Wednesday, 31 October 2018

(NST) MASwings to stop KK-Tawau, KK-Sandakan routes from Jan 1

KOTA KINABALU: MASwings, a regional carrier wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), will stop servicing Kota Kinabalu (KK) -Tawau and KK-Sandakan routes effective Jan 1.

The announcement has surprised Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew, who said such a move will have an undesirable impact on the economy and tourism industry.

“Just when the tempo of tourism growth is gaining momentum, they (MASwings) decide to stop operating the routes,” she said in a statement,today.

Liew, who is Sabah Tourism,Culture,and Environment Minister, acknowledged the fact that MASwings has been complementing the services of major airlines like MAS and Air Asia.

She also voiced her concern over the possible suspension of the Tawau-Tarakan route.

“We urge the Ministry of Transport and the Malaysian Aviation Commission to reconsider their decision as this will adversely affect the rakyat in Sabah.

“Undoubtedly, we depend on MASwings to fly passengers to smaller towns,” she said.

Liew suggested that the authorities maintain the current operations for another year so that the Public Service Obligations (PSO) Agreement can be reviewed and re-negotiated accordingly.

“Certainly I will take up the matter and raise it in Parliament two weeks from now,” she said.

It is learnt that the PSO Agreement was entered into under the previous government.

(NST) IOI Properties eyes 25-30pc net profit rise in FY19

PUTRAJAYA: IOI Properties Group is aiming for a 25 to 35 per cent growth in net profit in financial year 2019 (FY19), driven by strong demand for its projects in Malaysia, China and Singapore, said the group’s chief executive officer Lee Yeow Seng today.

He said the company is targeting sales of over RM3 billion for FY19, compared to RM2.8 billion last year, from new projects to be launched this year.

“The group will be launching properties both locally and abroad, and targets to achieve over RM3 billion in revenue this fiscal year. Overseas projects are expected to account for 60 per cent of the group’s net profit in FY19, while the remainder will come from local projects.

“Our overseas investments are doing well. In China, we launched a project in September last year and the response was quite good. We sold 96 per cent. We are confident our new launches in China will receive a very positive response,” he told reporters after its annual general meeting here today.

Explaining further, Lee said the group still has projects worth RMB4 billion (approximately RM2.4 billion) there to be rolled out over two fiscal years, which include mid- to high-rise condominiums and town villas in IOI Palm City, Xiamen.

In Singapore, he said, IOI Properties Group will be able to tap into the strong interest in prime Grade A office space for its Central Boulevard project that is strategically located within Marina Bay and the business district.

On Malaysia’s property market outlook, Lee, however, said the group does not expect the market to rebound too quickly until several fundamental problems, such as the oversupply of affordable housing and office space in the country, are sorted out.

Asked to respond to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s call for property developers to lower house prices by up to 10 per cent with the sales and service tax exemption on construction services and building material costs, Lee said: “We have to study and evaluate further. But the group’s upcoming projects are likely to trend higher instead. The 10 per cent price cut in selling price is challenging with labour and material costs on the rise.

“We think that it’s healthier for our new launches to have a price increase, instead of a drop in selling price. Our house buyers who have bought earlier on would be upset,” he added.– BERNAMA

(The Star) Electronics company to open five more outlets

JOHOR BARU: LG Electronics Malaysia plans to open another five more outlets nationwide by the year end, bringing the total number of outlets to 33 from the existing 28 outlets.

Its managing director Kim Kyu Tae said the company also planned to have at least one store-in-store (SIS) in major cities in the country to give customers first-hand experience on its products and innovations.

“Malaysia is one of the strong markets in the region with consumers with good purchasing power and we are upbeat on the country’s economy next year,’’ Kim said during the opening of LG’s eighth shop here.

He said the SIS was important as customers want to know how the company’s OLed TV and twin-wash washing machine functions.

“We are currently looking to expand our artificial intelligence (AI) features into every LG product and we have collaborated with global IT companies such as Google and Alexa for this,’’ said Kim. - By REMAR NORDIN

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

(NST) Housebuyers to enjoy 5 to 10 per cent discounts on newly launched houses

KUALA LUMPUR: Housebuyers will enjoy discounts of between 5 to 10 per cent in home prices following the exemption of Sales and Services Tax on construction materials.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the discounts were, however, restricted to newly launched homes and do not include low cost projects which were already price controlled.

“As for existing units that have been built, you will have to wait until Friday (Budget 2019),” he quipped during a press conference in the parliament lobby today.

Lim also said that he was thankful to the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia’s (REHDA) positive response on this request by the federal government even though he gave them a short notice to respond to the government’s proposal.

“I wished for a 10 per cent discount but we will give REHDA time to work towards achieving that goal,” he said.

Lim also clarified that he did not mean that SST would cause house prices to drop.

He instead reiterated that if the prices should increase the impact would be far less than that of the Goods and Services Tax.

The Bagan MP also asserted that the government would re-impose SST on developers who do not reduce their prices after being exempted from the tax.

“We want to see a reduction for new homes that are yet to be built or else we will bring back the six per cent SST,” he said.

Earlier Lim asked developers to cut property prices and threatened to review the SST waiver on construction materials if developers refused to do so

He also stressed that what the government wanted to see was house price reductions and not additional perks such as freebies and rebates by developers.

In a statement issued by REHDA yesterday, its president Datuk Soam Heng Choon encouraged developers to lower their prices.

However stressed that these reductions were subject to location and type of projects.

(NST) Crooked bridge still in proposal stage

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposed construction of a crooked bridge is still being studied by the government, said Works Minister Baru Bian.

He said the proposed construction of the bridge to replace the Johor Causeway would involve high cost, give rise to socio-economic and political implications, as well as international relations.

“Therefore, the ministry will refer to the cabinet for views and direction of the project implementation,” he said during the Ministers’ Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He was responding to a question from Datuk Seri Ir Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) on the justification of building the crooked bridge.

To a supplementary question from Wong Shu Qi (PH-Kluang) whether the government would upgrade the Johor Causeway as an alternative to building the crooked bridge to overcome congestion, Baru said the government would also study the matter. — Bernama

(NST) Rehda expects some cost savings with SST waiver

KUALA LUMPUR: The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) says it expects some savings in development cost following the government’s move to exempt basic construction materials and construction services from the Sales and Services Tax (SST) in the effort to reduce house prices.

