Thursday, 30 November 2017

(The Star) Plans for new airport include aviation hub

The reason the plans for Ipoh’s proposed new airport call for the facility to be built on a 4,169ha site is because it is expected to be an aviation hub.

State Public Transport Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon (BN-Chenderiang) said the site was also proposed by the contractor for the project, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB).

“The site is just a proposal so far, it is not a final decision. The company has also proposed building an aviation hub to go with the new airport, which will include many other features such as a cargo and logistics centre, and housing,” Dr Mah said in his winding up speech during the State Assembly sitting on Monday.

He was speaking in response to concerns raised by State Opposition leader Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and Sitiawan Assemblyman Datuk Ngeh Koo Kam, who earlier questioned the need for such a large piece of land to be allocated for the new airport.

“For just this project, the site Fernandez had proposed was only around 400ha. There is such a large difference in amount of land required compared with the current proposal to build the new airport in Bota today,” Nizar said, adding that the plan would have come to fruition if Barisan Nasional had not come back to power in the state that year.

Speaking on another matter, Dr Mah said the Land Public Transport Commission will introduce the Touch N’ Go system for the MyBas service in the state by march year.

He said this is in line with the state’s effort to increase the level of comfort and accessibility among passengers.

“In addition, there will also be a new route for the public bus service with a frequency of every 20 minutes, which includes the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital and its nearby facilities. The new route is expected to commence in December, and will stop at the hospital, the Daily Treatment Complex and the Ipoh Nursing College,” he said.

To better integrate the route with existing ones, Dr Mah said the route will also connect to the Medan Kidd bus station, Ipoh Railway Station, State Secretariat, Amanjaya poultry market, Urban Transformation Centre, Ipoh Parade, Greentown Clinic, Jalan Raja Musa Aziz and Ipoh Old Town.

Speaking on the ambulance service in the state, Dr Mah said contrary to the Opposition’s concerns, the number of ambulances in the state is sufficient.

“However, shortages might occur when hospital ambulances need to answer calls to several locations at the same time,” he said.

Throughout the five-day sitting of the assembly, Opposition members repeatedly raised the issue, saying that there are not enough ambulances in certain areas in the state.

Dr Mah said the total number of ambulances in Perak is 253, with 209 operated by the Health Ministry, 15 by the Civil Defence Force, 19 by the Fire and Rescue Department, eight by the St John Ambulance and two by the Red Crescent Society.

He also said the state received 28 new ambulances, which will be distributed to government hospitals.

“Another batch of 27 ambulances are due to arrive next year, and will be given to health clinics throughout the state, such as in Kuala Sepetang and Alor Pongsu,” he said.

(The Star) Bridge to be reopened by 2018

The Sultan Yusof Bridge at Batu 5 in Teluk Intan, which has been closed since Sept 2, is expected to be reopened in early 2018.

State Public Utilities, Infrastructure, Energy and Water Committee Chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin (BN-Sungai Manik) said the Public Works Department (JKR) has managed the stabilise the bridge’s 11th pier.

“The closure of the bridge was made after inspections by JKR found a shift in the pier which could affect the stability of the bridge’s structure,” Zainol Fadzi said in reply to an oral question by Datuk Mohd Azhar Jamaluddin (BN-Changkat Jong) at the State Assembly sitting on Monday.

Zainol Fadzi said based on investigation conducted at the site, JKR found that the shift was due to the erosion of soil around the pier, as well as due to the impact of heavy vehicles using the bridge.

“We will then work on reinforcing the revetment to prevent erosion in the future,” he said.

Zainol Fadzi said JKR is taking the necessary action to ensure that repair work is carried out promptly and will be completed on time.

“We hope the problem can be solved, so that it will no longer be an issue that inconveniences to motorists, especially those who use the bridge daily,” he said.

Earlier, Mohd Azhar had said that motorists, especially Teluk Intan residents who work in Sungai Durian, Kota Setia and Manjung, are facing difficulty in their travels.

He said since the bridge was closed, they have to travel through Kampung Gajah as their alternate route, or ride on motorcycles instead because currently, only motorcycles are allowed to use the bridge.

(NST) Lock, Stock & Barrel: Exercising discretion in luxury projects

In the last week, the property market has been abuzz with the reports issued by Bank Negara Malaysia and the almost immediate response by the Finance Ministry. There has also been much talk about the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PRIMA) not being on track to achieve what they set out to achieve.

Bank Negara has announced Malaysia’s economic growth at a high of 6.2 per cent for the third quarter of this year. This is no mean feat in the current economic climate, and the country should indeed be applauded for having achieved such an impressive growth, although this is only for one quarter of the year. The second quarter also managed to register an impressive 5.8 per cent. This has been the fastest growth rate since June 2014. Much of this growth has been credited to private sector spending and strong performance in the export markets.

In the middle of all this, the Cabinet had directed Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) to impose a freeze on four types of high-end developments:

- Shopping complexes

- Offices

- Service apartments &

- Luxury high-rise apartments priced over RM1 million.

Projects that have been approved could however, continue.

Let us analyse if this blanket ban is positive or negative to the market in general. Firstly, before such a ban is issued, there should have been an indepth study to identify exactly the sectors which are oversupplied. The property market cannot be looked at as a singular entity. There are many stratas in the property market. And each of these stratas can be further broken down to sectors. Factors that affect how these sectors are clumped together will be location, type of development, prices etc.

If the many reports that are being published is to be believed, we will realise that the most contentious sector will be the high-rise properties priced above RM1 million. My opinion is that although there is certainly a mismatch between supply and demand in this sector, the difference is relatively small, and can easily be absorbed by the market within the short to medium term.

Not everyone can afford to invest in properties in this price range. The people who can afford to buy these properties are presumably stable in their financial standing, experienced in the art of property investment and savvy in their business acumen. This group of people are not likely to invest in just any development, without conducting their own indepth study. They would also most likely understand that the market is cyclical, and that their investments would need some time to be able to show any gain.

