Friday, 31 January 2014

(The Edge) City & Country: Seri Pajam introduces green living to Pajam

THE roads of Pajam in Negeri Sembilan, a little over an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, are lined with old kampung houses that have seen better days. Seri Pajam Development Sdn Bhd, the largest developer there, is looking to change that.

Pajam falls under the Nilai district and sits along the main road that connects Kajang and Seremban.

Seri Pajam has already introduced modern bungalows and semi-detached houses to the area with Perdana College Heights, which was launched in 2006. Prior to this, such homes could only be found closer to the Seremban city centre.

Seri Pajam was established in 1994 and has six ongoing projects with a combined gross development value (GDV) of RM1.52 billion. The developments are Perdana College Heights, Citra Hill & Nada Alam in Pajam, Bandar Warisan Puteri in Seremban, Nusa Intan in Senawang, Tiara Heights in Salak Tinggi and Desa Putera in Bahau.

Now, Seri Pajam is offering Pajam a new lifestyle concept. Its director Tey Soo Leng says the developer is introducing green living via Nada Alam — its latest development in Pajam.

Nada Alam, which has a GDV of RM630 million, sits on 160 acres of freehold land separated into five precincts with 13 acres of green space. The first phase — Nada 1 — consists of 198 two-storey terraced houses on 20 acres with sizes ranging from 2,366 to 2,545 sq ft. Prices start at RM420,000.

With a GDV of RM91.7 million, this phase has 26 facilities, including a herb garden, bamboo walkway, reflexology path, soccer field, mini wetland, viewing tower and gazebos. Previewed in August 2014, Nada 1 has been fully taken up.

Seri Pajam is looking to introduce Nada 3 to the market next.

Nada 1 will be completed next year while the entire development will take five to six years to complete.

“We will continue our concept of green living with a mix of products, including super link, 2-storey terraced and semi-detached homes,” says Tey.

Green living
Seri Pajam’s new concept will include green living and the reduction of its carbon footprint. “We have semi-open areas in our super-link designs and bicycle bays in all our parks to encourage the residents to cycle,” says Tey.

Seri Pajam is also fully incorporating the industrialised building system (IBS) in the construction of Nada Alam.

With such green features as rainwater harvesting and extra-wide windows for better ventilation and natural light in these products, one would assume Seri Pajam’s next step would be to go for green building certification.

But Tey says not so soon. “This is our first project with so much emphasis on green features. We need better preparations before we go for Green Building Index (GBI) certification. When we are ready, we will definitely go for it.”

The GBI is Malaysia’s green rating tool. It has been developed to suit the country’s tropical climate and environment.

As green living is new to Nilai and the surrounding areas, Tey says Seri Pajam is testing customer response. Some may say Nada Alam only meets the minimal requirements, but Tey stresses that it has embraced the concept by blending into its natural surroundings, thus reducing the damage of earthworks and other construction processes.

"Green living was chosen because of its sustainability. It is more sustainable than other concepts in terms of maintenance and its impact on the surrounding environment. Green living also encourages the growth of the lush greenery in the parks and the delicate wildlife they support. We want to present new homeowners with such parks.”

Before construction began, Seri Pajam conducted a river preservation exercise on the site of Nada Alam and also minimised the cutting of trees. The design incorporates a 7km-long jogging path, recycling bins and solar spotlights for the gardens and billboards, among other things.

Besides emphasising green living, Seri Pajam is also introducing new safety features its products. “For property, the most frequent accident is fire, so we will be providing fire blankets, smoke detectors and escape ladders to our developments. Some of these will be introduced in the later phases,” says Tey.

“We have got a lot of support from buyers in Seremban, Nilai and KL. About 90% of our buyers are from the Klang Valley.”

Tey attributes this to the accessibility of Seri Pajam’s developments via Lebuhraya Kajang-Seremban and the North-South Expressway.

“Five years ago, we were a very small company. When we started developing the Pajam area, we could see a rise in population,” he recalls.

According to Tey, the value of properties have gone up quite a lot since.

“We launched Perdana College Heights’ 2-storey units at RM148,000 in 2006 and Citra Hills in 2012 at RM380,000. But now, the subsale prices are RM500,000,” he says. “Our house owners are very happy.”

Seri Pajam has another 300 acres of undeveloped landbank and is still expanding it. Tey believes Nada Alam will become its flagship project there.

Moving on to north Selangor
According to Tey, Seri Pajam is planning projects in northern Selangor next. “Our company has been developing in southern Selangor, in Nilai and Bahau, since 1978. This provided us with the opportunity to focus on building quality products because land prices are still manageable. We can still build comfortable homes for our buyers.

“However, we are planning to move to, maybe, Cheras, Kajang and Petaling Jaya. If we find suitable land in these places, we’ll buy it.”

But even if the developer purchased land in the Klang Valley, it will not be for high-end products like those offered by other developers in the Klang Valley these days, Tey adds.

“Our prices and products will depend on market demand. We started out as a construction company, so we have our own contractor and supplier. We have hardware, manufacturing, construction and development. So, we can save some cost, which will benefit our future buyers.”

Moving forward, Tey is optimistic that the developer’s products will sell well. “As we have enjoyed full take-up, we can proceed with the planning of future components and we are confident at this point.”

Seri Pajam’s Nada 3 is now open for registration and offers terraced and semi-detached homes.  It will officially be launched in March 2014.

(The Edge) City & Country: Cover Story - ‘No such thing as a slow period’

Something is brewing at Berjaya Land Bhd, but it is not another land deal. The property development arm of conglomerate Berjaya Corp Bhd has in recent years become better known for its costly and controversial land deals in Malaysia instead of its new projects.

Lim Ching Choy, who joined Berjaya Land as executive director in November, feels that it is time for a change.

“That’s why I was brought in [because Berjaya Land is quiet locally]. I know it’s a tall order but I plan to achieve sales in all our immediate projects by April 2015, which is the end of our financial year,” he tells City & Country.

The group has projects worth more than RM2.5 billion lined up over the next year and Lim plans to sell all of these properties by 2015. In the financial year ended April 30, 2014, its property development segment saw revenue of RM201.9 million and net profit of RM2.6 million.

Lim took over the group’s local projects from CEO Datuk Francis Ng, who now looks after Berjaya Land’s projects abroad — Jeju Airest City in South Korea (183.7 acres, gross development value of US$3.2 billion), The Four Seasons Place in Kyoto, Japan (five acres, RM1 billion), The Great Mall of China on the outskirts of Beijing (18.5 million sq ft built-up, RM7.5 billion), and two projects in Vietnam.

Lim is no stranger to the real estate industry, having spent the last 12 years as the CEO of HCK Capital Sdn Bhd, group managing director of Ho Hup Construction Co Bhd, CEO of Magna Prima Bhd and CEO of Mah Sing Group Bhd. Before joining the real estate industry, his career in the banking sector spanned almost 20 years.

Can he achieve his ambitious goal? He believes it is possible through sheer hard work.

I think if you have a plan, a target, you have to work even if it’s the holidays … that’s why sometimes it’s good to launch during the holiday season, because you’ll have less competitors” — Lim

“My philosophy is to work 365 days a year. I work during Chinese New Year, I work during Hari Raya. There is no such thing as a slow period because it depends on your marketing and how you position yourself. That’s why I will launch Jesselton Villa [in Penang] on the fourth to eighth day of Chinese New Year at Plaza Gurney. I think if you have a plan, a target, you have to work even if it’s the holidays … that’s why sometimes it’s good to launch during the holiday season, because you’ll have less competitors. Because they are resting, I am working.”

He lists three immediate launches that will keep the group occupied over the next year, including its Ritz-Carlton Residences at Berjaya Central Park. The entire development was announced in 2009. However, the project took a while to launch, prompting some quarters to assume that the project had been abandoned.

Why launch it now? “We revised the plans a lot to be in line with market requirements. For example, our Ritz-Carlton Residences was revised to have smaller units to suit demand and it is already near completion. Not many developers launch their projects now but we are almost ready to sell our project,” he explains.

Developed to sell
The group will continue to market its Menara Bangkok Bank at Berjaya Central Park, a 2.7-acre freehold mixed-use development on Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. The 48-storey building is named after Bangkok Bank, which bought the top eight floors (105,000 sq ft) in 2011 for RM100 million.

Meanwhile, Berjaya Sompo Insurance Bhd, an associate of the Berjaya group, took up six floors or 78,000 sq ft , bringing the tower’s total sales to RM315 million. The group is putting 15 storeys on the market with an estimated value of over RM200 million.

The offices will come with en suite executive bathrooms with showers, low-e glass, variable refrigerant volume system, carbon dioxide level monitoring on all floors including the seven floors of parking bays, and a high-efficiency lift system with destination control system. The building also comes with lots earmarked for commercial use and food and beverage outlets.

While Berjaya Land is selling the offices on a per floor basis, the offices will be issued strata titles upon vacant possession and completion of payment. This means the owners will be able to sell the offices individually on the secondary market, says Lim.

He adds that the offices are targeted at investors, multinational corporations and companies that wish to own office space in Kuala Lumpur’s central business district.

“We are targeting to sell 5 to 10 floors in the next three months. In fact, we are already negotiating with several parties. We are looking at not just local companies, but also foreign buyers who are keen to invest in Malaysia, especially the office sector. For Singaporeans, it is cheap because it amounts to around S$600 per sq ft and we are targeting yields of 7% net so that is very attractive,” he says.

“We are in talks with two foreign companies now, while a number of local companies have expressed interest in our project. They are keen to buy some floors as they get to keep the units and enjoy capital appreciation while paying less in instalment than what they would pay in rent.

“Assuming you get an 80% loan to finance your purchase, you end up paying only RM5.80 psf over the next 30 years. This beats paying RM8.50 to RM12 psf for a building of the same standards.”

However, despite the building’s apparently good prospects, Berjaya Land is not interested in keeping the building. “We are a developer, not an investment holding company, so it makes more sense for us to sell the building,” he explains.

Next up is the Ritz-Carlton Residences, which will feature 48 storeys of fully-furnished serviced apartments. About 70% of the units will offer a view of the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower, and a premium will be placed on these units.

“We are looking at late February or early March to officially launch the residences. Today, all 16 units of the penthouses have already been reserved while 40 typical units have been reserved,” he says.

Some facilities exclusive to the residences include concierge service and pools. “The office tenants have the right to look at the pool, but not swim in it,” he jokes.

Lim is banking on the fact that the development is strata titled, and has facilities for individual units, green credentials and a Golden Triangle address to attract buyers. He hopes this product will sell despite the oversupply of office space in Kuala Lumpur, coupled with competition from decentralised areas with depressed rents.

“That the office market is depressed is misleading. Valuers describe the office market as depressed in general, but there is still interest in green and MSC-certified office buildings,” he says.

YY Lau, director of YY Property Solutions Sdn Bhd, concurs: “New office buildings that are at strategic locations and equipped with MSC Status and green building certifications are expected to be in a better position to secure tenants if the landlords offer reasonably higher rental rates than the buildings without these two features,” she tells City & Country.

Outside of Kuala Lumpur, the group will proceed with The Link 2, its Bukit Jalil mixed-use development next to its Bukit Jalil Golf & Country Resort. The Link 2 will comprise condominiums and shopoffices. Phase one will comprise “affordable” serviced apartments and 4- and 6-storey shopoffices. Over half of the shopoffices have already been sold, while the serviced apartments are not yet available for sale.

“We haven’t decided on the price yet but the new launches nearby are selling at around RM770 psf, so we definitely cannot sell below that price,” says Lim.

Bukit Jalil has seen a slew of new condominium launches in recent years but he is banking on Berjaya Land’s history in the area to push the project through the market. Some of the group’s previous projects in the area are Covillea, Savanna 1 and 2, Arena Green Apartments, Greenfields Apartments, The Link, KM1 and Green Avenue Condominiums.

The group has around 14 acres left in Bukit Jalil. This includes the second phase of The Link 2, which will be launched at a date to be determined later.

See Kok Loong, principal of Metro Homes Sdn Bhd, observes that most buyers are investors who took advantage of rebates and the now-defunct developer interest bearing schemes.

“Most the buyers are investors because of developer interest bearing scheme (DIBS) and rebates. There is also a small group of end-users that prefer to stay in prime locations with easy access to KL, Puchong and PJ. Usually, they are from nearby areas like Puchong and Serdang,” says See.

According to him, gross yields of condos in the area are around 5% to 6%. Most investors prefer to sell their units immediately instead of holding onto them as it firstly costs around RM20,000 to RM30,000 to furnish the units for tenants, and secondly, capital appreciation of new condos over the past three years range from 10% to 20% per year.

Over in Penang, the group will launch its Jesselton Villas development, which is adjacent to the Penang Turf Club and the exclusive Jesselton Heights enclave. So far, about 50% of the lots have been reserved by investors from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia, he says.

The project will comprise vacant bungalow lots instead of the bungalows, semi-detached homes and low-rise condominiums previously planned.

While Berjaya Land is only offering vacant lots within the gated and guarded project, it will offer design and build services to the buyers in the future. However, the designs and prices of the bungalows have yet to be firmed up.

Lim is undeterred by what many players and observers say will be a challenging period ahead.

“There have been sales in the past two months and so far the response has been positive. The regulations and policy changes in the industry have not actually had an impact on these projects because these are very good locations.

“I think buyers in niche and high-end projects are less sensitive to all these. I think if you are an owner and mid-term investor, you will not be affected. As an investor, my personal view is that if you want to make money from properties, your holding period has to exceed five years to reap good returns. I think that differentiates the speculators from the long-term investors,” he says.


