North Korea and Malaysia ban each other’s citizens from leaving
Prime Minister Najib Razak has called on North Korea to immediately release Malaysian citizens after Pyongyang banned them from leaving the country. According to AP, there are 11 Malaysians in North Korea including three embassy workers, two U.N. staff and six family members. Najib has also instructed police to prevent North Koreans from leaving Malaysia “until we are assured of the safety and security of all Malaysians in North Korea.” On Monday, Pyongyang expelled the Malaysian ambassador from the country, reciprocating Malaysia’s order for the North Korean envoy there to leave within 48 hours. (

Malaysia, Thailand eye bilateral trade boost
Malaysia and Thailand are determined to see bilateral trade achieve the US$30 billion (RM133 billion) target by next year, with border trade set to play greater role in the coming years. The target can be achieved by encouraging greater cross-border trade and investments. Border trade accounted for 65 per cent of the total bilateral trade. Trade with Thailand, the country’s fourth largest trading partner, amounted to US$20.83 billion last year. Discussions are on-going with Thailand to further facilitate trade, investment and tourism flows between the two countries through cross-border movement of commercial and tourist vehicles, expansion of facilities at border entries and exit points. (Malay Mail Online)

Chinese to hold only 24% stake of Bandar Malaysia, Parliament told
Chinese companies will only own a 24% stake in Bandar Malaysia in terms of structured equity, said International Trade and Industry deputy minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong. The transport integrated underground city project will be fully operated by the Ministry of Finance. Joint consortium IWH-CREC will own 60% in Bandar Malaysia, but the real structured equity owned by Chinese companies will only be 24%. The project, to be built over the 486-acre old Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Sungai Besi here, is expected to be worth RM200 billion GDV. The master developer will start carrying out groundwork for the township. (Malay Mail Online)

Malaysia has strong FDI prospects thanks to mega infrastructure projects
Malaysia holds strong prospects for foreign direct investments (FDI), thanks to mega infrastructure plans like the High-Speed Rail, East Coast Rail Link, and China’s One Belt One Road initiative. The weaker ringgit has made Malaysia a more attractive investment destination, said a UOB economist. Expanding intra-regional trade and investments will drive more two-way flows, create new development opportunities, and expand high value-added activities that pave the way for higher-income jobs. Malaysia’s FDI, on a net basis, is described as stable, averaging RM9 billion per quarter since 2010. The positive news on Malaysia and China signing RM144 billion worth of agreements, and the Saudi Aramco and Petronas US$7 billion deal in developing RAPID has been eye-catching in lifting sentiment. (New Straits Times Online)

Ampang Jajar land for religious institutions ‘virtually useless’
Residents near the 12ha land in Ampang Jajar, Butterworth, which was offered for sale by the state government to religious institutions, claimed that is it “virtually useless”. The presence of three sewage ponds and a solid waste storage area had made the 32 lots of land unappealing to developers, as the stench from the sewage ponds was unbearable. The only housing in the area is low-cost flats, PPR and houses converted into foreign workers’ hostels. Taman Ampang Jajar has been plagued with problems, starting from ground settlement problems to the foul stench from the sewage pond. The project, which consisted of 130 two-and-a-half storey terrace houses and a PPR project, was built on reclaimed land. (New Straits Times Online)

The sewerage ponds in Ampang Jajar, Butterworth. Pix by Shahnaz Fazlie Shahrizal/ NSTP

The sewerage ponds in Ampang Jajar, Butterworth. Pix by Shahnaz Fazlie Shahrizal/ NSTP

Seremban set to reap benefits from HSR project
Seremban and its surrounding townships, including the coastal town of Port Dickson, are expected to benefit from future economic development arising out of the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project, which passes through and stops at Negri Sembilan’s capital. Previous examples of successful development and economic activity are evidenced by the areas surrounding MRT stations in the greater Klang Valley. However, as the development is still under discussion, it is yet to be confirmed what economic and other forms of impact the HSR line will have on Seremban and its communities. (New Straits Times Online)

Hap Send to sell unit for RM750mil
Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd (HSCB) has proposed to dispose of the entire equity interest in its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hap Seng Logistics Sdn Bhd (HSL) to LSH Logistic Ltd for RM750mil. The proposed disposal is an opportunity for HSCB to realise a substantial gain from its investment in HSL, it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia. (The Star Online)