They would be prepared to go the long haul and wait it out, until the market improves. In the meantime, they would certainly be able to meet their financial obligations to the bank. Many of them would likely put their properties into the rental market, hoping to offset their monthly obligations to the bank with whatever rental they could collect in the meantime.

Perhaps the authorities should relook their blanket ban in this sector. Imagine if you were a developer with a parcel of land in Bangsar. There is no way that anyone would consider building something in Bangsar at a price lower than RM1 million. In all likelihood, these properties would be priced at closer to RM4 million or RM5 million. And because of the scarcity of these types of luxury properties, the developer would be able to secure enough purchasers to make the project financially viable.

With a blanket ban like this, how does he proceed?

I suggest that any ban of this nature be tempered with good economic sense, and any application be considered on a case-by-case basis, and approval be given on its individual merit. In this way, the government can exercise some form of control in sectors that are overbuilt, while at the same time, exercise discretion in cases which merit a development going forward.

Until then, happy hunting, and may the force be with you.

(NST) Integrated resort — a tourism game-changer

Integrated resort (IR) developments are mushrooming around the world. Countries see the roles that IRs play can strengthen their overall tourism offerings.

IR developments are generally defined as mega-tourism, entertainment and leisure developments that combine hotels, restaurants, convention centres, casinos, theme parks and shopping centres.

Some of Malaysia’s leading IRs are Resorts World Genting (Malaysia); Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa (Malaysia); and Sutera Harbour Resort (Malaysia).

For other parts of Asia, they include Marina Bay Sands (Singapore); Resorts World Sentosa (Singapore); Mission Hills Haikou (China); Venetian Macao (Macau); Sheraton Macao Hotel Cotai Central (Macau); StarWorld Hotel (Macau); Wynn (Macau); MGM (Macau); City of Dreams (Macau); and City of Dreams Manila (the Philippines).

Outside of Asia and among the world’s best-known IRs are the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, Disneyland/Disneyworld, Melbourne’s Crown Entertainment Complex, South Africa’s Sun City, Mauritius, and The Atlantis in the Bahamas.

Wherever they emerge, IR developments have a dramatic impact, enhancing an entire destination’s tourism product and appeal — boosting the economy, changing the entire shape of tourism and creating job opportunities like never before.

For example, Macau’s casino revenue had quadrupled from HK$55 billion to HK$217 billion (RM28.96 billion to RM114.25 billion) last year since the opening of the Venetian Macao, the flagship of “Asia’s Las Vegas” in 2007. Despite a downturn in gaming visitors from China, revenue remains nearly five times the Vegas Strip. Macau’s visitor arrivals have expanded from 22 million to a projected 32 million this year, generating significant economic benefits beyond gaming.

Malaysia’s Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, the country’s foremost premier integrated property, is also doing well and expanding to include new tourism products and luxury houses for the local and overseas markets.

The 154ha resort is now home to two luxurious five-star hotels with 956 guest rooms, championship golf course, marina and recreational facilities.

Singapore Exchange-listed property developer GSH Corp Ltd expects robust potential for prime real estate in Kota Kinabalu, fuelled by strong tourism growth from South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. Visitors from these countries are increasing by the year and account for more than half of total international arrivals to Sabah.

Vietnam to join the club

HOIANA — a new world-class IR development in Vietnam — is set to join the IR club in Asia, with the first phase scheduled to open in 2019.

Located between Danang, Vietnam’s third-largest city and Hoi An, a Unesco World Heritage site, the 985.5ha development will offer a full range of amenities to attract tourists, families, couples, golfers, gamers and businessmen.

HOIANA head of business development Amy Do said the master development plan for the project over the next 10 to 15 years envisaged a host of complementary tourism and leisure-related projects through subsequent development phases.

The massive US$4 billion (RM16.44 billion) venture will have a world-class casino, an ultra-luxury Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, a 445-room hotel and 200 buy-to-let condominiums; and a championship golf course-country club by Robert Trent Jones II.

Recreational facilities will include a beach club and entertainment venue for live shows and events, watersports and dive centre, and a promenade packed with bars and restaurants.

“HOIANA is set to rank among Asia’s most renowned resort destinations, offering a self-contained world of entertainment, leisure, pleasure and luxury lifestyle.

“This unrivalled, world-class integrated resort and leisure playground will set a new benchmark for high-end tourism in Vietnam, bringing economic prosperity and opportunity to Quang Nam province,” she said.

Macau-based casino operator SunCity Group and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises are stakeholders working with VinaCapital for the IR casino resort. VinaCapital is one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam’s real estate market.

It was reported that Phase 1 at HOIANA will incorporate the 445-room hotel complex and 200 apartment-suites for sale on a buy-to-let basis operated by Hong Kong’s New World Hotels, as well as Rosewood spa resort with 75 guest villas and 25 residences, and the world class championship golf course.

The opening of HOIANA is set to compliment the developments of several projects in Vietnam by Malaysian developers.

(NST) 2018 Budget: Not many goodies but better than last year

THE Malaysian property market has been in a subdued mood for some time and when budget day nears each year, hopes would be raised amongst players in the industry that some measures would be introduced to stimulate the market and nurse it back to its glory days. However the hopes of the property development industry was not met last year where the government’s focus was on affordable homes to be built by several government agencies. In fact, there was a negative element in that the stamp duty was raised for the price bracket of above RM1 million.

The 2018 Budget was tabled by the finance minister on October 27 with the theme “Prosper with inclusive economy, balancing duniawi (worldly) and ukhrawi (other-worldly) excellence to better the lives of the rakyat towards TN50 aspirations”. The following is a snapshot of the sections of the budget which has some relevance and impact on the property industry.