(The Edge) City & Country: Auctioneers see drop in cases in 2H2014

The number of auctions dwindled in the second half of 2014 with fewer properties available to go under the hammer, according to auctioneers polled by City & Country. Due to the continued strong demand for residential properties, especially in the low and medium-cost range, and house values holding firm, many owners were able to dispose of their homes by themselves.

“Many times, the owners were able to settle their loans, thus there were less forced sale scenarios,” says Danny Tan of Property Auction House Sdn Bhd.

“Currently, things are very slow with a minimal number of cases,” says Abdul Hamid P V Abdu, founder of Ehsan Auctioneers.

The Budget 2014 announcements in end-October appear to have affected the investors more than genuine buyers as the impending rise in the Real Property Gains Tax will erode their chances of making a quick buck.

Low and medium-cost properties are most in demand

Tan says there has been a marked increase in genuine buyers interested in low and medium-cost properties at auctions while Hamid notes that land, houses and shopoffices have become the most sought-after properties in the market.

In general, price is still the main factor with buyers ranking it above other criteria, which means low and medium-cost houses are most in demand while luxury properties are less favoured.

Tan believes more high-end properties will be up for auction in the coming years. The impending increase in various tariffs, reduced fuel subsidies and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April 2015 have undermined investors’ acquisition spree.

However, according to Foong Chon Wai of Ng Chan Mau & Co, it is still too early for the impact of the newly announced measures to trickle down to the auction market. “Business is still consistent,” says the licensed auctioneer.

He says a lot of successful bids recently for auctioned properties have been above the banks’ reserve prices. End-users are usually more successful than investors in bidding for properties priced above RM300,000, he adds.

Surprisingly, property buyers now do not seem to mind areas that were previously shunned. In fact, demand has picked up for properties in areas in the outer regions of Greater Klang Valley, such as Semenyih, Rawang, Bangi, Klang and Kuala Selangor.

Rawang and Semenyih-Kajang remain hotter than ever, says Foong. As a result of more developments heading south, areas such as Nilai and Seremban are slowly benefitting from the Semenyih boom.

Some banks have also reviewed their lending policies more favourably with regard to these areas, he adds.

Tan, who did a random poll of buyers, found that one of the main factors fuelling the migration to these areas is the anticipated improvement in the transport system and better accessibility. Others include the lower cost of living, the spread of establishments like hypermarkets and shopping complexes to these areas and buyers’ wish to have a different lifestyle.

Apart from that, there have been some big buyers, such as factory owners, who want to turn the properties into hostels as many have shifted their operations to these areas.

Tan believes the auction market will pick up in the near future due to the rising cost of living, the hike in RPGT, new lending policies as well as tighter financing rules.

The auctioneers expect more people to look at auction properties as prices of new properties will increase due to rising construction costs.

They believe it will be a trying year for the commercial and luxury residential sectors. However, there will still be demand for low and medium-cost homes below RM500,000 in the Klang Valley.

Another trend they have noticed recently is the increase in joint purchasers.

Foong believes the market will continue on the same path in the first half of the year. “Depending on how our economy pans out, the second half could get interesting,” he says.

Notable transactions of late include a leasehold 1,300 sq ft 1-storey terrace house in Sungai Buloh that sold for RM82,000 or almost double its RM44,600 reserve price. A 1½-storey shopoffice was sold for RM950,000, about 10% above its reserve price of RM860,000.

(The Edge) City & Country: Healthy growth in residential market

The residential market performed well last year, according to Nabeel Hussein, associate director of C B Richard Ellis (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. Presenting The Edge/C B Richard Ellis Klang Valley Housing Property Monitor for 3Q2014, he says, however, that it failed to show the same growth in capital value seen in previous years as a reduction in the availability of finance, concerns about economic growth and the government’s cooling measures served to dampen sentiment somewhat.

“In general, the housing sector, especially the primary market in the Klang Valley, performed well in 2014. Many developers enjoyed brisk sales for new launches as buyers accelerated purchases ahead of the cooling measures, which are expected to impact the market in 2014.”

Nabeel says there was also healthy demand in the secondary market in the mature areas of the Klang Valley, with prices of landed properties growing considerably in locations such as Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, Subang Jaya and Puchong.

1-storey terraced
For single-storey terraced houses, Bandar Sri Damansara and Bandar Kinrara saw the highest price growth q-o-q at 12.8%, while Taman Tun Dr Ismail’s Burhanuddin Helmi area recorded the lowest growth at 4.7%.

According to Nabeel, the concern with these locations is the number of alternatives available. However, he adds that the limited size of quarterly samples may not show the true picture.

Bangsar Park recorded the lowest growth y-o-y, at 13.6%. Nabeel says the transaction prices of 1-storey terraced houses in Bangsar Park reached RM1 million each — the highest for such houses in Greater Kuala Lumpur.

“The potential upward price trend of these 1-storey terraced houses is limited unless some upgrading work on the building is carried out. We noticed that some of the original 1-storey terraced homes have been converted into 1½-storey terraced houses with modern-design facades, which would probably push the price up further. A similar upgrading of 1-storey terraced houses to 1½ storeys has also been seen in other mature housing areas such as OUG and the older parts of Petaling Jaya,” he says.

Bandar Kinrara also performed well for the single-storey terraced category. Nabeel says 1-storey terraced houses in Bandar Kinrara are among the most affordable choices with easy accessibility and good amenities and environment.

2-storey terraced
For the double-storey terraced segment, price growth was minimal throughout Greater Kuala Lumpur as only USJ 6 in Subang Jaya saw movement q-o-q, with a 14% rise.

According to Nabeel, USJ 6 house prices tend to be lower compared with similar units in USJ 4. “The rise in house prices in USJ 6 is actually in tandem with that in USJ 4, and the only difference is that buyers can purchase properties at lower prices in USJ 6 compared with similar choices in USJ.”

Y-o-y, BU12 in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, saw the lowest growth as demand for properties there appears to have slowed in the past year, with buyers preferring other nearby areas such as BU1, says Nabeel. “The general opinion appears to be that BU1 is better located and offers better infrastructure, facilities and services compared with BU12.”

He adds that demand for properties in Bandar Utama appears to have slowed in the past year.

Nabeel says despite minimal growth for 2-storey terraced properties, Bangsar had the highest growth in this category.

He says Bangsar has been among the most-favoured locations in the Klang Valley for a number of years, driven by a mature catchment, limited supply, good accessibility, developed infrastructure, security and other factors. “These are established housing areas with good schools, easy accessibility and excellent community infrastructure.

Double-storey terraced house prices in TTDI’s Athinahapan area also saw healthy growth. “TTDI has been one of the most-favoured locations in the Klang Valley. Furthermore, the announcement of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT alignment, with a stop in TTDI, has also brought renewed interest in TTDI.”

