Malaysia to abolish death penalty for 33 offences
Malaysia has decided to abolish the death penalty for 33 offences under eight Acts of law, including Section 302 of the Penal Code on murder, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong. The decision also encompassed the Firearms (Heavier Penalties) Act 1971, Firearms Act 1960, Kidnapping Act 1961, Armed Forces Act 1972, Water Services Industries Act 2006, Strategic Trade Act 2010 and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. “A Cabinet memorandum has been circulated to the relevant ministries for their comments and to get public feedback on it,” he added. (Malay Mail Online)

Rehda moots rental housing REIT
The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) has proposed a residential REIT to provide public rental housing for the bottom 40 (B40) income group as an alternative solution to home ownership. Its research arm, Rehda Institute, is in the process of formalising the proposal with the assistance of investment banks and accountants. Affordability was still an issue due to other financial commitments for the B40 group. As such, providing more homes for them through public social rental housing could be a way to improve their livelihood, rather than purchasing a house. Under the proposed REIT scheme, the government can provide land for social or public rental housing in suitable locations in urban centres, and the REIT undertakes the project at its own cost. The REIT will also be given the right to rental returns from the development for 30 years at prefixed rental rates. (The Edge Markets)

Govt should promote rent-to-own concept to boost home ownership
The Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) should take the initiative to work with the private sector to promote the rent-to-own concept or other alternatives to encourage homeownership, said Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Lee Heng Guie. He said the perception that owning a home is an urgent need must change if individuals cannot afford to buy them within a short period. Despite the measures announced in Budget 2019, the problem of home ownership still lies in individual’s financial and loan repayment ability. However, currently there aren’t many institutions or private companies offering rent-to-own schemes that suit the needs of the low-income group. The government will need to take the initiative to work with developers to offer more rent-to-own options as this could also help solve the overhang properties problem. (The Edge Markets)

Don’t collect compliance fees for affordable homes, Penang told
The Penang state government should exempt developers from paying compliance costs for all affordable housing units in the state. Kebun Bunga assemblyman Ong Khan Lee said such exemptions would further reduce affordable home prices in the state. He also urged Penang to apply big data analytics to its housing information system, saying this would reduce mismatches between buyers and available affordable homes. It would also reduce the incidents of rich buyers exploiting loopholes to purchase low- and medium-cost homes with cash. He suggested that the state government also appoint an independent party to audit the application process and approval for public housing, low-cost, medium-cost and affordable housing units. (Malay Mail Online)

Finance Minister assures no fire-sale of govt assets
Finance minister Lim Guan Eng has clarified that the government does not plan to sell its non-core assets at fire sale rates, although there are plans to beef up underperforming assets before putting them up for sale. The government also revealed that future land sales will be conducted via competitive tenders. (The Edge Markets)