All steady on the home front in Penang residential properties


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Sales done: According to Knight Frank Malaysia, there are pockets of success by some developers reporting bookings and sales for their affordable homes during the movement control order period despite the fact that physical viewings were disallowed.
 

DEMAND for residential properties in Penang is expected to remain steady during the second half of 2020, especially if the homes are from renowned developers with good quality products.

Knight Frank Malaysia executive director Mark Saw says there are pockets of success by some developers reporting bookings and sales for their affordable homes during the movement control order (MCO) period (from March 18 to May 3), despite the fact that physical viewings were disallowed.

“In this challenging environment, developers with a strong brand name and good delivery of quality products should still achieve decent returns and the gap between higher and lower quality properties will become more evident with better sales for those able to deliver.

“These factors will play a critical role in determining the success of developments. It has become a buyer’s market and many deals are being offered by developers to attract first-time buyers as opposed to investors who have been temporarily sidelined, ” he tells StarBizWeek.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Saw says buyers’ preferences and timings may change, with decisions being put on hold due to job security, ample choices and rentals being more competitive.

CBRE|WTW director Peh Seng Yee says the pandemic’s impact has been softened in the second half of the year with the recovery MCO (which was implemented from June 10).

CBRE|WTW director Peh Seng Yee says the pandemic’s impact has been softened in the second half of the year with the recovery MCO (which was implemented from June 10).CBRE|WTW director Peh Seng Yee says the pandemic’s impact has been softened in the second half of the year with the recovery MCO (which was implemented from June 10).
 

“As housing is a necessity and with the bank loan moratorium, the residential property sector has been cushioned from the worst impact.

“Hence, the residential market is expected to remain resilient for the second half of 2020. Significant growth is not expected yet as the issue of property overhang, lack of spending confidence by consumers and stringent lending policies by banks are expected to still linger for the remainder of the year.”

Additionally, both Saw and Peh agree that the reintroduction of the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) was a much-needed boost to the local property market. The government reintroduced the HOC in June under the Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana).

Mark Saw: In this challenging environment, developers with a strong brand name and good delivery of quality products should still achieve decent returns and the gap between higher and lower quality properties will become more evident with better sales for those able to deliver. 
Mark Saw: In this challenging environment, developers with a strong brand
name and good delivery of quality products should still achieve decent returns and the gap between higher and lower quality properties will
become more evident with better sales for those able to deliver.
 

Peh says the HOC is expected to continue to spur the buying momentum for residential properties in Penang over the short term.

“Developers are experiencing a pick-up in bookings by buyers compared with the first half of 2020, which was mainly affected by the MCO.

“However, the encouraging bookings have yet to be fully translated into good actual sales, due largely to stringent lending policies by the bank and the challenges and uncertainty in the economy and job market.”

Saw also believes the HOC will be a short-term reprieve for the local property market.

“The HOC initiatives will only be a temporary measure. For the long term, developers should carry out proper feasibility studies to determine the marketability of their products before commencing developments and ending up with unsold units.”

According to Saw, the volume of residential transactions in Penang decreased 19.7% to 2,748 units in the first quarter of 2020 compared with 3,422 units in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“The value of transactions in the residential sub-sector during the first quarter (RM1.06bil) indicated a drop of 17.2% compared with RM1.28bil in the fourth quarter of last year, ” he says.

Under the HOC, stamp duty exemption will be provided on the transfer of property and loan agreement for the purchase of houses priced between RM300,000 and RM2.5mil.

Meanwhile, the exemption on the instrument of transfer under the HOC is limited to the first RM1mil of the home price, while full stamp-duty exemption is given on loan agreement effective for sales and purchase agreements signed between June 1 and May 31,2021.

The government has also announced real property gains tax (RGPT) exemption for Malaysians for the disposal of up to three properties between June 1,2020 and Dec 31,2021.

The HOC was kicked off in last January to address the overhang problem in the country. The campaign, which was initially intended for six months, was extended for a year.

It proved successful, generating total sales of RM23.2bil in 2019, surpassing the government’s initial target of RM17bil.

Meanwhile, Knight Frank in its Real Estate Highlights Research for the first half of 2020 says that amid the current global recession, Invest Penang has revised downwards its foreign direct investment (FDI) target for 2020 to RM5mil.

“This will be supported by the shift towards Industry 4.0 and the various tax incentives and reinvestment allowances as announced under Penjana that seeks to promote Malaysia as a choice destination for FDIs.”

To clear RM2.6bil worth of 3,043 overhang units in the state, Knight Frank says the Penang local government, housing, town and country planning committee has announced that the state will reduce the minimum price threshold for foreign property ownership by up to 40% starting from June 11,2020.

“Ceiling prices for stratified properties on the island will be reduced by up to 20% from RM1mil to RM800,000 and on the mainland, from RM500,000 to RM400,000.”

In the high-end condominium segment, Knight Frank says IJM Perennial has put on hold the development of The Light City.

“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the group had indicated that it would resume development in August 2020. To be developed over a period of more than four years, Phase 1 will feature a mall with 680,000 sq ft net lettable area, the Penang Waterfront Convention Centre, a four-star hotel with 500 rooms, offices and the ‘Mezzo’ residential condominiums.

“Meanwhile, for Phase 2, there are plans for a 300,000-sq-ft mall, a five-star hotel with 250 rooms, offices, the ‘Essence’ residential condominiums and possibly an experiential theme park. It is worth noting that the commencement of Phase 2 will be determined by the sales of the Mezzo condominiums and the occupancy of the mall.”

As for the office sub-sector in Penang, Knight Frank says the average occupancy rate for four prime buildings monitored in George Town remained stable at 89%.

“According to the latest National Property Information Centre report, the average occupancy rate in the state continued to hold steady at 81.4% in the first quarter of 2020 (compared with 81.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019).”

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Malaysia’s MySejahtera to trace Covid-19, a mandatory use being mulled


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How to use MySejahtera, Gerak Malaysia and MyTrace

  
In this video, we show you how to use Malaysia’s three COVID-19 tracing apps to help you navigate the MCO better.

Visit us at http://www.klgadgetguy.com for tech news, gadget reviews and more.

Cara Daftar Premis & Check In QR Code dengan MySejahtera

Aplikasi penting semasa pkp. Cara daftar dan menggunakan aplikasi MySejahtera / My Sejahtera.

#MyTrace #COVID19 #MovementControlOrder, MyTrace: A Quick Guide

MyTrace: A Quick Guide

 #MyTrace is one of three #COVID19 apps that have been produced by the government of Malaysia, after MySejahtera and Gerak Malaysia. 
Essentially, MyTrace acts as a beacon that would be flagged automatically if you are nearby another MyTrace user that is tested positive for COVID-19 infection. 
This would allow authorities to reach out to you for further action such as to perform COVID-19 test, self/mandatory quarantine, and even trace other nearby MyTrace users that might have been exposed to the virus at the same time as you. 
Out of three COVID-19 apps that were produced by the government of Malaysia, this is so far the easiest to use. Do go through our MyTrace quick guide to learn more.