Pusat Bandar Puchong was the lowest mover in this category. Nabeel says this is because the area is mature and the property values and yields have stabilised. “Other neighbouring developments such as Bandar Puteri offer newer and better alternatives. Again, this could be due to the sample size available during the review period.”


Nabeel says 1-storey terraced houses in Bandar Kinrara are among the most affordable choices with easy accessibility and good amenities and environment

For high-rise properties, not many products saw price movements. Nabeel says the main advantages of high-rise properties are affordability and convenience. “However, they tend to be more susceptible to competition, and price increases will depend greatly on location and surrounding developments.”

Menara Damansara in Bandar Sri Damansara was the only high-rise product that saw growth q-o-q. Nabeel says Menara Damansara represents an affordable alternative within a good location, making it attractive, especially as capital values elsewhere continue to rise.

However, the product that caught the most attention, based on the data provided, was Mont’Kiara Pines in Mont’ Kiara.

“Mont’Kiara Pines completed a major renovation three to four years ago and the building is well maintained and looks decent although it is an old building, completed in 1993,” Nabeel says. “Transaction prices are shooting up for these old buildings because of the big price gap between the newly completed buildings and the older ones, which are in well-kept condition. Overall, the older buildings are affordable compared with the new ones in the same area.”

The announcement of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT alignment, with a stop in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, has brought renewed interest in the residential area

Policies to impact housing market
Looking at the many policies announced in Budget 2014, Nabeel says the housing market in 2014 will be impacted by its implementation.

Nabeel says the most significant policies are the new measures announced under Budget 2014 and the various proposed changes in Iskandar Malaysia. He expects an overall slowdown in the residential market in 2014.

“The housing market has been mostly stable, with increases in capital values in some locations. We’re continuing to see increased activity in the southern Klang Valley areas as this has been an ongoing trend for some time now. The most notable location is Cyberjaya but other areas are seeing an uptick in development activity as well, driven by good infrastructure and other factors.”

He adds that there’s a significant amount of development in areas such as the southern part of Puchong and Cyberjaya, mainly in the form of condominiums and serviced apartments. “Sales for most of these developments have been strong. The upcoming MRT also means that there is vigorous interest in the Sungai Buloh and Kota Damansara areas as well as Cheras and Kajang localities.”

According to Nabeel, the cooling measures announced by the government are expected to dampen the market, although less impact will be seen in the owner-occupier segment.

“Most of the areas and properties covered in this report cater to such end-user demand and not speculation by investors,” he says. “We expect the hardest-hit areas to be those catering to the middle-income group, who are faced with increasing costs and other financial obligations but do not qualify for the government relief programmes.” 

(The Star) A journey through space at i-City

i-City is set to open its new attraction, Space Mission, a 30,000sq ft “deep space experience” designed to combine education and entertainment in an intergalactic setting.

Space Mission is made up of four segments, Starship Explorer, Intergalactic Travel, Planet Exploration and the Base Station.

Visitors begin with a Segway tour (a two-wheeled self-balancing personal transport unit) through the Starship Explorer, a mock-spaceship and research station under attack by escaping aliens, before proceeding through a “wormhole”, which ejects its entrants into a section designed to replicate what it might be like to walk through space.

Next, visitors reach Planet Pandora, where they ride in small capsules while observing a fictional extra-terrestrial environment.

Finally, upon disembarking from their capsules, visitors enter an interactive trivia section, with touch screen monitors posing challenging questions about the solar system.

“Incorporating the very essence of history, physics, space science and multimedia technology, it is our hope that Space Mission will serve as a platform for our new generation to explore and experiment with their limitless creativity,” said I-Berhad information manager Tang Soke Cheng.

i-City’s Space Mission attraction is inspired by the Aerospace Adventure Showcase held in Malaysia 20 years ago. That event offered visitors the chance to learn about space exploration, then in its infancy, and glimpse what it might be like to visit outer space.

“i-City wants to share the experience of the Showcase with a younger generation, and that’s what Space Mission is about,” said Tang at a recent media preview.

“It’s not rocket science and technology, but it’s a first for Malaysians, so they don’t have to travel overseas to learn about space.”

Space Mission’s designer Ren Yu said he tried to balance education and entertainment interests in the development of the attraction, by adopting an “edutainment” philosophy.

“It’s about space technology and curiosity, combined together for the first time,” said Ren Yu.

“Visitors can have fun and learn at the same time.”

Ren Yu, a Chinese national, also revealed the questions asked during the trivia section were taken from information gathered by China’s first space station, Tiangong 1.

As China gathers new information about space, the questions asked in Space Mission will be updated.

Space Mission joins I-City’s growing list of daytime and evening attractions, and is open for preview for Chinese New Year. As part of a special promotion, tickets will be priced at RM15 for each section.


Thursday, 30 January 2014

(The Star) Cheer for motorists

The Year of the Horse is bringing more good news for motorists in Penang.

They will continue to enjoy free parking at Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) parking lots, which use the new coupon parking system, for two more weeks.

The council announced in a press statement that the suspension of the coupon system had been extended till Feb 14 and that motorists need only pay for parking by displaying the coupons from Feb 15.

It said the coupons could be bought from the 335 sellers listed in the council’s website (

It was earlier reported that the new system, which was implemented on Jan 1 on the island, was temporarily suspended from Jan 16 following complaints of insufficient supply of the coupons.

Penang Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said then that the suspension would give the concession company, Perkhidmatan Alam Indah Sdn Bhd, time to replenish their coupon stock to cater to the demand.

It was reported that Alam Indah would still be required to pay the monthly car park rental of RM651,923 to the council during the suspension period.

MPPP said in its statement on Tuesday that the council would continue to monitor the coupon stock ordered by Alam Indah from the printers.

It said the coupons were sold in booklets of RM4 (containing 10 40sen coupons) and RM6 (containing five 40sen coupons and five 80sen coupons).

It also advised the public not to pay more than the amount fixed.

The council warned coupon sellers that their service could be terminated if they were found to have sold the parking coupons at higher prices.

For motorists who had bought monthly parking stickers, the council said they could use their January sticker until Feb 28 and only need to get a new monthly sticker from March.

The council reminded the public not to pay parking fees to illegal parking attendants and warned that motorists who park their vehicles haphazardly would be summoned.

The numbers to call for complaints about the new parking system are 04-2613350, 04-2281192 and 012-4982270 for Alam Indah and 04-2613650, 04-2610181 and 012-5721749 for MPPP.


(The Star) New housing levy postponed to March 1

The new housing rules for Penang, which were to be implemented next month, has been postponed to March 1.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the implementation date was deferred following appeals from various professional bodies such as the Penang Bar Committee.

“They told us that they need a little bit more time, especially if the housing levy is to be imposed,” Lim told a press conference.

“We try to listen to the opinion of the masses.

“Therefore, we decided during the state exco meeting to give them an extension of one month.