“We are expecting between 2.5-5.0 per cent savings depending on the type of development, but this will be applicable to new projects only as prices for those projects during the Goods and Services Tax (GST) era would have been agreed upon by the contractor and are in various stages of completion,” said President Datuk Ir Soam Heng Choon in a statement today.

He said together with other discounts and rebates that most developers are currently offering in view of the soft market for new launches, house buyers could look forward to at least five per cent lower prices depending on location and type of product.

In a separate statement, online property portal PropertyGuru Malaysia has proposed for more organisations to step up and empower Malaysians with a more convenient credit checking facility to assess their Debt Service Ratio (DSR) and Eligible Mortgage Amount.

It said such checks should be made available for free to all Malaysians.

It also recommended that the government open up more of its reserve land for development with all land sales to be conducted via open tender, while emulating best practices regarding a lower threshold for en bloc sales and encouraging redevelopment of old buildings and assets for affordable housing.

“Interest rates for home loans should be revised too. We recommend a reduction of 0.5-1.0 per cent off interest rates for first-time homeowners within a specific price range, and reduction of upfront costs which include legal fees and stamp duties,” it said.

Meanwhile, it urged organisations and public-listed companies to introduce profit-sharing schemes and provide incentives namely housing loans and disbursements for down payment to help employees buy a home.

It also recommended that the houses be constructed as semi-built homes, which could allow flexibility in customising spatial usage and layout as well as contribute to lower construction costs and savings. – BERNAMA

(The Star) EduCity Iskandar Malaysia recognised as successful education hub

ISKANDAR PUTERI: EduCity Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd has gained global recognition as a successful education hub with other countries looking into following its model in their respective countries.

Its director Wan Ahmad Saifuddin Wan Ahmad Radzi said groups from countries such as China and Japan approached EduCity to find out more about the model of the education hub here.

“We have been getting potential education hubs developers from other countries coming to look into how we managed to start and grow EduCity.

“With the trial and error experience we have gone through here, we are able to advise them on the right business model to use in working with universities,” he said, adding that EduCity is the only education hub in the world with a multiversity campus.

“Most education hubs would attract a whole university to come, which is more expensive and would act as a barrier for them to open up their campus here.

“In Educity, each university focuses on different areas of studies and as such would only have to open up one or two faculties here,” he said during the pre-launch of EduCity Dusk to Dawn Ultramarathon Malaysia 2018 at EduCity Sports Complex.

On the event, Wan Ahmad said the marathon is hoped to allow participants to explore the Iskandar Puteri area better while promoting a healthier lifestyle.

“The Dusk to Dawn Ultramarathon features fresh new concepts that will challenge runners with five different categories of distances ranging from 5km to 60km.

“We encourage more organisers to host such sporting events here as it is in line with Educity’s aim to become a centre of education and sports excellence,” he said.

He said EduCity also strives to be a top sporting arena with world-class facilities to attract more sports tourists.

“We will definitely play a role in organising the upcoming Malaysia Games (Sukma) in 2020 as either a host or a training ground.

“We are now in talks to be one of the venues for the next Sukma, which will be held in Johor,” he said.

He said this will help promote Johor as a sports tourism destination.

(The Star) Superstore moves to bigger place

Shoppers now have even more reasons to visit Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur with the grand opening of Harvey Norman Mid Valley Superstore.

Relocated from the third level of the mall to the lower ground floor, LG-087, the store boasts a more comprehensive range of products and furniture for customers to choose from.

Previously from a 14,000sq ft retail space, it now spans 38,500sq ft, offering some of the widest range from the top as well as exclusive brands of electrical, computer, furniture and bedding products.

The one-stop centre features home and kitchen appliances, audio visual equipment, computers, health and fitness products, sofas, dining sets, homeware decorative accessories, bed frames, mattresses and more.

Gamers can rejoice as the superstore will offer a broad range of gaming products found in Games Hub with brands like PS4, MSI, ROG, Predator and Oman.

The Australian-based retailer will also be bringing in the latest collection of Italy-imported furniture, outdoor range furniture and premium quality mattresses and bed frames.

With the objective of offering customers a “Revolutionary Shopping Experience”, the Harvey Norman Mid Valley Superstore is all set to provide them a memorable in-store shopping experience.

In his speech, Harvey Norman Asia managing director Kenneth Aruldoss said their vision was to provide Malaysia with the ultimate customer experience.

(From left) Lau, Ng, Lee, Aruldoss, Tan, Martin and Mah officiating at the grand opening of Harvey Norman Mid Valley Superstore. — Photos: SAM THAM/The Star 

“The first is to create a warm, welcoming look and feel of the store so customers will want to shop when they walk into it.

“Next, it is to offer an extensive product range. We want to make sure that we provide consumers the biggest and most comprehensive product range.

“Thirdly, we want to provide consumers the best price and value.

“Last but not least, our company’s Shop with Confidence policy that assures you that we are always there.

“If you have an issue, we’ll be there to fix it. If you need to exchange, we can exchange within a certain period of time. If you want a refund, we have a refund policy as well.

“We provide consumers with something different. We want them to say, ‘If I shop with Harvey Norman, I can shop with confidence’,” he highlighted.

Apart from showcasing the products, the retail chain will also host product demonstrations at the superstore like cooking show to show visitors how a product works.

Aruldoss also took the opportunity to announce their big expansion plans in Malaysia, with a minimum of six stores opening next year across the country: Miri, two in Johor, Bukit Jalil, Ipoh and Kota Baru.

To date, there are 17 stores nationwide; the aim is to open a total of 60 stores within the next five to 10 years.

“We believe Malaysia is a very good market for Harvey Norman, and that we offer Malaysia something different, something special and unique that no other retailers can match.”

He also described Harvey Norman as an omni channel company with an online, offline seamless experience; both online and brick-and-mortar platforms provide customers with the same level of experience.

The retailer’s Click and Collect counter in the new superstore facilitates collection of purchases when customers place their orders online, thereby providing them with more convenience.

