Jesselton Mall sees increase in shoppers

July 6th, 2020

A view of the Jesselton Mall.
KOTA KINABALU: The Jesselton Mall is seeing a return to footfall, especially by local visitors, since the implementation of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), according to its Leasing Manager Desmond Liew.
“Jesselton Duty-Free has seen a steady increase of local shoppers indulging on their favourite brands,” he said in a statement.
“Be it watches, handbags, shoes or fashion clothing and accessories, the upward shopping trend indicates a recovery mode.

“The rise in locals visiting the mall signals that the misguided notion that Jesselton Duty-Free is exclusively for international travellers is diminishing.”

Jesselton Duty-Free, he said, is a collaboration between Southeast Asia’s leading luxury goods and retail specialist Valiram and premier property developer Jesselton Waterfront Holdings.

Pic Source:

“The mall has introduced to East Malaysia several luxury brands such as Versace, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren and Lacoste, to name a few.
“Leading Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo is slated to open soon,” he said.
He added that while Jesselton Duty-Free houses a large perfume and cosmetic section, this is however, only for international travellers as the collection and pricing is strictly for travel retail.
“Malaysians can enjoy all other brands within Jesselton Duty-Free.”

The mall also houses fine gourmet brands like Godiva and TWG Tea.

Since being allowed to reopen for dine in, he said, Pound Restaurant is seeing a steady return of customers and regularly booked out for lunch and dinners.
Other than specialty stores like Polar Ice Cream and Soil and Seeds, the mall is also looking forward to the opening of its basement anchor, Metro Grocers together with a few other food and beverages outlet, including Aori Ramen and Granny Shepherd Pie, in the coming weeks.

Pic Source:

Liew said, Jesselton Mall focuses on offering a distinguished shopping destination with a tenant mix to cater for a trending lifestyle “where luxury meets convenience.”
“In addition to creating an integrated community for residents from Jesselton Residences, located just above the mall, Jesselton Mall also aims to fulfil the needs of lifestyle enthusiasts, and high-income earners within its prime catchment area in the city’s central business district,” he said.
With the lifting of interstate travel ban and gradually cross-border travel, he said, Jesselton Mall’s close position right next to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal poses to a be a potential plus point for inbound local and international travellers.

“The mall’s ultimate goal is to serve as the place to be for quality living and dining.”

With the new norms in place, the mall also practises more stringent safety rules in accordance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the Health Ministry.
Liew also said the developer and landlords have taken proactive steps to support tenants through rental assistance in hope of bringing some relief to ease cash flows from the unprecedented impact of this challenging period
“In line with the mall’s approach to support the recovery of the local retail sector, it is now offering attractive leasing packages and up to six-month free rental period,” he said.

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Home Minister: Yes, we need foreign workers, but they must be legal

July 6th, 2020

PORT KLANG: Malaysia needs foreign workers, but will not be lenient towards undocumented migrants, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (pic).

He said that as the Home Minister, his main concern is the safety and security of Malaysians and ensuring that those who live in Malaysia abide by the laws of the country.

“It is not that we do not want them (foreign workers). We need them as we want to develop this country, especially in the heavy-lifting jobs. We will need foreign workers, but what is important is that they follow the law.

“My concern is with the people of Malaysia and what the people want.

“The people want to see that those who live in this country are law-abiding citizens. If they want to work here, let them have permits and documentation.

“We are not bothered about foreign media reports. So, even if the foreign media say that we are too strict, I feel that is what the people want – a government that is strict against those who break the law.

“We should not bother about foreign reports which like to spin stories.

We arrest and operate according to the law and the standard operating procedures,” said Hamzah.

He was asked to comment on a recent report by a foreign media outlet that Malaysia has been harsh in dealing with undocumented migrants during the Covid-19 lockdown, as they have been left to fend for themselves and hounded by the authorities.

Hamzah was speaking to the media after witnessing the MMEA receive two new patrol boats on Monday (July 6) in the government’s initiative to make Malaysian coast security as good as international coast guards.

The patrol crafts were received by MMEA director-general Admiral (Maritime) Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som.

