17 March 2020
Malaysia

On 16 March 2020, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had announced (“Announcement”) the imposition of a 14-day movement control order from 18 March to 31 March 2020 (“Period”) nationwide to curb the spread of the COVID-19 infection in Malaysia. The Prime Minister stated that this is pursuant to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1987.

This is in response to a spike in new COVID-19 cases, bringing Malaysia’s total of confirmed cases to 553 as at 16 March 2020. The imposition of the order is to ultimately help isolate and identify carriers of COVID-19 and to minimise the spread of the disease.

Following the Announcement, the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Declaration of Infected Local Areas) Order 2020 (“Order”) was issued on 16 March 2020 pursuant to section 11 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases 1988 [Act 342] (“Act”), where the Minister declared all States and Federal Territories in Malaysia to be infected areas.

What is in the Announcement

The key highlights of the Announcement include the following:

Essential Services

Businesses that will remain open are essential services such as water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transportation, irrigation, oil, gas fuel, lubricants, broadcasting, finance, banking, health, pharmacy, fire prevention, prisons, ports, airports, security, defense, cleaning, food supply and retail.

Partial lockdown, not a military lockdown

This means that there will be no curfew imposed, but the public is highly encouraged to stay at home and limit leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. The Announcement covers the whole of Malaysia.

Restrictions on all public movement and mass gatherings

All forms of public gatherings for social, religious, sporting or cultural purposes are banned. All places of worship and business premises will be closed, except essential services which include supermarkets, public markets, and convenience stores. For Muslims specifically, all religious activities in mosques, including Friday prayers will be suspended.

Imposition of travel bans

Until 31 March 2020, all Malaysians will be banned from travelling overseas; while those returning from overseas must undergo health checks and self-quarantine for 14 days. Further, all foreign tourists and visitors will not be allowed to enter Malaysia whilst the Announcement is in effect.

Temporary closure of schools, government and private premises

All schools from kindergartens to higher education institutions, as well as government and private premises will be temporarily closed during these two weeks.

What is in the Order

The Order sets out that all States and Federal Territories in Malaysia are declared as infected areas.

Section 11(2) of the Act states that the Minister may, by regulations made under this Act, prescribe the measures to be taken to control or prevent the spread of any infectious disease within or from an infected local area. As at 17 March 2020, no regulations have been prescribed.

An offence is committed if, during the continuance of the Order, any person refuses to comply with any direction by an authorised officer living in an infected local area or in any part thereof to subject himself or themselves to treatment or immunisation; or to isolation, observation or surveillance, the period of which is being specified according to circumstances; or to any other measures as the authorised officer considers necessary to control the disease.

The penalty on any person guilty of such an offence shall be (a) in respect of a first offence, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to fine or to both; (b) in respect of a second or subsequent offence, imprisonment not exceeding five years or to fine or to both; (c) in respect of a continuing offence, a further fine not exceeding two hundred ringgit for every day during which such offence continues.

Ongoing Operations of Government Agencies/Authorities

As at 17 March 2020, below are the actions taken by key government and regulatory authorities in light of the Announcement:

Labuan Financial Services Authority (“LFSA”)

 

The LFSA office premises in Kuala Lumpur and Labuan will be closed and the LFSA will activate its Business Continuity Plan to ensure there is no interruption to its operations and services.

For more, click here.

Bank Negara Malaysia (“BNM”)

 

BNMLINK services for walk-in visitors will not be available during this Period. However, BNM can still be contacted through their online platforms.

Further, BNM has confirmed that nation-wide access to essential services will still be accessible to the public. All banking institutions, development financial institutions, insurance companies and takaful operators will ensure the continued operation of:

    • uninterrupted access to self-service terminals (e.g. ATMs, cash deposit machines) at all branches and accessible locations;
    • electronic banking, mobile banking, money changing and remittance services, payment card services and any other online services;
    • processing and approval of new loans or financing applications; and
    • processing and handling of insurance/takaful claims, issuance of guarantee letters and annual renewal of insurance policies/takaful certificates.

Branches will remain open during the Period to provide essential services to the public and selected non-bank money changers and remittance service providers will be open at least three days in a week to ensure availability of money changing and remittance services. Furthermore, all e-payment providers have been advised to ensure no interruptions to all payments and money transfer facilities transacted through their customers’ e-wallets and e-accounts.

