Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Rapid rise of Bangladeshi workers entering Malaysia concerning - migrant rights activist
The Exchange TRX opens its doors this 29 Nov. Picasso' 2nd most expensive painting going for USD120 mil (RM563 mil). China accuses the US of hacking Huawei servers since 2009.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
2.56 mil summonses had been issued by Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) in the first 8 months of the year. 1.52 mil (59.4%) were K257 summonses, which were issued on the spot (not ‘settled’) and another 1.03 mil K170A summonses, which are compound summonses issued from detection through cameras or from enforcement activity. Some breakdown of the summonses:
555,002 (21.7%) — driving without a valid license or expired license;
187,120 (7.3%) — non-compliance of number plate with JPJ specifications;
154,369 (6%) — offences that contributed to road accidents (e.g. vehicle breaks down and the driver fails to deploy warning triangle leading to an accident).
What’s missing from this disclosure is the total value of summonses. A good chunk of revenue for the government — only if they don’t offer discounts again and again.
All eyes are on Sotheby’s autumn auction this November as Picasso’s second-most expensive painting, “Woman with a Watch”, is up for auction and is estimated to fetch USD120 mil (RM563.5 mil). This 1932 painting is still far behind Picasso’s 1955 harem scene, “Women of Algiers (Version 0)”, which was sold for more than USD179.4 mil in 2015. Collectors tend to pay a premium for Picasso’s works from the 1930s, as half of the artist’s top 10 priciest works hailed from that decade.
We are still on art. 532,000 Danish kroner (RM350.2k) — the price paid to Jens Haaning in 2021, a Danish conceptual artist, to recreate two of his famous artworks - “An Average Danish Annual Income” and “An Average Austrian Annual Income”. Instead, he turned in 2 empty frames, aptly named “Take the Money and Run”. The museum in Denmark that commissioned him went on to exhibit the ‘artwork’ but later demanded that he pays it back, which Haaning refused to. They took him to court and he was ordered to pay back.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Concern over rapid rise in Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia
Migrant rights activist Andy Hall has expressed concern over the rapid rise of Bangladeshi workers entering Malaysia, especially as many end up stranded upon arrival. Bad enough, it cost Bangladeshi migrants more than USD6,000 (RM28.1k) per person as recruitment cost, leading to debt bondage due to these exorbitant fees.
Another concern raised by Hall is that the number of Bangladeshi entering the country far outpaced other nationalities entering Malaysia to work. More than 300,000 of 450,000 approved workers have come to Malaysia since the labour market re-opened in Dec 2021, with another 120,000 more in the process of travelling to Malaysia. In August, Bangladesh recorded the highest number of labour exports in a month ever, with over 138,600 workers leaving the country, of which 46,105 or about ⅓ of the total headed for Malaysia.
An economist spoke out on government policies
Economist Muhammed Abdul Khalid, a former Khazanah Research Institute director, gave a piece of his mind on past and present government policies at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall 100th anniversary conference. Some highlights:
On EPF withdrawals: Khalid called it “the biggest mistake this country has made since independence” and a “silly decision”, pinning the blame on former Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul (now Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry) and former PM Ismail Sabri.
The EPF withdrawal has led to the widened wealth gap between the rich and poor, according to Khalid. He urged for a more holistic social safety net where all workers, regardless of formal or informal sector, must contribute to a retirement fund. In Malaysia, only 60% of workers contribute to EPF, whereas in Singapore, 99% of its employed population is covered.
On MPs, ministers’ pension: Pension for MPs and ministers should be scrapped and they should be in the same boat as the people (i.e. EPF). He mentioned that merely serving for a short period of a few years entitles the MPs or ministers to lifetime pension. Previously, it was estimated that RM2 bil per annum to fund the pension of former MPs, ministers and deputy ministers.
On poverty rate: He criticised both sides of the aisle for squabbling on which administration increased the GDP the most, as the poverty rate in Malaysia still increased in tandem with GDP. He suggested measuring poverty using standards in high-income countries where the poverty line is half the median income. In our case, that’s RM3,200, but our poverty line now is RM2,600 (RM2,580 to be exact). By changing this measure, the poverty rate will shoot up from 6.2% to 16% — from 2 mil to 5 mil.
On regressive taxes: The tax system has to be revamped, pointing out that the rich pay less or even no taxes. He cited an example — the zero-tax incentive given to buyers of EV vehicles when Makcik Kiah has to pay tax when buying a Myvi.
The Exchange TRX opens its doors this 29 Nov
The Exchange TRX, a part of the new international financial district Tun Razak Exchange’s lifestyle hub, is set to open its doors on 29 Nov 2023. The lifestyle hub, with a gross development value of RM9.13 bil, will open with a 95% occupancy rate with over 400 stores. It counts Seibu, one of Japan’s largest departmental stores, as one of its anchor tenants, marking the store’s maiden entry to Malaysia. Apple’s first outlet in Malaysia will be open here btw, but only in Feb 2024.
The Exchange TRX is a 60:40 joint development between Australia-based Lendlease and TRX City Sdn Bhd, the master developer of the international financial centre.
Take a tour: The Exchange TRX Mall September 2023 Updates.