Stable economic growth

In the budget announcement, the government has projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2017 at between 5.2 per cent and 5.7 per cent in 2017 and forecast economic growth for 2018 to be between 5.0 per cent and 5.5 per cent in 2018. The continued growth of the Malaysian economy at rates close to what is projected to be achieved for 2017 spells stability and augurs well for the property market.

Further, the government has projected the country to be near full employment with the inflation rate projected at a benign 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent in 2018. Barring any unforeseen circumstances which will have a drastic impact on global economic well-being such as an outbreak of war, the spread of an infectious disease or substantial changes in key commodity prices such as crude oil, we foresee that the property market would be generally be stable although transaction volumes and values could continue to decline amidst sluggish market conditions. Moreover, there are still points of concern for market watchers viz. the current Korean peninsular tensions and the political dynamics and conflicts in the Middle East.

No significant goodies 

for the housing sector

Last year’s budget was a big disappointment for property developers and the 2018 Budget did not bring much additional cheers to the property development community although there were some small sweeteners thrown in by the government. Generally the key budget announcements affecting the property development industry were as follows:

Continued focus on affordable homes

The government has allocated a budget of RM2.2 billion for the construction of affordable homes by various government agencies as follows:

• 17,300 units to be built under the People’s Housing Programme;

• 3,000 units of People’s Friendly Homes to be built by SPNB;

• A sum of RM1.5 billion is allocated for the building of 210,000 units of houses over a period of two years by PR1MA priced at RM250,000 and below;

• 25,000 units under the 1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Programme (PPA1M) is expected to be completed in 2018 with another 128,000 units currently at various stages of construction;

• 600 units of MyBeautiful New Homes (MyBNHomes) scheme for B40 households in Terengganu, Pahang, Melaka, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak as well as Orang Asli settlements;

• To encourage housing developers to provide more affordable homes and 2,000 units will receive assistance with downpayments under MyDeposit programme as well as MyHomes programme;

• A sum of RM200 million is allocated for the maintenance and refurbishment of houses, under the 1Malaysia Maintenance Fund.

Apart from the above, effective from January 1 2018, the Public Sector Home Financing Board (LPPSA) will introduce the following measures to enable public servants to own their own homes:

• LPPSA will be allowed to finance the construction of property on wakaf land;

• The legal fee in connection with the sale and purchase agreement will be allowed to be included as part of the financing by LPPSA;

• LPPSA will allow joint loans for husband and wife or children with a condition that all applicants must be public servants; and,

• LPSSA will allow joint-home financing for husband and wife or children, with a condition that at least one of the applicants is a public servant. The non-public servant is required to secure loans from financial institutions or other agencies but these institutions will have to accept a second mortgage on the property.

In addition, step-up financing programmes, which were previously restricted to buyers of homes built by PR1MA, will be extended to private sector developers of affordable homes. The Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (Rehda) has been lobbying for the step-up financing programme to be opened up to the private sector developers and their efforts have now come to fruition. This financing programme works on the premise that a borrower will advance in his career and will be able to support a higher mortgage repayment as he moves up the corporate ladder. As such the repayment schedule is structured such that the borrower pays a smaller sum in the first five years of the loan tenure and then balloons up after that. This is a positive move as it will enable young people in the early years of their careers to qualify for a higher loan quantum and thus encourage as well as allow more people to enter the housing market.

All these measures by the government and coupled with the proposal to cut personal income tax for for those within the RM20,000 to RM70,000 tax income bands by two per cent, the market for affordable homes may see an increase in demand in 2018 and the years ahead.

Stamp duty exemption

for abandoned housing projects

Stamp duty will be exempted for loan agreements and letters of consent to transfer, for contractors and original owners who rescue abandoned projects, effective from January 1 2018 to December 31 2020. This will provide some relief to the original buyers and rescuing contractors of abandoned projects.

50 per cent tax exemption

on rental income

The budget has proposed a 50 per cent tax exemption on rental income received by resident individuals up to RM2,000 for YA 2018 to 2020. With this tax exemption investors will have an added incentive to invest in completed residential properties in the secondary market particularly in locations which are popular with the middle income group (M40) as well as yuppies in the early phase of their careers who are not ready to own their own homes. Suburbs which are served by the LRT/MRT/monorail will have an added advantage as access to public transportation is still an important consideration to this group although most will own cars.

Abolishment of toll collection

Toll collection on several highways viz. Federal Highway (at Batu Tiga, Shah Alam and Sungai Rasau, Selangor); Bukit Kayu Hitam (Kedah) and Eastern Dispersal Link (Johor) are proposed to be abolished from January 2018. Pending further details from the relevant parties, this will benefit residents of areas which have to utilise these highways and may spur interest to purchase homes or to relocate to these areas and this will also lead to more projects launched in these areas.

Completion of MRT 3 to be expedited

The finance minister has proposed to speed up the completion of MRT 3 to be expedited to 2025 instead of targeted 2027. This will be a boon to areas which are serviced by the MRT line and will stimulate interest for projects located in these areas.

GST exemption for management and maintenance of stratified homes by developers

The exemption of GST for management and maintenance of stratified residential buildings by JMBs and MCs will now be extended housing developers providing such services effective January 1 2018. This will make it fairer to the housing developers who have to provide such services before they are taken over by the JMBs/MCs. -- Henry Butcher Malaysia

(NST) Overdevelopment: Whither Taman Desa?

As proven by mature neighbourhoods such as Bangsar, Damansara Heights or Taman Desa, townships or projects that are strategically located would continue to draw interests from potential investors, new homeowners, temporary tenants and developers.

Take for example Taman Desa, which is easily accessible through multiple expressways and trunk roads, namely the Federal Highway, New Pantai Expressway, East-West Link Expressway, Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Highway and Jalan Klang Lama.

Despite overdevelopments in the area, Taman Desa remains a favourite among urban dwellers, locals and expatriates alike; due to its close proximity to Kuala Lumpur city centre and established landmarks such as Mid Valley City and KL Sentral, as well as other mixed residential/commercial districts like Bangsar and Petaling Jaya.

While most amenities are already being readily available in the area and the presence of business centres like Faber Complex and Danau Business Centre, there is little surprise why the corporate and blue collar workers still prefer living there.

In the near future, Taman Desa is expected to benefit with the development of Bandar Malaysia on a total of 196.7ha at the old Sungai Besi airport.

Bandar Malaysia is a stone’s throw away from this thriving neighbourhood of Taman Desa (towards the east and separated by East-West Link Expressway). Despite having no direct access to Bandar Malaysia, developers with projects in Taman Desa would try to leverage on the multi-billion ringgit development’s booming status and link it as a catalyst to attract property seekers.

Price appreciation

With Bandar Malaysia and the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail project, MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd analyst Jessica Low Jze Tieng expects positive spillover effect to surrounding properties. However, the quantum of increase in property prices would be largely determined by the supply and demand.

She said in terms of price appreciation in the last five years, Desa Green Serviced Apartment, which was launched by UOA Development in 2012, was priced at RM538,000 or RM575 psf (after rebate) for a 935-sq-ft unit. The last remaining units released recently in the final block of Desa Green Serviced Apartment were priced at RM675,000 or RM722 psf (after rebate) for a similar size unit.

This shows that the prices of Desa Green Serviced Apartment have risen by more than 20 per cent since 2012.

Affordable houses

Taman Desa has very little land available for development. Developers, however, are still hungry and looking at redevelopment sites.

One of the more interesting projects is the redevelopment of the old Desa Water Park in Taman Danau Desa. The 16.99ha site is owned by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

The land, previously occupied by a theme park and restaurant, was sold to developer Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd for RM500 million last year.

Aset Kayamas will undertake a mixed development project called Desa Valley. It will comprise Rumawip (Federal Territories Affordable Housing) units and commercial units.

Desa Valley will have a total of seven

blocks of apartments with 3,002 units. The 850 sq ft Rumawip units will cost not more than RM230,000.

Another affordable housing apartment named Residensi Desamas along Jalan 1/109F (on Bumiputera lot) in Taman Danau Desa was being developed by Era Ecoland Sdn Bhd, an associate of Aset Kayamas.

The 900-sq-ft apartment with three bedrooms and two bathrooms will be priced at RM300,000. The single block of 36 levels apartment was expected to be completed by late 2020.

Over at Jalan Bukit Desa 3, GCI Development is building a low-rise luxury apartment beside the Bukit Desa Condominium on a 0.54 acre land.

There are plans to build a 25-storey commercial building in Taman Danau Desa by Stecmal Sdn Bhd next to the Shell Station at Jalan 3/109F. The project will comprise 263 units of service apartments on 16 storeys with one floor for recreational facilities.

At Jalan Desa Bakti, there are also plans by Garuda Searah to build three blocks of serviced apartments with 1,120 units just across the 1 Desa Residence condominium.

Cause for concern

CBRE-WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen said Taman Desa has traditionally been one of the under-rated areas because people mostly tend to look at Bangsar or Petaling Jaya.

“The older part of Taman Desa (Old Klang Road), the road has been improved as it used to be very congested. It was only two or four lanes, but now there are eight lanes. To me, Taman Desa is just like an extension of Bangsar. It is so near to the city centre so I can see the value proposition (in terms of appreciation) will always be there,” he said.

It was reported that at least six high-density projects with a total of 5,000 apartment units had been launched or were in the process of getting approval.

The report, which quoted Taman Desa Residents Association vice-president Yap Biow Hwee, however said that once the projects were completed in a few years, the additional traffic and influx of people would put a strain on the roads and facilities used by 8,000 households.

Philip Pang, a member of Protect Taman Desa Coalition, is concerned about overdevelopments in Taman Desa.

“If you are building a high-rise structure on very narrow land and if it is just 10 storeys high may be it is acceptable, but if it is a skyscraper with 42 floors on top of a hill then it is not right,” he said.

Meanwhile, Foo called for the authorities to relook at the development and density of several projects in Taman Desa, especially a new condominium that was being built on a site originally reserved for Tenaga Nasional Bhd to install their overhead power transmission lines.

He said since the project was too close to a school, residents’ association was worried the development would disrupt students during the day.

“Over the years, because of the scarcity of land, developers have become creative by acquiring a lot of terraced houses, comprising both single and double storey, on the end block basis to build new high-rise developments.

“Let’s say they purchase 30 units in a row. What they do is they demolish it and get higher density development going. This is something really not healthy as the infrastructure in that area is not meant for high rise or high density development. The authorities should look into all these,” Foo added.

(NST) Property glut: Rebalancing overhang

A freeze on approvals for new property development projects in Kuala Lumpur could help stabilise the whole market and reduce property market overhang to some extent.

The freeze means there will be no new supply entering the market at least for a few years (except for projects already given approvals prior to November 1), until the ban is lifted or when the market has balanced itself.

The freeze is on approvals for four types of developments, namely shopping malls, offices, serviced apartments and luxury condominiums priced over RM1 million in the capital.

It comes following a study by Bank Negara Malaysia showing there was a glut in the property market.

Whether property developers like it or not, the feeze was a timely move by Cabinet.

Projects like Tun Razak Exchange, Merdeka PNB118 and Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC) are safe from the ban as they have all the necessary approvals in place to build.

Eco World Development Group Bhd president and chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Chang Khim Wah said the halt in approvals should not affect the company or the BBCC development.

Freeze is necessary

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said the freeze was necessary to control the oversupply from adversely affecting the economy.

The Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) said property developers were responsible for the cause of property market overhang in the country.

