Saturday, 31 January 2015

(NST) LPT2 officially open to public today

KEMAMAN: The completion of the East Coast Expressway (LPT2) linking Jabor in Pahang and Gemuroh in Kuala Terengganu was officially opened to motorists today.

Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman said the LPT2 worth RM4.1 billion was a vital factor to attract more investors in many fields including the tourism industry to boost Terengganu’s economy .

Ahmad Razif said the expressway was equipped with 10 toll plazas, three rest areas and 98 bridges along its 184 kilometres stretch, and would be toll-free for the next six months.

He said the government was informed that LPT2's Certificate of Practical Ocupation (CPO) has been approved by the Transport Ministry.

Ahmad Razif said with the completion of the LPT2, the journey from Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur is shortened to four hours while from Gemuroh to Jabor would only take one hour and a half.

"The transport facilities provided by the government were to enable people of Terengganu earn the income up to RM8,000 in the year 2020," he said to reporters after visiting the LPT2 at the Perising Rest Area, here, today.

Present at the opening were State Infrastructure and Public Amenities committee chairman Ir Rosli Othman and State Woks Department Datuk Shafii Mohammad.

(NST) Najib opens Ancasa Royale, the first 4-star hotel in Pahang

PEKAN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has officially opened the Ancasa Royale hotel here today, the first four-star resort-styled facility in the royal town of Pahang.

Najib said Pekan had several elements that helped attract investors, such as UDA Holdings Berhad, namely its status as the royal town, its position as the automotive and education hubs apart from various tourist attractions it offers.

"The development and transformation process in Pekan has attracted UDA Holdings to invest RM70 million to build this hotel, which facilities equal those with a five-star rating," he said when opening the hotel.

The seven-storey hotel, with 133 rooms, has all the latest facilities including the main ballroom and several functions rooms, swimming pool, gymnasium and spa.

Ancasa Royale is the fifth hotel under UDA Ancasa Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of UDA Holdings.

(The Star) Traits of a responsible housing developer

KNOCK, knock! Any “good” housing developers out there?

I am reluctant to use the words “good developers” as the words are not in my vocabulary. However, there are responsible ones and more are joining this category.

The qualities of a responsible developer are to be emulated, if you can find them.

The housing industry has come a long way since the advent of large-scale housing development in the late 50s and early 60s. The players in those times were bona fide entrepreneurs. Most probably, conscience ruled and pride in workmanship, timely delivery of quality and affordable houses were their hallmarks.

The present delivery system of “sell-then-build” through progressive payments is fraught with risks for the unsuspecting house buyers.

These second generation housing developers, “good” or bad, are used to the lucrative profits from the housing industry. This is so because the post-independence period has been a period of high population and economic growth. Hence, the demand for housing is ever increasing. In a sellers’ market, the buyers are always at a disadvantage. When greed is inversely proportionate to conscience among industry players, the situation can get very bad indeed.

We often hear of developers lamenting about the shortage of workers (legal or illegal, skill or inexperienced), shortage of building materials, complying with new laws or regulations that made it hard for them to complete their projects on time. At the same time, we also hear of projects making multi-million ringgit in profits for the developers and we do not see or hear news of housing developers retiring or quitting the business entirely.

This would mean that the housing development is still a lucrative business. In fact, more rookie developers are joining the arena because the sell-then-build system allows them to make money from people’s money.

It has become a ‘riskless venture’ where profits are guaranteed, and in the worst scenario, the government will mop up the abandoned housing project, befitting the adage: Profit Privatised, Losses Nationalised’

Enough of the bad ones, we at HBA do keep our ears opened for the qualities of responsible developers to be emulated. In the first place, how do buyers judge if their developers have been responsible? The construction industry is a unique field. It is one of a few professions where no formal education is required.

There is no formal award giving ceremony by buyers to tell the world their developers have been ‘good’ and responsible.

There are also some other things the responsible developers do that prove they have a passion for their profession. Here are some of the traits practised by responsible developers.

Attention to environment and existing neighbourhood

Responsible developers do not just depend on their buyers to pass the word around about their reputation. No new project is an island. There are existing neighbouring projects, trees etc. A responsible developer ensures the existing neighbourhood is not disturbed by their new development.

If there are complaints, such as cracks, a landslide and floods that the new construction is causing to the existing neighbours, they are quickly attended to. They also ensure that the existing roads are kept clean regularly from construction activities.