For more stories about MyTrace, visit: http://lowy.at/mytrace.

Mandatory use of MySejahtera app being mulled


KUALA LUMPUR: THE government plans to make the use of the MySejahtera app mandatory and do away with manual registration of personal data, the House heard.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Redzuan Md Yusof said: “We are currently studying and discussing with the National Security Council and the Attorney General’s Chambers whether we can enforce this as a law.”

He replied to Dr Lee Boon Chye (PH-Gopeng) during Minister’s Question Time.

The MP had asked the ministry to state the limitations faced during the implementation of the MySejahtera app as many premises still used logbooks to record a customer’s information.

Redzuan said this was part of a new culture that the government was trying to introduce to make it easier for the local community to cooperate with the government.

To the initial question, Redzuan revealed that 15.1 million users have registered under the MySejahtera app as of Aug 16.

“Users will have to answer questions relating to their health and travel information when they first register based on the standard operating procedure set by the Health Ministry,” he added.

Redzuan also said that the app successfully detected 322 out of 9,200 Covid-19 patients in the country.

“A quick way of contact tracing can be achieved via the MySejahtera app and the total number of contacts can be detected based on the number of Covid-19 positive cases,” he said.

Hopeful but cautious

The elderly are receptive to the idea of using the MySejahtera app as long as leeway is given at some premises while cybersecurity experts assure the public that those responsible for data leak could be brought to book.

PETALING JAYA: As the government mulls making the MySejahtera app compulsory while doing away with manual registration of personal data at premises, senior citizens are not so happy.

They bemoaned their plight, asking for certain exemptions due to their limitations.

S. Radhakrishnan, a 79-year-old retired legal consultant, commended the move towards digitisation of information but said concessions needed to be made for some cases.

“It is a step in the right direction but making it a blanket rule would cause an issue for certain groups.

“There should be exemptions at certain premises like hospitals where we should be allowed to record details manually, especially for senior citizens who do not own smartphones.

“Some senior citizens can’t operate smartphones because they might have problems reading the small text on the screen or even hearing, so owning a smartphone is not an option for all of us,” he said.

The MySejahtera app recently introduced a feature for group check-in, whereby any user can add their family members who do not own a smartphone into their list of dependents.

This will enable the smartphone user to check in his or her entire family into premises without everyone having to individually do so.

However, Radhakrishnan said if senior citizens were forced to travel with their children just for the purpose of checking them into premises, this would cause a hassle.

“Hospitals would be more crowded because instead of just the patient, they also have to take their children along just to check in,” he added.

Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors’ General Association president Datuk Ho Su Mong also raised concerns on the app’s takeup rate among their elderly customers.

“We have many elderly customers at our coffee shops and many don’t carry a smartphone.

“Some could not even properly write down their own details due to illiteracy or poor eyesight, so we help them by manually recording their information,” he said.

Ho said many members also grappled with the app, saying that only between 30% and 40% out of the 20,000 members had fully adopted the app.

The rest were still manually recording customers’ details as they did not fully understand how to go about using the app at their premises, he noted.

“If the app is made mandatory, the government must provide lessons to business owners so we can all adapt to the change.

“We would also need a grace period of maybe one or two months after the law is in place, where we will not be penalised during the adjustment period,” he added.

On Tuesday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Redzuan Md Yusof said the government was studying whether it could enforce a law to make the app usage mandatory.

He said this was part of a new culture the government planned to introduce to make it easier for the local community to cooperate.

As many as 15.1 million users have registered under the MySejahtera app so far.

Based on a recent survey in The Star’s Facebook page, Malaysians almost unanimously agreed that it was more convenient to use MySejahtera, as opposed to using multiple applications at different premises.


How to add dependents on MySejahtera app
 

 Step 1 Go to the MySejahtera app

Step 2 Go to the home page, click on ‘More’

Step 3 Click on ‘Manage Dependents’

Step 4 Click on ‘Add Dependents’ and fill in the details accurately

Step 5 Dependent has been successfully added

Step 6 To check-in with a dependent, simply check the box

Data breach is a big concern, say experts

PETALING JAYA: As the government moves to make the use of the MySejahtera app compulsory, experts are concerned that a data breach could leak sensitive information, increasing the number of scams targeting the public.

Details that matter: Members of the public
registering themselves the modern or old-fashioned way before entering
Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur.

However, the Department of Personal Data Protection (JPDP) assured that although the government was not subject to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2010, action could still be taken against those responsible for a data leak.

A JPDP spokesperson said the public could file a complaint to the Chief Government Security Office, a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department that is responsible for the security of all government assets, or the National Cyber Security Agency.

Errant officers who mishandled the data could be charged under the Official Secrets Act 1972 and the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993, he added.

He had checked with the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre and confirmed that the data is owned by the Health Ministry and is protected by Section 3 of the PDPA. Section 3 states that the Act shall not apply to the Federal Government and state governments.

Bar Council Information Technology and Cyber Laws Committee deputy chairman Foong Cheng Leong also called for more transparency and accountability if there was misuse of the data.

He said there also needed to be an assurance that data would be destroyed at some point in time, adding, “The law should have all the safeguards that we need.”

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim) Cyber Security and System Research Unit coordinator Dr Madihah Mohd Saudi said the PDPA had a provision that gave users the right to request for their data to be deleted.

She suggested that the government adopt a feature that allowed users to manually delete their history of check-ins after an appropriate amount of time had lapsed and the data was no longer needed.

She said that although the MySejahtera app, like any other system, was not immune to being hacked, it was still more secure than writing one’s name down in a physical logbook, as the info could be easily exploited.

Madihah said that as the app was continuously being updated, it showed that the government was taking steps to improve the system and could even be addressing vulnerabilities if any were discovered.

Cybersecurity specialist Fong Choong Fook questioned what the government had done to protect the data and what process would be used to destroy the gathered information after a certain period of time.

To ensure the successful mandatory adoption of the app, Fong said the government needed to be transparent on its processes and the security controls that were in place.

He predicted there would be an “explosion of scam calls” should the MySejahtera data be leaked, as it kept track of critical information, including a user’s movements.

He said this information might not seem sensitive to a layman, but a scammer could use the data to form a profile of a victim.

“They would know I’ve been to a shopping centre in the morning, then a restaurant next door. With this, a scammer can pretend to be a government official and create a scare story to trick the victim into doing something they otherwise wouldn’t,” he said.

Fong said the government would need to be more transparent with the data management. If it wasn’t, the adoption of MySejahtera could suffer due to a sceptical public, he added.-

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Young buyers flock to property market


Why millennials are flocking to real estate

Interest rate cuts, govt incentives spur buying interests

“We believe the strong growth in our young buyers is both a natural
evolution and as a result of a conscious strategic effort we have made
to appeal to this important customer group,”

Datuk Chang Khim Wah


Eco World Development Group Bhd president and chief executive officer Datuk Chang Khim Wah told StarBiz the increase in younger buyers was due to a conscious strategic effort made by the group to appeal to this target market.

Property developers are seeing a pick up in sales, especially from younger buyers, as the numerous interest rate cuts and government incentives have spurred buying interest.

Eco World Development Group Bhd president and chief executive officer Datuk Chang Khim Wah said the increase in younger buyers was due to a conscious strategic effort made by the group to appeal to this target market.

“During our initial years of operations (circa 2015) the percentage of young buyers (below 40 years old) was around 43% and today it is more than 70%.

“We believe the strong growth in our young buyers is both a natural evolution and as a result of a conscious strategic effort we have made to appeal to this important customer group, both through the products we are offering as well as the way in which we engage them via social media and digital channels, ” he told StarBiz.

Of the 70%, Chang said around 50% are in their 30s and the remaining 20% are in their 20s. “We are particularly happy that a good number of these buyers include children of our own customers and residents in the vicinity of our development. This validates our efforts over the last few years to make a strong pivot to serve the needs of this market segment and the wider M40 group.

“Our upcoming launch of the new Duduk series of vertical townships offering semi-furnished apartments priced below RM400,000 at Eco Ardence and Eco Sanctuary, as well landed homes starting from RM500,000 at Eco Botanic 2, will enable us to further capture the hearts and minds of this very important market segment.”

Chang said the prolonged movement control order (MCO) period has really made many young people realise that the quality of home and living environment matters greatly.

Mah Sing Group Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Ho Hon Sang (pic below) said as the bulk of its projects comprised units within the affordable range segment, the majority of its buyers comprised those below 35 years of age.

“For Mah Sing, 84% of our target sales for 2020 are for residential properties priced below RM700,000 with key focus in the affordable segment. We typically see about 65% of buyers who are 35 years and below, for most of the affordable projects were launched in recent years. Hence, the majority of our buyers are first time homeowners.”

Despite the challenging market environment in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ho said demand continues to be resilient as property remained one of the safest forms of asset class for long-term capital protection and appreciation.

“Malaysia’s population is still very young with 66% below 40 years old and as such, household formation continues to be strong. Affordably-priced properties of good quality and at strategic locations remain highly sought after.

“This is especially for first-time home buyers, which augers well for Mah Sing’s product composition.”

Sunway Property said it is seeing increasing interest from younger buyers from 25 years to 35 years in its properties that are transit-oriented and have good facilities nearby.

“For example, our developments such as the transit-oriented Sunway Avila in Wangsa Maju, the integrated and transit-oriented Sunway Velocity TWO and the youth-focused development of Sunway Grid in Sunway Iskandar has seen enthusiastic response from younger purchasers, ” it said.

Property data, analytics and solutions provider MyProperty Data chief executive officer Thor Joe Hock said the median age for residential property transactions has gradually dropped over the years.

“When we look at the over 2.5 million residential property transactions, including serviced apartments, it appears that the median age of buyers from 2000 to 2019 has remained largely unchanged at between 34 to 35 years of age.

“However, when you break it down into landed and non-landed transactions, we start to get a clearer picture. The median age for non-landed properties has fallen from 40 years in 2000 to 28 years in 2019; while the median age for landed property purchasers marginally decreased from 40 years to 37 years over the same period.”

MyProperty Data manages a property data portal called PropertyAdvisor.

Meanwhile, Lagenda Properties Bhd managing director Datuk Jimmy Doh said more than half of its buyers are below 39 years of age.

“We believe as young people start new phases in their lives, for example getting a job or starting their own families, they prefer to stay independently and have their own space, granted that the properties are within their price range.

“Over the past few years, we have been seeing an increase in buyers. Our properties are priced below RM200,000, ” he said.

MIDF Research in a recent report said the aggressive overnight policy rate (OPR) cuts have improved home buyers’ purchasing power.

“Bank Negara cut its overnight policy rate for the fourth time this year by 25 basis points (bps) to a record low of 1.75% in July due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy. The aggressive OPR cuts this year are positive to the sector as it improved home buyer’s purchasing power by reducing loan installments.

“We estimate monthly installments to reduce by 14%, after 125 bps cut for RM500,000 loan with a loan repayment period of 30 years, which is quite significant in our view. Hence, we think the record-low interest rate will partly help to alleviate home buyers’ issue of securing home financing, as the record low yield has boosted the affordability of home buyers.”

MIDF Research also said it expected loan demand to recover in the second half of 2020.

Citing Bank Negara’s statistics, it said total applied loan for the purchase of property improved sequentially by 52.9% month-on-month to RM13.1bil in May, after plunging by 64.8% month-on-month in April.

“Note that total applied loan recorded steep decline in April due to the disruption to business activity following the commencement of the MCO.

“Nevertheless, total applied loan in May was lower by 61.8% year-on-year while cumulative total applied loan in the first five months of 2020 was lower by 33.6% year-on-year, indicating buying interest was subdued.”

Looking ahead, the research house expected buying interest to recover in the second half of this year, spurred by incentives introduced by the government.

Under the Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana), which was announced in June, the government reintroduced the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC). Under the HOC, stamp duty exemption will be provided on the transfer of property and loan agreement for the purchase of home priced between RM300,000 and RM2.5mil.

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Mandatory face masks on Aug 1,2020 is for crowded public places



Health DG: Mandatory face masks on Aug 1 is for crowded public places

 

 

– Which One? Know the various Face Mask in the market by Dr Gigi Han


How to buy face masks, according to medical experts


Left to right: a neck gaiter (aka a buff) that slips
over the head; a KN95 respirator, a version of the N95 respirator used
in U.S. hospitals; a pleated surgical mask (below the KN95); a cloth
mask.

 

Photo illustration by Max Posner/NPR

 

So you want to wear a face mask? Good call.

 

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that wearing face masks in public, even when you feel well, can help curb the spread of the coronavirus — since people can spread the virus even without showing symptoms. That’s the main reason to wear a mask: to protect other people from you.

Face masks can also offer the wearer some protection — though how much varies greatly, depending on the type of mask. No mask will offer full protection, and they should not be viewed as a replacement for physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others, frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowds. When you combine masks with those measures, they can make a big difference.

But what kind of mask is best?

When choosing a mask, experts say focus on the fabric, fit and breathability. How well a mask protects is a function of both what it’s made of and how well it seals to your face. But if you can’t breathe well through it, then you’re less likely to keep it on.

 

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Three-month loan moratorium extension for those in need


https://youtu.be/wT4fZ9IcR6c




Extension for those in need | The Star

 

Rapt attention: Laundrette worker Amira
Wahida Osman watching the Prime Minister deliver the special
announcement on the loan moratorium in Putrajaya. — MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The
Star

The move is expected to benefit some three million individuals and businesses

KUALA LUMPUR (July 29): Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today announced that banks will offer a three-month loan moratorium extension and assistance to targeted groups in view of the current tough economic times.

The move is expected to benefit some three million individuals and businesses, particularly those who suffer pay cuts and are unemployed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Muhyiddin, who had a live televised speech this afternoon.

Muhyiddin said the decision was made following a discussion with the finance minister and Bank Negara Malaysia on further measures to help borrowers that still need assistance when the six-month moratorium ends on Sept 30.

The Covid-19 lockdown measures enforced over the last few months have presented an unprecedented challenge for small businesses in Malaysia.

The blanket six-month moratorium was granted by banks in April.

“Individuals who have lost their jobs in 2020 and remain jobless are eligible for the targeted moratorium extension of three months. After three months, the moratorium could be extended further at the banks’ discretion depending on the borrowers’ situations.

“Those who are employed but have had their salaries reduced due to Covid-19 pandemic will be granted lower loan instalments in tandem, depending on the types of borrowings. For example, for home or personal loans, the monthly instalments will be reduced at the same rate as the salary reductions.

“This assistance is for a period of at least six months and an extension can be given subject to the current salary situations of the individuals concerned,” Muhyiddin added.

Apart from the two groups, Muhyiddin said other affected borrowers including traders, hawkers, self-employed individuals and businesses could also make similar arrangements with their banks.

Banks, according to him, have expressed their commitments to helping all borrowers, both individuals and small and medium enterprises, who are affected by Covid-19 outbreak.

Muhyiddin revealed that banks may allow borrowers to make interest payments only for a period of time on a case-by-case basis.

Other options are to extend the loan tenures to reduce monthly repayments or provide other reliefs until the borrowers’ financial positions are more stable.

“For hire purchase borrowers in need of assistance, financial institutions will offer appropriate instalment scheduling subject to the Hire Purchase Act. This includes extending the repayment period with a lower instalment amount,” Muhyiddin said, adding that eligible borrowers can contact their respective banks to make an application starting from Aug 7.
Economists laud move to extend moratorium for targeted groups

MIDF Research economist Mazlina Abdul Rahman said the extension of the loan moratorium for targeted groups is a better option than to continue providing the moratorium on a blanket approach.

“It is because there could be many borrowers who are opting for moratorium not because they are in financial distress but simply [because they] want to use the opportunity to preserve capital or for investment purposes,” she said when contacted.

Her sentiment was echoed by Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd banking analyst Chan Jit Hoong, who said the quantum of new modification loss should be lower than the blanket automatic deferment as it is aimed at a smaller audience.

This initiative, he said, did not come as a surprise and is consistent with what banks have been mulling to do after the current six-month moratorium ends on Sept 30.

“We believe it is a more sustainable method to help the rakyat and also, restrain non-performing loans (NPLs) from ballooning out of control over the short term. However, it may hide actual damage and cause lag in NPL formation if the situation does not improve rapidly or an advent of [second-wave Covid-19] paralyses the country again,” he said.

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the moratorium extension shows that the government is trying to strike a delicate balance between supporting the need of the affected groups and the health of banks’ finances, which is also crucial to the Malaysian economy.

“It’s going to be targeted and that is very reassuring and therefore, limited resources are not going to be wasted. What is more important now is to encourage borrowers who have lost their jobs or who have been experiencing reductions in their current pay and perhaps, those who have faced financial difficulties to come forward and have a frank discussion about their states of finance with the banks,” he said.

Read also:


BNM: Borrowers eligible for loan repayment flexibility must apply by Aug 7


Economists laud move to extend moratorium for targeted groups


FMM hails targeted loan moratorium extension, reiterates call for more assistance to businesses

 

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RM525mil investment for Penang to create 1,600 jobs & human capital programme

( From left) Chow looking at the Penang NCER human capital graphic info. With him are John, state executive councillor Datuk Abdul Halim . 

 

RM525mil investment for Penang to create 1,600 jobs & human capital programme


(From left) Chow looking at the Penang NCER human capital graphic info. With him are John, state executive councillor Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain and state secretary Datuk Abdul Razak Jaafar.

SIX companies will inject a total of RM525.3mil into Penang’s economy through the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

The investment, under the second phase of the EmpowerNCER human capital development programme, would create 1,600 jobs, especially for those affected by Covid-19 pandemic.

“The investment will help cushion the effect of the pandemic and also complement the state’s efforts in creating new jobs,” Chow said after meeting the investors in Komtar on Thursday.

The six companies are PTS Industries Sdn Bhd (RM2mil), Clarive Analytics Malaysia Sdn Bhd (RM159mil), Iconic Penang Sdn Bhd (RM150mil), Osram Opto Semiconductors Sdn Bhd (RM110.07mil), UWHM Sdn Bhd (RM65.5mil) and Coraza Systems Malaysia Sdn Bhd (RM38.73mil).

At the event, Chow also gave appointment letters to four district officers to implement the Empower-NCER programme in their districts.

Asked if the state had taken into account all the factors which could affect the investment climate during the pandemic, Chow said the investments by the six companies were testimony that new investments were still flowing into the state.

“Even in the state Task Force Committee today, NCIA’S figures show a lower investment figure since the outbreak of the pandemic, but we expect a gradual increase in investments over a period of time,” he said.

NCIA chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John said besides fulfilling the needs of the industrial sector, the manpower in Penang must be equipped with the skills and know-how under the new economic norm post-Covid 19.

“The human capital programmes are to ensure that the manpower has the resilience to compete and make themselves relevant in the various business environments which have become more challenging at present times.

“The expected improvement could be seen between 18 and 24 months from now and we expect all to return to normal by 2025,” he said.

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Covid-19, Sri Petaling tabligh is the Epicentre in Malaysia


Covid-19 https://youtu.be/LBDAd1IZrc4

The hosts, the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jama’at, which traces its roots back to India a century ago, on Monday suspended missionary activities but did not comment directly on the Malaysian
event. – NSTP/ASWADI ALIAS.

Sri Petaling tabligh the epicentre of Malaysia’s second wave of Covid-19:

WORSHIPPERS slept in packed tents outside the golden-domed mosque, waking before dawn to kneel on rows of prayer mats laid out in its cavernous central hall. All the while, the coronavirus was passing unnoticed among the guests.

The gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur has emerged as a source of hundreds of new Covid-19 infections spanning South-East Asia.

It was attended by 16,000 people, including 1,500 foreigners.

While more than 10,000 of those who attended the event have been screened, the authorities are still trying to identify another 4,000 attendees, said Health Minister Adham Baba.

Out of Malaysia’s over 1,180 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Saturday, most of them were linked to the four-day meeting, he added. It is not clear who brought the virus there in the first place.

The hosts, the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jama’at, on Monday suspended missionary activities but did not comment directly on the event.

Malaysia has shut its borders, restricting internal movement and closing schools, universities and most businesses as it seeks to control the outbreak. All mosques have been closed for two weeks.

“I was actually very surprised that it went ahead,” said Surachet Wae-asae, a former Thai lawmaker who attended the event but has since tested negative for the coronavirus after returning home.

“But in Malaysia, God is very important. The belief is strong.”

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Health Ministry declined to comment further about the event.

The packed gathering, where guests had to take shuttle buses to sleep at other venues, was attended by nationals from dozens of countries, including Canada, Nigeria, India and Australia, according to an attendee list posted on social media. There were also citizens of China and South Korea – two countries with high rates of coronavirus infections.

“We sat close to each other,” a 30-year-old Cambodian man who attended the event told Reuters from a hospital in Cambodia’s Battambang province, where he was being treated after testing positive for Covid-19 recently.

“Holding hands at the religious ceremony was done with people from many countries. When I met people, I held hands, it was normal. I don’t know who I was infected by,” he said, asking not to be named due to fears of discrimination.

None of the event leaders talked about washing hands, the coronavirus or health precautions during the event, but most guests washed their hands regularly, two guests said. Washing hands, among other parts of the body, is part of the wuduk (ablution before prayers).

Another attendee from Cambodia said guests from different countries shared plates when meals were served.

That a large religious pilgrimage went ahead, at a time when the epidemic had killed 2,700 people and was spreading from Italy to Iran, has drawn criticism.

“That Tablighi event in KL … could also cause a regional spike and it was irresponsible of the authorities to have allowed it to be held,” Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said on his Facebook page.

At the time of the event, Malaysia was in political turmoil after the power struggle between former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his successor-inwaiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The country had a one-man government in the 94-year-old interim prime minister, who had quit and was re-appointed on the same day. His resignation led to the dissolution of the former government.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the new premier on March 1 and banned mass gatherings on March 13. Prior to that, there was only advice from the Health Ministry to minimise public exposure.

Some attendees defended the event, saying that at the time, the situation in Malaysia – which had 25 known cases by Feb 28 – was not yet severe.

“We were not worried then as the Covid-19 situation at the time appeared under control,” said Khuzaifah Kamazlan, a 34-year-old religious teacher based in Kuala Lumpur who attended the event but has tested negative for the coronavirus.

He said some worshippers who attended the event have since refused to be tested.

Karim, a 44-year-old Malaysian who attended the gathering and later tested positive for Covid-19, says the government should have cancelled the event.

“We are disappointed that this outbreak has been blamed on us. That view is unfair.

“There was no ban on our gathering,” said Karim, who gave only his first name.

“Now I am concerned because I am positive. Please pray for me.” — Reuters

How Sri Petaling tabligh became Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 hotspot

KUALA LUMPUR: Worshippers slept in packed tents outside the golden-domed mosque, waking before dawn to kneel on rows of prayer mats laid out in its cavernous central hall. All the while, the Covid-19 coronavirus was passing unnoticed among the guests.

The Muslim gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex here has emerged as a source of hundreds of new coronavirus infections spanning Southeast Asia.

A 34-year-old Malaysian man who attended the event died on Tuesday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said, the first death linked to the Feb 27-March 1 event.

It was attended by 16,000 people, including 1,500 foreigners.

Out of Malaysia’s 673 confirmed coronavirus cases, nearly two-thirds are linked to the four-day meeting, Dr Adham said. It is not clear who brought the virus there in the first place.

Reuters spoke to six attendees and reviewed pictures and posts on social media, and the accounts and evidence showed several ways in which the outbreak could have spread.

The hosts, the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jama’at, which traces its roots back to India a century ago, on Monday suspended missionary activities but did not comment directly on the Malaysian event.

Tablighi Jama’at did not respond to a request for further comment. The mosque where the event was held was closed on Tuesday and a guest said he was one of dozens of worshippers still there under quarantine. Calls to the mosque went unanswered.

Malaysia will shut its borders, restrict internal movement and close schools, universities and most businesses, as it seeks to control its coronavirus outbreak. All mosques will be closed for two weeks.

“I was very surprised actually that it went ahead,” said Surachet Wae-asae, a former Thai lawmaker who attended the event but has since tested negative for the coronavirus after returning home.

“But in Malaysia God is very important. The belief is strong.”

The prime minister’s office and the health ministry declined to comment further about the event.

The Muslim gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex here has emerged as a source of hundreds of new coronavirus infections spanning Southeast Asia. – NSTP pic
The Muslim gathering held at the end of last month at the sprawling Sri Petaling mosque complex here has emerged as a source of hundreds of new coronavirus infections spanning Southeast Asia. – NSTP pic

HOLDING HANDS, SHARING PLATES

The packed gathering, where guests had to take shuttle buses to sleep at other venues, was attended by nationals from dozens of countries, including Canada, Nigeria, India and Australia, according to an attendee list posted on social media.

There were also citizens of China and South Korea – two countries with high rates of coronavirus infections.

Social media posts show hundreds of worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder inside the mosque, while some guests posted selfies as they shared food.

It was not clear how many guests were residents of Malaysia, but cases linked to the gathering are popping up daily across Southeast Asia.

“We sat close to each other,” a 30-year-old Cambodian man who attended the event told Reuters from a hospital in Cambodia’s Battambang province, where he was being treated after testing positive for the coronavirus on Monday.

“Holding hands at the religious ceremony was done with people of many countries. When I met people, I held hands, it was normal. I don’t know who I was infected by,” he said, asking not to be named due to fears of discrimination at his mosque.

None of the event leaders talked about washing hands, the coronavirus or health precautions during the event, but most guests washed their hands regularly, two guests said. Washing hands among other parts of the body is part of Muslim worship.

Another attendee from Cambodia said guests from different countries shared plates when meals were served.

Only half of the Malaysian participants who attended have come forward for testing, the health minister has said, raising fears that the outbreak from the mosque could be more far-reaching.

Brunei has confirmed 50 cases linked to the mosque gathering, out of a total of 56 cases. Singapore has announced five linked to the event, Cambodia 13 and Thailand at least two.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, which had nearly 700 of its citizens attend, are all investigating.

That a large religious pilgrimage should have gone ahead, at a time when the epidemic had killed 2,700 people and was spreading from Italy to Iran, has drawn criticism.

More than 182,000 people have now been infected by the coronavirus globally and 7,165 have died.


‘IRRESPONSIBLE’

“That Tablighi event in KL (Kuala Lumpur) … could also cause a regional spike and it was irresponsible for the authorities to have allowed it to be held,” Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said on his Facebook page.

It is not the only religious event to spread the virus on a mass scale. Thousands of cases in South Korea are linked to services of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the city of Daegu.

At the time of the event in Malaysia, the country was in political turmoil. The country had a one-man government in the 94-year-old interim prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had quit and was temporarily re-appointed the same day.

Prime Tan Sri Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the new premier on March 1 and banned mass gatherings on March 13. Prior to that, there was only advice from the health ministry to minimise public exposure.

Some attendees defended the event, saying that at the time the situation in Malaysia – which had announced 25 known cases by Feb 28 – was not severe.

“We were not worried then as the Covid-19 situation at the time appeared under control,” said Khuzaifah Kamazlan, a 34-year-old religious teacher based in Kuala Lumpur who attended the event but has tested negative for the coronavirus.

Khuzaifah said some of the worshippers who attended the event have since refused to be tested for coronavirus, preferring to rely on God to protect them.

Karim, a 44-year-old Malaysian who attended the gathering and later tested positive for coronavirus, says the government should have cancelled the event.

“We are a bit disappointed that this outbreak has been blamed entirely on us. That view is unfair. There was no ban on our gathering,” said Karim, who gave only his first name.

“Now I am concerned because I am positive. Please pray for me.” – REUTERS

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‘Tabligh event attendees 12k, not 16k’ | New Straits Times …

 

Covid-19: Cases up by 212 in biggest daily jump, death toll at 14

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Meltdown and challenging times and profiting from market downturn


starbiz@thestar.com.my

https://youtu.be/Ue6N787O4SI

 

IT is trying times for everyone as the global financial world melts down but the order of the day is really to stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) so that some normality could return.

Ironically, two things seem to be rising amid the turmoil – the demand for toilet paper caused serious fights in supermarkets across the globe and this has gone viral across various networks.

The other is the US dollar. Its rise has many reasons.

Everything else, including stock markets, oil, bonds, commodities, currencies and bitcoin are plunging to new lows with no clear signs of immediate reversal. Just in a month the FBM KLCI is down by 20% while the Dow Jones Industrial average 31%.

The rise in demand for toilet paper cannot be comprehended but the rise of the US dollar in a mayhem is understandable. Corporations across the global are rushing to draw down credit lines and seek the US dollar for their funding needs.

In fact, people are scrambling for the US dollar and as a report said “world markets are still very, very nervous …people are scrambling for cash any way they can.’’

Ringgit against the US dollar has reached the RM4.41 range.

Bonds are also seeing the biggest wave of withdrawals since 2017 and gold has fallen as there are concerns of a global economic recession.

The timing of the Saudi Arabia-russia oil price war was shocking and a report said it is a “risky move likely to further destabilise a world economy that is already wobbly with the pandemic.’’

Oil has plummeted to about US$30 a barrel and experts believe it could plunge to US$20 a barrel though the Us-trump Administration may intervene as US producers are suffering from the historic crash in prices.

Amid all these fears, governments across the globe are coming out with stimulus packages to help its citizens and businesses. It is a much needed aid as many countries have enforced total lockdown and people on daily jobs need money for survival. The US alone is forking out US$1 trillion in aid. Other countries have set aside billions of dollars including Malaysia Rm20bil.

StarBiz compiled by B.K. SIDHU & EUGENE MAHALINGAM

Profiting from market downturn

Investment strategy: The benefit of dollar-cost averaging is that you don’t have to monitor the price movement and you don’t have to make a decision every time you want to invest. In fact, dollar-cost averaging is quite a no-brainer strategy.

MOST people tend to be very bearish about the stock market after a crash. In fact, most investors would feel that it would be best to avoid the stock market for now.

Some may even want to cut their current investment losses and get out of their investments in equities, even though seasoned investors would tell you that the best opportunity to enter the market would be after a market crash

Following the recent global stock market downturn, market sentiments, the desire and motivation to invest is at an all-time low. Understandably so, after all, once bitten twice shy.

However, the legendary “Oracle of Omaha” and one of the most successful investor of all time, Warren Buffett, once said that as an investor, it is wise to be “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

It’s hard, if not impossible, to convince oneself to invest when the whole world is panicking.

On one hand, you think the market crash is so sharp that you are fearful it may drop even further. On the other hand, you can clearly see that premium stocks are now trading at a great discount, and hence now would be a great opportunity to snap them up. What should you do?

If this is your dilemma, there’s an investment strategy that can help you to take advantage of the market downturn and allay your fear: the method is called dollar-cost averaging.

How dollar-cost averaging operates

Dollar-cost averaging is a strategy to invest a specific amount of money in the market at routine intervals (monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly). Done right, you can protect yourself against fluctuations and downside risk in the market.

For example, instead of investing a lump sum of, say, RM120,000, you invest RM10,000 a month over one year. By doing this, you average out the cost of investments over an extended period of time. This is to make sure you don’t invest all your money at the peak of the market.

On the other hand, this strategy works especially well in an extended market downturn (like what you expect now) as you will keep buying at lower and lower prices until the market recovers.

For example, you invest RM1,000 in an equity unit trust fund at RM1 per unit. So, you end up with 1,000 units. The following month, you invest another RM1,000 in the same fund but because the unit price has dropped to 50 sen, you end up with 2,000 units.

So, what is the average cost of all your units? If your answer is 75 sen, you’re wrong. That’s because you have used the arithmetic mean (RM1+50sen/2>75 sen). You should use the harmonic mean.

This is how to calculate the average cost of all your units correctly: Your total investment is RM2,000 and you have 3,000 units of the fund. Divide RM2,000 by 3,000 units and the average cost is 67 sen. This means by using harmonic mean calculation, dollar-cost averaging gives a lower average cost.

How it helps you to profit from current market

Now, let’s see how we can apply dollar-cost averaging strategy to the current market scenario. You’re bearish about the market and think it will go down for another six months.

Dollar-cost averaging works well if you believe the market will continue to go down.

With reference to Table 1, if you invest RM1,000 a month for the next 12 months, you would have invested RM12,000 and accumulated 25,648 units at the end of the period. At 80 sen (which is lower than the original price), your investment value at the end of the period is RM20,518 (80 sen x 25,648 units).

It means that you would have gained RM8,518 (RM20,518 – RM12,000). That’s a 71% gain over 12 months, despite the fund price being beaten down by as much as 78% (90 sen – RM0.20 = 70 sen, then divided by 90 sen = 78%).

Why it can help you

Dollar-cost averaging is a discipline that can help investors overcome their emotion, dilemma and other human feeling when it comes to investing, be it fear or greed. We’re always tempted to invest when the market is high and so we end up buying high instead of buying low. With dollar-cost averaging, we’re automatically programmed to buy less units at higher prices and more units at lower prices instead.

Thus when the market crashes and prices are low like now, we would be empowered to invest, not react out of fear.

For this strategy to work, you would need to invest a specific amount of money at specific intervals, say RM10,000 a month over one year, no matter what the market condition is in. If you think that the market may crash and rebound in a shorter period, you may want to implement the strategy within one month. For example, RM30,000 a week over a one-month period. It does not matter which interval, what’s important is that it’s done consistently.

Your current investment strategy to buy only when the price has dropped to a certain “attractive” level is commendable. However, to execute this strategy well, you must be disciplined enough to monitor the market movement closely and spend time and energy to decide when would be the right time to buy the investment.

The benefit of dollar-cost averaging is that you don’t have to monitor the price movement and you don’t have to make a decision every time you want to invest. In fact, if you’d ask me, dollar-cost averaging is quite a no-brainer strategy.

How to make dollar-cost averaging work better

Dollar-cost averaging offers the most benefit when you invest in investments whose prices are highly volatile (move up or down in a big quantum).

An investment that is highly volatile is often perceived as a risky investment. However, this risk plays to your advantage when dollar-cost averaging is applied. How so? The strategy helps to perform an efficient accumulation of investment units. When a particular investment drops significantly in price, you get to accumulate more units. The bigger the drop, the more units you accumulate, thus your accumulation is more efficient (you get to buy the units at a cheaper price).

In comparison, if you invest in an investment that has low volatility, the drop in price would be too small and you can only accumulate a few units, thus rendering your accumulation to be less efficient.

Therefore, when you apply dollar-cost averaging strategy on your unit trust portfolio, go for equity funds. Avoid money market funds or bond funds.

Warning: Don’t apply dollar-cost averaging strategy on a single share. There’s usually an underlying reason why the price of a particular share is in a continuous downward trend. In such circumstances, there’s no assurance that the price will ever go up when the whole market rebound. Worst, the share may not even survive the tough economic crisis and ends up getting delisted.

Do remember that for dollar-cost averaging to work, your chosen investment must be resilient enough to rebound when stock market recovers.

Dollar-cost averaging is best suited if you have a portfolio of equity unit trust funds that is diversified into various regions, so that risks is spread across the share of many companies.

Act on it

To truly benefit from dollar-cost averaging, you have to apply it to your investments. During the implementation process, your resolve would be tested.

There will be times where you will be tempted to abandon the strategy especially when the price of your investment has dropped even further.

Do not waver! Be discipline in executing your strategy and enjoy the gains when the market recovers. Onwards and upwards.

– Yap Ming Hui (ymh@whitman.com.my) is thrilled that his mission to empower every Malaysian with a roadmap to financial freedom has finally come to fruition with the release of a free DIY roadmap to financial freedom tool on the iWealth mobile app. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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All the majority Malays need to change is to abandon their fear of the minority non-Malays, well said Datuk Zaid Ibrahim



Malays say they are falling behind other ethnic groups in many fields. They seem to think that it is all because the non-Malays are in control of the economy and the country. The solutions offered to them by their political and religious leaders are the same; they were told that they must unite and that they must follow the real teachings of their religion. It is the same advice given to them all these years since independence. It did not work out to help the Malays and the poor. How much more unity can the Malays achieve, and how much more Islamic can they be?

I wish to offer the Malays a new practical solution to their problems. They need to abandon their political groupings where only Malays are members of that group. They tried UMNO PAS and lately Bersatu; for sixty years now, and what have they achieved? Very little. The Malays should abandon the Malay only parties altogether. They are not only useless but damaging to the welfare of the Malays.

For many years now, we are full of corruption and abuse of power; and where religion has become a political tool. The purity and sanctity of religion are compromised — the need for politics soils religious values every day.

They must now join the grouping that they believe is a “threat “to them. DAP is seen by many as a threat to the Malays, according to these failed Malay leaders. If that is true, then the Malays should join the DAP in droves.

You may say that DAP is a Chinese party, but that’s because the Malays refuse to join them. If we all join DAP then DAP becomes a multiracial party where Malays will be fairly represented. It will cease to be a Chinese party. It can be a dominant Malay party; not that it’s essential.

DAP is a party in government. Its a strong democratic party. Besides PKR, this is the party that the Malays should join and try to get better economic benefits for them by having a government with good policies for the Rakyat.

Some questioned if the Chinese will share the fruits of the country’s economic development with the Malays. Of course, they will. They have been sharing the wealth of the country with the Malays for three hundred years now. Except that in the past; the wealth was shared with the Malay elites.In Perak, the tin miners were partners with the aristocracy. Since the NEP the Chinese were partners with the Malay political leaders. I am sure you must know how many Malay political leaders become wealthy because they have good Chinese and Indian friends. I don’t have to elaborate.

In this religious country; PAS leaders tell you that we must elect Muslim leaders first. They conveniently do not follow what they preach. You must know that the big timber tycoons and developers in the country are mainly Chinese. PAS leaders, too, are close to wealthy Chinese people in the business. So you see the Chinese do share their wealth with the Malays.

What must change is that the ordinary Malays like you and me must get together to create a new political force and become a genuine business partner of the non Malays? Why should the Chinese deal with the ‘middlemen’ like they have done for hundreds of years when they can deal directly with the “Rakyat” to make this country prosperous and to share its prosperity?

The reason why our leaders, both political and religious, want to keep the Malays and the non Malays apart is to make them”relevant’ as power brokers. After sixty years of independence, I urge you, the people of this country, regardless of race, to take ownership of the country. Enough of the leaders using the politics of race and religion to divide the people; and enrich themselves.

When the Malays and the non-Malays have real political power and willing to collaborate as one, we can devise policies and programs that will benefit all Malaysians. We can do so directly; addressing the real needs of the people. Only then can we give real development to the people; without the need to continue with the services of the rent-seekers and wealthy politicians and wealthy civil servants.

All the Malays need to change is to abandon their fear of the non-Malays. After all the non-Malays have always been sharing their wealth with the Malays; since the days of Yap Ah Loy, the Perak miners and the estate owners. This time we just have to tweak the formula; Let the non-Malays unite with the Malays. Political and economic benefits will flow to the ordinary Rakyat instead of the elites of this country when politics ceases to be about race and religion.

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Expectations of MY government

 

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PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be in charge of all ministries and government departments until the appointment of Cabinet ministers, says the latest Federal Government gazette.

The gazette signed on Tuesday by the Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali, also stated that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, pursuant to Article 43 of the Federal Constitution, has appointed Muhyiddin as Prime Minister.

“This Order is deemed to have come into operation on March 1,2020, ” said the notice that was uploaded on the Attorney General’s Chambers website.

“It is notified that the Prime Minister, (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin) shall be charged with the responsibility in respect of all departments of the Federal Government and the subjects for which the departments are responsible until the appointment of other ministers in the Cabinet.”

Muhyiddin, who was sworn in as Prime Minister on March 1, met chief secretaries from the Education and Foreign Ministries yesterday.

The newly minted Prime Minister posted pictures on Facebook of him meeting the duo in his office that featured empty shelves and empty tables, a sign of someone who has just moved in.

In the Facebook post, Muhyiddin said Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas briefed him on developments and suggestions to upgrade the education sector.

Foreign Ministry chief secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob was also seen explaining Malaysia’s current diplomatic relationships and pending international conferences.

“Mohd Gazali gave explanations on developments in the education sector as well as statistics of achievements, and gave suggestions on how to build up the education sector.

“Shahrul of the Foreign Affairs Ministry briefed the prime minister on the current relationship between Malaysia and other countries, as well as collaborations and important conferences which will take place this year, ” said the post.

It is believed that one of the main subjects discussed was the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) inter-governmental forum that will be held in November in Kuala Lumpur.

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The Cabinet list jigsaw puzzle


Muhyiddin Yassin

GPS, having played the kingmaker in the political saga, expects to be well rewarded. Thus, drawing up the Cabinet list will be a more complicated task this time around, as there are just so many variables that need to be considered.


AS Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin thinks about the composition of his Cabinet list, he will certainly need to take heed as to how Sarawak should be rewarded.

There is no doubt that the 18 Members of Parliament from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) were the ones who made the critical difference in the numbers game last week.

The GPS consists of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

It was game over when these lawmakers chose Muhyiddin instead of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be prime minister.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg put it aptly when he told the media that “now you know the value of GPS votes.”

He said the ruling state coalition initially supported Dr Mahathir to continue leading the country.

“After that, he resigned. Then he resigned from Bersatu. After that, he was back again. So left, right, left, right, what else to expect?

“That’s why we supported Muhyiddin. At the same time, our Sarawak interest is uppermost, ” he added.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had hoped that GPS would remain neutral at least but the political reality was that GPS had to make a stand.

If there was one big factor that had made up the final decision of the GPS, it has to be the DAP.

Outspoken Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing has consistently said that GPS would not support a coalition that included DAP in the ongoing political crisis.

He blamed DAP’s “administrative arrogance” for this, adding that the party did whatever it pleased without listening to others, citing Lim Guan Eng as an example.

He pointed out that the former Finance Minister had announced that Sarawak would go bankrupt within three years when the DAP leader came to the state last year.

The reality is actually the opposite.

In 2019, S&P Global Ratings has affirmed its ‘A-’ rating on Sarawak with stable earnings outlook and said the state’s exceptional budgetary performance and liquidity will likely mitigate its elevated debt, supporting its creditworthiness.

The state’s healthy financial standing and its stable socio-political environment have earned Sarawak commendable investment-grade credit ratings of A-, A3 and AAA by reputable international and domestic rating houses.

A Google search of the financial standing of the country’s largest state is sufficient to show that.

Lim’s hurtful remark, and other past disputes with the DAP, seem to have left a deep-rooted resentment of the party among GPS members, and last week, was payback time.

While it has been said that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics, this doesn’t seem to apply in the case of the GPS in this regard.

At one point, Masing even said the GPS was “more comfortable working with PAS than DAP.”

As the situation turned desperate, Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said the party was willing to make concessions with GPS to keep the Pakatan Harapan government intact, appealing to GPS “to put aside all past political differences and work together with Pakatan to save our country.”

Many interpreted the offer to mean the DAP’s readiness in not contesting in the upcoming Sarawak state elections.

But it came too late as the GPS had already made up its mind after having huddled together for two days at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

It remains to be seen what the GPS had asked for and what Muyhiddin has to offer.

It will be Sarawak’s gain over neighbouring Sabah as Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal opted to stay with Pakatan.

A statement from the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office on Feb 29 said GPS supported Muhyiddin to restore political stability in the country without sacrificing Sarawak’s interest.

It also said that GPS would be friendly to the new Federal Government but was not a member of the Perikatan Nasional coalition.

Some senior leaders of the GPS said privately that they wanted to see what would be on the table but expected to be rewarded accordingly.

Others said that they were prepared to wait till the state elections were over – as these veteran politicians were aware that Pakatan would most certainly use the alliance with Perikatan Nasional as a rallying call against the GPS in the state polls.

Unlike Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawakian leaders are more interested in protecting and keeping their state positions rather than federal posts.

“The interest of Sarawak is more important than the interest of lawmakers, ” Masing told this writer.

But the immediate priority would be to demand a higher oil royalty from the current 5% and if this was a sticky point under Pakatan, it will likely remain so for the new Perikatan Nasional government.

The other is the Malaysia Agreement 1963, or more popularly known as MA63.

The agreement – an 18-point pact for Sarawak and 20-point for Sabah – was signed on July 9,1963, before the formation of Malaysia.

It is an important document safeguarding the rights and autonomy of the two states.

The 18-point and 20-point agreement covers religion, language, constitution, immigration, the position of the indigenous people, finance, tariffs and citizenship.

Sabahans and Sarawakians are understandably annoyed when they hear “orang Malaya” remark that these two states “joined Malaysia”, pointing out that they had, in fact, helped to form Malaysia.

In the peninsula, the governing state leaders are known as state executive councillors but over in Sabah and Sarawak, they are known as state ministers.

That also explains why Malaysians from the peninsula side need their identity card or passport when entering these two states, and state immigration have the right to deny anyone entry.

“Orang Semenanjung” who want to work in these two states have to apply for a work permit.

The same goes for lawyers who wish to appear in the courts of either state – they have to get approval beforehand.

Most Malaysians may not understand fully what MA63 is all about, even if they have become contentious political issues.

But most believe that the Federal Government has not given due recognition to the MA63 or that these safeguards have not been honoured or taken away.

Sarawakians want a greater degree of financial and political autonomy as compared to other states in the peninsula and not end up being merely one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

It remains to be seen how or what posts would be given to the GPS MPs, and whether this state coalition wishes to wait till the state polls are over before moving in but what is certain is that the new Prime Minister certainly cannot ignore the Land of the Hornbill.

Abang Jo’s words (now you know the value of the GPS) would surely ring continuously in the ears of the Prime Minister.

And now, this explains why a tiny country like Malaysia, with a population of over 32 million people, has a big Cabinet – it is simply because the Prime Minister has to accommodate so many geographical and ethnic interests.

It is also very possible that the Prime Minister may announce the appointments in batches, starting with the crucial ones. This will allow him time to tinker.

Drawing up the Cabinet list will be a more complicated task this time, unlike previously, as there are just so many variables that need to be considered.

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