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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

(The Star) Sarawak to become Malaysia’s food basket

KUCHING: The state government plans to transform the agriculture sector and turn Sarawak into a food basket for Malaysia and the region.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said Sarawak had a large potential for agriculture because of its abundant land.

“According to the State Planning Unit, we have about two million hectares of land still available. Among the states in Malaysia, we are the last frontier for agriculture development because our land is still plenty.

“We have reached a certain level of agriculture development but we have to transform. Now we want to modernise, commercialise and make use of technology. We want to be the food basket not only for Malaysia but other countries in the world,” he said.

He also said this would help eradicate poverty, improve the livelihood of the rural people and reduce the income disparity between urban and rural areas.

In line with this, the state government is organising the International Conference on Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Sarawak (ICAAS 2017) next month with the theme “Transforming Agriculture Through Commercialisation”.

“What is important is do we have the model, the technology and the right approaches. That is what we are looking forward to during this coming conference.

“We hope to learn from the success of other countries and other states in Malaysia which we hope to be able to adopt,” Uggah said.

ICAAS 2017 will be held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching from Aug 21 to 22, featuring 20 local and international speakers and 1,500 delegates.

The conference aims to share knowledge and best practices in the agriculture and agro-based industry, explore effective agriculture delivery systems and identify opportunities in using digital technology for the development of sustainable and competitive agriculture.

It will highlight current issues, challenges, trends and opportunities in the agriculture and agro-based industry for Sarawak.

Uggah said agriculture was a key sector of Sarawak’s economy, contributing about 14% to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

He said there was a need to identify effective policies, development strategies and innovative business models to boost the sector’s growth.

“This international conference is a timely and fitting platform for knowledge sharing on new approaches and mechanisms that have proven to be successful in other parts of Malaysia and other countries, which can be adopted in the state,” he added.

For more information, go to www.icaas2017.com.my.


(The Star) New furniture showroom in Bangi

Fella Design, which has been furnishing homes for over 25 years, has opened its 15th Malaysian store in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor.

The 1,858sq m flagship store carries different brands, from its own to Urban Culture as well as American Accents.

Fella Sales and Services Sdn Bhd senior operations manager Jeya Kumar Jaganathan said they had always wanted to open a showroom in the area.

“We have a large customer base here as most of those who visit our showrooms are from the community here. The population in Bangi is growing with several new development projects taking place.

“We know there is a market here and we foresee that it will only get bigger,” he said.

The showroom will cater to customers from Putrajaya, Kajang, Nilai and Bangi, who in the past would have had to travel to the nearest store in Bukit Subang, Shah Alam.



The Fella Design showroom in Bangi has a mix of classic, country and modern designs.





Jeya Kumar said the company invested close to RM2mil on the new showroom to ensure it would offer the best selection of fabrics and designs, with interior colours to match each home furnishing concept on display.

“We have a mix of classic, country and modern looks in this showroom, and we have brought in imported American brands to blend in with those from Fella Design,” he said.

Jeya Kumar added the company is confident of the growth potential of its fifth showroom in the Klang Valley.

“I am sure this will become Fella Design’s number one showroom in the Klang Valley because of the large market here,” he said.

Other showrooms have also seen changes.


The new showroom in Bangi’s industrial area carries different brands from, its own designs to those by Urban Culture and American Accents. — Photos: EBBY SA IFUL /The Star





The Sungai Petani, Kedah, showroom was upgraded from 650sq m to 1,672sq m while the showroom in Kuantan, Pahang, is operating from a new location.

“Other than setting up new stores, we are also revamping existing ones over the next few months,” said Jeya Kumar.

The company is also looking to open showrooms in Johor Baru and Kuching, and introducing new designs to appeal to the younger generation, especially those buying their first property.


(The Star) Property in the heart of Kepong ready by 2020

The entire Block B of The Herz in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, by Aset Kayamas has been sold out at its launch.

As early as 7am, people were lining up to get their hands on the 329 units in Block B of The Herz.

Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd chairman Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong said they expected 600 to 700 people for the launch.

“The buyers are mostly second-generation Kepong residents in their late 20s to 30s who want to get their own place and at the same time be near their parents,” he said during a press conference at the launch.

Many were attracted to the affordable pricing and location of the project, he said.

The Herz lies on 0.9ha of land in Jalan Kepong and has a gross development value of RM300mil.

Herz means “heart” in German, which is fitting for the property that sits in the heart of Kepong.

(From left) Chai and Michael about to strike a drum to signal that all units of The Hertz’s Block B had been sold out at the launch.





It is a mixed development project comprising 324 Rumawip units, 14 commercial units and 329 condominium units.

The 37-storey condominium has built-up areas ranging from 1,073sq ft to 1,216sq ft.

The units are priced between RM448,000 and RM562,000, and each comes with a minimum of two carparks.

Future residents will be able to enjoy facilities such as an aqua gym, swimming pool, pool deck, herb garden, reflexology path, playground, hot tub and barbecue area.

Construction for The Herz is expected to start next month and be completed in three years.

“Our track record shows that we finish our projects even before they reach the three year mark. We are confident this will finish ahead of time,” Chai said, adding that they were planning to launch the Rumawip and commercial units next month.

Other than the facilities and affordable pricing of the property, the attraction is also its location.

“It will be conveniently located in close proximity to shopping malls and hypermarkets,” he said.

Metropolitan Lake Kepong and Forest Research Institute Malaysia are a short distance away and the condominium is just 700m from Aeon Big Kepong and 800m from Aeon Metro Prima.

It is also strategically accessible via KTM Komuter stations, MRR2 and Duke highways and the upcoming MRT stations.

The proposed MRT stations nearby include Metro Prima station, which is 850m away and Kepong Baru Station, which is 1.6km away.

Also present at the launch was Chai’s son Michael, who is the company’s executive director.

For details on Aset Kayamas and its projects, visit www.asetkayamas.com or www.facebook.com/asetkayamasproject


(The Star) Malaysian ‘pyramid‘ turns 20

Sunway Pyramid first opened its doors in July 1997. Unfortunately, that year was also when the Asian financial crisis hit the region.

