Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ T20 enjoyed RM17 bil (35% of allocation) of oil & petrol subsidy in 2022
Tony Fernandes said that the high price of airline tickets is here to stay. Elon Musk, cofounder of OpenAI, to take on OpenAI's ChatGPT. Sleeping will soon be an entertainment, via Pokemon Sleep.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
RM2.49 bil — the size of the Malaysian vape industry in 2022, according to the Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC). Yes, there is a chamber of commerce for vape! MVCC estimated that the number of vape consumers in Malaysia had increased to between 1.4 million and 1.5 million users. Once regulations kick in, sales of vape could generate RM1 bil excise tax revenue.
USD180,000 — the price of a flight to the tip of the Earth’s atmosphere, 15 miles in the sky with a helium balloon. Iwaya Giken, a Japanese startup, unveiled its commercial spacecraft expected to launch this year. Keisuke Iwaya, the CEO of Iwaya Giken, wants to make space travel more accessible — aiming to reduce the price to thousands eventually.
RM600 mil — the overall losses due to flood in 2022 (vs RM6.1 bil in 2021), according to Malaysia’s chief statistician. Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang suffered losses of more than RM100 mil, respectively.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Apex court to give its decision on Najib Razak’s SRC International conviction review by the end of the month
Najib Razak has to stay in the
five-star resort jail a bit longer as the five-member panel of the apex court, led by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli, needed more time to decide on the matter of the SRC International conviction review, latest by the end of March. Although Najib Razak had used all of his legal options in his case of misappropriating RM42 mil of SRC International fund last year, under Rule 137 of the Rules of Federal Court 1995, the Federal Court has the power to review its previous decision to prevent any injustice or abuse.
Harapan Youth is still holding onto its GE15 promise to abolish AUKU
Bentong MP Young Syefura stated that Pakatan Harapan’s youth wing is still dedicated to abolishing the University and Universities Colleges Act 1971 (AUKU), as per its GE15 manifesto. At this moment, AUKU provides vast authority to the Government, including hiring vice-chancellors and silencing dissidents. However, Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin stated last week that AUKU would not be abolished as the law remains ‘significant’.
AUKU is said to be an instrument used by the Government to suppress students’ activism, and its roots can be traced back to the Teluk Gong struggle in 1967. Then, the May 13 incident happened in 1969, which placed the universities under the Emergency Ordinance, which then later became the basis for AUKU.
The Putrajaya-led war on the rich
Deputy finance minister Ahmad Maslan told the Parliament that the Government could save more than RM17 bil (35% of allocated subsidies) if the petrol subsidies were not given to the rich. He quoted that in 2022, the Government spent a hefty sum of RM50.8bil towards subsidies for petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), where 35% or RM17.8bil benefited the rich while the B40 income group enjoyed only 24% of the subsidies allocated. On subsidy-related matters, Malaysiakini compiled budgeted vs actual subsidies by the government since 2010. We turned it into a table below to further analyse each year’s budget variance.
Treasury secretary-general Johan Mahmood Merican said that Putrajaya is considering lowering electricity subsidies for the T20 income group in the second half of this year as part of the overall subsidy rationalisation plan. In 1Q2023, Johan stated that the rich (household consumption of more than 600kWH - Domestic C) used RM1.95 bil or 39.8% of the subsidies enjoyed by the domestic users.
Hospitals are crowded because of non-healthy living Malaysians, says the deputy minister
Deputy prime minister Fadillah Yusof said to the Parliament that Malaysians that are not practising healthy lifestyles could be the reason why government hospitals are overcrowded. Like blaming the rain for causing the flash floods in the Klang Valley, the statement by the deputy prime minister is so disappointing. In the same tone, Fadillah also urged other MPs to organise events that promote a healthy lifestyle for the rakyat.
Capital A Bhd CEO Tony Fernandes said that the high price of airline tickets is here to stay and stated that current prices are not high, but those are real prices. Speaking like a true gentleman, Fernandes said that airlines have always underpriced their product and that the current fare environment is very good. Can I use the AirAsia app to deliver a 0-star to him?
