have called for an immediate truce, with the US in favour of a humanitarian pause but against a complete cease-fire. So far, the G7’s position is in support of Israel defending itself, with the group offering no condemnation of what a growing number of countries is seeing as Israel responding disproportionately to the Hamas attack in early October. The group’s position is not expected to change due to the summit.
Another key topic will be the group’s continued support of Ukraine in its war with Russia, a stance which will not be affected by the Israel-Gaza conflict. The group will continue strict sanctions against Russia and has recognised that Ukraine needs “enduring military and economic support” for a longer-term war.
Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign ministry has expressed concerns about a remark made by an Israeli junior minister expressing an openness to the idea of Israel executing a nuclear strike on Gaza. Heritage Minister Amihay Eliyahu made the remark during a radio interview and has since been suspended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The concern from Russia stems from Israel appearing to admit it owns nuclear weapons, which it has not publicly acknowledged. The Federation of American Scientists, in its report on the status of world nuclear forces, estimates Israel has 90 warheads.
BankruptWork not cutting staff in Singapore, even as the co-founder expresses disappointment at bankruptcy
Co-working space giant WeWork will not be cutting staff or reducing pay in its Singapore operations despite the US-listed company filing for bankruptcy. A company spokesperson stated WeWork’s business in Singapore is not part of the bankruptcy proceedings and that everything will “remain the same” for WeWork’s locations outside of the US and Canada, as well as its global franchisees. An email from WeWork CEO David Tolley to the company’s US-based members also stated that WeWork will continue its services throughout the bankruptcy proceedings and that membership agreements will not be affected.
Meanwhile, co-founder Adam Neumann, who resigned after overseeing WeWork’s botched IPO, went on record that he is “disappointed” by the bankruptcy and that it was “challenging” to watch from the sidelines as WeWork “failed to take advantage” of its potential. It should be noted that Neumann’s poor handling of WeWork and the conflicts of interest perceived are the subject of a Harvard Business School case study.
Italy seizes USD835 mil from Airbnb
The seizure of the amount was ordered by an Italian judge over alleged tax evasion, with prosecutors saying Airbnb failed to collect a tax from landlords on EUR3.7 bil (USD3.95 bil) of rental income. Landlords in Italy are required to pay a 21% tax on their earnings from rentals. Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nutly stated the company is confident it has “acted in full compliance with the law” and will be pursuing the matter. Italian authorities have also launched tax-related inquiries against Netflix and Meta.
Singapore Airlines sees record profit, while oil giant Saudi Aramco reports a 23% slide in profit
Singapore’s national carrier posted a half-yearly profit of SGD1.44 bil (USD1.06 bil) in the first half of its 2024 financial year, which ended September 30. This marks a 26.9% year-on-year increase, with the numbers buoyed by a rebound in passenger traffic to North Asia with the full reopening of China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, Saudi state oil giant Aramco posted a 23% drop in net profit to USD32.6 bil in its latest quarter ending September 30. The firm attributed the drop to “the impact of lower crude oil prices and volumes sold. However, Aramco upheld its dividend payout of USD29.4 bil to investors and the Saudi government.
OpenAI unveils customisable AI bot marketplace and upgraded ChatGPT-4
The firm behind ChatGPT announced the marketplace at OpenAI’s first developer conference, with the new offering enabling users to personalise AI apps for tasks. This likely signals an ambition to expand its consumer business and capitalise on the popularity of ChatGPT. The customised apps will be called “GPTs”, which the company said are early versions of AI assistants. A GPT Store will be launched later this month for people to share their creations, with money earned based on the number of users.
During the conference, OpenAI also unveiled its latest ChatGPT model, GPT-4 Turbo, along with a reduction in prices for companies and developers who use their software. The new version is now available for developers in preview and will be released to the public soon. The new model offers answers with data up to April 2023, compared to the previous limitation of September 2021. It also features an increased input capacity of 300 pages from the previous 50-page limit.
The federal lawsuits accuse Nike’s competitors of infringing on the patented “Flyknit” technology it uses to make its sneakers’ upper portions. Adidas, Puma, and Lululemon were previously also hit with the same patent infringement lawsuit, but Adidas and Puma have since settled their cases. New Balance stated it “fully respects competitors’ intellectual property rights” but called Nike out on claiming an exclusive right to “traditional manufacturing methods that have been used in the industry for decades”.
Tens of thousands to be offered breast cancer prevention drug in England
The drug, Anastrozole, has been used for many years to treat breast cancer and has now been licensed as a preventative option. Recent trials showed it can reduce the incidence of breast cancer by almost 50% in post-menopausal women at moderate to high risk of the disease. An estimated 289,000 women could be eligible for the drug.
Chen Shaojie went incommunicado weeks ago, with his firm stating he could not be contacted. Reports have surfaced that Chen was detained as part of an investigation into pornography and gambling content on DouYu. Another executive, Zhao Bingxian of Wohua Pharmaceutical, was also detained to assist authorities in a separate investigation. The two are prominent businessmen in China, with Zhao referred to as “China’s Warren Buffet”.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Out of the 350 mil tonnes of plastic waste produced each year, 0.5% of it goes to the ocean.
As the year draws to a close (we’re pretty near 2024 or 2023A, as some may prefer), you can use the video below as an inspiration to build better habits or beliefs about what you can achieve. One thought that has stuck in my mind, which Matthew Dicks shared, is — “What do you think most people feel on their deathbed? Anger? Relieved? Sad? No, it’s likely regret. Regret of the things they didn’t do.” #foodforthought