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☕️ RM569.6 mil generated last year from special number plates

Parliament Day #3: Infractions and Retractions. Muhyiddin Yassin is not out of the woods yet. What happens to the world without a leap year - December in summer.

Some months have 31 days. Some months have 30 days. How many months have 28 days? Answers at the bottom.


Information as of 0720 UTC+8 on Feb 29, 2024.


Over the past 50 years, Malaysia has experienced a significant decline in fertility rates, dropping from 6.7 children per woman in 1957 to 1.6 children per woman in 2023, marking the lowest rate recorded in the country. The National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) highlighted that this decline has led to an ageing population, with over 15% of Malaysians projected to be above 60 years old by 2044, categorising the nation as an "ageing nation." Without intervention, Malaysia's population is expected to peak at 46 mil in 2071 before entering a period of decline the following year. Few days ago, we highlighted a private sector solution to address the declining birth rate - a company in South Korea offers its employees USD75,000 (RM357.7k) each time they have a baby, a benefit available to both men and women.

Japan's demographic challenges are driving a rapid increase in the acceptance of foreign workers. In 2023, the number of foreign workers reached a record 2.04 mil, a 12.4% increase from the previous year. This trend is expected to continue as Japan faces a growing need for workers in various sectors, such as assembly lines, construction, agriculture, and elderly care. The country's ongoing labour crisis, stemming from a declining working-age population since 1995, has led to businesses struggling to sustain operations. Projections suggest Japan will require 6.74 mil foreign workers by 2040 to meet its growth targets, as the Japan International Cooperation Agency outlined.

The recent "GOLD" number plate series bids recorded RM17.2 mil in revenue. Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that the funds collected from this series will be used to cover Socso contributions for taxi and bus drivers. This initiative is expected to benefit approximately 35,000 taxi drivers and 18,000 school bus drivers. Loke reported that the Road Transport Department (JPJ) generated RM5.07 bil in revenue last year, a 5.3% increase from 2022. He also stated that the revenue from special number plate bids amounted to RM569.6 mil.


The lucrative side of the healthcare sector

  1. Columbia Asia, backed by TPG, is planning a RM1bil expansion in Malaysia amidst rising speculation of a potential merger with TE Asia Healthcare Partners and Hong Leong Group to consolidate healthcare assets in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. A super, mega healthcare entity, if you will with an estimated combined valuation of RM15 bil . However, Columbia Asia refrains from commenting on the speculation. Columbia Asia also recently acquired Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care for RM5.7bil in November.

  2. Affinity Equity Partners is preparing to auction Island Hospital, a leading Malaysian healthcare provider based in Penang – bids are expected to exceed USD800 mil (RM3.82bil). Island Hospital's specialised services and medical tourism program are likely to attract buyers, reflecting the strong interest in Asia's healthcare sector among private equity investors and expanding companies. It pays to be in healthcare… business.

Parliament Day #3: Infractions and Retractions
Wan Saiful Wan Jan (PN-Tasek Gelugor) was allegedly approached by a few individuals who offered multiple bribes and rewards, including one whopping offer of RM1.7mil for his constituency, in return for his support of PM Anwar Ibrahim. He claimed that his graft charges (amounting to RM5.59mil) were also offered to be dropped.

After Dewan Rakyat speaker Johari Abdul made a ruling and warned against repeating “hearsay” as the accusations are unverified, Wan Saiful admitted that none of the meetings were with actual MPs but with individuals who may have used fake identities.

Despite repeated warnings, Wan Saiful caused more commotion; accusing the PM as corrupt. Johari gave a stern warning to retract his remarks, which he did. For fans of Big Bang Theory, our favourite superhero: The Retractor!

Justice is (yet to be) served

  1. The Court of Appeal (CoA) has unanimously overturned the High Court's ruling to dismiss former Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s four charges of abuse of power involving RM232.5 mil . A three-member CoA panel, led by Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, unanimously reinstated the charges and scheduled a case mention for March 4th at the Sessions Court. Looks like Muhyiddin is not out of the woods yet.