Despite the challenges, the mall survived, thrived and has since become an iconic landmark thanks to its Egyptian-inspired architecture and lion head.

Following its success, four more malls were later opened in Malaysia under the management of Sunway Malls – Sunway Carnival Mall, Sunway Giza Mall, Sunway Putra Mall, and Sunway Velocity Mall.

This year marks a huge milestone for Sunway Malls as it commemorates two decades of delivering unparalleled mall experiences to Malaysians.

Its 20th anniversary celebration was held at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, which saw over 1,000 guests, including mall retailers, business partners, Sunway employees and media members, celebrating this joyous event together.

Thanking them for their support and dedication that contributed to the success of Sunway Malls was Sunway Malls and Theme Parks chief executive officer HC Chan.




Stand-up comedian Douglas Lim sending the crowd into fits of laughter at the event.





“We have been making great strides and progress over the past two decades, expanding our portfolio into key urban markets across Malaysia,” he added.

“With more malls in the pipeline, Sunway Malls is set to be Malaysia’s largest mall owner and operator,” he revealed.

Aside from the extension of Sunway Pyramid and Sunway Carnival, the upcoming malls are located in Paya Terubong, Penang and Iskandar, Johor.

On Sunway Malls’ plan to expand its footprint, Chan said they would grow based on a sustainable model.

“We will continue to identify potential markets that are under-served and unlock these values to reach out to more Malaysians so that they can experience our brand.

“With the strategic advantages derived from shared resources, network, size and human capital, Sunway Malls will be in a better and stronger position to manoeuvre and navigate the ever-changing retail landscape,” he explained.

Chan also said the recently completed MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line was a game changer, bringing greater footfall as it connected Sunway Putra, Sunway Velocity, Sunway Giza and Sunway Pyramid through the MRT, LRT and the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) Sunway lines.

At the event, Sunway Malls also extended their gratitude and appreciation to 39 retailers that have supported Sunway Pyramid since 20 years ago.

Presenting the recognition awards was Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah, who thanked them for their trust in Sunway.

“Sunway’s journey has not always been smooth sailing but thanks to our hard work and values as well as support from our partners, we overcame the challenges and now rank as one of Malaysia’s largest and most successful conglomerates,” said Cheah in his speech.

At the celebration, guests were treated to a string of stunning performances, lucky draws and an eight-course dinner.

Further marking the significant event, the group specially invited and introduced the baby boy who was delivered outside Sunway Pyramid two years ago.

Named after the mall, adorable Kee Sun Way was at the dinner with his family.

To date, Sunway Putra Mall and Sunway Velocity Mall enjoy 95% and 98% occupancy respectively, with full occupancy to be achieved by year end. Sunway Pyramid and Sunway Carnival already have 100% occupancy.


(The Star) EPF defends its move to exit troubled companies

KUALA LUMPUR: While institutional investors are often criticised for “taking the easy way out” when they exit troubled companies, it is sometimes wiser to leave when the investee company refuses to make changes, said the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Speaking at the Invest Malaysia 2017 conference, EPF CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan gave the example of its decision to exit Malaysia Airlines.

“For example, one of the first things we did when we came in was we dumped Malaysia Airlines as we believed it was going to go bankrupt.

“Of course, FGV (Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd) was another case – we thought it would be difficult for the company to turn around under its current leadership,” he said.

He said this in response to a question on whether institutional investors often “ran away” from troubled firms by divesting their stakes in public-listed companies (PLCs), instead of staying on and instituting changes in these companies.

The EPF had gradually sold its stake in FGV and declared early this year that it no longer has any interest in the company.

Asked if EPF would revisit FGV as an investment, Shahril said that “as we are not involved anymore, we don’t look at it.”

“We are a long-term investor but ultimately, we are a portfolio investor. Given the size of the EPF, and the fact that we hold stakes in so many companies, it is frankly a difficult and onerous task to spend so much management bandwith to try and change companies when they refuse to change,” he said.

Shahril added that it spent a lot of time communicating with its investee companies on issues of governance but in some cases, it took the view that “things are not going to change”.

“Academically, we talk about how institutional shareholders can put pressure and force some change but at some point, institutional investors have to decide to cut their losses and put their money to better use elsewhere.

“There is a limit to what an institutional shareholder can do if we don’t have direct control over the management,” he said.

Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) chief executive officer Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad, who was also a panelist at the session, said the fund had often stayed on in troubled companies as it was “stuck” due to liquidity issues.

“It is not by choice but due to circumstances, for example, the latest is obviously FGV. Some have managed to divest their stakes and some have not been able to.

“Some thought it was at a low level and collected more shares and ended up in a bigger problem,” he said.

However, he said it had ultimately decided to stay on in the company as it felt that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“It is a GLC and there is a lot of support from the government – they will not let it fail because it will affect a large group of stakeholders,” he said.

He added that as a portfolio investor, KWAP did not take any controlling interest in companies, keeping its stakes at a maximum of 20%.

“We do not get involved in the day-to-day running of the company and we do not have board directorships. It is much easier to stay focused this way,” he said.

Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) president and group CEO Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad said the difficulty faced by institutional shareholders was whether it was able to effect change.

“I think Malaysia is a bit unique in this sense, because there are not that many companies here that are truly institutionalised – there is usually an owner.

“As an institutional investor, we have to make a judgement on whether we are able to influence the controlling shareholder or the management team chosen by this shareholder, to change,” he said.

Otherwise, he said, it was only fair for the institutional investor to exit.


(The Star) Construction sector urged to adopt IBS

PUTRAJAYA: The construction industry should be prepared to adopt the industrialised building system (IBS) within three years before it is made mandatory, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ahmad Zahid said in a statement that the decision was made during the high-level committee meeting on the Enforced Implementation of IBS Usage in the Construction Industry, chaired by him at Parliament yesterday.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Minister of Home Affairs, said yesterday’s meeting was held to analyse the proposal to make the IBS compulsory for the national construction industry through the legislation of laws, by amending the current Uniform Building By-Laws.

