Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Shopee to create over 2,000 jobs in Malaysia
PM Anwar asked Goldman Sachs to pay up 1MDB settlement amount. Shuttler Lee Zia Jia vs coach Indra Wijaya - in court (of law). US four-star general: "very high" odds of US-China war in 2 years.
We are off tomorrow (FT Day) and will be back on Thursday!
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
RM53.54 bil — the amount of tax collected in 2022 by the Royal Malaysians Customs Department, an increase of 25.97% over 2021, according to customs deputy director general (enforcement/compliance) Sazali Mohamad. The main contributors were the sales tax, service tax, excise duty, import duty and levies. Over 90% of companies paid their sales and service tax (SST) last year, while less than 10% of defaulting companies caused the country to lose almost RM150 million in revenue.
An estimated 80 million unexploded ordnance (UXO) is still scattered in Laos. Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world, with the country still grappling with accidents involving UXO from the Vietnam War, which ravaged the land more than half a century ago. According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, some 20 million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos during the war, including 270 mil small cluster bombs. Over 1,000 people were killed or injured by UXO between 2008 and 2022.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The number of LCS vessels to be reduced to five
Navy chief Admiral Abdul Rahman Ayob said the procurement of the first batch of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) has been reduced from six to five vessels. The decision was made last year when the government decided to continue the LCS project. Abdul Rahman is also hopeful that the procurement of the Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) can be approved this year.
Business owner charged for forging documents for Penjana Kerjaya's claims
Raymond Sim, 35, was charged at the Shah Alam Sessions Court on five counts of submitting false documents to the Social Security Organization (Socso) to claim incentives under the Penjana Kerjaya 2.0 and 3.0 programmes amounting to RM87,500 two years ago. Sim pleaded not guilty. Last year, Sim was also charged for a similar offence involving incentive claims amounting to RM153,200.
Maybank introduced a “kill switch” security feature
The “kill switch” allows customers to freeze online banking access on both the Maybank2u website and MAE app. The security feature is meant for customers to protect their funds should they fall victim to an online scam. The kill switch would deactivate the Maybank2u access and automatically log out of all active sessions. To reactivate, customers can either call the call centre or visit a Maybank branch.
PM Anwar’s eventful visit to Singapore
Three Memoranda of Understanding have been signed. The aim is to promote cooperation in new and emerging areas, specifically on digital and green economies and cyber security. Anwar said both countries are looking to proceed and move forward not only on trade, investment and cyber security but also resolving all the outstanding issues. Furthermore, Anwar sees food security as one area of cooperation that can be explored with Singapore for the benefit of both countries.
Shopee to create over 2,000 jobs in Malaysia
Sea Ltd, Shopee’s parent company, intends to expand in Malaysia by setting up cloud services, data hosting and processing, and a new logistics e-commerce warehouse. The cloud computing project will be located in a three-story green facility in Kulai, Johor, target to be completed in Q1 2024. The new 1.4-million square-feet warehouse, located in Bukit Raja Klang, is an integrated hi-tech logistics park equipped with cloud infrastructure. More than 2,000 jobs will be created in the process of carrying out the expansion plans.
Attorney General Idrus Harun dismissed speculations that a private law firm will be replacing former Federal Court judge and lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram (who passed away over the weekend) in handling ongoing 1MDB-related trials and the appeal by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor on her corruption conviction in the solar hybrid case. Full-time deputy public prosecutors will handle the cases.
In his first interview with international media, PM Anwar asked Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to pay up the dues in the settlement with the government for its role in the 1MDB scandal. Anwar told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin that the abuse of the sovereign state fund was made possible because of “complicity” from institutions such as Goldman Sachs. It seems like the bank has not paid up completely the settlement amount of USD2.5 bil announced in July 2020 — will Goldman be paying the interest on the outstanding amount?
National shuttler Lee Zii Jia may be battling his former coach, Indra Wijaya, in court — the one with judges, not referees. According to a report by New Straits Times, former Indonesian star Indra may take legal action against world No. 4 Lee for alleged breach of contract. Lee sacked Indra after his form plunged in the second half of last year.
Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported that Malaysia’s producer price index (PPI), which measures the prices of goods at the factory gate, increased to 3.5% YoY in December 2022. Overall in 2022, DOSM reported that the PPI increased 7.8%.