Malaysian wildlife smuggler Teo Boon Ching is the 6th large-scale wildlife trafficker sentenced to 18 months in jail in the US for smuggling 219kg of rhinoceros horn with an estimated value of USD2.1 mil. He is said to be a member of a transnational criminal conspiracy engaged in large-scale international trafficking and smuggling of rhino horns to sell to foreign buyers.
All is clear and safe in BNM, according to the police, following a bomb threat reported at the central bank yesterday. There were no suspicious materials found. The central bank’s staff received a bomb threat via email around 3pm.
Malaysia will once again host the ESL One KL 2023 tournament, where 12 top Dota 2 teams will compete for a prize pool of USD1 mil (RM4.7 mil, argh, the shrink-git). This year’s prize pool is 2.5x that of last year’s USD400,000. The tournament will be held at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec) from 11-17 December. Tickets, priced from RM149 to 499, can be purchased here.
Fun fact: Major esports host ESL is owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF), following a USD1.5 bil acquisition in Jan 2022.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
EU to ask China to push Russia for peace at UN meeting
EU Council President Charles Michel will be calling for a “just peace that respects the UN Charter and its core principles – the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation” at the UN Security Council during the annual UN General Assembly. He will also be directly addressing the Chinese delegation, led by Vice President Han Zheng, seeking to join forces “to persuade Russia to end this criminal war”. China has abstained from votes by the UN General Assembly that demanded Moscow withdraw from Ukraine and stop the fighting. The abstentions appear to be China’s attempt to stay on the fence regarding the war in Ukraine. So this is basically the EU asking China to get off the fence?
China accuses US of hacking Huawei servers
The accusation, made by China’s Ministry of State Security on its official WeChat account, is that Uncle Sam has been infiltrating Huawei servers as far back as 2009, part of an effort to steal data that resulted in “tens of thousands of cyberattacks against Chinese targets” last year. Cyberattacks are a point of tension between the two countries, as China accused the US of orchestrating attacks since the Snowden incident.
India warns citizens in Canada to be cautious as ties hit all-time low
The advisory was issued by India’s foreign ministry “in view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada” in response to threats directed at its diplomats and some Indian citizens “who oppose the anti-India agenda”. The strained relations between the two nations are now at an all-time low, as Canada sees the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil as “an unacceptable violation” of its sovereignty, while India is saying Canada is trying to “shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists.”
‘King of Crypto’ Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents sued for missing FTX money
The parents of the founder of bankrupt crypto firm FTX are accused of holding millions of “fraudulently transferred” dollars and paying no heed to misconduct at the company. The accusations were by managers at FTX, while the action was filed on behalf of those owed money after the firm’s bankruptcy.
The case alleges that Bankman-Fried’s parents, both ex-Stanford professors, exploited their “access and influence within the FTX enterprise to enrich themselves, directly and indirectly, by millions of dollars" in the form of a USD10 mil gift in cash from funds belonging to FTX partner firm Alameda, as well as a USD16.4 mil property in the Bahamas by FTX. Stanford University stated it will be returning the “entirety” of funds received from FTX-related entities – USD5.5 mil worth – which it says was mainly for pandemic-related prevention and research.
Arm, Instacart signal thaw in IPO freeze
Both companies saw surges in share prices during their recent IPOs, with Arm seeing a jump of nearly 30% while Instacart saw a 40% surge. Analysts believe that the market’s appetite for IPOs will be indicated by how the two firms trade over the coming months. This comes after the IPO market froze when the Federal Reserve initiated multiple aggressive rate hikes to combat inflation two years ago, leading to an IPO backlog of over 200 companies. Related to the IPOs is that Instacart co-founder Apoorva Mehta has exited the company post-IPO with a USD1.1 bil fortune. He can happily retire now at 37 years old.
Singapore takes the pole position as the World’s Freest Economy
Singapore took the top spot after the previous leader, Hong Kong, which held the position since 1970, was downgraded with “eroding judicial independence” named as a factor. Hong Kong’s ranking is expected to fall further, according to the organisation that released the report, the Fraser Institute. The Hong Kong government has called the report’s claims on the city’s judiciary “totally groundless and unsupported by objective evidence”.
View report: Economic Freedom of the World 2023 Annual Report
Son of ex-Singapore PM charged with false trading
Goh Jin Hian, the son of former Singapore PM Goh Chok Tong, was among four people charged with false trading offences involving market manipulation by creating a “misleading appearance with respect to the price” of securities held by investment holding firm New Silkroutes Group Ltd., of which Goh Jin Hian was ex-CEO. He also stands accused of using his personal trading account to push up the price of securities.
Disney plans to double investment in theme park segment over the coming decade
Disney will be upping the investment to USD60 bil over the next ten years, as it has over 1,000 acres of land it could develop, and it cited the growth it has seen from investing in rides and other attractions tied to its movies and characters in past years.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Wait, what — does Beyonce have political affiliation with a certain political party in Malaysia?
RIP Blake; enjoy playing in doggo heaven. Blake is one of the Fire and Rescue Department’s search dogs (heroes) involved in the Batang Kali landslide rescue mission last December. Blake was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer.