Sultan Muhammad V resigns as the 15th Agong
Kelantan ruler Sultan Muhammad V has decided to vacate his post as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong effective yesterday (Jan 6), according to a statement from Istana Negara. According to the Article 32(3) of the Federal Constitution, the Agong is elected by the Conference of Rulers for a term of five years, but may at any time resign his office by writing to the Conference of Rulers, or be removed from office by the Conference of Rulers. Sultan Muhammad V has officially informed the Malay Rulers of his decision via a letter that was sent to the secretary of the Conference of Rulers. His resignation as Malaysia’s head of state is the first in the history of the country. (The Edge Markets)

Embrace ‘disruptive technology’, Azmin tells property developers
Property developers should be more open towards “disruptive technology” as a means to transform the sector and create more affordable housing in the country, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said. He pointed out the world is undergoing a technological revolution and the use of “disruptive technology” can be an important contributor to the nation’s economy. The government must find a way how we can use these new disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence, Big Data analysis to transform the housing eco-system in Malaysia. (Malay Mail)

Zuraida: One million affordable houses to be built in 10 years
The Housing and Local Government Ministry plans to build one million units of affordable homes within the next 10 years to enable more people, especially the low income earners, to be house owners. Housing minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the ministry would coordinate all housing projects under Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB) and would build 100,000 units of houses a year beginning this year. “The 100,000 units will comprise affordable homes for all, especially those in the B40 group so that they, too, can each own a house. The location and number of houses for each state will be determined soon after we have discussed the matter with the respective state governments,” she said. (Malay Mail)

LBS sets 2019 property sales target at RM1.5b
LBS Bina Group Bhd set its 2019 new property sales target at RM1.5 billion as the developer foresees persisting housing loan application rejections in Malaysia curbing real estate sales. LBS group managing director Tan Sri Lim Hock San said the group’s property sales have been heavily affected by banks’ stringent loan approval criteria. “We foresee housing loan application rejections to persist this year, expecting a rate of 50% or more,” Lim said. Despite the subdued property market, LBS achieved in 2018 a 7.1% increase in property sales from RM1.426 billion in 2017. The industrialised building system (IBS) is a crucial component in LBS’ property projects, which the company hopes to leverage this system for Selangor government projects. (The Edge Markets)

Southeast Asia wary of China’s Belt and Road project, sceptical of US
Southeast Asian countries should be cautious in negotiating with China on its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to avoid being trapped in unsustainable debt, 70% of respondents said in a policy survey. Southeast Asia is increasingly sceptical of U.S. commitment to the region as a strategic partner and a source of security, while China’s reach is seen as growing both politically and economically, a study by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute showed. China was seen by 73% of the respondents as having the greatest economic influence in the region and was also believed to have more influence politically and strategically than the United States. (The Star Online)