Malaysians living abroad cashing out EPF funds due to scandals, weak ringgit
Thousands of overseas Malaysians are withdrawing their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings due to the financial scandals and political instability plaguing the country over the past two years. In 2014, a total of 3,098 Malaysians renounced their citizenship and left the country, withdrawing RM303 million from the retirement scheme fund. The amount is a shocking 63% increase from 2010, where only RM185 million was withdrawn by those leaving the country, according to statistics from EPF. Apart from growing fears about the economic and political uncertainty, the ringgit’s worrying decline over the past year is also a reason for Malaysians living abroad to renounce their citizenship in order to make a full EPF withdrawal. Many people kept their money in EPF even when living or working abroad, but the sudden influx of withdrawals is due to fears regarding the currency depreciation. (The Malaysian Insider)

Sunway Property is best property firm in Asia for 2015
Sunway Property, Sunway Bhd’s property division, has been named Property Company of the Year 2015 – Asia in the World Finance Real Estate Awards organized by World Finance, a UK-based financial magazine. The company said the award was in recognition of its high standards in design, quality, innovation and sustainability. Readers of the magazine voted for the nominated organisations and projects, followed by internal research for final deliberation by the award’s selection panel. The World Finance judging panel said Sunway’s commitment towards building first-class infrastructure in Malaysia, and determination towards social development focusing on education and healthcare had earned Sunway the accolade. (The Edge Markets)

MRCB sells off stake in River of Life project
Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) is exiting the RM4 billion River of Life project by selling its 40% stake in both project delivery partners to Ekovest Bhd for RM8.5 million. The move is part of the group’s macro strategy to monetise non-core assets and focus its resources on the core businesses of property development, specialised infrastructure and environment projects. As the minority shareholder in JV1 and JV2 of the project, MRCB is not expected to benefit from further development in the River of Life project. The disposal is expected to relieve the group from having to increase its investment in the proposed development. (The Sun Daily)

Shares of some property companies could rise despite gloomy outlook
Despite the gloomy outlook for the property market, CIMB Research said that stock prices of some property companies could rise. Observations of past KL Property Index performance showed the index could rise “even if actual property sales continue to decline”. Property sales is expected to pick up in the second half of 2016 on the back of improved economic conditions. The valuation of property stocks have fallen to a level not seen since the last global financial crisis, with the KL Property Index falling by 14%. CIMB said now could be the time to accumulate property stocks for maximum returns. (The Star Online)

IHH riding on Gleneagles Medini
IHH Healthcare Bhd’s newest hospital, the RM400mil Gleneagles Medini, is likely to break even sooner than expected, given its world-class services and facilities and close proximity to Singapore. The hospital offers treatments using state-of-the-art medical equipment to cater to both local and foreign patients, and is currently the only tertiary hospital operating in Medini, as well as being one of only three hospitals in Malaysia approved for Singaporeans to use their Medisave savings scheme. Given the Medisave approval and close proximity to Tuas Second Link, it will attract more Singaporeans and thus the hospital’s management is looking to offer free shuttle buses for patients across the causeway. Open since Nov 11, the RM400mil hospital is currently operating with about 40 beds and has treated more than 1,000 patients, including Singaporeans, and delivered 32 babies. Its competitive pricing is especially attractive to Singaporeans who want access to world-class medical treatments and boarding at cheaper prices, which are about 30% cheaper than those in Singapore. (The Star Online)

Related: Read how the medical tourism industry could help prop the weak Malaysian property market.

Malaysia retains status as global sukuk hub
Malaysia has maintained its leading position as a global sukuk hub in 2015, accounting for 53% of global issuance at the end of the year. The achievement is an encouraging one, considering the devaluation of the ringgit, slower sukuk issuance and new issuers from other countries, said RAM Ratings. Although the results pale in comparison to the 69% achieved in 2014, the ringgit remains the currency of choice for 39% of sukuk, followed by the US dollar (32%) and Indonesian rupiah (9%). Out of the total of RM254.2 billion domestically issued debt securities in 2015, RAM Ratings said sukuk constituted 45% at RM114.7 billion. In 2015, the outstanding global sukuk stood at US$280.9 billion, while Malaysia’s share stood at US$150.9 billion. (The Sun Daily)

Taiwan developer arrested over collapsed building
Taiwanese prosecutors yesterday have arrested and questioned the developer of the apartment complex that collapsed during the earthquake on Saturday. The prosecutors detailed flaws in the construction of the building, after photos showed cans and foam had been used to fill parts of the building’s concrete framework. Some reinforcing bars in the concrete of the 16-storey structure were too thin or too short. It was the only high-rise in Tainan to crumble completely when the 6.4 magnitude quake struck before dawn Saturday. So far, 175 people have been rescued, 43 people have been confirmed dead and 95 are still missing. (The Star Online)

Developer of collapsed building arrested after oil cans spotted in its framework (Photo from Straits Times)

Developer of collapsed building arrested after oil cans spotted in its framework (Photo from Straits Times)