Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ The iconic Rafflesia, the world's largest flower, at risk of extinction
2022 is a record year for new pledged organ donors - here's how to be one. Amazon’s USD4 bil in ChatGPT competitor and the talking ChatGPT. NASA retrieves 4.5 bil-year-old asteroid sample.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
USD230 trillion — the world's wealth pool by 2030, based on projections from Bain, a leading consultancy, indicating that this global wealth reservoir, currently standing at just over USD130 trillion, has a USD100 trillion opportunity. Two of the biggest financial firms in wealth management stand to benefit from this — Morgan Stanley and UBS, which oversee USD6 trillion and USD5.5 trillion of wealth assets, respectively.
Over the past five years, Selangor has achieved an impressive milestone in addressing housing needs by completing the construction of 40,000 affordable homes since 2018, according to Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari. Additionally, an additional 5,000 houses are expected to be finished by the close of this year. Selangor’s remarkable commitment to affordable housing has earned it recognition from the Local Government Development Ministry (KPKT) as the leading state in developing affordable housing units.
52,004 individuals pledged to become organ donors in Malaysia in 2022, the most recorded thus far. If you’re a data geek, you can have fun with the tool created by the government here. Will you become an organ donor and have you pledged to do so? If not, you can do so via the infamous MySejahtera app (if you still have it on your phone). Alternatively, you can visit the National Transplant Resource Centre’s website for more information.
“I despise all adjectives that try to describe people as liberal or conservative, rightist or leftist, as long as they stay in the useful part of the road.”
- Dwight Eisenhower, President of the United States of America (1953-1961)
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Rosmah's USD1 mil security demand hearing set for Nov 28
The High Court has scheduled a hearing for November 28 to decide whether Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, should ask jeweller Global Royalty Trading SAL to deposit USD1 mil as security for costs in their ongoing lawsuit. The tricky part is that Malaysia and Lebanon don't have a special deal that makes it easy to get cash from a foreign company if you win in Malaysia.
On a related note, Global Royalty is also making moves by seeking a summary judgment against Rosmah, claiming she hasn't returned or paid for jewellery worth USD14.57 mil, which is at the centre of this dispute dating back to a 2018 jewellery disappearance incident.
Perak initiates RM308 mil housing projects in three locations
Perak is gearing up for the construction of three People's Housing Projects (PPRs) with a combined budget of approximately RM308 mil, according to Nga Kor Ming, the Local Government Development Minister. The selected locations for these PPRs are Manjoi in the Tambun parliamentary constituency (PM Anwar’s parliamentary turf btw), Changkat Jong in Teluk Intan, and Kota Tampan in Lenggong. Efforts are underway to expedite the construction process, with multi-storey buildings typically taking around 36 months to complete, while landed properties are expected to be ready within approximately 24 months.
In total, these projects will provide 1,200 housing units, with specific details for each location as follows: Manjoi will feature a multi-storey building with 500 units, Lenggong will include 300 terrace houses, and Teluk Intan will boast 400 terrace houses under the Perbadanan Pr1ma Malaysia initiative.
Rafflesia at risk of extinction
The massive Rafflesia flowers, among the world's largest, are in danger of going extinct, according to research by botanists from the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden and the University of Philippines Los Baños. These unique flowers, found in Southeast Asian forests, include the famous “corpse flower” due to its unpleasant smell.
To learn more about the plant and its conservation status, a group of scientists examined 42 kinds of Rafflesia and their habitats, mainly in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The study warns that 60% of the known Rafflesia species are now critically endangered. This is mainly because their habitats are being destroyed.
Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd has made a significant decision by withdrawing its RM14 bil lawsuit against the Selangor state government. This lawsuit had been going on for six long years and was related to the government taking over Puncak Niaga's water-related businesses back in 2017. Puncak Niaga was seeking compensation for the takeover of PNSB Water and a 70% stake in Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor. This decision was influenced by the fact that the case had not progressed to a courtroom trial. The suit was initially dismissed by the Shah Alam High Court in February 2018 but was reinstated by the Court of Appeal in February 2021.
Malaysia’s digital scene just scored big with over RM37.4 bil in investment commitments as of August 2023, which is set to create around 15,895 high-value jobs. This shows that foreign investors really believe in Malaysia's plan to supercharge the digital economy, called Malaysia Digital. Just recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim witnessed deals worth RM19.84 bil inked between Malaysian and Chinese companies, cementing Malaysia's status as a hotspot for investments.
S Vell Paari, former MIC Secretary-General, has been reappointed as a senator, effective from Sept 2 to Sept 1, 2026, with the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He was first appointed in 2020.