The two new-generation patrol crafts – KM Kota Kinabalu and KM Tok Bali – will be used to further enhance enforcement on the waters off Kelantan and Sarawak in the Malaysia maritime zones, against activities like smuggling, illegal fishing and human trafficking.

Hamzah said that such equipment is necessary to enable the MMEA to work together with the Malaysian Armed Forces and Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) in the National Task Force to halt the arrival of undocumented migrants using the Malaysian Maritime Sea Monitoring System.

The government has been criticised by NGOs for detaining undocumented migrants during the movement control order (MCO).

Authorities have defended their actions, stating that they were merely acting within the law.


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Health DG: Don’t let up on SOPs, don’t take Covid-19 situation for granted

July 6th, 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has warned Malaysians not to take the improving situation of Covid-19 in the country lightly, citing other countries as examples of places where the outbreak has made a return.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the need for social compliance and discipline has to be stressed repeatedly, in order to prevent more new infections in the country.

“We have seen in other countries that Covid-19 made a comeback when they eased restrictions and people did not comply to the standard operating procedures (SOP).

“So, it is important to keep complying with the SOPs set by the ministry.

“We need to learn a lesson from the situation in the state of Victoria, Australia.

“They announced the shutdown of 55 entry points at the state border with New South Wales, following an escalation of Covid-19 cases.

“This is due to the spread of the virus in several major cities, and one of the factors contributing to this because of the infringement of the SOP at quarantine centres by individuals returning from overseas, ” he said at the ministry’s Covid-19 press conference here.

Dr Noor Hisham said that out of 5,804 individuals placed under the Home Surveillance Order (HSO), 414 individuals have yet to undergo the day-13 Covid-19 testing, which is a requirement.

“The ministry hopes that all travellers returning to Malaysia will continue to cooperate with the MOH and comply with the terms and requirements under the HSO, ” he said.

Malaysia’s active cases have gone down to 71 and daily increases have largely been in single digits so far.

“This is a good sign, because it means the infectivity of Covid-19 in the community is getting less,” said Noor Hisham.


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Zoo has important role in new normal

July 6th, 2020
A child carried by the mother feeds the giraffe in an enclosure at the Singapore Zoo in Singapore on its first day of reopening to the public after the attraction was temporarily closed due to concerns about the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. -AFP picA child carried by the mother feeds the giraffe in an enclosure at the Singapore Zoo in Singapore on its first day of reopening to the public after the attraction was temporarily closed due to concerns about the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. -AFP pic

SHOULD zoos around the globe close their doors? Many experts, however, still believe that we need zoos for wildlife conservation as many species are in danger of extinction.

You might not know that 85 per cent of the animals in Zoo Negara are endangered species and 15 per cent are heading towards extinction.

Hence, similar to other zoos, Zoo Negara undergo many conservation breeding programmes to help preserve and protect the wildlife.

The zoo also plays a significant role in educating and creating awareness about different species that exist on the earth, as well as bridging the connection between humans and animals.

Thus, it is vital for zoos to study and understand how species interact within their ecosystems, as well as how they are affected by environmental and human influences – so, with this understanding, the management will know how to provide suitable atmospheres for the animals.

For instance, scientists at Queen’s Animal Behaviour Centre revealed that classical music and scents such as lavender in dog shelters calm them. Plus, shielding zoo-housed gorillas from visitors with camouflage netting over the viewing windows would prevent great apes from becoming agitated.

One thing for sure, there is no “one size fits all” welfare model, as there’s numerous ranges of animals’ biological requirements and needs.

All necessary measures should also be taken to ensure the animals are not abused. Rather than in cages, they are kept in an open enclosure that allows them to move freely, with enough barriers between them and humans.

As for the zookeepers, they are trained to be aware of and avoid fear-evoking behaviours. Research shows that when zookeepers spent extra time mingling in positive interactions with chimpanzees like playing, grooming, feeding treats, and chatting, the animals behaved better, exhibited fewer abnormal behaviours and were less reactive.

Visitors play a significant role too by not disturbing the animals by making excessive noise levels or throwing food or other objects into their enclosures to get their attention. This will stress them out and cause a negative impact on their behaviour.

The current pandemic has also dramatically impacted zoo animals. Zoologists point out, intelligent and social animals, including gorillas, otters and meerkats are missing the attention of humans.

Zoo animals are accustomed to routines and schedules like hanging out with human visitors as well as continually seeing the crowds who like to call out their names. With the sudden absence of human visitors, some of the animals suffer from boredom and loneliness.

According to Muhamad Akramin from the Public Relations and Marketing Department of Zoo Negara Malaysia, some of the zoo staff remarked that their captives appear to notice this new silence. For that reason, zoo employees are making efforts, like talking or visiting the animals more frequently.

Paul Rose, a lecturer in animal behaviour at the University of Exeter, said that without human visitors, some animals show lack of stimulation.

“Some animals such as primates and parrots, get a lot of enrichment from viewing and engaging with visitors. It is beneficial to the animal’s well-being and quality of life. If this stimulation is not there, then the animals lack the enrichment,” he said.

While in Giza Zoo, Egypt, zoo management have established a programme that focuses on entertaining their animals, focusing on proper nutrition to keep animals healthy, providing them with their favourite food, and the necessary medical care.

However, some animals seemed to enjoy their quiet moment. In Hong Kong’s Ocean Park, Ying Ying, one of the resident pandas, may be pregnant after 10 years of natural mating attempts.

Michael Boos, executive director at Ocean Park, said: “Today’s successful natural matching process is highly thrilling for us all, because the probability of conception by natural matching is higher.”

Zoologists conclude that changes in the usual routines of zoo animals affect different species in different ways.

All in all, though, it will be some time before Malaysia will truly accept foreign tourists after their reopening, our local zoo now needs local visitors more than ever.

Do remember that animals in zoos are undergoing their post-lockdown fuzz too, so they need time to adapt, just like humans. Keepers and other zoo staff will always be on hand to guide, help enforce social distancing and show us how to act with the animals appropriately.

BNurafifah Mohammad Suhaimi.

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Malaysia records 5 new Covid-19 cases today

July 6th, 2020
The Health Ministry today recorded five new Covid-19 cases as of noon today. --BERNAMA picThe Health Ministry today recorded five new Covid-19 cases as of noon today. –BERNAMA pic

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry today recorded five new Covid-19 cases as of noon today, bringing the tally to 8,668.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said of the total cases, three were imported involving two Malaysians and a non-Malaysian, who is a permanent resident.

“One of the locally transmitted cases was detected in Kuala Lumpur, involving a foreigner, following a screening held in the community by the health district office.

“Another locally transmitted case involving a Malaysian in Selangor after a screening of close contact to Case 8,649. This new case is a family member to the Case 8,649,” he told a press conference today.

As for the country’s active cases, he said it now stood at 71.

He added that 11 more patients have recovered and discharged from hospitals today, bringing the current rate of recoveries at 8,476 per cent (97.7 per cent of the total cases).

“Two patients were being treated at the intensive care unit and placed on ventilator support.

“No fatalities from the virus were reported to the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) as at noon today, keeping the death toll at 121 (1.39 per cent).”

Meanwhile, 414 Persons Under Surveillance (PUS) who were placed under Home Surveillance Order (HSO) had not undergone the Covid-19 test on the 13th of the 14-day quarantine as of noon.

Dr Noor Hisham said these individuals were part of 5,804 individuals who were discharged from quarantine centres on June 10 and were kept under HSO to complete a 14-day quarantine period.

“The number is 206 lesser than the number reported on July 2.”

He said the remaining 5,390 individuals were released from HSO after they were screened negative on the 13th day.

By Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi.

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Students win 3 categories in International STEM competition

July 6th, 2020
Seven Malaysian students from SMK Seri Bintang Utara have won three awards in an international STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competition organised by the British International Education Associations (BIEA) on July 1. Seven Malaysian students from SMK Seri Bintang Utara have won three awards in an international STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competition organised by the British International Education Associations (BIEA) on July 1.