“Customers would want a company that provides both online and offline options to purchase products. The price is exactly the same because we’re omni channel. And we provide services to ensure the confidence in our customers when they shop with us. We look after our customers,” he said.

The opening ceremony was officiated by Aruldoss as well as Harvey Norman IT, ecommerce and corporate general manager Danny Lau, lead general manager Eddy Ng, chief financial officer Tan Swee Ing, electrical division general manager (Malaysia) Bushy Martin, furniture department general manager Mark Mah and Mid Valley Megamall general manager Rennie Lee Chai Tin.

In conjunction with Harvey Norman Mid Valley Superstore’s grand opening, customers not only got to enjoy great deals and promotions but also fun activities such as lucky draws, cash cube machines, games and children’s activities throughout the weekend.

For more updates on the superstore’s grand opening celebrations, visit Harvey Norman Malaysia Facebook page.

(The Star) New public library in Cheras to open next month

The new public library at Taman Mawar Cheras is expected to help the younger generation from poor and underprivileged families.

Selangor Public Library Corporation (PPAS) director Mastura Muhamad said visitors, especially children, had been streaming to the library that was still in its soft launch stage.

“This library can help the younger generations and those who are from poor families.

“Children can come here to not only read books, but also finish their homework, access clean water and even rest after a long day of school,” Mastura said.

The library was the idea of the former Teratai assemblyman Tiew Way King and was supported by Kuala Kubu Baru assemblyman Lee Kee Hiong.

The children’s section in the library. 

Teratai assemblyman Bryan Lai said for now, the internet connection was limited but he hoped to see it upgraded soon.

Lai added that he also hoped to see a bus stop built nearby so that the public could travel conveniently to the library.

There may be plans to invite schools from other areas for activities here, such as back-to-school events where they can distribute school bags to the children or encourage them to do their homework in the safety and comfort of the library.

“That’s why we need at least one bus stop near the library, so that children can come whenever they want to,” Lai said.

It is hoped that the library will operate officially by next month, before school holidays starts.

“The library is essential for childhood development; children can find inspirations here and stay away from anti-social behaviours,” said Mastura.

Those who want to donate old books to the library can send them to the PPAS library at Jalan Bunga Cempaka 5a, Taman Mawar in Cheras.

The library is open from 9.30am to 6pm on weekdays and on alternate Saturdays.


Monday, 29 October 2018

(NST) MAHB reformatting its retails spaces at international airports

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) will position its five international airports in Malaysia as lifestyle and shopping haven destinations in the Asia Pacific region.

The five international airports are Langkawi International Airport, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA 1 & 2), Penang International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Kuching International Airport.

MAHB senior general manager commercial services Mohammad Nazli Abdul Aziz said the airport operator had begun reformatting the airports retail spaces, which will be carried out in phases.

“The reformatting works will take within three to five years to be completed. Our airports non-aeronautical business contribution will be largely driven by high-end fashion, food and beverages and duty-free sales in the future," he told reporters at MAHB commercial reset strategy briefing here, yesterday.

He said MAHB had begun reformatting works at their retail spaces in Langkawi, while the remaining airports would begin its tendering work in the fourth-quarter.

The airport operator also targeting over RM600 million in non-aeronautical revenue contribution by 2021, leveraging on the high yielding product categories.

Mohammad Nazli said MAHB expected more high-yielding product categories to increase passengers' spending at its airports.

MAHB targets to increase four times or RM140 from the current RM35 per passenger spending across its network of airports within five years.

He said the anticipated increase in passenger's spending will be supported by MAHB's retail reformatting, fuelled by retailers investments at its fit-out spaces.

"The aviation industry is going to grow at least three times in the next 10 years. Hence, minimum retail business will also grow about three times," he said.

Mohammad Nazli Abdul Aziz said the airport operator’s non-aeronautical revenue contribution would be supported by the influx of growing middle-class passengers, particularly in Asia Pacific.

“We want to be competitive as our regional peers. Our airports are now reaching capacity very fast with the combination of the right location, lower travelling cost and affordable currency, making Malaysia as the sought after holiday’s destination among tourists,” he said.

With that opportunity, he said MAHB can double up its retail business backed by the growing middle class population like the Chinese, Indian and Indonesia.

(NST) PropertyGuru hopes gov't considers opening more land for development

KUALA LUMPUR: The government should consider opening more land for development given that land scarcity has become a key contributory factor to rising home prices especially in urban areas.

Property portal PropertyGuru Malaysia recommends that under the Budget 2019, the government should open up more government reserve land for development with all land sales to be conducted via open tender.

At present, only a fraction of affordable home projects are built on government or state-owned land, it noted.

"Emulating the best practices of other countries by having a lower threshold for enbloc sales and encouraging redevelopment of old buildings and other government assets for affordable housing.

"Lower enbloc sale threshold can also be considered to facilitate development of older condominiums with lower density ratios thereby reducing price pressure on new land," the portal said in a statement today.

Further, in tandem with the spirit of fresh possibilities and optimism in a New Malaysia,

PropertyGuru also proposes that Malaysians should have greater access to financial information under the Budget 2019.

It said while loan approvals have improved, credit visibility remains a problem for most Malaysians.

PropertyGuru also proposes that more organisations provide quicker and more convenient credit checking facilities to accurately assess their Debt Service Ratio (DSR) and Eligible Mortgage Amount (maximum loan eligibility).

"Such checks should be made available for free to all Malaysians," it said.

Touching on revising interest rates for home loans, PropertyGuru recommends a reduction of 0.5-1.0 per cent off interest rates for first-time homeowners buying affordable properties within a specific price range.

This could be homes under public sector affordable home schemes such as Rumah Selangorku, Sistem Perumahan Penjawat Awam Malaysia (PPAM) or 1Malaysia People's Housing Programme (PR1MA) or even opened to affordable homes built by private developers, Propertyguru noted.

In addition to end-financing, PropertyGuru recommends reducing the upfront costs associated with a home purchase -- which include legal fees and stamp duties for the purchase of affordable homes.

In addition, Propertyguru also recommends public organisations and public listed companies to provide incentives i.e. housing loans, disbursements for down payment to help employees purchase a home.

