Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia has had a significant impact on the Malaysian economy, leading to the devaluation of the Malaysian ringgit (MYR) and the decline in the country's gross domestic product. The pandemic also adversely affected several key sectors including entertainment, markets, retail, hospitality, and tourism. Besides shortages in goods and services, many businesses had to cope with social distancing and lockdown restrictions, which affected their operations and revenue.The pandemic also drew attention to workplace safety and the exploitation of migrant workers working in Malaysian industries.

Economy

I think it's very contained right now and there's ... no cause for panic at all, but we cannot be complacent about this and we'll continue to be on serious alert.

—Malaysia Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad during conversation with CNBC on the situation of the outbreak in Malaysia, 19 February 2020.[1]

Stocks on Malaysia's stock exchange of Bursa Malaysia tumbled during the outbreak as investors sold securities due to the expected economic impact caused by the virus,[2] which along with other emerging stock markets are predicted to remain until June 2020.[3] With China as Malaysia's largest trading partner, the country's economy was directly impacted and economic experts have warned the prolonged virus outbreak could hit the country gross domestic product (GDP) hard.[4] In late February, the Aberdeen Standard Investments of Malaysia also predicted that the Malaysian ringgit (MYR) would weaken further due to the local and worldwide outbreak, with ramifications for the 2020 Malaysian political crisis.[5]

On 11 February 2021, it was reported that Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) had shrunk 3.4% in the fourth quarter from last year. In addition, the Malaysian economy contracted contracted 5.6% for all of 2020, its worst performance since the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis.[6]

Entertainment and recreation

On 22 June, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that cinemas, theatres and other live events would be allowed to reopen from 1 July, with a limit of 250 people.[7]

On 10 July, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that family entertainment centres including game arcades, karaoke centres, indoor funfairs, edutainment centres for children, and kids' gymnasiums can resume operations from 15 July. However, discos, pubs, and night clubs cannot reopen yet.[8]

Following a new wave of outbreaks in October 2020, the Malaysian Association Of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) announced that they would be temporarily closing all cinemas in Malaysia from 2 November to help contain the spread of COVID-19.[9]

Markets and bazaars

Due to the cancellation of the Ramadan bazaars, many Malaysian traders have use online platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook to sell their products in late April 2020.[10]

On 7 June 2020, the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan announced that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall will allow open markets, morning markets, night markets and bazaars to reopen in stages in the Safe Transition (Phase 2) on 15 June.[11]

Panic buying and essential item shortages

Panic buying in one of the AEON malls in the country.
The toilet paper section, cleared of stock.
The aftermath of panic buying as seen in a Malaysian supermarket on 18 March 2020.
Face masks out of stock notice in a Watsons outlet within Malaysia's capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The increase in cases and public awareness on the threat posed by the virus has exacerbated panic buying of surgical masks and hand sanitisers which were selling like hot cakes within a short period. Malaysian cities, such as Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu, have reported shortages on surgical masks,[12] while a cleaning company in Shah Alam reported a higher demand for hand sanitisers due to the outbreak.[13]

There were reports that some pharmacies and traders have been selling masks with higher prices than the controlled price set by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry of Malaysia which can lead to fines of up to RM10,000 (US$2,387).[14][15] This also includes reports of some people being scammed by unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of the pandemic situation,[16][17][18] with a further total of 501 fraud cases involving losses amounting to RM3.5 million reported throughout the MCO period resulting to the arrests of 37 scammers.[19] Despite the increasing shortages of masks in the country with both pharmacies and suppliers struggling to meet the increasing demands,[20][21] the federal government has assured the supply of masks to be replenished with a total of 10 million masks to enter Malaysian markets in the nearest time.[22][23]

With the rapid spread of the virus infections into several more states such as Penang and Sabah in the country,[24][25] panic buying has seen an increase nationwide with people began to packing excessive essential items.[26] This causing some of the major supermarket operators in the country to continuously assured the public that there is adequate supply of essentials and urging most people to not engage in panic buying despite the recently announced move by the federal government to impose movement control within the country.[27]