According to PEPS, there were now RM35 billion worth of unsold and unutilised buildings comprising residential development, purpose-built offices and shopping centres, which were a waste of financial resources.

There are 13 billion sq ft of purpose-built offices for next year and 2019, and 44 million sq ft of incoming supply in Greater Kuala Lumpur alone from this year.

“Every effort must be made to absorb the incoming supply (for projects already approved) before the freeze is to be lifted,” said PEPS last week.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said approval for new luxury development projects would still be given, but on a case-by-case basis.

Housing Buyers’ Association secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said the Cabinet made a well-informed decision based on the accurate analysis from Bank Negara.

According to the Bank Negara report, total unsold residential properties were 130,6903 units in the first quarter, the highest in a decade. This is nearly double the historical average of 72,239 units per year between 2004 and last year.

Bank Negara said about 83 per cent of the total unsold units were properties priced from RM250,000. It said 61 per cent of the total unsold units were high-rise properties, out of which 89 per cent was priced above RM250,000.

The large number of unsold properties is due to the mismatch between the prices of new launches and households’ affordability.

From last year to the first quarter of this year, only 21 per cent of new launches were for houses priced below RM250,000.

Kim Loong said the growing imbalance was getting wider and could pose severe risk to the economy.

“For residential properties there is a big mismatch between what the public can afford, which are houses costing RM150,000 to RM300,000, and what developers think the public can buy, which is from RM500,000.”

He said developers should consider building what the public could afford rather than what they want to build to improve the situation.

Kim Loong also called for the government to set the right benchmark by classifying that the correct definition of “affordable” category was not more than RM300,000.

For houses which have been completed but not sold, he suggested National Mortgage Corp Cagamas Bhd take a look at the overhang of completed housing units by invoking the concept of RTO (rent-to-own).

“The RTO concept allows one to rent the property for a duration of five years and then convert to purchase,” he said.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe believes in a situation with more supply than demand, it is better to gazette the draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 and follow sustainable development as per the plan.

According to Previndran, residential overhang in Kuala Lumpur accounted for less than 10 per cent of the country’s total overhang.

“For the whole of the country, however, only 35 per cent of property overhang is of high-rise properties. The rest is of bungalows and semi-detached homes. This is based on total value of overhang,” he said.

(NST) Sakura residence first local landed prefab project

Prefabricated development is a growing concept in Malaysia. It is basically building structures manufactured offsite and transported to the location for on-site assembly.

The first landed prefabricated development in Malaysia is Sakura Residence, developed by Daiwa Sunway Development Sdn Bhd — a joint venture between master community developer, Sunway Property and Daiwa House Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

The project, which has a gross development value (GDV) of RM230 million, is built with Japanese innovation that promotes durability and precision construction.

It will be developed in a 13-acre private gated community in Sunway Iskandar, Johor.

Located at the development’s Parkview precinct, Sakura Residence will have 100 pre-fabricated double-storey bungalows and semi-detached units.

The selling price for this pre-fabricated houses, with built-up sizes from 3,190 sq ft, starts from RM2.5 million (4+1 beds & baths).

Daisuke Usugi, chief executive officer (CEO) for Daiwa Sunway Development and managing director of Daiwa House Malaysia, said it is Daiwa and Sunway’s aim to produce a quality and healthy living for the community in Sunway Iskandar.

Sakura Residence was recently accorded Best International Development Award at the iProperty Development Excellence Awards.

“The pre-fabricated houses have been designed with user-friendly features such as non-slippery floors, waterproof socket point, finger-safe doors and user-friendly switches,” he said.

Usugi said such homes are recognised for its space utilisation. They are designed in a way that every corner of the unit will be beneficial to the buyer.

He said the unique aspects of pre-fabricated houses include high precision structure, shorter delivery timeframe, well-ventilated design, energy-saving and clean living environment.

Sunway Iskandar CEO Gerard Soosay said he was honoured that Japan’s leading and largest construction company with 60 years track record picked Sunway Bhd for a strategic collaboration.

“Thus far, we have observed and learnt from the best in the industry. Their working culture and dedication has been a learning curve for all of us here in Sunway Iskandar,” he said.

Sunway Iskandar is the largest township project by Sunway Property. It covers an area of 1,800 acres with an estimated GDV of RM30 billion.

The whole development comprises six precincts, namely The Lakeview, The Capital, The Parkview, The Riverside, The Seafront and The Marketplace. Each precinct is designed as a self-sustaining integrated township with amenities such as educational institutions, leisure and recreational as well as healthcare components.

(The Edge Financial Daily) 18% hike in residential gas prices from Jan 1

(Subtitle) The revision is for a six-month period

KUALA LUMPUR: Gas Malaysia said gas prices supplied to the non-power sector in Peninsular Malaysia would rise up to 18% from Jan 1 to June 30 next year.

The government, through the Energy Commission, had approved on Tuesday to effect the revision for the six-month period.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Gas Malaysia said the average base tariff will increase to RM30.90 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) from RM28.05 permmBtu currently, after taking into account costlier liquified natural gas.

Also, under the gas cost pass through (GCPT) mechanism, a surcharge of RM1.62 per mmBtu will apply to all tariff categories. This means the average effective tariff is RM32.52 per mmBtu.

Under the revised effective tariff after GCPT, residential consumers will pay RM23.92 per mmBtu from Jan 1, up 18% from RM20.23 currently.

Non-residential customers consuming up to 600 mmBtu per year will pay a tariff rate of RM30.40 per mmBtu, up 16% from RM26.11.

Those who consume 601 mmBtu to 5,000 mmBtu will be charged RM30.55 per mmBtu, 16% more than the current RM26.25. For 5,001 mmBtu to 50,000 mmBtu, the new tariff is RM30.84 per mmBtu, up 16% from RM26.51 now. For those consuming 50,001 mmBtu to 200,000 mmBtu as well as 200,001 mmBtu to 750,000 mmBtu per year, the new rate is RM32.10 per mmBtu, up 16% from RM27.66.

