☕️ The only King in nation's history to reigned over 4 PMs & 4 different cabinets - YDPA Sultan Abdullah
Merdeka Centre: PMX approval rating at 68%. BNM: About a third of Malaysian feel their debts are a burden. President Marcos: Philippines to be dragged into potential China-Taiwan war.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
RM2 bil — revenue from road tax per annum collected by the Road Transport Department, comprising half of its total revenue of RM4 bil as shared by Transport Minister Anthony Loke. Given such a contribution, the government won’t do away with road tax, as the minister responded to calls to eliminate road tax instead of the physical sticker.
HKD25.2 mil (RM14 mil) — the proceeds from the largest single-owner handbag sale in Asia’s auction market involving 77 bags. The sale by Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau saw 76 Hermes bags and 1 Chanel bag put up for sale at auction by Sotheby’s. According to the tycoon’s representative, Lau has bought more than 1,500 Hermes bags as gifts and his family still owns more than 1,000 (Rosmah’s dream). Tycoon once bought his daughter a 12-carat blue diamond for 48.6 mil Swiss francs (RM229.7 mil).
USD221 bil (RM963.6 bil) in monster profits raked in by the 7 US and European oil and gas giants, amongst the top 10 world’s 10 biggest oil companies. Topping the list is Exxon Mobil with USD55.7 bil, followed by Shell (USD39.9 bil), TotalEnergies (USD36.2 bil), Chevron (USD35.5 bil), BP (USD27.7 bil), Marathon Petroleum Corp (USD14.5 bil) and Valero (USD11.5 bil).
“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits, and their habits decide their futures.”
- F.M. Alexander (1869 - 1955), Australian actor and author
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
The four-year political crisis could have been avoidable, says King
In the King’s speech during the opening of the Parliament session, which also marks his last parliamentary address, he stated that the years-long political crisis could have been avoided if no political manoeuvring happened that led to the resignation of the seventh prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir. The King also recounted his experience as he involuntarily got involved with appointing the eighth and ninth prime ministers, Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri, respectively. He said that MPs and politicians should put aside their differences and be open to the results of GE15 that led to the appointment of PM Anwar Ibrahim to lead a unity government. Sultan Abdullah also said he made history as the only King “who reigned with four PMs and four different cabinets”.
On another note — a survey conducted by the Merdeka Center states that PM Anwar Ibrahim received an approval rating of 68%, marginally higher than his previous four predecessors. Read the poll report here.
BN is throwing support left, right and centre:
UMNO Secretary-General Ahmad Maslan reiterates that the Malay-centric party will continue to support PM, Anwar Ibrahim, until the completion of the current term to maintain political stability in this country. The statement by Ahmad Maslan echoes the speech given by the King in Parliament.
In a move that will be seen as backstabbing for Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar, Barisan Nasional (BN) Secretary-General Zambry Abdul Kadir said that BN will be backing the current Sabah unity government that is led by Hajiji Noor as the chief minister. To rub salt in the wound, Yakub Khan will replace Bung Mokthar as BN’s representative in negotiations with the Sabah unity government.
About a third of Malaysian feel their debts are a burden
in a survey conducted by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the central bank found out that 30% of Malaysians feel that their debts are burdensome, where most of the debts are accumulated during their early working life and driven mainly by the fear of missing out (FOMO) on lifestyle — i.e. lifestyle inflation. Apart from FOMO, some debts arise from expenses such as accidents that could be managed affordably via insurance protection. However, in the same survey, one-third of respondents said that they were not interested in subscribing to an insurance protection plan. Read the report here.
Search & Rescue:
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has temporarily suspended the search and rescue (SAR) operation for a missing commando that is feared to be drowned off an island in the Malacca Strait. The 25-year-old soldier has been missing since last Tuesday during combat diving training. 22 marine and air assets with 510 rescue personnel have been deployed to assist in the SAR operation.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department has recovered the body of the second boy who drowned after playing in a drain at Jalan Ukay Perdana on Saturday. The body is found in a pile of rubbish in the drain.
Iris Corp Bhd shares tumble down
After Iris Corp Bhd announced on Friday that the company would sell an 80% stake in its wholly-owned subsidiary Iris Information Technology Systems Sdn Bhd (ITIS), the shares of the former fell by 14.81% on Monday. ITIS is the developer of the RM1.13bil National Integrated Immigration System (NIISe) that has been receiving the spotlight recently after the government announced that all immigration services and processes would be parked under NIISe. Tass Tech Technologies Sdn Bhd will purchase the 80% stake in ITIS for RM70mil cash.
Deal$, deal$, deal$:
RM1.4bil — the value of the contract secured by Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Bhd to supply wellhead platforms and subsea pipelines to Carigali-PTTEP Operating Company Bhd at the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area.
