- The Coffee Break
- ☕️ T20 parents send their kids to MRSM to "teach them the hardships of life"
☕️ T20 parents send their kids to MRSM to "teach them the hardships of life"
Proton sold 154.6k units in 2023, the best since 2012. The infamous J-Kom is finally getting a revamp. China’s 2 largest bubble tea makers apply for USD1.5 bil IPO in HK.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Information as of 0730 UTC+8 on Jan 4, 2023.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
A total of 395,870 candidates have registered for the 2023 SPM examination, which is set to take place in 3,340 examination centres nationwide until March 7. Efforts have been made to ensure the smooth conduct of the examination in light of the recent floods. Additionally, 129,635 examination personnel have been appointed to oversee the management and administration of the examination.
RM1,216 — the price of a cup of coffee, specifically the Paraiso Gold Coffee from South America, paid by a food influencer. Why is it so expensive, though? According to the server, it is one of the rarest coffees in the world, and the coffee beans taste like “great wine.” The influencer was not impressed by the taste, saying it tasted just like other coffees. The Paraiso Gold coffee bean (you can buy it online here) grows best at an altitude of 1,100 meters, where it gets the right amount of rain and heat. These beans have different flavours, like rose, wild berries, green apple, pineapple, passion fruit, banana, wine, and more.
According to Tan Ka Leong, group managing director of CBRE | WTW Malaysia, properties priced between RM500,001 and RM700,000 make up 15% of all the overhang units in Klang Valley. The largest category of overhang units, at 28%, are those priced at RM1 mil and above. Tan reported a 5.0% overall increase in the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the supply of residential properties in the Klang Valley from 2018 to the third quarter of 2023 (3Q2023). The CAGR for non-landed properties, including serviced apartments, apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes, was 8.0%, surpassing the CAGR of landed homes at 2.0%. Better real estate opportunities? Cold storage — read on below.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The reason why T20 parents send their kids to MRSM — to teach them the hardships of life
Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) Student Association president Mohd Fadzil Yusof revealed in a video interview on Sinar Harian’s media platform that the main reason why T20 parents send away their kids to MARA Junior Science College (MRSM) is to teach them the hard lessons of life. MRSM, initially founded to provide opportunities to B40 Bumiputera children to elevate their lives through education, has now become a life training ground for rich kids. Fadzil also added that instead of proceeding with the idea of creating an MRSM for the rich, T20 parents can instead contribute to the cost of education at MRSM as an alternative. ‘We can implement paid admission, different from paid schools,’ he said. Perhaps another suggestion to learn ‘hard lessons’ in life — the rich parents should get their kids to work to earn their pocket money whilst concurrently studying, a common hardship to juggle faced by the less fortunate ones.
The infamous J-Kom is finally getting a revamp
Former Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director-general Mohd Puad Zarkashi has urged Putrajaya to overhaul the controversial Community Communications Department (J-Kom) due to the recent Dubai Move expose and previous ‘A&W’ scandal where some of J-Kom’s officers were allegedly linked to a lewd viral clip. J-Kom was previously known as Jasa.
Coincidently, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil also announced to the media that the Government had agreed in principle to revamp J-Kom. However, Fahmi denied that the decision to overhaul the heated government unit was triggered by Puad but instead said it was the Government’s plan all along.
Slow but not so steady, the mantra of government projects
MRT3 Project — Transport Minister Anthony Loke stated that the Mass Rapid Transit Line 3 (MRT3) project is unaffected despite MRT Corp having requested the fourth extension since the middle of last year to finalise tenders for the project. According to Loke, Putrajaya had only approved the budget for land acquisition at the end of last year which will involve 1,012 lots of land, covering 842 private lots, 133 government lots, and 37 lots of unknown ownership. The process to secure the land corridor will commence in 2Q2024 and will last for about two years.
MMEA OPV — After a three-year delay, years and not months, you read it right ladies and gentlemen, TH Heavy Engineering Bhd finally handed over the first out of three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) for enforcement and search operations. TH blamed the pandemic and issues with importing the ship’s technical equipment for the delay. The handover dates for the remaining two ships are still one of the mysteries of life and have yet to be announced. The delay of the OPVs had prompted an investigation by the Public Accounts Committee previously in 2022. Consequently, the finance ministry had to take over the project from Tabung Haji subsidiary Destini Sdn Bhd and injected RM152.6 mil to make sure the first OPV is completed. The latest LCS scandal sounds too similar to this OPV saga.
PADU — This latest government’s foray is not slow but launched too fast, too messy. Recently, the Government launched the highly anticipated Central Database Hub (Padu), a platform to collate all the personal data held in various agencies to provide a profile of households and their disposable incomes. The main objective of Padu is to become the backbone of a better-targeted subsidy in the future. However, the launch of Padu was mired with various technical issues, including a loophole for a third party to override one password just by using one’s IC number. Fortunately, all the stakeholders behind Padu, including the Economy Ministry, thanked all who highlighted the loopholes.
Proton’s 2023 was the best year since 2012 — Proton Holdings Bhd recorded a record-breaking sales performance, the best one since 2012, registered a 9.3% increase in units sold, from 141,432 units sold in 2022 to 154,611 units sold in 2023. Proton controls about 19.4% of the market, ranked second in overall sales. Proton CEO Li Chunrong attributed the good performance to the tax-free schemes in 1Q2023 and almost disruption-free car launches.
