☕️ S&P predicts 9% rebound in ringgit by end 2024

Malaysia's population increased by 2% in 2023. AI-frenzy powering Nvidia's share price rally. Indonesia saw a tornado, injuring at least 33 people.


Information as of 0730 UTC+8 on Feb 23, 2024.

Japan's primary stock index, the Nikkei 225, achieved an all-time closing high, surpassing its previous record set 34 years ago. The index rose by 2.19% yesterday (Feb 22, 2024), closing at 39,098.68, surpassing the previous record of 38,915.87 set on 29 December 1989. Despite Japan's economy slipping into a recession, global investors are drawn to the index due to strong company earnings.


33.7 mil — the Malaysian population as of Q4 last year, an increase of 2% year-on-year (YoY). 30.5 mil are citizens and the remainder are non-citizens. Live births decreased by 1.1% to 112,767 compared to 114,067 in 2022 and 48,250 deaths in 2023, down 4.2% YoY from 2022. The gender ratio for citizens now is 103 males for every 100 females.

Imagine a bungalow-size room in a hospital for a patient. KPJ Healthcare Bhd will be subletting its royal suite in Damansara Specialist Hospital 2 to its major shareholder, Johor Corp (JCorp, which also controls QSR Brands Holdings Bhd, the operator of KFC and Pizza Hut in Malaysia), at a rental rate of RM111,666 per month (RM1.34 mil per year). At approximately 6,800 sq feet, this translates to a rental rate of RM16.42 psf and by the time it hits the customer’s bill, it could easily doubled the rate. The sub-tenancy will run from 1 Oct 2024 to 30 Jan 2029

Mercedes-Benz is more Chinese than we think. 19.58% of the German automaker is owned by Chinese-related entities. Its single largest shareholder is Chinese state-owned automaker Beijing Automotive Group Co Ltd (BAIC), with a stake of 9.98%. Billionaire Li Shufu, the chairman of nonstate Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Proton and Volvo owner), owns a 9.69% stake, making him the second single-largest shareholder.
View chart: Overview of Mercedez-Benz Group AG shareholders


Salary deduction can not be a form of punishment
Human Resources Minister Steven Sim said that under no circumstances can employers deduct salaries except for items allowed by law, such as Employees Provident Fund, Social Security Organisation and income tax. This statement was made in response to viral news that a ramen restaurant allegedly deducted up to RM500 from its employees’ salaries for ‘wrongdoings’ such as taking medical leave or going to the toilet too frequently. Sim added that such action from the employer is in violation of Part IV of the Employment Act 1955 and can be punishable with a fine of up to RM50,000.

Malaysia has quite an extensive list of laws and regulations to protect labour in Malaysia. Since 2010, the country has already enforced a document to regulate part-timers dubbed the Employment (Part-Time Employees) Regulations 2010. According to the document, you are considered a part-timer protected by the regulation if you are hired on a regular basis and your working hours per week are at least 30% of the normal hours of a full-time employee. For example, if a full-time employee works 40 hours per week, your hours should be a minimum of 12 hours per week. If you think you are being slaved by your employer, do lodge a report to the Labour Department for further action to be taken.

MACC cashing in the CNY Ong in fighting corruption before the fasting month starts
In regards to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation into misappropriation in the registration, recruitment and biometric storage of foreign workers in a ministry, MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki said that the anti-graft agency had submitted the investigation papers to the prosecution and would require former PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s son-in-law Muhammad Adlan Berhan to face criminal charges. However, Muhammad Adlan has been out of the country since May 2023. Previously, the police had indicated that they had submitted the documents for the issuance of the Interpol red notice against Adlan and his lawyer, Mansoor Saat. A red notice requests law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action.

In relation to the corruption case related to the RM4.5 bil government vehicle fleet project, Azam Baki told the media that the agency had recorded a statement from a former finance minister. Despite refusing to name the said former minister, Azam spilt the beans by saying that the former finance minister served in the government administration from 2020 to 2021. The current MITI minister, Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, served as finance minister from 2020 to 2022 under both the Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri Yaakob administrations.

