Bank Negara Malaysia has decided to cut the country's Overnight Policy Rate by 25 basis points to 2.75%. But what exactly does this mean for the average Malaysian? Is it good or bad? In other news, Najib Razak finally gets his (signature expert's) day in court and no one seems to be listening to poor eternal bridesmaid Anwar Ibrahim.

Will our wallets suffer?

Cut-rate Bank Negara

Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM’s) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) sprang a surprise on everyone yesterday.

The MPC was widely expected to retain its Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 3% for 2020, maintaining its stance from November last year. But, yesterday it dropped the OPR by 25 basis points (bp) to 2.75% – the lowest since 2011.

This is the second time in less than a year the MPC cut OPR. Last May, BNM had cut the OPR, also by 25bp to 3.0%.

Yesterday’s news caused shares of banks to drop in the KLCI amid fears that this would cut net interest margins. Caught off guard by the announcement, the KLCI dropped to the red.

But the ringgit shrugged off the news and traded stronger against the greenback at the end of the day. It was quoted at 4.0650/0680 against the US dollar, compared with 4.0710/0740 the previous day. Yeah… we’re not exactly happy yet with that exchange rate, but hey, you take what you can get.

But what, exactly, does the cut mean to us ordinary Joes? Well, this piece which was written following last year’s cut can explain things, but we’ll try to break it down for you.

The overall reason for moves like this is to stimulate the economy, and get people spending more instead of squirrelling their money away in bank accounts. The cut means good things, generally, for almost everyone. It reduces deflation and the price of goods goes down in general. For businesses, things are better too as borrowing costs are reduced (not good news for banks) while consumer spending is strengthened.

The ringgit, however, is generally weakened somewhat (don’t let the stronger trading yesterday for the ringgit fool you), leading to importers having to spend more to bring in goods. And, as mentioned above, banks are negatively affected cos of the lower interest rates. Mind you, lower interests also mean lower interests on fixed deposits, so yeah, expect to take a hit there. But, your stocks and bonds should see an uptick, so it’s not all bad.

Meanwhile, in other economic news, Moneybags Minister Saudara Lim Guan Eng says the solid fundamentals of the Malaysian economy and the gomen’s commitment to institutional reforms have led to Moody’s maintaining the nation’s high A3 rating (here’s what an A3 rating actually means) in its annual credit analysis report. He said the report states Malaysia’s competitive economy, strong medium-term growth prospects and effective institutions were among the reasons for this. 

So, yay for Malaysia and yay for us. We think.

Sign your name across my heart ...

In Jibby’s SRC International trial, when asked to verify that the signature on certain documents entered as evidence were his, the former PM said he could not be sure. Ever since then, the defence has been pushing for the court to allow them to call in an expert to verify the signatures.

Well, yesterday trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled to allow this, saying the Jibster was entitled to introduce relevant evidence of his choice in defending himself. 

So what happens now? Well, the defence will scour the world to come up with a signature expert (Steve Grad of Pawn Stars infamy, anyone?) to say the signatures are fake – if they haven’t already done so, that is.

But let’s face it. For all the jokes we make about Jibby not being able to tell his own signature apart from anyone else’s, you can’t just look at a signature and say, “Yes, that’s authentic!”. There are forgers out there who can make a signature look genuine when not placed under intense scrutiny.

Of course, this could also just be a clever defence move.

There are a host of things which can be done to verify a signature, not least of which is to put it under the proverbial microscope (OK, a magnifying glass will do) to see if the signature is fluid or whether there are any hesitation marks.

In fact, this article tells you the (relatively many) basic steps you can take to verify a signature, including simply by using a good source of light and flipping the paper on which the signature is printed.

Mohd Nazlan, when he deliberates on his verdict, will have to take Jibby’s expert’s testimony, as well as anybody the prosecution may bring in, and decide whether it’s Jibby’s real John Hancock or not.  Good luck, Yg Arif!

Meanwhile, Najib insisted in court that he is not stupid. Seriously.

When suggested he had kept former CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil in SRC International in order to facilitate the movement of funds between accounts, Jibby laughed and said: “I can’t be that stupid. Come on.”