The federal government also considered banning face masks exports as a result of the increasing mask shortages, with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry raising concerns about the increasing shortage of surgical masks and hand sanitisers to the Malaysian Cabinet.[28][29] On 18 March, the enforcement to ban face masks export was gazetted under the Control of Supplies (Prohibition on Export) – (Amendment) Regulations 2020 covering four type of face masks.[30]

Apart from enacting law banning face masks exports to meet the struggling domestic public demands, the federal government announced that it will import 10 million face masks from China by stages to increase nationwide supply and assisting the frontliners with the importation of face masks from other countries also being allowed.[31][32][33] A further total of 24.62 million face masks to be distributed among Malaysians nationwide has been announced by the federal government on 8 April.[34][35][36]

Restaurants and eateries

On 9 February 2021, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the National Security Council would allow dining in at restaurants of up to 5 per table, which will continue until July 2021.[37]

Tourism

Malaysia, which was a major destination for Chinese tourists, suffered a stark decline of tourist arrival from Mainland China due to the outbreak with the tourism industry hit hardest; costing around RM3.37 billion losses until March.[38][39] Malaysian states highly dependent on tourism sectors and being the point for Mainland Chinese visitors such as Johor,[40] Malacca,[41] Penang,[42] and Sabah[43] were among the heaviest affected with hotel bookings and food stalls have reported large loss in businesses.[44][45] These subsequently forced the states to shift their focus to the Southeast Asian market due to the decline of Mainland Chinese tourists.[46][47] Despite the large losses incurred by tourism businesses, a number of Malaysians have voiced their concerns over the spread of the virus and urging a ban on travellers from China to the country with some 149,000 in support of the call.[48][49]

On 26 June, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that sectors and industries under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture such as such as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, travel and trade fairs, spa, wellness and reflexology centres would be allowed to open from 1 July. However, tourism businesses are required to abide by social distancing measures, limit crowds to 200-250 people, check customers' temperatures, wear face masks, and provide hand sanitisers. While reflexology centers provided by the blind are allowed to reopen, only Malaysians can work in spas, wellness, and reflexology centres.[50]

On 27 June, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri estimated that the tourism and cultural sectors had lost RM45 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the Government introduced a Special Fund for Tourism to help small and medium-sized businesses affected by COVID-19.[51]

On 22 September, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that interstate travel and tourist destinations would be allowed to reopen once at least 90% of the adult population had been vaccinated against COVID-19.[52]

Workplace safety and migrant workers

In late December 2020, the Human Resources Minister Saravanan Murugan announced that the Human Resources Ministry would be launching a new multi-lingual app to enable both domestic and foreign workers to inform the Government about employers providing inadequate accommodation and not following health standard operating procedures while protecting their identities.[53]

On 28 December, the Ministry of Human Resources confirmed that it was filing 30 charges against the glove factory Brightway Holdings and two of its subsidiaries in Selangor for alleged offences under the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) in relation to the unsanitary housing conditions of workers.[54]

On 28 January 2021, Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Malaysian Government would temporarily close factories and business premises that failed to comply with the standard operating procedures on COVID-19 prevention in response to outbreaks among migrant workers.[55]

By 7 February, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that 312,363 foreign workers had been screened for COVID-19 since 1 December 2020. Of those screened, 6,093 tested positive for COVID-19 while 306,530 tested negative. This screening involved 13,533 employers and 1,268 clinics.[56]

By 12 March, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that a total of 608,093 foreign workers had been screened for COVID-19, with 9,653 testing positive.[57]