Amenities, facilitiesand infrastructure

Developers who provide adequate amenities and facilities like playgrounds, schools, markets, community halls and even police booths are not only fulfilling the obligations imposed by the local council but also their social responsibilities to society. These developers are commendable as good corporate citizens. It enhances their image too. There are also developers who invest and build infrastructure first prior to selling their houses.

Takes pride in quality and timely rectification

Whether low-cost or high-cost houses, chasing the developer to rectify shocking defects, bad workmanship is a nightmare to buyers who lose out while waiting for repair works.

Responsible developers do their own quality checks before handing over their products. Caring developers do practise the following before handing over their products:

• Adopt quality checks at all stages of construction, test and commissioned utility supplies;

• Clear and clean individual units and construction site of debris;

• Ensuring the Certificate of Compliance and Completion (CCC) is obtained with the handover of units;

• Retain a team of competent workers to do rectification promptly if there are complaints on defects.

• Keeping sufficient stock of products like floor tiles of the same quality and make.

Some developers even extend the mandatory defects liability period of 24 months. We have also heard of developers providing alternative lodgings for their buyers while waiting for defects to be corrected.

Timely delivery

Time is the essence of the contract of sale and purchase. Houses should be delivered within the time stipulated in the sale and purchase agreement ie within 24 months for ‘land and building’ and 36 months for ‘building intended for subdivision’. If, for whatever reason, there are delays, compensation should be paid immediately to buyers without second thoughts or finding devious ways to ‘short-change’ the buyers.

Responsible developers keep their buyers informed of delays and tell them of the next expected delivery date. Some buyers even told us of the extras they have received at delivery time, which surely endear them to the developers. These are some of the ‘welcome packs’ that they have received: useful gifts like a key box; warranties from paint companies, auto-gates, pest control, electrical appliances; certificates of treatment for termites / pest control; a certified copy of the CCC issued by the architect and certified copy of the building plans and plans that relate to electrical wiring and water piping so as to facilitate future renovation.

Interest charged

One clause in the sales contract states that the buyer is responsible for late payment interest. It is a common complaint by buyers that their developers would charge interest for late payment even though it is the fault of the end-financier or their lawyers doing the legal documentation. Responsible developers assist in ensuring that the documentations are in order and the buyer is not burdened with any late payment interest.

Joint Management Body (in stratified projects)

Responsible developers assist their buyers to form committees and be prepared for the formation of the management corporation. These developers realise that the projects they have developed will eventually pass to the owners to maintain and manage.

Encouraging community living

Developers who encourage forming of resident/ owners association are a welcome lot. Some even go to the extent of contributing monies for the formulation of buyers representative group for a meaningful channel to voice grievances. Some even provide meeting facilities and allocate a multipurpose room for the elected representative group.

Good communication

The line of communication should always be open between buyers and their developers:

• Keeping buyers informed of the ongoing projects and their products;

• Developers not to appear having shun away from their responsibility;

• Treating the buyers with respect as buyers can serve as their marketing tool. Show respect and you will gain respect;

• Transparency and accountability on monies collected;

• Providing regular accounting reports and budgets;

• Voicing of any grievances rather than through the media, which will bring adverse effect to the detriment of both parties.

Build first then sell

There is no step that can be more pronounced than for housing developers to adopt the absolute ‘built first then sell’ so that potential buyers can see for themselves the finished product before buying. We believe that in this way, most of the present day ailments afflicting the housing industry can be avoided and the housing industry will be a lot more orderly.

In the interim period, responsible developers have embarked on the Built then Sell (BTS) 10:90 concept where the buyers pays 10% and the balance of 90% to be paid upon completion of the house. They are already big names among developers that find the BTS 10:90 concept workable and feasible and are targeting to achieve the Government aspiration of making BTS 10:90

There are responsible developers whose names are synonymous with quality and trust. They are able to win over buyer’s confidence. Today, they have created their own brand names. No wonder some developers do not advertise, yet all their units are sold out even before the official launch.

Chang Kim Loong AMN is the secretary-general of the National House Buyers Association.

(The Star) Mah Sing will use new capital to expand landbank

Artist impression of Lakeville Taman Wahyu

FRESH from a rights issue exercise that will raise RM630mil to finance its landbanking strategies and a whopping unbilled sales register of RM5.1bil, Mah Sing Group Bhd is on a strong financial footing to further bolster its market leadership position and to make foray into new markets.

