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☕️ Tawfik Ismail's Campaign Tagline: "Rakyat vs Rasuah"
Malaysia, a prisoner can run for Parliament. 'Gula-Gula PRU' - lower toll rates. Nuclear weapons - no winners, just MAD (mutually assured destruction).
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
GBP200 mil (RM1.05 bil) — the price of London’s most expensive house that is up for sale again. The 7-storey, 45-room mansion in Knightsbridge overlooking Hyde Park was sold in January 2020 for a record GBP205 mil. The current owner is believed to be Hui Ka Yan, the Chinese billionaire founder of China’s largest property developer Evergrande, which has plunged into financial issues over mounting debt to the tune of USD300 bil.
USD73,000 — a Dutch court ordered Chetu, a US software company, to pay a remote worker over wrongful termination. The remote worker, based in the Netherlands, refused to keep his webcam on all day during a virtual training programme as he did not feel comfortable being monitored. 3 days later, he was fired for “refusal to work” and “insubordination”.
RM5 bil — revenue generated by Ikano Retail, the operator of IKEA in 5 markets (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, and the Philippines), in its latest financial year, 2022, up 41.2% year-on-year. The sale of furniture, meatballs and curry puffs has helped the retailer to surpass the EUR1 bil sales mark for the first time. Malaysia, with 4 IKEA outlets, recorded the highest revenue at RM1.7 bil, followed by Thailand (RM1.3 bil), Singapore (RM1.2 bil), the Philippines (RM534 mil) and Mexico (RM316 mil). The retailer’s own website saw 122.5 mil visitors and it has sold more than 11.7 mil pieces of curry puffs (32,000 pieces on average a day).
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
PAS-controlled state governments will not dissolve their state assemblies
PAS has reiterated that states under their control, namely Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, will not be dissolved, a clear middle finger to PM Ismail Sabri’s call to have simultaneous state and national polls. Need to be reminded that polls will still be held at Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, but only for federal-level Parliament seats and not state seats. So, please cast your votes nonetheless.
Prisoner Najib Razak is among the potential candidates for Pekan
In a frustrating and disappointing update about the upcoming election, imprisoned Najib Razak will still be named as one of the Barisan Nasional (BN) potential candidates for the Pekan seat. Zamri Ramly, UMNO Pekan division deputy chief, added that if Najib’s current situation of ineligibility to contest in GE15 persists, anyone that is chosen to replace him wins the Pekan seat, the said person will need to make way for Najib, given he is granted a royal pardon. Pekan needs to be a case study for all political parties on how Najib Razak still has a tight grip on his constituency, even though he is clearly guilty of his crimes of ‘sakau-ing’ millions of the people’s money.
Najib’s former deputy, Zahid Hamidi, on the other hand, may have a tougher time in winning a seat in GE15, as the son of the late former deputy PM Tun Dr Ismail, Tawfik Ismail, has decided to fight against Zahid Hamidi for any seat that Zahid will be contesting. Tawfik will be using the ‘Rakyat vs Rasuah’ tagline in its bid to end Zahid’s political career once-and-for-all. In the 2018 general election, Zahid won the Bagan Datuk seat with a strong 5,073 majority votes, barely 50% of the popular votes. He has been holding the seat since 1995.
As GE15 is around the corner, we should not forget the ‘katak’ involved in Langkah Sheraton that started the political chaos we are in now. So, vote wisely.
In every general election cycle, we always see a wave of ‘projects’ announced by the government right after they dissolve the Parliament. These things have many names, but we rather call them ‘Gula-Gula PRU’:
Gula #1 - The government has agreed to restructure the toll concession for all highways under Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas), namely Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH), Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE), Lebuhraya Kemuning-Shah Alam (LKSA) and Kajang Dispersal Link Expressway (SILK). Under this restructuring, PM Ismail Sabri stated that Putrajaya could save RM8.8bil in estimated compensation, and the public can enjoy lower toll rates at these highways, effective Oct 20. Users of Lebuhraya Kajang-Seremban (Lekas) and the Sungai Besi Expressway (Besraya) will also enjoy lower rates starting Jan 1, 2023.
Gula #2 - Putrajaya has agreed to add a third lane and a new tunnel at Genting Sempah for the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Expressway stretching from the Gombak Plaza Toll to the Bentong Plaza Toll, in order to reduce traffic congestion, especially during public holidays.
Gula #3 - The inhabitants of Klang Valley can enjoy the newly opened RM4.2bil, 20.1 km Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway (DASH) highway for free for one month, starting today.
Misappropriation of RM2.28bil of 1MDB fund trial updates
Joanna Yu, the former relationship manager at Ambank, testified that even though Najib Razak had appointed Nik Faisal to handle his Ambank accounts, the former premier was still personally responsible for his bank accounts. Joanna also stated that in the matter of opening Najib’s account, she never met the imprisoned former prime minister but instead only provided the documents for her boss, former AmBank’s group managing director Cheah Tek Kuang, to obtain the relevant signature from Najib Razak.