KUALA LUMPUR: Seven Malaysian students from SMK Seri Bintang Utara have won three awards in an international STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competition organised by the British International Education Associations (BIEA) on July 1.

The competition, 2020 BIEA International STEM Competition, which oversees around 2,000 participations from 50 countries, required its participants to create 3D machine-prototype to tackle the global plastic waste problems, starting from the sea-shores.

Speaking to the winners via Zoom-meeting recently, the happy students said they had worked days until nights on their prototypes.

The winner of the Best Report Awards, Alif Luqman Nasution, 16, said his invention aimed to collect at least 10 per cent of the plastic waste around the globe.

“10 per cent may seem like a small number, but on a global scale, 10 per cent is huge.

“My invention is theoretically small and I want it to be affordable to the public. Its height is about six inches and 12 inches long, which can collect two types of plastic waste, and it can move on land, mud and in water,” he said.

“When the results came in, I was over the moon. We have put everything into this competition. This win shows that we are doing our part, at least in contributing ideas to solve the global plastic waste issues,” he said.

Kow Hong Hiat, 16, alongside his teammates, Eeshwar Uthaya Kumar and Puteri Nur Atiqah Omar, who clinched the Best Video Award said it was a meaningful win for everybody.

“As we work on our project, we’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge, especially on plastic waste and its harmful effects on human, marine life, animals and the environment.

“Our submitted prototype is an invention of a vehicle that can pick up plastic waste on land, mud and water, inspired by an ocean clean-up vehicle, Interceptor 002 but ours has robotic arms, infra-sensors, webcam, solar panels and rock wheels.

“The infra-sensors and webcam on the vehicle are used to detect the location and distance of plastic waste from the vehicle on land and mud. It will then help the vehicle to best position itself for its robotic arms to act as manipulator and picks up the waste,” he said.

The winners of Rising Star Awards, Ezrin Marissa Ramlan, 16, and her teammates Ejjaz Hakimi and Ryan Khoo said the dedication they’ve put into the competition has been part of a fun journey together.

Ejjaz said he felt relieved to see that all their hard work had paid off.

“We spent a lot of hours working on this project and to see it has paid off is really satisfying”.

For Ezrin Marissa said her team’s invention aimed to pick up plastic waste of any size.

“We want to ensure the machine can clean up all the plastic waste that lies on the shores. So, we put together many different components with individual functions.

“Some components, such as the vacuum, has additional filter to suck up plastics (buried) in the sand. And the filters are to ensure no other things will clog up the vaccuum.

“And we also put together a shovel that will handle larger pieces of plastic which the vacuum cannot pick up. All of these (different functions) will operate using the energy generated from the solar panel,” she said.

Teacher Lee Saw Im said she had resorted to problem-based learning in her Chemistry classes, as a way to raise awareness while teaching her students about plastic waste issues.

“Teachers play a very important roles in their students’ lives. We need to create opportunity and motivate them at all times.

“When I introduced the topic and told them about this competition, these students happily volunteered to participate. And I’ve also asked my former student, Ong Cheng Zhou to guide them through.

“When our country underwent the Movement Control Order (MCO), I was worried and I thought that we should pull out.

“However, some time in March, we received emails from the organiser, saying that they’ve decided to continue the competition vi

rtually. And when the results

came in, I screamed my lungs out! The coach and I were very proud of them,” she said.

Lee, who won the 2019 Global Teacher Award and Best Science Teacher at Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Awards strongly believed such teaching method were important for the coming generation of students.

“It will give students the opportunity to explore their creativity, enhance their communication and problem-solving skills and also learning how to work effectively in collaboration.

“Through this approach, it can prepare our students to adapt to the Industrial Revolution 4.0,” she said.

By Farah Solhi.

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Sabah aims to reopen by Sept 1

July 6th, 2020

Liew (left) and Nordin (middle) at the night market.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Government aims to reopen its doors to international tourists by Sept 1, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew.

