- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ How rich is Tun Daim and his RM50 bil opportunity cost of being a politician
☕️ How rich is Tun Daim and his RM50 bil opportunity cost of being a politician
'Abang Adik': Record RM13.5 mil box-office sales in Taiwan vs RM5.2 mil in MY. ICJ commences South Africa's genocide case against Israel. China will no longer be the top exporter to the US.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Information as of 0730 UTC+8 on Jan 12, 2024.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
3.3% — the unemployment rate of Malaysia in November 2023, back to pre-pandemic levels. There were 569,000 unemployed individuals in that month, according to the latest Labour Force statistics. Chief Statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin stated that the figure indicates positive economic growth. The number of employed persons in November rose 0.2%, totalling 16.43 mil. Despite global challenges, Malaysia's diverse economy and strong foundations have led to steady economic growth.
According to a witness in the trial of preacher Ebit Irawan Ibrahim Lew, better known as Ebit Lew, 90 lewd photos were found in data extracted from his mobile phone. The eighth prosecution witness — Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) Forensic Computer Crime Investigation Unit analyst Insp Yip Chang Ching — said he took about four hours and 50 minutes to open the extracted files for reading by forensic software. Lew, 38, faces 11 charges, including outraging the modesty of a woman in her 40s by sending obscene words and images to the victim’s phone number via the WhatsApp application between March and June 2021. The preacher is somewhat of a celebrity himself with a massive following of 6.6 mil on Instagram.
A banquet menu from 1956, signed by Mao Zedong during the first Pakistani state visit to China, was sold for USD275,000 (RM1.28 mil) at an auction by RR Auction - view the menu here. The menu commemorates the historic occasion of the first Pakistani state visit to China during the Cold War. The then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, dined with Mao, Premier Zhou Enlai, and other officials. This event marked the beginning of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan, with China later playing a significant role in Pakistan's nuclear armament program.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
MACC is on a roll
Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, his family and Ilham Tower Sdn Bhd have gone to the civil court to block the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation against them. According to a copy of Daim’s supporting affidavit, he stated that MACC has no basis to investigate them and equate MACC’s probe to a fishing expedition. Daim mentioned that MACC cited the worldwide release of the Pandora Papers, which also includes leaked information related to him. However, Daim reverted that no investigation was initiated against other well-known figures that were also mentioned in the leak. Oh did we also mention that former attorney general Tommy Thomas’s firm, Messrs Tommy Thomas, is representing Daim and his family?
Talking to the media, Daim said he was already rich and a successful businessman long before joining politics. Daim also added that his decision to join the Government from 1984 to 2001 was a bad decision, business-wise.
From former finance minister to former PM, MACC has confirmed that they had recorded a statement from Ismail Sabri Yakob on Wednesday. This was regarding the anti-graft body’s investigation against the alleged misappropriation of RM700 mil in public funds for promotion and publicity campaigns during the previous government’s administration.
Joining the lineup of star-studded individuals that are being investigated by MACC is the infamous Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi. Sanusi was seen present at MACC headquarters yesterday for about three hours. It is believed that his statement was recorded in regards to the alleged RM6 mil corruption scandal within the Kedah Football Association (KFA).
What happened during the PMX trip down south?
The RTS Link is finally connected - The RM10 bil Rapid Transit System Link (RTS Link) project was symbolically connected, as the stretch of the project’s marine viaduct between Johor Bharu and Singapore was completed. As of Dec 31, 2023, the 4km rail project had reached a progress level of 65% and is slated to be completed by December 2026.
SEZ is coming closer - The Johor-Singapore (JS-SEZ) is slowly materialising, with a full-fledged agreement estimated to be signed during the 11th Leaders Retreat between Malaysia and Singapore later this year. In the meantime, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed yesterday. Under the MoU, several initiatives will be implemented in the journey towards the SEZ, including setting up a one-stop business and investment service centre in Johor and adopting a passport-free QR code clearance system on both sides.
Alhamdulillah, pagi ini saya dan PM Lee hadir pada majlis penyempurnaan span bagi projek RTS Link yang menghubungkan Malaysia dan Singapura.
