MIEA: Extend HOC perks to secondary market
The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) has urged the government to extend the incentives offered during the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) to first-time home buyers looking to buy from the secondary market. MIEA urged that the stamp duty exemption on instrument of transfer, which has been extended from Jan 1 to June 30 this year for properties ranging from RM300,001 to RM1 million, be made available for first-time home buyers of secondary properties. It also urged the government to offer the stamp duty exemption on instrument of transfer for loans up to RM1 million during the same period to this category of buyers. According to the National Property Information Centre, 80% of all residential property transactions nationwide are from the secondary market while the primary market makes up the remaining 20%. (The Sun Daily)

MACC opens six probes on Penang tunnel
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said it had been probing the Penang undersea tunnel project since 2017, and had opened six investigation papers into the matter — one in July 2017 and another five in January 2018. MACC said three of the papers had been returned to the commission for further investigation while two were being studied by the DPP. One remaining paper was still under investigation. The confirmation from MACC follows an article by blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin on the RM6.3 billion project. had alleged that several DAP leaders including Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow had received kickbacks from project contractor Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd. The MACC had lodged a police report over his blog post a day later. (The Edge)

Putrajaya proposes index to measure cost of living
The government has proposed an index to accurately measure the cost of living to assist employers in determining the right salary increase. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) did not portray the actual situation as it comprised several other factors, for example, an estimate on business production cost and input cost. “I have brought this matter to Bank Negara Malaysia. Maybe the EPF can do the same because at least there are two models for we to compare the indexes to accurately measure the cost of living,” he added. EPF CEO Tunku Alizakri Alias agreed that the creation of such index would be a good first step to move forward in terms of social security infrastructure. (Malay Mail)

Khazanah mulls selling Legoland Malaysia theme park
Sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd is weighing a sale of Legoland Malaysia Resort. According to sources, the theme park could be valued at around RM1 billion including debt. Khazanah is considering the potential divestment as part of its review of non-core assets, the sources added. Legoland Malaysia, located in Johor, is owned by a Khazanah unit and operated by Merlin Entertainments Plc. It is the first Lego-themed park in Asia, covering an area equivalent to over 50 soccer fields with more than 15,000 Lego models made from over 60 million bricks. No final decisions have been made, and Khazanah could decide to keep the property. (Bloomberg)

Malaysia gets own Forest Stewardship grading standards
Malaysia became the first Southeast Asian country to have a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification standards, a supposedly rigorous set of criteria for best practices governing forest management. FSC Malaysia launched its National Forest Stewardship Standards (NFSS), touting it as a major milestone for environmental preservation that include fighting deforestation. The core thrusts of the NFSS are built on feedbacks gathered through three “chambers” that represent the community, policymakers and industry, usually loggers. However, FSC’s certification standards have had its fair share of criticism from other environmental groups, including its former founding member, Greenpeace. (Malay Mail)