“Therefore, the 2% levy on sellers disposing of their property within three years of the signing of the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) will now be effected on March 1,” Lim said.

The 3% levy on transacted price for purchase of property by non-Malaysians will, however, come into force on Feb 1 as planned, he said.

Lim said the Penang Land Office was ready for the new housing rules.

Under the new rules, all low-cost (up to RM42,000) and low medium-cost (up to RM72,500) houses cannot be resold for up to 10 years from the date of the sale and purchase agreement.

This 10-year rule covers all past and future purchases.

Houses that were initially purchased at a cost below RM400,000 on the island, as well as below RM250,000 on the mainland, cannot be resold for five years if the SPA is signed on or after March 1.

Owners of affordable homes who wish to sell their units within the five-year period must appeal to the state government.

These units can only be sold to sanctioned buyers from the middle-income group who have registered with the state Housing Department.


(The Star) Company looks to expand affordable-accommodation business

Strategically located in the centre of Batu Pahat, Johor, Biz Inn and Hotels, a subsidiary of Biz Group aims to establish a name for itself by offering quality accommodations and services at affordable prices.

Biz Group managing director M.S. Ganesh said this is in line with the hotel’s concept of creating a 1Malaysia budget hotel in town.

“Batu Pahat is a one-stop centre for businessmen and most of them prefer to stay in budget hotels as we offer value for money.

“We constantly strive to keep up with the latest trends and improve our strategies from time to time,” said Ganesh.

Ganesh said, based on his observations of the market, customers who thronged budget hotels were mostly from the higher income group, out of which 70% are locals, 30% are Singaporeans, and other nationalities.

“We are very competitive in terms of pricing and our rooms are generally larger compared to other hotels located within the vicinity.

“We have also beefed up our security by installing CCTV system.

“Besides the security, we offfer four-star amenities like coffee and tea facilities, 32-inch LCD televisions with selected Astro channels, basic toiletries in the bathroom. a function room and shuttle and laundry services, among others,” he said, adding that other services provided include fax machines, telephones and photocopying for the convenience of entrepreneurs.

He said Biz Inn and Hotels was established after Biz Group bought over a 15,840sq ft commercial building in Jalan Maju, Batu Pahat.

“We invested about RM6mil, which includes renovation costs, and fitting out the hotel,” said Ganesh, adding that the investment was partly financed with bank loands.

Apart from the facilities, Ganesh said the hotel is also located nearby to AEON Big Shopping Complex, BP Mall and Summit Parade.

Asked about expansion plans for this year, he said Biz Group has intentions to franchise the hotel business under its 1Malaysia budget hotel concept. It has so far indentified three locations for this, but declined to disclose the details.

“We are in the midst of developing a modern beach resort in Cherating, Pahang. This would be similar to that of Hard Rock Hotel Penang. About RM25mil has been allocated for this project, which is currently in the earthworks stage.

Biz Inn and Hotel was the finalist for the Star Business Awards for 2012 and 2013 under the Rising Star category.

Apart from being awarded the SME 100 Fast Moving Companies Awards 2013, it was also awarded the 12th Asia Pacific International Entrepreneur Excellence Award 2013 under the category of Excellence in Service Quality, which was presented by the Second Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun.

Biz Inns and Hotels is located at No.9, Jalan Maju, Taman Maju, 83000 Batu Pahat, Johor. For details, visit its website at


(The Star) MRCB to sell Platinum Sentral office building for RM750mil

MRCB Group COO Imran Salim with the Platinum Sentral model

Petaling Jaya: Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) has inked an RM750mil deal to sell its Platinum Sentral office building in KL Sentral to Quill Capita Trust Bhd.

Yesterday’s announcement confirms a report by StarBiz earlier this week.

The transaction, said to be the first of its kind in the country, sets up construction-cum-property developer MRCB to be the single largest shareholder of Quill Capita Trust, as well as the owner of its management vehicle.

The heads of agreement (HOA) was signed yesterday. Quill Capita Trust, an office-based real estate investment trust (REIT), will pay for the building with RM486mil in cash and RM264mil in new Quill Capita Trust units at RM1.32 apiece, both companies said in filings to the stock exchange.

Quill Capita Trust intends to fund the purchase using borrowings and the issuance of new units.

Platinum Sentral consists of five blocks with four-to-seven stories of commercial buildings housing office-cum-retail space, a multi-purpose hall and two levels of car parks.

Its office space, with a net lettable area of 450,000 sq ft, is 100% occupied, although its 79,000-sq-ft retail portion is only 20% occupied, according to HwangDBS Vickers Research.

MRCB has also agreed to acquire 41% in Quill Capita Management Sdn Bhd (QCM), the vehicle that manages the REIT, from CapitaLand RECM Pte Ltd and Coast Capital Sdn Bhd, both at a multiple of 10 times the profit after tax of QCM for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2012.

Meanwhile, Quill Resources Holding Sdn Bhd, one of QCM’s existing shareholders, will take up an additional 9% stake from Coast Capital, also at 10 times price-to-earnings.

If the deal goes through, then CapitaLand RECM and Coast Capital stand to gain RM5.74mil and RM1.43mil for their equity in QCM, respectively.

All parties have 30 working days to sign the definitive sale and purchase agreement.

CapitaLand RECM is related to Quill Capita Trust’s Singaporean shareholderCapitaCommercial Trust, which currently holds a 30% interest in the REIT, while Coast Capital is a bumiputra party. Quill Resources Holding, meanwhile, is a unit of the Quill group.

In a statement, MRCB group managing director Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Dinsaid the HOA would help generate dual income streams via dividends from Quill Capita Trust and the management fees from its stake in QCM.

The move is in keeping with the strategy to establish a listed platform that would enable MRCB to monetise its future investment properties in exchange for tradable and liquid securities.

MRCB is expected to emerge as a 30% shareholder in Quill Capita Trust once the exercise is complete. The REIT will also see its asset base balloon to RM1.5bil.

HwangDBS Vickers noted in a report released before the announcement of the exercises that depending on the terms, the injection of Platinum Sentral into Quill Capita Trust could be earnings accretive for the latter.


(BUSINESS TIMES) BNM maintains 3pc rate

KUALA LUMPUR: As widely anticipated, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) maintained the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 3.00 per cent, but warned of higher inflation due to cost push factors.

At its first monetary policy meeting yesterday, the central bank said the subdued external price pressures and domestic demand conditions would, however, help contain the impact on inflation.

Its unchanged stance marks the 16th meeting since BNM stood pat with its monetary policy decision.

Alliance Research chief economist Manokaran Mottain, who is forecasting the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 3.2 per cent in 2014 from 2.1 per cent last year, expects minimal impact on the economic prospects.

This is due to the strong expected recovery in external demand as well as robust domestic consumption growth.

"As such, we continue to believe the OPR will remain steady in most part of 2014 - as inflationary pressures are caused by cost-push factors." Cost push inflation is due to the higher production costs.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch expects the CPI to exceed 3.5 per cent year-on-year in the second half of 2014, spurred by a fuel price hike in the middle of the year and a likely rise in toll rates.