“The IBS in the construction industry should be championed by the private sector to increase its use on a larger scale, as the value and number of projects by the private sector are always bigger than that of the public sector,” he said.

Statistically, Ahmad Zahid said, there were 5,395 construction projects by the private sector in 2015, worth RM111bil, accounting for 82% of the total in the country.

Comparatively, construction projects by the public sector only accounted for 18%, with 1,822 projects worth RM24bil, he said.

“Last year, there were 4,851 private sector construction projects, worth RM126.3bil. They accounted for 74% of the total value of projects in Malaysia, compared to the public sector with 1,696, worth RM50bil,” he said.

He said IBS has shortened construction time and allowed developers to sell the properties and buildings quicker.

“IBS would help to double productivity level by 2.5 times, and would be able to generate extra income for the construction workers by 2020,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid said according to the Construction Industry Develop-ment Board (CIDB), many of the nation’s iconic projects were successfully constructed using the IBS, such as the Petronas Twin Towers, Kl Sentral, Bukit Jalil national Stadium, KL Tower and the KL International Airport.

Meanwhile, he said the meeting had also deliberated on several recommendations and proposals from the Works Ministry through the CIDB, such as enhancing the local authority’s jurisdiction in enforcing IBS policy and increasing CIDB’s role in implementing the IBS.

They had also deliberated on reviewing sale and purchase agreement to shorten construction time and to reduce unskilled labour in government projects, he said.

Also present at the meeting were Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar, Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan and Human Resources Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abdul Muttalib as well as the ministries’ secretary-generals, department heads and relevant agencies. — Bernama


(The Star) HSBC: M’sia to gain from more yuan transactions

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is expected to benefit from more yuan transactions, driven by the country’s position as a gateway to China and Asean markets, said HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd.

Chief executive officer Mukhtar Hussain said Malaysia was one of the earliest countries to recognise the potential role of the greater cross-border use of the yuan

“Given China’s significance as Malaysia’s largest trading partner, and as a partner in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the settlement of trade and investment in yuan will significantly lower costs and promote greater cross-border trade and investment activity thus increasing the usage of yuan,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Mukhtar also opined that BRI may increase the use of the yuan for financing as Chinese companies with yuan-denominated balance sheets are likely to increase the local pools of the yuan liquidity.

Spurred on by the government, Chinese companies are actively participating in BRI projects.

“Because countries hosting BRI projects consistently face liquidity shortages in all currencies – and because multilateral financial institutions may not be able to provide sufficient funding – yuan has a competitive advantage as a financing currency,” Mukhtar said.


(The Star) Mier forecasts 3.8% inflation, weak ringgit one reason

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is projected to record a higher inflation of 3.8% this year, primarily attributed to a weak ringgit and rising transportation-related costs, according to the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (Mier).

Mier executive director Zakariah Abdul Rashid said the think-tank’s higher inflation projection was due to the upward pressure on prices as seen in the first half of the year. He expects the inflationary pressures to continue for the rest of the year.

To note, the country registered an overall inflation rate of 2.1% both in 2015 and 2016.

“When we look at the first six months of 2017, we noticed an uptrend in inflationary pressure. Thus, the overall inflation rate for 2017 will surely be higher than the 2.1% registered a year earlier.

“We expect inflation for this year to increase significantly to 3.8% due to the depreciation of the ringgit and high transportation costs. While prices of crude oil has come down, we must also understand that since Malaysia is a net importer of petroleum products, we end up paying more due to the weak ringgit,” he told reporters at Mier’s 32nd National Economic Briefing yesterday.

However, the economic think-tank said inflationary pressure was expected to recede in 2018, with the inflation rate for the year hovering around 3%.

With regard to Malaysia’s growth outlook for 2017, Mier has revised its gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection upward to 4.8%, in contrast to its earlier estimate of 4.5%.

“Our upward projection of GDP growth was done after we incorporated Malaysia’s first quarter GDP growth of 5.6%, into our calculations.

“Apart from that, the recent developments related to our national trade have also influenced the revision by Mier.

“For the past few months, our trade performance has been very encouraging, with both exports and imports increasing. On top of that, our trade balance still registers surplus, with total exports exceeding imports.

“As for 2018, Mier projects a slightly stronger GDP growth, ranging between 4.7% and 5.3%,” said Zakariah.

In the latest update to its World Economic Outlook, the Interna-tional Monetary Fund (IMF) has upped Malaysia’s GDP growth projection for 2017 to 4.8% from 4.5% previously due to the country’s savvy economic management and commendable monetary policies by Bank Negara.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) also upgraded its 2017 growth outlook for Malaysia to 4.7% from 4.4%, and indicated that the two-year slowdown in economic growth is likely to have bottomed out last year.

Economic growth projections by Mier, IMF and ADB are in tandem with the official guidance from the government, ranging between 4% and 5%.


(The Star) Invest M’sia draws 900 fund managers

KUALA LUMPUR: Invest Malaysia 2017 (IM 2017) has attracted about 900 fund managers with total assets under management (AUM) of US$19.9 trillion, a significant increase from US$11 trillion last year.

Bursa Malaysia Bhd chairman Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz said IM 2017 marked the 13th year that the exchange had organised the nation’s premier conference to showcase the best of what Malaysia’s capital market had to offer.

“IM conference is unique in that it is a platform for fund managers, capital market drivers and captains of industry to gather and network, and most importantly, engage directly with Malaysia’s policymakers and regulators,” he said in his welcoming remarks at the opening of the two-day event.

CIMB Investment Bank is the co-organiser of IM 2017.

Amirsham said the facts and figures spoke volumes of Malaysia’s capital market.

“Since 2009, post-global financial crisis, our market capitalisation was up 177% to RM1.8 trillion as of June 2017.

“The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI had risen 101% while our average daily value increased 121% to RM2.5bil,” he said.

He said Malaysia’s equity market had also seen a record RM16.3bil of foreign institutional net flows into the country which was also deeper than its fast-growing neighbours.

“Our market capitalisation over gross domestic product was at 121% in 2016. And we are home to more than 900 public-listed companies, the highest in Asean.