  2. Malaysia’s most infamous court case: Star witness former 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo testified that Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his roles as PM, MOF, and chairman of 1MDB's board of advisors, had to approve all decisions regarding 1MDB operations. Najib faces 25 charges totalling RM2.28 bil, and the trial continues. One can only wonder, who is “Malaysian Official 1” in the US DOJ lawsuits?

More on Malaysian politics:

  1. PN's Mas Ermieyati Samsudin retains Masjid Tanah seat as the Federal Court rejects the appeal of voter bribery made by Abdul Hakim Abdul Wahid (BN). Despite proof that money was given out (behind a Pizza Hut) on polling day by Mas’s agent, the Court found insufficient evidence linking the distributed money to voter influence. Thus, an essential element of Section 10(a) of the Election Offences Act 1954 is not met. Ermieyati is also the current chairperson of the Parliament Public Accounts Committee.

  2. Bersih meets PM Anwar to push for reforms: 10 proposed reforms were pushed in the meeting, to which Anwar said that he agreed in principle to some. Among the proposed reforms include political financing, the Electoral Offences Act, and the separation of the roles of public prosecutor and Attorney-General. Will the government enact the “principally agreed” reforms, or will the clock run out?


  1. Maybank reported a net profit of RM9.35 bil for FY23
    Malayan Banking Bhd, Malaysia’s biggest bank in terms of assets, reported a healthy net profit growth of RM2.39 bil — 8.3% YoY for 4QFY2023, bringing its full-year net profit to RM9.35 bil, which is 17% higher than the year before. The net interest margin, which measures profitability from lending, decreased by 27 basis points in FY2023 due to higher funding costs and deposit competition. Maybank projects a lower loan growth of 6% and 7% for FY2024, compared to the 9.2% growth YoY it achieved in FY2023. The group declared an interim dividend of 31 sen per share. View earnings here.

  2. Seven Malaysian startups in the spotlight*
    Antler, the global early-stage VC firm, just invested in 7 Malaysian startups as part of a USD5.1 mil (RM24.2 mil) investment in 37 startups across Southeast Asia. The seven Malaysian startups are Cleve, COEX, MessengerCo, PingMi, Seafoody, UniiD & Zappy. As a day zero investor, Antler partners with entrepreneurs to find a co-founder, validate ideas, and launch their startups to get funded. Find out more here.
    * A message from our partner


  1. Iconic Genting Circus Palace & Hollywood Casinos close
    Genting Malaysia Bhd closed two of its three casinos at Genting Highlands, effective immediately, marking the end of an era for longtime patrons. The closure was announced without explanation, but it's speculated that dwindling patronage led to the decision.

  2. Opposition demands, why bak kut teh?!
    Opposition MP questions the Tourism, Arts & Culture Ministry’s listing of ‘bak kut teh’ as a national heritage dish, citing religious sensitivities. The commissioner of heritage gazetted ten dishes, including ‘bak kut teh’, as heritage foods under the National Heritage Act 2005.

Malaysia is a multi-racial country. Do you agree with bak kut teh recognised as a national heritage dish despite religious sensitivities?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.


Conflict updates
Israel, Hamas, and Qatari mediators all announced a cautious stance in response to US President Joe Biden’s optimistic announcement of “a ceasefire in under a week”. Hamas is currently weighing a proposal, which Israel has agreed to during talks with mediators in Paris, for a 40-day armistice, the first extended truce of the conflict. Lebanon’s Hezbollah has also come forward, saying it will abide by the ceasefire if Hamas okays the proposal, in keeping with the faction halting operations during the temporary truce in November. However, this carries a caveat. If Israel keeps shelling Lebanon, Hezbollah will carry on fighting.

However, a growing concern is that a quarter of the population in the Gaza Strip is “one step away from famine”, according to a senior UN aid official. The official stated that “very little will be possible” regarding aid while hostilities continue, with widespread famine “almost inevitable” if no action is taken.