Consumers are already grappling with higher prices from the subsidy cuts on sugar, petrol and electricity in the second half of 2013, as well as implementation of the minimum wage policy on January 1.

Headline inflation climbed to 3.2 per cent in December, the quickest pace since late-2011. 

"We think that Bank Negara will likely be uncomfortable with the relatively higher inflation readings and potential pass-through to other components. 

"A 25 basis points rate hike should also be seen as normalisation, as the Fed tapers its bond purchases," its economist Dr Chua Hak Bin said.

Meanwhile, CIMB Investment Bank anticipates a change in its monetary stance later in the year if the second round effects of price hikes, cost-push inflation and wage pressures bite.

OCBC Bank sees BNM adopting a wait-and-see attitude and a good chance that 'for all the rate hike hoopla of late', it might keep the OPR unchanged in 2014.

"Bank Negara is one central bank which has traditionally stressed the importance of not reacting robotically to inflation uptick, but rather to identify the true nature of inflation before acting. 

"Today's statement suggests that it is still of the view that the inflation is not of the demand-led kind, but of a largely cost-push one that does not require blind hikes."

BNM, in its policy statement, said indicators suggest that the domestic economy registered sustained performance in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

(The Edge) BN government will pump RM1.25b into Penang projects this year

GEORGE TOWN: Determined to demonstrate that it is not side-lining Pakatan Rakyat-held Penang, the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government has decided to pump in some RM1.25 billion in projects in the state this year.

Federal Action Council for Penang chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman announced yesterday a slew of 19 new projects, mainly for traffic infrastructure and health, as well as a few for education, to commence this year.

Zainal, who is also state Umno chairman, stressed that these new projects are in addition to 24 projects worth a total of RM5.1 billion that have already been completed in 2013 — including the 24km Second Penang Bridge.

He said the RM4.5 billion bridge is scheduled for opening next month by Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak at a yet-to-be-determined date, following some final minor installations.

“All these show that the federal government is not marginalising or neglecting the people of Penang,” he said at a press conference at the federal building here.

“We are definitely concerned about improving the prosperity of Penangites.”

The projects slated for this year include an RM400 million multi-storey block with space for 331 beds at the Seberang Jaya Hospital, an RM250 million new wing for women and children at the Penang Hospital, an RM205 million upgrading of the narrow road between Teluk Kumbar and the Penang International Airport, and an RM60 million new flyover in Batu Maung at the southern end of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone.

Asked about the status of affordable housing projects under the federal PR1MA Corp Malaysia that were announced for Penang early last year, Zainal insisted that the projects are still on for implementation in next two years.

He stressed that the issue of confirming the sites is not easy in view of limited available land in Penang.

“In the process, we will have to get approval from the State Planning Committee (chaired by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng). We therefore hope to get cooperation from the state government in this regard,” he added.

Zainal said the federal government is certain to develop 10,000 units of houses through PR1MA, as announced by Najib, and another 10,000 by federal agencies like the Penang Regional Development Authority, UDA Holdings Bhd and JKP Sdn Bhd.

Najib had on April 30 last year — five days before the last general election — announced 9,999 affordable housing units in Penang.

On Aug 28, almost four months after the BN retained control of the country, PR1MA announced that 20,519 affordable homes will be built in Greater Klang Valley, Johor, Penang, Sabah, and Sarawak.

However, the Penang government has complained that its enquiries for details on the units in the state have failed to elicit response from PR1MA or the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry. 

(The Edge) Winning Kwasa Land bid a boost to TRC, say analysts

KUALA LUMPUR: Winning the bumiputera companies’ category bid for the Employee Provident Fund’s (EPF) Kwasa Damansara township development will give TRC Synergy Bhd’s property segment a nice boost, say analysts.

“Over the last two years, property contribution has been relatively insignificant at 4-8% of (its) revenue.

“However, this is set to increase significantly going forward given two key developments coupled with the recent Kwasa Damansara land acquisition,” said Alliance Research analyst Jeremy Goh.

Revenue for TRC’s property development segment for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2012 (FY2012) stood at RM44.47 million, which accounted for 7.85% of total revenue. It is more than double that of RM18.95 million of property segment revenue recorded in FY2011.

Meanwhile, construction activity — which accounted for 83.6% of total revenue in FY2012 — stood at RM473.4 million, 140% higher than FY2011.

TRC owns properties in Sarawak, Johor, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan.

It was announced on Monday that Pink Corner Sdn Bhd, which has Tan Sri Azman Yahya as a director, and TRC Synergy’s wholly-owned subsidiary, TRC Land Sdn Bhd, were the first two winning bidders under the bumiputera companies’ category to develop part of the RM50 billion Kwasa Damansara township.

Pink Corner was the highest bidder for 1.73 hectares of land at Lot 73535 in Mukim Sungai Buloh in Petaling district for RM13.07 million or RM70 per sq ft (psf), while TRC Land Sdn Bhd was the highest bidder for 0.695ha at Lot 73971 in Sungai Buloh in Petaling district for RM6.133 million or RM82 psf.

According to JF Apex, the deal is good and gives a timely boost to TRC’s property division.

“We deem the bid price of RM82 psf for the land fair compared to nearby transacted land price whereby Mah Sing paid RM 298 psf for the Damansara Sentral project land last year.

“Whilst TRC has not decided on the final development plan on the land, we believe the Group could undertake the development of serviced apartments in view of the small size of the land,” said JF Apex Securities.

Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohamad, executive-director of TRC Synergy told The Edge Financial Daily that it has no plans for the development of the piece of land it just won yet.

“We also made a bid for the other piece of land [won by Pink Corner] but did not win,” he said.

According to a filing search, Pink Corner shares its address with Symphony House Bhd and Symphony Life Bhd, and its directors include Azman Yahya, who is a major shareholder of both the listed companies.

Kwasa Land said in a statement that both Pink Corner and TRC were part of a group of nine bidders that participated in the bids for the land that were advertised for sale to bumiputeras in August 2013.

The sale of the plots of land was specifically meant to address the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Council’s desire of enhancing bumiputera equity and asset ownership in the corporate sector, it said.

(The Star) Hock Seng Lee’s Botanika second and final phase units for sale

KUCHING: Hock Seng Lee (HSL) Construction Sdn Bhd will release for sale the second and final phase of units at its boutique residential development Botanika.

The estate in Jalan Batu Kawa here features contemporary duplex villas and super-link homes set amid greenery and parkland.

It boasts extra-wide frontages, generous land sizes and spacious, flexible interiors to accommodate a relaxed indoor-outdoor living experience.

“With the first phase of these quality units almost sold out, we feel it is timely to release the second and final phase of units for sale to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Horse,” said HSL director Yii Chee Sing.

