Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ UMNO prevented from being deregistered as Home Minister exercises ministerial power allowed under Societies Act
LGE: Tun M threatened thrice to fire the former finance minister. Whilst MY implements 5G, SG starts developing 6G blueprint. The story of one Hitler family member joining US to fight Adolf Hitler.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
Investing in gold thinking it’s pure? Think twice - Australia’s only producer of gold bullion, Perth Mint, may have minted almost AUD9 bil (RM26.6 bil) of substandard bars, diluted with other metals (this is called “doping”), and kept the discovery quiet. Perth Mint is owned by the Western Australian government and is the only mint globally with a government guarantee.
A better option to gold — Bitcoin, the digital gold. Bitcoin is better at being gold than gold itself. Before writing this off immediately, read this Bitcoin vs Gold analysis by Vijay Boyapati, who was once a gold bug.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Are you ready for RM3.22/litre of RON95 in Malaysia? Without government subsidies, that’s the price of RON95 — which is a 57% premium over what we’re currently paying. Imagine if you spend RM100 per week on petrol, you’d be required to pay RM157 per week if the government decides to remove the subsidy.
6th — Singapore’s ranking for luxury home sales in 2022, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank. In its Wealth Report released last week, Singapore had 18 ultra-prime property sales valued at more than USD25 million (SGD33.6 million) each and 121 super-prime property sales valued at more than USD10 million each. London topped the chart with 43 ultra-prime and 223 super-prime transactions.
3,177 new HIV cases were reported in 2022 — most of these cases involved men aged between 20 and 39, according to Deputy Health Ministry Lukanisman Awang Sauni. As of 2022, there are a total of 69,589 individuals living with HIV in the country. The deputy minister cited a study by the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERIA), which showed that the usage of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medicine saved RM47mil in government coffers between 2006 to 2013 in HIV treatments.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Kudos to the PDRM team — two drug syndicates were busted!
Across five raids in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Seremban last Friday, drugs worth RM10.8 mil were seized by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and seven suspects were arrested — including one with the title of ‘Datuk’. 300kgs of syabu and two kg of Ecstasy pills were found in the seizure.
Up north in Kelantan, two separate raids in Pasir Mas and Kuala Krai led to the seizure of drugs worth RM28.6 mil. The General Operations Force (PGA) chanced upon a suspicious-looking vehicle in Kampung Pohon Buluh, Pasir Mas, with sacks containing small packets labelled as coffee but instead contained syabu. 495 kg of syabu were found. However, no arrests were made. On the other hand, in Kuala Krai, RM10.8 mil worth of syabu was found in courier bags at a rubber plantation.
The Home Ministry also seized something — sex toys — over 1,000 of them at a residence in Kota Warisan, Sepang. A 57-year-old man was nabbed and charged under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 — for eroding moral values — and Section 292(a) of the Penal Code — for distributing and selling obscene items. What about the distribution of Harakah Daily?
Read: Is it legal to buy sex toys in Malaysia - answers by AskLegal.my
Improving flood situation
The number of flood victims in three states fell to 42,459 as of yesterday evening.
39,315 people in Johor
2,538 people in Pahang
606 people in Melaka
Maybank and CIMB have agreed to offer its borrowers in flood-struck Johor a moratorium for six months, as announced by PM Anwar Ibrahim in the Dewan Rakyat today. Other banks have also been urged to follow in the footsteps of the nation’s two largest banks. Public Bank went a step further — offering loan and financing repayment relief for customers affected by the recent floods in several states in Malaysia.
Circus of politics
Former minister Khairy Jamaluddin (KJ) gave the Unity Government a B minus for its performance over the past 100 days. KJ thinks the government’s long-term policies are still unclear, and there are many gaps.
Batu MP P Prabakaran thanked bossku. Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak was called to testify in deputy federal territories minister Edmund Santhara’s defamation suit against Prabakaran. The civil action is over statements made by Prabakaran in 2021 in relation to Santhara’s 55-day leave to visit the latter’s family in New Zealand during the MCO days. Najib was brought to the civil court to be a witness for defendant Prabakaran. Najib said it was not morally right to go on the long leave, particularly during MCO. Morally right, haha.
Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail invoked Section 70 of the Societies Act to prevent UMNO from being deregistered over its upcoming polls. UMNO barred contests for the party’s presidency and deputy presidency — which is against the party’s constitution. Section 70 of the Act allows the home minister to exempt compliance with any section of the Societies Act - that’s quite an arbitrary power. A PKR MP saving UMNO, which by virtue, saves the Unity Government.
Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng said former PM Mahathir Mohamad threatened to fire him thrice. Lim said it was because he defied Mahathir on three matters:
The annual allocation of RM3.8 million for government MPs;
The review of government contracts awarded without an open tender; and
The 18% reduction in toll charges for the North-South Expressway.
Ipoh Timor MP Howard Lee was caught in an internet sh*tstorm after his interview with health news portal CodeBlue. Netizens called the MP arrogant and condemned Lee’s condescending tone during the 2-minute clip.
East Malaysians can enjoy fixed-fare flights by AirAsia between West Malaysian and East Malaysia for the upcoming Raya season. The tickets cost between RM199 (Sarawak) and RM249 (Sabah). The travel period is between April 19-21 and April 28-30. A total of 11,400 seats is on offer for the special fare, as announced by Bo Lingam, the group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group. Transport Minister Anthony Loke said an additional 62 flights will be scheduled for the 11 domestic routes during the Raya period.