After 13 consecutive quarters of losses, Capital A is back in the black with a net profit of RM256.2 mil on the back of RM2.4 bil in revenue in the fourth quarter as air travel rebounded strongly. Read its Q4 earnings announcement here.
Yinson Holdings Bhd has signed a USD5.3 bil deal with Angola’s largest independent oil and gas producer, Azule Energy, to supply a floating, production, storage and offloading asset for the Agogo Integrated West Hub Development Project in Angola (FPSO Agogo). The 15-year deal will increase Yinson’s order book to about USD22.4 bil (RM100.52 bil).
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
UK’s PM proposed a new post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland trade.
The prime minister announced the new agreement, which replaces the Northern Ireland Protocol and sets new trade rules. The border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is the only land border the UK shares with the EU. If the deal was accepted by the Northern Ireland Executive, it could be highly beneficial as it would allow the country to have access to both the EU and UK’s market. Rishi Sunak said the protocol had “unsettled” the balance “at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement”. What is the Good Friday Agreement?
Ukrainian city of Bakhmut may fall into Russia’s hand
Russia is trying to cut the Ukrainian defenders’ supply lines to the city. Russia is targeting Bakhmut, as it would open the way to capture the last remaining urban centres in the Donetsk region. It is one of four that Moscow claims to have annexed in its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Despite constant Russian shelling, Ukrainian forces are not showing any signs of withdrawing and reinforcements are also arriving.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis now control Disney World’s district
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis abolished Walt Disney World’s special authority after the company spoke out publicly against his controversial education agenda. The company publicly pledged to work toward repealing a law employees and LGBTQ rights advocates called “Don't Say Gay,” to the dismay of DeSantis. The governor will appoint his board, which will have the power to control property taxes, issue bonds, and control services such as roads, sewer systems, parking, and fire protection.
Ever since Disney founded its theme park in Florida in 1967, it was granted exceptional control over zoning and infrastructure, essentially giving the company the same kind of power that a county government would have.
Elon Musk wants to take on ChatGPT
Musk is reportedly seeking to develop a competitor to ChatGPT. Musk has been approaching researchers about forming a new research lab. He co-founded OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, but parted ways with the company in 2018. Former DeepMind senior researcher Igor Babuschkin has apparently been enlisted to head up Musk’s ChatGPT-rival project.
On another note — Wall Street big bank employees aren’t fans of ChatGPT, claiming the chatbot is giving outdated information. Furthermore, some said the chatbot was counterintuitive as they had to spend a lot of time fact-checking and removing out-of-date information. However, some banks are aware of sharing sensitive financial information with open source software. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have also reportedly blocked the use of the tool as part of automatic restrictions on third-party software.
China isn’t happy about the US banning TikTok
The White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure that employees delete the TikTok application — which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance — on federal devices. The order follows similar moves by the EU and Canada in recent weeks. TikTok has faced allegations that it harvests users' data and hands it to the Chinese government. Spokeswoman Mao Ning said the US government should stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US.
Read: TikTok answers three big cybersecurity fears about the app
Fox News is said to have endorsed false claims the 2020 US election was stolen
Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire owner of Fox News, stated that some commentators endorsed the false claims in a legal filing as part of a defamation lawsuit brought by ballot tech company Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is suing Fox News for USD1.6 bil (£1.3 bil), arguing the conservative outlet broadcast false and malicious rumours about voter fraud that harmed its business.
Gamification in sleeping
The Pokemon Company has revealed it will release Pokemon Sleep across most of the world in the summer of 2023. The game is said to turn sleep into entertainment — Urging players to “rest your very best”. The longer you sleep, the higher your score. Watch the trailer below.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Which is the most popular video streaming platform in Malaysia?
Face in the waves, captured by photographer Ian Sproat. Who do you see?
Pharmaniaga, the newly listed PN17 company bruising Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera’s (LTAT) investment.