No more death penalty, death row inmates to get reprieve
The death penalty will be abolished and there should be a moratorium on all executions until then, said Datuk Liew Vui Keong. The de facto law Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said that the only issue was what to do with the convicts currently on death row. “We will inform the Pardons Board to look into various applications for convicts on the (death penalty) waiting list to either be commuted or released,” said Liew. While the government is studying certain cases, various aspects must be taken into account in ensuring an appropriate penalty was doled out to offenders. Drug-related offences will be different and consideration must be given to convicts who, for example, were drug mules, as compared to those who committed heinous crimes. The Bill on abolishing the death penalty will be tabled in the coming Parliament sitting. (The Star Online)

Affordable homes pipeline expands, deals in property market flat
Malaysian property developers are launching more residential units that are priced RM500,000 and below, but Rehda’s Property Industry Survey 1H 2018 says it has done little to move transaction numbers. The survey revealed that 65% of residential units launched in 1H 2018 were priced at RM500,000 and below, which is a steady increase from 52% in 2H 2017 and 44% in 1H 2017. For the property market as a whole, however, transactions for the period hardly budged despite fewer units on offer. Two- and three-storey terraces were the most popular, followed by apartment/condominium units. On the overhang in the market, the survey revealed that the unsold units are mainly a result of loan rejection, buyers being offered lower margin of financing and unreleased bumiputra units. Rehda members said the top three incentives to encourage provision of affordable housing are lower development charges, lower land conversion premium and exemption of capital contribution. (The Sun Daily)

Negeri Sembilan to tackle issue of abandoned housing, commercial projects
The Negeri Sembilan state government is committed to resolving issues concerning several abandoned housing and commercial projects to help affected buyers. State Urban Wellbeing, Housing, Local Government and New Village Committee chairman Teo Kok Seong said there were currently two housing projects in Kuala Pilah and Gemas, and four abandoned commercial projects in Seremban. The state government is now trying to get other developers to revive the abandoned projects by giving them some new initiatives. (Malay Mail Online)

(Photo from PERI Malaysia)

SST exemption not expected to do much to correct property imbalance
The Sales and Services Tax (SST) exemption on construction materials is not expected to lead to big enough savings that would be meaningful to buyers. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Rehda have urged developers to lower the prices of homes and pass on tax savings to consumers. However, it is believed it will not be much because construction costs typically make up less than half of the development cost of residential properties. The exemption is expected to provide only up to 3% in cost savings, which will not address the imbalances in the property market, say analysts. This is because some of the items are now taxed at a higher rate than under the previous tax system while others are exempted. Since the income of the average Malaysian will not rise immediately or in the short term, developers may have to look at their profit margins in order to support the drive to lower house prices. (The Edge Markets)

Govt to push ahead to streamline property agencies
The government will push ahead to streamline the various departments and agencies involved in the property sector to raise their efficiency, and also push ahead with industrialised building system (IBS). Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said, “With the streamlining of these different agencies, we hope to monitor the distribution of affordable homes, the schemes and also the pricing.” The streamlining of the agencies would enable the data to be consolidated and also fill the existing data gaps so that policy makers, stakeholders and the government could have a better overview. The streamlining of the various agencies would help speed up and create the volume crucial for a successful and effective industrialised building systems (IBS), which faced difficulties due to lack of volume. IBS systems can speed up construction and reduce cost of building houses. (The Star Online)