Azam Baki also confirmed that, like his brother Mirzan, former PM Tun Dr Mahathir’s son Mokhzani has also been given an extension to declare his assets as the list is extensive. The extension was requested by Mokhzani and MACC agreed to postpone the deadline by another 30 days. Extensive, damn.

Malaysia, are you okay?

  1. The police are investigating the death of a man who was beaten to death by a mob in Kajang. According to the Kajang district police, the incident occurred when the victim was involved in a traffic accident and had fled from the scene. However, the public chased down the victim’s car until the victim crashed into a fence. Subsequently, a group of men pulled the victim out of his car and tied him. The victim then was assaulted in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, the victim had died when the ambulance came. Following that, the police arrested five suspects aged between 22 and 52 years old to assist in the investigation. PSA, people with information about the incident can directly contact the investigating officer, Redzuan Mat Salleh, at 013-7854100.

  2. The Social Welfare Department in Maran, Pahang, uncovered in an anti-begging operation that a physically disabled man who was begging at the local ‘pasar malam’ was driving a premium model Proton X70. Upon further checking, the authorities uncovered that the man had adopted a modus operandi targeting different night markets in Pahang. On average, by spending 4 — 6 hours begging, the man could earn up to RM500 a day. After all this, the man was released by the authorities with only a slap on the wrist. How nice.


  1. S&P is optimistic about Ringgit’s performance in 2024
    S&P Global Ratings predicted that the Malaysian Ringgit will recover by 9% by the end of the year despite the RM has dipped to its lowest level in 26 years. S&P even reiterated that the depreciating Ringgit would not pose a risk to the sovereign rating, which stood at A- since 2003 despite the numerous downturns in economic cycles in 2008 and the pandemic.

  2. YTL Corp reported a stellar 2QFY2024
    The new entrant of the FTSE FBM KLCI, YTL Corp Bhd, had recorded an RM589.21 mil of net profit in 2QFY2024, ended Dec 31, 2023 — a six-fold growth since a year ago, driven by the positive results from listed units YTL Power International Bhd and Malayan Cement Bhd. Quarterly earnings per share rose to 5.37 sen from 0.88 sen, according to its filing. Revenue for the quarter rose by 14.2% to RM7.53 bil, up from RM6.59 bil. View its earnings here.

  3. MSM in the black after eight quarters
    MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd has finally ended its loss-making slump spanning eight quarters, many thanks to the RM48 mil in a special incentive from the Government. The sugar refiner recorded a net profit of RM42.87 mil for 4QFY2023 after a net loss of RM44.2 mil a year ago. It is understood that for November and December 2023, MSM received RM1,000 per tonne in a special incentive for coarse grain sugar and fine grain sugar. MSM Malaysia, like any other domestic sugar refinery, still faces a gloomy future amid rising raw sugar costs, high freight and natural gas costs and the weakening Ringgit. View its earnings here.


AI-powered frenzy powering Nvidia’s rise
Nvidia Corp is not only beating other chip makers in the arena but also beating estimates’ estimates. Revenue rose 265% YoY to USD22.1 bil in the fourth quarter of 2023, far exceeding Wall Street expectations of USD20.4 bil. Earnings per share reached USD4.93 in the same quarter, beating estimates of USD4.59, according to LSEG estimates. Net income rose 770% (YoY) to USD12.3 bil, compared to expectations of USD10.4 bil. Nvidia has emerged as the primary catalyst behind a significant portion of the S&P 500's rally this year, contributing to approximately a quarter of the index's overall gains. Following the announcement, its share price increased 9% after the markets closed.

OpenAI's ChatGPT played a significant role in driving demand for Nvidia’s H100 chips, making them highly sought after in Silicon Valley in the past year. Meta, formerly Facebook, aims to increase its stock of H100 chips to 350,000 in 2024, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement in January. Nvidia's growth is now limited more by supply constraints than by demand, reflecting the high demand for its chips in various applications.