Detik bersejarah ini bererti kita melangkah setapak lagi ke hadapan untuk melengkapkan pembinaan RTS Link yang bakal memanfaatkan puluhan… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— Anwar Ibrahim (@anwaribrahim)
Jan 11, 2024
Police: On the wrong side of the law, who police the police
Two policemen were arrested for allegedly raping and extorting two private college students. According to the Selangor police chief Hussein Omar Khan, the incident happened on Jan 9 when two policemen approached the duo at Bukit Ampang View. The policemen then subsequently took the victims to a secluded area where one of the policemen brought the male student to a bank to extort him for money. At the same time, the other police allegedly sexually assaulted the other student, who is a female foreign national. The policemen could face up to 20 years of imprisonment if found guilty.
Police enforce the law for the public, but who enforces the law for the police? The Government may have an answer to that in the form of the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC). IPCC has the mandate to investigate any police misconduct and make recommendations to the police force commission on the action that should be taken against police who have broken the law. Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has announced the appointment of five out of seven members of the IPCC. The five appointees are:
Zolkopli Dahlan (chairperson) - former DG of the Implementation Coordination Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department
Mohamad Jazamuddin Ahmad Nawawi (deputy chairperson) - chairperson of the Prime Minister’s Department’s advisory board
Shukri Abdullah - former MACC deputy director
Tan Kang Sai - former MACC senior director
Martina@Kartina Zamhari - former Audit Department (financial sector) director
Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd had given Prolintas Managers Sdn Bhd, wholly owned by Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas), an RM2.7 bil financing to restructure four highway concessions (AKLEH, GCE, LKSA, SILK) owned by the latter. The restructuring is said to be the steps taken before the mooted IPO of the concession companies that can raise to RM1.5 bil.
MEASAT Global Berhad (MEASAT) is now an official authorised reseller for SpaceX’s Starlink Hardware and Service, further solidifying its position as a comprehensive satellite services provider. MEASAT is the second Starlink authorised reseller after the local broadband provider Redtone.
A former oil palm estate worker named A. Francis had his sentence for beheading his co-worker to get his skull for a ritual to win the lottery commuted to 35 years in jail. The decision was made by the three-member Federal Court led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat where she ordered the convicted to serve the new sentence from the date of his arrest in 1994. Francis has been behind bars for 30 years.
The award-winning local film ‘Abang Adik’ has raked in RM13.5 mil in Taiwan since screening started three weeks ago. In comparison, the movie collected only RM5.2 mil during its 24 days of screening in Malaysia. On top of that, the movie is the first Malaysian movie to break Taiwan’s box-office record. Watch trailer here
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Spotlight on Israel
Israel in the court: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has commenced a hearing on South Africa’s accusations that it is subjecting Palestinians in Gaza to genocidal acts. ICJ, also called the World Court, is the highest UN legal body that can adjudicate issues between member states. You might wonder what’s the difference between the ICJ and the Internation Criminal Court (ICC)? Both courts are based in The Hague, Netherlands, where the similarities end. In short, the ICJ resolves disputes between states, whilst the ICC prosecutes individuals for crimes - learn more on the differences here.
Israel at home: In Israel, one of its parliamentarians caused an uproar when he signed a petition supporting South Africa’s ICJ case against Israel. Ofer Cassif is a politician from the left-wing, Arab-majority Hadash-Ta’al party. He is known for going against the grain of Israeli society and is a staunch supporter of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. Cassif is one of just 400 Israelis, in a population of 9.5 mil people, to sign the petition and as a member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), it didn’t go down well with other parliamentarians and lawmakers are collecting signatures to initiate his expulsion from the parliament.
Israel x Saudi Arabia: When Hamas attacked Israel back in October, one of its main objectives was to derail diplomatic talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saudi does not recognise Israel as a sovereign state and has had a tense relationship since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid, said the nation would like to reach an agreement with Israel and a deal “was close” before Hamas launched its attack on Oct 7. Any deal would have to include Palestinian independence, and that hasn’t changed, he said.
