Thursday, 30 August 2012

(The Star) Iconic dim sum restaurant calling it quits due to uncertainties

AFTER 84 years in business, Yook Woo Hin Restaurant in Petaling Street will be bidding its customers goodbye tomorrow.
The surprising move has caused disappointment among the Chinese community in Kuala Lumpur as it is among a handful of surviving traditional food shops located in the historical Petaling Street.
For as long as old-timers in the city can remember, the restaurant is always among the first in town to “wake up” every morning.
<b>Huge draw:</b> Yook Hoo Hin dumplings sold at the front of the shop in the old days.
Huge draw: Yook Hoo Hin dumplings sold at the front of the shop in the old days.
Even before the break of dawn, the restaurant is already welcoming early risers with steaming hot dim sum and fluffy pau within its warm, brightly-lit premises.
Locals and tourists stream into the restaurant, mainly for the traditional flavours and also for the old-school ambience peculiar to pre-war shophouses.
The recent weeks have been extremely busy for the operators as many from far and near have been thronging the restaurant to savour its offerings for one last time.
Many are also planning to be there on National Day to make the last order.
The building underwent a major renovation in 2006 due to a termite infestation but in spite of that, the intricate facade has been preserved while the interior is still filled with vintage elements.
<b>Fresh and fluffy:</b> The kitchen team busy making pau in the wee hours. The restaurant sells up to 500 pau on the weekends.
Fresh and fluffy: The kitchen team busy making pau in the wee hours. The restaurant sells up to 500 pau on the weekends.
Among them are a calligraphy carving of the name that means “The House of Jade Teapot” and a black-and-white portrait of its founder, Lee Hoi.
His granddaughter, Lee Wai Cheng, 51, who runs the restaurant now, speaks of its history with mixed feelings.
Way back in 1928, the shop was the place her grandfather and grandmother from the Shunde district in Guangdong, China, toiled to raise 10 children.
“They sold herbal tea and betel nut during the day by the roadside, and lived underneath that staircase at night,” Lee said, pointing to the staircase in the centre of the dining area that led to the kitchen and staff quarters on the first floor.
They scrimped and saved to rent the premises to start a small business specialising in Cantonese delights.
The restaurant has fed customers during peaceful times as well as helped them weather tumultuous periods such as during the Japanese Occupation with specially-made tapioca buns.
The family business fell on Lee’s shoulder in 1991. She took over the task “by default” as her siblings and cousins had chosen different career paths.
One of her nephews, Lee Hou Fai, 38, has been helping her for the last five years.
Her training started when she was 14. Her father, who was in charge of accounts and administration, took her along when dealing with the many government departments to educate her on licence renewal and other matters.
<b>Old-fashioned method:</b> Khoo measuring the amount of ingredients needed to make Chinese pau the traditional way.
Old-fashioned method: Khoo measuring the amount of ingredients needed to make Chinese pau the traditional way.
She was allowed to work elsewhere after she finished school, with the condition that she would be “recalled” anytime.
The winds of change blew when the restaurant was acquired alongside 22 other pre-war properties in Jalan Sultan and Petaling Street for the tunnelling of the MRT track.
The acquisition exercise was stopped following calls for heritage preservation.
Instead, MRT Corp sought property owners’ consent to bore underneath their properties by signing a mutual agreement.
MRT Corp insisted that all but two property owners had signed the agreement while two of them, Yook Woo Hin and Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia that owns an empty plot there, had agreed to acquisition.
She said the landlords — her relatives — made the decision to sell the building.
“We made the move with a heavy heart. We felt that there was too much uncertainty, such as the cost to move and operate elsewhere for six months during the tunnelling.
“The conditions that came with the agreement are not in the shareholders’ favour.
“One is that we will not be allowed to build additional levels to the shophouse,” she said.
<b>Started in 1928:</b> A portrait of the founder, Lee Hoi, hangs in a prominent location in the restaurant.
Started in 1928: A portrait of the founder, Lee Hoi, hangs in a prominent location in the restaurant.
“Our restaurant was historically a neighbourhood business. This place, as you can see, is now occupied mostly by foreign workers who do not like our food.
“Yes, we have tourists coming but that is only seasonal.
“The business is actually not that good,” she added.
City folk will no longer be able to relish its famous mooncakes, dumplings and yee sang — anticipated annually by many.
“It is sad but frankly, also a relief in a way. Personally, I am still not used to the hours.”
The hours are daunting indeed. Lee and the kitchen staff wake up before 3am to prepare a fresh batch of delicacies before the shop opens at 5.30am.
They are only closed on Thursdays. Heading the kitchen is chef Khoo Chee Seng, 51, who has been with the restaurant for over 30 years.
“I first came here for a holiday job, and in the blink of an eye, three decades have passed,” he said with a smile.
Khoo could not pinpoint what made him stay for so long but has grown accustomed to the job.
It is sad but frankly, also a relief in a way. —LEE WAI CHENG
It is sad but frankly, also a relief in a way. —LEE WAI CHENG
He said he would wake up in the wee hours of the day even on his days off.
He has been shuttling between his home and the hostel, amid his children’s complaints, but enjoys the working environment and the company of his co-workers.
But Khoo admitted that it was a far cry from the restaurant’s heyday in the 70s and 80s.
“During those days, there were customers waiting behind every table.
“Now many have moved away and do not want to come all the way here for breakfast,” he said.
Khoo said he might consider running some small business or seek employment somewhere while Lee said she would just retire as she needed to take care of her ailing mother.
But Hou Fai, the fourth generation in the family and whose profession is in business development, is not calling it quits yet despite the obstacles that lie ahead.
He does not have the capital to open a restaurant elsewhere and the other shareholders are too old to want to start all over again.
But he is hopeful, as the name “Yook Woo Hin” is popular.
He does not have any concrete plans as yet but is toying with the idea of franchising.
“The shop may close down but hopefully the brand will continue,” he said.

