Tengku Zafrul: Worst is behind us, Malaysia will emerge stronger by year-end

The systematic roll-out of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme and the country’s economic recovery plan that embeds strict adherence to SOPs will be the key to drive Malaysia back on its track, making it stronger by end-2021, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said. He said based on the current data, the country’s gross domestic growth has slowly shown signs of recovery since MCO 1.0 in March 2020. He said the economic sectors that were allowed to operate based on strict SOPs covers 93% of the economy during MCO 2.0 and this has resulted to an output loss of RM300 million per day compared with the RM2.4 billion per day during MCO 1.0. He also said the four economic stimulus packages totalling RM305 billion, or more than 20% of GDP, coupled with the gradual reopening of the economy since early May 2020 has supported the 2020 GDP by approximately four percentage points. The ministry is targeting the country’s deficit to be less than 6.2% of GDP for 2021, compared to 3.4% in 2019. (The Star Online)

Bank Negara maintains OPR to sustain economic recovery efforts

The decision by Bank Negara Malaysia to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 1.75% last week was both appropriate and accommodating in supporting economic recovery efforts amid the debilitating global pandemic. Continuing with the low-interest rate regime would also help large borrowing companies to mitigate any sudden spike in instalments, this provides some form of stability to ensure that they can keep growing their business. The low-interest rate is also critical to further stimulate economic activity by attracting foreign investors who might otherwise be holding back on investments due to the business downturn. There seems to be an overall consensus that the OPR — now at an all-time low of 1.75% — decided at the last three Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meetings since September 10 last year, will be maintained for the rest of 2021. (Malay Mail)

Co-working spaces in demand

Co-working space operators are taking a bigger bite out of their corporate tenants as larger companies consider making remote work more permanent. A market study by shared office space provider WORQ showed existing renters expanding in size as more corporations allow their employees to work from home. “We foresee demand to accelerate post-lockdown as the work-from-home experiment has proven its viability to become a permanent feature of our work lives,” said WORQ co-founder Stephanie Ping. Ping said the flexi-office space option allows companies to maximise the benefits of a distributed workforce and save on rental costs. There is a need for businesses in the office space industry to be innovative and offer more variety to their solutions as demand rises. WORQ’s market research data indicated that the option of working from a co-working space has become quickly accepted. Another market research by JLL Property Services showed that Malaysia (1%) is lagging behind the regional average (3%) market penetration rate. (The Malaysian Reserve)

Communications Ministry preparing cabinet paper on anti-cyberbullying laws

The Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) is preparing a Cabinet paper on anti-cyberbullying laws, said its minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah. He said while Malaysia has some legislation on cybersecurity, it does not have any specific law to deal with cyberbullying. This was unlike neighbouring countries like Singapore and the Philippines, which have implemented anti-cyberbullying laws, he added. Saifuddin said about 85% of respondents in a survey conducted by the Multimedia University (MMU) said a specific law should be formulated to tackle cyberbullying. “Even the definition of offences under cyberbully has yet to be formulated, so we have to come out with a draft,” he said, adding that many people did not know where they should go to report cases of cyberbullying. (Malay Mail)

Datuk registry to be set up

The growing number of bogus Datuks in the country is causing alarm and steps are being taken to solve the issue. Efforts are under way to set up a national body to register genuine title holders and weed out the fake ones. The body, to be registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) through the Home Ministry, will vet registered members who will then be issued a special card as proof of their legitimate titles. Council of Federal Datuks of Malaysia (MDPM) president Datuk Awalan Abdul Aziz said the request to register the new body was made by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin. The proposed national body would serve as an umbrella because some states did not have a representative body. He stressed that the proposed national body would not manage the conferment of awards by the respective states, but merely provide a platform to oversee registration of titles while organising joint activities for members. Awalan also lauded the police for the recent arrest of suspects involved in the use and awarding of fake Datuk titles. (The Star Online)

Council of Federal Datuks Malaysia (MDPM) president Datuk Awalan Abdul Aziz showing the special card issued to members conferred with Datukship titles by the Agong during the press conferences on Monday.
Council of Federal Datuks Malaysia (MDPM) president Datuk Awalan Abdul Aziz showing the special card issued to members conferred with Datukship titles by the Agong during the press conferences on Monday. (March 8) (March 08,2021) — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star