Singapore in talks with Malaysia on land crossings

Singapore is in discussion with Malaysia on issues related to workers who want to commute daily through both land crossings, said the republic’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. Although both countries currently have stricter travel measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, Wong said that eventually both will have to see how best they can accommodate the workers. Besides land crossings, Wong said that Singapore is in talks with Malaysia on green lane arrangements, for which essential travel by air in limited numbers and with safeguards, could be conducted safely. Wong, who is the co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19, stressed that “the bottom line is that there will need to be new safeguards and precautions.” (Malay Mail)

Government likely to reintroduce HOC

The government is expected to bring back the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) as part of the country’s economic recovery plan in the second half of the year. The proposal to reintroduce the HOC was made following meetings involving the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia and the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), according to a property industry source. If implemented, he expects the length of the proposed HOC to be over a six-month period until the end of the year. However, looking at the challenging market conditions, he said it will be more viable for the government to extend the HOC to 18 months – until end of 2021. Besides the HOC, Rehda has made several other proposals to stimulate the property market including a review of the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT), lowering and standardising the minimum threshold price for foreigner property buyers and to review the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio cap for third home purchase. (The Edge)

Penang airport expansion project may be postponed

The Penang International Airport (LTAPP) expansion project scheduled to begin in June may be postponed due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) was waiting further instructions from the relevant parties on the status of the project. He said although the Penang Island City Council had given its greenlight, the time was not suitable to begin the project because if the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the airport will not be optimally used. The state government was informed that a clear decision on the matter may be made within six months to one year from now, he said. The expansion project for LTAPP, estimated to cost RM800 million, was approved by the MBPP on Dec 3 last year and was to be implemented in four stages comprising five construction packages. The project will enable the airport to cater to up to 12 million passengers compared to the current capacity of 6.5 million. (Bernama)

Demand for retail, office space to temporarily retract before bouncing back

The retail and office space sectors are among the notable casualties of COVID-19 pandemic as people adapt to the new norm of online shopping and working from home that had deteriorated demand and value for both sectors in the short term. According to the KLCC Stapled Group, the performance of the office segment is expected to remain stable backed by triple net lease agreements and long term leases. Meanwhile, IGB REIT, which saw its share price dropped over three per cent in a year, has now gradually regained lost ground up as recent selldown has presented an opportunity for investors to accumulate the REIT, according to analysts. Based on the outlook from these two giant REITs in Malaysia, existing occupancy of office and retail space occupancy would likely be sustained for the long term. (NST Online)

Dr Mahathir and Co reject their membership termination

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four others have rejected their termination letter from the party claiming that their “sacking” was unlawful. In a joint statement signed by Dr Mahathir, vice president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Rahman and supreme council members Dr Maszlee Malik and Amiruddin Hamzah said that the letters issued to them claimed that they had violated provisions under 10.2.2 and 10.2.3 of the party’s constitution. They added that they did not accept the termination because it was clear that it was against the law and that they reserved the right to take relevant legal action. Earlier, it was reported that the five had been axed by the party for sitting in the Opposition bench during the May 18 parliamentary sitting. (The Star Online)

Mukhriz, Dr Mahathir and Syed Saddiq (Source: The Star Online)