Its healthy balance sheet will be given a further boost by the fast project turnaround model it adopts where the time frame from the purchase of a land to the launch of the project only takes between six and nine months - a hallmark of this Kuala Lumpur-based property group which also has projects in Iskandar Malaysia, Penang and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Group managing director cum group chief executive Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum shares that Mah Sing has many plans in store for 2015 to enhance and solidify its market position.

“We look forward to deliver properties sold in the past that will realise the unbilled sales that will translate into cash for the project developments and redemption of our financing. The cash proceeds from the rights issue will be used to finance the group’s property development activities, land acquisitions and general working capital requirement ,” Leong tells StarBizWeek.

Mah Sing has a net gearing ratio of 0.37 times as of end September 2014, and the RM5.1bil in unbilled sales together with the rights issue proceeds of RM630mil give the group a very healthy and strong balance sheet that will allow them to acquire more landbanks for their further expansion.

The group aims to repeat its sales feat of RM3.4bil posted last year, and this will be driven by new launches to the tune of RM3.4bil this year and the sales of the remaining units launched last year.

Sales this year will mainly be derived from Southville City Bangi, M Residence 1 & 2 @ Rawang, Lakeville @ Taman Wahyu, MCity, Icon City, Ferringhi Residence 2, Meridin Bayvue @ Sierra Perdana, Sutera Avenue and Meridin @ Medini.

And in the second half of 2015, Mah Sing will unveil a number of new projects, namely Bandar Meridin East @ Iskandar, M Residence 3 @ Rawang, Star Residence in Subang and Icon Residence in Penang.

Leong says Mah Sing is focusing on four property hot spots of the Greater Kuala Lumpur area, Iskandar Malaysia in Johor, Penang and Sabah. Greater Kuala Lumpur makes up about 67% of its sales and the rest comes from Johor (20%), Penang (11%) and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (2%).

It is also exploring Malacca and Ipoh for landbanking and development opportunities.

Artist impression of Southville City, Bangi.

Sales to foreign buyers notably from Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Indonesia presently make up 8% of the total sales. Leong is confident the trending down of the ringgit vis-a-vis the US dollar will raise the foreign buying interest, and Mah Sing can look to raise its foreign sales ratio to 15% of the group’s sales going forward.

Mah Sing’s rights issue of three rights shares for every 10 ordinary shares and 3 free detachable warrants for every 10 rights shares at RM1.42 per rights share will raise RM630mil, of which RM530mil will be allocated for land acquisition and property development activities, and the balance for general working capital and payment for expenses incurred by the rights issue.

Leong says of the proceeds, RM370mil will be for part payment for the acquisition of land in Puchong and Seremban, which will have an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM9.3bil and RM7.5bil, respectively. It will also be used for development expenditure.

The new rights shares and warrants will be listed on the Main Market of Bursa on Feb 26. Leong has given his undertaking to subscribe for his entitlement of 34.6% under the rights issue in full. The balance will be underwritten by CIMB Investment Bank, Maybank Investment Bank and Affin-Hwang Investment Bank as joint underwriters.

Giving their thumbs up for the rights issue, 12 research houses have made Mah Sing their top sector pick.

CIMB’s Terence Wong says Mah Sing’s rights issue will allow it to pursue a sustainable aggressive landbanking for a robust sales and earnings growth outlook, adding that the dilutive effect from the rights issue should be offset by stronger longer-term growth prospects from its aggressive landbanking efforts.

“With the RM630mil proceeds, Mah Sing has leeway to gear up its balance sheet by another RM1bil while maintaining its net debt to equity ratio of around 0.5 times. The timing of landbanking could also be good as landowners may be more reasonable in their asking price,” he says in a recent note.

TA Securities says the rights issue will help to fund Mah Sing’s landbanking activities and drive future earnings growth.

Post the proposed rights issue exercise and major cash commitment allocated for three parcels of land located at Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Golf Course, Seremban land and Puchong land, Mah Sing’s net gearing will improve to 0.2 times from 0.5 times in FY2015, indicating higher gearing headroom of up to another RM1bil new borrowings for future land acquisition, TA Securities says.

The affordability factor

The development of the Puchong and Seremban land is expected to be previewed around the end of this year, and Mah Sing expects revenue contribution to commence from 2016.

“We intend to preview the projects this year and the projects’ commencement will further propel our healthy and strong balance sheet to continue with more strategic and timely landbanking opportunities for the expansion of the group,” Leong says.

The 88.7 acres of land in Puchong fronts a lake and the Kelang River.

