Opt-in for AstraZeneca vaccine to be extended to whole of Malaysia

The opt-in programme for the AstraZeneca (AZ) Covid-19 vaccine will be extended to more people in Malaysia as the government expects at least 1.1 million more doses to arrive this month. Khairy Jamaluddin, the coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said the government would look to reach out to those who lack access to the Internet, as well as beyond states beyond Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Khairy said Malaysia is expecting 1.1 million doses of AZ vaccines to arrive this month from the Covax facility. Another 600,000 doses are expected in June, followed by about 400,000 in July. In August and September, another batch of 1.2 million AZ vaccines will arrive, Khairy added. “Once we have a steady supply of AZ vaccines, we will make sure vaccine equity is addressed and that these vaccines will be available to all, including those without MySejahtera or access to our website,” said Khairy. (The Star)

Raya SOP expected to be out soon

The scale at which Hari Raya Aidilfitri can be celebrated this year will be known soon, depending on the standard operating procedure the government is likely to put in place to curb the Covid-19 surge. But many expect that the announcement by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob this afternoon will see stricter rules and regulations, including the possibility of banning gatherings amidst concern that such activities can trigger infections. One thing for sure is that interstate travel will not be allowed as the government already said the existing travel ban will continue to remain until May 17. Sources said the proposed SOP is “close” to the guidelines issued for last year’s Hari Raya. “But there are likely to be some changes made to suit the current pandemic situation,” they said. The SOP for Pesta Kaamatan and Hari Gawai is also likely to be announced soon as these festivities take place after Hari Raya. (The Star)

Matrade: Malaysia among most trade-friendly countries in the world

Malaysia has established itself as one of the most trade-friendly countries in the world, exporting a competitive range of products and services to more than 200 countries and territories around the world. The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) said the country is today an integral part of the global supply chain. In 2019, Malaysia was recognised as the world’s 25th trading nation and 26th largest exporter and importer in 2019 by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The agency said Malaysian electrical and electronics (E&E) companies are leading players globally with a significant amount of all electronics exports being contributed by semiconductor devices, integrated circuits (ICs) as well as transistors and valves. The information and communications technology (ICT) is another important sector for Malaysian exports. Malaysia is also recognised as one of the most developed chemical industries in the world. Matrade said Malaysia’s oil and gas industry is among the most dynamic in the region and includes the provision of specialty services. (Malay Mail)

Forbes slammed for calling Penang a ‘cheap island’ where foreigners can enjoy ‘permanent vacation’

Forbes is catching flak on Twitter for publishing a listicle of “cheap islands” that people can relocate to and give up their jobs for good. The article, titled “Quit Your Job And Move To An Island: 15 Places So Cheap You Might Not Have To Work”, was written by senior contributor Laura Begley Bloom and included Penang in its list alongside other well-known tropical getaways like Phu Quoc, Bali and Koh Samui. In it, Bloom encouraged people to jet off to islands where they can purportedly enjoy a “permanent vacation” thanks to the low cost of living. The original International Living article described Penang’s lifestyle as meeting “first world” standards and that expat couples can live comfortably on the island for as low as US$1,500 (RM6,156) per month. The Forbes article has been criticised for encouraging Westerners to escape the high costs of living in their home countries by seeking refuge in developing nations instead. Malaysian writer Nicole Kow tweeted that these acts can drive up the cost of living in countries where locals earn a much lower wage compared to their expat counterparts. While some argued that tourism brings several benefits to developing countries, others rebutted saying that it often results in gentrification. Some have also accused Forbes of encouraging a new form of “settler colonisation” with their article. (Malay Mail)

Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce after 27 years of marriage

Bill and Melinda Gates announced on May 3 that they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the two said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.” At stake is one of the world’s greatest fortunes – currently valued at US$145.8bil (RM598.43bil), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index – and one of the largest philanthropy operations on the planet. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given away more than US$50bil (RM205.22bil), contributing to the fight against Covid-19, leading the charge on climate change and advocating for women’s rights. Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, 65, is the world’s fourth-richest person. While the separation stands to shake up the rankings of the world’s wealthiest people, the pair stressed it will have little impact on their philanthropic behemoth. (The Star)

Bill and Melinda Gates are ending their marriage - CNN
Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce after 27 years of marriage. (Source: CNN)