"Given that a large number of Malaysians when buying a new home undertake extensive renovation works, PropertyGuru recommends construction of semi-built homes that allow homeowners greater flexibility in customising spatial usage and layout as well as fixtures and furnishings.

"This may contribute to lower construction costs and the savings reflected in the price of homes," it said.

(The Star) Three more stations for Gemas-Johor Baru rail project

SIMPANG RENGGAM: Three new stations will be built along the Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double-track rail project (PLBEGJB), adding to the original 11.

PLBEGJB head of team Noor Azman Ramlee said the three new stations, namely Tenang, Chamek and Senai, would cater to the future needs of Johor.

The 11 original stations are in Segamat, Genuang, Labis, Bekok, Paloh, Kluang, Mengkibol, Renggam, Layang-Layang, Kulai and Kempas Baru.

“The project will lead to an economic spillover for the local community and areas along the stretch, including boosting tourism,” he said.

Noor Azman said this during a briefing on the project to Renggam residents at Dewan Orang Ramai Renggam here.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, who is also Simpang Renggam MP, was also present.

Noor Azman said the project was about 26% completed, adding that residents from the 929 settlements along the 192km stretch from Segamat to Johor Baru had been relocated.

He added that safety was top priority during the implementation of the project, as there were possibilities of landslides due to earth movements.

“Our technical team has identified areas prone to landslides, and retention walls or earth embankment will be built,” said Noor Azman.

He said Johor-based contractors would be involved in the project.

Meanwhile, Renggam village chief Asmi Mislan said residents affected by the project, including land acquisitions, can get information at the district office. “Do not listen to unverified news or information from unreliable sources,” he said.

(The Star) Walking the talk on housing

The Penang government is closely monitoring the progress of all affordable housing schemes in the state to ensure they are delivered on time.

State Housing, Town, Country Planning and Local Government Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the projects, be they by the private sector or the federal and state governments, should be completed on time.

“In the interest of the people, there must be execution up to the stage where keys are handed over to eligible purchasers,” he said after a site inspection at the Jiran Residensi housing scheme in Kampung Jawa, Butterworth.

Jiran Residensi comprises 353 low medium- cost (LMC) units and 354 affordable housing units. It is being built by state investment arm Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

Each LMC unit measuring 700sq ft is priced at RM72,500 while each affordable unit, which comes in two sizes of 850sq ft and 1,000sq ft, is priced between RM200,000 and RM250,000.

Jagdeep said the Certificate of Completion and Compliance would be issued by June next year.

“The project is near completion. It shows that the Penang government is walking the talk in delivering adequate affordable housing units for Penangites.

“I am very happy that we will be able to hand over the keys to the unit owners soon,” he said.

Jagdeep said a total of 28,195 low-cost, LMC and affordable housing homes had been built since 2008.

He said 22,065 more units were in various stages of development while 32,212 units had been approved to be built by both the public and private sectors.

Also present at the site inspection were state executive councillors Phee Boon Poh and Soon Lip Chee, Bagan Dalam assemblyman M. Satees and PDC’s housing development division senior manager Ang Seng Jin.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

(NST) MIDF expects inflation rate to average at 1.3pct

KUALA LUMPUR: MIDF Research expects a tepid headline inflation rate of 1.3 per cent for the whole year as compared with 3.8 per cent in 2017.

In a note, the research house said this is supported by a lower inflation rate of 1.2 per cent for the first nine months compared to 3.9 per cent in the same period last year.

“We expect inflationary pressure mainly from fuel-related items to calm, consistent with a gradual rise in global commodity prices on top of the pass-through effect from a strengthening ringgit (USD/MYR average: 4.32 in 2017, against our forecast of 4.00 in 2018) and subsidy of domestic fuel prices,” it said.

MIDF Research added that as inflationary pressure remains benign, it anticipates Bank Negara to maintain its current monetary stance for the rest of 2018 barring any surprises in domestic economic growth.

In September 2018, the consumer price index increased 0.3 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y), marginally higher than 0.2 per cent (y-o-y) recorded in the preceding month and in line with MIDF’s expectation.

“The trivial increase was anticipated as the Sales and Services Tax (SST) returned in September 2018, but the inflation rate still remained below one per cent for the fourth consecutive month despite the reintroduction of the SST, probably due to the significant impact of RON95 fuel subsidisation,” it added.

Transport prices increased but at a far slower pace of 0.3 per cent y-o-y (2.1 per cent y-o-y in August 2018).

Meanwhile, core inflation rebounded to a positive territory of 0.3 per cent y-o-y after remaining at a deflationary level for the past two consecutive months.

“Looking ahead, Malaysia’s inflation is expected to gradually increase in the upcoming months,” MIDF said.

(NST) MMC-Gamuda to continue underground MRT2, with further cost cuts

PUTRAJAYA: The Ministry of Finance announced today that MMC-Gamuda will continue the Mass Rail Transit Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line (MRT2) project with a larger cost reduction for the underground works.

Its minister Lim Guan Eng said the decision was made after the final round negotiations which resulted in MMC-Gamuda agreeing to increase the cost reductions of the underground works to RM3.6 billion from RM2.13 billion.

Lim said MMC-Gamuda would continue to be the contractor for the underground works for a total cost of RM13.11 billion.

“With that, the total cost of construction (for both above ground and underground) will have been reduced by RM8.82 billion or 22.4 per cent, from RM39.35 billion to RM30.53 billion.

“The government is committed to getting value for money for all its government expenditures especially when the projects involve large amounts of debt.

“The final cost savings of RM8.82 billion or 22.4 per cent for MRT2 will reduce future fares that need to be paid by MRT users, thus increasing the use of public transportation in the Klang Valley,” said Lim in a statement to announce that the Mass Rail Transit Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line (MRT2) project would be continued by MMC-Gamuda, after the company had agreed to the larger cost reduction for the underground works.

Lim said MMC-Gamuda had previously agreed to cut the cost of the above-ground works by RM5.22 billion, which was accepted by the ministry.

However, he said MMC-Gamuda’s early proposal to reduce cost by RM2.13 billion for the underground works was rejected, leading to the decision to terminate and re-tender the underground works contract.

