Malaysia signs RCEP, world’s largest Free Trade Agreement

Malaysia has signed the historic Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement with 14 other RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs). Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who witnessed the momentous occasion, said the signing signified to the world that Asean, with its five Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners, places utmost priority on regional economic integration that facilitates cross-border trade, investments and the easing of non-tariff measures. “RCEP reflects our strong commitment for international trade, connectivity, rule-based multilateral trading systems and enhancing free flow of trade and investment,” said Senior International Trade and Industry (Miti) Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali. “It will provide better access to bigger markets and certainly this would help our investors and business community to move forward. It is also to ensure there would be no disruption in terms of the supply chain and also our new ventures into new opportunities including e-commerce and digital economy,” he added. Being the largest FTA in the world covering 15 countries with 2.2 billion people or 29.7% of the world’s population, the RCEP represents US$24.8 billion or 28.9% of the world’s GDP. On the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Azmin said he was in no position to speak on its ratification, but Malaysia will monitor its development closely with the new United States administration under the leadership of president-elect Joe Biden. (NST Online)

EPF to announce Account 1 withdrawal details on Nov 18

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will announce the details of access to the members’ Account 1 facility, known as i-Sinar, on Nov 18, 2020 (Wednesday). The EPF in a statement today said i-Sinar, which is in the process of being fine-tuned, was the outcome of an in-depth consultation with stakeholders so that affected members are able to go through this difficult time and ensuring their retirement savings for future well-being. i- Sinar is an extension of the i-Lestari withdrawal facility which has now reached an estimated total withdrawal of RM30 billion and will end in March 2021. Applications for i-Sinar can be made from December 2020 and the amount will be credited into the members’ bank accounts starting January 2021. (The Star Online)

Work-life balance still elusive for KL-ites

People in Kuala Lumpur have the longest working hours and spend the most time commuting to work compared to any other city dwellers in the world, giving KL-ites the third lowest work-life balance globally, says a recent study. According to the “Best Cities for Work-Life Balance 2020” study by US-based security specialist Kisi, Kuala Lumpur ranked 47th out of 50 major cities worldwide for qualities that make working and living easier. However, when it comes to coping with Covid-19, Kuala Lumpur did better – it was the 13th least impacted by the pandemic and had the fifth lowest projected unemployment. The results are based on an analysis of 19 factors grouped under three broader themes – work intensity, society and institutions, and urban liveability – that affect working life overall. Based on those criteria, the top nine cities in the 2020 survey are in Europe, led by Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen in that order, with Calgary (Canada) coming in 10th. Kuala Lumpur was not the lone Asian city to fare poorly: Seoul ranked last (50th) while Hong Kong ranked 45th, Bangkok ranked 43rd and Singapore clinched the 41st place in the work-life balance index. Tokyo interestingly ranked 19th. Last year, Kuala Lumpur ranked 40th out of 40 cities in the same study. (The Star Online)

Top cities for work-life balance 2020
(Source: The Star)
Impact of Covid-19 on cities worldwide
Impact of Covid-19 on cities worldwide (Source: The Star)

Salary, bonus top priority in job search for Malaysian graduates

A recent survey by graduate recruitment company, Talentbank, found that male and female undergraduates prioritise salary and bonus in their search for the ideal employer. These were among their top five priorities besides career development opportunities, good bosses and leaders, learning and development opportunities, good company culture and flexible working hours, said Talentbank founder, Ben Ho. He said that most of the respondents expected a starting salary of RM2,500 — RM3,500 in their first job and a monthly internship allowance of RM1,000. “However, male respondents chose career development as a second priority, while female respondents wanted good bosses and leaders,” Ho said. The ‘Top 10 Most Attractive Graduate Employers To Work For in 2021’ were Maybank, Google, Microsoft Malaysia, Petroliam Nasional Bhd, Shopee Malaysia, Intel Malaysia, CIMB, Shell Malaysia, Celcom Axiata Bhd and PwC Malaysia. The survey also revealed that banking and technology are among the top five preferred industries for both male and female undergraduates. (Malay Mail)

Scientex aims to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over eight years

Scientex Bhd is committed to continue building and delivering 50,000 units of affordable houses in Malaysia within the next eight years. Property division chief operating officer Datuk Alex Khaw Giet Thye said the target could be achieved under the company’s Vision 2028. He said the company’s property division had completed about 21,000 affordable houses nationwide. “The houses are priced below RM500,000 each, of which more than 70% of the units come with a price tag of below RM300,000 each,” added Khaw. Khaw said with escalating property prices and the scarcity of reasonably priced land for development, building houses for low to middle-income groups was a challenge. The company has a total land bank of 2,309.13ha spread over 24 prime locations in Johor, Melaka, Selangor, Perak, Penang and Negri Sembilan. He said the company anticipated demand for affordable houses to increase in the coming years in major cities and towns. (The Star Online)