☕️ The N in Madani - Nepotism?
A summary of the UMNO purge. 180+ academicians appeal to lenders to forgive Sri Lanka's USD52 bil debt. Fintech giant Stripe sets goal to IPO in 12 months.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
1.8 billion scam calls were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) between 2017 to 2022, according to Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil. Based on Statista’s estimate of 29 mil smartphone users in Malaysia in 2021, that’s an alarming number of scam calls per user. Be vigilant. If you’re feeling sus of a call alleging you’ve committed a crime, call the National Scam Response Centre (NSRC) at 997 to make a report.
Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” is film director James Cameron’s third film to have topped USD2 billion at the global box office. Only five other films have hit this metric — the original “Avatar,” “Avengers: Endgame,” Cameron’s “Titanic,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” James Cameron has now made 3 of the five top-grossing films ever, and Zoe Saldana became the first actress to appear in 4 films that have crossed the USD2 bil mark. It’s a good sign for the franchise (and also for the director), as there will be three more instalments slated for release over the next five years.
A young man in Singapore exploited a loophole in the food delivery platform Foodpanda’s accounting system since Jan 2020 by creating two bogus corporate accounts and spent SGD174,500 (RM563.8k) ordering food and other goods, for which he did not pay. Ronny Lee Jia Jie, 25, pleaded guilty to two charges of cheating and a single charge of forgery. Lee was sentenced to 31 months in jail.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
UMNO is becoming its very own worst enemy
Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and supreme council member Noh Omar have been sacked by the party. In addition, two more notable UMNO members have been suspended for six years — former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan and former vice president Hishammuddin Hussein. A total of 44 members were sacked, and four were given a suspension. Party VP Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the decision was made based on the recommendations of the party’s disciplinary committee. In the case of Noh Omar, UMNO said his multiple acts of sabotaging the party, including during GE15, had already been proven.
The sacking of the members is causing a rift in the party.
UMNO VP Ismail Sabri said the sackings and suspensions were not done correctly. The correct procedure would involve a disciplinary committee hearing, where the Umno leaders in question would have the right to respond to any allegation, which must be backed by evidence and witnesses.
On another note, KJ has already been offered a job by Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (TMJ) based on a posting on Instagram. TMJ posted an old photo with KJ with the caption “Future JDTFC CEO and Johor Youth adviser.”
The Star reported what actually went down before the axe fell.
The N in MADANI stands for nepotism (definition here)
Nurul Izzah Anwar has been appointed as a senior adviser to the Prime Minister on economics and finance. However, PM Anwar Ibrahim brushed away the criticisms by stating that the role is pro-bono and that his daughter will not be paid any allowance. Nurul Izzah holds two degrees — one in Electronics and Electrical Engineering and another in Public Policy. As much as we can argue she’s way more capable and qualified than other various advisers appointed last time, the optics aren’t great.
The kicker is — the appointment was on Jan 3, 2023. Why is it only announced now?
Moving right along, PM Anwar will be visiting Singapore today at the invitation of his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. Anwar is bringing almost the entire kampung (four ministers + one premier + one CM) for the official visit. Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Anwar and his wife, Wan Azizah, will have an orchid hybrid named in their honour.
Veteran lawyer Gopal Sri Ram passed away at 79
The former Federal Court judge was reportedly undergoing treatment for a lung infection at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur last week before passing away yesterday. Sri Ram was leading the prosecution against former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak in the latter’s ongoing 1MDB corruption trial and also the hybrid project involving Naijb’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.
Najib Razak’s ‘hotshot lawyer’ Muhammad Shafee Abdullah sent his condolences to Sri Ram and praised the latter’s never-ageing thinking, always learning and applying new ideas.
In relation to the passing of Sri Ram, AG Idrus Harun (how is this guy still around?) said the prosecution in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) cases will continue with the prosecution team from the AG Chambers and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
The Borneo Post reported that the Sarawak government plans erect the country’s highest flagpole in Petra Jaya to fly the Sarawak flag — 99m in height. The flagpole is to commemorate Sarawak’s achievements in regaining its rights and privileges under the Malaysia Agreement 1963. The project is slated to cost RM30 mil.
The Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) doesn’t think the monopolistic behaviour of Touch ‘n Go Sdn Bhd is concerning under the Competition Act 2010. MyCC chairman Mohd Hishamudin Yunus said although TNG is a monopoly of the toll payment system, the issues raised against the company only relate to consumerism, which is not competition-related. Furthermore, TNG’s monopoly came naturally after the government abolished cash payments for tolls nationwide.
The European Union, which has one of the most established competition law frameworks, states that part of its competition law objectives is to ensure the “best possible products at the best possible prices for consumers”.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) issued a warning that continuous heavy rain is expected in Pahang, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu until Jan 30.
Tunku Mahkota Johor (TMJ) thinks the RM700 mil cost of reconstructing the Shah Alam Stadium is severely understated. TMJ was quoted saying that it will cost at least RM2 bil because it has high-tech features. Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari announced that RM787mil had been allocated to build the new stadium, which completion expected in 2026. Watch the conceptual design of the stadium shared by Mentri Besar Inc below.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Global appeal to Sri Lanka’s lenders to forgive its debt
More than 180 prominent economists and development experts worldwide have issued a statement to appeal to all Sri Lanka’s financial lenders to forgive the nation’s external debt, estimated at more than USD52 bil by the World Bank. Nearly 40% of it is owed to private creditors and the balance is owed to bilateral creditors, where China (52%), Japan (19%) and India (12%) are the largest lenders.
WA Wijewardene, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, shot down this idea, arguing that it might lead to the collapse of the current global financial system and it would not benefit the people but “the corrupt, despot” leaders as cancelling debts means they can continue borrowing and exploit it for private gains. Instead, he called for accountability, as the money borrowed has been wasted or appropriated by rulers.
The statement was put together by the “Debt Justice” campaign group, a global movement to “end unjust debt and the poverty and inequality it perpetuates”.
Read: Statement by academics on dealing with Sri Lankan debt.
Generative AI: The Good, The Bad
Generative AI is the fast-emerging field of algorithms (i.e. ChatGPT) that can be used to create new content such as text, images, audio, and video (i.e. deepfakes)
Digital publisher BuzzFeed announced in an internal memo that it would rely on OpenAI’s ChatGPT to enhance its quizzes and personalise content for its audiences, sending its share price up by as much as 157% but remains down by over 75% since the company went public in 2021. In response to employees’ concerns about whether the AI technology would lead to workforce reduction, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said the tool is an opportunity to make full-time employees more efficient and creative, not a workforce reduction strategy.
Stability AI, the London startup behind Stable Diffusion (check it out here), an AI tool to create an image based on text entered by users, is facing two separate lawsuits — one by a group of artists and another by stock image giant Getty Images — over its methods of material sourcing to train its AI. For Stable Diffusion to work, the AI scrapes data all over the internet to train the AI raising disputes over using copyrighted content by the artists and Getty Images without a contractual agreement. Considering that AI relies on a big data set to work, the outcome of these lawsuits would set a precedent for Generative AI.
Hindenburg Research vs Adani Empire - Updates
Seven listed companies of Adani Group have lost a combined USD48 bil in market capitalisation since Hindenburg Research released a critical investigative report that took two years to complete on the group’s financial dealings. Gautam Adani, ranked the third richest person in the world before the report was released, is now ranked seventh after having nearly USD23 bil of his fortune wiped out.
The report was released right before a USD2.5 bil share sale by the conglomerate but seemed to have no impact - the raise is still on schedule at the planned issue price. Adani Group said it is considering legal action against Hindenburg, which Hindenburg gladly welcomed as it will give them access to documents. According to bondholders in a conference call with Adani executives, the company said it has prepared a detailed response of more than 100 pages to rebut Hindenburg’s claims. No release date was given as the group is seeking legal advice on when to release it.
Fintech giant Stripe sets deadline for IPO or private-market transaction in 12 months
Payment processing startup Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison (both brothers) informed employees that the company has set a goal to take the company public in the next 12 months or allow employees to sell their shares in a private-market transaction. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase have been hired as advisors on both options.
The company is reportedly raising at least USD2 bil at a USD55 - 60 bil valuation, down from its USD95 bil valuation two years ago. Investors it approached included Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The new funds raised would not be used towards growing the company but to cover a sizeable annual tax bill related to employee stock units. In 2021, Forbes reported the company generated gross revenue of USD12 bil and was EBITDA profitable.
Toyota Motor Corp CEO Akio Toyoda, 66, grandson of the carmaker’s founder, will step down as CEO and be replaced by Koji Sato, 53, the current head of Lexus and Toyota chief branding officer, effective 1 April.
Whilst tech companies are laying off workers left and right, aeroplane makers are set to hire more in 2023. US aeroplane maker Boeing expects to hire 10,000 workers as it recovers from the pandemic and increases jetliner production and its European rival Airbus plans to add 13,000 workers this year.
The Philippines is facing a severe shortage of onions due to a spate of bad weather, so much so that a kg of it is going for 600 pesos (USD11), nearly triple the price of chicken of USD4 per kg. It’s so expensive now, being considered a luxury good, that people are smuggling it into the country - even airline crew members were caught smuggling it and a bride was clutching a bouquet of onions on her wedding day in a viral image.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
TIL how to fold t-shirts, boxers, dresses, jeans, and hoodies in the most efficient manner, with the end result looking like a pro.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern will be stepping down soon, no later than 7 Feb. What’s next for her? Who knows, maybe back to DJ-ing. She was an amateur DJ during her early days. Watch her dropping some beats here.
Thought of paying above market rate to get talent in your organisation? The team at MrMoney share their thoughts.