MCO on all states except Sarawak extended until Feb 18

The Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0, scheduled to end on Feb 4 in all states except for Sarawak, has been extended to Feb 18, said Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. He said the decision was made based on the risk assessments and advice of the Ministry of Health (MoH) after finding that daily cases in all states still show an upward trend. Ismail Sabri said the same standard operating procedures (SOP) will apply during the period, including no inter-state travel and no social activities. Stricter SOP will be implemented, including imposing limits on the number of people entering a supermarket to avoid mass gatherings. Meanwhile, he said the MKN was reviewing and considering applications and appeals from business sectors such as car wash outlets, hairdressers, barbers and other sectors to reopen their businesses. (The Edge)

Tread carefully on proposed rent control law, govt told

Property experts say a proposed law that will stop landlords from raising rentals indiscriminately should only apply to certain situations as it can distort the market. Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin has said the Residential Tenancy Act would take into account the interest of both landowners and tenants while ensuring that owners did not raise rental rates or evict tenants at their whims and fancies. The bill will be tabled next year. Henry Butcher chief operating officer Tang Chee Meng said ideally, market forces should be allowed to determine rental rates. “However, there are certain circumstances or situations which may merit some kind of intervention by the government like after a war or natural disaster,” he added. Economist Carmelo Ferlito said rent control was not a good idea as it removed the incentive for developers to build new apartments and for landlords to improve or properly maintain their units as the prospects of profit would be limited. (Free Malaysia Today)

More houses to be built this year for B40, M40

More than RM1 billion has been allocated to build houses for people from the B40 and M40 segments this year through the People’s Housing Project (PPR), Rumah Mesra Rakyat (RMR) and Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Programme (PPAM), said Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin. She said a total of RM500 million has been allocated to build 14,000 PPR units, RM315 million for 3,000 RMR units and RM310 million to build PPAM units this year. “RM125 million is allocated for housing maintenance of stratified low and medium cost units as well as assistance in repairing dilapidated or damaged houses due to natural disasters,” she said. Meanwhile, Zuraida said the Community Garden Policy would be launched this year to optimise land use in the city, targeting one community garden per one PPR. (Bernama)

Malaysia third most attractive Southeast Asian country for hotel investment

Malaysia ranks as the third most attractive country for hotel investment in Southeast Asia, after Thailand and Singapore, according to global property consultancy Knight Frank Malaysia. Its Malaysian Hospitality Investment Intentions Survey, which analysed the investment perspectives of hotel owners, operators and owner-operators, revealed that 14% of the respondents anticipated buying hotel assets within the next two years while 16% looked to make an acquisition even sooner – within the next six months – despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey provided insight on investment demand, investor preferences and pricing. It also showed how COVID-19 impacted the sector and what measures could be taken to provide some much-needed relief. Several criteria were highlighted as important factors when choosing to set up a hotel operation in a country, including tourist arrivals, flight accessibility, and friendly government initiatives. (Bernama)

EU, Belgium assure to fulfil vaccine supply agreements, vaccine plans on track

The European Union (EU) and Belgium have given assurances to fulfil their vaccine supply agreements with Malaysia, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar. He said with the assurances of both the EU and Belgian Ambassadors, Malaysia’s COVID-19 immunisation plan is expected to proceed according to plan. Special Committee on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) had taken note of the recent announcement on export controls by the EU of the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in the EU. The minister further said the first shipment of one million doses (coverage for 500,000) of the Pfizer vaccine will be used in Phase One of inoculation for frontliners and will be delivered in stages over the first quarter of this year. Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was reported as saying yesterday that Malaysia was expected to receive the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Feb 26. (Bernama)