- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ Rarer than eclipse - Singapore minister charged with corruption, biggest graft case in 40 years
☕️ Rarer than eclipse - Singapore minister charged with corruption, biggest graft case in 40 years
New Leak- Daim-linked trust worth 9-figure. MACC: Tun M's son Mirzan Mahathir to declare assets in 30 days. Trademark dispute: Thai Luckin Coffee vs China Luckin Coffee.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Information as of 0730 UTC+8 on Jan 19, 2024.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Despite the positive economic indicators such as a slowdown in inflation, reduced petrol prices, availability of jobs, a rise in incomes, and a strong stock market, surveys reveal that Americans are not content with the state of the economy. Two-thirds of the respondents in a Gallup poll conducted in November 2023 disapproved of Joe Biden's economic policies. Does this spell the beginning of Donald Trump’s reign once again?
Malaysia's total industry volume (TIV) reached a record high of 799,731 units in 2023, showing an 11% year-on-year increase from the 721,177 units sold in 2022, according to the Malaysia Automotive Association. The growth was primarily driven by the passenger cars sub-segment, supported by a resilient domestic economy, a stable socio-political environment, tax-free incentives, new vehicle launches (including electric vehicles with competitive prices), and an improved industry supply chain environment, said President Mohd Shamsor Mohd Zain. Electrified vehicles (hybrid + full EV) accounted for about 5% (38,214 units), a sharp rise of 69% YoY.
The Immigration Department director-general, Datuk Ruslin Jusoh, revealed that 220 undocumented migrant settlement hotspots have been identified in Malaysia. From January 1 to 16, a total of 3,262 immigrants were detained for various immigration offences, such as not having a passport, overstaying, and establishing illegal settlements. Additionally, 35 employers who hired undocumented migrants were also detained during the same period.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The lawyer merry-go-round
Regarding Syed Saadiq’s criminal breach of trust (CBT) case, the former sports minister has appointed former solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abidin and a very familiar name, senior lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik to represent him in his appeal against the conviction. The lawyer-swapping exercise was done mainly due to the resignation of Syed Saadiq’s previous lead counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, who was appointed the new digital minister. Previously, the Muar MP was sentenced to seven years of jail, fined RM10 mil and two strokes of the cane by the Kuala Lumpur High Court. One interesting point highlighted by this news is that Malaysia has an apparent lawyer shortage, as we keep seeing the same name appearing to represent individuals in high-profile cases.
Authorities: The Good, The Bad
The Good - The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has given the son of former PM Tun Mahathir, Mirzan Mahathir 30 days to declare all of his assets, domestically and abroad. Mirzan was investigated by MACC due to his alleged involvement in the sale and purchase of government-linked companies that were mentioned in the Panama Papers. This investigation is part of a series of probes initiated last year into all entities and related assets named in the Pandora Papers and Panama Papers leaks.
The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that were published in 2016. They detailed financial and attorney-client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities. On the other hand, the Pandora Papers are a 2021 leak of nearly 12 million documents that incriminated hundreds of global elite for alleged tax avoidance and corruption.
MACC also bagged another win after three men were arrested, believed to be behind the RM9 mil procurement cartel involving the construction of a navy camp. Allegedly, 13 suppliers were involved in the cartel.
The Bad - Seven individuals, including a police inspector, were detained regarding an investigation into the kidnapping of a Bangladeshi businessman. Based on the early findings of the investigation, the foreign businessman had allegedly owed one of the suspects RM70,000, thus leading to the kidnapping of the businessman. Police had to conduct a raid to rescue the kidnapped victim.
A Daim-sourus size of wealth uncovered in a new leak
Based on the leaked documents shared by the Investigative Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) with Malaysiakini, it was revealed that former finance minister Daim Zainuddin and his family are the owners of another offshore trust holding millions of ringgit of assets. Below are the assets uncovered in leaked documents linked to Daim:
RM244.06 mil - worth of assets held in ZA Star Trust which is owned by Daim’s wife, Naimah Khalid and his two sons, Muhammed Amir Zainuddin and Muhammed Amin Zainuddin. ZA Star Trust also received a loan amounting to RM227.53 mil from Adam Zeta Trust. However, it was unknown who the real owner of Adam Zeta Trust is.
RM148.26 mil - The known assets’ worth that are tucked under another offshore trust previously linked to Daim.
Malaysia is popular abroad, but for the wrong reasons
2 Malaysians, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, had pleaded guilty to conspiring in the 2002 Bali bombings. The duo stated their guilty pleas at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, marking the first time they entered a plea since they were brought to Guantanamo some 17 years ago. As part of this guilty plea, the charges related to the 2003 attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta were dropped and the duo needed to present evidence against alleged mastermind Encep Nurjaman, also known as Hambali who was used to be labelled as one of the world’s most lethal terrorist by former US President George W Bush.
The head of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Jennifer Homendy, has confirmed that the ‘door plug’ panel (view here) that was blown out of an Alaska Airlines jetliner was made in Malaysia by Boeing’s leading supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. This incident is still under investigation by the US authorities.
