Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ RM950,000 for FF8 number plate
Madani vs PN- which organised a more cost-effective Raya open house? Azmin Ali to sit out state election, KJ considering Muhyiddin’s offer. Queen Elizabeth II's funeral cost-nearly a billion ringgit.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
JPJ has earned RM34,296,327 from the bidding of the special ‘FF’ number plate series, the highest on record since JPJ eBid’s launch in 2019. FF8 (our investigative mind suspects that it is most likely a Chinese buyer) fetched the highest price of RM950,000, followed by FF9 at RM911,999 and the third-highest goes to FF3 at RM639,000. FF88 took the sixth-highest bid at RM510,000. A total of 34,032 bids were received.
The Madani Malaysia Aidilfitri Open House organised by the PM’s Department in 6 opposition states have been criticised by the opposition as a waste of money. Opposition Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari asked in Parliament on the total expenditure — RM6.1 mil, all-in costs were spent in 3 states (i.e. Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu) attended by a total of 55,000 people (RM111 average cost per rakyat). Pasir Mas MP got more information than he requested — it was also revealed that the Aidilfitri Open House last year, organised by the past administration in a single location, which is in Seri Perdana, Putrajaya, incurred a total cost of RM11 mil, attended by 70,000 people (RM157, 41% vs Madani Open House).
Potentially the most expensive funeral in modern history — the UK government spent GBP162 mil (RM930.4 mil, that’s nearly a billion ringgit) on Queen Elizabeth’s funeral and events during the period of national mourning.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Dewan Rakyat passes amendments decriminalising suicide
The past PH administration’s attempt to decriminalise suicide in 2019 has now seen major progress as Dewan Rakyat passed the amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to decriminalise suicide. Section 309 of the Penal Code, which punishes attempted suicide with up to 1 year’s jail, a fine, or both, is now repealed. Deputy Minister in the PM’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh said this section should be abolished to take a rehabilitative approach based on medical treatment instead of a punitive one to approach suicide attempts.
Abetting suicide or attempted suicide will remain an offence, with a proposed penalty of imprisonment of up to 20 years, or a fine, or both. Ramkarpal, in response to queries from the opposition lawmakers whether the amendments had considered religious views, said the Attorney General’s Office has referred to the Office of the Mufti of the Federal Territories and had no issues with it.
He also added that the latest study published in 2022 showed a decrease in the death rate of persons committing suicide in countries that decriminalised attempted suicide.
Swatch shops raided over rainbow-coloured watches
The Home Ministry Affairs on 13 and 14 May raided 11 Swatch outlets nationwide. They confiscated watches from its Pride Collection following a social media post that went viral and attracted the attention of authorities that associated the watches to British band Coldplay’s support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek Jr has expressed his dismay over the seizure, saying there’s nothing political about the watches and sarcastically commented how the authorities would “confiscate the many beautiful natural rainbows that are showing up thousand times a year in the sky of Malaysia”.
At this rate, a natural phenomenon like the rainbow might go down the same way as the swastika, a symbol representing luck and fortune and used in religions but was made popular and turned into an infamous symbol of evil by the Nazis.
Read: The history of the swastika: From a sign of luck and fortune to a symbol of evil.
Azmin Ali to sit out state election, KJ considering Muhyiddin’s offer
One of Langkah Sheraton’s main participants and former Gombak MP Azmin Ali said he has no intention to contest in the upcoming state election as he would like to take a break after having served for 7 terms. That said, he left the door open as he would leave it to PN leadership to decide. Azmin is currently serving as Bukit Antarabangsa representative in the Selangor state assembly. To recap, he lost his Gombak parliamentary seat to Selangor Menteri Besar Amiruddin Shari in the recent GE15.
As one plans to bow out, another is considering making a return to politics — Khairy Jamaluddin said he needed time to consider Muhyiddin Yassin’s offer for a seat in Bersatu’s supreme council as he will “not take it lightly” when it comes to a second chance to join a political party.
Season of Fire — EPF PJ building catches fire for the second time
The second major commercial building to catch fire in a span of a week — the EPF building on Jalan Gasing, PJ, caught fire again for the second time. Fortunately, no casualties or injuries were reported. The building has been left unoccupied since the first fire broke out in Feb 2018 that destroyed about 40% of the building. The building was recently reported to be repurposed into a senior living facility, set to open next year by Pacific Retirement Living Sdn Bhd, which had entered into a 30-year lease agreement with EPF. The Fire & Rescue Department said the fire could have been caused by renovation work inside due to flammable cladding material of the building exterior, which is being demolished. Watch the fire here and its aftermath here.
Would this building truly be safe for senior citizens lacking the mobility to move fast and escape hazards to live in?
Bonus: this is how the building and Federal Highway looked like in the 1960s - like somewhere from the US
AirAsia X Bhd announced a proposal for a private placement of nearly RM50 mil, equivalent to 7.78% of its total issued shares, to AHAM Asset Management Sdn Bhd, AIIMAN Asset Management Sdn Bhd and Lavin Group Sdn Bhd. Most of us would know AHAM and AIIMAN is the wholly-owned Shariah investment arm of AHAM. But little can be discovered online on Lavin Group, controlled by Calvin Lau Chuen Yien, who will take up half of the placement, totalling RM25 mil.