Independent speaker Wan Ji Wan Hussin is set to commence his nine-month prison sentence for posting offensive and insulting remarks about the Sultan of Selangor on Facebook 11 years ago. The Court of Appeal upheld the Shah Alam Sessions Court's original decision from April 9, 2018, and dismissed Wan Ji's appeal against his conviction and sentence. The High Court's earlier ruling of a one-year prison term in July 2019 was overturned. Wan Ji was charged under the Sedition Act 1948.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) is in the process of arranging a critical meeting with India’s Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister to discuss India’s recent restrictions on exporting white rice to Malaysia. Currently, MAFS is in communication with Indian authorities to schedule the meeting and find a solution to this issue, which has already caused prices for imported rice to go up in Malaysia.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Amazon’s USD4 bil in ChatGPT competitor and the talking ChatGPT
Amazon announced that it will invest up to USD4 bil in Anthropic, a generative AI competing with OpenAi’s ChatGPT. Taking a page from Microsoft’s playbook, the investee becomes a customer as Anthropic has committed to building primarily on Amazon’s cloud services. The valuation in this transaction is not known; however, Anthropic’s last estimated valuation was more than USD4 bil.
Interestingly, Google is an investor in Anthropic’s USD450 mil fundraising round back in May. Google recently launched its AI service, Bard, which is integrated across its services (i.e. Gmail, YouTube).
Separately, OpenAI announced that in the coming two weeks, paid ChatGPT users will be able to interact with the chatbot by voice, allowing users to choose from 5 different voices. A review by Wall Street Journal described the voices as eerily human and “almost indistinguishable from a human at times”, unlike the stiff responses by smartphone assistants (yes, you Siri). Listen to a sample clip here by ChatGPT using any of these 5 voices. It does sound impressively natural.
China’s big brother style to prevent a stock market slump
In a typical big brother approach, China is taking a novel step to prevent its USD11 tril domestic market from falling free — stop controlling shareholders from selling. Controlling shareholders of companies that haven’t paid dividends in the past three years, or whose shares are trading below their IPO prices or net asset values are banned from selling their shares, affecting about half of the 5,000+ companies on its two stock market exchanges.
Major shareholders of all listed companies were also encouraged to maintain their ownership stakes, prompting shareholders of more than 200 companies to cancel their plans to trim stakes, making public promises not to reduce their holdings further and extending the lockup period of their shares. Dozens of others proposed share buybacks to support their share prices. Wise shareholders as they do not want to experience Jack Ma’s fallout with the government or disappear.
NASA retrieved 4.5 bil-year-old asteroid sample
NASA has successfully retrieved a space capsule back on Earth carrying the largest soil sample ever collected (about 250 g) from the surface of a 4.5 bil-year-old, 490 m-wide asteroid named Bennu. This comes after the mission was launched seven years ago over a 6.2 bil km* journey. Japan had previously retrieved asteroid samples twice but only got a teaspoon of it back to Earth. These samples could help answer some of scientists’ most burning questions about the origins of life on Earth and the early days of our solar system. Bennu was discovered in 1999 and is classified as a “near-Earth object” as it passes relatively close to Earth every six years. If you are thinking of Bruce Willis’ Armageddon, the odds Bennu making an impact are considered remote - 1 in 2,700 or 0.037% chance, according to NASA. This is what Bennu looks like.
6.2 bil km is about 41.3 astronomical units (AU) from Earth. AU is a unit of length, roughly the distance between the distance from Earth to the Sun, approximately 150 km or 8.3 light minutes.
The US federal government is nearing a shutdown by Oct 1 as both sides of the aisles could not agree on passing spending bills to fund agencies across the government. Non-essential agencies will stop operating and an estimated 4 mil federal employees won’t be receiving their paychecks (no surprise that the President and Congress members will still get their salaries). An interesting read here on the who, what, when and how of this issue.
Read: The world, including China, is unwilling to lend to an empire that prints money.
There’s a hidden cost in going green. Toymaker Lego, after two years of experimenting with making its iconic bricks from recycled bottles, decided that it would scrap this plan as the material did not reduce carbon emissions. Lego makes about 4,400 different bricks, with the majority of it using virgin plastic made from crude oil. The recycled plastics required additional steps in the production process, meaning they needed to use more energy and emit carbon.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Today’s topic is on the most precious resource to humanity — water.
Hydro energy without having to build a dam and destroying the environment.
Turning seawater into potable water using basic science, DIY style - just in case you get stranded in the ocean.
An alternative to the expensive, energy-intensive desalination process - atmospheric water harvesting, essentially pulling humidity out of the air.