Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Ringgit nearing Rahmah's price - Kedah MB Sanusi
Rafizi survived a heart attack, in stable condition. Meet SG4 - Opposition's own BRICS aspiration. Why Egypt and Jordan say no to Palestinian refugees.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
As per Nancy Shukri, the Women, Family, and Community Development Minister, women currently occupy 38.8% of decision-making positions in the public sector. However, the goal of achieving 30% representation of women in similar roles within the private and corporate sectors has yet to be reached. This year, the National Women and Family Council was held for the first time, focusing on initiatives to encourage women to return to work, working toward the target of a 60% female workforce participation in the labour market outlined by the Madani Economic Framework.
China’s USD500 bil wedding industry faces a big threat — not enough people are getting married. There were 6.8 mil marriages across China last year, 800,000 fewer than in 2021 and the lowest since the government began publishing the data in 1986. This trend, increasingly evident as the economy weakens and consumer confidence diminishes, is a cause for concern among officials who are working to stimulate marriage and birth rates. These rates had plummeted to record lows last year, resulting in the first population decline in 60 years.
Credit card companies are experiencing their highest rate of losses in nearly 30 years, excluding the Great Financial Crisis, as reported by Goldman Sachs. Losses have reached 3.63%, a 1.5 percentage point increase from their lowest point, and Goldman anticipates another 1.3 percentage point rise to 4.93%. This trend is occurring while Americans owe over USD1 trillion on credit cards, a record high according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. What's unusual is that these losses are accelerating outside of a typical economic downturn.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Genting Highlands’ plans to charge entrance fees hit a snag
Last Thursday, Sin Chew Daily reported that motorists entering the Genting Highlands area will be charged an entrance fee. Lingkaran Cekap Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Genting Malaysia Bhd, will be the toll operator. However, the Bentong Municipal Council (MPB) was having none of it and issued a stop work order for the alleged construction of a toll gantry near Gohtong Jaya.
A source from MPB said the developer did not submit any plans or seek approval from the local authorities. A state government official said the operator did not submit any proposal to introduce a one-way toll charge to visitors to the hilltop tourist spot. Although the roads are privately owned, the Finance Ministry and Transport Ministry had to be consulted on toll collection. Uh-oh. Did the people at Genting Malaysia mistake a casino license for a toll concession?
More troubles brewing for MYAirline and its co-founder
Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) revealed that the police are in the midst of freezing 15 bank accounts of individuals who could facilitate investigations into the troubled budget carrier. CCID director Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf has urged those individuals to come forward to assist in the investigation.
MYAirline co-founder Allan Goh Hwan Hua’s AMLA charges are just the tip of the iceberg. 15 investors have sued Goh and four companies over their alleged failure to pay monthly redemption value sums and financing returns from the investors’ outlay of about RM8 mil. Goh and the four companies — i-Serve Online Mall Sdn Bhd (ISOM), Bright Moon Venture PLT (BMV), QA Smart Partnership PLT (QAS) and Trillion Cove Holdings Bhd (TCH) — have applied to strike out the suit. Goh said the sum demanded was part of the monies seized by BNM under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). Goh contended the plaintiffs are “statutorily prohibited” from taking the legal action.
Terengganu MB likens the SG4 to BRICS
Terengganu Mentri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said “state government four”, a.k.a. SG4 — which comprises the four opposition-controlled states — sees itself as an economic bloc similar to the international BRICS group of emerging economies. SG4 is working on developing five industrial clusters — infrastructure and logistics; trade, investment and business; agriculture and food security; laws and human capital; and new income sources and natural resources — that are meant to attract investors to the Perikatan Nasional-ruled states.
For context, BRICS is projected to have a combined nominal GDP of about USD27.6 tril in 2023, which is approximately 26.3% of the gross world product. The SG4 states — Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu — only contributed about 11.8% to Malaysia’s GDP in 2022. By sheer human capital resources, BRICS has 40.8% of the global population, whereas SG4 only has 20.6% of Malaysia’s population.
Good aspiration, lousy comparison.
Lynas Rare Earths said it will shut down all operations in Malaysia in its December-February financial quarter, except its mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) processing plant. The announcement sent Lynas’s shares on the Australia Stock Exchange (ASX) down to an intraday low of AUD6.24 before closing at AUD6.29. The halt in operations for the purpose of an upgrade to its downstream operations at Lynas Malaysia to increase the production of neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) to about 10,500 tonnes per annum. While the fate of its Malaysian operating license remains in the dark, the upgrade will be essential for Lynas to continue importing and processing of Lanthanide concentrate.
Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment and Japanese oil and gas explorer Inpex, among others, are in competition to acquire SapuraOMV in a deal estimated to be worth around USD1.2 bil (RM5.73 bil). Based on Sapura Energy’s latest annual report for the fiscal year 2023, SapuraOMV produced about 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (kboepd). SapuraOMV is an equal JV between Sapura Energy and Austria’s OMV.
M&A activity in the Asia Pacific region and Japan saw a 26% drop to a 10-year low of USD624.4 bil for the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in the previous year, according to LSEG data. This potential sale of the Malaysian-headquartered oil and gas upstream company could provide a boost to global merger and acquisition (M&A) activity, which has been affected by challenges such as a slowing world economy, higher interest rates, and geopolitical tensions.