The private placement will be offered at RM1.55 per share — a sweet 19.3% discount to its closing price yesterday of RM1.92. That said, the methodology to calculate the share price of a private placement is based on a discount to the 5-day volume-weighted average of the company, which in this case works out to a 9.34% discount.
AAX share price ‘flight status’: AAX is cruising at +236.8% (share price @ 3 Jan23: 57 sen). In other words, its stock price more than tripled since the beginning of the year.
Tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary is said to be seeking an investor into MMC Port Holdings, the nation’s biggest port operator, in a deal that could value the company at more than RM12 bil as his conglomerate MMC Corp plans to sell a stake of up to 30%. This deal would be a precursor to a listing on Bursa Malaysia in few years.
MMC Ports has 7 ports in Malaysia, all along the Malacca Straits: Tanjung Pelepas Port, Johor Port, Northport, Penang Port, Tanjung Bruas Port, SPT Services and Andaman Port.
The other companies in Syed Mokthar’s empire: Malakoff Corp (Malaysia’s largest independent power producer), Gas Malaysia (the country’s sole supplier of reticulated natural gas in Peninsular Malaysia), DRB-Hicom, Pos Malaysia and Proton Holdings.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Sounds like China’s really angry with everyone
China has banned US chipmaker Micron from key infrastructure projects, stating some of Micron’s products are “national security risks”, though no details were provided as to what risks exactly. This marks China’s first significant move in the semiconductor war with the US, where the latter had imposed measures against the former’s chipmaking industry. In response, the US government will be working with allies to address “distortions of the memory chip market caused by China’s actions”.
As an aside, China boycotted the G20 tourism meeting being held in Kashmir, stating it “firmly opposed any kind of G20 meetings in the disputed territory”. Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan, though both nations only govern parts of the region. China also called the G7 an “anti-China workshop” in response to declarations that singled out China on issues including Taiwan, nuclear arms, economic coercion, and human rights abuses.
South Korea, EU to increase security cooperation
In the face of tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the nuclear threats from North Korea, and China’s stance towards Taiwan, the European Union and South Korea have agreed to increase cooperation on security at a summit in Seoul. The two parties also pledged to work together on climate change, health, and supply chains. To date, Seoul has maintained a neutral stance in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has signalled a possible shift in that stance.
Study finds remote-working bankers have fewer misconduct alerts
A study by the Social Science Research Network found that employees in the office had an annualised 37.6% chance of triggering a misconduct alert, while remote workers only registered a 7.3% chance. While working from home meant a lack of oversight, this was balanced by decreased exposure to information and coworkers that would motivate misconduct like insider trading and collusion. Considering such misdeeds would result in staggering financial penalties, working from home is likely to have a positive financial impact on the bank, in addition to other benefits like improved employee morale and lower office costs.
Read study: Work-from-home and the risk of securities misconduct.
Nvidia builds new supercomputer to compete with Intel, AMD
Nvidia, working with Hewlett-Packard and the University of Bristol in the UK, has built a new supercomputer called Isambard 3, based entirely on Nvidia’s new Grace CPU chips and none of Nvidia’s GPUs. Nvidia started shipping the Grace chips this year which marks Nvidia’s move into the CPU market, which has been dominated by Intel and AMD. Isambard 3 will be used by the university for climate science and drug discovery research.
Fun fact: Nvidia, not as popular as the other big techs, is worth USD775 bil - more than Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Meta and Tesla. It’s the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 index, up +118.9% year-to-date thanks to its technology being highly sought after to powering the hottest thing in town now - Artificial Intelligence.
Facebook fined USD1.3 bil for mismanaging user data – Facebook owner Meta was fined USD1.3 bil by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation privacy law for mishandling user data. The fine is also the largest imposed so far under the privacy law. Meta stated it would appeal the “unjustified and unnecessary ruling”.
Spain achieves milestone in generating renewable energy – Global renewable energy leader Spain achieved a new milestone by meeting the energy needs of mainland Spain from wind, solar, and hydro-power for 9 hours. This is yet another sign of the growth of renewable energy, which currently accounts for a third of electricity generation worldwide.
Uncle Roger banned from China’s social media – Comedian Nigel Ng, famous for his Uncle Roger persona, saw his Chinese social media accounts suspended for poking fun at China’s government. A tweet with a video promoting his upcoming show saw Ng’s Bilibili and Weibo accounts suspended over the weekend. This follows Beijing imposing a USD2.1 mil fine on a comedy troupe for a comedian who made a joke comparing his dogs to a military slogan. The comedian, Li Haoshi, was also arrested.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Titiwangsa MP Johari Abdul Ghani, who was appointed to lead the task force to resolve 1MDB issues, has raised concerns over companies that lack a “track record” involved in the 19 MoUs worth RM170 bil signed with China. His concerns raised in Parliament are directed towards the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).
The underground tunnels were vital towards Viet Cong in defeating the Americans during the Vietnam War. Life above ground was all brought down into the tunnel - eat, sleep, hospital, marriage ceremony etc.