(The Star) MRT Corp to brief Pinggir Zaaba residents on project

MASS Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) will be meeting residents of Pinggir Zaaba in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Kuala Lumpur, to brief them on details of the MRT project. The meeting is scheduled to be held on Sept 3 at the MRT Information Centre in TTDI.
MRT Corp strategic communications and public relations director Amir Mahmood Razak said the briefing would be carried out by the work project contractor Mudajaya Corporation Berhad, who was awarded the RM816mil V3 viaduct package in June.
“The engagement with the stakeholders, in this case the residents, is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) where residents are informed about the project details, specifically the timeline.
“This is an opportunity for them to voice out their concerns again. MRT Corp will try to address them accordingly,” Amir said, adding that a proposal would be made for Pinggir Zaaba be made a one-way street (until delivery) to enable parking on one side of the road.
Amir said piloting works were scheduled to start on Sept 4 for two weeks and this was being carried out to ascertain the location of utility pipes underground.
“After obtaining detailed results from this, a design of the structure of pillars can be finalised. This is to prevent them from obstructing the pipes underground,” he added.
Mudajaya will be constructing the MRT viaduct guideway and other associated works from Dataran Sunway to Section 17, and this is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.
The V3 viaduct works stretch approximately 6.03km and will be the alignment for three key MRT stations, namely the stations near The Curve, 1 Utama and TTDI. These stations are expected to serve the large population in the area. This includes established residential and commercial areas in Damansara Perdana, Bandar Utama, Damansara Utama and Damansara Kim.

(The Star) MasterCard: Consumer confidence rises 17.1 points

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has shown significant improvement across all consumer confidence indicators with an increase of 17.1 index points, according to MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence.
In a statement yesterday, MasterCard Worldwide said Malaysia recorded an increase across all key indicators regular income (from 72.1 to 83.9 index points); employment (53.5 to 73.8 index points); economy (45.6 to 64.1 index points); quality of life (47.8 to 67.4 index points); and, stock market (44.8 to 60.2 Index points).
Cheah: ‘Malaysians have shown confidence in the development of the country.’
Cheah: ‘Malaysians have shown confidence in the development of the country.’
MasterCard Worldwide vice president/senior country manager for Malaysia and Brunei, Jim Cheah, said the improvement demonstrated by Malaysia was encouraging as the country moved to become a high-income nation.“Malaysians have shown confidence in the development of the country through these insights,” he said.
MasterCard Worldwide said overall, nine out of 14 Asia/Pacific markets polled recorded positive improvements when compared to the second half of 2011 with a regional rise from 52.1 index points in the second half of 2011 to 57.2 index points in the first half of 2012.
Consumers in the region which remained most optimistic were India (82.1 index points), China (77.4), Vietnam (77.2) and Thailand (75.8), while the least optimistic markets were Japan (23.6), Taiwan (25.7) and Australia (39.2). Hong Kong, which dropped 38.7 Index points in the last Index, improved by 21.9 index points to lead the region, followed closely by South Korea (up 21.4 Index points), Malaysia (up 17.1 Index points) and New Zealand (up 15.3 Index points), it said.
Meanwhile, MasterCard Worldwide global economic adviser, Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, said the latest reading of consumer confidence in Asia/Pacific reflected the increasingly complex mix of key influences affecting the region. - Bernama

(The Edge) Hunza Properties optimistic of FY13 earnings

GEORGE TOWN: Hunza Properties Bhd (HPB) is optimistic of its profitability in the financial year ending June 30, 2013 amidst gain on valuation of Gurney Paragon. Its executive chairman Datuk Khor Teng Tong said the group will focus on the construction and tenanting of Gurney Paragon phase two retail mall and office tower.

Speaking at a media briefing here on Aug 29, he said rental income from retail business at the retail podium and St Joseph's Novitiate (St Jo's) heritage building are the new streams of recurring income, which started in the first half of fiscal 2012.

"The revenue contribution to Hunza will increase significantly upon completion and operation of Gurney Paragon phase two retail mall and office tower in the near future," Khor said.

Located along Gurney Drive, the iconic development is sited on a 4.08-hectare freehold land and is expected to be completed by the second quarter or early third quarter next year.

The integrated development comprised two blocks of high-end condominiums, an office block, St Jo's, three-storey podium retail lots and a shopping mall with about one million sq ft of retail space. Khor said about 57 per cent of the retail space has been rented and the mall is attracting several retailers' interest from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to establish their business at the premise.

He said Hunza will also focus on selling the remaining completed condominium units at Gurney Paragon with prices at higher level as well as marketing and constructing phase three of double-storey semi-detached and terrace houses in Bandar Putra Bertam.

