Last week's news summary (Jan 11 - 17)


PETALING JAYA: From BPN 2.0 payments to BitCoin plunges, check out The Star's top stories from Jan 11 to Jan 17,2021.

Corporate News

Top Glove reports Covid-19 outbreak at four factories

  • Top Glove Corp, the world's largest medical grade glove maker, said on Saturday some employees at four factories had tested positive for COVID-19 recently.
  • While the company did not say how many tested positive or when it received the test results, the news comes after more than 5,000 foreign workers at Top Glove were infected late last year and one died in what became Malaysia's biggest cluster of the coronavirus.
  • Last week, the world's largest asset manager BlackRock chided the manufacturer's board of directors for failing egregiously in protecting its workers from the virus, voting against the re-election of some directors.

Pharmaniaga to manufacture Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine starting March

  • Phamaniaga Bhd has the capacity to manufacture two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd per month beginning March this year.
  • Group managing director Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope said the vaccine would be the first to be manufactured in Malaysia at the small volume injectable high-tech plant owned by Pharmaniaga's wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmaniaga LifeSciences Sdn Bhd, in Puchong.
  • He said the group would invest RM3 million to retrofit the plant to enable the production of the vaccine.

Economy

Finance Ministry to expedite BPN 2.0 payments starting Jan 21

  • The Finance Ministry will expedite the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional Phase 2 (BPN 2.0) payments totalling RM2.38 billion to the 11.06 million eligible recipients, who comprise 10.6 million BPN recipients and about 460,000 new recipients.
  • Its minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, said payments to the B40 and M40 groups would be credited directly into their bank accounts starting Jan 21 and Jan 25, respectively.
  • Those without bank accounts would be able to receive payments at Bank Simpanan Nasional branches from Jan 25 onwards subject to the bank's standard operating procedure guidelines, he said in a statement today.

Bank Negara may cut OPR at Jan 20 meeting, OCBC Bank Research says

  • He said Malaysia's move to reimpose the Movement Control Order's (MCO) restrictions and state of emergency could impact the economic growth as the government steps up its measures to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control.
  • The MCO will come into effect on Wednesday and it covers the most economically active regions which contribute more than two-thirds of Malaysia's GDP.
  • Hence, Malaysia would continue to have to lean more heavily on monetary support.

Bitcoin

Worst Bitcoin plunge since March shakes faith in crypto boom

  • THE white-knuckle Bitcoin ride took another twist Monday as the worst two-day tumble in the digital currency since March stoked concern that the polarizing cryptocurrency boom may run out of steam.
  • Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, slid as much as 21% over Sunday and Monday to as low as $32,389.
  • Bitcoin's price has more than quadrupled in the past year, evoking memories of the 2017 mania that first made cryptocurrencies a household name before prices collapsed just as quickly.

MCO

AirAsia' domestic flights remain operational during MCO, police approval needed

  • AirAsia Bhd has announced that its domestic flight services will remain operational during the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) from Jan 13 to 26.
  • In a statement today, AirAsia said for essential travel, passengers must obtain a valid approval from police before departure and have to comply with specific entry requirements set by certain states.
  • Meanwhile, it said passengers affected by flight cancellation during the MCO will receive a separate email or SMS detailing their available options.

Maybank eyes 10,000 merchants, 1,000 delivery orders via Sama-Sama Lokal platform

  • Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) plans to have more than 10,000 merchants on-board and deliver 1,000 orders daily through its online platform known as Sama-Sama Lokal by year-end.
  • Since its inception, we have processed close to 50,000 orders, and have more than 4,400 merchants on our platform.
  • Chong said Sama-Sama Lokal was started with the intention of helping small businesses go online when they were not able to operate from their physical outlets due to the COVID-19 pandemic and MCO.

HSR

Blessing in disguise

  • The 350km HSR, of which some 335km was to be built on Malaysia's soil, had a huge price tag.
  • Malaysia's HSR, at RM60bil for a 350km line, is about US$43mil per km.
  • Hence, just by this count alone, Malaysia's HSR is not a cheap line to be built in the first place.

Plantations

Sime Plantation wants to engage on ban issues

  • Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP), which has sternly rebuffed allegations by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on forced labour in its production process, is frustrated that there are no signs of communication about the investigation evidence in the past six months.
  • In April last year, Hong Kong-based anti-trafficking group LS submitted a petition to the CBP to ban Sime Darby products, citing evidence of forced and child labour.
  • As such, CBP banned palm oil from SDP and its subsidiaries, joint ventures and affiliated entities in Malaysia, at all US ports of entry.

Technology

IoT and AI buy Silterra some time

  • The protracting trade tensions between the United States and China have evolved the semiconductor supply chain and created a shortage in the market, forcing China to be more self-sufficient and source for alternatives as demand for chips starts to grow alongside the heightening demand for artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet-of-things (IOT) devices, and this is where Malaysia, among other countries, is set to benefit.
  • The nation's front-end presence comes through Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which though not in a very good shape, remains a vital component in the electrical and electronics (E&E) ecosystem.
  • The majority of NGV is controlled by local and bumiputra shareholders including Radzi, while its foreign partner, Orient Excellent - a China-based private equity fund - holds the remaining stake.

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