Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Sabah's 'Bersatu 4' defection to put new anti-hopping law to test
Public Bank founder Teh Hong Piow passed away at 92. Japanese billionaire, Bigbang's TOP, DJ Steve Aoki flying to the moon (literally). US x Russia prisoner swap-basket player for "Merchant of Death".
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
32nd — Kuala Lumpur’s ranking as the most expensive location for expatriates among Asian countries, according to HR consulting firm ECA International. While Hong Kong’s economy stuttered in the face of slowing economic growth in China, it remains the most expensive city for expats in Asia.
Applications on the app store can now cost up to USD10,000 from USD999.99 previously. There are 700 new price points and the 100 highest levels will require approval from Apple. How did this change come about? It was part of a settlement agreement from a class action lawsuit where Apple agreed to add additional price points.
USD2,000 per kg (approx. RM8,795.00) — the price of delicate white tea picked by moonlight in Darjeeling in West Bengal. Pickers will collect leaves and buds for a unique white tea at the full moon as they believe the planetary alignment would ensure a perfect harvest. However, almost half of the tea growers in Darjeeling are facing bankruptcy due to the high production costs and competition from Nepal.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The annual ‘bah besar’ is here
The number of flood victims in Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu had increased due to the continuous rain in the affected areas. In Pahang, the number of victims rose from 561 to 573 people, while temporary flood shelters in Kelantan housed 1,157 people. The number will keep increasing by the day, so please be aware of any flood readiness notices issued by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage.
Sabah – the land that is free of volcanoes and typhoons but not political crises
Just two years after the political crisis that triggered the state election in 2020, Sabah is in for another episode of the Sabah’s House of Cards as it was reported that four MPs from Sabah Bersatu had left the party to form a new party. This situation will surely put the newly minted anti-hopping law to the test. According to the current law minister, Azalina Othman, this issue is beyond her job scope, and the final decision resides with the Speaker. On the other hand, former law minister and the mastermind behind the anti-hopping law, Wan Junaidi, told the press that the four MPs need not vacate their seats as they contested GE15 as direct Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) candidates and had left Bersatu in early October 2022.
As a recap, the anti-hopping law or Article 49A of the Federal Constitution states that the MP’s seat shall be vacant if the vacancy can be established by the Speaker given that:
the said MP is elected to Dewan Rakyat as a member of a political party;
the said MP resigns from the political party or;
he ceases to be a member of the political party.
Temporary stop-gap to solve social issues
Period poverty – The health ministry is currently working on solving the period poverty issue faced by women in this country, and as a start, the ministry will offer complimentary sanitary pads in its office. However, the health minister has been receiving flak from social media users for choosing the minister’s office as the first place to start this initiative. It would be really concerning if people working in the ministry (i.e. for the government) were deemed unable to afford sanitary pads.
Education for stateless children – Sarawak will issue temporary documents for stateless children in Sarawak to give them access to education and healthcare facilities. Applicants for the temporary document must be 21 years & below and have applied for citizenship under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.
Anthony is on the Loke
After the transport minister’s surprise spot check at metro rail stations in the Klang Valley last week, it was reported that the train operator, Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, has allocated RM2.8bil to fix the Kelana Jaya LRT line over five years. The budgeted RM2.8bil consist of an RM360mil update towards the automatic train control (ATC) system, RM1.7bil to purchase 27 new trains and RM800mil to maintain the existing 35 train sets.
Anthony Loke also announced that the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) would introduce two new systems at KLIA and KLIA 2 to shorten the arrival tracks of flights by 18-22 minutes and optimise the capacity of the airports. The move will enable the industry to save RM500mil annually due to reduce usage of fuel.
Public Bank founder Teh Hong Piow passed away at the age of 92. He is one of the three individuals allowed to control more than 10% of a bank, known as the “grandfather rule”. Public Bank Berhad, set up by him in 1966, is currently the second largest company listed on Bursa Malaysia with a market capitalisation of RM85bil. Section 92 of the Financial Services Act (after BAFIA) prohibits individuals from owning more than 10% of shares in a financial institution. Teh’s >10% shareholding in PBB was during the BAFIA days.
Watch his grand, extravagant entrance during Public Bank’s 45th-anniversary celebration, which went viral in 2011. Coincidentally, the song played during his entrance was a 2010 World Cup song - Wavin’ Flag by K’naan (listen here, 425 mil views on YouTube).
Communications minister Fahmi Fadzil told the media that based on the outcome of the initial investigation, it was inferred that the data leak involving 5 mil AirAsia passengers and staff was a cyberattack on AirAsia’s server system that occurred on 12 Nov.