Magna Prima Bhd and Golden Rainbow View Sdn Bhd will work together to develop a mixed development on a 113,963 sq ft site that used to house the Lai Meng school on Jalan Ampang (the one opposite the old Zouk). The proposed new development will have a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.2 bil. Golden Rainbow View is owned by Tafi Industries’ executives, where 70% is owned by Tafi Industries’ Group CEO Wong Sze Chien and the remaining 30% is owned by Tafi Industries’ Group Managing Director Azlan Azmin.
Eco World Development Group Bhd’s subsidiary Eco Botanic 3 Sdn Bhd has acquired 240.314 acres of land in Iskandar Malaysia for RM450.13 mil. The land will be developed into a mixed-use project dubbed Eco Botanic 3 that will sit beside the company’s existing developments.
US-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is said to be in talks to buy a minority 49% stake in MMC Port Holdings and, if successful, will value the latter at around RM30 bil. MMC Port which is part of the MMC Corp conglomerate is controlled by Syed Mpkhtar Al-Bukhary. MMC Port has seven ports in Malaysia — Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Johor Port, Northport, Penang Port, Tanjung Bruas Port, SPT Services and Andaman Port.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Rarer than eclipse - Singapore minister charged with corruption
Singapore’s Transport Minister S Iswaran faced 27 charges, which he has pleaded not guilty to all, involving corruption relating to his interactions with Malaysian property tycoon Ong Beng Seng, who owns the rights to the Singapore Grand Prix. Among the charges, Iswaran is accused of corruptly receiving more than SGD166,000 worth of flights, hotel stays and tickets to events in exchange for advancing the business interests of Ong — here’s the full list of all items Iswaran was alleged to have obtained in his capacity as a minister and chairman of the F1 steering committee. Having browsed the list across the straits, these items are what we call on-the-job supplements.
Following these charges, Iswaran, who has been placed on a leave of absence during the investigation, resigned from his cabinet minister position, member of parliament and member of his party, the People’s Action Party (PAP). He also returned his salary as minister and allowances as MP during the investigation period. Separated by one small strait, yet we see practices at the extreme ends of the spectrum between both countries.
Btw this is considered the biggest graft probe since 1986.
The US redesignated Houthi rebels as “terrorists”
The Yemeni Houthi rebels that have been attacking selected cargo ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s aggression on Palestine have been redesignated one of the two terrorist designations - Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). One of President Biden’s first major foreign policy decisions was lifting the two terrorist designations, including the other Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) imposed by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to enable more humanitarian aid to Yemen. The latter designation is more severe than the former. The full list of FTO can be viewed here.
SDGT is a designation that concerns the finances of an individual or a group which are considered to “threaten the security of the US”, meaning it is illegal for an American to provide any financial or material support to the Houthis and any assets the Houthis have in the US will be frozen. As for FTOs, these organisations are identified as a “threat to US national security”. The FTO list was created in 1997, whilst the creation of the SDGT designation came in the wake of the Sep 11 attacks in 2001. Individuals affiliated with FTOs are barred from entering the US, whilst the same does not apply to individuals on the SDTG list.
The impact of this redesignation will affect humanitarian aid to Yemen, where more than half of its 18.2 mil population rely on such aid. Sounds like the US is using the humanitarian crisis card to force the Houthis to stop its attack, with the redesignation taking effect after 30 days.
Trademark dispute: Thai Luckin Coffee vs China Luckin Coffee - the real vs the fake
TIL - there are two Luckin Coffees in this world. One in China and another in Thailand by 50R Group. Thai 50R Group filed a lawsuit against the Chinese brand, claiming THB10 bil (USD290 mil) in compensation for economic losses incurred. 50R Group claimed it registered the ‘Luckin’ trademark in 2020 and started operating in Dec 2020 with a similar concept and wait for it - a similar logo as Chinese Luckin Coffee but inversed, operating a handful of outlets. The Chinese Luckin initially won the lawsuit alleging that 50R maliciously registered its trademarks. Still, the decision was reversed by a court of appeals in Dec 2023, which the Chinese Luckin said they were ‘shocked’ by the decision.
Luckin Coffee (the China one) was founded in 2017 and is China’s largest coffee chain, overtaking Starbucks last year with more than 13,200 stores. It now has 30 outlets in Singapore, its first international market. A very bold act we must say, by the Thai Luckin Coffee.
Read: You should never buy Luckin Coffee in Thailand.
Tech layoffs continue - Google warns of more coming
After mass layoffs last week involving more than 1,000 workers, Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned that more layoffs are expected this year, though this year’s scale won’t be the same as last year, where the company let go 12,000 people or 6% of its workforce. German automotive supplier Bosch also announced it is cutting 1,200 jobs in its software development division by the end of 2026, citing the slower-than-expected development of fully automated driving as the main reason behind the move.
Samsung unveils its AI-powered smartphones - the Galaxy S24 series
Samsung launched its AI-powered smartphone series starting from USD800 and as anticipated, the AI would improve the calling experience with a Live Translation feature that provides a live translation of the call both audibly and on the screen. More reviews on this Samsung new line here.
Weekend Read: Daim - from teacher to corporate godfather
With Daim coming under the spotlight again, Malaysiakini republished its 2014 piece chronicling the rise of Daim. How high could he have gone? In Daim’s own words last week he could be worth over RM50 bil had he stayed in business and not entered politics.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Phil Knight’s recipe for building Nike — signing successful stars.
It’s not a productivity hack — rather, it’s a state of being one should be in to be more productive.