☕️ Transportation upgrades: Debit, credit cards can be used at public transportation soon, no more toll gates by 2025
Environmental watchdog - forest the size of 3 states combined will be cleared in the future. Sapura Energy found its white knight with RM1.8 bil to the rescue. Conspiracy theory - Putin's body-double.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
70,948 accident cases were reported to Social Security Organisation (Socso) from 1 Jan - 31 Dec 2022. Road accidents recorded the highest number of cases - 32,440 or 45.7%. Road accidents disproportionately accounted for 70%, or 651 fatal cases, of the total 929 that were reported last year.
The girl and twins children of Malaysian Shakina Rajendran and her Canadian husband are holders of 2 Guinness World records for the world’s most premature and lightest twins ever to be born. The twins celebrated their first birthday on 4 Mar 2023, defying the odds to survive. The twins, born on 4 Mar 2022, were born 126 days or over four months early and weighed a combined 750g. The previous record holder was 125 days held by twins from the US, born on 14 Nov 2018.
USD45,000 (RM201.9k) - the price fetched at an auction for the gloves worn by Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano “Dibu” Martinez in the penalty shootout with France in the finals of the 2022 Qatar World Cup - Argentina won by 4-2. The proceeds will go towards a children’s cancer hospital in Argentina.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Good news for all public transport and tolled highway users
No more Touch ‘n Go monopoly - Transport Minister Anthony Loke stated that the days of the Touch ‘n Go (TNG) monopoly on public transportation’s payment system may be over as he already instructed public transportation agencies to integrate an open payment system where debit and credit cards could be used for fare payments. However, no definitive timeline was given for the implementation. As for highways, Loke said it’s for the highway operators to decide.
This announcement comes after an audience asked PM Anwar about TNG’s monopoly during the Temu Anwar event over the weekend. This is the equivalent of the government moving at the speed of light.
No more toll gates beginning 2025 - Deputy Works Minister Abdul Rahman Mohamad told the Parliament that his ministry will implement the multi-lane free-flow (MLFF) toll system in 2025. However, before that can happen, his ministry will adopt an open payment system on all tolled highways in the near future. So with toll gates starting to be removed from the picture slowly, we can say goodbye to possessed pinball-like toll gates - watch below, even funnier with sound on.
Hannah Yeoh calls for a stop to political attacks
Youth & Sports Minister Hanna Yeoh told the press that she would cooperate with the police about the investigations conducted into matters related to the cancelled ‘Jom Ziarah Gereja’ program run by an agency linked to her ministry. Previously, Bersatu’s Badrul Hisham Shaharin accused the ‘Jom Ziarah Gereja’ program of trying to sway the faith of Muslims. Consequently, Yeoh lodged a police report regarding the accusation, and Badrul also filed a counter-police report three days later.
Former MP Kashturi Patto asked Tun Dr Mahathir to look at himself in the mirror before calling others dictators
Former DAP MP Kasthuri Patto stated that the former PM Mahathir Mohamad has no moral authority to call PM Anwar Ibrahim a dictator as Mahathir himself was the orchestrator for an infamous operation to curb dissent called Operasi Lalang. Operasi Lalang was an operation initiated by using the now-defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1987 to so-called defuse racial tension. However, it was believed that the operation was conducted to remove Mahathir’s political opponents, which led to more than 100 individuals being arrested without trial, including Kasthuri’s father, P Patto.
The impact of Operasi Lalang can be felt until today when the country that used to be known as the bastion of civil liberties in the region now has its liberties restricted as media publications started to self-censor their contents over fears of displeasing the Government since the events of Operasi Lalang.
Future deforestation area is larger than the size of three states combined
Environmental watchdog RimbaWatch is calling the S.O.S. as its analysis conducted using data collected from desktop research found that 2.34 mil hectares of forests will be cleared in the future, a land area larger than Perak, Penang and Malacca combined. This future deforestation will lead to the total forest cover area falling below the 50% mark of the country’s total land area, below Putrajaya’s commitment to maintaining a minimum of 50%.
Airport news flying here and there
Acknowledge, acceptance and solution - perhaps that is the mantra practised by Transport Minister Anthony Loke as he admitted that the country’s gateway, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) has passed its glory days and is now a shadow of its former self. Loke wants KLIA to be in the Top 10 in Skytrax’s World’s Top 100 Airports sometime in the future, and everyone need to work hard to achieve this ambitious target. KLIA currently sits in the 67th position.
In a separate event, Transport Minister Anthony Loke told the Parliament that the National Airport Strategic Plan (NASP) study on the proposed Kulim International Airport (KXP) has not been finalised and his ministry has yet to receive any application related to the project. So, it is a non-issue related to the allegation that the Government had cancelled the project in favour of upgrading the Subang and Penang airports.
Sapura Energy’s white knight is here with RM1.8 bil to the rescue
According to The Edge, Sapura Energy Bhd has found its white knight to save the company from its financial problems. Court documents did not name the white knight, but it is believed to be an oil & gas company from the Middle East and is rumoured willing to inject up to RM1.8bil of capital injection into the company. With the backing of the white knight, Sapura Energy has filed a new proposal to its nine lenders to restructure RM10.3bil in the form of multi-currency financing (MCF) facilities. The RM1.8bil capital injection will be taken up by the Sapura Group via a subscription of redeemable convertible loan stock.