Those with annual consumption above 750,000 mmBtu, the revised effective tariff after GCPT is RM33.12 per mmBtu, up 16% from RM28.58.

“While the tariff revision has no material impact on Gas Malaysia’s business operations, it is expected to contribute positively towards the company’s financial position for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2018,” said Gas Malaysia.

(The Edge Financial Daily) Mah Sing posts higher 3Q profit, on track to meet RM1.8b sales target


KUALA LUMPUR: Mah Sing Group Bhd’s net profit rose to RM92.31 million in the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 (3QFY17) from RM91.89 million a year ago, on higher other income and lower selling and marketing expenses.

Earnings per share was higher at 3.07 sen from 3.05 sen in 3QFY16. Quarterly revenue slipped 3.8% to RM704.26 million in 3QFY17 from RM732.37 million in 3QFY16. For the cumulative nine months (9MFY17), Mah Sing posted a net profit of RM273.12 million, down from RM275.75 million a year ago, mainly due to higher administrative and other expenses.

Revenue also came in lower at RM2.15 billion compared with RM2.22 billion in 9MFY16, as certain development phases within the Southville City project were at their tail end.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Mah Sing said the plastics segment continued to contribute positively to the group’s performance in 9MFY17, posting a 20.2% year-on-year increase in operating profit to RM12.4 million on higher sales of pallet.

On prospects for the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2017 (FY17), Mah Sing said with the group’s strong branding and attractive product price points below RM500,000, it is in good position to meet strong current market demand for affordable housing, in line with the government’s broad objective to enable everyone to own a home.

“The group’s healthy balance sheet and cash balances as at Sept 30, 2017 provided strong opportunities for the group to lock in more land and/or to explore joint ventures focusing on affordable housing projects within the Klang Valley,” it added.

In a separate statement, Mah Sing said it is on track to achieve the RM1.8 billion sales target for 2017. For 9MFY17, it has achieved property sales of RM1.26 billion. For 4QFY17, its planned launches amount to RM1 billion, bringing the total 2017 planned launches to RM2.3 billion. These include previews of new projects such as M Vertica in Cheras, M Centura in Sentul, M Vista in Penang and Fern in Meridin East, Johor as well as existing projects such as D’sara Sentral’s final tower OLO Residence in Sungai Buloh, Residensi Seri Wahyu in Jalan Kuching, Southville City in KL South, Dandelion in Meridin East and Covil@Meridin Bayvue, Johor.

Mah Sing group managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum also said another target is to increase its land bank in the Klang Valley to 75% of its gross development value (GDV) in two years from 66% currently.

However, he assures investors that the group will be careful in its evaluation as “we will not buy for the sake of buying”. “There must be a compelling reason to buy each piece of land. We are looking at land banks at good locations that fit into our business strategy.”

The group currently has a remaining of 2,131 acres (862ha) of undeveloped land, with approximately remaining GDV and unbilled sales of RM28.3 billion, which can support the group’s revenue and earnings growth for eight years.

Mah Sing shares closed one sen or 0.65% lower at RM1.52 yesterday, with a market capitalisation of RM3.71 billion.

(The Edge Financial Daily) ‘Unsold units pose problems for property management too’


KUALA LUMPUR: A high number of unsold property does not only affect property development, but also property management, says Malaysian Institute of Professional Property Managers (MIPPM) president Sarkunan Subramaniam, commenting on the recently released 1H property market performance by the National Property Information Centre.

“Unsold units are creating a lot of problems. For example, if a property manager is managing a condo that has 30% to 40% unsold units, even if there are so many units unsold, monthly maintenance fees must still be paid. By whom? The developer,” said Sarkunan at the press conference after the opening of the MIPPM Property Management Conference 2017 yesterday.

He said the developer is responsible for paying the monthly maintenance fees for all the unsold units in a project.

However, in many cases, developers also face cash flow problems when the project is not fully sold.

“When you don’t have enough maintenance fees, it means that the entire project cannot be run efficiently, and the worst part is to sell the property and the developer charges lower maintenance fees psf (per sq ft), which may end up causing the property manager to not have enough funds for the upkeep of the property,” said Sarkunan.

He said because of this, MIPPM has strongly argued against developers handing over liabilities in the form of water and electricity arrears to property managers as it will jeopardise their management of the property.

(The Star) Thumbs up for new bypass

Excited motorists driving through the Rawang-Serendah Bypass that was opened to traffic yesterday have described it as a beautiful and scenic stretch.

Some curious Malaysians even parked by the side of the elevated stretch to have a longer and better look at the surrounding beauty and to take photos.

The 9km bypass connecting Selayang with Serendah is surrounded by greenery as it cuts across the Selangor Heritage Park.

What makes it more unique is its 2.7km elevated stretch that is 58.2m high, said to be the highest pole structure in the country.

Previously, motorists travelling to Serendah or Kuala Lumpur would have to go through Rawang town but not anymore, thanks to the bypass which is expected to benefit about 30,000 motorists daily.

Md Faizal and his children were among eager Malaysians who tested the bypass on the first day of its opening.

Sungai Buloh resident Md Faizal Baharon, 39, took the opportunity to go on a joyride with his three children to test the bypass.

“It is an exhilarating drive with towering trees on both sides. There is a gradual elevation, so it is not scary,” he said, describing the elevated stretch.

Sean Ho, 35, pointed out that more signs were needed to alert Serendah-bound motorists about the bypass.

“There is not enough distance between the first sign and the start of the road, so some motorists may end up on the bypass without meaning to.

“They would have to make a U-turn at Serendah, which is easily 6km away,” he said.