The project to be developed over 10 years will comprise a proposed integrated mixed development of serviced residences (priced from RM585,000), office towers, shop offices, retail lots, a retail mall and a hotel with an estimated potential GDV of some RM9.3bil. The project plan is subject to approvals from the relevant authorities for the development components.

Leong says the group has also been granted the right for an additional 170.58 acres next to the land, for outright sale or joint venture subject to terms and conditions to be mutually agreed upon with the vendor.

As for the Seremban land, he says the decision to acquire the 960 acres freehold land that straddles the North South Highway follows the overwhelming success of Southville City which has seen a 99% take-up rate of the first five blocks of Savanna Executive Suites, priced from RM338,000, and more than 80% take-up for the 2½-storey Avens Residence Superlink Homes.

“This demonstrates the trend of developments moving south in Greater KL, which is a large catchment area for acquirable homes south of the Klang Valley,” he says.

Leong explains that a key catalyst for the project will be the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail project with Seremban as a potential inter-city stop. Mah Sing will propose a direct interchange from the North South Highway to the land.

The development will include terrace houses with indicative price from RM350,000 a unit, superlink houses, semi-detached units, and bungalows, while the commercial component will include serviced apartments, shops, offices and a retail mall.

Given the softer property market outlook, Leong says Mah Sing is targeting the mass and mid-range market in heeding the Government’s call for more affordable housing to be provided to the people.

He says the mass housing market is still attracting good response because demand for residential houses still outstrips supply.

Total transactions for residential properties in the past few years numbered more than 200,000 transactions a year, while the number of newly completed houses was only around 70,000 to 80,000 units a year.

Last year, 87% of Mah Sing’s residential projects were priced below RM1mil, and for 2015, 84% of its launches will be priced below RM1mil, of which 71% will be below RM700,000, and 44% below RM500,000.

“While we have a mixed portfolio of products ranging from residential and commercial to industrial properties, more acquirable housing will be launched to provide opportunities to first-time buyers, upgraders, and also middle-income earners,” he stresses.

Leong says the strategy to serve the mid-range market has reaped good results, as evidenced from the successes of project launches in the mass market and mid-range segment projects that include Savanna Executive Suites in Southville City, Bangi; Lakeville Residence in Taman Wahyu, Kuala Lumpur; D’sara Sentral in Sungai Buloh and Meridin Bayvue@Sierra Perdana.

“We will launch more mid-range products and we strongly welcome landowners with lands in good locations to approach us with their proposals. We have a dedicated business development team which is looking at land everyday,” he says.

Currently the group has 48 projects in its portfolio spread across the Klang Valley, Seremban, Penang, Johor and Sabah. Of these, 10 of the projects are nearing completion.

The new project launches this year will comprise Savanna Executive Suites @ Southville City, M Residence, Icon City, Lakeville Residence, D’Sara Sentral, Ferringhi Residence 2, Meridin Bayvue @ Sierra Perdana and Sutera Avenue. Projects in the pipeline also include Bandar Meridin East in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor; M Residence 3 in Rawang, Selangor; Icon Residence in Georgetown, Penang; and Star Residence in Subang Bestari, Selangor.

Given its savvy landbanking expertise and the wide spectrum of products available, Mah Sing can look forward to another busy year of new launches and strong sales.

(The Star) Xiamen University Malaysia first phase to cost RM652mil

PETALING JAYA: The first phase of Xiamen University Malaysia will cost RM652mil, said Prime Minister’s special envoy to China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting. It will be sited on 26ha.

Ong said in a statement that the first phase comprises five academic blocks, five student residences, activity centres and sporting facilities.

The cost of the entire campus is estimated at RM1.3bil. It will be the university’s first campus abroad and will have a 61ha footprint. It will be able to have a student intake of 10,000.

Ong said the building architecture would feature a combination of Western building style with Chinese red roofs, which he added resembled that of Xiamen Jiageng architecture that is both unique and harmonious with its environment. The campus will also have a lake and landscaped gardens.

The campus in Dengkil, Sepang is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Ong said Xiamen University – the first renowned Chinese university to expand outside China – would help Malaysia attract foreign students.

“This will augur well with the Malaysian Government’s aspiration to establish itself as the regional hub for higher education in Asia and beyond,” he said.

He attributed the success of the project to contributions from Sunsuria Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd.

Ong said the strong historical ties between Xiamen University and Malaysia dated back to the early 1920s when the late rubber magnet Tan Kah Kee set up the university in Fujian Province.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the university was officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in July last year.

The university plans to operate as a non-profit institution here, with surplus funds channelled into research or used to fund scholarships.