“However, upon the prime minister’s request to hold final negotiations with MMC-Gamuda, the company has agreed with the ministry’s suggestion to further reduce the cost of the underground works from RM2.13 billion to RM3.6 billion.

“The ministry likes to extend our appreciation to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his attention on this matter.

“This means that the construction cost (excluding interest during construction, land acquisition costs and other costs) of MRT2 has been successfully reduced by RM8.82 billion or 22.4 per cent from RM39.35 billion to RM30.53 billion,” he elaborated.

All above-ground stations, he added, would continue to be built as planned earlier while two underground stations – Bandar Malaysia (North) and Bandar Malaysia (South) - would be shelved, bringing the total number of stations from the original 35 to 33 now.

“The MRT project is a strategic government project which will increase the connectivity of the Klang Valley’s public rail network.

“And the MRT2 project will fulfill the needs of Klang Valley residents who are not yet connected to the rail network. It offers MRT services to a very highly populated corridor connecting Sungai Buloh to Serdang and Putrajaya,” Lim said.

As what had been announced on Oct 7, he said, the Cabinet had on Oct 3 approved the continuation of the above ground MRT2 works to be executed by MMC-Gamuda as a turnkey contractor with a cost of RM17.42 billion compared to the original cost of RM22.64 billion.

“This represents a savings of RM5.22 billion or 23 per cent. In the same announcement, the Cabinet had decided to terminate the RM16.71 billion underground contract and to retender the remaining works. This is due to the Government and MMC-Gamuda failing to come to an agreement on the cost for the underground portion.

“Subsequently after an appeal by MMC-Gamuda, the Cabinet had agreed to a renegotiation.

“A fresh round of talks was carried out on Oct 22 conducted by the finance minister personally where MMC-Gamuda agreed to a total reduction of RM3.6 billion or 21.5 per cent for the underground works.”

Saturday, 27 October 2018

(The Star) Businesses welcome move to revive growth triangle

JOHOR BARU: Business organisations have welcomed the decision by the state government to review and revive the Singapore-Johor-Riau (SIJORI) Growth Triangle. Johor South SME advisor Teh Kee Sin said the move was good as it would stimulate and boost business and economic activities within the growth triangle.

“I believe our neighbours Singapore and Indonesia will also be happy to see the revival of SIJORI as it will benefit the three areas within the growth triangle,’’ he said.

Teh added that Johor-based small and medium enterprises could tap the collaboration to promote their products, especially to the densely-populated Indonesia through the Riau Archipelago, tapping especially into the halal market there.

He said Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have many similarities in language, culture, and foods; hence the three countries should bank on these similarities for their benefits.

“The growth triangle could also establish a window to capture the other seven countries in Asean as SIJORI is located along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes,’’ said Teh.

He said SIJORI and Iskandar Malaysia could complement each other, adding that Johor would benefit as Iskandar Malaysia was progressing on the right track since its inception on Nov 4, 2006.

Johor Indian Business Assoication (Jiba) president P. Sivakumar said the revival of the growth triangle would help Johor attract much needed high-end investment in the manufacturing sector from international investors.

“Johor has the advantage as it has positioned itself as one of the leading manufacturing hubs in the country way back in the 1980s at the start of the country’s industrialisation,’’ he said.

Sivakumar said apart from strengthening economic links in the region due to the tripartite collaboration and partnership, it would also see the sharing of job expertise among the three countries.

He said Iskandar Malaysia would also benefit as it could see more investments coming into the southernmost part of Johor where the economic growth corridor is located covering about 2,217 sq km.

SIJORI was launched in December 1989 and is a tripartite agreement between Singapore, Johor (in Malaysia) and Riau (in Indonesia) that seeks to exploit the competitive strengths of the three areas, and make the sub-region attractive to regional and international investors.

The growth triangle links the logistics, transportation and financial facilities of Singapore with the natural and labour resources of Johor and Riau.

The development of the growth triangle is largely led by the private sector, with the government facilitating the flows of goods, services, investment and people.

(The Star) Late night Thai cravings satisfied

Supper is not my favourite meal of the day but if I have to snack during the wee hours, my pick is some place that serves spicy food.

After some late night drinks, spicy food is somehow more palatable compared to others. It is during those hours that I crave for a piping hot bowl of curry noodles more than in the day.

During a recent night out, I stumbled upon Thailicious, a small restaurant occupying a shop lot in Solaris Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

At 1am, not many shops along Jalan Solaris 3 are open.

From the walkway, I spotted a dim light and some clanking sound coming from the second floor. The large windows were left slightly ajar.

A portion of tender and appetising Stewed Beef Noodle priced at RM2.90 per bowl.

Without thinking much, my friends and I walked up the flight of stairs to the restaurant with four other tables occupied by customers.

The waiter passed us the two-page menu which had literally everything I was craving for at that hour.

I ordered a “boat noodle” serving of Beef Braised Noodle, two sticks of grilled pork and a bowl of chilled tub tim krob while my friend opted for Kai Lan Crispy Pork Rrice as she was curious how it would turn out.

My small serving of noodles priced at RM2.90 had not only beef balls but also generous amount of braised beef which was surprisingly tender and paired very well with the soup.

The cooks did not stinge on the ingredients especially for the soup.

The grilled pork, also known as moo ping in Thai stalls, was equally tender and came with a special sauce. It was also served with sticky rice tucked inside a cone made out of pandan leaves.

Kai Lan Crispy Pork Rice is definitely worth a try especially for hungry diners in the wee hours of the morning.

While the rice dish looked fairly normal for siew yok (roast pork) stir-fried with kai lan, for only RM11.90 and paired with a sunny side up, it was definitely worth a try.

I was eager to try the tub tim krob (red ruby water chestnuts with coconut milk) dish I ordered as it is a staple dessert for me each time I step into a Thai restaurant. Sometimes I order two bowls just so I can have more water chestnuts.

During my visit, I was in luck – I was served a bowl without much coconut milk (which I did not mind at all) but it came with a mountain of water chestnuts!

It must have been a bonus for visiting the restaurant at that hour.

