The Malaysian government and Bursa Malaysia have reiterated that they will not suspend the local stock exchange despite the implementation of lockdown in the country effective March 18 in a bid to control the coronavirus pandemic.

This joint statement came after the Association of Stockbroking Companies of Malaysia called on the authorities to immediately shut down trading to prevent a possible market collapse.

“Bursa Malaysia should be suspended for the time being as a defensive measure to protect the stock market from suffering severe damage that could take almost a decade to heal,” said Chairman Azman Manaf.

However, the regulators contended that shutting down the markets will not mitigate or address the current turmoil due to the pandemic and worse, this might only create greater uncertainties for investors.

“We will maintain continuous trading and market operation, to facilitate investors to manage their risks and opportunities during this period,” said the authorities.

Kuala-Lumpur based news website Malay Mail reported that the country’s market capitalization fell to RM805 billion on March 18, indicating a 23% plunge in shares since the end of 2019.

“The stock index fell today (March 19) to its lowest level since 2009. Malaysia’s 10-year bond yields have risen 61 basis points in the past two weeks at 3.37 per cent,” the report continued.

Malaysia’s Securities Commission and the stock exchange vowed to continuously monitor progress in trading to manage the risks in marketplace and launch additional precautionary measures, if necessary.

The regulators have earlier introduced business continuity measures to operate the market amid the pandemic. These include backup sites, recovery facilities and alternative communication channels.

On Monday, the South East Asia’s hardest-hit country by the COVID-19, imposed travel restrictions, closure on business, and suspension of classes nationwide.

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