She said this would be done by observing the Covid-19 situation and also advice from the Health Ministry, while conforming to the prescribed standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“We are looking forward to the reopening of the international sector (tourists), but we will be very selective,” she told reporters after a visit to the Api Api Might Market at Lintasan Deasoka, here, Saturday. Also present were Mayor Datuk Nordin Siman and Political Secretary Dr Jamili Nais.

Liew, who also State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said only travellers from selected countries with green zone and Covid-19-free status would be allowed to enter.

She said a meeting would be held with China’s Consul-General in Kota Kinabalu, Liang Caide, this week to discuss restarting tourism between Sabah and China.

“We hope with his assistance, we can speed up the process of getting China tourists to visit the State,” she said.

She added that the State Government will fully observe the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by the Malaysian Health Ministry.

Liew also said she had two meetings with AirAsia boss Tony Fernandez regarding the reopening.

She said Fernandez informed her that all the fight sectors serviced by AirAsia recorded a 90 per cent passenger occupancy, despite all aircraft being half full due to the SOP.

Tourism players have asked Liew to reopen the sector by July, but she insisted that it should be in September because she fears there might be a spike in Covid19 cases between July and September.

“Many other neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore are opening by July or August.

“But I want to play safe, I want to open in September. We welcome them but we also prioritise the safety of Sabahans,” she said.

On the Api Api Night Market, Liew allayed fears over widespread concerns of Covid-19 at public premises.

She encouraged locals to spend money and support local businesses which have been out for the past three months due to the Movement Control Order (MCO).

“We want to kick-start the economy. We are happy to give them (hawkers) business and slowly it (night market) will also attract tourists,” she said.

Christina said she was aware of how the pandemic had caused a rise in unemployment and assured that the economy will pick up again.

“Don’t give up hope. The economy is picking up again. The moment Covid-19 is under control, relatively, people can go out again,” she said.

By: Anthea Peter.

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Increase in Covid-19 infections worldwide hits record

July 6th, 2020
UNITED NATIONS, July 6 (China Daily/ANN): A record increase in the number of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases was marked on Saturday, 212,326, according to the World Health Organization, with the United States, Brazil and India leading with the largest increases.
The previous record reported by the WHO was 189,077 on June 28. About 5,000 people continue to die each day. Worldwide, there are nearly 11 million confirmed cases, the WHO said.

The virus has spread around the world with the epicenter shifting from East Asia to Europe and then to the Americas. The biggest increase reported on Saturday occurred in North and South America, in which there were almost 130,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours, taking the total in the region to nearly 5.58 million.

In the US, Johns Hopkins University counted 45,300 new infections on Saturday after three days in which the daily count reached as high as 54,500 new cases. Brazil reported 48,105 new cases on Saturday for a total of nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases and nearly 62,000 deaths. India followed with nearly 23,000 new cases on Saturday for a total of nearly 650,000 with more than 18,600 deaths.

Europe had a total of 2.75 million cases, the Eastern Mediterranean 1.13 million, South-East Asia nearly 900,000, Africa more than 342,000 and the Western Pacific nearly 222,000, the WHO said.

In a report, the WHO said factors such as case detection, definitions, testing strategies, reporting and lag times differ between countries, territories and areas. A WHO official warned last week that some countries may have to reintroduce lockdown measures as they struggle to contain the virus.

‘Not too late to act fast’

“Some countries which have had success in suppressing transmission which are opening up now may have a setback, may have to implement interventions again, may have to implement these so-called lockdowns again,” said Maria van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases unit, at a news briefing in Geneva.

“We hope not. We hope that we won’t have to go into widespread lockdown again. So it’s not too late to act fast.”

In mid-June the WHO said coronavirus cases reaching record numbers globally were not just the result of more countries testing. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said on June 22 that hospital admissions and deaths were also rising.

Although the global figures of Covid-19 show no signs of falling, many countries are slowly easing their prevention measures to restart their economies.

The United Kingdom took its biggest step toward a return to normal on Saturday when it allowed pubs, barbers and movie theaters to reopen. “Let’s not blow it now,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged compatriots as they headed out for a pint or a haircut.

As other countries have emerged from lockdowns, authorities have been working to quash virus clusters as they have popped up.