On the company's land in Bayan Baru, Khor said it expects to relocate an estimated 800 squatter households by 2014 before starting on plans to develop the land into a multi-billion integrated development.

"We expect the Gurney Paragon project to firmly put us in Penang's development spotlight, while the Bayan Baru project will thrust Hunza to the national level," he added.-- Bernama

(The Star) Litrak cannot confirm possible stake sale by Gamuda

SHAH ALAM: Speculation that Lingkaran Trans Kota Holdings Bhd’s (Litrak) major shareholder Gamuda Bhd may sell its stake in the highway operator cannot be confirmed by Litrak.
Litrak chief executive officer Sazally Saidi said: “We have not been approached by Gamuda.”
Speaking after Litrak AGM, both Sazally and chief operating officer Richard Lim said Gamuda had not given any indication of divesting its stake in Litrak. “You have to ask Gamuda,” Lim added.
Sazally: ‘We have not been approached by Gamuda.’
Sazally: ‘We have not been approached by Gamuda.’
HwangDBS Vickers Research said in a recent report that Gamuda might be tempted to sell down its stake because there was no clarity of when the Government would allow increases in toll rates.
The research house added that Litrak, which owns the concessions to the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) and 50%-owned Sprint Highway, might not be able to secure any toll rate hikes until the general election, which is due by April 2013.
As per concession agreements, the LDP toll rate is due for a 50 sen increase to RM2.10.
For the Sprint Highway, Sazally said the toll rates at the Damansara Link was supposed to increase by 50 sen to RM1.50, while Kerinchi Link’s rate was supposed to increase to RM2.50 from RM1.50 previously. The Penchala Link toll was supposed to increase to RM3.
“All highways’ toll has been frozen. Normally, any toll hikes will be implemented in January but there has not been any indication from the Government yet,” Lim said.
However, Litrak said its revenue should not be affected by the delay in the implementation of toll hikes due to the compensation that the Government had provided. Litrak will receive RM80mil in compensation in two instalments.
Lim said half the advance was received in the middle of this year while the balance was to be received next year.
Currently, Litrak’s capital expenditure (capex) stands at RM100mil for the balance of the highway’s major enhancement project, known as LDP 5. Sazally said Litrak was at the end of the project, which is expected to be completed in November.
The total capex for the project is RM277mil, which is to be utilised in three years.
The LDP 5 project comprises three packages and commenced in November 2009. Package A involved the construction of a new ramp towards Putrajaya as well as enhancement work in Puchong Intan and Puchong Perdana interchanges. Package A was completed in December 2011.
Package B involved the upgrading and improvement works at the LDP between Persiaran Surian to Penchala Link toll plaza, which was completed end of last month.
Package C, which is close to completion, involves upgrading and improvement works between Petaling Jaya toll plaza to Puchong Jaya.
“Once it is completed, we will study the traffic patterns and see what is on our drawing boards and see how it can be further improved,” Sazally said.

(The Edge) MKH Bhd 3Q pre-tax profit soars to RM20 million

KUALA LUMPUR: MKH Bhd's pre-tax profit for its third quarter ended June 30, 2012, soared to RM20.01 million from RM9.07 million in the same period last year. Revenue for the period rose to RM139 million from 91.03 million previously.

Its Executive Chairman, Datuk Alex Chen, attributed the results to MKH's property development division which showed strong growth momentum, driven by successful key projects in Kajang and Semenyih such as Hillpark Homes, Pelangi Semenyih 2 and Kajang 2 townships, as well as strong response for the Saville@Melawati condominium.

"Momentum in our property development division continues to be sustained and so far we have achieved RM343 million new sales in the first nine months of this financial year, buoyed by strong response to our latest project, Saville@the Park, Bangsar," he said in a statement here on Aug 29.

"Our unbilled sales reached another record high of RM430.5 million as at the end of June 2012 and this will continue to drive our development profits going forward. We believe the Group is well positioned to sustain our longer-term growth.

"MKH has landbank of over 242.8 hectares in prime locations within Kajang, Semenyih and the Klang Valley, which we have planned for future development and investment properties with an estimated Gross Development Value of RM5 billion over the next seven years," Chen said.

The oil palm division is on track to achieve maiden profits in financial year 2013 and MKH is pleased with the progress of MKH’s initial oil palm plantation project and is on the lookout to increase its landbank, said Chen.

"Our core focus going forward remains in property and plantation. MKH will reap the benefits of its prime development landbank as well as its maturing plantation and we will continue to seek out landbank acquisition opportunities in both these core divisions to enhance our longer-term growth prospects," he added.

MKH Bhd is an established property developer with an uninterrupted profit track record since commencing business over 20 years ago. --Bernama 

(The Edge) George Kent selects Thaled Group to provide information backbone for Ampang LRT upgrade

KUALA LUMPUR: George Kent (Malaysia) Bhd (GKM) has selected the Thales Group, to provide its internationally-reowned SelTrac Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) system for the existing 27 kilometre Ampang Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line.

It would also serve the 18 kilometre southwest extension under the Ampang LRT Extension Project (Ampang LEP). Thales Group is a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defence, transportation and security markets.

In a statement, the company said that the project was scheduled for completion in 2015. "The selection of Thales will provide seamless integration and significant cost savings as the CBTC system is also currently utilized for the Kelana Jaya LRT line.

