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Thursday, 31 May 2018

(NST) PNB to proceed with Menara PNB 118, ADAM50 initiatives


KUALA LUMPUR: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) will proceed as planned with the construction of mega-tower Menara PNB 118, as well as, the implementation of ADAM50, a programme that provides free incentive trust fund units to Malaysian babies.

Group chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar said both initiatives would proceed as normal based on the periods specified for their implementation.

“We established ADAM50 (Program Amanah Dana Anak Malaysia 2050) for Malaysian babies born over a five-year period starting Jan 1, 2018, and it is a programme that we will continue (as usual),” he told reporters after PNB's breaking-of-fast ceremony with the media here today.

ADAM50, which was previously estimated to cost RM560 million over five years, has the main objective of promoting the savings and investment culture among Malaysians starting from birth by offering 200 free incentive trust fund units to each newborn baby as initial capital investment.

The units will be credited automatically into the Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) account (for Bumiputera babies) and Amanah Saham 1Malaysia (for non-Bumiputera babies) after the parents or guardians complete the registration process at Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd (ASNB) branches or with ASNB agents.

On Menara PNB 118 (formerly Menara Warisan Merdeka or KL118), Abdul Wahid said the development project was progressing as per schedule and, to-date, 18 of the tower's 118 storeys were completed.

The 630-metre tower, a PNB initiative to stimulate the economy, is expected to be the tallest tower in Malaysia and Southeast Asia when completed in 2024. -- BERNAMA

(NST) Businesses make last minute preparations for zero-rated GST


GEORGE TOWN: With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be zero-rated effective Friday, hypermarkets in the state have started making preparations to change the prices of their goods.

Checks at several locations here found that some business operators have been offering a 6 per cent discount, to usher in the zero-rated GST, while others kept to their old prices.

Many told NSTP that they would change their price tags only after their businesses’ close at 10pm.

Tesco Malaysia corporate services director Azliza Baizura Azmel, when contacted, said the company has taken necessary steps to update the price tags by factoring in the zero-rated GST.

“We have started the process to comply with the government’s instruction since the announcement was made.

“We will ensure that all the 25,000 items sold in all 56 branches will be zero-rated when we open for business tomorrow.

“As part of the preparations, we offered a six per cent discount to our customers today,” she said.

Azliza said Tesco has also updated its system and urged customers to check their payment receipts to ensure that they were not charged GST.

Pakatan Harapan, in its election manifesto, had announced that they would do away with the GST within the first 100 days, if they formed the Federal government after the 14th General Election.

(NST) End of toll collection at KL-Seremban Expressway, Salak Expressway from June 1


KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) has announced that as of midnight, June 1, there will be no further toll collection at the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Expressway and Salak Expressway.

LLM in a statement today said with the termination of the concession period, the toll charges on all routes exiting and entering the Sungai Besi Toll Plaza will be reduced by between 1 per cent and 50 per cent (between RM 0.40 and RM1.70).

"This termination will thus benefit nearly 130,000 vehicles passing through the toll plaza on a daily basis.

"Users who pass through Sungai Besi toll plazas will only need to pay the tolls within the North-South Expressway (PLUS) alignment that they are traveling through," said the statement.

The statement further noted that all users can browse through the new toll rates at www.plus.com.my or the PLUS mobile app.

"Consumers are advised to comply with travel rules and signboards provided at the toll plaza to ensure smooth travels to their destination.”

(NST) Ting Pek Khiing to start RM30b Langkawi New City project


LANGKAWI: After keeping a low profile for the last 16 years, developer Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing will be embarking on a multi-billion ringgit development project in Langkawi.

The Langkawi New City project, expected to cost around RM30 billion, will be located on about 81 hectares of reclaimed land off the west side of the island.

The project, which will be undertaken by his group of companies, is expected to be launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tomorrow, he told a media briefing on the project here, today.

He did not name the companies.

Ting said the project would involve the construction of about 30,000 high-end condominium units, commercial centres, berthing facilities for ocean liners and yachts and other facilities.

“Several companies in our group will be involved in the development which is expected to be completed in 10 years’ time, or even earlier,” he said, without disclosing the names of the companies involved.

He said the project, which would spur foreign investments in Langkawi, would be the biggest that he ever embarked on since he started his business activities on the island back in 1991.

Ting was reputed to have built a hotel on the island in a record 100 days in preparation for the inaugural Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exposition in 1991.

The Sarawak-born businessman said he had spent over 20 years on the development plan, claiming that he had already won recognition from developers from France, Russia and South Korea.

“This project is bound to be the biggest ever development of such kind in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

He ensured that the project’s environmental impact assessment had been conducted, adding that the plan was designed to preserve the beautiful natural surroundings of the area.

“This development would be akin to that in Dubai. This project would get more people to invest and stay here for a longer period, rather than for just one or two days,” he added. – BERNAMA

(NST) IRDA introduces development plan for Kulai, Sedenak; seeks public feedback


JOHOR BARU: The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) has introduced a development plan for the Kulai and Sedenak areas, both which are part of the Sedenak Digital Valley development.

Known as the Kulai Sedenak Special Area Plan 2025, the plan would outline development projects in the area until the year 2025.

IRDA’s head of planning and compliance Maimunah Jaafar said the plan encompasses an area of about 19,982 hectares, which are currently used mainly for agriculture.

“There is not much development taking place in the area at the moment even though there is a lot of potential there. The plan would be based on a smart city and sustainable development concept,” said Maimunah.

She said the development in the area would create about 77,500 job opportunities by 2025 with the main economic activities being in the high-tech industry research and innovation centre, information and communication technology, digital, aerospace and aviation, and logistics.

