Saturday, 31 March 2018

(NST) Norton Garden in Eco Grandeur — when life becomes larger

There will be those times when a larger living space is required for the life one leads; it could be a growing family or perhaps a higher station in life. The bottom line is these circumstances will necessitate a bigger house. For those finding themselves in this position, they should look no further than Norton Garden, the newest gated and guarded precinct in Eco Grandeur. It offers larger homes, namely, Bungalows, Semi-Ds, and Garden Homes.

“Given the larger built-up sizes as well as comfortable environment, we are targeting upgraders who are looking to step up from their existing homes, whether to accommodate a growing family or to be more in keeping with their status in life,” said Ho Kwee Hong, Divisional General Manager of Eco Grandeur.

With just 6.4 units per acre, Norton Garden is an exclusive low density enclave. Like the whole of Eco Grandeur, it is a beautiful showcase of Modern Victorian architecture, complemented by exquisite landscaping that includes parks and unique back-lane gardens. These 20-foot back-lane gardens form part of the precinct’s pedestrian network to create conducive gathering spaces for residents and a safe space for the neighbourhood children to play.

The exclusivity to Norton Garden is further enhanced by the residents-only clubhouse, which includes swimming pool, children’s wading pool, fully-equipped gym, multipurpose court and entertainment hall, this clubhouse is another avenue for forging neighbourly ties.

Like the whole of Eco Grandeur, Norton Garden will be easily accessible, with Kuala Lumpur a comfortable drive away via the LATAR Expressway. Other major highways that connect to Eco Grandeur are the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) and New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), while the Damansara-Shah Alam Expressway (DASH) is scheduled to open in 2019, and the West Coast Expressway (WCE) in 2020.

“The brand-new show units for Norton Garden are ready for viewing in the Eco Grandeur Show Village,” noted Ho. “It’s a wonderful opportunity not just to see the houses, it is also to experience the extraordinary environment we have created for the whole township.”

Eco Grandeur offers the perfect backdrop for a full life; it is a place where one will be able to develop personally and nurture a family through a simple yet sustainable lifestyle.

(NST) Sultan of Johor launches Tunku Laksamana Cancer Center

JOHOR BARU: The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar today launched the Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Center (TLJCC) at Persada Johor International Convention Center (PERSADA).

Also present was the Permaisuri Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah; Tunku Mahkota Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and his wife, Che 'Puan Khaleeda Bustamam as well as the royal couple’s son and daughter.

Also present was the Singapore Prime Minister's wife, Ho Ching; Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

In his speech, Sultan Ibrahim described the construction of the cancer centre as being significant and it fulfilled the dream of the late Tunku Laksamana Johor, Tunku Abdul Jalil to provide treatment to those suffering from cancer.

"My family and I will continue with Tunku Abdul Jalil's dream and we will ensure that Almarhum’s legacy is continued. We will do our best to help and support as many cancer patients as possible," he said.

The Johor ruler also hoped that with the centre, it would provide cancer patients with the best facility and treatment, while at the same time providing necessary aid to patients from the needy group.

"This is why some of the money received by the hospital will be channeled to the needy cancer patients and their families. We want this hospital to benefit those who are underprivileged and their families, "he said.

Meanwhile, the Asian American Medical Group (AAMG) Executive Chairman, Datuk Dr Tan Kai Chah, said the TLJCC will be built at Iskandar Puteri, here, and would be led by AAMG, a health-based company from Singapore.

He said the TLJCC is a private medical institution dedicated to the treatment, research and education of cancer.

Its operation is expected to begin at the end of 2020, with phase one having the latest diagnostic and treatment facility.

"The first phase of this cancer centre involves a gross development cost of about RM300 million, with a total area of ​​14,000 square meters. The first phase is capable of treating up to 7,000 patients a year.

"The second phase will include internal patient services including a dedicated Shariah-compliant section for women," he said during a press conference at the event.

(NST) PR1MA houses affordable and not profit motivated: Noh

KUALA LUMPUR: The people have been reminded not to be swayed by negative remarks by the opposition on the affordable homes under the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PR1MA) provided by the government.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said houses under PR1MA were unlike private companies where houses were sold at a high price to gain more profit from the buyers.

"Don’t ever think that PR1MA is under a private company. They (private companies) only want to gain profits.

"The government has provided allocation for the housing projects to go on smoothly.

"We don’t make empty promises but we deliver," he said at the handover ceremony of housing incentives under the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry and People’s Housing Project (PPR) buy-and-sell signing ceremony at PWTC here.

Also present were PR1MA chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Mutalib Alias and National Housing Department director-general Jayaselan K. Navaratnam.

Noh said the people should know how to differentiate between the Kerinchi residential project which was implemented by the government under Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Datum Jelatek project by the Selangor government.

"We abolished the old houses under the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) and built new ones so that the locals will have comfortable homes to live in.

"It is different compared to the Datum Jelatek housing project where the locals were given only compensation and new houses were built which were not unaffordable. The locals could not afford to buy the house because they were expensive.

"The opposition can simply make promises but they never deliver. In the end, the people suffer," he said.

Meanwhile, a total of 270 recipients received the PPR Rent-To-Own houses while 168 recipients received the MyHome incentive.

Besides that, 581 recipients received the MyDeposit scheme, 118 received the Housing Loan Scheme (SPP), and 138 applications were approved for the 1Malaysia Transit Homes (RT1M).

(NST) Batang Sadong Bridge boosts economic growth

SAMARAHAN: For as long as residents can remember, two-hour queues have been the norm for motorists and villagers waiting to cross Batang Sadong river using the ferry services on weekends.

The situation worsens during peak periods or festive seasons, as the waiting time to hitch a ride on the ferry can stretch up to four hours.

Making things worse, the ferry operating hours are also dependent on the tides and rainy season. As such, on-demand travel is out of the question.

This situation, however, became a thing of the past when the problem captured the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during his numerous visits to the constituency, years ago.

Having been made aware of the problem, Najib then announced the upcoming construction of the Batang Sadong Bridge, as a “special gift” for the people there, which has been BN’s stronghold.

The 1.48km bridge, which had cost RM231 million, was completed in 2016 and had contributed immensely towards spurring economic growth in the area.

As the country’s longest bridge spanning over a river, the Batang Sadong Bridge connected people of both sides of the river and created a better access, benefiting more than 70,000 people, including those living in Sebuyau and Simunjan.

Villager Affendi Ayub, 52, said the bridge had opened up more economic opportunities, including to those in the agricultural, fisheries and livestock businesses.