"Thales was integral in the development of the Kelana Jaya LRT Line, making them the obvious choice to provide the same SelTrac fully-automated signaling communications platform for the Ampang Line and Ampang LEP," said the statement.

The company said with Thales on board, the project was on track for completion, within requirements.-- Bernama

(BUSINESS TIMES) Significant rise in Malaysian consumer confidence

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has shown significant improvement across all consumer confidence indicators with an increase of 17.1 index points according to MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence.

In a statement yesterday, MasterCard Worldwide said Malaysia recorded an increase across all key indicators - regular income (from 72.1 to 83.9 index points); employment (53.5 to 73.8 index points); economy (45.6 to 64.1 index points); quality of life (47.8 to 67.4 index points); and stock market (44.8 to 60.2 index points).

MasterCard Worldwide vice president/senior country manager for Malaysia and Brunei Jim Cheah said the improvement demonstrated by Malaysia was encouraging as the country moves to become a high-income nation.

"Malaysians have shown confidence in the development of the country through these insights," he said.

MasterCard Worldwide said overall, nine out of 14 Asia/Pacific markets polled recorded positive improvements when compared with the second half of 2011, with a regional rise from 52.1 index points in the second half of 2011 to 57.2 index points in the first half of 2012.

Consumers in the region that remained most optimistic are in India (82.1 index points), China (77.4), Vietnam (77.2) and Thailand (75.8), while the least optimistic markets were Japan (23.6), Taiwan (25.7) and Australia (39.2).

Hong Kong, which dropped 38.7 index points in the last index reading, improved by 21.9 index points to lead the region, followed by South Korea (up 21.4 Index points), Malaysia (up 17.1 Index points) and New Zealand (up 15.3 Index points).

Meanwhile, MasterCard Worldwide global economic adviser Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong said the latest reading of consumer confidence in Asia/Pacific reflected the increasingly complex mix of key influences affecting the region.

"The first is the global environment, which continues to be weak and riddled with uncertainty, especially in Europe.

"The second is the slowdown in China, which has been affecting many key regional markets that are China-centric in their exports and third is the strength of the domestic markets in sustaining growth with home-grown demand," Hedrick-Wong said.

The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence is based on a survey conducted between April 24 2012 and June 10 2012, on 11,376 respondents aged 18- 64 in 25 countries within Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Bernama


(BUSINESS TIMES) Property players optimistic on residential segment

Property players are upbeat on the outlook of the residential segment, despite challenges in the domestic market and global uncertainties.

They also observed the trend in the local residential market, which is moving towards smaller-size units in suburbs.

Among the challenges identified include increasing cost of building materials, high land prices due to scarcity of new areas for development in prime locations, changes in government policies as well as labour shortage.

Property developers and market experts said despite the rise in property prices, there is pent-up demand for new housing, especially for high-rise residences in selected locations within the Klang Valley.

They also said that new launches, especially properties priced above RM500,000, attract foreigners, who are buying to stay because of the low-cost of living and better healthcare facilities in the country.

The Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia past president Datuk Ng Seing Liong said the current trend shows that local buyers are shifting to the mid-range affordable segment.

He also observed an increase in the number of new launches, offering smaller-size units in established and popular suburbs, driven by demand for such properties.

Ng said the scarcity of land and high land cost are putting pressure on developers to keep end-pricing affordable, hence the reason to build smaller-size units.

"Buyers seem to prefer projects with smaller units as they are more affordable and easier to maintain. This trend has started and will continue," Ng said at the 15th National Housing and Property Summit 2012 here yesterday.

Ng also said that low-density and large units are not as favourable as smaller units as the former have become more expensive.

Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd managing director Ho Chin Soon said favourable demographics, urban migration, a booming middle class and improving institutions are all ingredients for a successful property market.


(The Edge) Selangor Dredging targets five property launches worth RM1.2 billion

KUALA LUMPUR: Selangor Dredging Bhd plans to launch five new property projects, with a total gross development value of RM1.2 billion, within the current financial year ending March 31, 2013.

Managing Director Teh Lip Kim said one project, the 'Laman and Bayu' residential project in Batu 11, Jalan Puchong, Petaling Jaya, was already launched while the second project, 'Windows On The Park', in Cheras Selatan, was opened for preview.

Three other projects in the pipeline were 'Jia' in Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur, 'The Hub' in Petaling Jaya and 'Village' in Pasir Panjang, Singapore, and were expected to be launched over the next few months.

"This is the first time Selangor Dredging is slated to launch so many projects within a single year. In the past eight years, since it started out in the property development, the company launched an average of one or two projects a year," she told reporters after the company's annual general meeting.

Teh also said the company brought forward unbilled sales of RM730 million from the last financial year and hoped to realise some of the value in the current financial year.

Saying that the company was optimistic that demand for properties in the Klang Valley would continue to expand, she added that the outlook for the sector remained quite positive. Infrastructure projects such as the My Rapid Transit project in the Klang Valley and the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baharu were also expected to be a boost for the property market.

For the last financial year ended March 31, 2012, Selangor Dredging posted a higher pre-tax profit of RM61.985 million from RM44.366 million recorded the previous year. Revenue for the period also rose to RM354.452 million from RM345.999 million previously.

