Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ UNGA's resolution overwhelmingly voted in favour for humanitarian truce between Israel-Hamas
Gaza in social disorder, thousands raided UN warehouses for food. Google reportedly paid USD26 bil to be default search engine in 2021. EV industry not as rosy as it seems.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
RM789.99 mil worth of contraband was seized between January and September this year. Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Department seized the contraband, drugs and other items from foiled smuggling attempts, resulting in 4,356 arrests. Various assets — such as armoured cars, the cavalry unit, helicopters and drones — were mobilised to uncover the smuggling operations at the country’s entry points.
A report from Funding Societies Malaysia has unveiled that 70% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Southeast Asia initiate their businesses with personal savings and contributions from 2 of the 3 Fs - family and friends. Only 23% of these SMEs rely on traditional bank funding, while the remaining 7% seek financing from alternative sources, such as fintech companies. This insight is derived from a survey of almost 1,000 SMEs in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The survey was conducted by Funding Societies. Get the report here.
Introducing USB-C to iPhone 15 is not enticing enough fans to upgrade their phones, especially in China. According to market tracker Counterpoint Research, the sales of Apple's latest flagship device, the iPhone 15, have dropped by 4.5% compared to the iPhone 14 during the first 17 days since its release. In China, Huawei outsold Apple overall, powered by the surprising debut of the Mate 60 Pro.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Malaysia 🤝 Palestine
Malaysians unsurprisingly have donated a lot for the Palestinians via the Humanitarian Trust Fund for the People of Palestine (AAKRP), amounting to RM23 mil, thanks to generous individuals and corporate companies. The first delivery of humanitarian aid from AAKRP will be done on November 3 via a special chartered flight to Al Arish International Airport in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The first shipment worth RM7 mil will presumably travel by land to Palestine via the Rafah border crossing. Previously, PM Anwar Ibrahim stated that RM81 mil had been pledged by various parties to the AAKRP, which is supervised by the Foreign Affairs Ministry. According to the ministry, about 29% or RM23 mil has been deposited.
After PM Anwar Ibrahim hosted 20,000 people at Axiata Arena for the ‘Malaysia Stands with Palestine’ rally last Tuesday, now it is PAS’ turn to milk the crisis. The “10K Solidarity with Palestine” rally organised by PAS on Saturday was attended by more than 5,000 people. The crowd gathered at the Asy-Syakirin Mosque near KLCC at around 2 p.m. before marching to the US embassy.
Palestine solidarity rallies occur not only in Malaysia but has become a global event. In London, up to 70,000 people marched on Saturday through the centre of the British capital to demand PM Rishi Sunak's call for a ceasefire. On the other hand, 100,000 people rallied for the Palestinian cause in the Indian state of Kerala despite the fact that India’s PM Narendra Modi was one of the first leaders to express support for Israel on October 7.
To no one’s surprise, the Ministry of Education’s call to organise the Palestine Solidarity Week has gone wrong. Some turned it into a cosplay event as videos of school children carrying replica guns went viral. The intention was to educate students on human rights and human values, but some educators had inadvertently turned it into an event that promoted violence and resentment.
Huge losses for the local and global creative industry as we lost two beautiful souls
Badrul Muhayat - Badrul, 55, died in his sleep last Saturday morning. The deceased actor passed away at a homestay in Penang when he was scheduled to make an appearance at the Karnival Uda at Jalan Baru Perai. Badrul burst into the creative scene by participating in the Hero Remaja competition in 1990. Among his filmography were Harry Boy, The Legend and Anaknya Sazali.
Matthew Perry, better known as Chandler, his screen name from the popular TV series ‘Friends’, died on Saturday from an apparent drowning. The actor, 54, was found dead in a jacuzzi at his Los Angeles home. Perry’s legacy will forever be enshrined in the memories of many. If you feel sad about his passing, just remember Chandler’s saying, ‘I always laugh when I am uncomfortable’. May he rest in peace.
Putrajaya to Kelantan’s Government — No money for you if you do not safeguard your forest
After the Kelantan’s Government announced its decision to amend its development plan, which will jeopardise environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs), Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad stated that Putrajaya will stop the payment of Ecological Fiscal Transfer for Biodiversity Conservation (EFT) to Kelantan if the state decided to proceed with its plan. EFT is an additional financial incentive from the federal government to state governments introduced in 2019 to protect and conserve protected areas, including ESAs, for biological diversity. So far, Putrajaya has paid RM29 mil to Kelantan, equivalent to about 44 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which has a retail price of RM650,000 per unit.
What did Kelantan do?
The state’s executive council in 2021 decided that permanent forest reserve areas that are not water sources or water catchment places will no longer be considered ESAs, opening up these areas for exploitation. Climate watchdog Rimbawatch estimated that if the plan is approved, 88% of permanent forest reserve areas in Kelantan would no longer fall under the ESA classification.
When forests are cleared or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming, which then could lead to unstable weather phenomenon. If Kelantan is not serious about protecting its forest, then the state will slowly feel the brunt of Mother Nature, as Selangor is experiencing now. Yesterday, due to the heavy downpour and strong winds, a section of the roof at the Megah Rise Mall collapsed, leading to three people sustaining minor injuries.
