Friday, 17 April 2015

(The Star) More electricity supply New power plants to meet rising demand for energy

PONTIAN: The commissioning of new power plants between now and 2021 is expected to not only meet the surge in demand for power supply but also to strengthen the country’s reserve margin for electricity.
Energy, Green Technology, and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili said that the country’s reserve margin, which stood at 25% last year, would be able to help with any possible power supply shortage this year.
“The new power plants, which are gas, coal and hydroelectric, have a cumulative capacity of some 11,461MW, will be in operations by 2021.
“The new plants will replace the existing one whose concessions expire this year or in 2016. This is to meet the surge in demands for power supply at an average 3.1% annually for the period,” he said.
Ongkili told this to reporters during a press conference after visiting the Tanjung Bin Power Plant here on April 11.
He also said that the ministry had been closely monitoring the supply and demand situation for electricity and had been constantly reassessing the long-term development plans for the power plants nationwide to ensure smooth progression.
“The Power Commission has also issued an offer for existing plants of which concessions are expiring this year or 2016 to submit proposals for renewal,” he said in adding that the commission would extend the concessions if deemed necessary.
In efforts to meet the demands in Johor, Ongkili added that the projects that are ongoing or have been identified include the Tanjung Bin Energy with 1,000MW capacity, Pengerang Co-gen Plant (400MW to 600MW) and TNB-SIPP (1,400MW).
“Together with the existing plants including the Tanjung Bin Power Plant and TNB Pasir Gudang with 2,100MW and 275MW current capacities respectively, the entire producing capacity in the state would increase in stages to 5,375MW by year 2019,” he said.
Ongkili also said that independent power producers (IPPs) have also expressed their interest and submitted proposal for exportation of power supply to other Asean countries.
Welcoming the proposal, he said that IPPs could also be backups in any event that the country faces a shortage in power supply.
“Last year we had to import electricity supply for a total of six times from neighbouring countries namely Singapore and Thailand to meet the rising demand,” he added.

(The Star) Flood mitigation to cost RM600mil

TEMERLOH: As part of a long-term floods mitigation measure, some 26 million cubic metres of sand will be dug out from the river bed.
Gegaran Alam Sdn Bhd has been given the task at an estimated cost of nearly RM600mil using Chinese technology dredges.
The good news is Pahang government will not need to fork out a single sen for the project.
State Public Amenities and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Soffi Abdul Razak said the company would get its due from the sales of sand from the dredging activities.
“We would monitor the work progress closely to ensure all requirements are strictly met.
“Should the company break any guidelines such as polluting the rivers or environment, we will review and put the project on hold.
“So far, we have received positive feedback from community leaders and the people,” he said while representing Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob to launch the project at the Kuala Krau bridge near here recently.
Also present were Kuala Krau MP Datuk Ismail Mohd Said, Kerdau assemblyman Datuk Syed Ibrahim Syed Ahmad, Jenderak assemblyman Datuk Mohamed Jaafar and Gegaran Alam managing director Steven Ng.
Mohd Soffi said the project would see several rivers in Temerloh, Jerantut, Lipis and Kuantan cleaned up, deepened and its flow realigned to reduce the risks and effects of floods.
He said under the first phase, the state government had given the green light to carry out sand dredging activities in five rivers, spanning a length of 272km.
The rivers involve are Sungai Jelai, Sungai Lipis, Sungai Pahang, Sungai Kenau and Sungai Kuantan.
Upon completion, the risk areas of floods in the state will be reduced from 8,000ha to 2,700ha.
Several major floods which hit Pahang in the past three years saw huge damages to homes and public infrastructures.
Mohd Soffi said if the project was successful to rehabilitate the rivers, a second phase would go on in other districts.
“This project will be a win-win situation as the state government will save in terms of costs.
“We will also review the terms and conditions in due course to see if the state government will get some royalty from selling of the sand,” he said.
Mohd Soffi added that the project was not an easy task and encouraged more private firms to take up such challenges.
He said the public would be engaged and their feedback taken into account before any project was to be approved.

