Putrajaya to establish National Digital Inclusion Council to spur digital economy
The government will set up the National Digital Inclusion Council to focus on creating digital economy income opportunities for the people, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The council, to be headed by Dr Mahathir, will comprise representatives from the ministries of Economic Affairs; Finance; Communications and Multimedia; Women, Family and Community Development; Rural Development; Housing and Local Government; and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry. Also in the council are the ministries of Tourism, Arts and Culture; Transport; Entrepreneur Development; Youth and Sports; Human Resources; and Federal Territories Ministry. “There is definitely merit in attracting and adopting emerging technologies, developing tech talent and facilitating digital inclusion to ensure shared prosperity,” he said. (Malay Mail)

Malaysian developers see property sector recovering, credits ‘self discipline’
Malaysia’s property market is expected to improve following moves to address a chronic oversupply, said a developers group. The Malaysian property sector is facing a severe glut due largely to a surfeit of luxury homes that are beyond what most local buyers can afford, leading to an overhang worth RM19.7 billion. Developers said they have also scaled back new launches in response. “The market will level up in the next two years,” said Rehda president Soam Heng Choon. “The number of available units has dropped due to the ‘self-discipline’ of developers and the sales campaigns,” he added. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced several measures in Budget 2020 to encourage home ownership and reduce unsold homes in the country. (Malay Mail)

Owners of high-rise mixed-use property likely to pay higher maintenance fees
Owners of high-rise projects in mixed-use projects will likely have to pay more for their monthly maintenance charges and sinking fund as a result of a court ruling on a flat management rate for different components. An example would be a project with a mall, serviced apartments and offices on the same commercial land title. Higher default rates are expected, followed by more lawsuits following the ruling by the Court of Appeal that a flat rate be charged for all mixed-used projects that have yet to receive their strata titles. Even as the various parties try to seek a solution from the Housing and Local Government Ministry, service providers in such projects will have to be paid as an equitable solution is sought. We foresee that there will be issues between the developers, JMBs, MCs and owners, said the Malaysian Institute of Property and Facility Managers (MIPFM). (The Star Online)

Govt needs to resolve property overhang to prevent crisis, says PM
The government lowered the price threshold for foreign house buyers in an urgent move to prevent the current property overhang from ballooning into a crisis, Tun Dr Mahathir said. The prime minister said he was previously critical of such measures being implemented in the Forest City project in Johor where properties were said to be freehold and high-end to protect domestic home buyers. “This is not for foreigners who can afford to buy,” he said, referring to the recent announcement that foreigners can now buy high-rise houses in Malaysia at the lowered price of RM600,000. Dr Mahathir said the property overhang could result in a financial crisis, pointing to Hong Kong and Tokyo which were attributed to overdevelopment of their cities. Lim said the move was to encourage the sales of properties from developers and would not affect the secondary housing market. (Malay Mail)

Malaysia the fifth-worst country for personal data protection
Malaysia has been ranked as the fifth-worst country in terms of protecting the personal data of its citizens, a tech study shows. In a study of privacy and surveillance of 47 countries by British tech website Comparitech, Malaysia was placed in the “some safeguards but weakened protection” category with a score of 2.64 out of five points. The study gave a score per category based on a number of criteria, among which includes constitutional protection, statutory protection, privacy enforcement, data sharing, visual surveillance, identity cards and biometrics and government access to data. The study found that the worst-performing country was China (1) followed by Russia (2), India (3), and Thailand (4). Meanwhile, the top five best-performing countries in protecting the privacy of its citizens went to Ireland (1), Norway (2), Denmark (3), Portugal (4) and France (5). (The Star Online)