Muhyiddin wants to go to
Kuala LondonUK for a month-long holiday
The former prime minister, who is facing three money laundering charges involving about RM200 mil, wants his passport back. Muhyiddin Yassin’s legal team has filed an application for the unconditional permanent release of his passport. Muyiddin intends to spend one month in the UK with his family, as it has been a stressful year for himself and his family. Additionally, he also needs to undergo a medical check-up in Singapore.
DOSM: Advance estimate of Malaysia’s GDP grew by 3.3% in 3Q2023
In its inaugural release of advance gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimation, the Department of Statistics Malaysia reported the 3.3% growth is mainly driven by growth in the services sector. Chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin said that the release of advance GDP estimates aims to meet the demand for timely macroeconomic statistics and provide valuable insights to policymakers and stakeholders.
Rafizi Ramli survived a heart attack
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa reported that Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli is currently stable after going through a heart stent surgery following his heart attack. We wish the minister a speedy recovery!
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The Israel-Hamas conflict enters its third week
Israel bomb hits Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City
An Israeli air strike at the compound of the Greek Orthodox St Porphyrius Church killed at least 16 Christian Palestinians. The church is believed to be the third-oldest church in the world, dating back to the 5th century. The church is sheltering a large number of displaced people. Witnesses said the air raid was aimed at a target close to the church, which the Israeli military said its jet fighters were targeting a command and control centre involved in launching rockets and mortars towards Israel.
Why Egypt and Jordan say no to Palestinian refugees
Both neighbouring nations to Israel have said that they would not accept further Palestinian refugees. For one, Egypt said it would struggle with the economic burden of an influx of refugees and does not want to be complicit in the displacement of Palestinians, who are already mostly refugees to begin with. Jordan already hosts the second-largest number of refugees per capita, about 760,000 refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Security is another major concern as Egypt is already struggling with ISIS and incoming Hamas militants would bring further instability to the region.
The United States of Debt
The US government on Friday posted a USD1.697 tril in budget deficit for the fiscal year 2023, a 23% jump year-on-year and the largest since the Covid-fuelled USD2.78 tril gap in 2021. In plain language, they spent more than they brought in and to go on a spending spree without sufficient income, one has to borrow. The US government debt crossed USD33 tril on Sep 18, and a month later, it jumped to USD33.64 tril, implying it borrowed USD20 bil on average a day. At this rate, the US is entering, or already in, a debt spiral.
The US has already spent USD659 bil on interest this year and at this rate will exceed military spending. Spending like drunken sailors - that’s how the US is behaving now. President Biden is seeking USD100 bil from Congress in new foreign aid and security spending, including USD60 bil for Ukraine and USD14 bil for Israel.
Pig heart human transplant major milestone
A month has passed since the University of Maryland School of Medicine performed its second xenotransplants - animal-to-human organ transplants - and so far, the progress of the patient has been good after receiving a heart from a genetically modified pig, showing no signs of rejection of the animal organ. The patient was dying from heart failure and was ineligible for a traditional heart transplant when doctors offered this highly experimental surgery.
The Maryland team earlier performed the world’s first transplant of heart from a pig, but the patient died after two months. The reason for his death wasn’t apparent, although signs of pig virus were found inside the organ. Xenotransplants have failed for decades as human immune systems immediately destroy foreign tissues. Thanks to genetic engineering, pigs are genetically modified to make their organs more humanlike.
Billionaire offers land for USD1 annual lease to fight homelessness
Perhaps one could call this a philanthropic innovation - utilising unused lands as temporary housing for the homeless. Silicon Valley billionaire and philanthropist John Sobrato (estimated USD5.3 bil net worth by Forbes) has offered his 2-acre private land in the city of San Jose, California, for an annual lease of USD1 over a 5-year lease period to tackle the area’s homelessness. He approached the city about the land he owns, which has been unused for 30 years. So why not put it to good use?
The project will provide housing for 150 people in 75 mobile, solar-powered two-bed cabins that can last for 10-15 years. Once the lease is up, the cabins can be moved to a new location as the city has hundreds of acres of unused land, according the city’s mayor. Though the land comes free, it will still cost the city USD18 mil. Apart from housing, the development will also provide workforce training and substance abuse assistance.
Football legend Sir Bobby Charlton has died at age 86 and was arguably the finest footballer of his generation. He was one of only 11 England players to win the World Cup and captained Manchester United to the game’s major honours, including the European Cup, making United the first English club to win it. Not only was it a historic win, but a tragic, bitter-sweet victory to an extent - the team won it despite experiencing a plane crash on 6 Feb 1958 after a quarter-final match. The crash killed 23 people, including 8 players and 3 members of the club’s staff.
AI could accurately guess a user’s personal, sensitive information - like race, gender, age and location - based on what they type, according to a new study, raising privacy concerns (view the report here). The researchers at ETH Zurich tested a few large language models to deduce the personal details of about 520 real Reddit user-profiles and their posts from 2012 to 2016. OpenAI’s GPT-4 was the most accurate at inferring personal details with 84.6% accuracy Meta’s Llama2, Google’s PalM and Athropic’s Claude were the other models tested too. We previously shared how AI could decipher one’s password by listening to the user’s keystrokes with unprecedented accuracy.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
How big will BRICS be with the expansion of six new members?
Meet the “Picasso of counterfeiting”. Even the Secret Service said it’s the top quality they have seen in 25 years.
An 11-second video of a friendship between a man and a crow. Nek minnit — school teachers are like, write an essay that begins with “Saya berkawan dengan seekor gagak.” Only Malaysians will get this reference.