“The draft of the plan is currently on display for public scrutiny. The public are encouraged to look at the plan and to give us their feedback so that we can make changes or improvements if necessary,” said

The plan has been on display beginning May 13 at the IRDA office, the Kulai Municipal Council office, Kampung Gunung Pulai community hall, and Felda Bukit Batu community hall. Feedback gathering will end on June 12.

Maimunah was speaking at a briefing on the plan at IRDA’s office. Also present was state International Trade, Investment and Infrastructure Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse.

In a press conference after the briefing, Puah said the Kulai and Sedenak areas have a lot of potential for development.

“This plan will benefit not only those in the areas but also Johor as a whole. Except for the water and power supply which needs to be improved, the infrastructure in the areas are very good,” said Puah.

He also suggested that the Sedenak Iskandar Data Hub be rebranded as the Sedenak Iskandar Data and Research Hub in order to attract more investors.

“This would enable the project to have a bigger scope instead of just being a data centre hub. We will also be able to attract more investors to come,” said Puah.

(NST) CAP calls for review of Penang mega projects


GEORGE TOWN: In view of the huge national debt, the review of costly projects should not be limited to those initiated by the previous Federal Government.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Mohamed Idris said mega projects carried out by state governments should also be reviewed, on the same principle of avoiding luxury projects and saving cost to protect the finances of the nation and the state, and the rakyat’s future.

As such, he said, Penang‘s mega projects should also be put on hold until a review was carried out.

“Penang should serve as a model state in also reviewing its projects and cutting costs, and not stand out by going against the national trend,” he said today.

Idris said CAP was concerned that the new Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow, had made it a priority to speed up the implementation of costly projects, especially those related to the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

He said Chow had even expressed the hope that the new Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng, would help Penang to implement the projects.

“With the country going on an austerity drive, there must be a re-prioritising of how limited funds are spent,” he said.

“CAP agrees that allocations for the most basic projects should be raised, especially those related to flood prevention and mitigation, rehabilitation of hills and hill slopes that have suffered from landslides, enlargement of forest and catchment areas, and improving the coastal environment. “Billions of ringgit are required for these activities. The Federal Government should allocate the funds to Penang.

“However, it appears that the state government is placing higher priority on the group of projects under PTMP, which is reported to cost up to RM46 billion, according to press reports in June last year.”

The PTMP projects include a RM6.43 billion undersea tunnel and three paired roads – Light Rail Transit project, Penang South Reclamation, including reclaiming land to create three man-made islands with a total area of 1,800ha, highways and a major development in Gurney Drive. In addition, there is also a plan for a cable car to Penang Hill with a terminal in the Penang Botanic Gardens.

Idris said one of the planned roads, from Teluk Bahang to Tanjung Bungah, was expected to cost RM1 billion.

“The road is only 10.5km long and is expected to save only 14 minutes of car travel time, making it one of the most expensive roads in the country, if not the world,” he said.

“The state government claims the PTMP projects will be financed by the private sector but the state is giving land and land rights (including for reclaimed land) to private developers.

“Moreover, if some of the transport projects are not able to recover the costs for the companies (for example because the number of passengers or the fares are too low), will the government bail them out?

“Insufficient information has been given to the public on the components of PTMP.

“The state government must provide details of each of the projects – the cost, financing, assumptions on passenger numbers, fare or toll charges, and the number and prices of housing units to be built by the developers, and the environmental and social impacts.”

He added that the cost of the feasibility study and design for the three paired roads was reported to be more RM300 million.

He noted that there were cheaper alternative ways to improve transport, especially if the focus was on expanding public transport and not cater to private transport.

He said CAP was calling on Chow and the state government to:

* Review the PTMP projects to cut costs and consider alternatives;

* Put on hold all projects related to PTMP, and other luxury and mega projects until a review is completed;

* Consider cheaper alternative plans for transport that focus on public transport;

* Give priority to use limited funds, including from the Federal Government, for flood prevention and mitigation, repair of eroded hillslopes and rehabilitation, and protection o

f forests, water catchment areas and coastal resources;

* Make public the details of all the components of the PTMP projects, including estimates of costs, financing, loans and assumptions of cost recovery; and

* Make public the agreements entered into by the state and local authorities with the developers and proponents of PTMP and other expensive projects in Penang.

He congratulated the Federal Government for making bold and quick moves to save much-needed funds and improve the nation’s finances by reviewing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project, cancelling the Klang Valley MRT 3 project and reviewing the East Coast Rail Link and other projects.

Chow said he would respond to the matter in due time. He also said that he would announce whether a bonus would be given to the state’s civil servants once a decision was made.

(NST) UEM Sunrise looking for HSR replacement project


SUBANG JAYA: UEM Sunrise Bhd will be looking at other “catalysts” to replace the 300-acre loophole in its Gerbang Nusajaya project, following the axing of Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail (HSR).

UEM Sunrise, whose Gerbang Nusajaya project will house Iskandar Puteri HSR station, is among the biggest HSR beneficiaries considering the size of its landbank and proximity to Singapore.

Managing director and chief executive officer Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib said the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and the station would be put on hold for the time being.

“We have allocated a portion of land for the station of about 70 acres for the station and 300 acres surrounding it to cater for development in the areas around the transit hub. Without the HSR station, we now have to look at other viable option to replace it, I am sure we can come up with something. We will also look at improving connectivity with Singapore,” he said after UEM Sunrise’s annual general meeting today.

“It is very important to have infrastructure linked to it either by rail, road or air as that is how townships come up. We need to look at how we can improve that further,” he said, commenting on how the scrapping of HSR will affect the company’s Gerbang Nusajaya project.

Anwar said the project would see minimal impact in the medium-term but UEM would have to get more clarity on the project before an alternative can be decided upon.

The HSR project, which some have heralded as a “game-changer”, was said to create about 77,000 job opportunities and expand surrounding areas in terms of property development.

Anwar said as far as the company was concerned, it is business as usual at Gerbang Nusajaya.

“We already have connectivity via the second link and it is close enough so the target segment is still the same. We feel there are a lot of opportunities there with or without the HSR station.

“We will do further study on the impact on the long term perspective and we can’t say at this point in time yet what the full impact is going to be,” he added.

Despite a challenging property environment in 2017, UEM Sunrise recorded highest revenue of RM2.9 billion since it s listing in 2008, while doubling its net profit to RM281.1 million from RM147.3 million.

It also exceeded its sales target of RM1.2 billion by 24 per cent, to almost RM1.5 billion.

Anwar said the property developer was expecting a tough outlook and a cautious sentiment is anticipated.

“The demand is still there and mid-market will still be the Malaysians favourite especially in the Klang Valley as well as Johor. The bullishness of developers will most like be controlled this year as they adopt a cautious approach to the market,” he added.

(NST) Mega projections cancellation have immediate impact on participating firms


KUALA LUMPUR: The rail contracts downturn has been set in motion after two mega projects worth about RM100 billion were scrapped by the Pakatan Harapan government, said CIMB Investment Bank Bhd.

The effects would be felt from contractors to building material providers, CIMB said in a report.

The government scrapped the MRT Line 3 project, estimated to cost RM40 billion to RM50 billion, and the estimated RM50 billion Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail to control the country’s debt.

CIMB said the hardest hit would be those carrying out rail-related jobs such as Gamuda Bhd, MMC Corp Bhd, George Kent (M) Bhd.

It will also affect rail outlook job for WCT Holdings Bhd, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd, Sunway Construction Group Bhd and Gabungan AQRS Bhd.

CIMB said Lafarge Malaysia Bhd would be affected too as the projects’ cancellation dashed any hope of a surge in infrastructure jobs to absorb the overproduction of cement.

Kimlun Corp Bhd, a producer of tunnel-lining segments and segmental box girders, will similarly not be spared.

CIMB warned that the RM8.9 billion Gemas-Johor Bahru electrified double tracking (EDT) and the RM60 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) job could be at risk of being terminated.

“We believe any upcoming big-ticket rail projects are now at risk of deferment, renegotiation or outright cancellation. These include the Gemas-Johor Bahru electrified double tracking project and the ECRL,” said CIMB, which remained underweight on the sector.

Meanwhile, Fitch Group unit BMI Research reportedly said Malaysia’s construction industry would only grow an average of 4.3 per cent a year until 2022 without the HSR and ECRL projects.

The firm added that axing the two projects, which it said have a total investment value of US$40 billion (RM158.8 billion), would also hurt property and industrial development along the routes of both railways.

“Not only did the project itself, estimated to cost more than US$28 billion (RM111.16 billion) represent a significant component of Malaysia’s transport infrastructure growth, stations along the railway would have also served as anchors for new commercial, residential and industrial developments Malaysia and Singapore.

“This will also exacerbate the already-negative impact Mahathir’s surprise victory in this month’s elections has had on foreign investment,” BMI Research was quoted by the Malay Mail as saying in its latest report yesterday.

BMI said the ECRL project would be disrupted in the coming weeks due to the high cost and reliance on Chinese financing.

However, the firm said the construction sector was quite resilient and will be able to bounce back due to the Pakatan Harapan government’s priority on public infrastructure as per its election manifesto, even if the scale of projects would be smaller and focused on transport and utility projects that address quality-of-life and cost-of-living issues.

(NST) Game-changing development


GAMUDA Land Sdn Bhd is scaling up its launches in Rawang through a 328ha township called Gamuda Gardens.

The 15-year development is being built in seven precincts and has a total gross development value (GDV) of RM10 billion. Phase 1 was launched last year and all 181 units are fully sold.

The second phase — Lavana — was launched in the second half of last year. It comprises 134 units of double-storey link houses priced at RM750,000 each.

The total GDV for this phase is RM233 million and it is expected to be completed next year.

Gamuda Gardens general manager Wong Yik Fong said the project is set to be a game changer.

“Gamuda Gardens is master-planned as a development that caters for generations to come, with commercial, retail and lifestyle components. We expect this to change the landscape of northern Kuala Lumpur.

“The waterfront retail village, a lifestyle hub, is the first of its kind in this area and will not only be for residents of Gamuda Gardens but also communities from the surrounding area.

“The business park at GamudaGardens caters for local and international companies. Office suites are bundled with amenities to facilitate business.

“We have also earmarked zones for medical and educational centres, lifestyle retail mall and boutique businesses,” she told NST Property.

Wong said northern Kuala Lumpur has become more accessible with the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Mass Rapid Transit Line.

Coupled with direct access to the main highways, Gamuda Gardens will become a key residential, commercial and business hub of northern Kuala Lumpur, she said.

Gamuda Gardens features five cascading lakes in a 20ha central park with waterfalls and a mixed-terrain jogging and cycling trail, as well as various parks, namely the wetlands, Adventure Playland and lookout points that offer panoramic views.

The town is anchored by the waterfront retail village that offers cafes, restaurants, retail outlets and other amenities to serve the needs of the communities.

An upcoming launch at Gamuda Gardens is the high-rise residential development called Gaia Residences, spread across two towers.

Gaia, which means “earth” in Greek, features 500 units of serviced apartments, 18 units of twostorey shops and nine units of retail shops.

Wong said Gaia Residences is designed to take advantage of the greens in Gamuda Gardens, with lush landscaping enveloping the development.

Gaia Residences will be officially launched in July.

(NST) Mah Sing stays bullish on Rawang


RAWANG in its early days was known as one of the earliest satellite towns in Kuala Lumpur.

Its economy then was widely attributed to tin mining. It was the second area in Selangor to be explored for tin mining.

The industry in Rawang developed concurrently around the same time as that of the larger tin-mining state—Perak.

History has it that the first electric generator in British Malaya was installed in Rawang to support the mining sector, making the district the first location to be electrified in Malaysia in 1894.

Rubber estates were established around Rawang in the 1950s. It also became one of the earliest towns in Malaysia to simultaneously produce agricultural, natural resource, and cement output.

Today, Rawang has a population of more than 120,000 and is growing, as more land is used for development.

Mah Sing Group Bhd was one of the few pioneer developers who ventured in the district.

Understanding the market demands, Mah Sing has planned and developed mixed integrated township with a variety of landed properties, such as two-and three-storey link homes which are popular among home upgraders and families.

The group’s new developments feature modern designs and upgraded facilities compared with the existing decade-old housing there, and this is giving Rawang a new look.

With more retail mix, Rawang is set to be more vibrant with increased visitations from surrounding community. The area currently houses the second largest AEON mall in Malaysia.

In terms of accessibility, the township benefits from the added access to the Kuala Lumpur-Kuala Selangor Expressway (Latar) as well as the extension from Jalan Tasik Puteri which has started operation. This has shorten the travelling time to Kuala Lumpur to about 20 minutes and given an additional access from the main thoroughfare of Jalan Batu Arang to the townships.

Rawang is connected via the terminal station of KTM Komuter’s Rawang-Seremban route extended till Tanjung Malim.

The area is also served by public buses throughout the Kuala Lumpur-Rawang route such as those of RapidKL, Metrobus and SJ Buses.

The latest edition is the RawangBypass, which reduces the travel time during peak hours from Rawang and Serendah to Kuala Lumpur to just 30 minutes from two hours.

The 9 km toll-free highway features a 2.7 km elevated stretch. It is the tallest highway in the country and involved the construction of 58.2-metre pillar structures.

MOVING ON TO TOWNSHIP

Mah Sing has been bullish on the Rawang property market for a long time and started a third township there called M Aruna which has an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM520 million.

M Aruna spans 39ha and will have 565 units of two-storey link homes and 20 units of retail shophouses.

Mah Sing chief executive officer Datuk Ho Hon Sang told NST Property that the group plans to launch the first phase of M Aruna, known as Aster and Basil (two-storey link homes) with 20ft by 60ft size and indicative built-ups from 1,666sqft, within the next few months.

Aster and Basil features four bedrooms and three bathrooms with an indicative starting price of RM550,000.

The township of M Aruna will be developed based on the ‘Secret Garden conceptʼ, said Ho.

“It will provide a green sanctuary to encourage sustainability and the best layout to promote energy saving within the township,” he said.

Ho said Mah Sing’s projects are focused on including green features where the integration of ecology and property development meets, which is in line with the group’s tagline to “Reinvent Spaces and Enhance Life”.

“M Aruna emphasises quality living environment and healthy lifestyle facilities. It is a well-planned township with distinctive landscaping that brings you close to nature. It creates the perfect place for the entire household to enjoy the essence of healthy living,” he said.

Ho said outdoor living is further enhanced in M Aruna with the range of facilities such as a 0.4ha central park with a tree house themed playground, relaxing hammocks, jogging track, kids bicycle park and a half basketball court. “It is the perfect place to unwind for youths, adults and the elderly,” he added.

The development also offers functional spaciousness. It has open green spaces on the outside to a fully open-plan concept on the inside, which provides more space for famillies.

Ho said this also represents excellent value for money for prospective buyers.

M Aruna is still at the initial stage of construction. The township will be developed in three phases and is expected to be completed in 2022.

The first two mixed integrated townships in Rawang by Mah Sing are M Residence (91.5ha) and M Residence 2 (64ha).

According to Ho, the RM1.08billion M Residence and RM762million M Residence2 have limited available units and prices start from RM721,000.

“In fact, some of our available units in M Residence 2, such as Caspia (Semi D-link) and Dalea (Semi D), have been completed and come with fully furnished packages priced only from RM42,000.

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

Ho said in general, there is a demand-supply gap in Malaysia, whereby 123,902 new households were formed versus 88,000 new houses completed per year between 2012 and 2017.

He cited PropertyGuru Malaysia’s recent consumer sentiment survey which showed that 92 per cent of Malaysians still prefer to own a home than to rent.

“As such, we believe that we are on the right track with our strategy to develop right products at strategic location with the right pricing. In fact, we have been building accessible and affordably priced houses since 2014, and 74 per cent of our sales target in 2018 is below RM500,000,” he said.

Ho said this year, Mah Sing’s planned launches, including the first phase of M Aruna, have an estimated GDV of RM2.2 billion.

On the planned abolishment of the Goods and Service Tax (GST), he believe that with the zero-rated GST from tomorrow, there will be some form of savings for the group’s residential properties.

“We may pass on these savings to customers in the form of more discounts or sales packages. On property prices, Rehda (Real Estate andHousing Developers’ Association) has mentioned that GST is about two to four per cent of the cost for commercial properties while it is 2.5 to three per cent for residential properties. In the long run, these savings should be passed onto consumers.”

Ho is of the view that the current market sentiment is improving with a feel-good effect as the cost of living is reduced due to the zero rated GST.

The government also intends to carry out other measures which will allow additional income in the people’s pockets, he added.

(NST) GST removal ― what it means


THE euphoria of the spectacular 14th General Election results may have gone down a couple of notches for Malaysians by now. The excitement is still in the air though.

Everywhere we go, the conversation is generally centred on the GE14 and its unexpected result.

All eyes are on the man of the hour: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. The nation watches him with bated breath as he gets down to business. There is much anticipation in the air. A new hope has dawned on Malaysia.

As the house-cleaning gets underway, the average man on the street is amazed at how much has been uncovered in just a matter of days. As more time goes by, there is no doubt in everyone’s mind that more shenanigans will be uncovered.

Among all the promises made by Pakatan Harapan in their manifesto, the most highly anticipated one must be the abolishment of Goods and Services Tax (GST). When Dr Mahathir made the announcement soon after taking office, the whole nation applauded.

But, how does this affect the property market?

MAKING THE ANNOUNCEMENT

Having made the announcement but without any details or explanations would actually have spelt serious trouble for the property market. Investors expect the GST to be abolished, but do not know when that would happen. So, what they would do is to halt any property purchase until things become clearer.

Actually, they would halt all other sizeable purchases, too. Why would anyone pay GST if in the foreseeable short term, they would not have to. So, all they have to do is defer their purchase until the plan is finalised.

SETTING A TIMELINE

Luckily for all of us, the new team in charge has displayed far-sighted thinking. Within days of announcing the GST abolishment plan, they put a firm and definite timeline to the exercise. From June 1, GST would be zero-rated. In essence, you would have to pay nothing in tax.

RECEIVING THE NEWS

This news was received with much optimism in the market. Although I personally would have voted against the abolishment of the GST, the majority of Malaysians obviously did not agree with me.

What was expected to happen? Well, many people felt that the price of goods and services would miraculously fall immediately.

I do not think this would happen.

I have found, from many years of observation, prices of goods and services in Malaysia move only in one direction — upwards.

COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL PROPERTIES

The sector of the property market affected by GST is the non-residential sector.

Residential purchases are exempted from paying this tax.

What this essentially means in absolute numbers is: For example, you purchase a shop-office for RM1 million. Your purchase will automatically attract GST, which is currently at 6 per cent. This means that on top of the RM1 million, you will need to pay a further RM60,000 in tax. This is indeed a heavy burden for the average investor.

In a soft market currently, some purchasers would disagree with paying this amount. If the vendor was desperate enough, or was keen on a quick sale, they may just volunteer to pay the RM60,000 on the purchaser’s behalf. If that happens, the price of the property has actually gone down to RM940,000.

Either way, both parties lose, and hence the anger against this tax from the public.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW

Luckily for the property market the government has announced a definite timeline for the GST abolishment. June 1 is merely two weeks away from the day the announcement was made. In the world of property investments, two weeks is insignificant.

So, there is no danger that deals that are currently underway would run the risk of stalling. At most, some people may have waited two weeks to complete the sale or sign the agreements.

GOOD NEWS FOR THE MARKET

The abolishment of the GST would have a positive effect on the property market.

Absolute prices of non-residential properties would go down immediately with no tax to be paid. Prices of residential properties are also expected to reduce in time, with tax on various components of building materials being abolished as well.

Let’s hope that this is indeed a new tomorrow for Malaysia. I look forward to the property market finally moving into positive territory after so many years in the dark side. I can already feel the enthusiasm in the air and am confident that the upward climb will be able to be felt really soon.

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

(NST) Traditional aspiration largely unchanged


IS IT better to rent than buy a house? Choosing between buying a house and renting one is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make in their lifetime.

If you ask experts, they will tell you that renting or buying is not fundamentally good or bad.

For most people, buying a house is a measure of financial success. But the house is totally yours only after you have fully paid the mortgage.

If the price of the house appreciates more than you’ve paid in mortgage, interest, taxes, and maintenance over time, you’ve earned a return.

Do note that for the price to appreciate, the property should firstly be in a good location such as near public transport and should at least be close to a shopping mall, a hospitals and schools with access to major roads and highways.

The amenities within the development should be fit for you and your family for a wholesome living experience.

The developer should be a reputable one whose property prices have appreciated within months of buying or in less than three years.

If the prices have remained stagnant from the time you bought until one to two years have passed, never go back to buying from the same developers no matter what incentives or freebies they offer.

So, choose the developer, the location and the product wisely.





There are people who have made up their minds to never buy a house. They do not want to go through all the hassle and paperwork to own a property, and prefer to rent.

While renting a property does seem easier, there are a few things to consider — from spending days and weeks to meet different agents and potential landlords, to deciding on the best property.

The good part is that you don’t have to pay for repairs, maintenance, or other issues that come up.

MALAYSIANS LIKE THEIR OWN PROPERTY

PropertyGuru Malaysia country manager Sheldon Fernandez said for most people, owning a home represents stability and security.

Real estate is also a key asset class for wealth accumulation via capital appreciation and rental yields, he said.

According to Fernandez, despite rising perception that more Malaysians would choose to rent than buy a home, statistics from the recent PropertyGuru Consumer Sentiment Survey shows that 92 per cent of those polled would rather own the roof over their heads.

Among those polled, about 33 per cent were presently renting with 67 per cent residing in their “own homes”. Own homes refer to houses that are owned by the dwellers or by their family — staying with siblings or relatives and other non-renting residences.

The survey show that the traditional aspiration of owning a home remains largely unchanged despite evolving property market trends and demographics.

Fernandez said for those who prefer renting, most of them (71 per cent) prefer a location that is close to their office or workplace, followed by family considerations (55 per cent) and public transportation accessibility (52 per cent).

They also prefer high-rise homes with condominiums and serviced apartments being the top choice.

Renters would pay between RM501 and RM800 a month to rent a room while those looking to rent a house would ideally pay RM801 to RM1100 monthly.

The rental rates differ based on location, property type, unit size and other factors.

“It appears that despite rising living costs, higher loan rejection rates and price unaffordability, Malaysians, including the younger generation, would still make homeownership a key lifestyle aspiration. The desire is very strong perhaps due to family or peer pressure or due to the prevalence of traditional perceptions of owning a home as being a sound foundation for one’s future,” Fernandez said.

He added that the PropertyGuru survey also shows that many who are currently renting are looking at options to buy a home that is within their budget.

“We will continue to track rental data going forward. There may be changes as unaffordability, loan rejections and other factors influence buying sentiments. Our tracking of the rental market will provide further insights into the overall property market to help develop a more comprehensive perspective going forward,” said Fernandez.


(The Star) Getting more tourists to Penang

Newly appointed Penang Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin (pic) believes that Butterworth, Balik Pulau and Telok Ayer Tawar should be explored deeper so that more activities can be held to attract tourists.

The Paya Terubong assemblyman said these areas possessed their own brand of identity and individual charm.



He said tourism was a major source of income for Penang, especially since George Town was conferred the Unesco World Heritage status in 2008.

He added that 50% of the state’s revenue came from the tourism sector alone.

Yeoh’s immediate task is to increase the number of direct flights into Penang as a move to boost tourism.

“When there are more direct flightscoming to Penang, the number of tourists will naturally increase, and this will be good for our economy,” he said in a statement.

Yeoh said he would also look into improving the dissemination of information to local and foreign tourists, especially on events held in the state.

“Penang is a popular tourist destination, but we must still keep on improving and creating new things for visitors to see and explore.

“We need to see more return guests.

“For instance, instead of staying twodays and one night, families might optfor three days and two nights if thereare more places to visit.

“I see a lot of potential in Penang,especially on the mainland. Penang is already a living heritage with many outstanding universal values.

“With its connectivity and infrastructure already in place, it is easy to reach most of the places by any means of transportation,” he said.


(The Star) Churros of various shapes, forms and flavours now in Klang Valley

Churros, a type of fried dough of Spanish origin is a delectable treat that is easily found in the Klang Valley.

Crispy churros are usually dusted with sugar or filled with cream and make for a great snack.

Today, Street Churros, a brand from South Korea, is offering churros in various shapes, forms and flavours.

Street Churros Malaysia managing director Datuk Joe Tan described the company’s churros as more than just a dessert.

“We’re working hard to ensure that Street Churros becomes a much enjoyed dessert that is locally made by observing high global standards,” he said, adding that two new flavours would be introduced soon – salted egg yolk churros and chocolate ice cream.

Tan said the were plans to expand the brand to other parts of the country.

He said it was the team’s biggest wish for everyone to get an opportunity to savour Street Churros’ fried offerings.

The churros available include original churros dusted with either chocolate, cheese or cinnamon.

Then there are filled-churros with flavours such as chocolate, cream cheese and custard as well as dips such as chocolate, cream cheese, butterscotch and blueberry.

There are also ice-cream churros with mini churros tucked in creamy ice cream, topped with either choco choco, choco berry or mango.

Churros fries and stick churros make for easy snacking.

Street Churros is found in six different locations in the Klang Valley (Berjaya Times Square, Sogo KL, IOI City Mall, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, MyTown Shopping Centre and Empire Shopping Gallery) and Sky Avenue in Genting Highlands.


(The Star) Hawker offerings from across Tebrau straits

Singapore's popular Encik Tan, known for its halal hawker fare, has arrived on Malaysian shores.

The eatery specialising in traditional Chinese hawker food unveiled its first venture here in Malaysia at the Shoppes, Four Seasons Place in Kuala Lumpur.

With family history rooted in the food business spearheaded by Fei Siong founder and group managing director Tan Kim Siong, the eatery is well-known for its economical set meals while staying true to authentic flavours.

A personal favourite was the chicken cutlet set (RM12) for its generous piece of fried chicken cut into strips, served with sautéed cabbage, fried egg and house-speciality curry.

The chicken was juicy and tender due to the freshness of ingredients, its slightly savoury taste and crispy coating further enhanced by the curry, which was thick, creamy and flavourful.

One of the specialities at Encik Tan is the fish cake noodles which comes with a generous portion of handmade fish cake.



The lightly sautéed cabbage was a good accompaniment as it did not affect the taste of the curry or the meat.

This dish is also available in several variations, where the chicken can be swapped for fried fish, prawns or squid.

By far though, Encik Tan’s most popular dish is its fish ball noodles.

Operations manager Alexander Oo said the fish balls made using a family recipe, are produced at the company’s centralised kitchen in Singapore.

He said the eatery stayed true to its origins while keeping to modern taste preferences.


The atmosphere at Encik Tan is reminiscent of an old kopitiam but has the convenience of modern dining.



The recipe is one that was used by Tan’s grandfather decades ago.

“The fish balls are made using yellow tail fish, which makes it whiter and more ‘springy’,” said Oo, adding that the same fish is also used to make their fish cakes.

Indeed, the fish balls have an appealing texture with a nice bounce to them.

The signature dish is the fish ball noodles (RM10) which is served dry-style with mee pok (flat egg noodles).

The noodles are neither too thick nor too thin, which lent the dish the right texture when tossed in soy sauce.




Other dishes to try here are chicken cutlet noodles, chicken meatball noodles and wantan noodles.

On a rainy day, a bowl of Singapore laksa (RM10) is comforting to savour.

Although this dish is similar to curry laksa, its gravy is creamier and the translucent glutinous laksa noodles is used instead of yellow noodles.

A generous serving of taufu pok (dried beancurd) and boiled egg complete the dish.

For added spice, Encik Tan’s sambal is recommended with the curry.


(The Star) I-Bhd maintains its stellar quarterly performance

PETALING JAYA: I-Bhd continues to show improved performance by registering a 16.6% net profit growth to RM24.49mil for the first quarter of the financial year 2018 (Q1FY18) compared with the corresponding quarter last year.

It recorded a revenue of RM159.3mil which was 47% higher compared with the corresponding period last year.

In a statement yesterday, I-Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Lim Kim Hong said the group has continued to grow profitably and he remained confident about the company’s growth prospects despite the lacklustre operating environment.

“This is solidified by the growing demand in our higher-end King of the Hill – 8Kia Peng @KLCC project in downtown Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

“The focus for this year will continue to be on the sale of properties in i-City, whilst stepping up on the sale of 8Kia Peng @KLCC which is now seeing very strong traction.

“In addition, we expect to complete and hand over Liberty Tower, Parisien Tower and Hyde Tower in the third quarter of the year.

“Furthermore, we are preparing for new launches by 2019 in which the prolonged weakness in the property market should start to ease up,” he said.

In terms of segment performance, property development remained the largest revenue contributor for quarter with RM147.9mil recorded, making up 93% of the group’s revenue, while the leisure segment came in at 6% of total group revenue or RM9.7mil.

It will be an exciting year for the property investment segment with the imminent completion and opening of the Central i-City shopping centre in November.

The group’s unbilled sales as at March 31 stood at RM272.8mil and is expected to grow in tandem with the sales of the 8Kia Peng @KLCC project, which is expected to contribute positively in a year or two.

Lim pointed out that the group’s investment merits and consistent delivery of strong financial performances were largely under-appreciated despite most of the company’s properties being fully-sold when market conditions were getting increasingly challenging.

“The landscape of i-City has changed in the past five years.

“We are also excited about the rapid development of i-City as we embark on our subsequent five-year journey to complete the transformation of the 72-acre Ultrapolis development.

“Definitive plans will be revealed soon,” he added.

I-Bhd’s AGM has been scheduled to be held on June 26.


(The Star) MRCB Q1 net profit jumps to RM21.5mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) expects its unbilled construction and property development to keep the group busy this year, even as investors continue to fret over “opportunity loss” for the company following the Government’s decision to scrap several large rail infrastructure projects.

Shares of MRCB tumbled 11.5 sen, or 16.8%, yesterday to 57 sen – its lowest level since March 2009.

The company, in a filing with Bursa Malaysia after the market closed yesterday, said its net profit in first quarter ended March 31 jumped to RM21.5mil compared with RM8.6mil made a year ago.

“The better profit performance was driven by continued growth in our engineering, construction and environment division, which should be a significant contributor to group profits this year,” group managing director Tan Sri Mohamad Salim Fateh Din said in a press statement yesterday.

He said the company’s strategy of targeting fee-based construction projects “is now bearing fruit.”

The group’s construction division is currently participating in open tenders valued at RM2.9bil, with emphasis it said on infrastructure and long-term fee-based management projects. Its current unbilled order book stood at RM4.9bil.

Meanwhile, the group’s unbilled property sales at the end of the first quarter totaled RM1.6bil.

Shares of MRCB and other construction and engineering firms including Gamuda Bhd and George Kent (M) Bhd have been battered by news that the Government had decided not to proceed with the planned KL-Singapore high speed rail (HSR) and the third phase of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) projects.

CIMB Research said the cancellation of the HSR was a huge opportunity loss for Gamuda, MRCB and YTL Corp.


(The Star) ECRL penalty poser, Govt may have to pay fine

PETALING JAYA: Even if the Government chooses to proceed with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project but seeks to renegotiate the terms of the contract, there could be a hefty penalty involved, said lawyers.

Even if the project is not scrapped, there could be penalty charges as the other party would have incurred mobilisation costs, said senior lawyer Philip Koh.

“Yes, there would be a penalty as a matter of principle, as the counter party would have expended financial outlay for its mobilisation costs,” he said.

The Government has announced that it would be scrapping two mega projects – the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) and the MRT 3 project – while it continues to review other new and ongoing mega projects in a bid to cut costs.

On the HSR, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had estimated the compensation to the Singapore government to be at RM500mil.

While the fate of the ECRL remains unknown, it is widely expected that the Government will seek to renegotiate terms of the RM55bil project.

At this point the ECRL, for which China’s Exim Bank is forking out 85% of the funding, is about 13% complete.

“A contract under Malaysian law and international commercial law is binding and must be completed, otherwise there will a breach with consequences of liability in damages,” said Koh.

If the parties involved have sovereign entities, or governmental shareholders, then government to government negotiations could be the starting point, he said.

Senior corporate lawyer Datuk Roger Tan, meanwhile, said that as the terms of the contract are unknown to the public, there could be pre-conditions to be satisfied before the contract becomes effective. “If there are such conditions precedent and they have not been satisfied, then the contract will automatically terminate itself upon the expiry of the period, without any liability to pay compensation,” he said.

However, he said, if the contract was unconditional, in that there were no pre-conditions or the conditions had been satisfied, then it can only be terminated through negotiation. He said government to government contracts usually had a mechanism to resolve the dispute up to the ministerial level.

“If the dispute persists, then the heads of governments may have to be involved.

“Despite this, if the impasse continues, then the contract will usually have a clause to allow one party to refer the matter to international arbitration,” he said.

Commercial Law and Public International Law practitioner Datuk S Murugesan said even if the other party agrees to renegotiate terms of the contract, the process could be lengthy.

“However, we must remember that an agreement is already in place now. There is very little we can do if China refuses to re-negotiate,” he said.

If this happens, he said the Malaysian government must fall back to the contract document to decide on its next move. “We must then look at the agreement to see what is the compensation payable in the event of early termination or if there are other mechanism in the agreement that allows for dispute resolution or mediation,” he said.


(The Star) Najib: Gains from HSR outweigh cost

PETALING JAYA: The benefits from the High Speed Rail (HSR) project outweigh its cost, said former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (pic).

In a Facebook post yesterday, Najib said studies show that the HSR project, which would link Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, would bring socio-economic benefit to both countries.

“The projections from the relevant report I have seen indicate an estimated economic benefit of RM650bil in Gross National Income until year 2069.

“There would have been 110,000 jobs created, which is estimated to increase to about 442,000 by year 2069,” he said, urging for the report to be shown to the public.

Such infrastructure projects, he added, bring returns in the form of land appreciation, local economic growth, technology transfer, job opportunities, higher income, brain gain from Singapore, and boost in tourism.

The project would also revitalise towns such as Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh and Seremban where there would be great multiplier effects, he added.

“The times are changing and the economy of today is more sophisticated than in the past, and it is dis­appointing if the Prime Minister fails to see the project as an economic catalyst outside the scope of ticket sales,” he said.

Najib also pointed out there are mutual benefits to be gained for both countries.

“The project has the potential to shape the future and how (Singapore and Malaysia) can work together for common gain.

“Studies have also shown that Malaysia is the main beneficiary of this project seeing that the majority of the track would be in the country,” he said.

Najib questioned how the Government arrived at the conclusion that the project would cost about RM110bil.

He said the costs of the project as at early this year sood at about RM72bil, taking into account payments made to the citizens for land transfer.

“The true cost can only be known when the tenders for the design, construction, financing and main­tenance of the rolling stocks and assets of the rail are fully closed on Dec 28 this year,” he said.

He also questioned if the agencies involved in the project have been given a chance to present their case before the Cabinet and the Council of Eminent Persons.

Najib said he is disappointed with the rash decision to drop the project, and urged the Government to act with integrity by hosting consultations before making any decision.

He questioned if the cancellation of the project is based on one person’s decision.

“Don’t make decisions just to revenge yourself upon an individual or the Barisan Nasional government.

“Decisions clouded by emotions would only bring losses to the rakyat,” he said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed the HSR project to Singapore would be scrapped.


(The Star) SST implementation date among key decisions made by Cabinet

PUTRAJAYA: The Pakatan Hara­pan Cabinet has made a list of important decisions during its second meeting here.

They included the implementation date of Sales and Services Tax (SST), the payment of Hari Raya bonus for civil servants as well as distribution of financial aid.

It also agreed to allow the market to determine the price of RON97 while capping diesel and RON95 at current pump prices.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be zero-rated from tomorrow, SST will take its place effective Sept 1. However, the Cabinet has yet to determine the rate or percentage to be charged on consumers.

“We haven’t decided, but before this, SST was at 10%.

“We will have to study a suitable rate, but will look at the implication of levying it at 10%,” he said after chairing the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

The Government announced it will remove the GST and replace it with SST. GST zero-rated supply means the goods and services are not taxed, hence the taxable company does not need to collect any GST on sales.

The Prime Minister said with the zero-rated GST, consumers are expecting prices of goods to be cheaper, not just by 6%, but more in some cases as the tax imposed could come up to about 18% because of different tiers.

“In the end, when the consumer buys goods, he buys it at a higher price. I expect traders and retailers to sell food at much lower prices, at least certainly 6% less (than now),” he explained.

To bring some festive cheer to civil servants, bonus payments would be given to public officers of Grade 41 and below as well as pensioners, who will receive RM400 and RM200 respectively.

The Cabinet also announced that the financial aid to replace BR1M will now be known as Bantuan Saraan Hidup and will be paid out to those eligible on June 6.

Asked whether the payments of bonus and financial aid would be made on the same date, Dr Mahathir said that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng would be giving the media a briefing on this.

The Cabinet also decided for diesel and RON95 to remain at current pump prices, whereas RON97 will be floated and its price will be determined by the market, said Dr Mahathir, adding that its mechanism would be announced soon. The existing fuel pump price is at RM2.20 per litre for RON95, RM2.47 for RON 97 and RM2.18 for Euro 2M diesel.

For those travelling during the Hari Raya festive period, toll charges will be reduced by 50% two days before Hari Raya, which is expected to fall on June 15.

The Cabinet also said the theme for this year’s Merdeka Day celebration will be “Sayangi Malaysiaku” (Love My Malaysia).


(The Star) Developers back move to cancel HSR despite setback

JOHOR BARU: Cancelling the RM110bil High Speed Rail (HSR) project is a setback for property developers, but they support the move for the greater good of the nation.

Johor Real Estate and Housing Developers Association chairman Datuk Steve Chong Yoon On said developers who invested in land near the stations might see some short- and medium-term losses.

“Developers paid a premium to acquire prime land near the stations.

“With the HSR project scrapped, developers may struggle to sell their properties in those areas as it was heavily marketed to be close to one of the HSR stations,” he said.

But he believes property developers will not suffer huge losses.

“I don’t think the developers would have put all their eggs in one basket. They are used to the risks that come with the industry. They will be fine,” he said.

Chong noted that the Government made the right decision to scrap the project as it could help cut down expenditure and reduce the RM1 trillion debt.

The 350km railway was supposed to see a total of eight stations: Jurong East (Singapore), Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Melaka, Serem­ban, Sepang-Putrajaya and Bandar Malaysia.

It was slated for completion by 2026 and would have seen travel time from Kuala Lumpur to Singa­pore cut down to 90 minutes.

Chong advised property buyers and investors who had already purchased homes near the purported stations not to lose hope.

“Who knows, in the future when our economy is much better, the HSR project might be reconsidered,” he said.

His suggestion for the house buyers and investors was to hold on to their properties until prices picked up again.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents chairman Liew Toh Sen said talk of the property market suffering from the HSR cancellation was premature.

“Yes, the property developers who acquired land for development near the stations will be at a loss, but there is no proof to indicate that the HSR project would mean a great deal for the country and economy,” he said.

Liew said the HSR, which would have taken eight to 10 years to complete, would not completely transform the seven locations in Malaysia.

“Look at the existing exit points along the North-South Highway in Johor. You do not see huge developments in Muar, Pagoh and Segamat despite the highway being there for decades,” he said.