I am already planning my next visit, perhaps for lunch or dinner and keeping my fingers crossed that I will get the same amount of water chestnuts in my order for red ruby.

With the eatery being open until 5.30am, one has the option to even go for a very early Thai-styled breakfast.

It is open from noon to 5.30am and is closed on Wednesday. 

Thailicious is located at 10-1 (first floor) Jalan Solaris 3, Kuala Lumpur.

For reservations, call 012-510 7828.

(The Star) Group takes its focused service hospitality to Puchong

Be it for a business trip or a staycation, the one thing that no traveller compromises on is hospitality itself.

With the theme “Brighthearted Hospitality”, Hilton introduced Hilton Garden Inn Puchong, its second focused service brand of hotels in the heart of Klang Valley.

At the grand opening of Hilton Garden Inn Puchong, Hilton Malaysia regional general manager Jamie Mead said,

“With the new extension in Chow Kit, Hilton Garden Inn Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Kuala Lumpur and the launch of Hilton Garden Inn Puchong, the Hilton Garden Inn brand is firmly establishing itself in the country’s hospitality landscape.

“This expansion reinforces our promise to spread the light and warmth of our “Brighthearted Hospitality”, through focused services, inviting social spaces and high-end amenities, all of which are offered in high quality yet affordable accommodation.

Also present was Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah. 

Mead says the expansion allows for the firm establishment of the Hilton Garden Inn brand.

Surrounded by notable lifestyle-centric landmarks in the area alongside multi-national and local ICT companies like the Puchong Financial Corporate Centre (PFCC) and the new Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Cyber Centre, Hilton Garden Inn Puchong is ideally located for business or leisure.With a mere 25 minutes’ drive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and 30 minutes from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, it is also a short walk to the Puchong Perdana RapidKL Light Rail Transit station. 

The hotel also offers free shuttle service to the nearby IOI Mall Puchong LRT station as well as Sunway Pyramid while the Parkson M Square Mall is situated only a few floors below.

The new hotel comprises 255 well-furnished guest rooms and suites of different sizes with an option of either a city or lake view. 

There is also a 24-hour fitness centre, 24-hour self-service laundry room, 24-hour Pavillion Pantry convenience mart, 24-hour business centre, offering and an outdoor salt-water pool and heated jacuzzi. 

The Garden Grille restaurant also serves an array of local cuisine that will tantalise your palate. 

Additionally, for business conferences or other events, the hotel also features five meeting spaces overlooking the lake or the city skyline.

To celebrate its opening, Hilton Honors members will receive 1,000 bonus points as part of the grand opening offer, with a maximum stay of five nights. 

Friday, 26 October 2018

(NST) Sunway partners with MKH for RM540m mixed development project in Kajang

KUALA LUMPUR: Sunway Bhd has teamed up with MKH Bhd to undertake a RM504 million mixed development in Kajang, Selangor.

The project will be undertaken by a joint venture company, Daksina Harta Sdn Bhd.

The companies yesterday sealed a shareholders’ agreement on the sale of four ordinary shares in Daksina Harta by Sunway’s unit Sunway Mas Sdn Bhd to MKH’s Perkasa Bernas (M) Sdn Bhd for RM5 million.

Sunway said the disposal price was arrived at after taking into consideration Daksina’s net assets and earnings prospects.

Through their subsidiaries, Sunway will hold 60 per cent stake in Daksina, while MKH will hold the remaining 40 per cent.

It said the joint venture would leverage Sunway’s brand and track record together with MKH’s market knowledge and expertise in Kajang to develop a transit-oriented mixed development worth RM 540 million on a 5.28-acre freehold land.

Located less than one kilometre from Kajang town, the development will be directly linked to the Sg Jernih MRT Station via a link bridge.

Sunway said the development would comprise commercial lots and residential units and is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of next year, and be completed within four years. The project would include affordable units.

“The development will be another Sunway transit-oriented integrated development in Kuala Lumpur. Sunway’s transit-oriented mixed development in Cheras, Sunway Velocity, has garnered positive response over the years from the public.

“It comprises residential, commercial, healthcare, education, hospitality and retail elements with public spaces. The recently-launched, Sunway Velocity TWO, located opposite the mixed development is anticipated to add more value to the vicinity and locals of Cheras,” it said.

Sunway said the proposed joint venture was not expected to have any immediate material effect on its earnings per share, net assets per share and gearing for the year ending December 31, 2018.

(The Star) New commercial hub in Kluang

KLUANG: Impiana Square is poised to be the new commercial hub within the Kluang district here, owing to its strategic location.

(From left) Leong, Logendran, Ho, Mohamed Azahari, Ling and Azmel at the ground-breaking ceremony.

Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd group managing director Ho Kong Soon said the square was located right beside Johor’s Southern Corridor, also known as Kluang Southgate.

“Once completed, Bandar Seri Impian will be Kluang’s biggest sustainable township, comprising 1,800 acres (72ha) of mixed development.

“To date, we managed to unlock the value of 900 acres of land with almost 5,000 completed houses and commercial units to cater to nearly 16,000 people,” he said.

Ho said this during the signing of a memorandum of agreement and ground-breaking ceremony of Impiana Square commercial hub, including a new drive-through KFC restaurant in Bandar Seri Impian here.

Present were Matrix Concepts director Datuk N. Logendran, Matrix Concepts chief executive officer (property development) Leong Jee Van, QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Seri Mohamed Azahari Mohamed Kamil, KFC Malaysia chief operating officer Ling Mee Jiuan and QSR Brands general manager (property and technical department) Azmel Reza.

Ho said the collaboration would change the landscape of the commercial hub here, offering more variety to customers and convenience to residents.

Last month, Matrix Concepts and QSR Brands had a successful collaboration with the launching of KFC’S 700th outlet in Sendayan, Seremban.

Meanwhile, QSR Brands plans to open 24 new KFC restaurants throughout the country next year.

Mohamed Azahari said this was following its success in opening 23 new restaurants this year.

“We will be focusing on building more drive-through restaurants due to consumer preference.

“Currently, we are in the midst of working with several housing developers, including Matrix Concepts for this purpose,” he said, adding that they were honoured to embark once more on an opportunity to participate in the development of a commercial precinct by Matrix Concepts.

