☕️ RM100mil immediate assistance to flood victims in Kelantan & Terengganu
Batang Kali landslide Day 6: 2 bodies found, 7 more missing. Too early to declare end of Covid-19 pandemic, China the 'wild card' - WHO advisors. Taliban ban Afghan women from universities.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
USD288 bil — the amount China’s population spent on international travel in 2018, nearly one-quarter of the global spending on tourism. The real revenge travel might happen in 2023 once China further relaxes its quarantine rules. In a survey of 1,003 people carried out by Dragon Tail International, more than half of the respondents said they would head abroad within one year of reopening.
According to a study in The American Journal of Medicine, unvaccinated drivers were 72% more likely to be involved in a severe traffic crash. The Canadian researchers examined the encrypted government-held records of more than 11 million adults, 16% of whom hadn’t received the COVID vaccine. Well, this certainly doesn’t mean taking the Covid-19 jab will protect you from road accidents. The researchers theorise that people who resist public health recommendations might also “neglect basic road safety guidelines.”
69 million likes and counting — a photo gallery by Argentine footballer Lionel Messi has become the most-liked Instagram post ever, eclipsing the record set by an ordinary brown egg. The egg, whose sole purpose was to overtake Kylie Jenner, has over 57 mil likes.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
PM announces RM100 mil donation to flood victims in Kelantan and Terengganu
The announcement came after PM Anwar Ibrahim visited Kelantan yesterday. Financial assistance of RM1,000 will be given to the head of each family relocated to the temporary relief centre (PPS) and RM10,000 for each family for the death of a family member due to the flood.
The New Year’s Eve celebration at Dataran Merdeka has also been cancelled as some parts of the country grapple with floods. The previous administration had also done the same, cancelling the 2022 New Year Celebrations as a sign of respect and sympathy for flood victims in several states in Malaysia.
The slew of announcements after yesterday’s cabinet meeting
Former PM Muhyiddin Yassin lost his job as the chairman of the National Recovery Council as the council was dissolved. The cabinet made the decision due to overlapping responsibilities. The National Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) may be the next to be dissolved.
The new cost of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is RM74.96 bil — lower than the initially approved RM85.97 bil (in 2016) but higher than the RM50.27 bil quoted by former transfer minister Wee Ka Siong (in 2021). The PM explained the increase in cost incurred due to realignment. Some RM24.7 bil realignment? The vast discrepancy needs to be addressed.
The cabinet agreed for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, Petronas, to hand over regulatory power of Sabah’s gas supply to the state. PM said implementation would begin once royal assent is given.
The enforcement of the Employment Act 1955 (Amendment) 2022 will be implemented on January 1, 2023 - no more postponement this time around. What do the amendments entail? Working hours will be reduced from 48 to 45 hours per week, and maternity and paternity leaves will be increased to 98 and seven days, respectively.
The best value-for-money prepaid plan the country has seen — RM30 for 30GB data for six months. The Communications and Digital Ministry announced that the special prepaid plan would be available to youths up to 30 years old, those in the B40 group, persons with disabilities (PWD), senior citizens, as well as army and police veterans. The speed has also tripled — from 1mbps to 3mbps. Dubbed the Unity package — CelcomDigi, Maxis, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia and YTL Communications will offer the plan to users from February 2023.
Law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said announced on Twitter that the Cabinet agreed that seven laws that carry a mandatory death sentence would be amended for alternative sentencing in the coming February parliamentary sitting. 1,327 prisoners on death row, which have been spared the gallows as a moratorium against the death penalty has been in effect since June 10, will receive alternative sentencing.
MPs want work flexibility, too
Dewan Rakyat speaker mentioned MPs have submitted a few proposals for the 15th parliament, which a committee would look into.
Dewan Rakyat sitting to begin at 2pm instead of 10am. This would allow Cabinet ministers to carry out their respective administrative duties before the sitting.
Extension of the Parliament session to between 100 and 110 days.
A more relaxed dress code, such as wearing suits without neckties.
Some healthcare professionals pushback anti-HIV drug
The Health Ministry’s decision to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which could prevent people from contracting HIV from sex and injection drug use, has received pushback. Some Muslim healthcare professionals (about 16) expressed concerns that Muslim doctors may need to act against their religious beliefs if they provide free PrEP to those who practise “free sex” and homosexual sex.