Google’s Gemini caught being “too woke”
Google's Gemini chatbot, previously known as Bard, possesses the ability to generate AI-based illustrations from text descriptions provided by users. However, some users have raised concerns about Gemini’s depiction of racially diverse characters, particularly when historically white figures or groups are portrayed as ethnically diverse. Reporters at The Verge, a well-known tech publication, asked Gemini to illustrate US Senators from the 1800s and got this.

Credits: The Verge

Google has since apologised over the inaccuracies in some historical image generation depictions with its Gemini AI tool. Google acknowledged that its attempts at creating a “wide range” of results missed the mark.

Not all AI are made equal. OpenAI’s headstart (Dall-E was released on Jan 5, 2021) has given it a huge advantage over its competition.

Read: The Meaning Woke

Delivery Hero failed in its sale of foodpanda business in SEA
Negotiations between Delivery Hero and potential buyers for the sale of its foodpanda business in certain Southeast Asian markets have collapsed. Despite attempts to offload the brand, talks failed to reach a final agreement on deal terms. This setback comes amid stagnant business growth in Asia, Delivery Hero's largest market, following the easing of pandemic-related lockdowns. The company did not name the potential buyers. Previously, it was reported that Grab was one of the interest parties.

Speaking of Grab, Grab Holdings Ltd saw its shares slide 5% after reporting its forecast 2024 revenue of USD2.7 to USD2.75 bil, lower than the USD2.8 bil average projection. The disappointing forecast overshadowed plans to repurchase up to USD500 mil shares and the company's second consecutive quarterly profit, though it was adjusted. The ride-hailing leader reported USD35 mil in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), lagging estimates for USD38.9 mil. Grab also reported positive free cash flow for the December quarter, though again on an adjusted basis.
View: Grab Q4 2023 earnings call presentation.

Also, EBITDA = Earnings before interest, tears, depreciation and anxiety.

Charlie Munger’s infamous words about EBITDA.


  1. Thailand to u-turn on the decriminalisation of recreational use of cannabis
    In June 2022, cannabis was taken off the list of banned narcotics under the previous government. The legalisation of cannabis has led to the emergence of hundreds of dispensaries in Bangkok and across the country. However, PM Srettha Thavisin has frequently voiced his opposition to this move and said it should only be allowed for medicinal use. The health minister of the kingdom announced that a new bill, which prohibits the recreational use of cannabis, will be presented to the Cabinet meeting next week.

  2. EU approved the 13th package of sanctions against Russia
    The sanctions, banning nearly 200 additional entities and individuals accused of involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, will be formally approved by the 27-nation bloc on February 24, which is the day in 2022 when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. The latest measures are meant to go after the Russian weapons industry’s access to components to manufacture drones, according to the diplomats.

  3. Footballer Dani Alves found guilty of raping a woman in Barcelona
    Former Barcelona and Brazil footballer Dani Alves has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison by a court in Spain. The prosecution sought a nine-year prison term. In Spain, rape allegations are investigated as sexual assault, with possible sentences ranging from four to 15 years. Reports suggest that the court considered Alves’s payment of EUR150,000 in damages to the victim, irrespective of the trial’s outcome, when determining the length of his prison sentence.


  1. Indonesia experienced a tornado, marking a phenomenon previously unrecorded in the country’s history. The tornado injured at least 33 people and damaged buildings in the town of Sumedang in West Java. Do we need any more evidence that climate change is real? Learn how tornadoes are formed here.

  1. This old Chinese New Year ad from TV3 would have been cancelled so hard in 2024. Watch till the end.

  1. Singapore has a very talented urban planner — see the work of this person here. NSFW.

As Chinese New Year comes to an end (tomorrow!), you still have an opportunity to give us an Ang Pow to have an auspicious start to the Dragon Year. If you want to give us an Ang Pow (aka subscribe), you can do so here! Thank you and enjoy your weekend.