PM: Govt will monitor cases before deciding on second phase

The government will look at various factors, including the number of Covid-19 cases and intervention measures, before deciding if the country can move on to the second phase of the National Recovery Plan. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said although the government has set targets, such as the date, duration, rate and number of cases as well as the vaccination process and bed capacity in intensive care units, for the various phases under the plan, the actual situation was constantly changing. Muhyiddin was responding to a question on whether the government planned to move on to the next phase in the plan with less than a week to go before the lockdown ends on June 28, with the number of daily new cases still above 4, 000. Under Phase Two, more economic activities will be allowed and 80% capacity would be permitted at workplaces. Muhyiddin also stressed the importance of speeding up the vaccination rate to allow for more control of the situation and to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases as quickly as possible. “We will not make an announcement now. Usually, we will give a space of another two or three days – either we will continue or we will move on (to the next phase),” he said. (The Star)

Retailers urge govt to allow reopening by July or face further 50% closures

Amid an extended lockdown, retailers in Malaysia struggling for survival today urged the government to allow them to reopen for business next month. They expressed concern that if the current prohibition continues in July, more businesses will be forced to close for good and that economic recovery may prove difficult once the health crisis stabilises. “We foresee that in the event the mall and retail industry including street-front shops are not re-opened by beginning of July 2021, there will be another 50 per cent of the remainder closing their doors for good, including prominent domestic and international retail brands with more employees at risk of being laid off,” the business groups said in a joint statement. They comprised the Malaysia Shopping Mall Association, Malaysia Retailers Association, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Bumiputera Retailers Organisation and the Selangor and KL Electrical Home Appliances Dealers’ Association. They cautioned that once international brands exit Malaysia, it will be doubly difficult to lure them back into the country. (Malay Mail)

Italy’s Generali to acquire majority stake in AXA Affin joint ventures

Italy’s largest insurer Generali is proposing to buy a 70% stake in AXA Affin Life Insurance (AALI), a 53% stake in AXA Affin General Insurance (AAGI), as well as enlarge its current stake in MPI Generali Insurance Bhd from 49% currently to 100%. Generali said it will acquire a 49% stake currently held by AXA and a 21% stake currently held by Affin Bank Bhd in AALI, while it will purchase a 49.99% stake in AAGI from AXA and a further 3% stake from Affin and minority shareholders. Generali also plans to buy its joint-venture partner Multi-Purpose Capital Holdings Bhd (MPCHB) out of MPI Generali Insurance. The total consideration for the combined transactions is RM1.29 billion subject to closing adjustments, said Generali in a statement. As a result of the transactions, Generali will operate in Malaysia through two companies — one in the property and casualty (P&C) segment and the other in the life segment. “The acquisitions will position Generali as one of the leading insurers in the Malaysian market, creating the second largest P&C insurer by market share and entering the country’s life insurance segment,” Generali added. (The Edge)

Penang sponsors ferry fares for all Malaysians over next six months

The Penang state government has allocated an estimated RM468,000 to pay for the ferry fares of all Malaysian foot passengers for the next six months. Infrastructure and Transport Committee Chairman Zairil Khir Johari said all Malaysians using the ferry service will be able to use it for free from July 1 onwards. He said the move is to encourage more people to use the ferry service and to relieve the financial burden of those negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Malaysian ferry passengers need only scan their MyKad at the Penang Port Sdn Bhd’s MyKad scanner before boarding the ferry to ride for free. “This proposal is an extension of the My30 journey pass that was launched in March to fund Rapid Penang bus fares for those who signed up for the pass,” he said. He said with the free ferry rides, both land and water public transport in the state will be at no cost for local users. (Malay Mail)

New Penang passenger ferry - trips under 10 minutes -
The new Penang Ferry (Source: Paul Tan’s Automotive News)

Malaysia, UK to collaborate in smart city development

Malaysia and the UK have jointly launched the “Smart City Handbook: Malaysia” to promote collaboration and partnership in smart city development between the two countries. The handbook outlines the smart city landscape across Malaysia, and provides examples of interesting UK smart city projects and expertise. Launched virtually by Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin, the book also provides suggestions on how and where UK companies could assist Malaysia in managing and solving various issues in developing smart, sustainable cities. She said the Malaysia Smart City Framework, launched in September 2019, serves as a national reference and guidelines, especially for cities and their local governments and other relevant stakeholders in developing and implementing smart city initiatives. Cities in Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Putrajaya, Penang and Kota Kinabalu had initiated various smart city initiatives. British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay said that the UK is working closely with the development authorities in both Iskandar Malaysia and Melaka under the UK Prosperity Fund’s Global Future Cities Programme 2019-2022. (The Edge)