CNY reunion dinner now allowed, max 15

The government has agreed to allow Chinese New Year reunion dinners to be held, with a maximum attendance of 15. Previously, the SOP announced for this year’s Chinese New Year stated that reunion dinners were limited to those residing in the same household. The new SOP however is based on the travel restrictions of the present Movement Control Order (MCO). Those attending the reunion dinners are permitted a travel distance of within 10km of their homes, without crossing district or state lines. Also allowed are religious activities at places of worship on Feb 11, 12 and 19. Places of worship are allowed to open for devotees on these three days from 6am to 2pm, not exceed 30 people at a time, and must be wearing face masks and observe physical distancing. Prayers can also be held at house compounds on the midnight of Feb 19 for the Hokkien New Year. (NST Online)

Green light for Malaysia-Indonesia travel bubble

Malaysia has been given the green-light by Indonesia over a Reciprocal Green Lane/Travel Corridor Arrangement (RGL/TCA) travel bubble between both nations. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the travel bubble initiative is one of the ministry’s tourism and culture recovery plans formulated last July as part of the measures to revitalise the sector. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin secured the deal with Indonesia during his two-day visit to the Asean country, which concluded on Friday. Nancy said Malaysia had also proposed for transparency and standardisation of cross-border Standard Operating Procedure issued by safe countries to ease travelling. (NST Online)

EPF weighing sale of up to RM450m of real estate assets

Malaysian pension fund Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is considering the sale of at least seven real estate assets around the country with a total estimated value of RM350-450 million, reported The Edge, citing sources. The assets include office buildings it currently occupies, a retail property and a seaside hotel. EPF, which manages close to one trillion ringgit in assets, told the newspaper that any acquisition or disposal or assets is part of the ordinary course of managing its investments as a long-term strategic investor for its 14.8 million members. (The Business Times)

Employers must inform on accommodation for their foreign workers

The Federal Territories Ministry will make it compulsory for every employer to inform on the accommodation for the foreign workers it will be hiring in order to obtain the development order approval. Its minister, Tan Sri Annuar Musa said this was to ensure that these workers would not be living in over-crowded kongsi houses in line with the government’s efforts in curbing the spread of COVID-19 among foreign workers in the federal territories. “We make this condition mandatory but it will be implemented in stages as several centralised labour quarters (CLQ) will need to be provided,” he said. The CLQ is an accommodation concept for the companies in various sectors to provide accommodation with various facilities such as transportation for their foreign workers. He said the ministry would also be enhancing coordination with the local authorities and Human Resource Ministry in determining the number and presence of foreign workers at the construction sites. (Bernama)

Foreign labour freeze to be lifted once pandemic is under control’

Any exemption on the freeze on hiring foreign workers for the plantation and commodities sector will only be given after Malaysia has successfully controlled the Covid-19 pandemic involving the sector’s current workforce. Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the government would also assess the ability of companies to provide lodging that complied with the Covid-19 standard operating procedure. Khairuddin added that several initiatives to meet the demands of the sector’s workforce were being carried out, including an allocation of RM36mil that would be channelled to companies which successfully replaced their foreign labour with locals. “Through the initiative, the government will give about RM600 per month to every local worker they hire within the next six months. The matter is still being discussed and it depends on the ability of companies to provide a working environment which follows the SOP, ” he said. (The Star Online)