This prompted lead prosecutor V. Sithambaram to retort that he had seen many intelligent people end up in court, to which Najib replied he was speaking only of that accusation.

Amazing how Jibby’s intelligence seems to wax and wane like the phases of the moon. After all, it was just earlier this week he all but insisted that he was a trusting fool.

No one paying heed to Anwar

Just how is Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s heir apparent gonna control his people when he becomes PM?

He ain’t PM yet (will he ever be, we wonder), but as the supposed next exalted leader, when he speaks, his people should listen right? Wrong, apparently!

You see, Anwar Ibrahim urged Pakatan leaders to stop shooting their mouths off and airing dirty linen in public, especially about the leadership transition. The PM-forever-in-waiting said he had pledged his support for Maddey, so others shouldn’t be publicly at loggerheads over the matter.

This came after Bersatu boy wonder Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had reacted to PKR and DAP leaders who’ve been hitting out at Atok Maddey and calling for the old man to dodder off into the sunset and hand over the reins to Anwar already.

But almost as soon as the words left Anwar’s mouth, some Pakatan leaders decided to open theirs again, showing just how disunited the coalition can be. 

It all started with Penang Deputy CM II P. Ramasamy taking a jibe at Syed Saddiq, Ramasamy called the Youth and Sports Minister a “baby boy”. Syed Saddiq responded on Twitter, saying: “Baby boy? OK Boomer.”

Might we remind you – these are supposed to be our leaders. Syed Saddiq’s still young – and perhaps has more impetuousness than good sense. But what about Uncle Rama? Sheesh. Also, we wonder how he has time to actually do his full-time job, considering how much time he spends trolling on social media or writing for news outlets.

DAP’s Ong Kian Ming took umbrage with what Ramasamy, who is also from DAP, said as such a statement against a minister was unbecoming of a state leader and former academic. But Ramasamy countered by saying that he did not take part in the “politics of appeasement”.

But other Pakatan leaders also took offence to what Syed Saddiq had said. A statement signed by seven DAP Youth leaders cited a recent drug bust in which a Bersatu Youth leader had been arrested, saying Syed Saddiq, the Bersatu Youth chief, should put his house in order first.

At a time when they should be getting their asses in gear, improving their work and winning back the hearts of the rakyat, our so-called leaders are bickering like a bunch of donkeys, in full view of the public, over stupid shit that doesn’t really matter. God have mercy on us all.

A bit of this, a bit of that

Here are a few other things that happened yesterday:

  • Some good news and bad news for Malaysians looking to perform the haj. Saudi Arabia has increased Malaysia’s haj quota to 31,600. However, the kingdom has imposed a new visa charge of 300 riyal, or RM326, for each pilgrim.
     
  • Malaysia Airlines will need a whopping RM21 billion of taxpayers’ money to stay in business till 2025 unless it can make a turnaround or find a strategic partner. 
     
  • After losing the Kimanis by-election largely due to the Sabah Temporary Pass issue, the Warisan-led Sabah government has decided to shelve the PSS programme.
     
  • Damansara MP Tony Pua has reminded Jibby Razak that the BN government raised toll charges in the Klang Valley in 2015. This after the former PM had criticised the government for its decision not to sell PLUS Bhd but to increase its concession by 20 years.
     
  • So, Kelantan – one of the poorest states in the country – has decided to award its 11 state exco members and three ex-officio members a special payout of RM50,000 each, based on the state’s annual financial performance. This comes after the state had bought exco members Mercedes Benzes. And guess how much the state’s civil servants got? A measly RM1,000 each. Needless to say, people ain’t happy.

“There's no Messiah in here. There's a mess all right, but no Messiah.”

- Terry Jones -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial continues with Representative Adam Schiff presenting the case against him for the Democrats. Get updates here.
     
  • Britain’s Brexit plan has hurdled its final obstacle after the House of Lords decided against plans to amend it.
     
  • Several suburbs of the Australian capital of Canberra have been evacuated following the return of bushfires.
     
  • The World Health Organization will decide today whether the coronavirus outbreak constitutes an international emergency. Meanwhile, China’s Wuhan has closed its transportation network and advised citizens not to leave the city.
     
  • Monty Python director Terry Jones has died aged 77. Here’s a tribute to him.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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