(The Star) Makeover for state agency

After 20 years in operation, Kumpulan Bina Darulaman Berhad (BDB) Group has adopted a new identity and corporate logo as part of efforts to transform the group and expand out of Kedah.
As part of the rebranding exercise, BDB subsidiaries have also taken on new identities with Kedah Sato Sdn Bhd now known as BDB Synergy; Darulaman Realty Sdn Bhd changed to BDB Land; Darulaman Golf & Resort Bhd to BDB Darulaman Golf & Resort Bhd; BDB Hotels Sdn Bhd to BDB Hotels; and Bina & Kuari (K) Sdn Bhd to BDB Infra.
Managing director Datuk Izham Yusoff said adjustments in the group’s identity, culture and aspirations were needed to cope with current business trends.
“We have to act to meet customer expectations, business challenges as well as the increasingly competitive property and construction sector.
“Rebranding is the main pillar of transformation. Our new identity will reflect vigour and bolder aspirations.
“This initiative is not only aimed at strengthening BDB in Kedah but also to widen our operations outside Kedah,” he said.
“We will continue with our commitment to practise good values and transparency in whatever activity BDB takes on.”
BDB, a Kedah government-linked company, he said, had a good track record in the state’s development by participating in key infrastructure projects such as the Langkawi International Airport, Sultan Abdul Halim Airport and the Trans Eastern Kedah Interland Highway.
“We have also built 5,734 houses in Bandar Darulaman, Jitra and Darulaman Utama, Kuala Ketil,” he said during the group’s 20th anniversary dinner at Dewan Wawasan in Jitra, Kedah, on Monday.
Among the 700 guests comprising mostly BDB group’s management and staff members were Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir and his wife Toh Puan Norzieta Zakaria.
In his address, Izham urged BDB Group employees to pro-actively take advantage of potential business opportunities.
“I am all for constructive initiatives by employees to enhance our operations and services.
“We have an excellent performance record and this proves that if all of us have the fighting spirit to excel, things which are difficult and impossible will turn into something which all of us can be proud of at the end of the day,” Izham said.
In conjunction with its 20th anniversary celebrations, BDB would carry out community projects such as contributing reading materials for libraries and providing voluntary tuition services in rural areas, he said.
“We will also assist the Kedah government in investment, social economy and the development of Kolej University Insaniah,” he added.
Mukhriz in his speech said BDB Group registered a turnover of RM328.9mil for 2014, a 17% improvement compared with RM281mil in 2013.
He said: “The group’s net profit jumped 14% from RM21.1mil in 2013 to RM24.2mil in 2014.
“Also, the Kedah state executive council has approved the new salary scheme for BDB employees. BDB will also be giving out four-month bonuses to qualified emplo-yees.”

(The Star) City council to build RM21.4mil disabled-friendly sports complex in Relau

A new sports complex — City Sports Complex to be built in Relau — will be the first sports complex in Penang which fulfils the Green Building Index features.
The two-storey building on a 0.88ha of land will be built at a cost of RM21.4mil.
Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail said the complex was scheduled for completion in early 2017.
“The complex will have an Olympic-size swimming pool, a diving pool, 10 badminton courts with a gymnasium and a dry gym.
“There will also be 96 parking lots as well as a pro-shop which offers sports merchandise, and a cafe,” she said in her opening speech at the ground-breaking ceremony of the complex site in Relau yesterday.
She added that facilities for the disabled such as parking lots and toilets, would also be prepared.
“We will also prepare 35 parking bays for bicycles to encourage people to cycle to the complex,” Patahiyah said.
Modern look: The City Sports Complex will be built on a 0.88ha site in Relau, Penang. 
The contractor for the building of the complex was chosen through an open tender process, she added.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who opened the ceremony, said the complex was in line with the state’s cleaner, greener, healthier and safer Penang vision.
“The complex’s design was developed by MBPP, which proves that the council has the expertise to develop its own public projects, which are of international standard.
“I hope the sports complex will be a platform for Penangites to lead a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Also present at the ceremony were state Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow, state Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Chong Eng, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, Paya Terubong assemblyman Yeoh Soon Hin and MBPP councillors.

(The Star) Federal project involves widening lanes from two to four

The Federal Government’s project to upgrade road junctions bordering Penang and Perak will bring relief to road users in south Seberang Prai.
Among the junctions to be upgraded are Persimpangan Permatang Keling, Persimpangan Kerian, Persimpangan Changkat, Persimpangan Sg Duri and Persimpangan Sungai Bakap.
Sungai Acheh assemblyman Datuk Mahmud Zakaria said the project, which involved the widening of road lanes from two to four, started on Oct 10, 2013, and was expected to be completed on Oct 2, next year.
He was representing Penang State Federal Action Council chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman at a press conference at the project’s site office in Jalan Besar, Air Lintas in Nibong Tebal yesterday.
Also present was Penang State Development officer Syed Shaari Syed Abdullah.
The RM123.5mil project is an initiative by the Penang State Development Office with the cooperation of the Public Works Department to help ease traffic congestion at the affected road junctions.
Mahmud also said: “Discussions with 19 families who are still living on government land at Persimpangan Permatang Keling are still in progress.”
He said compensation payment amounting to about RM400,000 or 30% of the land value, was expected to be finalised by the government.
The project will be carried out by contractor Seleksi Sensasi Sdn Bhd.

