MCO extended to Feb 4 for all states except Sarawak, eateries open until 10pm

The movement control order (MCO) for Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor, Kelantan, Sabah and three Federal Territories have been extended to Feb 4 following a significant number of Covid-19 cases recorded over the past 14 days. The MCO for these states as well as Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan which started on Jan 13 was initially set to end on Jan 26. Meanwhile, restaurant operators can now operate until 10pm from 8pm previously. Food delivery services will also be extended. Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Health Ministry reported that many districts in the six states as well as in the Federal Territories were now red zones with high infectivity rate. He said the extension would also coincide with the date of when the MCO ends in the other remaining states, except for Sarawak. The MCO for Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Terengganu and Perlis starts today until Feb 4 while Sarawak is currently under conditional MCO. (The Star Online)

Govt may use Emergency powers to increase fines for Covid-19 breaches

The federal government will be looking at imposing harsher penalties for breaches of rules related to Covid-19 including longer jail terms, and may increase fines from the current RM1,000 to a higher amount by using its powers under the Emergency. Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that one of the reasons for non-compliance of standard operating procedures relating to Covid-19 was due to the maximum compound of just RM1,000 under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342). “Many citizens were angry with us, because the fine is only RM1,000 [for companies]. But this cannot be avoided because the law already fixed it, Act 342 already provided RM1,000 only for fine,” he said. The Emergency can allow for increase in penalty and compounds. “Firstly, the fine to individuals can be increased to the maximum. Secondly, the fine to companies, the compound could be increased, now it is RM1,000, maybe we can increase the maximum to be RM100,000, the jail term could be increased to a longer term,” he said, adding that this could be made into an Emergency Ordinance to ensure that Malaysians and companies comply with SOPs relating to Covid-19. (Malay Mail)

Bintai Kinden ventures into property development, management

Bintai Kinden Corporation Bhd (BKC) is diversifying into property development and management business to reduce its reliance on the mechanical and electrical (M&E) engineering business. Under the plan, the company will undertake two mixed property development and management projects that has healthcare facilities and wellness services namely Holistica Melaka and Holistica Penang. BKC managing director and chief executive officer Ong Choon Lui said the expansion of the group’s property development business segment is part of it’s corporate strategy to diversify into other industries with strong growth prospects instead of depending solely on its existing core M&E engineering business. BKC has past experiences and expertise in undertaking and completing various construction of property development and related projects across a span of 36 years. (NST Online)

Crack down on booking fee scam, say house buyers

The National House Buyers Association has urged the housing and local government ministry to come down hard on property developers or their agents who collect booking fees, as this practice is illegal. The association’s secretary-general, Chang Kim Loong, said the housing development regulations state that no person, including parties acting as stakeholders, may collect any payment except as prescribed by the contract of sale. “Nonetheless, there has been no reported prosecution in the courts against those housing developers and sales agents who flout this prohibition,” he said. Developers were not allowed to collect any payment from purchasers before a sale and purchase agreement was signed, yet booking fees were being collected due to lax or lack of enforcement. On Tuesday, the Federal Court ruled that the calculation for late delivery payment to house buyers begins from the date the booking fee is paid, and not when the sale and purchase agreement is signed. (Free Malaysia Today)

COVID-19 assessment centre expected to start operations next week

The COVID-19 assessment centre is expected to start operations next week to coordinate and integrate the public and private hospitals in managing the pandemic cases in the country. Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said coming Saturday they will hold the third discussion with the private hospital to look into details and technical implementations for the centre. “We hope that when we set up the COVID-19 assessment centre, some patient groups can be managed by the private sector,” he said. However, he said since the second wave of COVID-19 hit the country, the private sector had lend a hand to assist the government including mobilising some of their specialists and staff to work at the Sungai Buloh Hospital. He said the Health Ministry (MOH) was expected to increase the capacity of COVID-19 laboratories that can conduct the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests, to between 100,000 to 150,000 tests per day. (Bernama)