It will offer undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses, and graduates will be granted academic degrees from Xiamen University.

According to the University Undergraduates Teaching Assessment and Chinese Universities Evaluation Standings, it is ranked 11th in China.

(The Star) OCR boost for Takaso?

The former is said to have plans to turn it into profitable property firm

LOSS-MAKING Takaso Resources Bhd may have a checkered past, but a notable development that could see a change of fortune for the rubber and baby product manufacturer is taking place.

Since September, a medium-sized property developer called OCR Land Holdings Sdn Bhd has been accumulating shares in Takaso. Could this new shareholder, which now holds 13.88% in Takaso, be the saving grace for the latter, which is known as a firm that has tried but failed to venture into a variety of businesses?

Takaso’s past ambitious business strategies included plans to venture into the mining, timber and food industries, but none had materialised.

Back in 2002, there was an issue of the majority shareholder of Takaso failing to carry out a general offer for all the shares in the company after triggering the mandatory shareholding level, although the matter was eventually settled with the shareholder compensating minorities.

So, what does OCR see in Takaso?

Billy Ong, managing director of the family-owned OCR group which brands itself as a boutique developer-cum-construction firm, tells StarBizWeek that the decision to buy into the company is more personal in nature than anything else, as “we are friends” and “this is an investment”.

It is learnt that the 41-year-old Ong, a second-generation developer, has also made investments in Takaso in his personal capacity and collectively with OCR, currently controlling up to 30% of Takaso.

In November, Ong was appointed to the board of Takaso.

Assuming Ong and OCR’s collective stake is around 30% of Takaso, this would make them the single largest shareholder of the firm, followed by a holding company called Nextplus Fortune Sdn Bhd, which holds around 15%. Nextplus is the vehicle of a group that used to control Takaso.

Although Ong, who runs OCR with the help of his siblings, is coy about the plans he has for Takaso, a source says that the strategy is for OCR to inject its expertise and possibly landbank into the company and turn it into a profitable property and construction company down the road.

Clearly, Ong and OCR’s presence in Takaso could possibly lead to a reverse takeover (RTO) of the latter, or even them launching a general offer for the rest of the shares in Takaso.

However, insiders brush off both possibilities, adding that the plan is to keep the listing status of the company. An RTO would also not be easy, considering that Ong and OCR would not be allowed to vote on the deal because they are already shareholders of Takaso.

Ong himself says that none of the two scenarios are on the cards.

“I am happy being a major shareholder.”

OCR, whose developments are confined to the Klang Valley, has a project pipeline of up to RM2bil in gross development value (GDV).

Its ongoing property projects are worth some RM800mil, Ong says.

He doesn’t divulge any information on the company’s total landbank and says most of these are “pocket-sized”.

Some of OCR’s completed projects include the Dahlia Villa Townhouses located near Bandar Utama, comprising 51 residential units.

The units were fully sold out shortly after its launch and delivered to owners in 2003, according to information on OCR’s website.

Other projects include town villas Canary Residence at Cheras Hartamas, Casa Utama townhouses in Bandar Utama BU11, Chestwood Terrace homes at PJU 6A and Palm Reserve semi-detached and bungalow units in Damansara Jaya. The latter marked its foray into the luxury residential property segment.

Ong says he isn’t concerned about a possible slowdown in demand for property stemming from the goods and services tax, which will kick in this April.

“Our properties are at prime locations, and most of our homes are niche and in relatively small quantities, so we expect demand to be steady,” he says.

He says OCR is getting ready for three launches this year, including service apartment units at Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, priced between RM700 and RM800 per sq ft, as well as bungalow units at Gasing Heights.

“There may be buyers who will adopt a wait-and-see attitude in view of the GST, but on the whole, we remain positive that the take-up rates will be good.”

Meanwhile, Takaso has already seemingly reaped its first benefit from OCR as evident from its Jan 13 announcement where it said it had won from OCR an RM37.4mil contract for the construction work of a 21-storey commercial building on Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur, that OCR is developing.

In that announcement, it said that the project would comprise a one-storey basement carpark, six units of shoplots on the ground floor and six units of shoplots on the first floor.

Additionally, there will be seven storeys of carpark from the second floor to the eighth floor, one storey for facility and food court on the ninth floor, and eleven storeys of office lots with an aggregate of 286 units from the 10th to 20th floors.

Takaso said it anticipates that the group’s venture into construction activities would contribute 25% or more to the net profit of the group “in the future”.