(The Star) Retailer’s rebranding efforts aimed at offering consumers a better shopping experience

AEON Shopping Centre in Bandar Bukit Tinggi is now Aeon Mall.
Apart from Bukit Tinggi, selected Aeon shopping centres in other areas will be rebranded to have its own character and uniqueness through product innovation and constant improvement that offer consumers a better retail experience.
Aeon Co (M) Bhd chairman Datuk Abdullah Mohd Yusof said “brands need to touch people and the mall has been designed to enrich families”.
“Children who come with their parents or grandparents must have a good experiences to cherish and build fond memories,” added Abdullah.
Domestic Trade and Consumerism deputy secretary-general Datuk Basaruddin Sadali, who launched the rebranding of Aeon Mall, said this was a strong indicator that the multinational retailer believed consumer spending was on an upward trend.
“Retailers must understand how to diversify and upgrade their offerings to customers.”
Aeon Co (M) Bhd managing director Nur Qamarina Chew said its commitment to shoppers would continue to drive its business decisions and actions.
Malaysian Retail Chain Association president Datuk Liaw Choon Liang said Aeon Mall marked a milestone in the local retailing industry.

(The Star) Upcoming Ikea store in Cheras to be the biggest one yet

The Ikea store in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur is set to open by the end of this year.
Located in Jalan Cochrane, the new store is the second outlet in Malaysia.
Ikea opened its first store in 1Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya in 1996.
“With the support of Malaysians, we grew from our humble beginnings and moved into our standalone store in Mutiara Damansara in 2003.
“It was the biggest Ikea store in Asia at that time.
“The upcoming store in Cheras will be our biggest yet in Malaysia with an overall store size that is 20% larger than Ikea Damansara,” said Ikea Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand retail director Mike King.
He added that the opening of Ikea Cheras was part of its overall expansion plan across South-East Asia in order to make home furnishings that were affordable, well-designed, functional and good quality available to everyone.
“The development is progressing well and we are focusing on interior fittings and the operational set-up.
“Further details will be revealed in the coming months,” King added.

(The Star) Sports complex to remain, says MBPJ

The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) rejected an application to develop the PKNS Sports Complex and field in Kelana Jaya in January as the request was incomplete, said its One Stop Centre (OSC) committee.
Committee member Cynthia Gabriel said the Selangor State Development Corporation’s (PKNS) most recent attempt to develop the land was made through an online application in January but it did not meet the requirements.
The application was for a proposed joint venture between PKNS and Bayu Melati Sdn Bhd to redevelop the area into a mixed commercial development.
In a joint press conference at the MBPJ headquarters along Jalan Yong Shook Lin, Petaling Jaya yesterday, Gabriel and other city councillors and OSC members Lee Suet Sen and Tang Fuie Koh said PKNS did not get back to them by the April 14 deadline for complete submission despite several reminders from OSC and no new application had been made.
They also pointed out that MBPJ as the local authority was the sole body with the jurisdiction to issue a Development Order (DO).
Lee said PKNS did not have the power to legislate nor change the status of the land.
“They are bound to abide by legal procedures,” said Lee.
Gabriel revealed that the proposal by PKNS comprised three phases.
The proposed developments included a sports complex equipped with carparks and a football field on the building’s rooftop, office towers and a shopping mall, among others.
Lee and Gabriel pointed out that the local plan verified and endorsed by the Selangor Town and Country Planning Board (JPBD) and MBPJ clearly stated that the land was zoned as “recreational/open space”.
Under Section 18 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, development projects must abide by the local plan. Gabriel added that no joint venture agreement between PKNS and Bayu Melati for the development had been made available to them yet.
They said they wanted to assure Petaling Jaya residents that any commercial development on the recreational land must first go through a process of rezoning and involve an amendment to the local plan.
“Without this, no development application shall be approved by the OSC committee,” said Lee.