(The Edge) Hua Yang targets RM815 million worth of property launches in FY2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer, Hua Yang Bhd, is geared towards launching RM815 million worth of property projects in the financial year ending March 31, 2013, and has allocated over RM300 million for land acquisitions.

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Ho Wen Yan said they have lined up a series of launches in this financial year and "we are on track to achieve our targeted property launches that are worth RM815 million.

"So far, we've launched a few property projects worth RM212 million in the current financial year, spanning across Klang Valley, Johor and Perak, he said in a statement On Aug 30.

The company had in the first quarter of financial year 2013 soft launched its first phase at Taman Pulai Hijauan in its 56 hectares (140 acres) mixed development township, with RM380 million total gross development value (GDV) Ho said Hua Yang would be launching RM160 million development projects in the Desa Pandan area soon comprising service apartments and retail units and at Section 13 in Shah Alam consisting of service apartments and retail units worth RM175 million.

Currently, the company has a total undeveloped 306.4 hectares (766 acres) land bank, with RM2.2 billion estimated GDV, which can sustain its property development ventures for the next six to eight years.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) EPF's investment creates fresh competition

THE entry of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) as a big investor in real estate will create more challenges for the sector, said Country Heights Holdings Bhd founder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew.

"With the recent land acquisition in Sungai Buloh, the EPF is going to be one of the biggest developers here. There is also competition from boutique developers and government agencies that have embarked on property development," Lee said.

The EPF's wholly-owned unit, Kwasa Land Sdn Bhd, has acquired 932ha of Rubber Research Institute (RRI) land in Sungai Buloh from the Malaysian Rubber Board for RM2.3 billion.

Lee said other challenges faced by the industry included inconsistent government policies by both federal and state governments.

He also said the building of low-cost houses is creating a slump in the market place and does not fulfil the requirement of a quality lifestyle.

Since the 1980s, developers are required to build low-cost houses priced RM42,000 a unit and below. But rising cost of raw materials is causing them to lose money from each house built and the take up by the lower income group has been slow.

The issue has been raised numerous times by the Real Estate And Housing Developers' Association (Rehda), which comprises more than 1,000 members, for several years now.

"Developers are also at the mercy of bankers. I don't think the property market can be sustained like this, unless the government does something soon. Local developers are capable of building healthy properties to avoid a property bubble here," Lee said yesterday at the 15th National Housing and Property Summit 2012.

Rehda president Datuk Seri Michael Yam added that there should be a shift from low-cost hou-sing to affordable homes.

He said there is a lot of demand for properties priced between RM150,000 and RM300,000 and Rehda is appealing to the government to study the current market demand and situation.

Rehda is urging the government to freeze imposition of policies, guidelines and laws that add to the cost of development.

"We also hope the government will free up more land that they own for development. The government should consider developing Malay reserve land and building properties over existing infrastructure," Yam said.

Glomac Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Fateh Iskandar Mohamed feels that the property market will face new challenges going forward.

"Banks are still overzealous in end financing. The cost of doing business has also shown an increase in compliance cost, which is now about 30 per cent of total construction expenditure, not related to enhancement of property," he said.


(NST) Tenants unhappy over rise in rent

RATES UP: A group of tenants at KSL City claim that the increase in their rent of between 50 and 200 per cent is too high

JOHOR BARU: Some tenants of the KSL City, a popular shopping mall in Johor Baru, are unhappy with the decision of the management to raise the rent from next year.

The group of tenants have sought the help of the Persatuan Penggerak Pengguna Johor (PPPJ) to resolve the issue.

Association president Abdul Majid Kayat, who attended a special meeting with the tenants recently, said the move involved more than 100 tenants who received notices that their rent would be increased between 50 and 200 per cent.

"Currently, the rent depends on the size of the premises and it is between RM5,000 and RM16,000. If there is an increase in the rent, the move would greatly affect some of the tenants.

"These tenants would then have to increase the prices of their goods to survive," Majid said.

He said that the association plans to see the management soon concerning the matter.

A tenant, who only wanted to be known as Michael, said that the management should be rational as the rent is already "high enough" and therefore, should not be raised further.

"Our daily profit is unpredictable. Sometimes, I earn only RM80 per day and that is not enough to pay the rent for the day," he said.

A KSL spokesman who declined to be named said the management is only making a commercial decision that is in accordance with the market rate.

"When the mall started operations two years ago, we reduced the rent to assist the tenants as we knew they needed the money for renovation before moving in.

"The management organises promotions and does advertising regularly, so we also need to cover the cost of running the mall which enjoys a high volume of shoppers and visitors.

"Moreover, the tenants have enjoyed the special rates for some time, so it is not unreasonable for the management to increase the rent next year," he said, adding that a study had been conducted before the notices were given out and the revised rates are still considered lower than other shopping malls in Johor Baru.