Authorities in northeastern Spain ordered a lockdown of El Segria county around the city of Lleida, home to more than 200,000 people, after health officials recorded a jump of 60 cases in 24 hours. The outbreaks are linked to agricultural workers in the rural area.

Tokyo confirmed 131 new cases, exceeding 100 for the third day in a row and hitting a new two-month high, prompting Governor Yuriko Koike to ask residents to avoid nonessential out-of-town visits. Concerns are rising about a resurgence of infections as Japan is now nearly back to business as usual after its state of emergency was lifted in May.

France said it was sending medics to its South American territory of French Guiana, where 1,400 new infections were confirmed over the past week according to the health authorities.

by China Daily/Asian News Network

Make a vaccine? I’m trying to teach my kids the alphabet

July 6th, 2020
Chris McGillicuddy from EB Education Services hosts an online tutoring session during the coronavirus disease COVID-19 outbreak in Manchester Britain July 2 2020. Picture taken July 2 2020. EB Education ServicesHandout via REUTERS.

Chris McGillicuddy from EB Education Services hosts an online tutoring session during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manchester, Britain July 2, 2020. Picture taken July 2, 2020. EB Education Services/Handout via REUTERS.

LONDON/BERLIN/MILAN (Reuters) – It’s tough to do any useful work when you’re stuck at home, struggling to home-school bickering kids, let alone when you’re trying to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca had spent years preparing for a pandemic, but when the moment finally came it was caught cold on a crucial front: stressed parents working from home struggled to focus.

So the company recruited up to 80 teachers to run online lessons and repurposed a car parking app to book virtual classes. It also lined up personal tutoring and helped to locate some childcare spaces for those battling to adapt to the abrupt change to their lives.

The move by Britain’s biggest drugmaker, and similar efforts by companies the world over to host everything from magic classes to yoga for children, shows the lengths businesses are going to to help staff work through the coronavirus crisis.

“It was quite apparent that it was going to be really challenging for those with small kids and with two parents working,” AstraZeneca’s HR chief Fiona Cicconi told Reuters.

“People were starting to say they were feeling really anxious, I’ve got so much to do, how am I going to get it done?”

The new corporate attitude towards home-working could help lead to higher productivity and loyalty, according to experts, and ease moves towards more flexible working as companies rethink whether staff need to be in the office, and as schools take time to return to normal.


The march of the pandemic has upended normal life, forcing companies to shut offices, schools to close and grandparents and childcare providers to stay away.

That has left many exhausted parents juggling work demands while helping their children with school work to prevent them from falling behind or spending too much time online, not to mention having to feed, entertain and care for them.

German business software company SAP provided online lessons on magic, coding, yoga, guitar and break dancing for children of staff.

It is now working on a more formalised schooling scheme with a partner organisation, which will pair children of staff with students, and also offer activities through the summer holiday.

Thomas Angerstein, EMEA head of the SAP department responsible for providing “mission critical” support to customers, said the magic classes had helped his eight-year-old son, and consequently helped him too.

“I could focus on my team,” he said. “Usually he is hovering around and looking at my screen and I’m distracted for sure.”

In Italy, tyre maker Pirelli teamed up with local company to provide online education and entertainment for children, with classes in English, creativity and technology the most popular.

Rosaria Demma Carà, who works in Pirelli’s Financial Statements division, said the classes had helped her 10-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter interact with their peers, relieving the social blackout of lockdown.

“(It also helped) us get on with some work.”


Esther Canónico, from the London School of Economics, said companies needed to prioritise supporting their staff in different ways because any return to normality would take time, and flexible, long-distance working was likely here to stay.

Supportive measures should, however, not be seen as an attempt to persuade staff to work harder, especially when those working from home can struggle to manage boundaries with work life, and end up working for much longer, she added.

“There is not a clear differentiating line between work and home,” she said of the new environment. “The advice is for employees to actively manage their boundaries.”

Companies, for their part, see offering such services as good business sense in terms of operational resilience.

AstraZeneca, for example, knew it had to act when a survey found that 1,100 of its 8,300 staff in the country needed help with childcare.