While that clearly remains to be seen, Takaso shares have gained 13.2% since the beginning of the year, outperforming the benchmark index, which is higher by less than 2% over the same period.

(The Star) Wholesome fun at gazebos

Avid hikers and nature lovers can now linger far longer on top of Bukit Jambul in Penang and do more than just admire the breathtaking scenery.
Two new gazebos and exercise equip-ment have been set up at the popular hiking trail under a RM270,000 beautifying pro-ject.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng lauded the Penang Development Corporation for their effort to upgrade the hill.
“They have installed safety railings, directional signs and two toilet cubicles at the mid-section for the hikers’ comfort.
“I believe more hikers will choose to come here with the new facilities,” he said in his opening speech recently.
He added that the project was in line with the state’s cleaner, greener, healthier and safer Penang vision.
Veteran hiker R. Kumaren, 60, said that now he could take a long a good rest at the hilltop while enjoying the panaromic view.
“I’m a regular here. The new amenities are sure to attract more hikers to come here,” he said when met at the hill.

(The Star) Road to smoother ride and traffic

Motorists can now enjoy a smoother journey along the newly upgraded Lorong Batu Lancang.
The RM3.5mil upgrading project involved widening of Lorong Batu Lancang from 10.8m to 12m while certain parts of the road have also been widened to 14.5m.
Air Itam assemblyman Wong Hon Wai said a 2.5m lay-by was also constructed as a designated pick-up point for school bus drivers and parents.
“Traffic congestion is expected to reduce by 20%.
“An additional lane for the vehicles to turn left into Jalan Masjid Negeri will further reduce the congestion at the Lorong Batu Lancang and Jalan Masjid Negeri junction,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters during a visit to the area on Thursday.
He added that the upgrading works would benefit more than 5,000 students from five different schools as well as thousands of road users.
“The students can safely cross the road or wait for their transport along the roadside.
“Besides that, the pedestrian path and drainage system along the road have also been upgraded,” he said.
Wong added that another pedestrian crossing with traffic lights would also be fixed in front of SK Batu Lancang.
He said the traffic congestion in Lebuhraya Thean Teik would be reduced by 15% because of the smooth traffic flow in Lorong Batu Lancang.

(The Star) New hotel coming up in PJ

Ritz-Carlton scheduled to open next year.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain will be opened in Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, next year.

The 53-storey hotel, the second in Malaysia, will be built on a 1.6ha site in the Empire City development. It will have 288 rooms.

Ritz-Carlton announced the plan after signing an agreement with Mammoth Empire Holding Sdn Bhd and Knight Frank Sdn Bhd on the project.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company president and chief operating officer Herve Humler said the hotel would be a welcome addition to their growing Asian portfolio.

Mammoth Empire Holding Sdn Bhd Datuk Ng Yee Teck said “Empire City is a sustainable project that will give a huge boost to the Malaysian economy, igniting business and service trade opportunities while offering numerous job opportunities and lifestyle enhancements for Malaysians, particularly those residing in the Klang Valley.”

Empire City spans 12ha and will be built in phases. The components of the development include over 2.5 million square feet of retail space, 1.2 million square feet of office space and the Ritz-Carlton.

The new Ritz-Carlton hotel will be designed according to the hotel standard.

(The Star) Cinema expands nationwide

TGV Cinemas has increased its multiplex theatres nationwide to 26 after the opening of four new locations.
They are in Aeon Bukit Mertajam in Penang, Aeon Seri Manjung in Perak, Aeon Kulaijaya in Johor and Permaisuri Imperial City Mall (PICM) in Miri, Sarawak.
Collectively, the four cinemas have 27 screens and 4,480 seats, giving TGV Cinemas a total of 211 screens and more than 36,500 seats across the country.
Chief executive officer Gerald V. Dibbayawan said the recent openings – especially in Miri being its first cinema in East Malaysia – were pivotal to their growth.
“This will pave the way for two more in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching by 2016.
“These new locations in all corners of Malaysia also mark our ongoing passion to share and enhance the cinema-going experience with the growing number of movie lovers,” he added.
Dibbayawan pointed out that all halls in the new locations are fitted with state-of-the-art Dolby Digital sound system and Christie CP2220 digital cinema projector system.
In addition, the first row in each hall of the PICM location is fitted with Beanie seats.
He said in today’s day and age, watching a movie was no longer just about the story, but also enjo-ying it in full cinematic glory on the big screen with the state-of-the-art sound system and in the company of friends and loved ones.
“This is precisely why our new locations are either in central business district areas, housing areas or neighbourhood retail malls.
“Each one represents a strategic location whereby friends, colleagues and family spend time together,” he added.
In conjunction with the openings, there were Open Houses in the PICM and Bukit Mertajam cinemas, with free screenings of Maleficent, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Interstellar, and giveaways of 1,000 sets of popcorn.
In addition, TGV Cinemas is also running the 30 Days of Goodies promo at all new locations, where the first 100 customers each day until Feb 6, can claim free movie passes or regular popcorns.
Their loyalty programme, TGV MovieClub, also proved a hit with many signing up.
“We will be having more unique offerings like our TGV Family Screening sessions which are becoming increasingly popular amongst young families, and TGV Halls of Horror,” Dibbayawan said.
For details, visit or look them up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(The Star) MPSJ starts new parking system

