Toll hike postponed, govt to spend RM2.25bil

The toll hike for three major highways, which was supposed to take effect on Jan 1, has been postponed to 2022, says Fadillah Yusof. The Works Minister said the postponement will cost the government RM2.25bil. “The Kesas Highway, South Klang Valley Expressway and Lebuhraya Pantai Timur 2 (LPT2) are among the highways which would see their hike in toll rates postponed. Other highways that will also see their hike in toll rates postponed are North-South Highway, Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE), Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) and KL-Putrajaya Highway (MEX),” he said in a statement. He also said that the government has agreed to the restructuring of toll rates to be finalised before 2023. (The Star)

Hari Raya interstate break for tertiary students

Students at higher learning institutions will be allowed to cross states and return home for the coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The Higher Education Ministry said the students could leave their campus to return to their homes from May 7. “Students are given a choice to either return home or remain on campus during the festive holidays. This approval is in line with the previous relaxation given by the National Security Council (NSC) for the education sector,” it said in a statement. It said several control mechanisms would be in place to monitor their movement, including allowing them to travel in stages. The dates for students to return home are from May 7 to 12 and they will go back to their campus from May 15 to 20. The respective institutions will prepare an approval letter for the students to travel and also coordinate the dates of departure and return. Only three modes of travel are allowed – using their own vehicles, parents to pick them up or buses arranged by the respective institutions. Except for flights, students were not allowed to use public transport for the journey. For this interstate travel, self-quarantine was not required except for students who arrive from MCO areas. (The Star)

Khairy: Malaysia to offer AstraZeneca vaccine on ‘first come, first served’ basis

Malaysia will be offering the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on a “first come, first serve” basis to the general public in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, said Khairy Jamaluddin. The coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said the AstraZeneca vaccines will be given only to those who voluntarily want to receive them, after taking into consideration concerns from the public. Khairy added that what has been agreed upon is a proactive measure to not use AstraZeneca in the mainstream immunisation programme. “Instead, we will be offering the AstraZeneca vaccines at special PPV (vaccination dispensing centres) to the public on a voluntary first-come-first-serve basis,” said Khairy on Wednesday (April 28). Malaysia currently has about 268,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines – of which the first batch arrived in the country last week. Concerns surrounding AstraZeneca came about after several cases of blood clotting emerged among receivers of the vaccines. The number of incidents however is very rare, with only four cases out of one million people globally. (The Star)

Apartments from RM120,000 in Klang Valley possible, says Berjaya’s Tan

Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, Berjaya Group founder and non-executive chairman says it is possible to build affordable homes from as low as RM120,000 each in the Klang Valley for low-income Malaysians, namely the B40 households. The affordable homes can also be developed in urban locations close to transportation hubs to make them attractive but the Federal and State governments’ must assist by way of selling development land at a low cost to developers for them to undertake the projects. “Low land cost would translate into lower purchase prices for low-income house buyers,” he said. Tan plans to develop affordable apartments with sizes of 450 sq ft, 600 sq ft, 750 sq ft and 900 sq ft, selling from RM120,000 to RM300,000 each. The billionaire philanthropist plans to do this via his Better Malaysia Foundation (BMF), formerly known as the Vincent Tan Foundation. According to him, many developers are reluctant to build affordable homes because many lower-income buyers are unable to obtain home loans, thus creating cash flow problems for the developers. (NST Online)

Tan Sri Vincent Tan said he was positive about the government accepting BMF’s proposal, although he was aware that there are a lot of technical matters that need to be sorted out. — Reuters pic
Tan Sri Vincent Tan said he was positive about the government accepting BMF’s proposal, although he was aware that there are a lot of technical matters that need to be sorted out. — Reuters pic

Thailand, Singapore launch world’s first linkage of real-time payment system

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) today launched the linkage of Thailand’s PromptPay and Singapore’s PayNow real-time retail payment systems. In a joint statement, the BoT and MAS said the linkage, the first of its kind globally, will enable customers of participating banks in Thailand and Singapore to transfer funds of up to S$1,000 or 25,000 baht daily across the two countries, using just a mobile number. There will be no need to populate information fields such as the recipient’s full name and bank account details, as with normal remittance solutions. The participating banks in Thailand are Bangkok Bank, Kasikornbank, Krung Thai Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank. In Singapore, DBS Bank, OCBC, and United Overseas Bank will be providers. The PromptPay-PayNow linkage is a key collaboration under the ASEAN Payment Connectivity that was initiated in 2019. It is an extensive collaboration between the BoT and MAS, both countries’ payment system operators, bankers’ associations, and participating banks. (The Star)