Highlights:
  1. Malaysia-China ties set to enter new era
  2. Heng Swee Keat promoted to DPM in Singapore’s Cabinet reshuffle
  3. FMM, Singapore Manufacturing Federation ink business cooperation MoU
  4. New law to provide SOCSO coverage for housewives
  5. Government mulls amending Employment Act 1995 to protect domestic workers
  6. New earthquake strikes Philippines as hunt for survivors continues
Dr Mahathir’s visit to China to herald new chapter in bilateral relations Relations between Malaysia and China are set to enter a new chapter as Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad begins his official visit to Beijing on Thursday. Dr Mahathir is schedules to attend the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Summit and Forum. He is also scheduled to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu during the four-day visit. Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said it is a good sign for Kuala Lumpur-Beijing relations going forward after it went through almost a year of what he described as a “disruption”. “For China to accommodate and to arrange for all three, the President, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, to have bilateral with Tun, it is a very good sign,” he said. This will be Dr Mahathir’s second official visit to China after the first one in August 2018. Heng Swee Keat to be promoted to DPM in Cabinet reshuffle in Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be promoted to Deputy Prime Minister as part of the latest changes to the Cabinet. In making the announcement, the Prime Minister’s Office said Mr Heng will remain Finance Minister and continue chairing the Future Economy Council and National Research Foundation. PMO said Mr Heng will be appointed Acting Prime Minister in the Prime Minister’s absence,” PMO said. Current deputy prime ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam will relinquish the role. They will, however, remain in Cabinet as senior ministers. This is the fourth Cabinet reshuffle during the current Government’s term, with previous rounds taking place in August 2016, September 2017 and May 2018. FMM, Singapore Manufacturing Federation ink business cooperation MoU The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to renew their Business Co-operation Agreement inked in August 1996. FMM president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said the signing of the memorandum signalled the deep commitment of the two federations to further strengthen business relations and promote cooperation between enterprises in both countries. He said both federations would exchange information on business opportunities in both countries, as well as render assistance to each other in events such as exhibitions, missions and conferences. Datuk Soh added that the MoU would also promote collaboration in training, certification of consultants, capability building programmes and other areas, as well as encourage FMM and SMF members to form strategic partnerships to collaborate in business opportunities in their respective countries and other countries as well. Law to provide SOCSO coverage for housewives in the works The Human Resources Ministry is planning to introduce a new law to provide Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) coverage for housewives, said its minister, M. Kulasegaran. He said the new law, which was one of two pieces of legislation the ministry hoped to enact, would benefit about 1.4 million housewives in the country. However, he declined to give further details on the move, adding that details would be announced in stages after discussions with stakeholders. On another matter, Mr Kulasegaran said that the government plans to amend the Employment Act 1955 to look after the welfare of domestic workers. He said the amendment will help address abuse cases involving maids working in Malaysia. “The amendment to the Employment Act 1955 will only work as a temporary mechanism to protect the maid, they will still need better protection,” he said. He added that the plans are still at the proposal stage and that it will require discussion with respective stakeholders to draft the amendments. New earthquake strikes Philippines as hunt for survivors continues A fresh earthquake hit the Philippines today as rescuers scrambled to reach survivors from a yesterday. The latest temblor struck the southern Philippines at 1.37pm, with the epicentre at San Julian in eastern Samar. It was felt in Catbalogan City, Leyte and Tacloban City, which bore the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The US Geological Survey put the fresh quake at 6.4 magnitude, which is stronger than the one that wrought significant damage Monday near the capital in the north. Authorities are assessing possible damage from the latest quake, which struck at a depth of 70km, but warned that residents should expect aftershocks.