“And if you need more evidence, in the last five years, new listings on Bursa Malaysia raised US$30.4bil, also the highest in Asean,” he added.

On Malaysia’s leading role in the world of Islamic finance and capital market, Amirsham highlighted that Malaysia is the world’s largest sukuk issuer, commanding 42% of the market share in 2016, with issuance value of US$72bil.

“Our syariah funds have also seen lucrative returns. Since 2010, the FBM Small Cap Shariah is up 55%, FBM Hijrah Shariah recorded a 34.5% increase, while the FBM Emas Shariah is up 27.5%,” he said.

CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, in his welcoming remarks, said the bank had been co-hosting the event six times since its inaugural in 2005.

“The large participation from 159 fund management companies is an indication of the revival of investors’ interest in Malaysia.

“There is growing consensus that the long-awaited synchronise global recovery is finally here,” he said. — Bernama


(The Star) Prime Minister launches Bursa’s Leap Market

The new market aims to provide small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with an alternative and efficient fund-raising platform and visibility through the capital market.

With the addition of the Leap Market, the three markets on Bursa Malaysia would create a complete range of investment opportunities in the country.

“The Leap market is an alternative capital-raising platform for SMEs and it is the first of its kind in Asean.

“It is designed to address the funding gap for SMEs and make it easier for them to take their businesses to the next level through raising funds in the capital market. It also provides them with a new investable asset class,” Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan said.

Tajuddin said the availability of the Leap platform would further aid the development of SMEs and support broader economic activities.

Trading on the Leap Market, however, would be limited to sophisticated investors, according them with an opportunity to broaden their investment options in a transparent and regulated environment.

During the launch, Najib also witnessed the exchange of memorandum of understanding between Bursa Malaysia and its four strategic partners – Malaysia Digital Economy Corp, Malaysia Technology Development Corp, SME Corp and Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera.

The strategic partners would support the identification of potential SMEs to be listed on the Leap Market as well as collaborate to jointly develop the SME financing ecosystem and capacity building.

Najib said the launch of the Leap Market was in line with the government’s SME Masterplan, which aims to raise the share of gross domestic product contributed by SMEs, their number of employees, and their export volume.

“It is another of the many initiatives that my government has put in place in pursuit of our transformation, and that proves our trustworthiness as the business-friendly government of a vibrant economy,” Najib added.

SMEs at present make up 97% of businesses in Malaysia.

To date, 11 SMEs have engaged approved advisers to assist them with the listing process on the Leap Market. These potential issuers are Cloudaron Pte Ltd, Agrofresh International Group Sdn Bhd, Red Ideas Holdings Sdn Bhd, Polymer Link Sdn Bhd, Trustgate Bhd, Accent Wellness Global Sdn Bhd, East West One Group Sdn Bhd, Macfeam Sdn Bhd, Upstream Downstream Process & Services Sdn Bhd, ProEight Sdn Bhd and Safetyware Sdn Bhd.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Tan Sri Kenneth Eswaran said Leap is ideal for SMEs, which are currently underserved in the market.

“This programme allows them to raise funds and enhance their profile in an efficient and cost-effective way,” he said.

“Currently, 96% of SME funding comes from the banking sector while the remaining 4% is from the capital market.

Kenneth commended Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who launched Leap yesterday, for his constant support of and encouragement to SMEs in the country.

He added that Leap is part of the SME Masterplan which aims to raise the share of gross domestic product contributed by SMEs, the number of employees and export volume, which is in line with Najib’s vision of turning Malaysia into a gateway to Asean and the region.


(The Star) Gabungan AQRS sets placement share price at RM1.35

PETALING JAYA: Construction and property development outfit Gabungan AQRS Bhd has set the price of its placement shares at RM1.35 apiece.

It will be raising RM26.3mil from its private placement of 19.48 million new shares to be used as working capital for its construction jobs.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Gabungan said that the issue price represented a discount of about 5.6% to the five-day, volume-weighted average market price of Gabungan shares, including July 24.

Shares in Gabungan closed two sen higher to RM1.45 yesterday.

The bulk of the proceeds from the private placement will be utilised for working capital for its ongoing construction projects – PR1MA Kuala Kuantan, the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Highway and Pusat Pentadbiran Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Separately, Gabungan is also issuing another 19.56 million new shares at an issue price of RM1.33 to acquire industrialised building system (IBS) company Monolight IBS Building System Sdn Bhd that is majority owned by Nirvana Asia Ltd founder Tan Sri Kong Hon Kong.

Thus, in total, Gabungan is issuing 39.04 million new shares, which is 10% of its current paid-up capital.

Monolight is the appointed contractor for a PR1MA housing development in Kuala Kuantan, Pahang, with a contract sum of RM424.23mil.

Gabungan has a joint-venture (JV) agreement with Monolight to construct and develop the PR1MA Kuala Kuantan mixed development comprising 2,186 housing units and 36 retail units.

In this JV, Monolight has a 51% stake, while Gabungan owns the remaining 49%.

Hence, following the completion of the proposed acquisition, Monolight will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Gabungan.


(The Star) AirAsia X Malaysia passengers up to 1.39 million

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) carried slightly more than a third more passengers in the second quarter (Q2) ended June 30 compared with a year earlier, with the total distance travelled by these passengers expanding by about the same percentage.

Announcing its preliminary operating statistics yesterday, the long-haul budget carrier said operating performance in the period trended slightly above expectations despite Q2 historically being the leanest quarter.

The number of passengers who flew with AAX Malaysia grew 34.4% to 1.39 million compared to a year earlier, while revenue passenger kilometres grew 35.0% to 6.79 billion.

“The company continues to stimulate demand to fill up additional capacity injected in Q2 by achieving a marked improvement in passenger load factor of 80%, up five percentage points (ppts) year-on-year (y-o-y), in line with the 26% y-o-y growth in available seat kilometres to 8.45 billion in the quarter,” AAX said.

During the quarter under review, AAX Malaysia added frequency to two routes: Kuala Lumpur–Shanghai and Osaka.

AAX Malaysia also added Honolulu to its network during the quarter under review, the airline’s maiden service to the United States.