Hamas opposes any progress in the relationship between both countries as it will erode Iran’s power in the region, and Iran is an important backer of Hamas.
China will no longer be the top exporter to the US
For the first time since 2006, China is set to lose the top US exporter to the US, overtaken by Mexico as tension between the world’s two largest economies reshapes the global supply chain. American goods imports from China slumped by more than 20% between Jan and Nov last year, according to the US Commerce Department, now accounting for 13.9% of total US imports. This is the smallest share since 2004 and peaked at 21% in 2017. As for Mexico, its share topped 15% during the same period and imports from the European Union hit an all-time high.
The US is increasingly diversifying its suppliers for products to reduce heavy reliance on China by “friendshoring”, a trend pushed by President Biden’s administration to keep supply chains within allies and partner countries. Although the US is directly trying to reduce its reliance, Chinese companies have responded by relocating their investments and businesses in these countries deemed allies to the US. Surging imports from the likes of Mexico are ‘transshipments’ instead of new local manufacturing. Friendshoring is not so simple after all.
Tech: AI x Copyrights, EV
As ChatGPT maker OpenAI battles The New York Times in court, the AI company is in talks with other large media companies like CNN, Fox Corp and Time to license their work to train OpenAI’s large language models. OpenAI recently inked a multi-year licensing deal with Business Insider parent Axel Springer for tens of millions of dollars. It was previously reported that OpenAI offered publishers between USD1 mil to USD5 mil per year to license their articles, but this was deemed too low for certain top publishers. On a separate note, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman just got married to his husband.
Car rental giant Hertz is going on a fire sale to sell a massive chunk of its electric-vehicle fleet, citing high repair costs, which contradicts common wisdom that EVs are cheaper to maintain due to fewer moving parts. Hertz is selling 20,000 cars, or about one-third of its EV fleet, which includes Teslas, Volvos and more, at a steep discount (browse here). In 2021, Hertz made a splash as it announced that it plans to take EV mainstream and placed USD4.2 bil order for 100,000 Teslas. Expensive lesson.
Today, let’s learn of a little-known country - Comoros
Comoros (see on map here), the little Indian Ocean archipelago nation that consists of 3 main islands and is part of the African Union, with a population of fewer than one mil people will be heading to the polls with President Azali Assoumani expected to stay on for a fourth term. Comoros was once a French colony until its independence in 1975 and has endured years of grinding poverty and political turmoil, including at least 20 coups of attempted coups.
Uniqlo’s impressive profit and revenue growth
Uniqlo owner and Asia’s largest apparel maker, Fast Retailing Co., saw strong growth in its revenue and profit, driven by overseas sales. Operating profit in the three months ended Nov grew 25.3% to USD1.01 bil on revenue of USD4.91 bil, which is up 13.2% yoy. China, Uniqlo’s largest foreign market, saw a large increase in revenue and profit despite a weak economy. Fast Retailing aims to open 80 new stores a year in Greater China, which it now has 931 outlets - more than Japan. View Uniqlo’s quarterly results here.
$MSFT > $APPL
Microsoft briefly overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company for the first time since 2021. Microsoft was worth USD2.903 tril, slightly bigger than Apple’s USD2.871 tril. Microsoft has seen its share price rising sharply since last year thanks to the generative AI craze virtue of its investment in OpenAI, whilst Apple is off to a weak start to the year over growing concerns of falling demand for iPhone, its biggest cash cow, in China.
Weekend read: What happened at Fusionex?
The winding-up of Fusionex, the so-called leading Malaysian analytics and AI company late last year caught many by surprise. Hitachi acquired the company at the height of the pandemic in Apr 2020 for USD117.325 mil (RM545 mil). More details emerged detailing irregularities and alleged wrongdoings from the unusually detailed winding up petition filed by Hitachi. Digital News Asia breaks down what happened. Juicy read for the weekend.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
What consultants really do… (TGIF to our consultant readers!). Wonder if the producers of the show thought this scene would end up being a meme.
Property insights 101: How to tell if the ‘next to mall’ pitch is legit? What makes a good mall? Learn more from property expert iherng.