PRESIDENT MESSAGE – AUGUST/SEPTEMBER
As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that the curve is being flatten, our current concern is the economic impact and business impact to the construction industry. It remains to be seen if we will have pump primed budget for the construction industry in 2021 since the industry really is badly hit this year. COVID-19 has also weighed on MBAM and we hope for your continued support for all our ongoing activities during this Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about economic misery and the worst may not be over as the industry struggles to recover. The value of construction work done in the second quarter of 2020 contracted by 44.9 percent amounting to RM19.8 billion (Q1 2020: RM35.0 billion) according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia. The severity of the situation calls for the Government to introduce COVID-19 Bill to prevent the imploding deluge of building and construction related business closures since adjusting to the new normal has proven to be very painful indeed.
The Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Bill 2020
MBAM had been requesting the Government to enact such a Bill to protect all contracting parties from unnecessary litigations and provide temporary relief for businesses and individuals who are unable to meet their contractual obligations during this period which is beyond any parties’ control. Now that the Bill has been passed, it is hoped that the Government will quickly plug the holes in the said Bill before the actual enactment of the said Act to ensure that the necessary protection is accorded to the construction industry during this difficult and challenging period.
Rehiring of construction workers
The current rehiring process involves too many parties with high cost and processing procedures that took time. The fact that contractors have to make upfront payment with no money back guaranteed after they failed to get the approval is a deterrent not conducive to solve the current labour shortage.
For a start, it would help if professional bodies or MBAM be allowed to verify the status of the contractors to simplify the process. There is a need to relook into the stringent criteria for compliance by contractors relating to the Employment Act and CIDB Act 520. Simplifying legal procedures via a single online integrated system by Immigration Department without the involvement of any third party will be useful. This is to reduce cost and make it cheaper for contractors to hire workers during this recovery period.
There is presently a large pool of unemployed foreign workers to draw from; those held in Immigration detention camps, left stranded in projects that were forced to stop and also undocumented foreign workers who are still around.
One Year Delay on Enforcement of New Housing Standards for Workers
In a letter to the Ministry of Human Resources on 4 September 2020, MBAM appealed to the Government to postpone the enforcement of the Employees’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodations and Amenities (Accommodation and Centralised Accommodation) Regulations 2020 for a period of 12 months.
While we commend the initiative to provide a conduce living space for workers, the amendments to Act 446 took place at a rather inaccurate time while taking into account the unfavourable economic situation when the nation is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The rising of construction costs have caused cash flow problems and financial constraints and there is a need of sufficient time for the industry to recover. A fine of RM50,000 in particular for each offence during the current weak economic situation is too drastic and it will seriously disrupt the industry’s revival initiatives that are still struggling to maintain their operations and jobs after being severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The postponement of one year is able to provide an opportunity for the industry to be better prepared in terms of time and finances to comply with the requirement of Act 446. It can also help the industry to plan in time the renovation of buildings or changing of non-residential buildings into workers’ dorm and obtain building approval or accommodation certificates from the Department of Labour (JTK) and Local Authorities (PBT). This grace period can also be used to further educate the industry on the need to adhere to such compliance in accordance with the provisions of the law.
MBAM Education Scholarship Award 2020 Presentation
At MBAM, we understand the need to continue to help deserving students in pursuing their tertiary education especially during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven recipients received their scholarships today at MBAM Secretariat Office with a collective amount of RM160,000.00.
Currently, the MBAM Education Fund Board of Management (BOM) provides a yearly scholarship of RM10,000 (since 2016) without any bond to deserving students, for them to pursue education at selected local universities as approved by the BOM, leading to an MQA accredited Bachelor degree or professional qualification for a course related to the construction industry.
The following awards were presented to seven recipients:
- MBAM Education Scholarship Award 2020 – three recipients
- MBAM-Lighthouse Club, Kuala Lumpur Education Scholarship Award 2020 – two recipients
- MBAM-BK Entrusty Education Scholarship Award 2020 – one recipient
- MBAM- Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz Education Scholarship Award 2020 – one recipient
On behalf of MBAM, I would like to also thank our sponsors from the Lighthouse Club Kuala Lumpur, BK Entrusty and Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz for their kind contribution. MBAM hopes with the scholarships given, there will be more students picking up construction related courses and choosing a career in the construction industry.
MBAM Education Scholarship Award 2020 Presentation on 28 August 2020 (in this photo, row two, second from left: MBAM Council Member Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz, MBAM Deputy President Tan Sri Sufri Hj. Mohd Zin, Managing Director of BK Entrusty Sr Ong Hock Tek, President of Lighthouse Club Kuala Lumpur Ronan Collins)
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you Selamat Hari Kebangsaan and Selamat Hari Malaysia.
Foo Chek Lee JMW