In the same trial, it was also revealed by former AmInvestment Bank Bhd managing director Kok Tuck Cheong that AmBank officers, Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) representatives and Jho Low once met over a ‘casual’ lunch 13 years ago. TIA was initially a RM11 bil state sovereign wealth fund created in 2009 before it was taken over by the federal government and renamed 1MDB.
A new developer comes to bail out an abandoned housing project
Muhibah Sekitar Sdn Bhd will take over the development of an abandoned 1,075-unit condominium project on a 1.7-ha plot in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. This news will be a relief for 584 prospective buyers that had previously paid a cumulative sum of RM2.4mil in deposits to the previous developer to purchase project units. This is a prime example of how the market fixes its own housing glut problem. The government should stop bailing out developers every time the developers are unable to sell their units or are unable to fund the construction cost. The market will and always know how to fix itself and find its equilibrium.
Local electric vehicle (EV) updates:
Proton is signalling to the market that the company will develop its own electric vehicle under its subsidiary, Proton New Energy Technology (Pro-Net). 16 of its engineers will be sent to China in order to learn the ABCs in developing a homegrown electric vehicle. No definitive timeline has been announced for the launching of Proton’s first EV.
Proton and PETRONAS have formed a partnership to further boost the country's EV charging infrastructure. Under this partnership, Proton dealers throughout the country will be fitted with PETRONAS’s charging solutions that will surely benefit the future users of the soon-to-be-launch smart #1 electric car by Proton.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
UN General Assembly condemns Russia's annexation
The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s annexation of 4 regions in Ukraine last week, making it part of Russia. 143 countries voted to support the resolution, 35 countries (eg. China and India) abstained and 4 countries (North Korea, Belarus, Syria, and Nicaragua) voted against it.
What would this resolution achieve? Nothing much, really - it’s mostly symbolic, non-binding and won’t result in any specific actions. The resolution calls on the international community not to recognise Russia’s annexation claims.
Ukraine was quick to troll Russia during the voting — its UN representative posted a photo of him using binoculars as though seeking the four countries that supported Russia.
Growing pressure for new British PM Liz Truss to be replaced
British new PM Liz Truss is facing a rebellion from her own Conservative party to be replaced less than 40 days into her premiership. Some of the party backbenchers are pushing for Rishi Sunak, who was competing with Truss for the premiership and Penny Mordaunt, who also stood against Truss for the premiership but is now serving in her government. If she were successfully booted out, she would be UK’s shortest-serving PM.
Her premiership started with a hugely unpopular mini-budget that includes a tax cut for the top UK earners that rattled the market, causing the pound to drop, the mortgage market to freeze up and the Bank of England to make an emergency interference in the bond market. The damage to her credibility and electoral is believed to not be reversible. A YouGov poll shows that her popularity is plummeting, even below her predecessor Boris Johnson.
Even King Charles III finds it difficult to meet her.
France won’t fire nukes at Russia even if Russia strikes Ukraine with nukes
French President Emmanuel Macron, in an interview, suggested that France would not use nuclear weapons against Russia if Russia strikes Ukraine with it. Putin has made veiled threats of using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Macron said France has a nuclear doctrine, which is to use nuclear weapons only in self-defence. Macron’s stand is at odds with the G7 nations and NATO on taking a harsher stance against Russia. A nuclear war has no winners and only one outcome - mutually assured destruction (MAD).
Google to test its immersive video-calling tech in real world
Last year, Google released a video demo of its Project Starline, a video-calling booth so realistic as if the callers are in the same physical space. The booth uses 3D imagery, high-resolution cameras, custom depth sensors and a light field display to create this immersive experience - all without requiring a headset. It will conduct tests at the offices of various enterprise partners such as SalesForce, WeWork and T-Mobile. Would be a real WFH game-changer if Google ever successfully commercialise this product. Check out the demo below.
The US September 2022 inflation benchmark CPI came in hot at 0.4% month-on-month, doubling expectations and rising 8.2% year-on-year. The Federal Reserve is likely to continue to keep hiking interest rates to cool inflation - until something breaks.
Another one goes to jail for being an OnlyFans creator. Singapore has fined Titus Low (warning - NSFW) SGD3,000 and sentenced him to three weeks in prison for sharing obscene photos and videos on the site, which is illegal in Singapore. A Myanmar OnlyFans creator was jailed for 6 years for a similar offence.
A bountiful year for cryptocurrency hackers as 2022 is set to be a record for the total value hacked of more than USD3 bil. Most of the hacks were targeted at decentralised finance (DeFi) protocols.
Weekend Read: How to Want Less
“Satisfaction, I told my daughter, is the greatest paradox of human life. We crave it, we believe we can get it, we glimpse it and maybe even experience it for a brief moment, and then it vanishes” — Arthur C. Brooks
Struggling with finding happiness lately? Give this a read.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
New achievement unlocked for former national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei - a waxed figure of him has been added to the collection at Madame Tussauds Singapore.
More than 65,000 salmon have died before they could have spawned in one Canadian stream due to low water levels and high water temperatures due to climate change.