References

  1. ^ Nee Lee, Yen (19 February 2020). "Coronavirus spread in Malaysia is 'no cause for panic,' health minister says". CNBC. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  2. ^ Aruna, P. (29 January 2020). "Coronavirus fears hit Bursa Malaysia". The Star. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  3. ^ Yusof, Ayisy (30 January 2020). "Coronavirus may bug Bursa, other emerging markets". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  4. ^ Zainuddin, Alifah; Shaharuddin, Hussein (20 February 2020). "Prolonged Covid-19 may hit Malaysia's GDP hard". The Malaysian Reserve. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  5. ^ Huang, Eustance; Nee Lee, Yen (26 February 2020). "Malaysian ringgit set to weaken further as political chaos and coronavirus take hold, says Aberdeen". CNBC. Archived from the original on 28 February 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  6. ^ Shukry, Anisah (11 February 2021). "Malaysia's Economy Sees Worst Year Since 1998 Asian Crisis". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  7. ^ Mohsen, Amar (22 June 2020). "Good news for movie-goers, as cinemas reopen in July (Updated)". The Sun Daily. Archived from the original on 22 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  8. ^ Nik Anis, Mazwin (10 July 2020). "Family entertainment centres can reopen from July 15, says Ismail Sabri". The Star. Archived from the original on 10 July 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  9. ^ "All Malaysian cinemas to close progressively from November onwards until further notice". The Star. 30 October 2020. Archived from the original on 30 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  10. ^ Mayberry, Kate; Siddiqui, Usaid (28 April 2020). "China: US 'telling barefaced lies' on coronavirus – Live updates". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Night markets, bazaars to reopen in stages in beginning June 15 - KL mayor". The Sun Daily. 7 June 2020. Archived from the original on 8 June 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Face masks, hand sanitiser sold out in JB, KK". Bernama. 28 January 2020. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020 – via The Malaysian Reserve.
  13. ^ Wong, Noel (18 February 2020). "Deadly Covid-19 outbreak triples demand for hand sanitisers". Free Malaysia Today. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Shop gets RM10,000 fine for selling face masks above maximum price". The Malay Mail. Bernama. 14 February 2020. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Pharmacy fined RM10,000 for selling face masks above controlled price". The Malay Mail. Bernama. 19 February 2020. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Coronavirus: Businessman in Malaysia loses S$89,000 to scammer in bid to buy face masks". The Star/Asia News Network. 20 February 2020. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2020 – via The Straits Times.
  17. ^ Chung, Clarissa (13 March 2020). "Scammed for face masks". The Star. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Woman loses RM24,000 to face mask scam". The Malay Mail. Bernama. 8 April 2020. Archived from the original on 9 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  19. ^ "501 face mask fraud cases involving losses of RM3.5m reported". The Malay Mail. Bernama. 4 April 2020. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Struggle to meet demand for masks in Malaysia". The Star/Asia News Network. 21 February 2020. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020 – via AsiaOne.
  21. ^ "Coronavirus: Malaysian pharmacists and suppliers struggle to meet demand for masks". The Star/Asia News Network. 21 February 2020. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020 – via The Straits Times.
  22. ^ "Saifuddin: 10 million face masks to flood Malaysian market within a week". The Malay Mail. Bernama. 21 February 2020. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  23. ^ Arumugam, Tharanya (12 March 2020). "Face masks will soon be replenished". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  24. ^ "Loo and behold, panic buying hits Penang". The Star. 12 March 2020. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  25. ^ Lee, Stephanie (13 March 2020). "People starting to stock up goods in parts of Sabah after first Covid-19 case announced". The Star. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  26. ^ "Covid-19: Panic buying at supermarkets nationwide". New Straits Times. 17 March 2020. Archived from the original on 17 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  27. ^ Chalil, Melanie (17 March 2020). "Supermarts tell Malaysians to resist panic buying as country shuts down for Covid-19". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 17 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Government considering face mask export ban". Bernama. 14 March 2020. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020 – via New Straits Times.
  29. ^ "Face mask, hand sanitiser shortage to be raised at Cabinet meeting". Bernama. 15 March 2020. Archived from the original on 16 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020 – via New Straits Times.
