Developers can build houses above RM1mil if they meet requirements
The government will allow housing projects worth more than RM1 million in big cities if they meet the requirements set by the Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Ministry. Approval would be given to the developers on a ‘case by case’ basis. “Developers who want to undertake or build houses more than RM1 million at their choice of location in the city must write in an official application to the ministry. The approval of the project will depend on the need for the development in that area, the number of houses worth more than RM1 million which are sold or not sold in the area of request, and whether the appeal or application is suitable,” said Tan Sri Noh Omar. A special committee at the ministry would be established to study and approve applications from developers. (NST Online)

World Bank: Malaysia should focus on middle class’ growing aspirations
Malaysia needs to focus on policies that could meet growing aspirations of the huge middle class group in the country, according to a senior World Bank economist. “For progressive prosperity countries like Malaysia, which have largely eliminated extreme poverty and fostered a large middle class, the priority is to satisfy the middle class’ growing aspirations, while mobilising resources to address remaining disparities,” said Dr Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi. The three pillars to support these policy agendas are: fostering economic mobility, enhancing economic security across economic classes, and strengthening institutions. In Malaysia, extreme poverty is negligible, but the gap on income inequality needs to be narrowed, said Dr Sudhir Shetty, the World Bank’s chief economist for East Asia and Pacific. (The Edge Markets)

TH Properties eyes London, Jakarta residential markets
TH Properties Sdn Bhd, the property development arm of Malaysia’s Pilgrims Fund Board, is eyeing London and Jakarta’s residential markets after successfully expanding its business in Sydney, Australia. However, it was not in a hurry to penetrate these markets as it was looking for the right partners to collaborate in the respective countries. The decision to look for partners in venturing into new markets was made based on the success of its venture in Australia, which has secured several residential projects with total GDV of RM3.5 billion. Following its success in Sydney, the company was also eyeing to expand its business to Melbourne and Perth residential markets. (Malay Mail Online)

Axis REIT acquires 40th property, total assets now worth RM2.46bil
Axis REIT has added its 40th property – an industrial facility in Gebeng, Kuantan – to its portfolio, which increases the total assets under management of the trust to RM2.46 billion. The property comprises two contiguous parcels of land with buildings which are used for pipe coating related industrial activities. One parcel of land has been fully paid at the purchase price of RM120 million, while the balance purchase price of the second parcel, at RM35 million, will be paid at a later stage once the completion requirement is fulfilled. (The Edge Markets)

WCT sees higher contribution from property investment
WCT Holdings Bhd expects its property investment segment to contribute 35% to the group’s bottom line in 2018, from 30% at present, following the opening of Paradigm Johor Baru. WCT expects its current stable of shopping malls to benefit from the positive economic outlook. WCT’s property investment segment operates four malls namely Paradigm JB, Paradigm PJ, Bandar Bukit Tinggi Mall (BBT_One) and Getaway@klia2. The company is working on opening its fifth mall in Overseas Union Garden (OUG), which spreads across 25.5ha, and will feature luxury condominiums, a two million square feet shopping mall, modern and prime corporate office tower, retail offices and a prestigious hotel. (The Star Online)

Paradigm Mall Johor Bahru (Photo from Channel NewsAsia)

Penang denies neglecting Bumiputera housing needs
The Penang state government spent RM59.8 million on publichousing for Bumiputeras in the state, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng when denying his administration sidelined the community. The state government also planned to build low-cost and low-medium-cost units for Bumiputeras in all five districts in the state. Besides the 320 low-medium-cost units at the Jalan SP Chelliah project, two other planned projects are a RM7.9 million undertaking in Kampung Permatang Tok Subuh in Bukit Mertajam and another of the same value at Kampung Kepala Gajah in Sungai Bakap. (Malay Mail Online)

Photo from Flickr/Amani Hasan

More than 30% of durian orchards in Malaysia planted with Musang King
There are an overall 66,000 hectares of durian orchards recorded last year, of which 23,700 hectares or 36% were planted with Musang King varieties, said the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry. The number was obtained from a preliminary inventory on durian with 1.5 million durian trees. Singapore and China were among Malaysia’s biggest durian importers in 2015 and 2016. Malaysia’s worldwide total of durian exports in 2015 amounted to RM64.89 million and this increased to RM74.39 million in 2016. (NST Online)

Faulty electrical sources top cause of fires
Among all the causes of fire hazards, faulty electrical sources is at the top of the list in Malaysia, with more than 5,300 cases recorded in the past three years. Fire and Rescue Department statistics revealed that electrical sources were the number one cause of fires, with 877 cases reported in the past seven months. Awareness of electrical safety was low among Malaysians as many were not aware that the human body was a conductor. The public are strongly warned not to use fake electrical and electronic products, such as imitation universal serial bus (USB) wires, chargers and power banks. (The Star Online)

Socso: Laid-off workers eligible for RM600 claims for three months from 2018
Starting next year, workers who have been laid off will qualify for an interim benefit in the form of a cash allowance of RM600 per month for a maximum of three months under the Employment Insurance System (EIS). The government has allocated RM122mil to Socso to implement the EIS. Those who take up Voluntary Separation Schemes (VSS) are also eligible for the benefit. The EIS will be implemented in January as a social safety net aimed at helping private sector workers who lose their jobs to get financial assistance and find new jobs. Under the EIS scheme, the contribution from employers will be 0.2% of an employee’s monthly salary and likewise from the employee. (The Star Online)

Singapore Exchange (SGX) (Photo from The Business Times)

Singapore Exchange launches guidebook to curb insider trading
The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has launched a guidebook titled “Handling of Confidential Information and Dealings in Securities: Principles of Best Practice” to help listed companies prevent insider trading. The guidebook articulates broad measures such as having clear written policies and procedures on the handling of confidential information and restriction on dealings in securities, as well as the restricted dissemination and sharing of confidential information so as to reduce chances of leakage. The guide was written in conjunction with the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), the Law Society of Singapore and the Singapore Insitute of Directors (SID). (The Edge Singapore)