Funding Societies gets new investors — Khazanah Nasional Bhd teamed up with CGC Digital Sdn Bhd to jointly invest in Funding Societies, a unified small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) digital finance platform in Southeast Asia. The investment falls under Khazanah’s Dana Impak mandate, though no deal terms were disclosed. Since its inception in 2015, Funding Societies have disbursed more than RM16 bil to MSMEs across five countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Ex-judge’s sentence shortened from 6 months to a day — Miracles do happen as what happened to former Sessions Court Judge Azmil Muntapha Abas, convicted of corruption, saw his jail sentence reduced from six months to one day and the fine imposed halved from RM25,000 to RM12,000 by the Shah Alam High Court. However, the High Court decided against putting aside Azmil’s conviction as there was not enough merit to do so.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Israel-Palestine conflict updates
A drone strike killed Deputy Hamas chief Saleh al-Arouri, with Israel neither affirming nor denying its participation in such an attack. The senior political leader in Hamas was seen as a key player in the group, masterminding operations in Gaza. However, the strike that killed Arouri, who was a founder of Hamas’ military wing, took place in Beirut, Lebanon. This marks the first targeted assassination of a Hamas official outside the Palestinian Territories since October 7, with the strike said to have hit a Hamas office where a meeting between Hamas officials and Lebanon’s Sunni Islamist Jama’a Islamiya was taking place.
This also sparks fears of a wider conflict in the region, even as Israeli forces continue their assault on the Gaza Strip. The assassination is being perceived as yet another sign that the conflict will spill into more of the region, with Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani saying the killing will only spark more resistance “against the Zionist occupiers”.
Elsewhere in the Middle East
Saudi Arabia accounted for a quarter of total spent by sovereign wealth funds worldwide
According to a Global SWF report, the nation’s Public Investment Fund accounted for USD31.5 bil in spending in 49 deals (an average of USD643 mil per deal), about a quarter of the USD123.8 bil spent by sovereign wealth funds worldwide in 2023. However, the total amount spent was also 21% less compared to 2022, with the report stating this “may signal an overly cautious approach”. Among PIF’s notable expenditures was the acquisition of four leading football clubs in Saudi Arabia along with acquisitions of gaming companies as part of plans to turn the country into a gaming hub. View the report here.
HK hotel chain partners Saudi Arabia in Middle East expansion
Hong Kong’s Regal Hotels International Holdings Ltd will be partnering with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment to build 100 hotels around the world worth USD5 bil with an emphasis on the Middle East, with about 30 hotels in Saudi Arabia. The partnership was unveiled by Regal Hotels heiress Poman Lo, who is also vice chairman and managing director of the group. Lo shared that Chinese funds and companies are going to Saudi Arabia to seek investments in the wake of Western investors cutting capital, “so there’s a lot of business travel”. Lo is a descendant of late real estate tycoon Lo Ying Shek, who founded the Great Eagle Holdings property empire.
China’s BYD topples Tesla to be world’s top EV maker, to offer USD281.5 mil to dealers as reward
The Chinese EV manufacturer sold 526,409 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2023, trumping Tesla’s 484,507 in the same period, leading to Tesla shares slipping after this omen of future challenges the US firm will face. BYD also sold over 400,000 plug-in hybrid EVs in the same quarter in addition to the pure EVs sold. The Chinese automaker will also be handing out cash rewards, RMB666 (USD93.17 per car) to dealers per car sold, totalling up to USD281.5 mil. 666 is considered an auspicious figure in China since the number sounds like the word “cool” or “amazing”. Still, Tesla holds its crown as the top seller of EVs on an annual basis.
Vietnam’s VinFast to set up battery plant in India
The Viet EV maker is set to open its first manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu, India, with the facility making batteries for EVs, according to sources. While VinFast has declined to comment, sources indicate an announcement is “expected in coming days”. VinFast officials have already visited the state to check out potential sites, with the firm also beginning to hire for sales, legal, and back office jobs in India. This follows the EV maker announcing last October that it will be building assembly factories in India and Indonesia, with production meant to begin in 2026.
Report: Asia-Pacific cold storage real estate value could cross USD2 bil in 2030
Investments in the segment will likely cross the USD2 bil mark between now and 2030, compared to a high of USD948 mil in 2021, according to international real estate and investment management firm JLL’s latest report. The segment represents a “compelling long-term investment opportunity” in the region, bolstered by the ability to deliver resilient, stable returns and generate higher rental rates than other asset classes.
China’s 2 largest bubble tea makers apply for Hong Kong IPO
China’s largest and second-largest bubble tea chains by store count, Mixue Bingcheng and Guming, have submitted applications for IPOs in Hong Kong, with the former looking to raise up to USD1 bil in its Hong Kong IPO, while the latter is aiming to raise up to USD500 mil. The two firms have, respectively, 36,000 stores and 9,000 stores in China. The bubble tea industry in China is set to see a surge in 2023, with an expected 40% rise in yearly sales, according to a China Chain Store & Franchise Association study.
Thailand, China to waive visa requirements – The two nations will be permanently waiving visa requirements for each other’s citizens starting in March, according to Thai PM Srettha Thavisin. This follows Thailand’s program in September last year, where it waived visas for Chinese nationals in a bid to boost tourist arrivals, with a strong response. The permanent waiving of visas between the two nations is an “upgrade to relations” and a boost to the significance of Thai passports, according to the Thai PM.
Lazada Singapore begins the year by axing staff – The regional online shopping unit of Alibaba has arranged individual meetings with human resources for employees in multiple departments regardless of seniority, including the commercial and marketing teams. The exercise could last until January 5, as the HR department has reportedly reserved meeting rooms for the rest of the week.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Graphic / dystopic content below. Feels like a clip from Black Mirror.
We've forgotten how to live in the moment.
— Culture Critic (@Culture_Crit)
Jan 1, 2024
How does the Covid-19 pandemic compare to the pandemics before this?
Credits: Our World in Data
POV: Japan Airlines passenger during the recent crash. Transcripts showed that the coastguard plane was not cleared for take-off.