  30. ^ Lim, Ida (17 March 2020). "Minister bans Malaysia from exporting face masks". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 19 March 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  31. ^ "Govt now allows import of face masks, says minister". Free Malaysia Today. 20 March 2020. Archived from the original on 21 March 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  32. ^ Bunyan, John (21 March 2020). "Minister: Govt to import 10 million face masks from China". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 21 March 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  33. ^ Agustin, Robin (21 March 2020). "Govt to import 10 mil face masks from China". Free Malaysia Today. Archived from the original on 21 March 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  34. ^ Lee, Noah; David, Nisha; Nirmala, Ronna; Chowdhury, Kamran Reza (8 April 2020). "COVID-19: Malaysia Starts Distributing Millions of Face Masks to Households". Benar News. Archived from the original on 9 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  35. ^ Ngui, Yantoultra (8 April 2020). "Malaysia to Give Out Masks to Households as Guidance Shifts". Bloomberg. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  36. ^ Palansamy, Yiswaree (8 April 2020). "Minister: Putrajaya distributing face masks to Malaysians". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 9 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  37. ^ Anis, Mazwin Nik (9 February 2021). "Ismail Sabri: Dining in at restaurants now allowed, limited to two per table". The Star. Archived from the original on 9 February 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  38. ^ "Malaysia attracts 2.9 mln Chinese tourists in 2018". Xinhua News Agency. 28 February 2019. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020 – via China Daily.
     • Xue Ying, Tan (3 February 2020). "Tourism-linked stocks hit hard by Wuhan virus". The Edge Markets. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
     • Jennings, Ralph (12 February 2020). "Coronavirus Strikes Tourism, Factories, Consumption around Southeast Asia". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
     • Campbell, Charlie (13 February 2020). "'It Will Be Catastrophic.' Asia's Tourism-Dependent Economies Are Being Hit Hard by the Coronavirus". Time. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  39. ^ Dzulkifly, Danial (13 March 2020). "Muhyiddin: Tourism industry hit hardest by Covid-19, faces RM3.37b loss". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  40. ^ D'Silva, Vincent (17 February 2020). "Johor tourism sector suffers severe Covid-19 fallout, seeks govt help". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  41. ^ Aziz, Afiq; Naharul, Muhd Amin (14 February 2020). "Melaka's tourist footfall drops, thousands of bookings cancelled". The Malaysian Reserve. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  42. ^ Sekaran, R. (11 February 2020). "Penang tourism feeling the effects". The Star. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  43. ^ "Sabah tourism players brace for 'zero' Chinese tourist arrivals, ask govt to help through bad patch". Eleven Myanmar. 28 January 2020. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  44. ^ "Coronavirus: food stalls, durian sellers in Malaysia hit hard as Chinese tourists stay away". Star Digital. 19 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020 – via South China Morning Post.
  45. ^ "Hotel room cancellations result in RM66m losses". Bernama. 21 January 2020. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020 – via Daily Express.
  46. ^ Bedi, Rashvinjeet (13 February 2020). "Covid-19: Malaysia eyeing Asean market due to shortfall of Chinese tourists". The Star. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  47. ^ Kanyakumari, D (14 February 2020). "Malaysian states to consider pivot towards domestic tourism amid COVID-19 outbreak". CNA. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  48. ^ Solhi, Farah (26 January 2020). "Some Malaysians calling for ban on Chinese tourists". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  49. ^ Dzulkifly, Danial (26 January 2020). "Over 100,000 people petition to block Chinese nationals from entering Malaysia, following coronavirus outbreak". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  50. ^ Loo, Cindi (26 June 2020). "More sectors to be reopened under RMCO from July 1". The Sun Daily. Archived from the original on 26 June 2020. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  51. ^ "Malaysia's tourism, culture industries lose RM45bil over Covid-19, says minister". The Star. 27 June 2020. Archived from the original on 27 June 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  52. ^ Anand, Ram (22 September 2021). "Malaysia to allow interstate travel, tourism when 90% of adults are vaccinated against Covid-19". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 23 September 2021. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  53. ^ "Multi-lingual app to help workers expose errant employers". The Star. 27 December 2020. Archived from the original on 27 December 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  54. ^ "Glovemaker hit with 30 charges". The Star. 28 December 2020. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  55. ^ "Covid-19: Govt to temporarily close factories, business premises that violate SOP and cause infections, says minister". Malay Mail. 28 January 2021. Archived from the original on 29 January 2021. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  56. ^ Zolkepli, Farik (7 February 2021). "Ismail Sabri: Over 300,000 foreign workers screened for Covid-19 since December". The Star. Archived from the original on 7 February 2021. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  57. ^ Camoens, Austin (12 March 2021). "Covid-19: 4,496 foreign workers screened, 39 tested positive on Thursday (March 11), says Ismail Sabri". The Star. Archived from the original on 13 March 2021. Retrieved 13 March 2021.