“Together, we have been able to achieve mutual business success by leveraging on each other’s strengths since our partnership last year towards achieving our missions.

“Today’s strategic collaboration is another testimony of our aspiration to widen our foothold and continue to serve Malaysians better with our original and innovative offerings supported by our excellent service and quality dining experience,” he added.

Mohamed Azahari said Matrix Concepts had a solid reputation and visions to enhance the quality of life and infrastructure through their fully integrated township projects.

He said the latest partnership would see the development of a free standing KFC drive-thru outlet on a 38,000-square feet land that will be able to accommodate up to 150 customers.

“We hope the participation of KFC as one of the major tenants will further enhance Impiana Square’s potential as a commercial hub while providing an attrative amenity to surrounding residents,” he said.

Mohamed Azahari said the strategic cooperation with wellknown developers was an important step towards QSR Brands’ restaurants as it would be a major growth component that proved to give long-term benefits to the group.

Currently, there are 93 KFC outlets in Johor and a total of 704 outlets across Malaysia.

(The Star) Blueprint to be reviewed

LABUAN: The Labuan Development Blueprint 2030 drawn up during the Barisan Nasional (BN) government era will be thoroughly reviewed to tailor it to the island’s current economic development.

Newly-appointed Labuan Corporation chairman Datuk Seri Amir Hussien said the blueprint was too ambitious owing to Labuan’s economic situation.

“We found out the development blueprint is rather overboard, we do not have any intention to bulldoze it, but there is a need to review its details, before we can agree on its implementation,” he told reporters after receiving the appointment letter from Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad at Wisma Perbadanan Labuan.

The blueprint, launched in January, outlined various develop­ment projects that encompassed coastal development right up to urban physical development to turn Labuan into a smart and sustainable island city.

On his appointment as the Labuan Corporation chairman, he expected greater challenges ahead of fine tuning the economic development plans for the island.

“Now that Labuan is facing a slowdown in the oil and gas sector on which it depended heavily, we should embrace on a more sustainable sector like tourism and not on volatile sectors,” he said.

He said the tourism fund had not been fully taken up by tourism players that could be applied for Labuan tourism products.

Amir, whose has an economic background in telecommunication engineering, said priorities would be focused on generating economic activities for locals that would have trickle-down effects on employment opportunities.

“My focus will be coming up with a formula or measures that will compel companies to give priority to local residents in the job recruitment process, as part of our efforts to ensure locals get proper trainings and priority in the employment opening opportunities,” he said.

Amir said there was a crucial need to have close rapport with industry players to ensure the island’s development needs were well-planned and organised.

“There is also a need to relook at the roles of the Labuan Corporation advisory council on how it functions in accordance with the local authorities’ needs.

“Providing better jobs and diverse business opportunities to meet aspirations of the locals are the ultimate objectives of the island’s economic growth,” he said. – Bernama

(NST) Please, no extra real estate tax in 2019 Budget: EcoFirst

KUALA LUMPUR: EcoFirst Consolidated Bhd is hopeful that the government will not introduce any additional real estate taxes in the upcoming 2019 Budget.

Group chief executive officer Datuk Tiong Kwing Hee said the additional tax could weigh heavily on the current sluggish property market.

“We believe continued focus on housing affordability is still needed and hopes the government will allow provisions that will help Malaysians buy homes and secure housing loans,” he said in a statement.

These measures could potentially boost the real estate sector, Tiong added.

The company saw continued profitability in its first quarter, posting a net profit of RM4.7 million despite a softer property market.

For the quarter ended August 31, 2018, it saw its revenue maintain at RM44.7 million.

In the previous corresponding quarter, it saw a revenue of RM44.8 million and restated net profit of RM5.7 million following the adoption of MFRS framework with effect from June 1, 2018.

Tiong said its flagship development, Liberty@Ampang Ukay Phase 1, was 95 per cent sold, contributing to the results.

“This demonstrates EcoFirst’s ability to tap into underserved segments of the market, producing the right products to meet customers’ demand,” he added.

Tiong said Liberty is progressing well according to schedule and on track to meet its full completion in November 2019.

“With increased progress billings in tandem with completed stages of Liberty, our focus is to ensure fast turnaround on Liberty, which keeps our cash flow healthy,” he added.

Ecofirst is now working on Phase 2 is being planned as a lower density development with three blocks proposed, and comprising offer larger-sized units that would suit young growing families.

It is expected to be launched in the third quarter of next year.

Tiong expects Phase 2, which will be priced to offer good value to the target market, to build on the success of Liberty.

As the last large freehold land on the borders of Ulu Kelang, Tiong said EcoFirst’s 87-acre Ampang Ukay project will be the main driver of growth over the medium- to long-term, with over RM5 billion in estimated gross development value.

In addition, EcoFirst is also targeting opportunities to develop small pockets of land in prime, affluent neighbourhoods for quick turnaround and steady cashflow, he added.

(NST) Qatar Airways eyes direct Doha-Langkawi flights

GEORGE TOWN: Qatar Airways is studying the possibility of adding Langkawi to its list of direct flights from Doha, said its group country manager for Malaysia and Brunei, Datuk Muzamil Mohamad.

The airline has yet to set a target date to introduce the flight, he added.

“There are a lot of beautiful places in Malaysia, and being a network carrier with good connectivity via Doha, we hope to bring a lot more tourists with spending power to this country,” he said at an exclusive culinary workshop organised by Qatar Airways and conducted by Chef Wan here on Thursday.

Muzamil said that Qatar Airways’ network hub, the Hamad International Airport in Doha, added 20 new destinations in 2018, including Mombasa, Kenya; Danang, Vietnam; and Gothenburg, Sweden.

“Currently, Qatar Airways flies to over 150 destinations on six continents,” he added. -- Bernama 

(The Star) Luxury nestled among lush greenery

Nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Oasia Suites Kuala Lumpur offers not only convenience but peace of mind in the midst of our bustling city. 

The award-winning Oasia brand by Far East Hospitality aims to be the destination of choice for wellness-conscious travellers in Kuala Lumpur.

The serviced residence-style hotel epitomises a restorative respite in the city that inspires guests to “Journey Well” through its three wellness pillars – “Refresh, Refuel and Recharge”. 

Tucked within the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, the hotel is surrounded by lush greenery that allows guests to rejuvenate in its 247 rooms in various categories to cater to a spectrum of travellers’ needs.

Oasia Suites’ guest rooms come with a fully-equipped kitchenette, living area and WiFi connectivity, ideal for both transit and long stay travellers. 

To promote a sense of rejuvenation, all rooms in Oasia Suites are designed to allow ample flow of light throughout the apartment.

The best room out of all types offered by Oasia Suites is the two-bedroom Premier Suite. 

Being the largest and most comfortable room across all room categories, the suite spans 78sq m and offers guests a stunning view of the city as well as the sprawling greenery of the KL Forest Eco Park.

The one-bedroom Premier Room is a favourite choice among business and leisure guests. The ample space provides the luxury of comfort similar to living at home for mid-term stay travellers and makes a splendid option for guests who are travelling on leisure with their family.

Another one of Oasia Suites’ unique features is the dual-key access system which combines the Suites and their Deluxe room to form a larger apartment – making it a two- or three-bedroom apartment. 

The flexibility to opt for this room arrangements makes travelling in groups of up to six people a delight and offers unprecedented comfort.

The hotel is also equipped with a naturally-lit gym with state-of-the-art cardiovascular and weight training machines as well as a roof­top swimming pool. 

Oasia Suites also offers two meeting rooms for business purposes and a lounge area for travellers to relax. Kafe Oasia, has all-day dining with healthy options on the menu.

Round-the-clock services such as daily housekeeping, 24-hour guest services, laundry services, maintenance, shuttle services and 24-hour security are available. 

The hotel’s prime location allows travellers to easily access many of Kuala Lumpur’s famous hotspots such as Suria KLCC, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and Bukit Bintang with the nearest bus stop located a mere 1km away from the hotel where guests can take the KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus to explore the city’s attractions.

The iconic Kuala Lumpur Tower is also a stone’s throw away from the hotel, giving travellers a chance to enjoy a spellbinding view of the city skyline through the Skybox.

Despite being located in the Golden Triangle, Oasia Suites offers guests the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life without having to leave the city. 

The hotel truly lives up to its wellness pillars and allows travellers to refresh, refuel and recharge with its natural surroundings while still enjoying the ease and convenience that a city offers.

(The Star) Perak launches first phase of housing programme

The Perak state government has launched the first phase of the “Perakku” housing programme with some 750 units of low- and medium-cost housing projects taking off in several areas in the state.

Housing, Local Government, Public Transport, Non-Islamic Affairs and New Villages committee chairman Paul Yong Choo Kiong said the scheme, comprising low-cost; low- and medium-cost; and affordable housing; would be carried out in stages.

He said the 750 units were the first batch of the state government’s target of 50,000 units under the scheme.

“Those who are eligible to purchase such homes are urged to register with the Perak Housing and Property Board.

“To date, the board has received some 9,000 applications from people interested in buying houses under the government’s scheme,” he told reporters after presenting cheques to NGOs, houses of worship, and associations at the state secretariat. 

A total of RM340,000 were handed out under his allocation as a state executive councillor and assemblyman, as well as under the Non-Islamic Affairs Department.

Yong said there were three categories of the houses under the scheme, which are the low-cost houses sold between RM70,000 and RM90,000, low-medium cost houses sold between RM150,000 and RM180,000, and affordable housing sold for RM250,000 and below.

He said such houses would be built in all 15 districts in the state in stages.

On complaints that the houses were built far away from urban areas, Yong said it was impossible to build such houses in prime areas.

“The land in prime areas is really expensive, and it will be impossible to build houses for those prices in such areas.

“We want people from the low- and middle-income groups to have their own houses,” he added.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

(NST) Paramount to dispose three campuses worth RM420m

KUALA LUMPUR: Paramount Corporation Bhd’s wholly-owned units plan to dispose three KDU campuses worth RM420 million to Dynamic Gates Sdn Bhd.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, Paramount announced that KDU University College (PG) Sdn Bhd and KDU University College Sdn Bhd (KDUUC) have entered into conditional sale and purchase agreements with Dynamic Gates.

“The sale and purchase of KDU Penang University College Campus premises (Jalan Anson Campus Properties) for RM50 million will be satisfied via the combination of RM35 million in cash and issuance of 15 million new cumulative redeemable non-convertible preference shares (CRNCPS) in DGSB at an issue price of RM1 per CRNCPS,” the company said.

The second disposal was related to KDU Penang University College Campus premises (Batu Kawan Campus Properties) for RM120 million to be satisfied via the combination of RM84 million in cash and the issuance of 36 million new CRNCPS in DGSB at RM1 per CRNCPS .

Lastly, the disposal of the Utropolis Glenmarie Campus for RM250 million would to be satisfied via the combination of RM175 million in cash and the issuance of 75 million new CRNCPS in DGSB at RM1.00 per CRNCPS.

(NST) TCC Group says has taken initial steps in TRX investment

KUALA LUMPUR: Thai Charoen Corporation (TCC) Group Chairman Tan Sri Charoen Sirivadhanabakdi says its subsidiary, Frasers Property, has taken initial steps to look into possible investment in Tun Razak Exchange.

International Trade and Industries Minister (MITI) Datuk Darell Leiking said Charoen’s son Panote Sirivadhanabhakdi will lead Frasers’ team and further engage with MITI.

“Nevertheless, his group is going to invest more in Malaysia via Big C, a popular hypermarket chain in Thailand. Big C plans to open a store in Kedah,” he said in a statement today.

Darrel also said that Charoen mentioned that TCC Group is committed to improving tourist experience through its ownership of a series of hotel chains worldwide under the Meridien, Marriott and other hotel chains.

“Since Malaysia has always been a popular tourist destination, it’s only natural for both sides to seek cooperation to further boost tourism.

“Dr Mahathir has said that Malaysia is an incredibly beautiful place and tourist numbers will continue to increase, hence the importance of ensuring their safety as they will bring wealth to the country,” he said.

Darrel is currently in Thailand accompanying Dr Mahathir for his state visit.