A plan to recruit freelance teachers was inspired by a former teacher who worked in the company’s HR department and it was backed by CEO Pascal Soriot, with the whole process signed off in a matter of hours.

Launched in May, it offers four lessons a day to up to 1,300 children who have registered. Separately it has lined up a tutoring company that provides one-on-one sessions.

The tutoring firm, EB Education, said it had since been asked by another company in the drugmaker’s home town of Cambridge if they could provide a similar service.

“The other company have had a few of their workers saying: AstraZeneca are offering this so why aren’t you? So they put something in place,” EB’s Karen McGillicuddy told Reuters.

For now AstraZeneca, which has been licensed to produce a potential vaccine for COVID-19, is expanding its support. It has introduced new classes for different age groups and is looking at a summer school.

HR chief Cicconi said staff had been incredibly grateful, during what is an extraordinary time.

“They know it’s not normal for us to run three primary schools,” she added.

By Kate HoltonEmma Thomasson and Stephen Jewkes.

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Further cuts in OPR expected this week, says analysts

July 6th, 2020
Markets were rather divided on their expectations for Bank Negara’s July 7 policy decision, with forecasts ranging from the OPR being left unchanged, to a cut as deep as 50 basis points. NSTP/ Muhd Amin Naharul

Markets were rather divided on their expectations for Bank Negara’s July 7 policy decision, with forecasts ranging from the OPR being left unchanged, to a cut as deep as 50 basis points. NSTP/ Muhd Amin Naharul

KUALA LUMPUR: A further 25 basis points cut, at least, in Bank Negara Malaysia’s key Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) interest rate is imminent although analysts are mixed whether the cut will happen early this week.

JP Morgan expects a 25bp policy easing at the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday.

But the American investment bank said there was some risk that Bank Negara would adopt a wait-and-see approach.

“According to our Taylor rule-model, a further 25bp cut, bringing the policy rate to 1.75 per cent, remains in the pipeline.

“Our baseline forecast pencils in a 25bp policy easing at next week’s MPC meeting though we are cognizant that there is some risk that Bank Negara could adopt a wait-and-see approach towards the evolution of economic activity in the coming months before taking further policy action following the 100bp policy easing year-to-date,” JP Morgan said.

FXTM said markets were rather divided on their expectations for Bank Negara’s July 7 policy decision, with forecasts ranging from the OPR being left unchanged, to a cut as deep as 50 basis points.

The uncertainty could lead to some volatility in the ringgit as markets adjust their monetary policy outlooks in the wake of Bank Negara’s official decision.

“Malaysia’s May industrial production print is unlikely to have a major say on the ringgit’s performance when the data is released on July 10,” FXTM said.

FXTM said the June Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index’s return to expansion, while also registering its highest reading since September 2018, was a heartening sign of Malaysia’s economic recovery, with such prospects bolstered by the stimulus measures in place.

Malaysia’s larger-than-expected declines for May’s export and imports had resulted in a RM10.4 billion trade balance surplus, which was twice the amount markets forecasted, the firm added.

JP Morgan said Malaysia’s gradual unwinding of the containment measures had hinted at some normalisation of economic activity in the second half of the year.

Despite this, the country’s gross domestic product growth will likely continue to contract in over-year-ago terms for the remaining part of the year.

The firm, however, expects underlying momentum to rebound in the second half, from an average pace of -12.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the first half of 2020 to 5.75 per cent q-o-q in the second half, as the economy moved toward the Recovery MCO (RMCO) phase in early June.

“That said, much of the improvement hinges on the recovery in global demand, which posed a major drag on net exports in the first quarter of 2020,” it added.

Malaysia’s May trade balance widened to US$2.4 billion, following the deficit in April, said JPM Morgan.

It added that in seasonally adjusted (sa) terms, the trade balance had widened to US$3.0 billion.

The trade balance flipped back into a surplus in May due to a broad-based slowdown in imports, down 24 per cent month-on-month sa, while headline exports ticked up 1.2 per cent month-on-month, sa.

By NST Business.

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