Catcha Digital Bhd has completed its acquisition of iMedia Asia Sdn Bhd for RM43.92mil in cash and shares. The group expects to have its Guidance Note 2 (GN2) status lifted after completing the final step in its regularisation plan, which involves a proposed rights issue to raise up to RM41.04mil. What is a GN2 company? Unlike PN17, GN2 is a slightly more positive situation. It is the classification for a cash company, in which its assets consist of 70% or more of cash and short-term investments, or a combination of both.
The Sulu sultan’s heirs failed in their attempt to enforce a seizure order on three Paris properties owned by the Malaysian government. The bailiffs tried to assess the properties on Monday following a court-issued seizure order in December, but Malaysian officials at the Paris embassy turned them away. Malaysia maintains the process was illegal and has obtained a stay on the ruling in France.
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has an audacious goal by the end of 2027 — employing 100% local workers with a minimum wage of RM3,000. The plantation company’s workforce currently comprises 60% foreign workers and 40% local.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
A heartbreaking, sad world for migrants and Afghan women:
Mexican authorities have found 343 migrants and refugees, including 103 unaccompanied minors, in an abandoned freight truck container on the side of the highway en route to the US borders. It is unclear why the driver fled. Fortunately, the people were in good health. Most of the children were from Guatemala - migrants who made it to the US usually paid smugglers to send the children afterwards. As for the adults, they were mainly from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador.
An incident in June last year saw more than 50 dead after being abandoned in a scorching hot trailer in San Antonio, Texas.
Stripped of their rights to education and employment, divorced Afghan women now have been stripped of their rights to divorce. The Taliban government have annulled divorces, forcing these women back to former husbands who were abusive. Not only the women are victims, but their children as well. The women that remarried are suddenly on the run, at risk of imprisonment for adultery. One was even abandoned by her second husband, fearing that he could be charged with adultery.
Human capital - a coffee chain increases wages, a tech giant plans another mass layoff
Costa Coffee, a coffee chain owned by the Coca-Cola Company, unveiled plans to hike salaries for more than 16,000 UK workers effective Apr 1. It will raise the base rate for workers across its 1,520 company-owned stores in the UK from GBP10 (RM53.63) to GBP10.70 (RM57.37) an hour. Wages will increase on an average of 6.7% across the board. This move comes ahead of a 9.7% increase in the national living wage (take note - not minimum wage, but living wage) to GBP10.42 (RM55.85) an hour - the min amount the law states that companies are allowed to pay people over 23.
Coke acquired Costa Coffee from Whitbread in 2018 for GBP3.9 bil (RM20.91 bil).
Facebook parent Meta could go on another round of mass layoffs involving thousands of staff ahead of CEO Mark Zuckergberg’s paternity leave as he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are expecting their third child. 4 months ago, Meta laid off more than 11,000 staff or about 13% of its workforce. Zuckerberg declared 2023 a “Year of Efficiency”, as he wants to make the company a “stronger and more nimble organisation”.
Singapore developing 6G national blueprint, targeted 2030 rollout
Whilst Digital Nasional Bhd bungled over getting its population coverage numbers right, Singapore is putting together a national blueprint that outlines plans for 6G mobile and 10 Gbps home broadband networks to stay ahead in the global digital race. An advisory panel of 8 business and industry experts will shape the blueprint dubbed Digital Connectivity Blueprint, due to launch later in 2023. Singapore is amongst the first countries in the world to have rolled out 5G services nationwide in 2021 (yes, the country is small, easier to do a lot of things yada yada). In short, 6G can go up to 100x faster than 5G with significantly less transmission lag.
Singapore’s Minister of Communications and Informations Josephine Teo said, “few countries think this far ahead, much less organise themselves to realise such plans” in response to MPs’ questions on plans to upgrade Singapore’s connectivity. I can feel all the jabs from across the straits.
Read: What is 6G and why is it important?
The Kpop agency war continues — South Korea’s internet giant Kakao Corp, backed by Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund and Singapore’s GIC, has launched a tender offer to buy up to 35% stake in SM Entertainment to become the single largest shareholder. Hybe, the agency behind BTS, failed to get much support for its own SM tender offer. We summarised the corporate saga here last week.
Ride-hailing and food delivery giant Grab has prepaid USD600 mil (RM2.68 bil) in debt, 3 years ahead of its 2026 maturity, as it took advantage of excess cash on its balance sheet. Following this, it brought down its term loan to USD517 mil (RM2.31 bil) and has another USD200 mil (RM894.5 mil) in other bank loans. Part of this early redemption is also due to the increasing cost of capital with rising interest rates, according to its CFO, Peter Oey. In its earnings call in Feb, the company said it would bring forward its goal to break even in Q4 2023 from the second half of 2024.
View: Grab Q4 2022 earnings call presentation.
Adolf Hitler’s half-nephew William Hitler hated his uncle and the Nazi Party so much that he enlisted in the US Navy during WWII to fight the Nazi regime. However, he could only join after receiving special clearance from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the FBI director due to his familial ties. He even wrote an article published in a magazine titled “Why I Hate My Uncle” that received widespread attention and increased curiosity about him. In his later years, William changed his last name to Stuart-Houston.