YTL Power International Bhd’s YTL PowerSeraya Pte Ltd was awarded the electricity importer licence for Malaysia for a two-year trial by the Energy Market Authority of Singapore (EMA). YTL is collaborating with Tenaga Nasional Bhd's (TNB) unit to supply 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Malaysia to Singapore via the newly upgraded interconnector, marking the first time that electricity will be supplied from Malaysia to Singapore.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
“Very high” odds of US-China war in 2 years’ time
General Mike Minihan, a four-star US Air Force general, said in a memo that his gut feeling told him that the US would fight China in the next 2 years. Pentagon officials said his views were not consistent with American military assessment, but nevertheless, it showed concern at the highest levels of the US military. Minihan wrote that the US and Taiwan elections in 2024 create an opportunity for China to take military action.
“Peaceful reunification” remains the preferred solution by the Chinese Communist Party, but it will never abandon the right to use force if necessary, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a recent meeting with top officials. He also said that the problem cannot be passed down from generation to generation, implying that he considers unification with Taiwan his task to complete.
Read analysis: Why is a US general predicting war with China by 2025
AI news: Baidu’s ChatGPT, Google text-to-music AI
China’s search giant Baidu is developing an AI-powered chatbot similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and is planning to integrate it into its main search engine in March, people familiar with the matter said. Goes without saying the chatbot’s outputs will be in accordance with the state’s censorship rules.
Google gave a sneak peek of its generative AI for music - MusicLM. The AI is able to convert text descriptions into songs - not just melody but also someone singing. Although it isn’t the first in this, MusicLM is capable of producing complex songs or high-fidelity.
Detailed in an academic paper, MusicLM was trained on a dataset of 280,000 hours of music. For now, we will just listen to these researchers enjoying their creation — Google has no plans to release this AI anytime soon. The researchers found that the AI directly replicated 1% of the songs on which it trained - a threshold high enough to discourage them from releasing MusicLM in its current form due to copyright issues.
Check out some of the text inputs and corresponding clips created here.
Mercedes-Benz’s “Drive Pilot” the most ‘self-driving’ technology so far
Mercedes-Benz announced that it is the first automaker to receive US government approval for a Level 3 driving feature called “Drive Pilot” based on standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Level 3 automation gives drivers more leeway (think texting, watching movies, or playing Pokemon Go on Federal Highway), unlike Level 2, which requires constant supervision from the driver. There are a total of 5 levels of driving automation.
This feature will be available as an add-on for the 2024 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQs Sedan models starting from USD5,300 in Germany. Some restrictions on this feature - limited to certain conditions and speed of up to 60 kmh. As for Tesla, its Autopilot feature is still rated as Level 2 and adding salt to the wound, Bloomberg reported last week that the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Elon Musk regarding his claims and efforts to promote Tesla’s “self-driving” capabilities.
Read the Mercedes-Benz announcement here, including a brief explanation of how its Drive Pilot technology works.
Other worthy reads:
Western Australia came under radiation alert after commodities giant Rio Tinto lost a tiny radioactive capsule whilst transporting it across a 1,400 km journey believed to have fallen from the truck. The capsule, 6mm in diameter and 8mm long (smaller than a dice), contains Celsium-137, which emits radiation equal to 10 X-rays per hour.
Adani Group has fired back at Hindenburg Research with a 413-page rebuttal (read here) and played the nationalistic card, slamming Hindenburg’s report as a “calculated attack on India, the independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions”. Hindenburg was quick to respond (read here - worth the read, a crash course on corporate shenanigans) to the rebuttal, saying that only 30 pages of the report focused on issues related to their investigation and that Adani failed to answer 62 out of 88 questions Hindenburg has posed to the conglomerate.
The market rout continues for Adani Group, with nearly USD72 bil in market capitalisation lost. UAE royals showed their support and backing towards Adani Group despite Hindenburg’s findings and will invest USD400 mil in Adani’s USD2.5 bil follow-on share sale.
Oil and gas giant Chevron reported record annual profits of USD36.5 bil for 2022, more than double year-on-year. The company will triple its budget for share buybacks to USD75 bil over 5 years to reward its shareholders. Western energy firms are estimated to make a combined USD200 bil profit in 2022.
Read: Stock Buybacks: Benefits of Share Repurchases
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Sydney lion dance one-up Malaysia’s - sky lion dance on water jet packs!
Take a pause and enjoy the nostalgic sound of the Internet in the early days. Would it make a good ringing tone? For those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this is the sound we must endure each time we connect to the Internet.
For those on holiday tomorrow, have a good Wednesday off, and enjoy a good read!