Malaysia climbs four spots in EIU democracy index, ranked highest among Asean countries

Malaysia has jumped four spots up the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s Democracy Index 2020 and has achieved its highest rank ever. It is currently ranked 39 out of 167 countries ranked by the EIU, according to a research division of the firm which publishes The Economist magazine. “Political stability in Malaysia has deteriorated since the departure of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in March 2020. However, improvements in electoral process and pluralism have resulted in more democratic political institutions,” the report said. This is an improvement from the 43rd spot in 2019 and the 52nd spot in 2018. In the Asia and Australasia region, Malaysia is ranked sixth – behind South Korea and ahead of Timor-Leste. Malaysia is also currently ranked highest among all Asean nations. The EIU gave Malaysia a 7.19 score out of a maximum of 10 alongside France, the United States, Singapore and Guyana. (The Star Online)

MOH ready to implement first phase of national immunisation plan

The Health Ministry (MOH) is prepared to implement the first phase of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Plan, once the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are in Malaysia on Feb 26, said Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba. He said the vaccine delivery dry runs to Belaga Health Clinic in Sarawak on Jan 29 and Bintulu Hospital on Jan 30 went smoothly without any problems. Dr Adham said the COVID-19 vaccine storage for the first phase, equipped with facilities such as the ultra low temperature freezer (ULTF) was to ensure that the vaccines are maintained at the correct temperature before being removed and distributed to vaccination sites which have been identified. Silent carriers were the cause of the widespread transmission during COVID-19 second wave in Malaysia and as such basic education is important and measures must be taken to curb spread of infection as well as to reduce medical expenses. (Bernama)

Govt to address structural issues in Budget 2022 while rolling out Budget 2021

The government has started working on Budget 2022 to address the country’s structural issues while rolling out Budget 2021 to ensure the country’s future measures are not only strategic, but also targeted, on-point and outcome-based, said Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz. Referring to Budget 2022 and the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), Tengku Zafrul said there are structural issues that cannot be solved overnight, requiring deeper consideration and longer-term planning. The upcoming 12MP, for the 2021-2025 period, and Budget 2022 would address issues including human capital policies and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On the country’s shadow economy, Tengku Zafrul said the government would also strengthen the country’s revenue base via a multi-pronged strategy through regulating the shadow economy, which was estimated to be 18% of GDP or about RM300 billion in 2019. (The Edge)

WFH not influencing property buys, say property experts

The trend of buying properties on the outskirts of towns and cities is not new and the current uptick in sales may be influenced by factors other than the work-from-home (WFH) concept, property experts said. President of the Association of Valuers and Property Consultants in Private Practice, Michael Kong, said the trend was prevalent even before the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that the bigger picture is affordability rather than WFH regulations. “Housing prices within central areas have become too exorbitant and out of reach of general buyers.” Former president of the Malaysian Chapter of the International Real Estate Federation, Yeow Thit Sang, said said that most people fail to understand that transportation costs will increase after the pandemic and when companies require people to work from offices. (The Sun Daily)

Emerging markets to propel Asia-Pacific data centre sector in real estate

The Asia-Pacific data centre sector is poised to enter a new cycle of growth, led by the region’s larger emerging markets, according to JLL’s “The rise of new data centre growth markets” report. The region is home to three of the world’s four most populous countries — mainland China, India and Indonesia — providing attractive locations and fuelling a new cycle of operators and investors’ opportunities. The rise of Internet usage, smartphone adoption, social media, e-gaming, video streaming and big data applications demand extra data centre capacity across the region. “The sheer scale of growing data consumption makes data centre infrastructure a compelling global and regional opportunity for both investors and operators,” said JLL capital markets alternatives senior director Bob Tan. Malaysia’s data centre market size is likely to reach a revenue of over US$800 million (RM3.24 billion) by 2025, according to JLL. (The Edge)