(The Star) Government to build one million PPR homes

In view of the difficulty faced by low-wage earners in owning homes in the country, the Government has come up with a plan to build one million affordable homes within two years.
Housing and Local Government Ministry’s director of policy and strategic planning division Gurdev Singh said the construction of the affordable housing would be coordinated by the National Housing Department.
“The National Housing Department will not only oversee the construction work but address related issues such as public transportation and infrastructure,” added Gurdev.
In Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, a total of 37,946 units come under the People’s Housing Programme (PPR).
“From 2011, rental for these units have remained at RM124 a month.
“The selling price of these houses was between RM30,000 and RM35,000 per unit in peninsular Malaysia and RM40,000 in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The owners are allowed to sell these properties after 10 years at market prices.
“However, the setback here is that there is nobody to control the buy-back rate of these houses,” he said at the “Relook at Living” housing forum held at Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Gurdev said under the existing policy, ownership for houses under the PPR programme would only be applicable in the rural areas while the urban units would only be available on a rental basis.
In an ideal world, these units, no smaller than 700sq ft (65sq m) with three bedrooms, two baths, a living room and kitchen would have enabled communities to thrive and prosper.
In comparison, houses under such a scheme in Bangkok only measure 240sq ft (22sq m).
The houses here also come with amenities like the allocation of car parking bay per unit, something unheard of in Hong Kong.
But according to Gurdev, there is an attitude problem among some PPR unit dwellers.
“The rental may be low but many do not bother paying because they feel government housing should be free.
“The attitude problem extends to issues like vandalism and cleanliness,” he added.
This lackadaisical attitude has not only given rise to maintenance problems but necessitated the need for a disciplinary body to deal with rent defaulters.
“Only 5% of the residents are genuinely in need of financial assistance.
“For this, there is a scheme to help them,” he added.
Another major issue is havingto mobilise enforcement to flush out foreigners who are living in these housing schemes meant exclusively for Malaysian citizens.
Persatuan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) president Chan Seong Aun, who was also at the forum, said awareness programmes to inculcate a sense of belonging to a community may help.
However, Chan stressed in order for communities to thrive in these housing projects, consideration must be given to crucial aspects such as safety, design aesthetics and culture.
The other key factor is quality. Design alone, said Chan, can affect quality by 50%.
Prof Dr Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi from Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at UCSI agreed with Chan.
Examples of poor design are windows facing the blank wall of another building and windows that allow passers-by to see right into a house.
“When we speak of housing, we must raise pertinent questions to the architects responsible. Will our children be safe? Is there space for them to grow socially?
“Will residents be able to fulfil their spiritual needs here and grow old gracefully?” said Dr Tajuddin.
Projects like this, he stressed, eventually required a level of experience, one that required knowledge of religious rituals and values of the different races right down to work, play and recreational patterns of low and middle income homeowners.
Dr Tajuddin said there was much room for improvement when it came to housing design.
“For example, most affordable housing projects have been designed without taking into consideration the safety of children.
“We still have low railings on the higher floors of apartments,” he added.
According to forum curator, Wan Sofiah Wan Ishak, the forum is a platform for open discourse and deliberations on affordable housing in a bid to seek solutions for the public housing sector in Malaysia.
“The basic living needs for housing are constantly evolving following subcultural changes, technological advancement and economic uncertainties.
“The challenges are organic and non-static.
“It requires progressive, adaptive solutions as the basis to devise and revise housing models,” she added.

(The Star) Eco World buying land in Penang for RM730.9mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Eco World Development Group Bhd is acquiring 299.64 acres of leasehold land in Batu Kawan, Penang, for RM730.93mil to build residential and commercial properties.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Eco World confirmed that it had received a letter of award from the Penang Development Corp (PDC) about its proposal to undertake the projects.

The developer said it was also leasing about 150 acres for 30 years, with an option to renew for another 30 years, for an estimated lease consideration of RM65.34mil.

Eco World said the 150 acres would be developed into an international standard golf course with a minimum of 18 holes and a club house.

“The development parcel and the lease parcel exclude a total area of 20.36 acres identified by PDC for other purposes. The estimated total consideration for the land parcels is approximately RM796.3mil,” it clarified following news reports about the land deal in Penang.

StarBiz had earlier reported that Eco World was the only bidder for the land and would sign the sale and purchase agreement with PDC at a later date to be attended by Eco World chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin.

The purchase of the land will be the second parcel in Batu Kawan for Eco World. It already owns 24.28ha in the area on which it plans to launch a RM920mil mixed development called EcoMeadows, comprising 50% residential and 50% commercial components, in the second half of the year.

Eco World said its board was reviewing the detailed terms of the letter of award and that further details on the proposed Eco Marina development would be announced after it had accepted the letter.