No new aircraft was added in the period, so the fleet size stood at 22 A330s.

On the associates, it said AAX Thailand recorded a strong passenger load factor of 92%, an increase of three ppts from 89% a year ago.

AAX Thailand carried 387,959 passengers in Q2, 26% higher than the same period last year. There is no new route or frequency for AAX Thailand’s network in the quarter.


(The Star) Offshore market trading for US$/ringgit no longer an issue

KUALA LUMPUR: The measures taken to clamp down on non-deliverable forwards (NDFs) or offshore market trading for US dollar/ringgit last November were right, according to Bank Negara governor Datuk Seri Muhammad Ibrahim.

He said the central bank, while aware of the NDF market, had tolerated the offshore trading of the ringgit up until November last year.

However, when markets turned wobbly following the election of Donald Trump as US president, the central bank had to act, as the ringgit weakened well below the fundamentals of the economy due to funds flowing out largely on speculative bets fueled by Trump’s campaign promises.

Muhammad explained that the measures to restrict the activities in the NDF market were implemented to stabilise the spot or onshore market.

“The central bank had been tolerant of the NDF market because it had not impacted the spot market in Kuala Lumpur. But last November, it broke the norm and impacted the spot market.”

No offshore trading of the ringgit has been allowed since 1998 when the government imposed capital controls in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

Muhammad noted that NDF trading for the whole of last year was three times Malaysia’s gross domestic product of RM1.26 trillion.

He added that 80% of the volume last year in the offshore US dollar/ringgit trading was speculative transactions and not reflective of the real economy.

The spread between the onshore and offshore rates widened even more after the US presidential election, with the offshore rates showing a weaker ringgit.

“We cannot afford to have the exchange rate dictated by others,” Muhammad said at an Invest Malaysia plenary session here yesterday.

He also said that the ringgit has become less volatile since March after exporters were told to convert three-quarters of their earnings back into ringgit.

Meanwhile, Muhammad said Malaysia would need to have strong international reserves to intermediate the potential outflows that could come from investors rebalancing their portfolios.

“One thing that has been on our side is the existence of huge investors in our bond markets such as the Employees Provident Fund, Retirement Fund Inc, insurance companies and asset managers.

“These investors are shock absorbers for our financial system,” he said, adding that investors should be more confident of the financial system as there were enough buyers and sellers.

Muhammad said the rule of thumb for a more stable bond market was for foreigners to hold between 15% and 20% versus 35% to 40%. Foreigners now hold 26% of Malaysia’s bonds versus 35% previously.

“We need to accept the fact that non-resident investors have to make money,” he said on the foreign selling of Malaysian bonds. Muhammad said that foreign investors provided another source of funding important to the economy, especially for long-term infrastructure projects.

He said that the bond market has remained stable because most of the long-term debt is held by investors in for the long haul.

On another matter, he said globalisation and technological advancement had often seen policymakers scrambling to respond. Muhammad said regulatory agencies, including Bank Negara, need to adapt to changes very quickly.

“The changing of public policies should not be regarded as a flip-flop. One should look at the policy intent, which is important, and not the issue of changing policies.

“We have to decide if it’s credible and be very clear of the outcome and implement it. We also have to explain it well and this is inevitably a challenging area,” Muhammad said.


(The Star) ‘Reforms led to stronger fundamentals’, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s fundamentals are stronger than ever thanks to the reforms and tough decisions made by the Government, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said in summarising his economic track record since taking over the top position in 2009.

Among the difficult decisions that the Najib administration made was implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April 2015, which allowed the Government’s finances to rely less on revenue from oil and gas, and implement multi-billion ringgit urban transportation infrastructure.

“We have only arrived at that position of strength because we put in place a far-reaching economic plan and have been unafraid to make the tough decisions to build up the resilience of the Malaysian economy,” he said in his keynote address at the 13th Invest Malaysia Kuala Lumpur here yesterday.

The two-day forum is themed “Malaysia at 60: Maximising Potential”.

“We have diversified government sources of income, including reducing reliance on oil and gas revenues,” Najib said.

“Given the huge drop in the price of oil, just imagine how we would be suffering if we had not done that.

“We needed to widen the tax base so we introduced GST. It was not popular, but it was the right thing to do – as every reputable economist has confirmed.”

Najib highlighted economic statistics and improvements in fundamentals to date.

Among them was that gross national income (GNI) increased by nearly 50%, and GNI per capita rose to US$9,850 (RM42,177). Based on the threshold of US$12,235 (RM52,390), Malaysia has narrowed the gap to its high-income target from 33% to 19%.

For the first six months this year, the stock market saw a net inflow of funds of RM11bil compared to a net outflow of RM3bil for the whole of last year.

“The capital market increased by 9% to a level of RM3.1 trillion in the first six months of this year, and now ranks fifth in Asia relative to GDP,” the Prime Minister said.

Najib said: “Seven years ago, I introduced our New Economic Model – right here, at Invest Malaysia 2010 ... we had a plan of reform, economic transformation and the willingness to make tough choices.

“And it is clear today that, aided by the hard work of millions of Malaysians, the plan has worked and is continuing to work.”

He noted that since 2009, 2.26 million jobs had been created, accounting for 69% of the 3.3 million target by 2020.

“Inflation and unemployment have been kept low. We have attracted unprecedented levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), which shows the confidence the world has in Malaysia,” he noted.

Among the notable FDIs in Malaysia in recent years were Huawei’s RM2.2bil project, which would employ 2,370 people; Saudi Aramco’s US$7bil (RM30bil) investment in Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development in Johor; as well as Finisar Corp and Coca Cola.

“The confidence and certainty global businesses have in Malaysia brings jobs, lifts wages and helps our workforce upskill.

“This Government offers that certainty to businesses both in Malaysia and overseas. The Opposition offers none at all. They are in chaos.”

Najib slammed the Opposition for spreading misinformation about Malaysia’s economy and calling for GST to be abolished.

“There has been a concerted effort to send misinformation overseas to damage Malaysia’s economy for their own selfish political objectives,” Najib said.

