Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ SRC Int'l review application today- Najib Razak might walk out of jail
Now, everyone wants an LRT system in their cities. South Korea: K-Pop, K-Drama and now K-Chips. Jakarta court delays Indonesia's elections in a shocking ruling.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
South Korea is one of the world's lowest birthrate countries, with a fertility rate of just 0.8 births per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman. President Yoon Suk Yeol called it a crucial national agenda to improve the birth rates. To counter this, the country is planning Incentives for childbearing, the expansion of childcare services, and increased support for single-parent families. Do you know how did they derive 2.1 births? Nothing sophisticated - 1 to replace each parent and 0.1 to account for a 10% child mortality rate.
Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi said the government has set a target to have 1.5 million electric vehicles (EVs) in the country by 2040. The government aims to reduce carbon emissions and boost the development of the EV industry in the country. The target is part of Malaysia's National Automotive Policy, which aims to make the country a regional EV hub by 2030. On another note, our public transportation system is crumbling (see LRT news below).
133 mil followers - Elon Musk overtook former US President Barack Obama to become the most-followed account on Twitter on Thursday by about 40,000. According to follower-tracking site SocialBlade, Musk saw the biggest jump in followers last April by 9.7 mil - the month he offered to buy Twitter and the month after taking over, his follower count rose by 6.9 mil. Musk became the sixth user to cross the 100 mil mark last June. The other 5: Obama, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Cristiano Ronaldo and Katy Perry. Just how active is Musk on Twitter? Obama tweeted 24 times in the last month, whilst the Twitter owner’s daily average is 26 - including 72 tweets on Monday.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
We will know whether Najib Razak will get the get-out-of-jail card or not by today
The five-person panel of the Federal Court, led by Chief Judge Abdul Rahman Sebli, will decide today on Najib Razak’s application to review his conviction and sentencing for the RM42 mil SRC International corruption case. If the bench does decide not to dismiss the review, the outcome can be one of two ways. First, the whole case could be retrial at the High Court before a new judge who is not Mohd Nazlan. The second outcome is that Najib’s appeal at the Federal Court could be reheard again before a panel of judges chaired by a judge who is not Chief Justice Tengku Maimun. A summary of the review application in our thread here.
I was forced to sign the RM10mil PKR bond, says Zuraida
Former PKR vice-president cum former Parti Bangsa Malaysia’s president cum former Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin told the court that she was pressured to sign the RM10mil bond document that allowed her to contest in GE14.
By playing dumb and hoping to get away with things, Zuraida also stated that she did not know the document's content before putting pen to paper. Zuraida is facing an RM10mil civil action by PKR over her leaving the party. The civil action seems to exclude a particular former Gombak MP who also lead the mass exodus from PKR during the Sheraton Move.
The tug-of-war between the doctors and the Health Ministry
A group called Mogok Doktor Malaysia stated that they are planning a three-day strike from April 3 to 5 and claimed that more than 8,000 contract doctors will be joining the strike. The purpose is to protest the unresolved issues of unfair contract systems and low wage problems in the Health Ministry. In 2020, 51,912 doctors were working at government hospitals and clinics; thus if 8,000 public doctors are to participate in the strike, it would represent about 15% of the total headcount. The group had warned that the strike will lengthen the average waiting time for visitors to public healthcare facilities.
In an effort to discourage the organisation of the protest, Health Minister told the Parliament that Putrajaya is mulling whether or not to offer non-pensionable permanent posts to contract doctors. The new mechanism will still give doctors the same benefits as the ones in the pensionable scheme. However, the new system will place the doctors under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme. The proposal is currently being discussed with both the Public Services Department and the Finance Ministry.
Now, everyone wants an LRT system in their cities
The Penang state government had put up a request for a proposal (RFP) for its RM10 bil Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit (BLLRT) project, even though the state government still has yet to receive any green light from Putrajaya regarding the funding. The 29.5km rail system, which costs about RM340 mil per kilometre (cheaper than the LRT3 project, which costs about RM450mil per kilometre), is part of the state’s mega infrastructure project, Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). Penang is hoping that the friendlier federal government will help them this time.
Down south in Johor, Putrajaya is considering proposals for the construction of an LRT system in Johor Bahru that will ease the traffic congestion at the border city. Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that a private firm had submitted a proposal. Coincidently last year, Nylex Malaysia signed a letter of intent with CRRC Changchun for the development of an LRT system that will be connected to the under-construction Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link between Johor Bahru and Singapore.
While every other major city may get spanking new and shiny LRT systems, Klang Valley will soon be downgrading its public transportation system from an LRT system to a bus system as Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd announced that the LRT services from Bandaraya station to Sentul Timur station will be suspended from April 2. Alternative bus services will be activated, utilising a fleet of 40 buses. Rapid Rail stated that the existing trains used for the LRT line no longer meet the required safety criteria, following the structural damages suffered at the rail alignment nearby the Bandaraya station. The damaged alignment has been blocking the trains from returning to their depot for maintenance works since Jan 27.
Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan told the Parliament that the current taxation model is not sustainable, where the country’s tax revenue is only 11.5% of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP). The figure is lower than our neighbouring countries such as Singapore (13%), Thailand (14.1%) and Vietnam (22.7%). Our figure becomes worse if we put it side-by-side with other Western countries, such as the US (25.5%) or the UK (32.8%).
Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd (ASNB) has announced a total income distribution payout of RM1.64bil for the financial year ending March 31 2023. ASB2 declared an income distribution payout of 5 sen per unit, while ASM recorded an income distribution payout of 4.5 sen per unit. This translates to a total return of 5% and 4.5% each, respectively.
Malaysians can now make instant payments at participating merchants in Singapore by scanning the Singaporean PayNow QR code displayed, as Bank Negara Malaysia confirmed that the cross-border DuitNow QR payment with Singapore is now live.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Elections ‘unconstitutionally’ delayed
Indonesia’s presidential and general elections, scheduled to take place on Feb 2024, have been postponed for 2.5 years in a surprise ruling over a relatively insignificant matter by the Central Jakarta District Court, shocking the nation and deemed unconstitutional by many. The earliest the election could take place is in 2025. The ruling was made by a 3-judge panel after a lawsuit brought by a relatively unknown political party - Prima - which complained that they were not allowed to register to contest the elections.
Prima’s lawsuit was nothing out of the blue, but what was shocking was the decision from the court to delay the elections, which is disproportionate in its response. Some are questioning if there are any hidden agendas to the judge’s decision, as the lawsuit by Prima did not make any reference to the elections to be postponed.
Indonesia’s constitution allows for a president to serve a maximum of 2 terms or 10 years in office. Over the years, there were murmurs that the term limit would be extended, allowing current President Joko Widodo to serve a third term. Jokowi has spoken out against any moves to remain in office and also said the government will appeal against Jakarta’s court decision to delay the elections.
FIFA strips Indonesia’s U-20 World Cup hosting rights
FIFA has said in its statement that it has stripped of Indonesia’s right to host the Under-20 World Cup this coming 20 May after a protest by the governor of Bali against Israel’s participation led to the cancellation of the tournament’s main draw on Sunday. Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel while publicly supporting the Palestinian cause.
Indonesian Football Federation said losing the hosting rights would cost economic losses in the “trillions of rupiah” (1 tril rupiah = RM294.3 mil) and the country could be further disciplined by FIFA, such as suspension from the Asian qualifying round to the 2026 World Cup. A new host has yet to be identified, but Argentina, the 2022 Qatar World Cup champion, is reportedly interested in hosting.
Largest cruise ship in the world owned by Disney to exclusively HQ in Singapore
Disney Cruise Line has inked an agreement with the Singapore Tourism Board to homeport its unnamed ship exclusively in Singapore for at least five years. This would be the first time Disney Cruise Line to be homeported in Asia. Disney acquired this 75% completed ship named Global Dream in the bankruptcy of MV Werften, the shipbuilder owned by Genting Hong Kong. The ship was originally built for Genting Hong Kong until the company itself went into financial trouble.
Global Dream was originally estimated to cost USD1.8 bil to construct. Disney reportedly paid just over 2%, or USD41 mil to acquire it. It still has to fork out another USD1 bil in converting and finishing the ship - still a bargain compared to the original price. The cruise ship, approximately 208,000 gross tons and 1,122 feet in length is the world’s largest based on passenger capacity. Disney said the name of the ship, itineraries and onboard experiences would be announced later.
Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC is to acquire Works Human Intelligence, a top HR software provider in Japan, for JPY350 bil (RM11.5 bil), in what may be its biggest acquisition to date. GIC will acquire the company from Bain Capital - it will own half the shares and the remainder to be held by the company’s executives and a new fund set up by Bain Capital.
Bain Capital acquired the company in 2019 for JPY100 bil (RM3.34 bil) - it will make nearly 250% handsome gains from this deal in a short span of 4 years.
Following Alibaba’s announcement that it will split the USD250 bil company into six units and gradually cede control over some of these units, its logistics arm Cainao will be the first to go public as soon as the end of the year. The IPO size hasn’t been decided. The company’s private valuation is now more than USD20 bil. Cainao, which means rookie or amateur in Chinese, promises to deliver packages across China in 24 hours and anywhere else in the world in 72 hours. Its revenue rose 27% in the three months ended 31 Dec to RMB16.6 bil (RM10.68 bil).
South Korea: K-Pop, K-Drama and now K-Chips
South Korea’s parliament has approved a new bill known as the “K-Chips Act” to boost the country’s powerhouse semiconductor industry. The new legislation will increase the tax credit for major companies and even more or smaller and medium firms. Prior to this tax break, President Yoon Suk Yeol, in mid-March announced USD422 bil (RM1.87 tril) investment into critical areas such as chips and EVs.
The Great American Hypocrisy
Two weekend reads - both are great reads on American hypocrisy. The first read, as the US Congress grilled TikTok on its data security and privacy, the US has an act called Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that allows US intelligence agencies to carry out warrant-less spying on foreigners’ email, phone and other online communications. In 2021, the US targeted 232,432 “non-US persons” for surveillance. It’s a case of ‘rules for thee but not for me’. The concerns raised by US politicians are not so much about protecting its citizens from surveillance but more as an attempt to consolidate national control over social media and prevent the surveillance capabilities of others.
Read: US says China can spy with TikTok. It spies on the world with Google.
In the second read, an Iraqi retells the destruction caused by former US President George W. Bush’s Iraq war and shows the parallels and similarities with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet, no action was ever taken against the former.
Read: Bush did what Putin’s doing — so why is he getting away?
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Now that John Wick: Chapter 4 is out, one idea floating around was a John Wick parody movie featuring Snoop Dogg called John Weed. Midjourney AI has created an AI-generated image for this parody. He will kill you with a bong. Coincidentally, Australian police arrested a man who was seen allegedly carrying what seemed to be an AK-47 assault rifle but turned out to be a bong instead.
The flaw with Apple’s iPhone passcode that fails to protect your device if it gets stolen and how to protect yourself.