(The Star) Property in Iskandar Malaysia will cost house buyers more due to several reasons

JOHOR BARU: Prospective house buyers in Iskandar Malaysia must be ready to pay more for their residential properties within the next six to 12 months.
Johor Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) branch chairman Koh Moo Hing said the hike in prices of properties here was inevitable.
“Our members have not much choice but to past the cost to consumers and we are seeing at least 5% increase in months to come,’’ he told StarMetro.
Koh said there were several reasons that could lead to the hike including the escalating prices of building materials such as cement, steel and labour shortage.
He said one major factor that contributed to the issue was land prices which had been on the upward trend since the inception of Iskandar Malaysia about six years ago.
Koh said for instance, industrial land was sold for RM20 per sq ft five years ago and now the asking price is between RM25 and RM35.
“For residential projects, the prices of land varies from location to location and depending on the type of projects developers are planning,’’ he added.
Koh said although there would be a hike in property prices in Iskandar Malaysia, it was still not as high as those in the Klang Valley and Penang.
Nevertheless he said, it was not all gloomy for developers as demand for properties in Iskandar Malaysia likely to remain “positive” despite the unfavourable property market.
“The demand will come from first time house buyers and upgraders as well as Malaysians workings in Singapore,’’ said Koh.
He said they would not want to delay their purchase as many of them had anticipated that prices of residential properties would continue to increase.
Koh said with thousands of Malaysian working in the republic, earning Singapore dollar and living here, they have strong purchasing power due to favorable Singapore currency.
He added five years ago, the selling price for a double-storey intermediate lot link house was RM300,000 but now the average selling price started from RM450,000.
Similarly, Koh advised Rehda Johor members to be well prepared in anticipation of the hard times and avoid from being overly ambitious.
“Carefully plan your project this year and next and go for products that could still sell despite the unfavorable market outlook,’’ he said.

(The Star) Free shuttle service to spread its wings

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The Penang government’s free ‘Park & Ride’ shuttle service will be extended to cover Bandar Perda in Bukit Mertajam and Highway Auto City in Juru effective Sept 3.
State local government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said two new feeder hubs, with free car parking, would be open next to the state Inland Revenue Board (IRB) office in Bandar Perda and next to the Concept Hall in Auto City.
He said the move was an extension to the state’s pilot Bridge Express Shuttle Transit (Best) which provided free shuttle services between Sunway Carnival Mall Seberang Jaya and the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Area since March last year.
He said four Rapid Penang buses would ply on 20-minute intervals from 6.10am to 8.10am and from 4.30pm to 6.50pm, from Monday to Friday, between the two new feeder hubs and existing bus stops on both sides of the Penang Bridge toll plaza in Prai.
“Commuters can ride on these free feeder buses and hop on any of the Best A, Best B or Best C buses near the Penang Bridge toll plaza to get across to the island,” Chow told reporters during a trial run of the feeder bus service in Highway Auto City, Juru, yesterday.
He said the Best buses, which recorded an average of 800 passengers daily, was introduced to ease the burden of factory employees travelling to work daily from the mainland to the island.
He said the Best buses would stop at Queensbay Mall from Sept 3, adding that commuters could get down there to take a local bus to Komtar or other destinations on the island.
Chow said anyone can use the new feeder services and Best service as they were not only restricted to factory employees.
“We want the public to also enjoy the state’s free shuttle service between the mainland and island.
“Apart from an average of RM160,000 spent monthly on the 16 Best buses, the state will spend another RM24,800 per month for the additional four buses,” he said.
The Penang Municipal Council also runs a free shuttle service with three buses plying an 8km route between the Raja Tun Uda ferry terminal and Komtar on the island from 6am to midnight daily using Rapid Penang buses.
For details on the Best timetables and feeder bus timetables, contact Rapid Penang at 04-2381313 or visit its website at

(The Star) Outdoor fashion brand unveils its latest timepiece collection

OUTDOOR footwear and apparel company, Timberland introduced its Spring/Summer 2012 watch collection in Kuala Lumpur at a little soiree peppered with celebrities including those from beyond our local shores.
Boasting of 100 different styles, the new collection merges innovative technology with true Timberland outdoor heritage.
The collection is designed and developed by PT Far East Limited (PTFE), who is the new licensee for Timberland watches globally.
Comprising 15 series, the SS collection had earlier been unveiled at the Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show in Switzerland in March.
Timberland’s Hydroclimb watch priced at almost RM1,000.
Timberland’s Hydroclimb watch priced at almost RM1,000.
PTFE director Rajiv Mehra said Malaysia was the third country to launch the collection, after China and Singapore.
“The Timberland watches are unique as there are not many outdoor brands have their own range of watches.
‘’Our watches, besides being casual and sporty, are environmentally friendly as well. For example, vegetable dyes are used for the leather tanning instead of chemicals,’’ he said.
Anfibio linings are used in Timberland watches to make them sweat- and water-resistant for the sporting enthusiasts for their adventures on land and water including hiking, mountain biking and boating.
A model from the Belknap range.
A model from the Belknap range.
At the Kuala Lumpur launch, PTFE also announced the appointment of Aura Concept Sdn Bhd as the new distributor for the Malaysian market.
Aura Concept will distribute the Timberland watches through its dealer network as well as its own retail stores.
PTFE is a watch manufacturer with brands such as Police, Aigner, Escada, FCUK, Swiss Military and Paris Hilton under its portfolio.
The company is responsible for manufacturing, marketing and distributing Timberland watches globally as well.
Mehra, who joined PTFE nine years ago, was instrumental in securing the global deal due to the development of the Far East markets for these brands.
The Washington Summit watch in a nice forest-green colour.
The Washington Summit watch in a nice forest-green colour.
“The Timberland watches are made with the brand’s philosophy — outdoor, casual and sporty.
“The timepieces are multi-functional and packed with chronograph features. They are made with stainless steel and reinforced plastic cases, mineral glass with sapphire coating for durability and scratch-resistance.
“They are finished with silicone or leather straps and have a two-year warranty throughout the world,’’ said Mehra, who has been in the watch industry for the past 15 years.
Colours are the new trend and the latest collection has plenty of them, both statement hues for the bold personalities and muted tones for those who prefer to be subtle.
“When it comes to fashion watches, people usually look at the appearance of the watch and are price-sensitive.
Inspired by the great outdoors: The Back Bay watch from Timberland.
Inspired by the great outdoors: The Back Bay watch from Timberland.
“The trend now is to match the watch to the attire. Likewise for outdoor and sports watches, people want the same,’’ said Mehra.
He added that there was a great demand and a huge potential for Timberland watches in Malaysia as there was brand awareness and Timberland was well-known.
Outdoor and sports watch collectors and fashionistas are spoilt for choice with the Timberland series comprising Belknap, Front Country, Hydroclimb, Hookset, Whiteledge, Stratham, Edgewood, Chocorua, Charlestown, Radler, Back Bay, Newmarket, Hookset Multifunction, Claremont and Washington Summit.
The Timberland watches, retailed at between RM300 and RM1,000 each, are made in China with Japanese-manufactured movements.
The watches are available at all 15 Timberland stores in Malaysia, dealers and department stores.