Meanwhile, in the Ukrainian conflict, French President Emmanuel Macron commented that NATO “should not exclude that there might be a need for security that then justifies some elements of deployment” of Western troops to Ukraine. In layman’s terms, Macron was suggesting that the West deploy troops to Ukraine to hold off the Russians. However, this saw backlash in many forms. A Kremlin spokesperson warned of direct conflict should NATO deploy forces, while other Western nations have stated that there was “no change” to the agreed position that no European or Nato member state would send troops to Ukraine. Amid the backlash, French officials now explain that the statement was meant to “stimulate debate” at the Ukraine crisis conference in Paris and that the ideas under discussion involved non-combat troops.

EV happenings: 2 bad news, 1 ok-ok news

  1. Apple pulls plug on electric car project
    What can the world’s most valuable company not do? EVs. Sources have indicated the tech giant has cancelled work on Project Titan a decade after it was started. As recent as 2020, Apple was still considering releasing a vehicle by 2025, but progress was disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Several employees working on the project have been shifted to the firm’s AI division, but there could be layoffs among the engineers and car designers. In 2015, Tesla CEO Elon Musk applauded Apple’s move into electric cars but stated then that “cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches”.

  2. Tesla aims to ship Roadsters next year
    Speaking of Tesla, the automaker is looking to ship its Roadster electric sports car in 2025, according to Musk, who stated that the design goals for the new Tesla Roadster, which is designed together with SpaceX have been “radically increased”. He called the car “mind-blowing” and could go from 0 to 100 km/h in under a second. The Roadster’s production design will be completed and unveiled by the end of 2024. The model was first announced at the end of 2017 and was initially slated for launch in 2020 but was delayed to 2023 by Musk, who cited global supply chain bottlenecks. Check out the new Roadster here vs the first version here.

  1. Aston Martin delays first electric car
    The British automaker is delaying the launch of its electric car due to a “lack of consumer demand”, with the launch now pushed back to 2026. This marks Aston Martin as the latest automaker to push back electrification goals as investment in capacity and technology has outpaced EV demand. The automaker reported an adjusted pretax loss of USD217.4 mil for the 2023 fiscal year, which has narrowed compared to the USD570 mil of the 2022 financial year.

Wendy’s to test “surge pricing” next year
US fast food chain Wendy’s is looking to test surge pricing for its menu, fluctuating prices throughout the day based on demand, as early as next year. This follows in the footsteps of ride-sharing companies and ticket sellers. The plan is to deploy digital menu boards with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling, with Wendy’s to invest about USD20 mil to launch those digital menu boards at all of its US outlets by the end of 2025.

There are also plans for a further USD10 mil to be invested to support digital menu enhancements globally. Wendy’s has about 7,000 outlets worldwide. However, this was met with backlash from social media, with users stating that surge pricing works with ride-sharing due to a lack of options, whereas Wendy’s is not the only fast food chain in town. Please don’t let this come to Malaysia.


  1. Social awkwardness will endanger him in prison, says SBF parents
    Crypto exchange FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents begged the judge overseeing SBF’s criminal trial to give him a light sentence, with his mother stating she “genuinely fears for Sam’s life in the typical prison environment” due to his social awkwardness. This includes an inability to read or respond appropriately to many social cues and a naive belief in using facts and reason to resolve disputes. His lawyers have stated that the social awkwardness is to be attributed to neurodiversity.

  2. Indonesia’s Prabowo made honourary four-star general
    Outgoing Indonesian President Joko Widodo awarded presumed successor Prabowo Subianto, who left opponents in the dust during the presidential election earlier this month, the rank of honourary four-star general. The rank comes decades after Prabowo, an ex-special forces commander, was dismissed from the military amid allegations of rights abuses.


  1. Faces of the richest people in the world. The ten richest individuals combined have a combined wealth of USD1.44 trillion as of Feb 1, 2024.

Credits: Visual Capitalist

  1. All 12 months of the year have 28 days. Fun fact — leap year happens once every four years. What would happen if we don’t recognise the 29th of February? December would drift into summer in 400 years - the leap year is the least confusing solution to address this.

  1. F1 vs a drone, who wins?