“The Batang Sadong Bridge is evidence of the Federal Government’s commitment to develop the rural areas of Sarawak, not only in the context of development, but also economy,” he said.

“The dual-carriageway bridge allows villagers to transport their agricultural and fisheries products to nearby cities with lower expenses as the travel time has become shorter, plus it’s more cost efficient.”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the bridge was among the largest infrastructure projects implemented in the Batang Sadong parliamentary constituency and it was Najib’s own initiative, after listening to the needs and aspirations of the people.

Nancy, who is Batang Sadong member of parliament, said with the facilities, more development agendas could be introduced to the area, including the coastal road project being implemented by the state government.

“Many changes can be seen in the development and economic landscape of the state’s coastal areas through the opening of the bridge,” she said.

The Batang Sadong Bridge was one of 11 new bridges built in Sarawak, with the majority still under construction, involving allocations from both the federal and state governments.

(NST) SICC, TAED projects get federal funds

KOTA KINABALU: The close relationship enjoyed between Sabah and the Federal Government has led to the realisation of two high-impact projects for the state — the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) and Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) in the state capital.

The Federal Government has allocated RM250 million for the ongoing SICC project and RM500 million for TAED. 

Work on SICC’s second package, which involves an area of about 6ha, began in January 2015 and is expected to be completed this October.

SICC, funded by the Yayasan Sabah Group, will be able to accommodate between 15,000 and 20,000 people at a time.

It will serve not only as a new landmark in the city, but will be an international convention centre, apart from providing job opportunities for the people in the state.

Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said the Federal Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had done much for the state.

“The state government extends its gratitude to the Federal Government and Najib for providing RM250 million towards developing SICC and to facilitate funds for TAED. This is the result of a good relationship between the state and federal governments. SICC will become a new landmark in the city.” 

The eco-friendly TAED project, with an area spanning 348ha, launched by the prime minister in 2013, will provide a facelift to Tanjung Aru, which is already a renowned tourist attraction.

It is learned that the Tanjung Aru beach and Prince Philip Park will remain as public areas with new features, including pedestrian and cycling lanes.

Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah, who is Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, said TAED was the manifestation of the Federal Government’s attention to help Sabah by channelling funds to assist the project’s implementation.

“The funds are proof that federal and state governments enjoy a good relationship,” he said, adding that the first phase of the TAED project would commence soon.

(NST) Pan Borneo Highway a game changer for Sabah, Sarawak

BINTULU: After waiting for nearly five decades, the dream of the people of Sabah and Sarawak of having a modern highway cutting across two of Malaysia’s largest states is finally being realised, with the Pan-Borneo Highway expected to be completed within five years.

Spanning 1,089km from Telok Melano and Sematan to Lawas, the mega project was initiated by the Barisan Nasional government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, with an allocation of RM14.2 billion for the Sarawak portion alone.

The first phase of the project — Pan-Borneo Highway Sarawak — was officially launched by the prime minister in Bintulu on March 31, 2015. Construction along a 43km-stretch from Nyabau to the Bakun junction began soon after.

The largest infrastructure development project in the state was announced by Najib as part of the ruling coalition’s manifesto in the 13th General Election (GE13).

It made history as the first highway project, with a four-lane dual carriageway of JKR R5 standard, to be built toll-free.

The highway is expected to spur local development and enhance the people’s socio-economic status, including through the creation of many new towns along the highways and boosting the tourism sector.

“It (highway) will bring a lot of changes to Sarawak, not just in the context of development, but also by boosting the socio-economic level of its people,” said Najib.

His confidence is based on the success of the North-South Expressway (PLUS) project, which had brought numerous developmental impacts from Johor all the way to Perlis.

Najib, who is also BN chairman, said the project was seen as an “agent of change” which would be capable of bringing changes to the development of the state, especially in the rural areas and contribute positively to the socio-economy of the people, such as creating jobs and business opportunities.

In terms of implementation, he said, it benefited the local contractors through the Project-Deliver Partnerships (PDP) method, in particular Sarawak’s Bumiputera companies.

The mega project is seen as part of efforts to bridge the development gap between the Peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak, and as such, is being closely monitored to ensure it will be completed on schedule to avoid the people in both states being left waiting.

A check by the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) showed that the construction work on the first phase, involving the Nyabau to Simpang junctions, was proceeding smoothly.

A resident, Kizie Matusup, 36, said the construction of the highway was a blessing as it would make it easier for people to travel from the north to the south of the state, which was currently a half day’s journey.

“We need about 12 to 13 hours to travel from Kuching to Miri. It takes us longer during peak seasons, which is exhausting.

“Sometimes, we need to make a stop overnight in Sibu before continuing our journey, which increases our travel expenses.

“Once the highway is completed, we expect the travel time to be reduced by at least half,” he said.

The construction of the highway, which began three years ago, has already started contributing to economic growth, particularly the local food and beverage business as well as shops selling daily necessities and other local products.

In Sarawak, the 11 work packages under the first phase of the highway are being implemented accordingly, with the majority involving the upgrading of the federal road from two to four lanes, except the Melano-Sematan route.

The 32.7km-long road was a new route constructed upon the request of the late chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, consisting of bridges and other facilities such as rest and recreation stops.

As for Sabah, it involves 35 work packages worth RM12.8 billion, which begins from Sindumin, Sipitang to Tawau with seven packages implemented between April 2016 and December last year. 

Borneo Highway PDP (BHP) Sdn Bhd managing director Shahelmey Yahya said the handover of the remaining project package to the contractor was expected to be completed by the end of June, with 10 of them on the west coast, while another 18 packages were in the central and east coast of Sabah.

“As of March, 10 new packages have been approved by the Finance Ministry.

“Four more packages are pending approval of allocation, while 14 packages are in the tender process and the preliminary engineering assessment phase,” he said.

The project also involves the construction of three new routes, namely, Putatan-Inanam known as Kota Kinabalu Outer Ring Road (KKOR), the Tuaran-Kudat Coastal Road and the Lahad Datu Bypass.

Shahelmey said based on current developments, the supply of construction materials was sufficient, thus, he was confident that the project could be completed on schedule.

He gave his assurance that the implementation of the project was proceeding smoothly after the tender process and the packages had been handed over to the appointed contractors.

“If there are any problems, it may have been due to weather conditions and land acquisition processes that delayed the work, but we have reminded all contractors to resolve the minor issues immediately to ensure that the project can be completed on schedule,” he said.

(The Star) Making life easier for cancer patients

MUAR: Cancer patients from Muar, Segamat and Tangkak can now seek medical treatment at the Tunku Laksamana Johor Foundation Oncology Centre here.

Located at the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital, the centre was officially opened by Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah.

Prior to this, patients had to travel to the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru for treatment.

Also present were Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation (TLJCF) board members Datuk Ismail Karim and Datuk Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub as well as Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and state Health director Dr Selahuddeen Abd Aziz.

In his welcoming address, Dr Selahuddeen said the opening of the oncology centre was timely in light of the sharp rise in the number of patients seeking treatment here.

Oncology treatment, he said, was first introduced at the hospital in 2011.

“The number of patients seeking treatment here has been increasing over the last six years.

“In 2011, 307 patients sought treatment at the hospital’s oncology clinic, and this number increased by 300% to 1,079 patients last year,” he said.

He added that those seeking chemotherapy treatment had increased by 500%, from 122 patients a day in 2012 to 649 patients last year.

Dr Salehuddeen added that the idea to set up the oncology centre here was mooted by Raja Zarith.

Since starting operations on Dec 17 last year up to February this year, 329 patients received daily chemotherapy treatment at the centre.

The centre comprises an oncology clinic, a daily chemotherapy treatment unit, pharmacy, assistance and counselling rooms.

Raja Zarith later presented a mock cheque of RM46,949 to 10 patients.

Dr Selahuddeen said the former administrative building at the hospital was renovated and turned into the conducive treatment centre using funding from the foundation.

In addition, he said the foundation, through its patient aid programme, had channeled financial aid totalling RM205,100, comprising the cost of medicine of RM54,000, medical equipment (RM51,200) and special formula milk (RM99,800), to 125 cancer patients.

“With the oncology services made available at the hospital, it surely helps cancer patients, especially those from the underprivileged group, to get treatment without having to travel far, hence reducing the overall cost of treatment,” he said.

(The Star) Free feeder bus service for Ayer Itam

Bright apple green coloured Rapid Penang buses will be a regular sight when the Penang government’s RM15mil free shuttle service kicks off in Ayer Itam tomorrow.

Known as the Congestion Alleviation Transport (CAT) feeder bus service, eight buses will be deployed on a 16km loop from the Paya Terubong hub with estimated frequency of 10 to 15 minutes each.

The buses will make stops and pick passengers at State Mosque, Kampung Baru market, Rifle Range, SK Padang Tembak, Ayer Itam market, Bandar Baru Ayer Itam, Bandar Baru district clinic, Sunshine Farlim, SMK Air Itam, SK Seri Indah, SJK (C) Shang Wu, SJK (C) Kong Min and Kolej Islam Teknologi Antarabangsa.

State Transport Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the feeder service would then connect passengers to the main bus routes of Rapid Penang buses in Jalan Ayer Itam, Jalan Semarak Api and Jalan Padang Tembak.

“The service for Ayer Itam route will begin from 5.30am to 11.45pm.

“The apple green colour is meant for easier identification for the Ayer Itam route.

“We will improve the service by adding more buses if necessary after some time,” he said during a soft launch at Komtar on Wednesday.

The project, jointly run with Rapid Penang, is meant to link commuters staying in villages and high-density areas to main bus routes.

It covers six routes on the island and seven on the mainland.

Besides Ayer Itam, the routes identified for the service are George Town, Tanjung Tokong, Sungai Dua, Bayan Baru and Balik Pulau.

On the mainland, the routes are Bertam, Bukit Mertajam, Simpang Ampat, Nibong Tebal, Seberang Jaya, Alma and Batu Kawan.

Chow said the contract with Rapid Penang for the feeder buses is three years at a cost of RM15mil.

Services to the other routes would begin at a later date.

The state presently has two other free bus service programmes — the Central Area Transit which began in 2008 and Bridge Express Shuttle Transit which was launched in 2011.

(The Star) Maybank Islamic’s HouzKEY promotes home ownership

Maybank Islamic Bhd’s rent-to-own scheme, HouzKEY, may not quite be the answer to the country’s housing affordability woes – but it provides potential homebuyers with an alternative.

For 34-year old manager Cheong Whye Mun, Maybank Islamic’s rent-to-own scheme offered him the opportunity of avoiding the hassle of physically going out to look for a piece of property that he would want to own.

“Everything could be done with the click of a button. I didn’t have to find time during my busy schedule to go house-hunting. Everything I needed to look out for... I only had to point and click.”

Cheong, a bachelor, says he was very specific in what he was looking for and HouzKEY provided him with that option.

“I’m a pretty structured individual who is very busy... I don’t like to waste time looking everywhere for what I want. If I need something, I just want to go out and get it straight away,” he says.

Under HouzKEY, Cheong was able to purchase his first home in Setia Alam. He says, however, the homes offered under the scheme are “not affordable”.

“I’m paying 100% financing but it’s under a lease structure. The property in Setia Alam costs around RM680,000... But with the legal fees and everything, it comes to around RM700,000. So I would be paying about RM3,700 per month for 30 years.

“However, if under the normal sale-and-purchase scheme where if I were to put down the 10% deposit, the monthly payment would actually be cheaper, making it more affordable.”

Despite the benefits that HouzKEY offers, Cheong says the scheme would most likely appeal to those within the middle-income group.

“At over RM3,000 per month, I would not consider it affordable. To many people, it’s tough.”

For 42-year old web developer, Khairul Anuar Jamlus, HouzKEY helped him own a property without the need to put down a downpayment in advance.

The married father of three sees it as an opportunity to own a home by renowned developer, Eco World Development Group Bhd.

“It’s my first home in Kuala Lumpur. I thought it was interesting that I could buy a house without the need for a downpayment.

Without the scheme, I wouldn’t be able to buy a property like this,” he says.

Khairul says he hopes to some day convert the 30-year lease into a mortgage. He praised the scheme for being “easily accessible”.

“The process of applying for the scheme is quite straight forward. Maybank Islamic made it as simple as possible for the layman,” he says.

Maybank IT personnel from Maybank Shared Services Sdn Bhd, Arfian Abdul Rahman, 45, grew up in Shah Alam.

“In 2003, I bought my first house in Bandar Tasik Puteri Rawang where housing was cheaper and moved there a year later. But I have always thought about having a house in Shah Alam where my parents live,” said Arfian.

“We love to travel and have weekend gateways and we would stay in places where my children would enjoy the pool and other facilities. So I thought it would be nice to have a weekend home in Shah Alam with facilities,” says Arfian.

