Joe Biden sworn in as 46th President of the United States

Democrat Joe Biden was on Wednesday (Jan 20) sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Biden, 78, became the oldest US president in history at a scaled-back ceremony in Washington that was largely stripped of its usual pomp and circumstance, due both to the coronavirus and security concerns. Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, became the first black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president. Biden takes office at a time of deep national unease, with the country facing what his advisers have described as four compounding crises: The pandemic, the economic downtown, climate change and racial inequality. He has promised immediate action, including a raft of executive orders on his first day in office. (Channel News Asia)

MCO 2.0 to cost Malaysia RM600m daily, Zafrul says

The government expects the country to lose RM600 million daily due to the latest Movement Control Order (MCO 2.0), compared to RM2.4 billion daily in March until May, 2020, said Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz. “This MCO is unlike the one in March last year as five essential sectors are still open; small and medium enterprises (SMEs) such as stalls and stores can still be opened,” he said. “Even though these sectors are still operating, we cannot leave things to chance. The duration of the MCO depends on the control of COVID-19 case transmission, ” he added. Tengku Zafrul said PERMAI is an improvement of the initiatives announced in Budget 2021 as well as ongoing initiatives in the Rakyat Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) and National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA). He said PERMAI was also designed specifically for businesses that could not proceed as usual. (The Star Online)

Widad Business Group to develop RM40bil project in Langkawi

Widad Business Group will be developing a high-impact project in Langkawi with an estimated GDV of about RM40 billion over the next 15 to 20 years. Kedah Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said the project consists of tourism-related components such as five-star hotels and resorts, as well as residences and healthcare facilities. “The state government has agreed to the new investment in Langkawi from Widad Business Group to develop the 800-hectare Widad @ Langkasuka with 90% of the development on land near Padang Matsirat reclaimed from the sea.” Muhammad Sanusi added that the project is hoped to be another factor to attract tourists to the resort island. (Malay Mail)

COVID-19 accelerates growth of digital economy, says Muhyiddin

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the world since early last year, has accelerated the growth of the digital economy in Malaysia. According to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, since the pandemic began, things have changed drastically on a daily and, sometimes, on an hourly basis. “The government has identified the digital economy as one of the key economic growth areas to achieve our national commitment of elevating the country to be a nation of sustainable growth while ensuring fair and equitable distribution across income groups, ethnicities and regions. We will drive forward the promise of shared prosperity for all, by focusing on empowering Malaysians with digital skills, enabling digitally-powered businesses and driving digital investments,” he said. The Prime Minister said it may be useful to bear in mind the outlined key ICT strategic measures, with emphasis on the importance of centralisation and unity in the efforts to develop the ASEAN Community in the areas of cybersecurity, personal data protection, 5G, and promoting innovations and e-commerce. (Bernama)

Jack Ma emerges for first time since Ant, Alibaba crackdown

Jack Ma has resurfaced after months out of public view that fuelled intense speculation about the plight of the billionaire grappling with escalating scrutiny over his internet empire. China’s most recognisable entrepreneur addressed teachers via livestream Wednesday (Jan 20) during an annual event he hosts to recognise rural educators. In a video of the event circulated online, Ma talked about how he’ll spend more time on philanthropy. The co-founder of Alibaba and Ant didn’t mention his recent run-ins with Beijing during his address. The executive had kept out of public view since early November, when Chinese regulators torpedoed Ant’s US$35 billion IPO, tightened fintech regulations, then ordered an overhaul of Ant and launched a separate antitrust probe into Alibaba – all in a span of days. (The Star Online)

Jack Ma emerges for first time since China's crackdown on Ant, Alibaba
(Source: ThePrint)