“It is not fair to the Malaysian people, and it’s not fair to the business community, both at home and abroad,” he added.

Najib pointed out that Malaysia’s economy had been touted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as “one of the most successful South-East Asian economies thanks to sound macroeconomic fundamentals”; by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as “among the fastest growing economies among peers”; and by the World Bank as “progressing from a position of strength”.

“Does that really sound like the Malaysian economy is failing, and that we are in danger of going bankrupt, as the Opposition would have you believe?” Najib asked.

“I think the World Bank, the OECD and the IMF know what they are talking about.”

On GST, Najib said it had helped reduce the country’s deficit.

“GST has helped us in our determination to steadily reduce the deficit – we are on course to reduce it to 3% this year from 6.7% in 2009 – and GST has been crucial to retaining our good assessments by the international rating agencies,” Najib explained.

“Yet the Opposition would abolish it. Tell me, from where exactly would they produce the RM41bil in GST revenue last year?

“If GST were abolished, it would not just be a revenue shortfall. The deficit would rise from 3.1% to 5%. Our ability to fund the construction of schools, hospitals and other essentials would be affected.”

In addition, the Government debt would also exceed the self-imposed level of 55% of gross domestic product (GDP).

“Our sovereign ratings would then be downgraded. Lending costs ... would increase. The people would suffer,” Najib said.

He pointed out that when the Opposition faced tough choices, they would seek the easy or the populist way out, regardless of whether it made sense or was even possible.

On growth projections for Malaysia, Najib said the upward revision of GDP growth forecasts by several prominent financial institutions showed Malaysia was on the right track.

The World Bank raised its 2017 GDP growth forecast for Malaysia to 4.9% from 4.3%, while the IMF raised its projection to 4.8% from 4.5%. Morgan Stanley, on the other hand, expected Malaysia’s GDP to expand 5% this year, while Nomura projected a growth rate of 5.3%.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

(NST) Single entity to manage Malaysia's affordable housing issues soon?


KUALA LUMPUR: The government is looking at setting up a single entity to manage affordable housing issues in Malaysia, said Second Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani.

Speaking at Invest Malaysia 2017, Johari acknowledged that there are certain ongoing complications when it comes to affordable housing, brought on by property developers themselves.

"The problem is that there is no single body to overlook the property sector in Malaysia and that is why we have the definition of what is "affordable" differing significantly from one property developer to another," said Johari.

"These days, people say that RM300,000 is considered affordable when Bank Negara itself noted that affordable housing are those priced RM200,000 and below. However, you hardly can find any property priced within the RM200,000 range."

He noted as well that private property developers are even pricing their "affordable" units at RM500,000, which is well beyond what is recommended by Bank Negara.

"Yes, there is an oversupply of high-end properties, especially in the Klang Valley. Properties are even being built in places that they should not," he said.

"This is definitely something that the government is looking into in the near term."

Johari was earlier a panelist at "Plenary 2: Spotlight on Malaysia's Fundamentals". The panel was moderated by CIMB Group Chairman, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak.

(NST) Singapore's Scoot to fly to Kuching, Kuantan by early 2018


SINGAPORE: Singapore’s low-cost airline Scoot, which successfully merged with Tigerair Singapore this month, will fly to Kuantan, Pahang and Kuching, Sarawak by the the first quarter of next year.

The medium- to long-haul arm of the Singapore Airlines Group will service the Kuching route seven times a week by end-October this year; and Kuantan three times weekly by the first quarter of 2018.

Scoot is also maintaining the four routes previously serviced by Tigerair in Malaysia – Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang – using the Airbus A320.

"Competition is just part of the business… with any carrier… whether in Malaysia or other routes, we have to face it. We have to compete," said Scoot's chief executive officer Lee Lik Hsin on the competition Scoot will face from local low-cost airlines like AirAsia.

Asked on why Kuantan and Kuching were chosen, Lee said: “Why not? We are very encouraged by our expansion in Malaysia. We see more opportunities in Malaysia."

On whether Scoot will expand its route network in Malaysia, he said: "It depends on how well we do on the new routes.

"We have a good base line there."

Honolulu, Hawaii; Harbin, China; and Palembang, Indonesia are the other three routes introduced by Scoot today.

Coupled with Tigerair’s network, the five new services will bring Scoot's total destination count to 65 in 18 countries.

The airline reached a milestone carrying over 50 million guests since it started operations in 2012, and now operates a fleet of 14 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 23 Airbus A320, with six more Dreamliners and 39 A320neo aircraft on order.

The new route launches come nine months after Scoot and Tigerair announced their intention to pursue a single brand and operating licence under the enhanced Scoot brand. -- BERNAMA

(NST) Najib: Malaysia's position of strength thanks to economic plan, tough decisions


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia only arrived at a position of strength because the government put in place a far reaching economic plan, and has been unafraid to take tough decisions to build up the economy's resilence.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he launched the New Economic Model in 2010, at Invest Malaysia, to transform Malaysia into a high income nation, a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable society.

"We had a plan of reform, economic transformation and taking tough but responsible choices.

"And it is clear today, that, aided by the hard work of millions of Malaysians, the plan has worked and is continuing to work," he said during his keynote address at Invest Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 2017 here today.

Najib said between 2009 and 2016, gross national income (GNI) has increased by nearly 50 per cent and GNI per capita increased to US$9,850.

Based on the World Bank's latest high income threshold of US$12,235, Malaysia has narrowed the gap towards the high income target to 19 per cent from 33 per cent.

Najib said 2.26 million jobs have been created, which represents 69 per cent of the 3.3 million target by 2020.

"Clearly, we are making the right progress towards those goals.

“Inflation and unemployment have been kept low. We have attracted unprecedented levels of foreign direct investment, which shows the confidence the world has in Malaysia.

“Our growth has been the envy of the advanced economies, even during years of turmoil for the global economy," he said.

He said this year, the World Bank has upped their estimate, expecting Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) record a rise of 4.9 percent, considerably higher than earlier prediction of 4.3 percent.

In a historic move, Najib also had officially launched Bursa Malaysia's Leading Entrepreneur Accelerator Platform (LEAP) Market, the first in Asean, as alternative way for small and medium companies to raise funds and grow their business to the next level.

"It is in line with our SME Masterplan which aims to raise the share of GDP contributed by SMEs, their number of employees and their volume of exports.

"And it is another of the many initiatives that my government has put in place in pursuit of our transformation, and that proves our trustworthiness as a business-friendly government of a vibrant economy," he said.

Najib said besides that, the government has also partnered with Chinese technology leader Alibaba to create the Digital Free Trade Zone.

It is the world's first special trade zone that will promote the growth of e-commerce, and provide a platform for both SMEs and larger enterprises to conduct their digital businesses and services.

He said this initiative is part of the digital roadmap which aims to double e-commerce growth from 10.8 per cent to 20.8 per cent by 2020.

Acknowledging that the business community likes strength and stability, Najib said that the record foreign direct investment his government has secured in recent years affirmed that the international business community knows it has that certainty with the present government.

“Indeed, they are voting with their feet. HSBC is investing over RM1 billion to build its future regional headquarters in the Tun Razak Exchange, recognising Malaysia’s increasing status as an international financial and business centre.

“Broadcom Ltd, one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies with a market capitalisation of nearly half a trillion dollars, is going to transfer its Global Distribution Hub from Singapore to Malaysia in 2017, from where it will manage the group’s global inventory of RM64 billion a year.

“Huawei, a leading global ICT solutions provider which serves more than one third of the world’s population, has made Malaysia its global operation headquarters, data hosting centre and global training centre, with a total project cost of RM2.2 billion and employing more than 2,370 people.

“Saudi Aramco is investing US$7 billion – that’s its biggest downstream investment outside the Kingdom – for a 50 percent stake in Petronas’s Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development in Johor.

"That is the single largest investment in Malaysia, and shows the confidence Saudi Arabia has in our people, our technology, and our ability to be a strong partner with their most important business,” he said.

(NST) Japanese, Chinese entities jostle for Bandar Malaysia master developer position


KUALA LUMPUR: Following a request for proposal (RFP) for the Bandar Malaysia Project announced by the Finance Ministry in July this year, the project has received positive response from interested parties bidding to be master developer of the project.

According to The Straits Times, there is stiff competition between China's state-owned entities and two Japanese giants, Daiwa House Industry Group and Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd, for the multi-billion dollar Bandar Malaysia property development project.

Seven Chinese state-controlled entities in the running are China State Construction Engineering Co Ltd, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), China Gezhouba Group Corporation, Greentown Overseas Ltd, China Resources Ltd, China Vanke and Australia's John Holland, which is wholly owned by CCCC.

The daily, quoting sources, reported that the government has received nine proposals on how to develop the 197ha land located in Sungai Besi, an area that is five times the size of Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), inclusive of its park.

Sources also revealed that bids received feature development plans valued between US$7 billion and US$10.5 billion.

The Bandar Malaysia project was originally awarded to China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC) and Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Bhd (IWH) in December 2015, but the joint-venture's alleged failure to meet key conditions prompted the government to unilaterally cancel the contract in May this year, the report said.

(The Star) A modern and comfortable enclave in Bandar Dato’ Onn

JOHOR BARU: Some 17,200 units of houses and shoplots are expected to be available in Bandar Dato’ Onn once development projects are completed by 2020.

Johor Land Bhd (Johor Land) managing director Lukman Abu Bakar said about 90,000 people are expected to live in the area, comprising 19 neighbourhoods on 612.69ha of land.

He said the municipality was being planned out by Johor Land in order to provide modern, beautiful and comfortable surroundings for the people.

“Bandar Dato’ Onn’s rapid development in Iskandar Malaysia is in line with the state govern­ment’s aspiration to turn the city into a world-class metropolis,” he said after attending a programme held at the Sultan Iskandar Mosque.

During the programme, about 500 people including Johor Corpo­ration (JCorp) president and chief executive officer Datuk Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim and Mutiara Johor Corp chairman Datin Noor Laila Yahaya, were present.

The programme was also held in conjunction with Johor Land’s 45 years of being in operation.

“Johor Land has carried out residential and commercial development projects totalling about 40,000 units since it first started,” Lukman said.

He added that Johor Land’s excellent achievements, especially in building communities, was proven with the developments in Pasir Gudang, Bandar Dato’ Onn and Bandar Tiram in Ulu Tiram.

Lukman said until now, Johor Land completed about 304 low-cost and average low-cost units in Taman Seroja, 630 units in Bandar Tiram and 1,000 units under the MyHome affordable housing scheme in Bandar Dato’ Onn.

He added that Bandar Dato’ Onn was Johor Land’s latest development project with various facilities for the residents such as recreational park, school, police station as well as the Aeon shopping complex that is expected to be completed by year-end.

“Another special thing about this area is the Sultan Iskandar Mosque, opened in 2016 by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim,” he said, adding that the mosque located on 2.18ha of land was built in 2015.

He also said that 154 units of houses were built to relocate flood victims in Kampung Oren, Ulu Tiram, 146 units in Kampung Londang Batu, Endau, Mersing while under construction were 64 units of Perumahan Komuniti Johor in Lenga, Muar.


(The Star) Mixing work and a little fun

Property developer Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd hosted a Hari Raya open house at Menara PJH, Putrajaya for its customers and the public.

Guests were treated to a sumptuous spread of Raya delicacies served by Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel while being entertained by a live caklempong performance.

There were also henna, manicure and photo booth stations for the guests to enjoy with their families and friends. Local celebrity Neelofa, who is also Putrajaya Homes brand ambassador, made a special appearance too.

The property developer showcased its current projects – Duta Villa and Augusta residences – at the open house.

Speaking at the event, Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd Development Division senior general manager Hassan Ramadi said both projects are located in sought-after mature neighbourhoods.

“Duta Villa enjoys a cosmopolitan ambience in Putrajaya’s distinctive diplomatic enclave while Augusta is popular among those seeking a luxury home that is close to nature,” he said.

Located in Putrajaya’s Precinct 14, Duta Villa comprises two-and-a-half-storey hyperlink residences.

Incorporating thoughtfully designed interiors with ample living spaces to accommodate diverse lifestyles, each unit comes with five bedrooms and attached bathrooms.

In addition to open-concept living and dining rooms, each unit features a pond and deck, rumpus room, breakfast patio, lounge area, spacious roof deck as well as ensuite bathrooms in two master bedrooms.

With built-up areas ranging from 3,660sq ft to 4,313sq ft, Phase 2A units are priced from RM1.58mil.

“The phases 1A and 1B which consist of more than 90 units, are sold out while the take-up rate for Phase 2A is about 30% out of 42 units,” said Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd Marketing and Commercial Division general manager Sabariah Ramli.

Hassan said the entire Duta Villa project, which has a gross development value (GDV) of RM300mil, would be rolled out in four phases.

“We hope to launch the last phase before the end of the year,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Augusta project in Precinct 12 features two-and-a-half-storey semi-detached garden homes within the vicinity of the 200ha Taman Wetlands, the first man-made wetlands in the country and one of the largest of its kind in the tropics.

The units are built with green design features such as traditional pitched roofs for better drainage, solar panel water heaters, rainwater harvesting systems, overhang and recessed openings with louvres as well as generous window openings to facilitate natural air ventilation.

Each unit also comes with a private lap pool, personal lift, large balcony space plus a car porch that can accommodate three cars.

The Augusta units are priced from RM2,682,888 with land areas measuring up to 6,469sq ft and built-up areas ranging from 4,014sq ft to 4,794sq ft.

“There are currently 31 units and the take-up rate is about 30% as well,” said Sabariah.

The property developer will be giving away 20g gold coins to those who purchased Duta Villa Phase 2A or Augusta units during the two-day event.

For details on the projects, call 03-8888 6633 or go to www.pjh.com.my


(The Star) Retailer adds to stores in Sabah

Courts Malaysia has opened two new stores in Keningau and Semporna, both in Sabah.

The new stores follow the opening of the Courts Complex in Karamunsing in March, bringing the total number of stores in Sabah to four.

Located in Bandar Baru Keningau and Bandar Baru Semporna, both stores boast a retail space of 1,579.3sq m and 743.2sq m, respectively, allowing for the display of a wider range of products.

“The simultaneous opening of Courts Keningau and Courts Semporna is an affirmation of our growing presence in Sabah as well as our commitment to open at least five stores in Malaysia in the new financial year,” said Courts Malaysia chief executive officer Dolf Posthumus.

“These new stores will facilitate access to the latest home, IT and electrical products as we aim to give our customers in Sabah a complete shopping experience with maximum value under one roof,” he added.

A combined total of 1,250 products from both stores are available for purchase at affordable price points under the Courts Price Promise and Courts Flexicredit.

Courts also offers after-sales solutions such as Dr Digital at Courts Keningau which helps care for and extend the lifetime of IT and mobile products purchased.

To celebrate the opening of Courts Keningau and Courts Semporna, exclusive in-store launch promotions with special deals from RM1, and discounts of up to 80% are available until Aug 2.

Customers also stand a chance to win free giveaways as well as enjoy additional discounts for selected products.

For details, visit www.courts.com.my


(The Star) IMF upgrades Malaysia’s growth forecast

KUALA LUMPUR: The Inter­national Monetary Fund has upgraded its 2017 growth forecast for Malaysia to 4.8% from 4.5%.

The upgrade was announced at a news conference here yesterday for the release of the fund’s updated World Economic Outlook.

IMF Research Department economic counsellor and director Maurice Obstfeld said there is “a very steady hand in monetary policy for Malaysia ... we are optimistic here in Malaysia”.

South-East Asia’s third largest economy is seeing a gradual economic recovery, after tepid demand for Malaysia’s oil and other commodity exports slowed growth over the two previous years.

In the first quarter of 2017, Malaysia’s economy grew at a better-than-expected 5.6% annual rate – the quickest pace in two years – on robust exports and strong domestic demand.

Second quarter growth data will be released on Aug 18.

The ringgit has also recovered, from being among the weakest emerging Asian currencies in 2016, following measures by the central bank to reduce volatility in the ringgit and domestic forex market.

It has strengthened more than 4% against the dollar this year.

The IMF kept its growth forecasts for the world economy unchanged for this year and next, although it slightly revised up growth expectations for the eurozone and China. — Reuters


(The Star) Success of MRT due to direct funding

KUALA LUMPUR: The success of the fully operational MRT Sungai Buloh–Kajang (SBK) line was the result of direct funding by the Government, instead of relying on concessions, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He pointed out that the project was not only finished on schedule, but with RM2bil saved from the original construction cost.

Directly funding the SBK lines construction allowed the Govern­ment to better control and monitor the project, he said.

“A good structure of governance, funding and implementation were clearly the factors that led to the success of the MRT project,” he said in response to a question by Datuk Liang Teck Meng (BN-Simpang Renggam).

He also credited the project’s success to the MRT executive committee, which enabled prompt decision making on issues during construction.

Among those in the MRT exco were representatives from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mis­­s­ion and National Audit Department.

This ensured the project’s transparency and integrity, he said.

This structure would be followed in future government projects, he said, for efficient implementation with minimal bureaucracy.

The Prime Minister also said separating and removing the project funding responsibility from project owner MRT Corp was a good decision.

Funds for the project were managed by DanaInfra Nasional Bhd through the issuance of sukuk, and a project delivery partner (PDP) was also appointed for this project.

This was important as the PDP not only monitors the performance of all contractors but also had to bear the associated risks, like penalties if the project was not completed on time or if costs run higher than expected, he said.

Najib said there were 300 feeder buses operating within 5km radius from all MRT stations which allow­ed ease of access for those not living nearby.

They can also use the Park and Ride service at 14 MRT stations, and once Line 2 and Line 3 are done, the Government expected 160,000 cars fewer on the city’s roads, he said.

To a supplementary question by Dr Ong Kian Ming (DAP-Serdang) on the total cost of the project, Najib said there was no room for dispute as everything was carried out in a transparent manner.