Both his children, Nur Adlina Arfian, 14 and Adam Danish Arfian, 13, are in boarding school in Sabak Bernam, Selangor.

Arfian bought a two-bedroom 700 sq ft unit for about RM600,000 in Hyde Tower by i-City Bhd. Before opting for this rent-to-buy scheme, he went to the developer’s show gallery to compare the pros and cons between a mortgage and HouzKEY’s rent-to-buy scheme.

“Under a mortgage deal, I have to pay the 10% downpayment. Then I have to buy all the things in the house and this will come to over RM60,000. If I buy the house under the normal way, I will need to have a lot of money.

“Under HouzKEY, the unit is fully furnished and I have to pay the three-month security deposit, which is three months’ rental. People are wondering how to spend less when they want to own a house,” says Arfian, adding that the smaller initial outlay was attractive.

He will be paying rental of RM3,700 a month, which is quite high but he does not mind because the amount will be considered as a downpayment for the unit when he decides to buy over the unit. He would also have locked in the price.

Arfian is giving himself a year to migrate to an outright purchase of the unit. He would then be moving from the HouzKEY scheme to a Maybank mortgage.

How it works

The scheme is an alternative solution via a rental route which requires three months rental deposit.

It currently has 13 developers, with 25 projects in its portfolio. Mah Sing Group Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Ho Hon Sang says the scheme helps those who are having difficulties to come up with the initial downpayment.

“With HouzKEY, they are able to first afford the rent and eventually own the property.”

Under Maybank’s HouzKEY, Mah Sing is offering its Canal Link @ M Residence in Rawang with prices starting from RM949,000.

One of the biggest challenges, especially first-time ones, is the upfront payment. This is minimised with a rent-to-own scheme, he says.

Ho says cashing out is an option. The bank then sells the property to a third party buyer. Customers may introduce a purchaser to Maybank or the bank can assist to identify a suitable third party.

(The Star) Option to purchase

Greater awareness on rent-to-own housing scheme

MALAYAN Banking Bhd (Maybank) will be setting aside RM1bil this year as an initial sum to buy properties under HouzKEY, a rent-to-own scheme it launched earlier this year.

Managing director Sally Lye Saw Im of Maybank’s Real Estate Ventures, which is part of the group, says HouzKEY has attracted 25 projects, some of them completed properties.

Lye says putting between RM1bil and RM2bil is “something doable” but beyond that, the bank will have to reassess the situation.

Because up to 70% of property transactions involve the secondary, or sub-sale market, the bank will expand the scheme to include the sub-sale market.

“We cannot ignore that 70%,” says Lye.

Expanding it to cover the subsale market is likely to begin later this year.

The scheme, currently limited to the Klang Valley, will also include Negri Sembilan, Penang and Johor later this year.

“We have to raise market awareness,” she says, adding that expanding the reach of the scheme would keep them busy for the next two years.

The launch of a rent-to-own scheme by a bank, although the monthly rental is higher than market rate, underscores the different avenues available to house buyers. Bank Negara approved the scheme.

Different avenues

For the longest time, buyers either buy from developers or owners. There is a third option from the auction market but this may not be for the faint-hearted or risk-aversed.

Unable to meet mortgage payments, the rising number of foreclosures has resulted in more properties coming under the hammer. The digital age has also enabled auctions to go borderless with e-bidding, or hybrid auction being held simultaneously with conventional auctions.

Today, one of Malaysia’s largest property auctioneer Ng Chan Mau Sdn Bhd will be auctioning 70 to 80 properties.

Says Maybank’s Lye: “In a mortgage transaction, when a customer defaults, the bank has to foreclose, take back the property and put it on auction.

“This is the existing business model. With HouzKEY, we own the house if the customer cannot pay. I don’t have to go through the various procedures leading to an auction.”

Under HouzKEY, if there is repayment issue, it is the bank’s property and remains so until the customer “migrate” to being a Maybank mortgage customer.

“Customers enter into this rent-to-own scheme because eventually, they will be the owner.”

Lye says HouzKEY units are less than RM1mil and must have a minimum built-up area of 700 sq ft with two rooms. Serviced apartments are not part of the deal.

The scheme also gives long-term business for the bank when customers switch from tenants to being owners.

Although monthly rentals are prohibitive for first time buyers and new job entrants, the inclusion of PR1MA housing is an avenue, but this will have to be assessed by both parties as the structure and customer requirements are slightly different, Lye says.

Under HouzKEY, Lye says rental begins at RM1,800 but a website check shows that most of the monthly rental are above RM2,000.

PR1MA has two rent-to-own programmes aimed at “deferred home ownership” for those who have successfully balloted for PR1MA units but whose loan applications have been rejected by its panel of banks. According to its website, a tenant can rent for up to 10 years before deciding to buy it at the end of the fifth or tenth year at a pre-determined price.

Affordability issues

While these are still early days, Bank Negara has over the years said developing the rental market is one way to address the affordable housing issue.

It should be “a viable option of choice, and not a last resort”.

Malaysia has a relatively low percentage of households living in rented accommodation (24%) compared to Canada (31%), Australia (33%) and New Zealand (36%), the bank says.

Policy initiatives in other countries have focused on strengthening the legal and institutional frameworks underlying the rental market. In that respect, Budget 2018’s Residential Tenancy Act is a “landmark” initiative as it would provide legal safeguards for both landlords and tenants while encouraging demand and supply for rental housing.

According to a report by the central bank on “Affordable Housing: Challenges and the way forward”, the housing affordability issue is largely due to the supply-demand mismatch and slower income growth.

On the supply side, structural and cyclical factors in the housing market have resulted in the failure of the market to provide an adequate supply of affordable housing for the masses.

On the demand side, growth in household income has not kept up with the rise in house prices. Together with a low state of financial literacy among a majority of households, and a cultural preference towards home-ownership instead of renting, these have contributed to the high demand for house purchases.

The report says the mismatch in demand and supply has resulted in unsold residential properties of 146,497 units as at the June 2017, an increase from 130,690 units in the January-March 2017 period. Almost 82% of the unsold units were priced above 250,000 at the end of June 2017.

Although the offerings under the Maybank scheme do not fall into the “affordable housing category” as it is essentially one of the bank’s business proposition, there is scope to develop the product to include affordable housing later on.

While HouzKEY is a product of a bank in partnership with developers, there are developers who operate their own scheme while simultaneously operate their own rent-to-own scheme because HouzKEY has a RM1mil cap and is limited to certain types of residential properties. Serviced apartments are excluded.

Mah Sing Group Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Ho Hon Sang says the company has a rent-to-own scheme for commercial space Garden Plaza shops in Cyberjaya priced from RM1.2mil.

Rental scheme

IOI Property group also has its own rental scheme with “tenants” contracted to pay up to 24 months rental deposit.

Executive director Lee Yoke Har says there is a shorter tenure and the rental payable would be correspondingly reduced.

IOI will refund half of the rental and 100% rental for the unutilised tenure. The rental actually paid, in the event the purchase goes through, is lower than market rent, Lee says.

“The main intention is to assist the tenant to purchase and not to profit from the rent,” says Lee.

If he decides to buy the house in the second year of rental, he gets a 30% refund from the 24-month rental.

Potential tenants have to furbish the unit themselves.

Thee thrust of the scheme is that the tenant will be buying the unit but because he is unable to get a loan, he is renting temporarily. The company has received more than a hundred enquiries and concluded a few since the scheme was launched more than a month ago.

“It is aimed at helping those who can’t afford to buy at the moment. However, due to our internal risk appetite, we are looking at those who can pay the down payment but cannot get 90% loan for now. We are not looking at those who cannot pay the down payment,” Lee says.

As for the upfront 24 months rental payment, Lee says the amount is less than 10 % of the purchase price, which is the amount they would otherwise have to pay if they were to buy a property without the Rent-To-Own scheme.

In that sense, this is “an attractive scheme” as the down payment is lesser, the selling price is locked in and most of all, there is no commitment to buy as they can still walk away at the end of the rental period, Lee says.

It is virtually impossible to talk about affordable housing in the context of rent-to-own schemes without taking a leaf from Singapore’s successful home ownership model.

Up to 80% of its population live in Housing Development Board (HDB) units today but the people did not start out with ownership. They started out with renting HDB units which they eventually bought. Its provision of housing welfare on a large scale has been a defining feature of its welfare system, a paper “The Singapore Model of Housing and the Welfare State” by Phang Sock-Yong (2007) wrote.

That extensive housing system has played a useful role in raising savings and homeownership rates as well as contributing to sustained economic growth in general and development of the housing sector in particular.

“From 1964, the HDB began offering housing units for sale at below market prices, on 99-year leasehold basis, under its Home Ownership Scheme (HOS). The HDB was able to price its units below market prices mainly because HDB flats are built on state owned land, much of which had been compulsorily acquired from private landowners at below market prices.”

The political and economic motivations for the HOS are perhaps best understood in the words of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew: “My primary preoccupation was to give every citizen a stake in the country and its future. I wanted a home-owning society. I had seen the contrast between the blocks of low-cost rental flats, badly misused and poorly maintained, and those of house-proud owners, and was convinced that if every family owned its home, the country would be more stable.”

(The Star) Economist: Manage labour issues to achieve high-income economy

Why are wages still low in Malaysia?

Well, there are six words to describe the main reason for this – “high dependence on low-skilled foreign workers”.

The issue of Malaysia’s huge reliance on low-skilled foreign labour has been raised time and again, but only moderate progress has been made in alleviating the situation.

Low-skilled foreign labour remains a prevalent feature of Malaysia’s economy, and according to Bank Negara, it is a major factor suppressing local wages and impeding the country’s progress towards a high-productivity nation.

As the central bank governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim puts it, Malaysia is currently weighed down by a low-wage, low-productivity trap, with the contributing factor being the prolonged reliance on low-skilled foreign workers.

While their existence may benefit individual firms in the short term, they could impose high macroeconomic costs to the economy over the longer term.

“Easy availability of cheap low-skilled foreign workers blunts the need for productivity improvement and automation. Employers keep wages low to maintain margins,” Muhammad says.

“Unfortunately, this depresses wages for local workers. The hiring of low-skilled foreign workers also promotes the creation of low-skilled jobs,” he adds.

From 2011 to 2017, the share of low-skilled jobs in Malaysia increased significantly to 16%, compared with only 8% in the period of 2002 to 2010. Apart from that, local economic sectors that rely on foreign workers such as agriculture, construction and manufacturing also suffer from low productivity.

Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that foreign workers do contribute somewhat to Malaysia’s economic growth.

The World Bank, in its study about three years ago noted that immigrant labour both high and low-skilled, continued to play a crucial role in Malaysia’s economic development, and would still be needed for the country to achieve high-income status by 2020.

The global institution’s econometric modeling suggested that a 10% net increase in low-skilled foreign workers could increase Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 1.1%. For every 10 new immigrant workers in a given state and sector, up to five new jobs may be created for Malaysians in that state and sector, it said.

Even so, the World Bank acknowledged that the influx of foreign labour did have a negative impact on the wages of some groups.

Its study found a 10% increase in immigration flow would reduce wages of the least-educated Malaysians, which represents 14% of the total labour force, by 0.74%. Overall, a 10% increase in immigration flow would slightly increase the wages of Malaysians by 0.14%.

According to Muhammad, while some argue that foreign employment creates economic activities, which consequently create jobs for local employment, it is neither the most efficient nor the desired route to create more mid-to-high-skilled jobs.

“Compared with local employment, foreign workers repatriate a large share of their incomes, which limits the spillover or multiplier effect on the domestic economy,” he explains.

Total outward remittances in 2017 stood at RM35.3bil, of which the bulk was accounted for by foreign workers.

In addition, Muhammad says high dependence on low-skilled foreign workers will also have an adverse effect of shaping Malaysia’s reputation as a low-skilled, labour-intensive destination.

Bank Negara says while Malaysia has clearly benefitted from the presence of foreign workers, the role that foreign workers play in the Malaysian economy must keep up with the times.

The central bank believes critical reforms to the country’s labour market are very much within its reach, and it should continue to gradually wean its dependence on foreign workers.

Malaysia should seize the opportunity now to set itself on a more productive, sophisticated and sustainable economic growth path, it says.

According to Muhammad, cutting back on foreign worker dependency can help to drive higher wages for Malaysians across-the-board.

The Government’s efforts in reducing the country’s dependency on low-skilled foreign workers have been ongoing since the implementation of the 8th Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), with greater clarity and a renewed focus to resolve the issue at hand upon the implementation of the 11th Malaysia Plan.

This has resulted in the steady decline in the share of documented foreign workers from 16.1% in 2013 to 12.0% of the labour force in 2017.

More can be done to build on the progress made, Bank Negara says, while proposing a five-pronged approach to managing foreign workers in Malaysia.

Firstly, it says, there must be a clear stance on the role of low-skilled foreign workers in Malaysia’s economic narrative. Secondly, policy implementation and changes must be gradual and clearly communicated to the industry.

Thirdly, existing demand-management tools (such as quotas, dependency ceilings and levies) can be reformed to be more market-driven, while incentivising the outcomes that are in line with Malaysia’s economic objectives.

Fourthly, there is room to ensure better treatment of foreign workers, be it improvements in working conditions or ensuring that foreign workers are paid as agreed. Lastly, it is also important to note that the proposed reforms must be complemented with effective monitoring and enforcement on the ground, particularly with respect to undocumented foreign workers.

An economist tells StarBizWeek that addressing the high reliance on foreign workers is pertinent for Malaysia’s transition into a high-income economy.

“Malaysia needs to shift its focus from importing cheap labour to managing labour flow that can maximise growth and facilitate its structural adjustment towards a higher income economy,” he says.

“It has been far too long for our economy to be swamped with foreign workers who are unskilled, or have low skill sets that could not contribute meaningfully to Malaysia’s aspiration of becoming a high-income economy,” he adds.

(The Star) Wages too low, says Bank Negara

Although the income levels of Malaysians have increased significantly over the years, voices of discontent are mounting over the decline in purchasing power.

Low and depressed salaries are among the grouses of executives and non-executives amid the apparent lifestyle changes of Malaysians.

With the rising cost of living, they lament that there is now less room for long-term savings and investments.

According to the Employees Job Happiness Index 2017 survey by, one in three Malaysian employees want a pay rise, with rewards constituting 52% of the domestic workforce’s motivation to work.

In its 2017 Annual Report, Bank Negara points out that the expenditure of the bottom 40% (B40) of Malaysian households has expanded at a faster pace compared with their income.

From 2014 to 2016, the average B40 income level grew by 5.8% annually, marginally lower than the 6% growth in the B40 household spending in the same period.

It is also worth noting that half of working Malaysians only earned less than the national median of RM1,703 in 2016.

The central bank, in consideration of the low-wage conundrum, has recently recommended that employers use a “living wage” as a guideline to compensate their employees for their labour.

Essentially, the living wage refers to the income level needed to achieve a minimum acceptable standard of living, depending on the geographical location.

Citing Kuala Lumpur as an example, Bank Negara estimates that the living wage in the city two years ago was about RM2,700 for a single adult. The living wage estimate for a couple without a child was RM4,500, while for a couple with two children, the living wage was RM6,500.

As much as Malaysians support higher wages, which can outgrow escalating living cost, the bigger question is whether their employers are willing to increase wages significantly.

Also, is it realistic for employers to pay higher salaries in line with the suggested living wage?

Speaking to StarBizWeek, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan says that the living wage is unsuitable for adoption in Malaysia – for now.

He believes that the living wage will turn out to be damaging to the domestic labour market, given the rising cost of doing business in recent times.

Shamsuddin: While employers in Malaysia are more than happy to compensate workers for their work, people must also understand that they are bogged down by escalating costs.

“The living wage concept is unrealistic in Malaysia for the time being. While employers in Malaysia are more than happy to compensate workers for their work, people must also understand that they are bogged down by escalating costs.

“However, if the workers are proactive and upskill themselves to increase their productivity, then I do not see any reason for employers to refrain from offering higher pay packages.

“The Government on its part, should not micro-manage the economy to the extent of telling the employers how much to pay their workers. Instead, the Government can provide various incentives to the employers to bring down costs, which will translate into higher salaries or even exempt the employees’ bonuses from tax,” he says.

Socio Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie welcomes Bank Negara’s living wage guideline “to prevent a wage employee from the deprivation of a decent standard of living”.

In order to push for the acceptance of a living wage in Malaysia, Lee recommends that government-linked companies (GLCs) adopt the concept gradually.

“The enforcement of commitments toward the living wage is a complex and costly issue, and more importantly, should be paid voluntarily by the employers.

“This would require extensive consultations and engagements with the stakeholders.

“Perhaps, as one of the largest employers in the country, GLCs can incorporate the living wage clause in their suppliers’ procurement contracts,” he says.

Concerns about Malaysia’s low-wage environment are not only centred on the low-skilled workers but across-the-board, as even executives lament about being lowly-compensated.

Are Malaysians being paid enough?

Based on data from the Statistics Department’s Salaries and Wages Survey Report 2016, most Malaysian workers are still paid significantly lower than the desired amount to achieve “minimum acceptable living standard”, at least in Kuala Lumpur.

Nearly 50% of working adults in Kuala Lumpur earned less than RM2,500 per month in 2016, notably lower than the RM2,700 living wage as suggested by Bank Negara.

In fact, up to 27% of households in Kuala Lumpur earned below the estimated living wage in 2016.

While wage growth has exceeded inflation over the years, real wage growth has been largely subtle. Real wage refers to income adjusted for inflation.

According to the MEF’s website, the salaries of executives were expected to grow by 5.55% in 2017, compared with 6.31% in 2013. As for non-executives, the average salary was anticipated to increase by 5.44% in 2017, down from 6.78% in 2013.

Given the 3.7% headline inflation registered in 2017, executives’ salaries may have just inched up by 1.85% on average, after factoring in inflation.

As for non-executives, their real wage could have grown by 1.74%, lesser than the executives in Malaysia.

While a slight moderation in headline inflation is expected this year, the purchasing power of Malaysians is unlikely to improve significantly.

In an earlier report by StarBiz, Shamsuddin described 2018 as a “bad year for employees and employers”, and projected Malaysians’ average salary increment to be lower than last year.

He blamed several new policies and measures introduced by the government such as the mandatory requirement for employers to defray levy for their foreign workers and the introduction of the Employment Insurance System, which would increase the costs borne by domestic businesses.

“It will be difficult for employers to raise salaries after this, given such dampeners,” he was reported as saying.

The biggest challenge now is to strike a balance between the market’s ability to compensate a worker and the worker’s required income level to achieve a minimum acceptable standard of living.

Sunway University Business School professor of economics Yeah Kim Leng says that more efforts have to be made to enhance the business and investment climate, in order to entice existing firms to expand and upgrade while new firms and start-ups emerge to create more high-paying jobs.

Yeah: A good quality and inclusive education system coupled with sound economic policies and effective implementation have enabled the two countries to sustain growth.

He also calls upon business owners and employees to forge appropriate wage-setting mechanisms, which are benchmarked against the productivity of the workers.

“The Government should consider additional fiscal incentives for firms that provide worker benefits to meet the living wage standard. For example, double tax deduction for transport allowance and other cost of living adjustments for the lower-salaried employees,” states Yeah.

Meanwhile, Lee opines that employees should be given a higher share of the profit generated by their employers moving forward, in line with the practice in many high-income nations abroad.

“It is actually reasonable for Malaysian employers to allocate a larger chunk of their profits to reward their workers and motivate them,” he says.

In 2016, the compensation of employees to gross domestic product (CE-to-GDP) ratio in Malaysia improved to 35.3%. The CE-to-GDP ratio shows the workers’ share in the profits made by business owners.

For every RM1 generated in 2016, 35.3 sen was paid to the employee and 59.5 sen went to corporate earnings, while five sen was given to the government in the form of taxes.

In its 11th Malaysia Plan, the Government aspires to increase the CE-to-GDP ratio substantially to 40%, from 34% in 2013.

While Malaysia’s CE-to-GDP ratio has continued to improve over the years, it is notably lower than several other high and middle-income countries.

The 11th Malaysia Plan document stated that the country’s CE-to-GDP ratio was lower than Australia (47.8%), South Korea (43.2%) and even South Africa (45.9%).

In an earlier media report, however, Malaysian Institute of Economic Research executive director Zakariah Abdul Rashid hinted that Malaysia was unlikely to reach its CE-to-GDP ratio target by 2020.

This was mainly as a result of Malaysia’s lower-than-expected productivity growth.

Low-wage conundrum

According to Bank Negara, the main underlying cause of Malaysia’s low-wage environment is the high numbers of cheap foreign workers.

Governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim says that the country should cut back on its foreign worker dependency to drive higher wages for Malaysians across-the-board.

“In Malaysia, our salaries and wages are low, as half of the working Malaysians earn less than RM1,700 per month and the average starting salary of a diploma graduate is only about RM350 above the minimum wage.

“It is high time to reform our labour market by creating high-quality, good-paying jobs for Malaysians,” he says.

Echoing a similar stance, Yeah says that the continuing reliance on foreign workers has resulted in a predominantly low wage-low productivity-low value economy, with many features of a middle-income trap.

“On one end of the wage-skill spectrum, the low-skilled jobs are being substituted by easy availability of unskilled foreign workers, thereby keeping the blue-collar wages from rising.

“At the other end, skilled job wages are being depressed by insufficient high-wage job creation, weak firm profitability amid rising market competition and excess capacity, industry consolidations and other factors resulting in a slack labour market,” he says.

Lee: The enforcement of commitments toward the living wage is a complex and costly issue, and more importantly, should be paid voluntarily by the employers.

It is worth noting that the share of high-skilled jobs has reduced to 37% in the period from 2011 to 2017, as compared to 45% from 2002 to 2010.

Malaysia has come a long way since its independence, transforming itself from a largely rural agragrian country to a regional economic powerhouse, which is driven by its strong services and manufacturing sectors.

While industrialisation and automation have grown robustly since the 1990s, economists feel that the country has not managed to substantially move up the value chain compared with other countries such as Singapore.

The lack of a high-skilled workforce, low productivity, employment opportunities to cater to high-skilled professionals and the presence of cheap foreign workers have all weighed down on the Malaysian economy, particularly the income levels of Malaysians.

Citing the examples of Singapore and Australia, which are successful in raising wages historically, Yeah says that structural reforms should be undertaken in Malaysia to reverse the low-wage conundrum.

“A good quality and inclusive education system coupled with sound economic policies and effective implementation have enabled the two countries to sustain growth, raise productivity and wages and shift to higher-value activities,” he says.

(The Star) Finance Ministry: Government committed to strengthen financial position

Finance Ministry says FTP supportive of enhancing economic resilience

PETALING JAYA: The Government is committed to strengthening the country’s financial position – with the Fiscal Transformation Programme (FTP) creating ample fiscal space for countercyclical measures that will help mitigate any adverse impact from external headwinds.

In a statement yesterday, the Finance Ministry said the FTP remained supportive of enhancing economic resilience and competitiveness, while ensuring the wellbeing of the rakyat and the quality of public service delivery.

“The Government remains committed to fiscal consolidation towards a near-balanced budget in 2020.

“This is evidenced by consistent improvement of fiscal balance from a deficit of 6.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009 to 3% in 2017.”

In 2017, revenue increased 3.8% to RM220.4bil, attributed to better tax revenue collection in line with improved tax compliance, said MoF.

“The Government has also diversified its revenue sources and reduced its dependency on petroleum-related revenue which has reduced significantly from 41.3% of total revenue in 2009 to 15.7% in 2017.

“In addition, the Government has managed to contain the expenditure growth where total expenditure increased by 4.1% to RM262.6bil.”

Consequently, the Ministry said total expenditure as a share to GDP is on the declining trend from 20.5% in 2016 to 19.4% in 2017 - reflecting effort to enhance spending efficiency.

“The social sector which accounted for 38% of total expenditure remains the largest beneficiary of government allocation particularly in education, training and health sub-sectors.

“The public sector continued to complement the private sector activity in generating economic growth through development spending mainly on infrastructure projects which enhanced the productive capacity of the economy and inclusivity.”

The Ministry said the Federal Government continued to finance development expenditure through borrowings from domestic market.

“As at end 2017, the Federal Government debt stood at RM686.8bil or 50.8% of GDP, lower than the 55% self-imposed debt limit. Domestic debt remained the largest component of debt at 96.9% limiting the exposure from foreign exchange risks.”

Following the lower fiscal deficit target in 2018, the Ministry said the debt level is estimated to reduce further to about 50% of GDP by the end of 2018.

“Major rating agencies have reaffirmed Malaysia’s sovereign credit at investment grade of A- and A3, reflecting their recognition of the fiscal reform initiatives in strengthening the nation’s credit worthiness.”

(The Star) Bank Negara: Net financing grew 7.4% in February

KUALA LUMPUR: Net financing through banking system loans and corporate bonds showed a growth of 7.4% last month compared with 7.2% in January, says Bank Negara.

In its monthly highlights February 2018 released yesterday, the central bank said the growth of outstanding loans of the banking system rose to 4.5% in February from 4.2% the previous month, while net outstanding issuances of corporate bonds continued to expand at 16.4% against January’s 16.6%.

It said the increase in loan growth was due mainly to household loans, which climbed by 5.6% in February compared with 5.3% in January, driven by loans for the purpose of residential property, securities, and personal financing.

On headline inflation, Bank Negara said it declined to 1.4% last month from 2.7% in January.

Inflation in the transport category was -0.3% compared with 5.7% the previous month, due to lower domestic fuel prices during the month.

In the food and non-alcoholic beverages category, inflation was at 3% for February versus 3.8% in January.

“This reflected lower prices of some fresh food items following the festive season price control scheme during the Chinese New Year period, and better weather conditions thereafter,” the bank said.

On the Index of wholesale and retail trade, the central bank said the index recorded a higher growth of 7.4% in January compared with 5.9% in December 2017, driven by improvements across all segments.

Meanwhile, the central bank said that in February, domestic financial markets were affected by the spike in global financial market volatility following the sharp correction in the United States equity market.

“The ringgit depreciated by 0.8% against the US dollar, due mainly by net portfolio outflows,” it said.

It added that foreign exchange swap volume decreased by US$9.2bil to US$102.9bil, due mainly to a drop in interbank swap activity.

On banks’ funding structure, Bank Negara said the loan-to-fund and the loan-to-fund-and-equity ratios stood at 83.5% and 72.9%, respectively, reflecting banks’ broader funding base.

“The banking system’s liquidity coverage ratio stood at 133.8 per cent, well above the transitional minimum regulatory requirement of 90%,” it added. — Bernama

(The Star) What will Lim do next?

All eyes on Kang Hoo’s next move after two failed attempts to restructure IWC

Plans by businessman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo to reorganise his companies has hit another setback.

The recent plan, which involves his construction and highway outfit Ekovest Bhd taking over his property company Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd (IWC), failed to gain support from the former’s minority shareholders at an EGM held on Thursday.

This plan by Kang Hoo had come about after an earlier one last year.

Then, he had sought to use his privately held Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH) to take over the listing status of IWC, a plan which he had revealed last March.

At that time, IWH was a favoured entity because of its mandate to develop Bandar Malaysia, the site of the high-speed rail or HSR terminal.

However, in May, two months after the proposal, the Ministry of Finance Inc nixed the mandate that was given to a consortium comprising IWH and China Railway Engineering Corp (M) Sdn Bhd.

Hence in October last year, the IWC-IWH merger proposal was called off and a month later, Ekovest proposed to take over the shares in IWC.

Central to the deal was the valuation of IWC’s 1,000-plus acres of land in Johor and whether minority shareholders of Ekovest believed they could gain some future value from that land.

At the EGM, which was held on Thursday morning, 69.2% of Ekovest shareholders voted against the proposed takeover of IWC, while 30.8% were in favour.

Kang Hoo and parties acting in concert who control just more than 50% of Ekovest are deemed as interested parties and as such did not vote.

To be sure, even prior to the EGM, there were signs that Ekovest’s minority shareholders would reject the proposal.

Three days prior to the EGM, the shares of Ekovest went up almost 3%, while IWC’s dropped by 9%.

Dealers had said this was the market already pricing in the outcome.

Another interesting fact is this – the offer letter to IWC shareholders to subscribe to the offer by Ekovest was distributed on March 12, which was two weeks prior to the meeting for Ekovest shareholders to vote on whether they wanted their company to buy IWC.

Some would argue that this was unorthodox. Why would the offer letter be dispatched to IWC shareholders prior to Ekovest shareholders approving the deal?

The proposal was for Ekovest to buy out 62% of IWC’s equity which is not owned by Kang Hoo.

Shareholders of IWC could opt for a cash payout at a price of RM1.50 per share or accept a one-for-one share swap.

Under the offer letter, shareholders of IWC had until April 2 to accept the offer by Ekovest.

As such, many IWC shareholders would have already submitted their application prior to the Ekovest EGM, which, in turn, could have driven up the share price of IWC.

After the meeting on Thursday, shares in IWC plunged by more than 16% to close at RM1.06 yesterday.

What’s next?

After the two corporate exercises by Kang Hoo to restructure his flagship property development company IWC have not come to fruition, the question is what is his next plan?

An analyst who follows Kang Hoo’s movements closely suggests that he could now seek to take IWC private and merge it with the privately held IWH. IWH is the parent of IWC and is the master developer of the land IWC owns in Johor.

IWH is 63%-owned by Kang Hoo through his private company, Credence Resources Sdn Bhd, while the remaining shares are held by Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

Later, Kang Hoo could seek an initial public offering of this group, and raise fresh funds to support its property development projects.

On the back of the envelope calculations, the deal would cost Kang Hoo about RM554mil for the 62% he does not own in IWC, based on the latter’s current share price at RM1.07.

While the shareholders of Ekovest are not keen on the acquisition of IWC, the management of Ekovest reiterated that it was a good deal for the company.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday following the EGM, Ekovest managing director Tan Sri Lim Keng Cheng said: “As far as the management is concerned, it is a good deal. But, as the management of Ekovest, we respect the shareholders’ decision.”

Additionally, Keng Cheng said the independent adviser had pointed out that Ekovest’s valuation was higher than IWC, and hence, the takeover offer that included a share-swap option was not favourable to the shareholders of Ekovest.

In the circular to shareholders, Ekovest was valued at between RM3.86 and RM4.08 per share, while IWC’s fair value was at RM3.06 per share.

It also said that there may be holders of Ekovest stock who believe their company is being used to rescue IWC.

However, it is worth noting that IWC has turned around from the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017.

For the fourth quarter to Dec 31, 2017, IWC recorded a net profit of RM14.92mil from a loss of RM3.83mil in the same period of the previous year.

Revenue was slightly lower at RM25.43mil from RM30.64mil previously.

For the full year, IWC recorded a net profit of RM48.12mil from a previous loss of RM16.03mil. Revenue increased more than threefold to RM271.78mil from RM76.6mil previously.

Another positive for IWC is the Greenland deal, first inked back in 2015.

IWC had proposed to sell three pieces of land measuring 51.8ha in Plentong, Johor, held by IWC subsidiary Tebrau Bay Sdn Bhd, to Greenland Tebrau Sdn Bhd (GTSB), for RM2.37bil cash.

IWC said it would book an RM1.2bil profit, or RM1.80 per share, from the disposal of land to GTSB.

GTSB is 20% owned by IWC (through unit Southern Crest Development Sdn Bhd) and 80% by the Greenland group (via Greenland Malaysia Real Estate Operator Sdn Bhd).

However, the extension of the payment dates has raised concern among the Ekovest shareholders to vote on the deal.

The last one year has not been easy for Kang Hoo in reorganising his companies.

Nonetheless, going by the close timeline between the two deals, there is a possibility that Kang Hoo could be hatching a new proposal soon.