Five Newsbytes to Start The Day – 8 May 2019

Malaysia is no. 1 in Southeast Asia — on property obsession
Malaysia has topped the list as the most property-obsessed country in Southeast Asia. Globally, the country is fourth, behind UAE, USA and Taiwan. The findings were derived from an online survey by HSBC, which find that Malaysians spend an average 4.37 hours viewing properties, way longer than working out at the gym (1 hour), reading books (1.95 hours) or reading/watching the news (2.27 hours). Among them, more than a quarter (26%) of Malaysians are extreme property addicts who spend between seven and nine hours searching for properties online. Globally, 6.3% of people are extreme property addicts, defined as those who spend more than 7 hours a week reading or researching about a property. In Malaysia, 25% of extreme property addicts have delayed starting a family by seven to eight years, another 25% by five to six years, and the rest (50%) by less than two years. The survey also showed that the decision to buy is often impulsive with 38% globally deciding on a property based purely on their first impression. (The Edge)

RM237m from 1MDB returned to Malaysia
The United States government has made the first installment of funds recovered from asset seizures related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) under its Department of Justice’s (DoJ’s) Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the first tranche of returned funds of US$57,036,688.68 (RM236,56 million) was credited into the 1MDB asset recovery account, a segregated trust account opened specifically for the purpose. “The sum was forfeited from Red Granite Pictures, a US-based film production company linked to former prime minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak and his stepson, Riza Aziz, and arose from a US$60 million settlement recorded before the Court of California,” he said. The DoJ is in the process of remitting a further sum of US$139 million from the sale of Jho Low’s interest in Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan. Thomas said Malaysia had so far recovered US$322 million (some RM1.3 billion) worth of 1MDB assets since investigation into 1MDB effectively began in May last year. (NST Online)

Bank Negara lowers OPR by 25bps to 3%
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of Bank Negara Malaysia decided to reduce the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) to 3% at its meeting on Tuesday. This was the first time since July 2016. The ceiling and floor rates of the corridor for the OPR are correspondingly reduced to 3.25% and 2.75% respectively. It said the baseline projection is for the Malaysian economy to grow within the projected range of 4.3% – 4.8%. Bank Negara said while domestic monetary and financial conditions remain supportive of economic growth, there are some signs of tightening of financial conditions. Bloomberg reported Malaysia is the second Asian nation after India to lower interest rates this year. New Zealand and the Philippines may also ease this week. (The Star Online)

Government moves to forfeit RM711m worth of items seized from Najib, Rosmah
Putrajaya and the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) have initiated legal action to forfeit property, jewellery, luxury goods, vehicles and other valuables seized during raids on Datuk Seri Najib Razak last year over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal. According to The Edge, the first notice of the civil forfeiture action was for an unnamed property in the Klang Valley and goods such as jewellery, designer handbags, watches, and sunglasses valued at RM680 million. Another motion was for the intended forfeiture of 27 luxury vehicles, watches, bags and money contained in 29 bank accounts, all of which amounted to RM31 million in appraised value. The law mandates that such confiscations expire after 12 months from when the items were first taken, which would come into effect in this case on May 16. (Malay Mail)

Penang, Kedah, Perlis to experience heavy rain, strong winds
Perlis, Kedah and Penang will experience heavy rains, strong winds and turbulent seas following the start of the southwest monsoon season on Monday (May 6). The southwest monsoon would bring more winds to Perlis, Kedah and Penang, compared to other states on the west coast of the peninsula that were protected by the Sumatra Island, such as Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor. The Malaysian Meteorology Department issued a weather warning alert (yellow) as heavy rain was expected to occur over the states of Perlis, Kedah and Penang until Wednesday. (The Star Online)

(Source: The Star Online)

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