The Malaysian financial market will remain accessible and open as per regular trading hours throughout this period and BNM will continue to provide sufficient liquidity in the foreign exchange, bond and money markets to ensure uninterrupted financial intermediation.

For more information, please see here.

Securities Commission Malaysia (“SC”)SC announced that the capital market will continue to operate as usual within the trading hours as this will allow investors to make informed and timely decisions without any impediments.

For more information, please see here.

Bursa Malaysia (“Bursa”)Bursa will continue to operate as normal during the Period. However to ensure consistency of market practice, the tick rule will be extended intraday short-selling (IDSS), permitted short-selling activities of Investment Accounts (IVTs), Market Makers and Proprietary Day Traders (PDTs).

For more information, please see here.

Companies Commission Malaysia (“CCM”)CCM will cease its operations from 17 March 2020 at 3pm for counter operations and 5pm for online services. Operations will resume on 1 April 2020, subject to further instructions from the government. All transactions under the Companies Act 2016, the Business Registration Act 1956 and the Limited Liability Sharing Act 2012 will be submitted to the Registrar after the expiry of the Period with a moratorium period of two weeks granted to allow for the application or submission to be made. During the moratorium period, late delivery fees will be waived.

Companies who wish to apply for an extension for their annual general meeting for a period of more than six months from the end of the financial year may submit the application after the end of the Period.

For more information, please see here.

Land Offices

 

Land Offices in the following States will be closed throughout the Period. Please take note of the following:

Kuala Lumpur

  • penalties for late presentations will be waived throughout the Period for the first penalty only
  • postponement of nominal payment until 13 April 2020
  • shortened consultation periods to 5-10 minutes only
  • presentations that are made on 17 March 2020 can only be collected on 6 April 2020
  • certified true copies which have been requested can be collected from 13 April to 20 April 2020
  • extension of one month from the date of approval of letters of consent to transfer and charge will be given

Johor

  • service counters and Land Administrator offices will be closed throughout the Period
  • quit rent payments are to be made online
  • late penalties for presentations will be waived for the first penalty only

Sabah and Sarawak

  • Land Offices in Sarawak and Sabah will be closed but the respective representatives can be contacted for urgent matters.
Malaysian Intellectual Property Office (“MyIPO”)MyIPO will also be closed.  Online filing of new trade mark applications, patents and designs will remain available. If such application is to be manually filed, then any priority deadline will be extended to 1 April 2020. Deadlines for office actions, appeals and oppositions for trademarks will be extended until 30 April 2020. Filing through the Madrid Protocol as well as voluntary notification of copyright will be suspended.
Inland Revenue Board Malaysia (“IRB”)All premises nationwide will be closed throughout the Period. The following services however, will be continued:

  • online services through the ezHASiL platform
  • Hasil Care Line and HASil Live Chat
  • feedback form on the IRB website
  • filing and payment of income tax through the ezHASiL platform

For the ease of tax filing purposes for this period, IRB will implement Business Continuity Plans via telephone and online platforms.

For more, click here.

JudiciaryThe Chief Registrar’s Office has announced the following in line with the Announcement:

  • trials and hearing for civil and criminal cases that has been scheduled on 18 March 2020 until 31 March 2020 will be postponed and a new date will be set.
  • filing and case management for civil cases
  • for all courts that are using the eKehakiman system, the filing of new civil cases, notice of appeal and submission of documents will operate as usual through the eFiling system.
  • for courts that do not have access to the eKehakiman system, any filing of new civil cases and submission of documents will only be accepted starting from 1 April 2020. For urgent cases in the Sessions Courts, filing can be done at the nearest court that possess eKehakiman system (i.e. if cause action is in Bangi, the case can be filed at the eKehakiman at the Shah Alam Court).
  • for urgent statutory application it will be at the discretion of the respective court registrars and/or their deputies upon receiving instructions from the Chief Judge, President of the Court of Appeal etc.
  • filing and case management for criminal cases will be postponed until further notice.
  • remand hearings will still continue as scheduled.

For more, click here.

An FAQ was issued on 17 March 2020 by National Security Council and can be found here.

Further details are expected to be given by the National Security Council on the Announcement and the Order in the days ahead and updates will be sent out from time to time.

Zaid Ibrahim & Co. Taskforce

We have established a taskforce to closely monitor any updates from Malaysian agencies and authorities and focus on all issues that may arise including any possible exemptions from the implementation of the Announcement and the Order. If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact ZI-Covid19@zicolaw.com.


This alert is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.