Motorist Jazz Yip, 45, was one of those eager to try out the new road.

“We have been hearing about it for some time. It will definitely be convenient when we need to get to our factory in Rawang.

“Previously, it would take almost an hour to get from Petaling Jaya to Rawang, but I read that it now takes half the time.

“The best part is there are no toll charges,” she said.

Yip added that the bypass would come in handy when visiting her mother in Selayang.

Launching the bypass on Tuesday, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said the construction of the RM628mil road began on July 16, 2005 and was completed on Nov 21 this year.

He said the project running through the Selangor Heritage Park only required about 9.7ha of land instead of 25ha if the bypass had been built without the elevated stretch.

The design of the bridge was also meant to protect the rare merawan kanching or giam kanching tree species at the park.

The project was delayed for six years because of the work procedure and processes of third parties that were beyond the control of the Public Works Department (JKR).

This caused the initial cost of RM203.47mil to increase to RM628.14mil.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak congratulated JKR for the bypass project in a tweet that read: “Syabas. Ini akan kurangkan masa perjalanan buat pengguna selain memelihara alam sekitar. Banyak lagi projek #Infrarakyat sebegini akan kita laksanakan.” (Well done. This will reduce travel time for users besides preserving the environment. More #Infrarakyat projects like this will be done)

The drive to and from Serendah and Selayang via the bypass was a breeze, bearing in mind it was the first day it was opened to traffic.

The four-lane dual-carriageway was slightly narrow and a little congested due to motorists stopping by the side to take photos of the scenery.

Heavy vehicles, however, were seen struggling up the elevated stretch of the bypass, slowing down traffic.

Rawang’s Bandar Country Homes Residents Association chairman Soong Beng Khoon said residents had to put up with bad traffic congestion for more than a decade and the elevated bypass was a solution to their traffic woes.

“It will definitely reduce traffic entering Rawang and ease congestion within the town. Journey time can be reduced by half or even more.

Selayang municipal councillor Md Sabri Md Taib praised the infrastructure for its scenic route.

The RM628mil Rawang-Serendah Bypass is a four-lane dual-carriageway, which is expected to ease congestion in Rawang town.

“Not often motorists will get to have such a scenic view of tall trees and forest while driving. Even on a helicopter, you can’t see this as we will literally be riding through rows of trees,” he said.

“The bypass might look very tall and scary to drive on but I believe it is safe and sturdy as the free-moving traffic will not cause any strain on the structure,” he said.

Barisan Nasional coordinator for Rawang, Ryan Ng, also believes that the bypass is the answer to the problem of traffic congestion in Rawang town.

“I’m definitely pleased to see its completion after the six-year delay. Finally, we have direct access to Serendah via the bypass,” he said.

Ng, who is also Selayang MCA division secretary, said the project was initiated in 2005 as an alternative route to reduce congestion in Rawang.

“I am sure this elevated bypass, which is the highest here, was well thought through and we should have confidence in our professional architects and engineers to make it safe,” he said.

Asked how much time could be saved on the road, he said it should cut journey time by half but this is yet to be seen as it just opened.

Ng added that the bypass would also help ease congestion in Rawang, which is busy anytime of the day and not only during peak hours.

Rawang assemblyman Gan Pei Nei said the highway had to be elevated to protect the forest.

“The elevated stretch is the most significant part of the bypass as it was designed in such a way to protect the Selangor Heritage Park and the ecosystem.

Gan added that the other alternative route, apart from the bypass, to get to Sungai Choh, Batang Kali and Serendah was Jalan Ipoh, but that stretch was often congested.

(The Star) Houses to be built on Islamic concept

MELAKA: The state government will introduce a “halal homes” concept as part of its planned development for the proposed Melaka International Halal Valley in Serkam, Jasin.

State Agriculture and Entrepreneur Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasan Abdul Rahman (Barisan Nasional - Sungai Rambai) said the houses would be based on Islamic characteristics such as toilets that do not face the qiblah, to which Muslims turn towards during prayer.

He said such homes would give emphasis to cleanliness and purity which were universal values to all races.

“The halal concept refers to something that is pure or clean.

Hasan said there were non-Muslim entrepreneurs who were operating their businesses at the Serkam Halal Hub located next to the valley.

He said the Melaka State Development Corporation (PKNM) would carry out preliminary works for the implementation of the project which had received approval from the state government.

When replying to a supplementary question from Khoo Poay Tiong (DAP - Ayer Keroh) who asked about the concept of the halal homes, Hasan said the state opposition leader should not prejudge the concept of halal that emphasised the importance of hygiene.

To another supplementary question from Datuk Zaidi Attan (BN - Serkam), Hasan said the RM2.5bil project would be built in three phases and would be ready in 2020.

He said the development on the 213ha site would turn the state into an international halal industry hub.

“A complex housing a livestock abattoir and halal gelatin production facility would be built in the first phase of the project.

“This will be followed by the development of halal food industry and a commercial centre in the second phase, and cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry in the third phase,” he said.

He added that local entrepreneurs should take advantage of the project as it required a workforce with expertise and industry-driven capabilities in halal businesses.

(The Star) Two new flights into Johor

KULAI: AirAsia, recognised as the world’s best low cost airline for nine consecutive years, celebrated two international inaugural flights into Senai International Airport from Macao and Kolkata, India.

The seven times weekly direct flights from Macao and five times weekly direct flights from Kolkata are the fourth and fifth new routes launched by the airlines into Johor this year.

Earlier this year, AirAsia launched the Johor Baru-Jakarta, Johor Baru-Kuala Terengganu and Johor Baru-Langkawi flight routes.

AirAsia Bhd head of commercial Spencer Lee said the airline was pleased to connect more international cities into Johor Baru and increase the number of existing direct flights.

“By adding new international link to the state, we hope to attract more foreign investment into Johor Baru, subsequently turning the state into a high-value regional tourism destination,” he said.

Johor Tourism, Domestic Ttrade and Consumerism committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, state Tourism Department director Abdul Malik Ismail, Senai Airport Terminal Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Md Derick Basir, AirAsia Bhd government relations director Zamani Mohd Rafique and Lee received the passengers.

Md Derick said the direct connectivity between the two cities and Johor Baru will be good for the state especially the Iskandar Malaysia region as it will further spur economic and tourism activities in the state.

“We have been working very closely with AirAsia for quite some time to develop these two new routes for the airport and we are very pleased and excited that it has finally materialised.

“We are anticipating to capture more travelers from mainland China and Hong Kong through Macao as well as to tap the travelers from other metropolitan cities in India, Bangladesh and Nepal by linking to Kolkata,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, whose speech was read out by Tee during the event, said the opening of Macao route was in line with the state’s expectation to continue to bring in more Chinese tourists and investors.

“The same desired effect is also expected from the Kolkata route.

“We are always looking to further boost foreign tourist arrivals and these new routes will no doubt support us in this venture,” he said.

AirAsia currently operates 161 weekly flights one way into Senai International Airport.

In addition to Macao and Kolkata, the airlines also flies from Johor Baru to Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta and Surabaya as well as nine other domestic routes to Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Terengganu, Penang, Langkawi, Kuching, Miri, Tawau, Sibu and Kota Kinabalu.

(The Star) ‘No entry fees for Gardens’

There will be no fees charged for entering Penang Botanic Gardens after the management of the 133-year-old green lung is corporatised, assured state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo.

But some attractions could be chargeable in the future, he said.

“For the use of the gardens per se, we will not charge fees.

“As we strive for the garden’s inscription by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, maybe other products will come about which require fees to be paid,” he said in a press conference at the gardens yesterday.

Jagdeep, who is state Town and Country Planning Committee chairman, said the legal provision of chargeable fees in the gardens was “nothing new” as the legislation -- Penang Waterfall Gardens Enactment 1923 (amended in 2005 and 2010) stipulated that fees could be charged since it was revised in 2005.

Visitors enjoying a walk on the replica of the Penang Bridge at the gardens.

The question of fees was raised by civil society following the passing of the Penang State Park (Botanic) Corporation Enactment 2017 in the recent state assembly meeting.

He said the corporation would manage the gardens to strive for its inscription as a World Heritage Site and that the state would sign a memorandum of understanding with Singapore Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage site, possibly in January to increase accessibility, enhance research, education and conservation methods.

He said the state government had recruited the expertise of botanist Dr Saw Leng Guan, who is currently the curator to oversee the garden’s management.

Dr Saw, who was present, said the enactment allows the retention of the talent pool as the staff at the gardens employed under the Public Services Department are now transferred out every five years after they become experts.

“The corporation structure has the power to hire people and even fire them if they are not good at their jobs,” he said.

Dr Saw said the clear objectives laid out in the enactment guards the gardens against being sold.

“The board members comprise at least 20 people including the chief minister, state secretary, legal adviser and at least two botanists. You can rest assured that the gardens won’t go off tangent,” he said.

(The Star) Escape into the wonders of water

From a raging sea to a submerged chasm, from a meandering river to water slides that make you feel twice the strength of Earth’s gravitational pull, Escape in Teluk Bahang becomes a wonder of Penang. Again.

Escape Waterplay is now open and with it comes a new benchmark to how much fun you can have with water.

Those who love the adrenalin rush and soothing connection with nature in Escape Adventureplay might know that the theme park designers are quite capable of doing wonders with swimming pools.

On entering the water park, you will see a beach-pool to your left with an enormous blue ball, bobbing perpetually in the water.

A visitor preparing for ‘takeoff’ in the Banana Flip chute, before landing in the pool.

Now and then, primal screams cut through the park’s tranquillity as two water slides launch visitors into the air and send them flying into a 5m deep pool.

The screams peal out of those going through the yellow slides called the Banana Flip, and if you think you are a seasoned water slide user, hold that thought because these have trap doors.

“The initial drop is almost vertical. That’s why the trap doors are needed. It will launch you into the air with enough velocity to keep you flying for a couple of seconds.

“Do it many times, get used to it, and you can easily do aerial flips before you land,” Escape chief executive officer Sim Choo Kheng said with a smile.

Sim, who has built dozens of theme parks around the world, is a Penangite and in 2012, opened Escape Adventureplay and thrilled visitors with zip lines through the woods and from hill to hill, rope obstacle courses and over 20 other attractions.

On these slides called Speed Racer, you can race with your friends and zoom down at 45kmph in Escape Waterplay.

For Escape Waterplay, right across the street, Sim created another 20 attractions.

He even thought of toddlers and created the Tots Pool, a water playground with a docile water depth of 23cm.

Every day at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm, professional stunt divers of a team named Acapulco from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will wow visitors with their comic tumbles from a dive platform and plunges from as high as 25m.

The entry tickets allow visitors to experience both Escape Adventureplay and Waterplay.

“Most go to Adventureplay to sweat it out first and enter Waterplay after lunch to chill out,” said Sim.

Children having fun at the Play House in the theme park. — Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

The walk-in rate is RM136 for ‘big kids’ (aged 13 to 60), but those who plan their visits ahead and buy advance tickets online can get them for as cheap of RM68 for adults to just RM45 for ‘junior kids’ (aged four to 12).

Sim stressed that Escape did not practise a different pricing for foreign tourists.

“We don’t believe in fleecing tourists or giving local visitors a lesser deal. Escape is an international-class theme park and all our visitors have a memorable time.

“Local visitors love to buy discounted advance tickets online while tourists never seem to mind paying the full walk-in rate so, with a bit of planning, visitors can get up to 50% discounts,” he said.

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