The Securities Commission (SC) filed a civil suit against Tey Por Yee, Lim Chye Guan, See Poh Yee, Francis Tan Hock Leong and Faizatul Ikmi Abdul Razak for siphoning out proceeds of four publicly listed companies valued at RM120.6mil. The 4 companies involved are Nexgram Holdings Bhd, R&A Telecommunication Group Bhd, Asdion Bhd and Ire-Tex Corp Bhd.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
China x Gulf Nations - deepening (de-dollarization) ties
Following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attendance at the inaugural China-Arab States Summit and the China-GCC Summit in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s investment minister said USD50 bil of investment agreements were signed, without giving details whether it included private and public sectors and involved other Arab nations. President Xi has expressed China’s interest in buying more oil from the kingdom, though there is no mention of whether Saudi Arabia will start accepting China’s yuan as payment for its crude oil.
Nevertheless, President Xi took the opportunity to promote yuan as the settlement by encouraging China and the Gulf nations to use the Shanghai Petroleum and Gas Exchange to carry out yuan settlement for the oil and gas trade, signalling further efforts to move the energy trade away from the US dollar (de-dollarisation).
How did the US dollar solidify its dominance as the global reserve currency? Through the petrodollar regime, which it established in the 1970s.
US x Russia - prisoner exchange
Despite sanctions, the US transacted with Russia - trading prisoners. WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian detention. She was detained in February for drug smuggling as she inadvertently packed cannabis oil into her luggage — she was sentenced to 9 years in prison. Russia seemed to score the better end of the deal — in return, Viktor Bout, an infamous arms dealer nicknamed “The Merchant of Death”. He was imprisoned in the US for 24 years on terrorism charges in 2011. Watch the exchange here (not as dramatic as movies), which took place in Abu Dhabi.
Senior officials from the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration opposed this deal as Bout is too notorious a figure to exchange for someone like Griner and also concerned about the precedent the deal would set.
Mission dearMoon - take me to the moon (literally)
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has picked his crew for SpaceX’s first private lunar flight planned for next year in the “dearMoon” mission (website here). This crew of 10 (with two backups) includes artists, content creators and athletes from around the world like K-pop star T.O.P of Big Bang, DJ Steve Aoki and Indian actor Dev Joshi. More than a million people applied to fly with Maezawa on this trip.
To be clear, it’s a flight around the moon - the spacecraft wouldn’t be landing on the moon and will travel within 200 km of the moon’s surface. Maezawa, a fashion tycoon with a net worth of USD1.7 bil according to Forbes, purchased all the seats on the Starship flight back in 2018 (price tag not disclosed, though reports said he paid USD80 mil). It was just last year Maezawa spent 12 days on the International Space Station.
Embattled Swiss bank Credit Suisse Group AG has successfully completed a 4 bil franc (USD4.3 bil) rights issue, following a private placement last month that raised 1.76 bil francs. This comes at the cost of significant dilution of its existing shares, with its share count rising by over 50%. This fundraising arrived after a wild ride in the past two years - billions of losses, client scandals, client defections and asset outflows.
Read: Crooks, kleptocrats and crises: a timeline of Credit Suisse scandals
How to close a customer? Be a shareholder. Tech giant Microsoft did just that by acquiring a nearly 4% stake in the UK bourse operator, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). In this partnership, LSEG will spend a minimum of USD2.8 bil on cloud-related products with Microsoft.
Celine Dion, the singer of the iconic Titanic song “My Heart Will Go On”, shared on her Instagram post an emotional video that she has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome, which causes muscle spasms and, in her case, difficulty in singing. 17 European concerts scheduled early next year have been postponed due to this.
The World Bank, in its latest report, warned that India will be amongst the first places in the world to “experience heat waves that break the human survivability limit”, with heatwaves lasting 25x longer by 2036-2065. This will put 75% of India’s workforce, or 380 mil people, at risk of potentially life-threatening temperatures as they depend on heat-exposed labour. Read the report here.
The governor of Bali, a tourist haven, has insisted visitors should not worry about the recent controversial ban on sex outside marriage. People can only be prosecuted following a complaint by a parent, spouse or child. Various tourism organisations and Australia expressed concern over this revised criminal law last week.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Anwar Ibrahim’s outriders made way for an ambulance to pass through. Nothing is commendable because that’s precisely what is expected from a leader.
A Brazilian media officer threw a stray cat off the table during a press conference last Wednesday, shocking fans. Gasps in the background can be heard. In another World Cup shock, Croatia beat Brazil in the penalty shootout. In another cat-related news, Ukraine intelligence announced an operation, releasing a photo of its agents with their faces blurred - even the cats’ faces were blurred for some reason. Were they part of the operation?
How to win a penalty shootout, according to The Economist. The teams that took the first penalty won 60% of the time.