- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ Sarawak exercises autonomy - won't follow federal govt guidelines on foreign artists
☕️ Sarawak exercises autonomy - won't follow federal govt guidelines on foreign artists
Ekuinas launches new RM100 mil fund to invest in medium-scale Bumi cos. ChatGPT helps win cybersecurity hackathon. UN warns of global water crisis.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
The US Federal Reserve raised rates by 0.25%, expressing caution about the recent banking crisis and indicating that hikes are nearing an end. The fight against inflation still isn’t over.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
A record number of 7.7 mil people in China are taking the civil service exam this year, vying for more than 200,000 government jobs at the national and provincial levels, translating to an acceptance rate of just 2.6%. The number of applicants is up by more than 5x compared to 2013 when there were 1.5 mil applicants. Government jobs are typically regarded as stable and prestigious in China. Besides conventional skills tests, candidates will be tested on Xi Jinping’s thoughts and report to the party’s congress. Check out a sample question here.
12,500 Swiss francs (RM60.4k) - the cost for every man, woman and child in Switzerland to bail out Credit Suisse Group AG. With a population of 8.7 mil, this amounts to a total of 109 bil Swiss francs (RM526 bil). Following the bailout, Credit Suisse told staff that they would still be getting their bonuses - the Swiss government halted some of these payouts after receiving public backlash and a protest outside of Credit Suisse’s HQ, with protesters chanting “eat the rich” and throwing eggs at the building. To begin with, who in their right mind approved for the bonuses to go through post-bailout?
46 years - the years spent in prison by the world’s longest-serving death row inmate, according to Amnesty International. Iwao Hakamada, 87, was sentenced to death in 1968 for murdering his boss, boss’ wife and their two children in 1966. He was released from jail in 2014 and granted a retrial by a district court, which found investigators could have planted evidence.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Changing of guards
UMNOUMNO has appointed Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki as its new secretary-general, replacing Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan. Asyraf, who has served as UMNO Youth Chief since 2018, was recently appointed MARA chairperson. Minister in PM’s Department (Law & Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman has been made the party’s information chief. The former Puteri UMNO chief and Pengerang MP earlier unsuccessfully vied to become of the three vice presidents of the party in the recent party elections. Other appointments announced by party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi included former Wanita UMNO chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s appointment as Supreme Council member. She and her family members were embroiled in the National Feedlot Corporation (a.k.a .cowgate scandal) issue — her husband Salleh Ismail, who was the NFC chairman, was accused of misappropriating a portion of the RM250 mil government loan given to the company. The court case is still ongoing.
New Chief of ArmyDatuk Seri Mohammad Ab Rahman has been appointed to the army’s top leadership as the 29th Chief of the Army and has served the military for over 35 years. Interestingly, he pursued a computer science degree at the University of North Carolina in the US — probably he’s bringing valuable technical understanding to the table to ramp up the nation’s cyber defense.
Sarawak won’t adopt the federal govt’s guidelines for foreign artists Sarawak will exercise its autonomy over this matter and won’t follow the federal government’s guidelines, according to the state’s tourism, creative industry and performing arts minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah. He added that based on these guidelines, two artists who took part in last year’s Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak would not have been allowed to perform because of their attire and performance.
Unity govt national convention on 14 MayThe convention, which will be attended by 20 parties under Unity Government, will be held at Dewan Merdeka, World Trade Centre, to show solidarity amongst the coalition parties for the leadership of PM Anwar and also to frame common thinking and policy amongst the coalition members.
Will MUDA be invited this time around? It depends, if PH secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution has the time to entertain their application — he said he has yet to read MUDA’s application letter to join the unity government as he was kept occupied by his ministerial duties. He said the letter was received before GE15 - that’s more than four months ago.
Jana Wibawa suspect Wan Saiful Wan Jan considering making representation to the AGC over graft chargesThe former Bersatu information chief is considering making a representation to the Attorney General’s Chambers over his graft charges in the Jana Wibawa programme, according to his lawyer. He is facing two counts of soliciting and accepting bribes involving RM6.9 mil. Representation, usually submitted to the prosecution, is written with the intention of dropping or reducing the charges with conditions attached (i.e. cooperating witness) — Cilison explains more here.
Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas), the government-linked private equity firm, has launched a new fund called Dana Asas with a capital commitment of RM100 mil to back Bumiputera medium-scale companies with high growth potential. Each investment will range between RM10-30 mil. The fund is open to all sectors except construction, real estate, gambling and liquor. The fund has made its first investment into Eagle Cliffe (M) Sdn Bhd, the operator of Kaisar Farmasi, which has 19 outlets in Klang Valley with plans to expand to 100 outlets across the nation. Ekuinas is also an investor in the nation’s largest sports retailer, al-Ikhsan with nearly half a bil in revenue in 2022- we wrote a thread about this business here.View: Ekuinas’ portfolio and past exits
Nexia SSY PLT has resigned as Sarawak Consolidated Industries Bhd (SCIB)’s external auditor as it faces “difficulties in allocating sufficient resources requested by the company”. Nexia became SCIB’s external auditor in Aug 2021 after KPMG resigned as KPMG is embroiled in a dispute with Serba Dinamik, which shares a common major shareholder in Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah. So yea.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Google’s version of ChatGPT, Bard released in US and UK, as ChatGPT helps team win cybersecurity hackathonGoogle has launched Bard, its counterpart to Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT, to people in the US and UK before it is released to more countries. This follows internal testing by about 80,000 Google employees. Bard is able to access and process information from the real world through Google Search to refine its answers and terms itself as “under development”, meaning it will be “constantly learning and improving” compared to ChatGPT. This comes a week after OpenAI released the latest iteration of ChatGPT, GPT-4, to subscribers of its paid plan ChatGPT Plus.
ChatGPT made headlines by playing a crucial role in winning a cybersecurity hackathon called Pwn2Own, netting its team USD123,000. The hackathon required participants to hack into the Internet of Things and industrial systems, with the organisers providing a list of targets to choose from. Two security researchers from Claroty Ltd. used ChatGPT to help write code to target several vulnerabilities in their chosen target, saving “hours of manual development”. This also demonstrated how determined bad actors can employ an AI bot, but OpenAi and other companies with generative AI bots are already implementing controls and filters to combat this.
Still, Microsoft founder Bill Gates remains excited, having written a 7-page letter on the future of AI, focusing on how the workforce, healthcare, and education sectors would see major benefits from the implementation of the technology. However, Gates also accepts that there will still be the risk of humans misusing the technology or that AI may become “superintelligent” as the tech improves over time.
On climate change and water crisis
Greta Thunberg leads charge to sue Swedish governmentA Swedish court has given Greta Thunberg and 600 other climate activists the green light to proceed with a class action lawsuit against the Swedish government for “insufficient climate policy”. The lawsuit claims the government had to do more to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The 600 climate activists, who form a group called Aurora, are demanding that the Swedish government cut emissions by at least 6.5 to 9.4 million tonnes of CO2 annually, starting from 2019. The Swedish government has three months to respond to the lawsuit before the case can be heard or settled, with no particular timeline for when the suit might be decided.
UN warns of global water crisisThe United Nations has issued a report warning of a looming global water crisis, which could cause shortages due to overconsumption and climate change. The report, published by UN Water and Unesco, warns that overconsumption and pollution have caused scarcity to be endemic, with global warming increasing seasonal water shortages in all areas. Lead author Richard Connor stated that “about 10% of the global population currently lives in areas that are high or critical water stress”, about 800 million people. The report was published before the first major UN water summit since 1977, starting on Wednesday for three days in New York. Water-related - ‘cleanest’ flood water made through augmented reality. Kelantan government’s soon-to-be favourite filter for water photo-op.
US Commerce Department proposes rules to prevent China from benefiting from USD52 billion in semiconductor fundingThe rules proposed by the US Commerce Department aim to limit recipients of up to USD52 billion in US funding from investing in the expansion of semiconductor manufacturing in “foreign countries of concern”, such as China and Russia while limiting recipients of incentive funds from engaging in joint research or tech licensing efforts with any entities of said countries. The proposal also classes some semiconductors, such as those used in quantum computing and other specialised military capabilities, as critical to national security, thus subjecting them to tighter restrictions. Another attempt by the US to slow the progress into a multipolar world.
Mesut Ozil retires from football – Former Arsenal, Real Madrid, and Germany Midfielder Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from football at the age of 34. While he is “incredibly thankful” for the opportunity to play professionally, he noted that “recent weeks and months” have made it clear that it was time to retire, referring to several injuries suffered. The midfielder won nine trophies over his club career and participated in Germany’s victory at the 2014 World Cup. Watch: The Best of - Mesut Ozil
36 arrested in call centre scam bust – Five Indian nationals and 31 Thai nationals were arrested by Thai police in operation supported by American law enforcement. The 36 were arrested for involvement in a call centre scam that has cost more than 300 American senior citizens over USD87 million - an average of USD270,000 per victim. Malaysia recently conducted a similar operation, dubbed Op Tropicana, busting an international investment scam syndicate which had cost innocents over USD44 million.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Elephant rides are fun for tourists but not for elephants. Pictures of elephants rescued after decades of carrying tourists showed the deformity in their spines, according to the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT). Think twice before taking an elephant ride.
The early casts of Power Rangers are back for a reunion ahead of its 30th anniversary - watch the trailer below, coming soon in Apr! In this case, no animals were harmed - they are all robots.