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Construction Industry: Are All Construction Works Caught By The Movement Control Order?

Following our brief write-up on “Construction Industry: Moving Forward With The Movement Control Order”, the Government of Malaysia has since extended the effective period of the Movement Control Order (“MCO”) until 14th April 2020 (“Extended Period”) amid the rise in the number of cases.


Although the construction field does not fall within the definition of “essential services” under the MCO and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 (“Regulations”), the Ministry of Works in a Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) issued last week (updated as at 24th March 2020) announced that works that are deemed “critical” may be allowed to proceed during the Period (now Extended Period) upon making an application for an exemption to the MCO and obtaining permission pursuant thereto.


What are “critical” works?


The Ministry of Works has defined “critical” works as works that may cause harm to employees, the public or the environment, if discontinued.


Some examples cited by the Ministry of Works are slope repairs, pothole repairs, traffic management control, lift, travelator and escalator (including other critical electrical and mechanical equipment) routine inspection and repairs, maintenance works and facility upgrading works at premises carrying out “essential services”, traffic light repairs, Bailey Bridge constructions for collapsed bridges, tunnelling works, emergency services as stipulated under a particular contract, maintenance at site to prevent the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes and other pests as well as other works which may cause harm if left uncompleted.


How to apply?


The Ministry of Works has stated that an application for exemption shall include a recommendation by the Superintending Officer/Project Director (for Government projects) or the Resident Engineer/Principle Submitting Person (for private projects).


Upon obtaining the above recommendation, such application for exemption may then be extended to the (i) Director General of the Public Works Department; (ii) Director of Public Works Sabah; (iii) Director of Public Works Sarawak; (iv) Director General of the Malaysian Highway Authority; (v) Director General of the Irrigation and Drainage Department; (vi) local authorities or State authorities; and (vii) Department of Occupational Safety and Health, based on their respective jurisdictions.


What happens next?


How the MCO will impact the construction industry in Malaysia is still up in the air at this moment. In the meantime, all players in the construction industry are urged to study their contracts and be familiar with the terms therein, so as to prevent any unwanted surprises at a later juncture.

If you have any questions or require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact any of us.



Lam Ko Luen


[email protected]

Nina Lai Jian Xian

Senior Associate

[email protected]