Eco-friendly features include specialist “cool” metal roofing, high sloping ceilings and breezeway louvred ventilation points with large balconies and overhangs.

Additionally, pre-installed hot and cold shower systems, security alarm system and auto gate system with fully tiled car porch and house surrounds are included.

“Home buyers who appreciate refined modern aesthetics and bright, airy homes are sure to enjoy Botanika homes,” he said.

Located opposite St Mark’s Church and the E-mart development, Botanika has a green buffer and an entry statement marking out the estate.

“The slogan for Botanika is “A green haven of boutique homes” so we have invested in landscaping to enhance the living environment for residents,” Yii stated.

Residents can enjoy a leafy linear park with walking paths and seating.

They can expect a massive upcoming shopping complex across the road, Batu Kawah New Township, Third Mile, CityOne Mall, Timberland Medical Centre and five schools that are nearby for maximum convenience.

The duplex villas are almost 2,400 sq ft on average blocks of 9.3 points while the superlink homes are almost 2,300 sq ft on land sizes from 6.3 points.

HSL is offering free legal fees on S&P agreements and MOT and free water and electricity meter fees. Advice on state and federal housing loans are also available.

Hock Seng Lee Construction Sdn Bhd is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Hock Seng Lee Berhad, which has been listed on Bursa Malaysia’s Main Market since 1996.

“This is the final release of units at this very special estate with last blocks of the duplex villas and super-link homes open for sale from Chinese New Year,” said Yii.

For more information, contact Danial at 012-808 2186, Hadi at 019-827 2755, Angie at 019-888 7979, Farah at 012-888 9494, 082332 755 or visit

(The Star) Felcra to kick off maiden RM1bil property project in April

Kuala Lumpur: Felcra Bhd expects the construction of its maiden premium mixed property development project in Jalan Semarak, Kuala Lumpur to begin in April and completed within the next three years.

Its chairman Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin said Felcra had received approvals from the relevant authorities for the 1.8ha project, which would be carried out in two phases.

The project will comprise the group’s new headquarters – a 30-storey Wisma Felcra, condominiums and a shopping mall cum business centre.

The gross development value of the entire project was estimated at RM1bil, of which phase one would cost about RM400mil, Bung told a press conference after the signing of palm tissue culture technology transfer agreements between Felcra and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) yesterday.

He pointed out that Felcra was currently on a diversification mode with interest to expand into new businesses, apart from its traditional core plantation business in oil palm, rubber and paddy .

“This year Felcra is planning to bring in overseas investors from the United States and Asean to undertake joint ventures in its new business ventures and also the existing ones,” Bung added.

According to industry observers, Felcra seems to be seriously looking at diversifying into property development given its prime land bank in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, iron ore mining at its land bank in Kuala Lipis and downstream related businesses in the palm oil supply chain.

Bung who declined to comment on the group’s new businesses, however, said: “Most of these new businesses are part of our growth strategy going forward. We will reveal them in due time.”

On the proposed listing of Felcra or one of its non-plantation based subsidiaries, he said: “Apart from waiting for the Government’s approval, the group is still studying the prospect to list (on Bursa Malaysia). We also believe it is still not the right time to go for listing.”

Felcra currently has 260,000ha planted with oil palm, rubber and paddy. Of the total, 170,000ha is cultivated with oil palms.

Bung said Felcra would continue to expand its plantation operations by acquiring land bank either locally or abroad.

Felcra is also undertaking replanting of about 25,000ha this year.

“Our initial replanting cost is about RM150mil for oil palm, rubber and paddy,” added Bung.

Earlier, at the Felcra-MPOB signing ceremony, MPOB chairman Ar Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar said the pact with Felcra reflected MPOB’s commitment to assist industry players in setting up their own oil palm tissue culture facilities.

He said the use of superior oil palm clones in planting was a strategic approach to boost productivity through increasing the yield of oil and fresh fruit bunches.

(The Star) Malaysian consumer sentiments index falls below 100 for first time in 5 years

Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research’s (MIER) fourth quarter 2013 consumer sentiments index (CSI) fell below the 100-point threshold for the first time in almost five years as consumers got increasingly cautious with their spending.

The CSI fell to 82.4 points following inflationary pressures as well as concerns over the current economic conditions.

“Consumer spending is expected to remain modest, if not slower, in the coming months.

“Until they see their situation improving, consumers are more likely to be prudent in their spending to stretch their ringgit further,” said MIER executive director Datuk DrZakariah Abdul Rashid, referring to big ticket items such as houses and cars.

On the macro-front, he forecast domestic demand to slow down gradually this year at 6.4% versus 7.7% estimated in 2013.

He projected the gross domestic product to accelerate to 5% and 5.5% in 2014 compared to 4.8% estimated for 2013, on the back of strong support from the external sector.

“We expect exports to be better this year which would help support growth moving forward.

“There is already ‘fatigue’ in domestic demand, especially private consumption,” Zakariah told reporters after his presentation on the Malaysian Economic Outlook yesterday.

He suggested Bank Negara may raise its overnight overnight policy rate (OPR) in the second half of the year due to inflationary pressure.

“This low interest environment is now reaching a turning point and there is a likelihood that the policy interest rate will be revised upward,” he added.

Malaysia’s OPR has been maintained at 3% since May 2011.

Bank Negara would be having its first policy meeting tomorrow, with the market expecting it to maintain its benchmark policy rate.

Zakariah said that Bank Negara would need to balance the effects on the household sector when deciding the possible increase in OPR to rein in the inflationary pressure.

“It is a difficult decision as changes in OPR would affect the cost of borrowings, and the household debt level right is more than 80%,” he said.

On current concerns over escalating cost of living, Zakariah said the Government should continue with its fiscal structural adjustment, but it must be flexible towards public reaction.

“The strategic reform initiatives have to continue, but the public are complaining about rising cost of living which shows that the Government need to readjust its policy,” he said.

Since September last year, the Government has embarked on the subsidies rationalisation programme including for fuel and sugar.

However, he noted that there was still no clear factor behind price hikes, either from the subsidies rationalisation programme or market manoeuvring.

“We don’t have studies done on this, so people are not aware how much in price increase is caused by the partial removal of subsidies,” he said.

(The Star) Address traffic issue, state govt urged

Penang Gerakan has questioned why the state government had yet to come out with an action plan to overcome the anticipated traffic congestion in Bayan Lepas once the second Penang bridge is opened.

“Is there a master plan for traffic management, control and dispersal on both sides of the bridge on the island and the mainland when the bridge is opened?

“Please do not wait till the traffic flow on the island and the mainland get out of control. We need proper planning,” said state Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong.

He said traffic in Batu Kawan and Bayan Lepas was bound to increase when the second bridge opens.

“There are traffic jams in Bayan Lepas almost daily and the situation will worsen when the second bridge opens. The state government must address this problem,” he said in a press statement yesterday.

