Phase two of vaccination brought forward to April 17

The second phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme will start on April 17 instead of April 19 as previously announced, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba. He said the registration campaign needed to be intensified as people aged 60 and above and individuals with comorbidities made up only 30% of the seven million people who had registered through the MySejahtera application. A total of 9.4 million vaccine recipients are targeted in the second phase involving high-risk groups including the elderly, chronic patients, people with disabilities (OKU) and individuals with comorbidities. Dr Adham said the vaccination exercise would continue during the fasting month and that night appointments at certain Vaccination Centres (PPVs) would be offered to vaccine recipients. (Malay Mail)

Interstate travel likely for vaxxed Malaysians

The government is considering allowing interstate travel for Malaysians who have completed their Covid-19 vaccinations, says the Prime Minister. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he discussed the matter with the National Security Council after the latest international research said that those who had two vaccination doses and a certificate would be able travel anywhere. Muhyiddin said this did not mean that people could now start travelling across states. “If you have not been vaccinated and do not have the digital certificate, then you cannot go. But if you have received two doses, then you can fly anywhere.” He also indicated that international travel could soon be possible for those who had been vaccinated. “We have started talks with several countries to allow our citizens who have received two doses with the certificate to travel,” he said. Interstate travel is still not allowed at present under the conditional and recovery MCO. (The Star)

Fresh grad salaries fell to minimum wage level in 2020

New graduates who joined the job market last year received lower pay than the previous year, with most getting the absolute lowest salary allowed by law, Statistics Department’s chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin said. He added that the Covid-19 pandemic also caused a lower labour force participation (LFPR) among those fresh graduates. “(New) degree graduates recorded a decrease in monthly income where the majority of them earned between RM1,001 and RM1,500 in 2020 compared to RM2,001-RM2,500 in 2019,” he said. Citing the Wage Report 2020-2021 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Uzir explained that in an economic downturn, the data on average wages could be distorted due to the “composition effect” or major changes in employment. “When most of those who have lost their jobs are low-paid workers, this increases the average wages of the remaining employees,” he said. Last year, the government raised the country’s minimum wage to have RM1,200 while the minimum hourly wage is set at RM5.77. (Malay Mail)

Review and revival of HSR project needed to spur economic growth, says IRDA boss

A revival of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project should be considered as it is an important element of the connectivity needed to spur economic development in Malaysia. IRDA CEO Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the HSR could also conceivably be extended beyond the initial scope of the project to improve connectivity throughout the peninsula. “Instead of connecting Iskandar Malaysia in south Johor and stopping in Kuala Lumpur, the HSR should be extended up to Penang in the north,” he said. Ismail said the people should leave it to the government’s wisdom to see if the project was viable and should be revived, given the fact that it would be a vital part of the peninsula’s transportation system. Johor Rehda chairman Wong Boon Lang said cancelling the HSR project would have a negative impact on property growth, particularly in Iskandar Malaysia. Wong said Iskandar Malaysia would benefit immensely from the project because of its proximity to Singapore and the island republic’s status as a leading international financial and trade centre. (The Star)

PR1MA to review 20 terminated or pending termination projects

PR1MA Malaysia Corporation (PR1MA) will review the potential of about 20 projects under it that have been or will be terminated so that these can be developed based on concepts that suit current needs. Its chairman Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim said the initiative was planned to boost the construction sector and the housing market. “In 2019, PR1MA underwent a rationalisation process as part of the PR1MA Transformation Plan. As a result, out of 94 projects that had agreements signed, 32 have been or will be terminated,” he said. As of March 31, PR1MA had 62 projects, worth about RM14 billion, that were underway nationwide. He said a total of 20,587 units had been completed, 24,756 units were under construction while 7,420 units were still being planned. According to him, PR1MA is currently refining the terms and implementation mechanism of the RTO scheme as announced by the government in the 2021 Budget, and the scheme is expected to be launched in June. (The Edge)