RM1bil — is the valuation indicated by UEM Group for the proposed sale of its Cement Industries of Malaysia Bhd, a cement maker company that the former took private and delisted from the bourse in 2008.
RM1bil — the targeted amount of investment that Langkawi Island will get this year, as per the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA). The forecasted investment figure includes the construction of highly-rated hotels, eco-tourism products and shopping malls. Last year, the island received RM1.8bil in investments, higher than its 2021 figure of RM1.2bil. With the economy on a path to recovery and mainland China opening up its borders, why a lower target than 2022?
RM173mil — the amount secured by Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd from Penang Development Corp to build a nine-storey office building and factory plus other supporting facilities in the Technoplex industrial area.
RM30mil — the value of Golden Scoop Sdn Bhd’s investment that AmBank Group is partly financing. Golden Scoop, the master franchisee and operator of Baskin-Robbins Malaysia and Singapore, will build a one-stop supply chain centre in Sepang that will consolidate the company’s storage, manufacturing and distribution functions.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Philippines to be dragged into China-Taiwan war if it happens
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said the country could be pulled into a possible conflict in the Taiwan Strait because of its proximity to the island. Marcos said his home province in the northern Philippines is just a 40-minute flight from the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung. Should a conflict erupts, the president said the welfare of 150,000 Filipinos in Taiwan would be the priority.
The Philippines is in a sensitive position - it is a close ally of the US and early this month, President Marcos granted the US additional four bases located in the northern Philippines, close to Taiwan. A China-Taiwan conflict would not just drag the Philippines but ASEAN as well - and that means Malaysia too.
News on stablecoin:
Crypto firm Paxos announced it will cease issuing the Binance USD (BUSD) stablecoin from 21 Feb following an enforcement action by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating investor protection laws. The SEC alleges that BUSD is unregistered security.
BUSD is basically USD issued on the blockchain, pegged to the dollar 1-to-1 and is now the world’s third-largest stablecoin behind Tether (more news on Tether next on its wildly profitable business) and USD Coin, with more than USD16 bil in circulation.
Tether, the largest stablecoin in the world, with more than USD68 bil in circulation, just published its latest consolidated reserves report by BDO Italia. It reported a net profit of USD700 mil in the quarter ending December, buoyed by interest rate hikes in the US. Like Paxos, Tether issues its version of stablecoin called USD Tether (USDT). iFinex, the company operating Tether, does not pay interest to holders of USDT.
Its business model is real simple and wildly profitable - it takes USD deposits, invests in liquid investments like US Treasuries (which is generally deemed safe and risk-free), and earns the interest on the USD68 bil but pays no interest, unlike banks.
Stablecoins might not sound like much to us, living in countries where property rights are well enforced, and inflation is somewhat tame. But to the billions of people living in oppressive and inflationary economies, stablecoins are a lifesaver for these people as it provides accessibility to USD beyond government control to protect their lifesaving.
Amazon CEO: ChatGPT is ‘exciting’, but Amazon has been working on similar tech for a long time
In an interview with the Financial Times, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said generative AI is an exciting area, but for a “large, deeply technical” company like Amazon, they have been working on it for a long time. Amazon’s foray into generative AI began eight years ago in 2014 with the launch of Alexa, its voice assistant. Its senior vice president for devices and services, David Limp, recognised ChatGPT as a “healthy competitor” to Alexa but highlighted ChatGPT’s lack of personality, memory and knowledge of current events that Alexa has.
Singapore’s largest bank DBS said it has USD976 mil exposure to the embattled Adani Group in the form of loans and has no exposure to its shares. CEO Piyush Gupta said the company has solid cashflows and isn’t concerned about the bank’s exposure to Adani Group as these cashflows are ringfenced.
Turkey-Syria death toll tops 35,000. An 11-year-old was rescued after being trapped for more than 160 hours, and another woman nearby was rescued after almost 175 hours. A heartwarming video here - a girl greeted her rescuers ‘assalamualaikum’ as she was being rescued.
Earnings season is here - earnings calendar of US companies this week.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
R&B star Rihanna performed live for the first time in 7 years during the Super Bowl halftime, and her costume revealed that she is pregnant for the second time, confirmed by her representative after the show concluded. Impressive performance, with her being pregnant and partly singing on a stage hanging in the air. The embedded video is blocked, so you can watch the performance directly on YouTube here.
Read: What is the Super Bowl?
In conjunction with the Super Bowl, several movie trailers were released:
. DC Comics’s The Flash
. Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3
. Fast X (aka Fast & Furious 10)
Our short, viral thread on Lee Thiam Wah, the founder of 99Speedmart