(The Star) Watch store chain is named after the founder’s love for the United States

Liow King Seng’s dream to move to the United States was shelved in the 1960s as his wife was not open to the idea. So, the couple stayed on in Malaysia to start a small business repairing watches.

The business took off within a few years of operating with the name Chan Seng Watch Co. in Klang and soon Liow was already planning to open his next outlet, this time a watch shop.
“My mother knows how much my father wanted to go to America so she allowed him to name the shop ‘America’,” said King Seng’s son Chan Hoong when met at the recent opening of its 13th outlet in Setia City Mall, Shah Alam.
Chan Hoong who is also the director of America Watch Dealers and Trading Co. said the outlet was the second in Shah Alam for the company after its earlier store in Giant Hypermarket in Section 13.
Under watchful eyes: Chan Hoong (left) and his father King Seng taking a look at one of the watches sold at the shop.
Under watchful eyes: Chan Hoong (left) and his father King Seng taking a look at one of the watches sold at the shop.
“Setia City Mall attracts more high-end customers who seek for more expensive watches and we certainly want to reach out and serve that particular market too,” he said, adding that the new boutique style outlet offers 70% exclusive brands such as Longines, Bell&Ross, Oris and Tissot.
To-date, all of its outlets in the Klang Valley carry various international brands under its wings.
Among the brands are Burberry, Calvin Klein, Victorinox, GC Guess, Hugo Boss, Oris, Mido, Titoni, Gucci, Coach, Luminox, Zeppelin, Rado, Certina, Junkers, Raymond Weil, Maurice Lacroix and Zeno-Watch-Basel.
Some of their outlets also vary in names such as Amex Timepiece in Giant Hypermarket Mall in Klang and Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya while Hour & Minutes can be found at Hartamas Shopping Centre and another at the Paradigm Mall.
Sparkly wristwear: Models showing off the latest collection of watches from Mido.
Sparkly wristwear: Models showing off the latest collection of watches from Mido.
The company also collaborated with FJ Benjamin for Watch Zone in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Jusco Bukit Raja and Aeon Jusco Bukit Tinggi.
Their one and only Tissot Boutique which only carries a large selection of Tissot watches is found in Mid Valley Megamall.
Besides Shah Alam, America Watch can be found in Jalan Taiping in Klang, IOI Mall and Mid Valley Megamall.
Chan Hoong said the company aims to open more stores in the next three years and whenever opportunity arises.
“We have been in the business for 50 years starting from our first outlet in Jalan Taiping in Klang, we definitely want to continue moving forward and grow our business further,” he said.
During the launch, guests had a first hand look at the new outlet with models parading the latest collection of watches from Mido.