Important dates to remember
February 2024 — Sarawak Premier Abang Johari aims to complete the takeover of MASwings Sdn Bhd within the next three months. Once the takeover is complete, Sarawak plans to turn the rural air service serving Sarawak and Sabah only into a regional airliner going to destinations beyond Borneo.
Q1 2025 — Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution said that the police force will need at least until 2025 to fully implement the use of body cameras. At the moment, Saifuddin stated that his ministry is undertaking the procurement process of the cameras with an allocated budget of RM30 mil. He also added that 2024 will be utilised to test the cameras and provide training to the police force on how to use them.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Israel-Palestine conflict updates
The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas. The 193-member body passed the resolution by a margin of 120 to 14, with 45 countries abstaining. The US and Israel voted no, of course. The resolution is non-binding but serves as a barometer of global opinion towards the conflict. Israel angrily dismissed this resolution, saying that a ceasefire would give Hamas time to rearm itself, and slammed the resolution, saying that “the only place the resolution belongs is in the dustbin of history”.
Israel’s complete blockade of the Gaza Strip for the past three weeks is showing signs of civil order collapsing as thousands of people desperate people raided UN warehouses in search of food. A total of 84 aid trucks have entered Gaza so far, compared with an average of 500 a day before the outbreak of hostilities. Israel has been accused of performing “collective punishment” against the Palestinian people to justify the attack by Hamas, which is illegal under international law.
EV not as rosy as it seems
Giant US automaker Ford announced it will pause USD12 bil of its electric vehicle (EV) investments, warning that customers will not pay a premium for these vehicles. The company is still committed towards EVs and will ramp up production when prices come down, but acknowledged that the pace of adoption was slower than expected. Ford earlier announced it is abandoning its target of building two mil EVs by 2026. However, it is joining a chorus of automakers that are decelerating their EV plans, including General Motors, which also abandoned its target to build 500,000 EVs by the first half of 2024 and Honda, which ended its development of an affordable EV model.
Moving down the value chain, car rental giant Hertz Global is starting to feel the pain of electrifying its fleet. For some context, 11% of Hertz’s entire fleet comprises EVs, of which 80% or 35,000 are Teslas so these guys would have a good idea of the reality of adopting and managing EVs. For one, Tesla's aggressive price cuts have reduced the resale value of most EVs in its fleet by about one-third. Secondly, EVs are known to require less maintenance compared to ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles due to having fewer moving parts. However, EVs face their own unique maintenance needs as well, such as tire-swapping, as they wear out more quickly due to the high torque and weight of an EV.
Solving the US commercial real estate crisis - go residential
The pandemic-inducted structural trend of remote working has pushed office vacancies in the US to a 30-year high of 18.2%. And in many places, there’s a shortage of homes to meet demand. Joe Biden’s administration has devised a plan to address the housing crisis by encouraging developers to turn these empty office spaces into apartments. To this end, more than USD35 bil have been made available in the form of grants and low-interest loans to encourage developers to undertake this conversion of offices into residential spaces.
Without the support of the federal government, this conversion could be challenging due to the expense of refitting and complying with zoning laws and other regulations. The upside? The White House claims it’s faster than new construction, 20% cheaper and there’s always the ESG angle — produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This better works as there is a ticking time bomb — almost USD1.5 tril of US commercial real estate debt comes due for repayment before the end of 2025.
Chinese former premier Li Keqiang died of a heart attack at 68, a few months after retiring. The fluent English speaker was a protege of former President Hu Jintao and was thought to be succeeding Hu but lost out to Xi Jinping. In recent years, Xi has consolidated his power and Li was sidelined, although he was the second most powerful man in China. An interesting read on his background and his indirect ‘protest’ of Xi’s leadership.
As the US government’s anti-trust lawsuit against Google continues, the numbers revealed got more staggering by the day. It’s known that Google pays Apple billions a year to be the default search engine on Apple’s iPhones. In 2021, Google reportedly paid Apple USD18 bil, accounting for an estimated 14-16% of Apple’s operating profits. Google has similar deals with device makers, and all in, Google spent USD26.3 bil to retain this default position.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already manifested itself in living things - to be more specific, pigeons. In a research by the University of Ohio and the University of Iowa, researchers found that pigeons use a “brute force” problem-solving method, similar to AI. To some extent, this makes pigeons more efficient learners compared to humans, who tend to generalise and extrapolate. View the research here.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Duolingo’s co-founder Luis von Ahn’s interesting TED talk on how they made learning as addictive as social media. He also shared how their monetisation model functions as a small form of the wealth distribution system as users from rich countries pay to subscribe, subsidising education for their free users, usually from poorer countries.
Vital Farms — the company that sells premium, ethically produced chicken eggs is on track to generate USD465 mil in revenue in 2023. The company is listed on Nasdaq. Founder Matt O’Hayer has tried his hands on 50 businesses and stumbled on his biggest success after he “stopped trying to get rich” and built a company with “a deeper purpose”.