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☕️ Tobacco, vape lobbyist is the reason for the removal of GEG

Less than 40% halal-certified companies are bumi-owned. ~RM500 mil dividends paid by 99 Speedmart in FY23. TikTon ban one step closer in the US. Major automakers scaling back on EV plans.


Information as of 0715 UTC+8 on Mar 15, 2024


A counter-intuitive fact — Dr Ameer Ali Mydin, managing director of Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd and president of the Bumiputra Retailers Association, highlighted that out of the 9,162 halal-certified companies in 2023, only 38.7%, or 3,562, are owned by Bumiputras. Ameer identified that one of the main barriers for Bumiputra small business owners to obtain halal certification is that their operations are conducted in premises, such as at the back of their houses, that do not meet the requirements for halal certification. To address this issue, he proposed the creation of a tiered system and a green lane to facilitate more Bumiputra companies in obtaining halal certification.

The Dutch government has spent over EUR166 mil (RM852 mil) addressing the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. This includes activities such as identifying and repatriating victims’ bodies (RM159.11 mil) and investigating and prosecuting those involved. The Boeing 777 was shot down on July 17, 2014, by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by separatist rebels.

Reading IPO prospectus can unearth interesting information. In the financial year 2023, Malaysia’s largest FMCG retailer 99 Speedmart declared RM490.5 mil to its shareholders, consisting of a grand total of 2 people. In the last four years, these shareholders have taken home a staggering RM1.31 bil in dividends (it’s tax-free!). In fact, the company plans to declare a further RM100 mil dividends by H1 FY2024 in respect to the financial year 2024. This begs the question — why list (and deal with uncle auntie shareholders) when its own internal funds, which were declared out as dividends, could fund its expansion?

An additional RM150 mil for FY2023 was declared after the financial period of 30 Sep 2023. Source: 99 Speed Mart draft prospectus (page 212)


Tobacco, vape lobbyist is the reason why for the removal of the GEG
Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni told the Parliament that the tobacco and vape industry lobbyists were the main reason the Government dropped the generational endgame provision (GEG) from the law to control smoking. Surprise, surprise — money makes the world go round. Lukanisman revealed that the lobbyists came to the Parliament and met with MPs to sway the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health 2023 Bill’s debates towards their favour. The dropped GEG provision was a means to create a smoke-free future generation. Within the provision, those born after 2007 are prohibited from ever purchasing smoking products.

Lukanisman also mentioned an interesting but worrying fact to the Parliament. According to the Health Ministry, he told that the prevalence of vaping among women increased by 6.2% in 2022 from 2.8%, a prevalence of 2.8% in 2017. It gets confusing here - the deputy minister mentioned ‘increased by’, which wouldn’t sound too alarming. But if it was an increase ‘to’, then we all should start worrying.

MACC investigation now has crossed into our neighbouring state across the strait
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed that a prominent Singaporean businessman had been summoned to assist in an ongoing investigation against a high-profile Malaysian. Although MACC kept its lips shut on naming the person involved, but according to Channel News Asia (CNA), the said Singaporean is 83-year-old Akbar Khan, allegedly a close associate of Daim Zainuddin. It was said that Akbar’s personal and business accounts were frozen, and MACC demanded that he declare his assets and his family’s financial holdings. As per CNA, MACC is using the complex nature of Akbar’s acquisition of Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd in 1999 as the basis of the investigation into the Singaporean.

The death sentence for the six involved in the murder of Kevin Morais stands
The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court to impose the death penalty towards six individuals for murdering deputy public prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais in 2015. The six individuals were former pathologist Colonel Dr R Kunaseegaran, 61; moneylender, S Ravi Chandran, 53; and four unemployed individuals, R Dinishwaran, 32; A K Thinesh Kumar, 31; M Vishwanath, 34; and S Nimalan, 31. The story of the deceased Kevin Morais was a sad one. Kevin Morais was last seen alive nine years ago, leaving a condominium and driving a Proton Perdana to his office in Putrajaya. Unfortunately, he was later found dead in a cement-filled drum in Subang Jaya. Morais was investigating financial irregularities at 1MDB when he was still alive.

Leasing model for public transportation?
Transport Minister Anthony Loke told Dewan Rakyat that the Government is considering adopting the leasing model for products and assets for transportation services, especially railway assets. By using the leasing model, the lessor will also be responsible for the maintenance of the assets and Putrajaya will no longer have to focus on buying new assets, which are very capital-intensive. This was in response to Khairil Nizam Khirudin’s (PN-Jerantut) supplementary question regarding the maintenance of trains during the festive season, estimated to cost approximately RM250 mil to avoid technical problems.

Leasing transportation assets is not new; it is a common practice, especially in the airline industry. According to the Centre for Aviation Fleet, 53% of commercial aircraft globally are leased.

The passing of Jaya Grocer founder
A tribute published here is dedicated to the late Teng Yew Huat, the founder of Jaya Grocer (acquired by Grab reportedly for between RM1.5 bil - RM1.8 bil), who passed away in late February. After cashing out from Teng Minimarket Centre (TMC) and Giant Hypermarket in 1999, Teng did not stop revolutionising the retail scene. His Jaya Grocer venture, which he founded in 2007, is a game-changer, proving that convenience and diverse selection can be a better unique selling proposition (USP) to the market compared to low prices. His way of doing business has earned the respect of suppliers and kept hundreds of staff around who have been working for Teng for decades.