(The Star) MRT Corp: We did not make misleading agreements with residents

MASS Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) denies making verbal promises to mislead Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents living in Pinggir Zaaba into believing that their properties would be acquired for the MRT project.
Its chief executive officer Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid said the ‘willing buyer and willing seller’ proposal was voluntary and made out of goodwill.
He said based on the Land Acquisition Act 1960, there was no basis to acquire the land.
“The TTDI issue involved a larger group of residents. The original opposition involved 69 Pinggir Zaaba and 70 Medan Burhanuddin Helmi houseowners.
Major undertaking: The MRT project is set to take place in Pinggir Zaaba.
Major undertaking: The MRT project is set to take place in Pinggir Zaaba.
“The 69 owners had sought for realignment of the MRT line, an underground alignment and relocation.
“For relocation, the group asked for one-for-one swap with replacement houses built on a 10ha site called Taman Rimba (located at the border of Bukit Kiara and TTDI).
“This was rejected as it was unprecedented and because Taman Rimba is a green lung,” Azhar said at a media conference at MRT Corp’s office in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur yesterday
He said no less than 14 meetings were held between the group and the Government before MRT Corp was formed in September 2011.
“When MRT Corp took over management of the project in October 2011, we decided to only engage with the 25 property owners on Pinggir Zaaba as they were closest to the alignment.
“Furthermore, they have stated that their homes will be ‘unliveable’ due to the construction work and the presence of MRT line 15m in front of their houses,” he said.
However, he said this engagement had consumed a lot of time as residents wanted everything to be compensated for.
Because of this, both parties came to a mutual agreement that the properties would be evaluated and the papers submitted to the Special Compensation Committee (SCC) for approval.
The SCC is chaired by Treasury secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah and its members comprise representatives from the Finance Ministry, Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), Works Ministry, Valuation and Property Management Department and MRT Corp.
According to Azhar, the first property valuation was done with Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) concessionaire — taking into consideration the existence of LDP in terms of noise and traffic — and MRT Corp.
This was followed by valuation by LDP and subsequently revisions of valuation were conducted by Jones Lang Wootton.
This was mutually agreed upon by both parties as the residents did not agree with the earlier valuations.
“MRT Corp agreed to explore ways to address their concerns which was subjected to the Government’s approval,” he said, adding that all compensation, which does not involve mandatory land acquisition must be referred to SCC.
On mitigation concerns, Azhar said several technical changes were made to the design of the viaduct such as wider special spans to reduce the number of pillars required in front of the 25 houses.
Now, only three pillars will be constructed and this will be located in front of service lanes between the rows of houses. The installation of vertical nettings above aluminium hoarding is also being studied to further minimise dust.
Azhar said access to the work area is exclusively from LDP and not from Pinggir Zaaba. Construction vehicles are not allowed to park along the road once the hoarding have been put up. Construction workers are also not allowed to loiter there.
He also stressed that in the event of an emergency, Fire and Rescue Services Department vehicles would not face a problem entering the area.
He said trees cut down to make way for construction will be replaced with semi-mature trees once work is completed. The need to install sound deflators on the completed viaduct will be assessed.
Azhar said to date, it has not received any news from Abdul Raman Saad and Associates (Arsa) — lawyers appointed by the residents.
In response to a question on the next course of action, he said as this is a national project, decisions made will benefit the people at large and if the group continues to disrupt the project, MRT Corp will not hesitate to take legal action.
In response to MRT Corp’s statement in The Star on Aug 27, Pinggir Zaaba resident and spokesman Norliza Kamaruddin said, “The statement by MRT Corp about us being unaware of SCC is wrong.”
“We wish to reiterate that we were misled by MRT Corp which had in the beginning assured us that it will make the decision on the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ proposition.”
“A series of valuations on the 25 properties along Pinggir Zaaba can attest to the seriousness of MRT Corp’s intention.
“We are also pleased that MRT Corp is willing to make public all relevant details pertaining to the discussions which took place with the residents of Pinggir Zaaba,” she added.

(The Star) Addressing parking issues: Brickfields community wants a different location for car owners

THE Brickfields community are in favour of a proposal to build a multi-storey carpark to address parking problems in the area but are against using Jalan Berhala for this.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) proposed a seven-storey carpark to be built on Lot 239 and part of Jalan Berhala, stretching from the Jalan Vivekananda exit to Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad.
Earlier this month, DBKL had invited stakeholders and non-governmental organisations in Brickfields to a briefing on the project and gather views on the permanent closure of part of Jalan Berhala. Subsequently, a second meeting was held by DBKL at SJK(T) Vivekananda to discuss the matter further.
Representing the various NGOs in Brickfields was Brickfields Rukun Tetangga chairman S.K.K. Naidu.
“We thank Federal Territories and Urban Well-being Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin for his effort to build the long requested and much-needed multi-storey carpark in Brickfields.
“However, we hope Jalan Berhala will not be affected as otherwise the public will have to take the longer route through Jalan Tun Sambathan and turn into Jalan Tun Sambathan 4, which is always congested due to buses stopping to pick up and drop off passengers and high volume of traffic.
“Besides that, we have also requested for a multi-purpose community hall/badminton court on the rooftop of the carpark, a 1Malaysia clinic and police beat base in the proposed building to maximise the land use and further benefit the local community,” he said.
Palm Court Resident’s Association chairman Chandra Eliathamby agreed with Naidu and said other measures should also be taken to overcome the parking problem in the area.
“Many of the DBKL parking lots by the roadsides are taken up by workers who park and either walk to their offices or to KL Sentral to take a train to their work places.
“Since the parking lots located near residential areas are not meter-based, the car owners are not concerned about compounds and hoard the space for the whole day.
“It is unfair to the business community as well as visitors to the area and this issue must be addressed too. Although the multi-storey carpark would alleviate the problem to a certain degree, we still believe that all parking lots in Brickfields should be metered to avoid hogging,” he said.
SJK(T) Vivekananda Parent-Teacher Association chairman Surendran Alagapan said the permanent road closure would cause great inconvenience to the school community.
“The school’s main gate faces Jalan Berhala. Parents and transport providers pick up and drop off the students here.
“We also have a back gate along Jalan Vivekananda but we close it due to safety reasons and it is only used by the teachers after schooling hours.
“Another matter of concern is the safety aspect. In case of an emergency, ambulance or fire engines will find it difficult to enter the school compound. DBKL officers have promised to look into our concerns and get back to us,” he said.