Malaysian AIDS Council president Dr Raja Iskandar Raja Azwa said the moral high ground taken against PrEP is a repeat of previous arguments against condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
According to a report published by Malaysia’s Ministry of Health, 87,000 people are living with HIV in 2019. Why should 16 people determine the fate of 87,000 people?
Batang Kali tragedy update:
Death toll rises to 26 as two bodies were found between 11pm on Dec 20 and 12pm on Dec 21. Seven others are still missing. As the search and rescue operations continue, the authorities will focus on Sectors C (riverside) and A (Hillview).
Aeon Credit Service (M) Bhd reported a net profit of RM83.63 mil for its 3QFY2022 ended Nov 30, 2022 — a 19.17% drop compared to a year ago due to higher impairment losses on financing receivables. No dividend was declared for the quarter.
Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) wants to take a crack at the e-money business in Malaysia. BCorp has signed a preliminary non-binding term sheet with Indonesia's MNC Group to develop and expand e-money-related services between Indonesia and Malaysia.
Bonus — What has gotten more expensive or cheaper since 2010?
Follow @Thevesh on Twitter for more informative charts like these!
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Unclear whether China's Covid surge is due to a new variant or a breakdown in containment
This comes as China faces a spike in infection numbers, coinciding with the dismantling of its zero-Covid policy after public protests. The World Health Organization also warned that it might be too early to declare the end of the Covid-19 pandemic emergency phase due to this surge in China. German nationals there can now take the BioNTech vaccine, the first foreign Covid vaccine to enter the country, following a deal made between the two nations. Berlin is also pushing for other foreign nationals to be allowed access to the vaccine.
As much as the world says China is excellent at maths, they have an interesting way of
concealing tallying their numbers of official Covid deaths, using a narrower definition to lower the official number.
India steps up surveillance as neighbouring China combats new Covid wave
The Indian government has instructed states to ensure genome sequencing of all positive cases in the country to help detect new variants and allow the government to take steps to contain them. State governments were also asked to increase efforts to curb any possible spread over the Christmas and New Year festivities.
On the Ukrainian front
Zelensky's US visit marks the first international trip since the war began
The Ukrainian president is expected to meet US congressional leaders during the visit, which could still potentially be cancelled for security reasons. The visit comes at a time when US Congress will vote on a USD1.7 trillion federal government spending bill, including a USD45 billion aid package to Ukraine.
The US has committed to providing Ukraine with an “extremely capable, effective, and expensive” Patriot defence missile system (USD3 mil each). For a list of other weapons the world has provided in aid, here’s an article.
Russia's seaborne crude oil exports plummet 54% in first full week of EU ban
This drops the total export volume by about 1.86 million barrels a day coming out of Russia. In the face of these sanctions, major oil companies Exxon Mobil and Shell are also avoiding hiring oil tankers that used to carry Russian supplies, in fears that any oil left on a tanker coiled be Russian, thus risking violations. However, weather patterns and cargo scheduling could affect week-over-week changes in flows.
Moscow seeks Chinese favour as Western sanctions felt
Russian Security Council deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev took a surprise trip to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, which included discussions about the Ukraine conflict. Reuters noted Russia quickened its pivot towards China as the effects of Western sanctions are felt, with Russia seeking to “foster closer economic, political, and security ties” to China to offset its loss of comparable Western ties.
Afghanistan sees the Taliban ban women from universities, in a move condemned internationally, which has sparked protests in Kabul. Taliban officials quickly shut the protests down. In Aug 2021 after the stunning takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the Taliban said it will respect women’s rights.
Musk to run software and servers team after resignation, with the current Twitter CEO to step down after he finds “someone foolish enough to take the job”.
The (US) Drug Enforcement Administration: Enough fentanyl was seized in 2022 to kill the entire US population. The majority of the contraband is produced by two cartels – the Sinaloa and Jalisco – in Mexico. Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin, with two-thirds of more than 100,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the US attributed to fentanyl.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Investment from a chemist’s perspective - periodic table of asset classes
Tired of the annual floods, a 67-year-old man in Terengganu embarked on Project ‘Rumahku, Rakitku’ to take matters into his own hands and turned his house into a floating home by installing 69 plastic barrels and 54 wooden boards under his home.
We hoped the owner of the phone was safe the other night. Kantoi sial.