Lynas gets six more months
The operating licence for Gebeng-based rare earth producer Lynas Malaysia will be extended for six months beginning Sept 3, although it comes with stricter conditions governing waste handling. The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) said the Cabinet has decided to renew Lynas’ licence, which was originally due to expire on Sept 2, with three main conditions related to the residue. The first condition is that Lynas will have to move its cracking and leaching process, which is currently conducted in its plant in Gebeng out of the country. Secondly, Lynas will have to identify a specific site to construct a permanent disposal facility (PDF) and to obtain written permission from the state government for the use of that site. The third condition is that Lynas will have to end all research and development activities related to the use of the WLP residue as a soil conditioner for agriculture use, and to contribute 0.5% of its annual gross profit to the Malaysian government until the “cracking and leaching” facility overseas start operating. (The Star Online)

Malaysia’s population hits 32.58 million
Malaysia’s population is estimated to have risen to 32.58 million people in the second quarter of 2019, compared to 32.38 million in the same period last year. Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the figure comprised 29.38 million (90.2%) citizens and 3.2 million (9.8%) non-citizens. The male population surpassed the female population, with the gender ratio remaining at 107 men per 100 women. Mohd Uzir said Selangor recorded the highest population in the second quarter of 2019 with 6.53 million people, while Labuan had the lowest population of 99,300. The 0-14 years age group dropped to 7.6 million from 7.71 million, while those aged 65 and over also increased from 2.09 million people to 2.19 million. According to him, the trend is in line with developed countries that are heading towards an aging population. (Malay Mail)

Be wary of dodgy developers
The Housing and Local Government Ministry has blacklisted dodgy developers on its website. The list includes those which have no advertising permit and developer’s licence (APDL), those responsible for abandoned projects as well as those which failed to honour tribunal claims and settle compound payments. Rehda president Datuk Soam Heng Choon has said it will cancel the membership of any company which has been blacklisted by the government. The public are advised to be wary of developers that do not have APDL for their projects, have abandoned projects, have defied the Tribunal for Homebuyer Claims, and failed to settle compound payments. These four key areas are red flags and homebuyers should research on the background of the developer before committing to a purchase. (NST Online)

Building materials sector expected to stay challenging in near term
The building materials sector is expected to remain challenging throughout 2019 despite improving news flow for the construction sector, according to HLIB Research. Analyst Khairul Azizi Kairudin said cement consumption will remain lacklustre in the second half of 2019 (2H19) on the back of still-weak construction and property development activities, which will in turn translate to weak near-term cement prices. However, construction activities are expected to gradually pick up by 1H20 due to mega project revivals. He also observed that the rising iron ore price will push steel production cost higher, which will squeeze profitability of steel producers. (The Edge)

Zakir Naik’s PR status under review
The Home Ministry is reviewing the Malaysian permanent residency of India-born preacher Dr Zakir Naik even as police investigate him for incitement. Citing unnamed government sources, Singapore daily The Straits Times reported that Cabinet has decided Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is to issue statements that Dr Zakir will no longer be allowed to stay in Malaysia, but will not mention deportation. He was granted Malaysian PR in 2015 under the Barisan Nasional administration. Hugely popular among conservative Muslim Malaysians, the Islamic preacher has drawn flak from the minority ethnic Indians and Chinese for his inflammatory remarks against them and their religious beliefs. Dr Zakir has been evading Indian authorities since 2016, when files were opened against him for allegedly making hate speeches and laundering money. (Malay Mail)