Honda Malaysia will be launching four new models in the Malaysian market this year - three new models and one facelift model - including the unveiling of Honda’s first small sport utility vehicle (SUV). The small SUV is believed to be the 1.5L Honda WR-V, a direct competitor of Perodua Ativa and the replacement for the outgoing seven-seater Honda BR-V. Check out the cars at Paultan.org.
Once again, law enforcers promoting moral hazard. The police are offering an unnecessary 60% discount on all summons, excluding those involving traffic lights, emergency lane, double line overtaking, dangerous overtaking, accidents, non-compoundable (NC), court cases, exhaust modification, those involving heavy vehicles/lorries and Op Selamat tickets. The payment of the summons can be made at police counters or via the MyBayar Saman app. Enforcing the law properly to collect all outstanding summons is a dead simple way to increase revenue - a simple logic that needs to be grasped by them.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Thailand dissolves Parliament, election expected in May
Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has endorsed a decree to dissolve parliament, paving the way for elections that must be held 45 to 60 days after the dissolution of Parliament. Deputy PM Wissanu Kreangam said the election would likely be held on 14 May.
This would be the second election since the 2014 military coup. The battle for Parliament will be a classic fight between the billionaire Sinawatra family and the country’s conservative pro-military establishment. Paetongtarn Sinawatra, the daughter of former Thai PM Thaksin, is the frontrunner to be PM, leading the poll by 38.2%. Current PM Prayut Chan-ocha, who has been in power since the 2014 coup, is in third place with 15.65%.
The surprise visit of ‘Putin’ to the frontline of war
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a tour of occupied areas in Ukraine, stopping in Crimea and Mariupol. His tour came two days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest for war crimes. An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has criticised the move, describing it as a murderer returning to the crime scene. But did ‘Putin’ actually visit these regions?
Ukraine’s head of military intelligence suggested the Russian president was using a body-double. What gives? One’s height and especially ears. The use of ears as forensic evidence has been practised for decades. In the era of algorithms, Wired reported that ears identified by software could be a more unique identifier than fingerprints. According to BBC, advances in 3D scanning tech can identify someone from a fuzzy picture of one’s ear with 99.6% accuracy in just 0.02 milliseconds. A Twitter user speculated that Putin’s body-double went to Ukraine by analysing the specific curves of his ear.
The use of body-double as political decoys isn’t too wild a conspiracy as Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Queen Elizabeth and Melania Trump allegedly used decoys during their time in leadership. In fact, there is a documentary (watch here) of Queen Elizabeth II’s body-double (not in the truest sense) that stood in for her on various occasions.
Credit Suisse bailout - the losers
The bailout engineered by Swiss financial regulators failed to restore sustained confidence in the market. Shares in European banks got hammered on Monday. Credit Suisse saw its share price collapse by over 63% — below the deal price — whilst UBS’ shares were down 12.9%. Banks getting hammered was a common scene around the world in the Asian markets too.
Saudi National Bank, Credit Suisse’s largest shareholder with a 9.9% stake, said it lost 80% or about USD1 bil on its investment in the Swiss bank. This was a really fast destruction in value as it invested USD1.5 bil in the 167-year-old bank back in November last year. SNB said the impact of this loss is minimal as it constitutes just 0.5% of SNB’s total assets and 1.7% of its investment portfolio.
The ones taking the biggest hit are the CoCo (contingent convertible bonds) investors, with USD17.3 bil to be wiped out. CoCos are the lowest rung of the bank’s and will be the first to feel the pain of a failure. What’s infuriating for these investors is shareholders are expected to receive three bil francs from the bailout when bondholders of any sort are more senior than shareholders.
The outlook is more upbeat for Shopee parent company Sea Ltd - founder and CEO Forrest Li sent an internal memo to staff that its recently reported first-ever quarterly net profit marks a turning point for the company and the worst is over, “assuming there is no major shift in our external environment”. This comes after mass layoffs, the salary freeze and sales and marketing expenses getting slashed.
China literally struck gold as it discovered a huge gold deposit in a rural city in China’s Shandong province, with a reserve of nearly 50 tonnes and said the ores are easy to mine and dress. Shandong province is rich in gold resources and has been producing large gold production more than any other province in the past four decades. At current market prices, 1 tonne of gold is worth USD56.19 mil - the deposit discovered as such is worth roughly USD2.81 bil.
A walk down memory lane — 20 Mar 2023 marks the twentieth anniversary of the US and allied forces invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime on the grounds of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). After 461,000 deaths and USD3 tril spent, no WMD was found. Read here for a quick recap of the US invasion of Iraq.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Anwar: The Untold Story, a biopic of PMX will be out in cinemas this coming 11 May. The movie said to be 12 years in the making by its producer, is a collaboration between Indonesia’s Bianglala Entertainment and Malaysia’s Rakyat Media Sdn Bhd.
How a train scene is shot. Wait until the end to see the results.
Our latest thread talks about the business of Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, Southeast Asia’s largest helicopter service operator owned by one of Malaysia’s richest men, Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim.