Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Twitter user exposed dubious deal in KL Tower concessionaire transfer
Govt to announce several quick wins in Jan '23 to tackle cost of living issue. Diabetes cases so high that MY holds the title "Sweetest Nation in Asia". China govt announced more zero-Covid u-turns.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
1,000 Protons have been shipped to South Africa just 2 months after Proton made an official return to the market. The current range comprises X50 and X70, with Proton Saga to be added in 2023. However, export is still a small business for Proton, with only 5,028 units shipped abroad as of end-November. Pakistan takes the top spot with 2,610 units sold and Brunei takes the third spot.
The youngest solo artist to release an album is Nonoka Murakata — she was two years and 361 days old when she released her album ‘Nonochan Nisai Kodomouta’. - check out her songs on Spotify here. I was probably sucking on my pacifier at that age.
1.699 trillion yen (~RM56.94 bil) — the final bill for hosting the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Japanese taxpayers are not happy over the cost of Tokyo hosting the sporting event, as an official audit showed it is nearly 20% more than the organising committee claimed in an initial report issued in June. Organising mega sports events is never a good idea unless the host nation already has the infrastructure ready.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Dubious KL Tower concessionaire deal exposed on Twitter
On Christmas Day, a Twitter user with the username FreeMalaysian revealed the transfer of ownership of KL Tower Concession from Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) to a company named Hydroshoppe Sdn Bhd (HSB). You can read about the entire thread here. TLDR — The timely sale of the KL Tower concessionaire from TM to HSB happened right before GE15, the deal doesn’t make sense — why sell a cash cow? Pre-pandemic in 2019, KL Tower generated RM66 mil in revenue and RM25 mil in net profit, an insanely high 37.9% net profit margin. Lastly, HSB looks like a typical shell company.
The former minister in charge of communications, Annuar Musa, said he had nothing to do with the transfer of TM shares from Menara Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd — its subsidiary — to HSB. Musa said TM is a listed company, it does not need permission from the ministry to sell its shares.
Digital communications minister Fahmi Fadzil was quick to address the issue, saying he will meet with TM management on Jan 3, 2023, to be briefed on the deal.
Minimum wage enforcement extended by 6 months for companies with <5 employees
Employers with fewer than five employees are granted a second extension and will only need to start paying the new minimum wage of RM1,500 beginning July 1, 2023, instead of Jan 1, 2023. According to Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar, the decision was made after considering stakeholders’ views on various economic and financial challenges in 2023.
One minister is starting his term with flying colours — Anthony Loke
On Dec 23, Batik Air (formerly Malindo) delayed its flight to Kuching without any announcement or assistance from the airline’s staff. The passengers that were supposed to board the 11pm flight were left stranded at the gate until 6am.
In response to a tweet highlighting the incident, Anthony Loke instructed the airline to reach out to the affected passengers and apologise. Batik Air swiftly did so and will extend the passengers with special complimentary vouchers.
Tbh, it really isn’t a minister’s job to instruct airline companies to apologise for their operational lapses. But, since the airline gave no care to passengers’ grievances, someone has to keep them on their toes. Next up — refunds from the first letter of the alphabet — iykyk. Oh, we’re still waiting for the LRT malfunction report, which was due Dec 24, 2022.
Football fans can rejoice as Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will broadcast the 2022 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup matches until the final scheduled on Jan 16.
By January 2023, the rakyats should be able to see several quick wins to tackle the cost of living issue. The Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (KPDN) and the Ministry of Economy will work together on the issue and have agreed to create a joint secretariat. Mark your calendars.
There’s inflation, and there’s shrinkflation:
Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) doesn’t reflect the true harmonious state the country is in — eleven members of PBM who were previously suspended have now been sacked. They were sacked after failing to respond to the PBM disciplinary committee. Former Ampang MP Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin was one of them.
Glove manufacturers in Malaysia see a rally following a rise in Covid-19 cases in China. According to Reuters, China's National Health Commission had confirmed 393,067 cases with symptoms as of Dec 22. Top Glove Corp Bhd was the most actively traded counter yesterday, closing 12.8% higher.
Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) is definitely craving a pie of the banking business as it is evaluating a major potential acquisition involving a licensed entity governed by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). However, under the Financial Services Act 2013 (FSA), BCorp’s major shareholder Vincent Tan has to pare down his shareholding in BCorp in order to comply with Section 92 of the FSA. Vincent Tan has to reduce his stake to not more than 19.6% to facilitate the acquisition of a 51% stake in the licensed entity. He sold 400 mil shares on Dec 22 via direct business transaction. Subsequently, rubber glove tycoon Lim Kuang Sia of Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd emerged as a substantial shareholder of BCorp with a 7.16% stake.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Quarantine-free travel for international travellers to China
Effective 8 Jan 2023, international tourists to China will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival on the mainland but still need to show a negative test within the last 48 hours. Current policy requires five days of quarantine at a centralised facility, followed by three days at home. Other changes announced - authorities will stop tracking close contacts of Covid-19 patients, halt the designation of Covid risk areas and cancel Covid measures that had slowed the import of goods.
China’s abrupt u-turn on its zero-Covid policy is seeing an explosion of the virus infection. According to the government’s top health authority, as many as 248 mil people, or nearly 18% of its population, likely contracted the virus in the first 20 days of December, and almost 37 mil people may have been infected on a single day last week. Nearly 3 years of keeping the virus out has turned this outbreak into the world’s largest.
One industry in the economy is responding well to this outbreak - cemeteries operator and funeral services. Hong Kong-listed Fu Shou Yuan International Group, China’s biggest cemeteries operator, saw its share price hit a 2022 high last Friday – has surged 80% in the past two months.
South Korea: Convicted former president pardoned, adult sex dolls import ban lifted
South Korea’s former President Lee Myung-buk has received a presidential pardon as part of South Korea’s President Yoon Seok-yeol’s mass pardons around national holidays. Pardons have been issued to more than 1,300 people to foster “national unity through reconciliation, tolerance and consideration”. The 81-year-old Lee, who served as president between 2008 and 2013, was convicted of bribery and embezzlement in 2018 and was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Back in Augusts, Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong received a special presidential pardon after being imprisoned for bribing a former president. South Korea’s government justified the move on grounds of economic importance, saying the de-facto leader of the country’s biggest conglomerate was needed back at the company to spearhead economic recovery post-pandemic. The top 10 chaebols (giant, family-owned conglomerates in South Korea) dominate the nation’s economy, accounting for 80% of its GDP.
After years of debate, the government has lifted the import ban on adult-sized sex dolls, but child-like dolls resembling minors and resembling real people like celebrities are still prohibited. Although not illegal, Korea Customs Service blocked the import of such products under a law that restricts goods that are seen as harming South Korea’s traditions and public morals. This ban even reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the decision in 2019 that sex dolls are for personal use and fall under the same category as pornography, which is legal and tightly regulated.
Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal keeps haunting Meta
Facebook parent Meta has agreed to a USD725 mil settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal. It’s one of Facebook’s most controversial scandals as up to 87 mil of Facebook users’ data was funnelled through a survey app, with a view towards influencing voters’ behaviour in the 2016 US presidential election. Meta has faced many fines in the billions from various authorities over this scandal, and it is far from over, as Washington wants Mark Zuckerberg to be personally responsible. Netflix made a documentary on this scandal called ‘The Great Hack’ — watch trailer here.
Segue: Former employee of CA revealed that Barisan Nasional (BN) had allegedly engaged with CA to regain 13 seats for GE14 (2018). However, BN denied said allegations.
Read: Everything you need to know about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Taiwan announced that it will be extending its mandatory military service from 4 months to 1 year, citing the increasing threat from its hostile neighbour, China. This will come into effect from 2024 and apply to men born after 1 Jan 2005. Israel and North Korea are the only 2 countries that mandate military service for both men and women.
To fight diabetes, Singapore is tightening regulations on displaying the sugar content of beverages at retailers. Effective 30 Dec, beverages will be ranked by its sugar content and those highest in sugar will be banned from placing ads. 14.9% of Singaporeans suffer from diabetes. Malaysia is not doing too great on this front - our prevalence rate stood at 18.9% in 2019, giving Malaysia the title “Sweetest Nation in Asia”. This isn’t something we want to beat Singapore at.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 👁👁
Even PMX made it into India’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - as a question. The show is hosted by legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan. The contestant answered correctly and won 640,000 rupees (RM34,180).
This isn’t Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. This is a real-world phenomenon, rare wave cloud formation is called a fluctus cloud in layman's terms. In scientific terms, it is called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability.