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☕️ State Elections: 570 candidates - see where the big guns are competing
Malaysia's favourite TSMY - happily ever after. EV below RM100k, half the price of Tesla Model Y - meet BYD Dolphin. McDonald's to launch spin-off chain, CosMc.
1. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
The TSMY here is Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, not Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (he’s a long way from happiness with court cases to fight). 6,992 days — the number of days it took for Academy Award-winning Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh and her husband, Jean Todt, former CEO of Ferrari, to get married after Todt’s proposal back on July 26, 2004. Their love story is a short yet long one — Todt met Yeoh in Shanghai on June 4, 2004. Less than two months later, Todt proposed to Yeoh, which she accepted. The couple tied the knot on July 27, 2023, as revealed by former Formula 1 driver Felippe Massa on his Instagram.
Rare Apple shoes now worth USD50,000 – A pair of the shoes, custom-made for employees only in the 1990s, is currently being sold by auction house Sotheby’s for USD50,000. The shoes were custom-made for employees only in the 1990s and were a one-time giveaway at a conference. A pair has never been sold to the public before now, with the seller calling the shoes “one of the most obscure in existence”. If you have USD50k lying around collecting dust, you can purchase the shoes here.
A total of 570 candidates will be contesting 245 seats in the six state elections on Aug 12, according to the Elections Commission (EC). The Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election, which will be held simultaneously with the state polls, will see a straight fight between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and PAS. A total of 501 (87.9%) candidates for the state polls and Kuala Terengganu by-election are men, while 71 are women.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
State Elections Update
In case you aren’t aware, the state election in six states is happening on 12 Aug 2023. Nominations happened over the weekend. It is possibly the most bizarre state elections ever to be held — for once, we get to see the Unity Government (Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional) in action — you get to see a sea of red and blue supports.
MUDA’s candidate Mohamad Iswan Ishak pulled out at the 11th hour — he will no longer contest for Repah, Negri Sembilan seat. Fun fact — MUDA secretary-general Amir Abd Hadi said Iswan was not a party member.
MUDA president Syed Saddiq likened Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s announcement of RM450,000 in grants in Terengganu as an inducement to buy votes. Two big guns came to Zahid’s defence — MACC chief Azam Baki does not see it as a form of graft, and PM Anwar Ibrahim justified by saying that government cannot halt “announcements”. However, Anwar reminded that all ruling parties are not allowed to use government resources to campaign for the elections.
Former chief of Selangor Azmin Ali returns to where he started — Hulu Kelang — where he previously won in 1999. PH is fielding Juwairiya Zulkifli, who worked with Azmin back in 2010. Will Azmin be able to make a comeback from behind? Let’s see.
Caretaker Selangor MB Amirudin Shari is defending the Sungai Tua seat, going against Perikatan Nasional’s Hanif Jamaluddin and Independent Suman Gopal.
Lim Guan Eng will be PH’s candidate for Air Putih. Many seem to be unhappy with DAP’s decision, with the DAP’s secretary general Anthony Loke having to defend the decision. Meanwhile, Penang DAP deputy chairman P. Ramasamy denied that he is quitting the party after being dropped as an election candidate for the state polls. However, Ramasamy is unhappy with the “political purge” up north where younger candidates are not fielded.
In a show of force, Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg, Sabah Chief Minister Hajiji Noor, and BN secretary-general Zambry Abd Kadir accompanied PM Anwar Ibrahim to support the Unity Gov’s candidates at several nomination centres in Selangor.
Minister of Communications and Digital, Fahmi Fadzil, has expressed the government’s support for broadcasting media platforms to organise debate programs for candidates participating in the state elections. He believes that there are numerous open media platforms available for hosting such debates. Still, it is ultimately up to the candidates to decide whether they are willing to participate in such programs or not.
Rafizi challenged Sanusi Md Nor to a live televised debate couple of days back. Sanusi replied - holding a debate won’t improve the economy.
Two nabbed by MACC over RM100 mil bribes
Two individuals, including an enforcement officer from a Malaysian High Commission overseas, have been arrested for allegedly accepting bribes to approve visa applications from Bangladeshi nationals who claimed to be tourists but intended to work in Malaysia. The officer is suspected of collaborating with employment agencies in both Bangladesh and Malaysia since 2021 and exploiting the Foreign Visa System (VLN) to facilitate the entry of Bangladeshi citizens for work purposes. According to a source, the amount of bribery involved is believed to exceed RM100 million, with each case involved believed to be netting USD300 -500 (RM1,365 - 2,275), even though the official visa fee set by the government is only RM105 per visa.
Mass Rapid Transit Corp (MRT Corp) and Hong Kong's MTR Corp signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on a mixed development project near the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link's Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru. The RTS Link is a cross-border rail link connecting Bukit Chagar to Woodlands in Singapore, with operations set to commence in January 2027. MRT Corp CEO Mohd Zarif Hashim said leveraging on the "rail plus property" model adopted by Hong Kong, the intended mixed development, with GDV of RM3 bil, is expected to transform the Bukit Chagar station area into an attractive destination for both local and international investors.
Read: The ‘Rail plus Property’ model: HK’s successful self-financing formula.
Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd has announced the implementation of a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) to streamline operations, reduce operating expenses, and concentrate on core business activities to enhance financial performance and organisational efficiency.
Sime Darby Motors has introduced the BYD DOLPHIN electric vehicle (EV) in Malaysia, offering two variants: Dynamic standard range at RM99,900 and Premium extended range at RM124,900. This marks BYD's second all-electric passenger car in the country, following the launch of BYD ATTO 3 just six months ago.
Over the weekend, a video showing a woman being harassed at the Maluri LRT platform on Friday morning was circulating on social media. The victim has requested people to stop spreading the video and for the uploaders to take it down. RapidRail, the line operator, has issued a statement on the incident, claiming that the suspect has mental health issues.
Former prime minister Najib Razak has withdrawn his appeal to the Court of Appeal seeking leave to challenge the Prisons Department’s decision not to permit him to attend Parliament sittings. In October 2022, the High Court of Kuala Lumpur rejected former prime minister Najib Razak’s application for leave to commence a judicial review to challenge the Prisons Department's decision.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Vietnam convicts former officials, diplomats in one of the country’s largest bribery cases
A Vietnamese court handed prison sentences to 54 officials and business people, including a former deputy foreign minister, as they were found guilty of taking part in a scheme in which diplomats and companies took money from Vietnamese citizens abroad who wanted to return home on rescue flights during the Covid-19 pandemic when commercial flights weren’t available. In one case, a mother shared it cost her USD12k to bring her teenage daughter back from a boarding school in Europe.
25 state officials of the 54 convicted were found guilty of taking bribes totalling 175 bil dong (USD7.4 mil). Former deputy foreign minister To Anh Dung alone took 21.5 bil dong (USD908k) and is sentenced to 16 years of jail time. Dung admitted that he took received the bribes, but he said that he did not think it was wrong at that time as he was just facilitating the companies (waiting to hear this answer in Malaysian courts).
What to invest next? Private credit, according to giant sovereign wealth fund GIC
The Singaporean sovereign fund, with an estimated USD690 bil of assets under management, is allocating more capital towards private credit. GIC’s chief investment officer Jeffrey Jaensubhakij said the asset class, with global assets under management of USD1.5 tril, offers the “most attractive” risk-reward profile. Though private credit can be costlier for borrowers than bank borrowings, this form of loan offers certainty and speed of execution and greater confidentiality.
Private credit is the business of non-bank lending directly to companies. The loans typically are floating rates, meaning investors get paid more as interest rates rise and the deals tend to be companies with higher quality cash flows, hence mitigating risk of default.
Read: The rise of private credit in Asia.
Chinese tech: Summer season, WeChat Channels 800 mil users milestone
A new dawn for the Chinese tech industry is here. After more than two years of hard regulatory clampdowns, authorities are now changing their tone and signalling their support for the industry. Its central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), has outlined a few key support measures:
Pushing for tech-related loans to maintain fast growth;
Urge banks to support tech-related M&A;
Encourage insurance and pension funds to invest in venture capital funds;
Regulators to support unlisted startups to raise funds through bond issuances;
The creation of a platform for high-yield bonds to meet the fundraising needs of SMEs.
Like Instagram, which leveraged its massive reach to promote its TikTok competitor Reels, WeChat has followed the same playbook to similar success in promoting its video-sharing service WeChat Channels as it crossed 800 mil users in just two years since its launch. It has overtaken its rivals, such as TikTok’s Chinese arm Douyin (680 mil users) and Kuaishou (390 mil). Despite the leadership, this success hasn’t translated to commercial success — S&P Global estimates ad revenues from WeChat Channels totalled RMB4 bil (USD559.6 mil), about 10% of the revenue generated by Kuaishou. WeChat is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent.
Nolan’s Oppenheimer largely omitted the women and people of colour who worked on the Manhattan Project. One of them left out is Chien-Shiung Wu, a Chinese physicist who was instrumental in the project. Ernest Lawrence, who was featured in the movie, described Wu as “the most talented experimental physicist he had ever known” Oppenheimer himself, who called her “jiejie” (sister in Mandarin), thought highly of her. Due to sexism in her era, her discovery, dubbed the “Wu experiment,” won the Nobel Prize in 1957 - sadly, for Wu, only her male colleagues won it, not her.
Read: 14 world-changing innovations by women that were originally credited to men.
Fast food giant McDonald’s is creating a spinoff restaurant chain called CosMc’s, and it will be tested in limited geography in the US in early 2024. Few details were shared about this spinoff and what is only known is McD’s CEO Chris Kempczinski says it is a “small format concept with all the DNA of McDonald’s but with its own unique personality”. Why the name? CosMc is actually a McD mascot that appeared in its advertisement in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Well played with the cosmic word.
Mattel has seen tremendous success with its movie "Barbie," which has dominated the box office and grossed USD380 mil worldwide in its first five days. With this triumph, Mattel aims to turn its toy properties into a cinematic universe, with 14 projects in active development, including movies based on "Barney," "Polly Pocket," "Thomas and Friends," and "American Girl."
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Today’s theme on the environment
Google has an earthquake notification service called Android Earthquake Alert System that can give users up to a minute’s notice on their phones before an earthquake hits. As smartphones contain accelerometers, Google can pinpoint the epicentre and estimate the strength of a quake when many phones shake at the same time and sends out a warning when a magnitude of 4.5 or greater is detected. Explainer below.
The stark, stunning before-and-after photos of California’ dried up reservoirs after record-setting rain and snow helping to replenish drought-stricken California. Back in Nov/Dec, the state was preparing for a drought. Check out here for more of these before-and-after photos.
On another note, UN Sec-Gen Antonio Guterres has up the warning on climate change. It’s no longer global warming, but global boiling as he said the record-breaking July temperatures showed Earth has passed from a warning phase into an “era of global boiling”.