  1. The Kuala Lumpur High Court has ordered Putrajaya to pay RM231.5 mil, non-inclusive of legal costs, to Prestariang Skin Sdn Bhd (PSKIN), a unit of Awanbiru Technology Bhd (Awantec), for the unilateral termination of the Sistem Kawalan Imigresen Nasional (SKIN) project in 2019. Previously, Awantec secured the RM3.5 bil, a 15-year concession to execute the SKIN project in 2017. However, the Tun Dr Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government terminated the agreement in 2019 due to cost-saving reasons. PSKIN filed a legal claim for RM732 mil against the government due to their unilateral termination of the SKIN project in April 2019.

  2. The RM1.5 bil Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project has been tendered out. The expansion project will see PIA nearly double its annual handling capacity from 6.5 mil passengers per annum (MPPA) now to 12 MPPA, equalling Kota Kinabalu International Airport’s (KKIA) capacity. Currently, the airport's terminal can accommodate 16 commercial aircraft. With the proposed expansion, PIA will be able to park 28 planes simultaneously, with an additional six parking bays and six remote parking bays. The expansion will double the terminal's gross floor area to 115,000 sq m from 55,000 sq m, according to Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).


TikTon ban one step closer in the US
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to effectively ban Chinese-owned TikTok in the US. Though the bill is commonly referred to as the TikTok “ban”, the law doesn’t entirely outlaw the app in the country, but instead it gives any company owned by a “foreign adversary”  180 days to divest or sell to a US-based company to continue operating. The bill is not guaranteed to go through as it requires approval by the Senate.

The US has argued the app that is owned by China’s ByteDance could allow the Chinese government to access user data and influence Americans through the platform’s wildly effective and addictive algorithm. Russia pulled off the same move using Facebook to meddle in the 2016 US elections and the upcoming one later this year must have raised concern over the repeat of history. TikTok has 170 mil users in the US, or about half of its 331.9 mil population. Attempts to ban TIkTok started during Trump’s administration but didn’t materialise. In 2022, TikTok launched Project Texas, a USD1.5 bil investment to quell concerns about Chinese interference and data security by storing US user data in the US. Looks like USD1.5 bil went down the drain as it did little to appease the US government.

Meanwhile, in Italy, regulators have fined TikTok EUR10 mil (USD10.94 mil) for not adequately checking content on its platform which could be harmful towards young and vulnerable users. 

UN’s urgent call for USD852.4 mil donation for Rohingya refugees
The UN has appealed for USD852.4 mil in donations to provide food and aid to the mostly Muslim Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh. The world’s largest refugee camp, Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, is inhabited by nearly one mil Rohingya refugees who fled from ethnic and religious persecution in neighbouring Myanmar since the 2017 military crackdown. 

95% of Rohingya people in Bangladesh rely on humanitarian assistance, of which 75% of the recipients are women and children. More than half the refugees in the camp are under 18, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), lacking opportunities for education, skill-building and livelihoods. If last year’s donation is any indication, the UN is unlikely to hit its target. The UN made a similar appeal last year to provide USD876 mil, but only about half or USD440 mil was provided.
View: Inside the world’s five largest refugee camps

Pros and cons of AR/VR: Apple’s Vision Pro used to help perform surgery surgeries, while Meta VR headset users declared vulnerable to being trapped in fake environment
As with all technologies, Virtual Reality, has shown it can be used for both good and evil. The good was shown when a UK surgical team used Apple’s Vision Pro headset to help in two microsurgical spine procedures. The headsets were also used to practice surgeries. However, a potentially major security vulnerability has been discovered in Meta’s VR headsets, where malicious actors can initiate an “inception attack”, where the attacker controls and manipulates the user’s interaction with their VR environment. This comes at a time when Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to throw shade at Apple’s Vision Pro, its primary competitor in the VR headset space. Inception, like the 2010 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio? Wait, that movie is 14 years old?!


  1. South Africa to arrest citizens who fight for Israel’s military
    The country’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor announced that it would arrest citizens who fought alongside the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) when they return home. She announced this at a Palestinian solidarity event attended by officials from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party. Back in December, the government was concerned that some of its citizens or permanent citizens had joined IDF to fight in Gaza. Having gone through apartheid, South Africa is leading the fight against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

  2. Judge rules against the man who claims to be Bitcoin’s creator
    A London court overseeing a legal battle about who invented Bitcoin has ruled that it is not Australian computer scientist Craig Wright. Justice Mellor made the ruling as soon as the proceedings had concluded, saying that he was able to reach a decision so quickly because the “evidence was overwhelming”. Dr Wright has claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto (the Bitcoin creator) since 2016 but his claims and evidence have long been questioned. 
    Learn: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Weekend read: EV euphoria is dead. Automakers are scaling back or delaying their electric vehicle plans
Is the EV buzz wearing off? Major automakers like Ford Motor, General Motors to Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin are scaling back or delaying their electric vehicle ambitions. Even EV leader Tesla is bracing for what “may be notably lower” rate of growth, according to CEO Elon Musk. Yesterday, EV startup Fisker has hired restructuring advisers to assist with a possible bankruptcy filing. When most of the big boys are pulling back, Malaysia is pushing ahead with its EV plans. Are we late to the party?


  1. PM Anwar Ibrahim took the opportunity during a dialogue session with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to speak out against the atrocities in the Palestine-Israel conflict.

  1. Some fun facts about the late Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball, who passed away last week. Another example of perseverance - he nearly quit writing manga. The entertainment world would have been a different place had he quit.