Ministers must use private planes, restrict movement on official trips under new Covid-19 SOPs

The government has released SOPs for official ministerial visits abroad, amid continued backlash over an order exempting ministers from the 10-day Covid-19 quarantine upon their return. The SOPs stipulated that travels must be for official business and schedules must be short, with only a small delegation of those who have not had close contact with Covid-19 patients and have tested negative two days prior to the travel date allowed to accompany the ministers. It further explained that ministers must use private government aircraft to travel — not commercial aircraft — to create a “travel bubble”. Yesterday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that only ministers who take private flights and not make any public appearances will be allowed to undergo observation for three days as stipulated by a new rule. (Malay Mail)

Federal Court puts limit on compensation claims by house buyers

The Federal Court, in a landmark ruling, said housing tribunals could only decide on disputes between purchasers and developers as expressly stated in the sale and purchase agreements. A three-member bench said purchasers were prevented from making any claims against the developer if they had taken vacant possession and renovated their homes. The appeal by Country Garden Danga Bay Sdn Bhd (CGDB) was made against a compensation award to the buyer of a RM1.6 million condominium apartment who said the company had delivered the premises without a sheltered balcony. Ho was handed the keys to the apartment in 2017. The housing tribunal in Johor Bahru awarded Ho compensation of RM50,000 in 2018 although he had renovated his property. CGDB applied for a judicial review in 2018 but was dismissed. (Free Malaysia Today)

Immunitee is Malaysia’s first health passport accepted in Singapore

Malaysia’s Immunitee Health Passport has partnered with Temasek-founded Affinidi to become the country’s first health passport to be accepted in Singapore, via Affinidi’s Unifier digital credential platform. The Immunitee Health Passport is a system designed to store personal immunisation records and vaccine data, which helps to facilitate users’ clearance at border health checkpoints, ensure data protection and security through blockchain, and verify the authenticity of COVID-19 tests and vaccines. Its CEO Datuk Dr Nick Boden said travelling in a COVID-19 world means that travellers will be required to show proof of COVID-19 testing as well as their vaccination history. Boden said Immunitee had worked with recognised laboratories to automatically store users’ test history and implement a secure vaccine tracking and tracing programme to ensure that the vaccine is both authentic and stored at the right temperature. Scheduled to be launched in March this year, Immunitee would be provided as an open-source system at no charge to governments and organisations around the world, and users may download the app free of charge. (Bernama)

Stats Dept: Malaysia’s population grew to 32.7 million at end of 2020

The country’s population in the fourth quarter of 2020 was estimated at 32.73 million, an increase of 0.4% year-on-year. According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the current number of citizens in Malaysia is 29.85 million while non-citizen is 2.87 million. On the population by age for the fourth quarter of 2020, there are 7.57 million for the age of zero to 14 years old while 2.34 million for those above the age of 65. The population for those aged between 15 to 64 years old is 22.82 million compared to the same period in 2019 which was 22.72 million. It was reported last month, that the second phase of the Malaysian Population and Housing Census 2020 which involves face-to-face interviews will be restructured based on three categories of the movement control order (MCO) implementation. (Malay Mail)

Survey: Singapore responded to Covid-19 the best, Malaysia in fifth place

A survey covering South-east Asia found that Singapore had offered the best leadership in combatting Covid-19 in the region, with Malaysia placed at fifth behind neighbours Vietnam and Thailand. The report released by Singapore-based Asean Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute however highlighted that 18% of respondents felt that none of the countries in the region had offered such a thing. 32.7% of South-east Asian respondents pick Singapore as the country that has provided the best leadership to Asean while another 31.1% choose Vietnam as the second-best leader. Malaysia only received a measly 2.4% out of the votes. During the earlier stages of the pandemic, Malaysia had been hailed as mounting one of the best responses to Covid-19 among the region, with Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah lauded by international peers. The country however has not been doing so well as late, with the third wave of the pandemic forcing most of the country into a new movement control order dubbed MCO 2.0 and a state of Emergency. (Malay Mail)