He urged the state to work with the Federal Government instead of waiting for problems to crop up.

“The state government should not just sit still, wait for things to happen and then put the blame on the Federal Government,” he said.


(The Star) 10 substations to be built throughout the state to meet demand

The public have been urged to cooperate with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) to prevent theft of their cables.

TNB Distribution Division (District Two Operations) senior general manager Abdul Aziz Abd Majid said stolen cables caused a huge loss to TNB and brought inconvenience to the public, such as disruption of power supply.

“Cable thefts cost thousands to millions of ringgit in losses to us, depending on the type of cable,” he said at the opening of the Teluk Kumbar TNB main distribution substation in Penang yesterday.

Abdul Aziz said that TNB in Penang aimed to achieve a service performance index of lower than 65 minutes this year, which was almost equivalent to Britain’s 65min to 70min, adding that the service performance index was a universal index to indicate the performances of utility services.

“If we achieve an index lower than 65 minutes, it means that a consumer faces less than 65 minutes of electricity supply interruption a year. We also hope that in three to five years, the performance index will be lower than 60 minutes,” he said, adding that Penang recorded 73 minutes last year.

Abdul Aziz said 10 main distribution substations, costing at least RM150mil, would be built throughout the state, including Batu Kawan, Bukit Panchor, Bandar Baru Air Itam and Jalan Kelawei in three to five years’ time.

Penang TNB general manager Datuk Mohd Zahir Md Nagor said if the public sees any suspicious individuals or activities at TNB sub-stations, they should make a report to TNB immediately by calling its hotline at 15454.

“We also installed CCTV at the substations, and seek help from the police and auxiliary police to conduct patrolling,” he said.

In his speech earlier, Mohd Zahir said the new Teluk Kumbar TNB substation would serve more than 10,000 individual and commercial consumers in Batu Maung, Teluk Kumbar, Gertak Sanggul and part of Balik Pulau.

“The substation with a capacity of 27 megawatts will meet the electrical demand of the areas until 2030,” he said, adding that construction commenced in mid-October last year and was completed by December at a cost of RM17.3mil.


(The Star) Close YTL Power-1MDB race for RM11bil power plant explains delay in award

Petaling Jaya: The decision to award the RM11bil Project 3B to build a 2,000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant is “going down to the wire,” with the main contenders YTL Power International Bhd and 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in a neck-and-neck race, according to sources.

Sources said while it was widely believed YTL Power would be the likely winner, there was now the possibility that the Energy Commission (EC) could be opting to pick 1MDB as the winner.

“It is a close call, no wonder the decision has been slightly delayed,” said one source, adding that the industry had been expecting a decision some time last week.

The source revealed that the EC had held a number of meetings in the last week alone with top government officials to discuss the matter.

YTL Power’s bid was the lowest in the tender called by the EC at 25.12 sen per kilowatt hour (kWh), compared with 1MDB’s 25.65 sen per kWh. Other bidders wereMalakoff Corp Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) that came in at 26.74 sen per kWh and 28.67 sen per kWh, respectively.

However, notably, one source reckoned that the EC was leaning towards 1MDB because YTL Power’s bid had a higher total cost. He explained that this was due to the location of YTL Power’s planned plant in Johor.

“There is a significant distance from the plant to the entry point of the grid, and there’s the question of who is going to bear the cost of building those transmission lines, not to mention the efficiency loss in transmitting that power,” he said.

It had already been reported that YTL Power’s proposed plant site in Tanjong Tohor in Johor was two to three times further from the major load centre to the national power grid as compared with other proposed sites in Selangor (Malakoff), Negeri Sembilan (1MDB) and southern Perak (TNB).

Under Project 3B, the greenfield power plant is to be built on a new site in the peninsula and be commissioned in stages through October 2018 and April 2019.

As at press time, the EC had yet to get back to StarBiz’s query, while YTL Power declined comment.

To be noted also is the fact that 1MDB’s bid is only marginally more expensive than YTL Power’s.

The state-linked firm has proposed to build its power plant on a piece of land next to its recently-acquired 1,400MW coal-fired power station in Jimah, Negeri Sembilan.

For 1MDB, a win would boost the proposed listing of its energy division, while for YTL Power, analysts said the prospect of a new power plant could possibly lead to a re-rating of its shares with the impending expiry of its first-generation power-purchase agreements for the Paka and Pasir Gudang power plants in September 2015.

1MDB is reportedly planning a US$1bil (RM3.28bil) initial public offering of its power assets targeted for the middle of this year, following a buying spree of power assets over the last two years totalling RM12bil.

In terms of funding, 1MDB has proposed to partly finance the 2,000MW power plant overseas and in a foreign currency via a combination of loans from Japan Bank for International Cooperation, US dollar-denominated corporate bonds and sukuk financing. 1MDB has partnered Japan’s Mitsui Corp in its bid.

YTL Power’s edge, however, is its cash hoard, which stands at around RM9.6bil.

Analysts said this could allow it to ring fence the constriction cost to avoid any strain on the balance sheet.

It would also be able to leverage on the construction and cement divisions within the YTL stable. YTL Power is partnering Johor royalty-linked SIPP Energy Sdn Bhd for Project 3B.

(The Star) Safer neighbourhoods

Twenty residents associations (RA) in Kuala Lumpur have received grants from the 1 Federal Territories Safety Scheme (SK1WP).

Each recipient received more than RM40,000 from the scheme, which was launched in 2012 to help increase safety awareness in housing estates in the Federal Territories.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who presented the mock cheques to the recipients, said the grants would help fund projects to safeguard residents.

The assistance is in the form of a “matching grant”.

He said low-cost houses and flats would benefit the most as their RAs need only fork out 10% of the total cost for projects as 90% would be covered by the scheme.

Medium-cost houses and apartments will receive 70% assistance while other housing areas receive a 50% contribution from the scheme.

The SK1WP only covers the initial cost of a project such as putting up safety fences and boom gates for gated communities, safety control post, CCTV camera, internal network system to combat crime, streetlights, safety mirrors and the construction of a communication centre.

Residents are allowed to buy items required for night patrol in the neighbourhood, such as torch lights, bicycle and walkie-talkie sets using the grant.

“This is a smart partnership between residents associations and us to curb crime,” said Tengku Adnan, adding that the recipients were the first batch under the scheme.

The scheme does not cover future maintenance of the project or repair works.

To apply for the scheme, each RA has to send in at least three different tender prices.

The proposed project must have at least 60% of its residents agreeing to it, and the Joint Management Body or Management Committee if it involved apartments.

Each RA can send their application to the Urban Wellbeing Foundation, an entity under the Legal Affair’s Division in the Prime Minister’s Department, every two years.

Earlier in the day, Tengku Adnan, who is also the MP for Putrajaya, launched at a futsal tournament organised in conjunction with the Youth Day celebration in his constituency.

His wife Datin Seri Anggraini Sentiyaki was also present.