Starting Monday, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) will enforce a new parking system using coupons in new areas.
This is in line with the Road Transportation Order (Provision of Car Park) Bylaw 1999 (2007 amendment).
Newly appointed MPSJ president Datuk Nor Hisham Dahlan announced this at the council’s monthly full board meeting, which he chaired for the first time.
“The objective is to curb illegal parking and inefficient traffic flow.
“For the new system, scratch cards will be used and it costs 50sen per hour.”
The coupons can be used only in new commercial and industrial areas. A total of 10,105 parking bays (4,037 in commercial areas and 6,068 in industrial areas) have been identified.
The new system is only for new parking lots; existing “Pay and Display” parking system in current commercial and industrial areas is not affected.
Coupons in the new areas cannot be used in the existing commercial and industrial areas and vice versa.
Among the places in Subang Jaya switching over to the coupon system are USJ Sentral, USJ 1, USJ 7, SS19, PJS 11 and Persiaran Teknologi Subang.
In Puchong and Kinrara, the areas are Kinrara 4 and 5, Persiaran Bandar Puteri 1, Bandar Puchong Utama, Bandar Puchong Jaya, Taman Perindustrian Puchong Utama and Taman Perindustrian Puchong, while in Seri Kembangan and Sri Serdang, parking coupons would be introduced in Taman Sungai Besi Indah, Taman Pinggiran Putra and Jalan Perusahaan, both in Seri Kembangan.
A six-month trial is being implemented to test its efficiency.
During the full board meeting, councillor Loka Ng highlighted the flood problem in Serdang Lama and Taman Sungai Besi Indah.
“Despite the upgrade of the drainage network in Serdang Lama, flash floods still occur.
“We need someone from MPSJ to coordinate the various agencies involved such as the Malaysian Highway Authority and concessionaires for Besraya and North-South Expressway,” he said.
As for Taman Sungai Besi Indah, he said, “This is a long-standing problem, flash floods often occur between September and December.
“We need a consultant to look at the overall situation,” he added.
As for the bulk waste problem at the PJS 7 low-cost flats, MPSJ Environment Management Department officer said the Selangor government had provided two roll-on-roll-off bins on Dec 1 last year and that contractors had been appointed to collect the rubbish between now and February.
On a separate issue, the council’s Legal Department disclosed that about 20 illegal factory operators in Kampung Seri Aman would be charged.

Friday, 30 January 2015

(The Star) Govt urged to freeze Batu Kawah land deal

KUCHING: The state government should freeze a land deal at Batu Kawah here pending an investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), according to Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.
Chong said he had received a letter from MACC stating that action would be taken on the information he had given to the commission on the transaction.
Earlier this month, he had furnished MACC with the relevant documents on what he claimed was a “dubious” deal as it involved alienating a 108ha piece of land to a private company at a price of RM115mil although its market value was approximately RM500mil.
“I urge the state government to freeze the transfer of the land to the company and await the investigation by MACC,” he told a press conference at state DAP headquarters here yesterday.
Chong also said Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem should revoke the deal in view of the integrity pledge he had signed.
“This is the first dubious land deal after Adenan became chief minister as the agreement was entered into by the state government eight days after he took office.
“It’s the first test for him to uphold the integrity pledge and to take action on this matter,” he said.

(The Star) Chinese keen on investing in Kota Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: A China business group is looking at the possibility of setting up a “Chinese Industry Park” in the state capital.

A delegation from Wuhan in Hubei province led by its Mayor Zhang Xueman are keen to look into investing and setting up a major amusement theme park and a six-star resort based on Sabah’s tourism potential.

Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia) chief executive Datuk Dr. Mohd Yaakub Johari said that the group showed their interest after they were briefed on the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

“The delegation is bringing forward to Sedia several possible investment opportunities including establishing a direct flight between Wuhan and Kota Kinabalu,” he said.

The visitors were briefed on the SDC tax incentives packages developed by Sedia to attract local and international investors.

He said the incentives include a full tax exemption on statutory income for up to 10 years and investment tax allowance of 100% on qualifying capital expenditure for five years.

It also offers a full exemption on import duty and sales tax exemption, subject to current policy, he added.

Dr Yaakub said these incentives cover investment in SDC flagship projects including the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct (SAIP), Sandakan Education Hub, Sabah Oil and Gas Industrial Park (SOGIP), the Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC), IntegratedLivestock Valley, Kinabalu Gold Coast Enclave and Marine Industry Cluster.

(The Star) Parkson Perda City Mall caters to Bukit Mertajam community and beyond

Residents in Bukit Mertajam and the nearby areas have a new place to shop with the opening of Parkson Perda City Mall.

The departmental store is taking up 12,057 sq m (129,780 sq ft) of space cross three floors and carries over 378 brands.

Parkson Corporation Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Law Boon Eng said the new store was the company’s 41st store in the country.

“The previous one in Seberang Prai was opened in 2007 which was Parkson Sunway Carnival, so we are very happy to be back in this region to launch another project after eight long years.

“Our team has put together a very consumer-centric store with a wide variant of merchandise selections to cater to the Bukit Mertajam community and beyond.

“This store offers an extensive range of merchandise from various departments such as cosmetics and fragrance, ladies handbags and shoes, lingerie, men’s fashion and homes and household,” he said in his opening speech at the mall yesterday.

He added that the department store had launched its Parkson Card which is an exclusive privilege programme that is distinguished by tiers (Gold, Platinum and Diamond).

“It enables upfront discounts, exclusive privileges and benefits for shoppers with additional promotions across participating merchant partners from other industries including food and beverages, automobile, hospitality, health and lifestyle and more,” he said.

The card is a cross-boundary privilege card that can be used in Parkson Malaysia, Indonesia and soon in Parkson China, Vietnam and Myanmar.

“When card members swipe their Parkson Card during shopping, the value of their accumulated purchases can be used to redeem Parkson vouchers at the end of every quarter,” Law said.

In conjunction with the opening, customers are also able to enjoy five times BonusLink points for purchases made from now until Feb 1.

Apart from that, those who sign up for a free BonusLink membership from now until Feb 1 would be entitled to free 500 points.

Shoppers who spend above a certain amount would also be entitled to vouchers.

Other promotional activities include a clown performing balloon-sculpting in the afternoon from 3pm to 5pm today, tomorrow, Feb 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 and 22.

(The Star) New luxury residence in embassy row

The launch of Damai Residence took shoppers by surprise when its show unit ‘popped up’ in the middle of a bustling mall.

The floor plan of the new luxury residence project by Tan & Tan Developments Berhad was brought to life on the east court ground floor of Mid Valley Megamall.

Available until Feb 1, the pop-up exhibition demonstrates the space of an actual 2,000 sq ft standard unit, with some ‘rooms’ decorated with furniture to help fuel visitor’s imagination.

“We wanted to be innovative for this new boutique development, so we thought why not bring the showroom to the crowd at one of the most popular malls in the Klang Valley?

“This will enable people to ‘feel’ the space beyond the traditional visual floor plan,” said Tan & Tan head of marketing Fern Chong.

Damai Residence is a 20-storey freehold development nestled in the embassy row within the matured area of Jalan Ampang.

“It has the makings of city living but without the hustle and bustle of it,” said Chong, adding that Damai Residence is within reach of important landmarks such as KLCC.

It has 30 standard units and one penthouse measuring 2,000sq ft and 4,000sq ft respectively.

All units are semi-furnished.

Tan & Tan executive director Teh Boon Ghee explained the residence also prioritises with keeping things private.

“We have many layers of security from the front gate to the residence. Each floor is home to two standard units that can only be reached exclusively through a private lift lobby, activated by a touch card,” he said.

Chong said the project was earlier revealed to select buyers in a pre-event last December.

“Response have been positive since the soft launch. We have sold 30% of the units,” she said.

The standard units are priced from RM1.9mil to RM2.2mil whereas the penthouse unit is tagged at RM4.35mil, which is about RM1,000 per sq ft.

Damai Residence has a gross development value of RM62mil.

It is to be completed in December 2017.