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Thursday, 31 October 2019

(NST) Malaysia to proceed with JB-Singapore RTS project [NSTTV]


JOHOR BARU: Malaysia will proceed with the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project between Johor Baru and Singapore, with a new cost of RM3.16 billion.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said following a review of the project, the cost had been reduced by about 36 per cent (RM1.77 billion) from the initial amount of RM4.93 billion.

“We have made a decision and will proceed with the RTS project.

“It will help to partially reduce the congestion problem at the Causeway,” he said.

However, Dr Mahathir said the most efficient way to solve the Causeway congestion problem was to build a new bridge.

“But we can’t build another one because Singapore refuses. I don’t know why.

“Johor has been very generous by selling raw water to them at three sen per 1,000 gallons.

“But, when we want to build another bridge to solve the congestion problem, they refused.

“I don’t see how we can be so accommodating to Singapore, but they can’t do the same to us,” he added.

On the water price issue, Dr Mahathir hopes to discuss it with Singapore as soon as possible.

“For now, we can’t do it because they have not set a date.

“We are losing millions of ringgit every day as long as the issue is not resolved.

Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters after visiting the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex at the Sultan Iskandar Building, here.

The bilateral agreement for the RTS project was signed by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in January, last year.

In May, the Malaysian government made a request for the suspension of the project as it wanted more time to decide on whether to proceed with it, or to make changes to the initial proposal.

The six-month suspension was supposed to end on Sept 30, but was extended to Oct 31.

The RTS will link Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru and Woodlands in Singapore. The project is targeted for completion by 2024.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the details of the project, including the start and completion dates, would be outlined in an amended bilateral agreement that would be signed early next year.

“We have submitted our new proposed changes to Singapore and they will need time to study them,” he said.

“The alignment of the project will remain the same. It will connect Bukit Chagar to Woodlands.”

Loke said besides the bilateral agreement, both parties would also have to sign the joint venture and concession agreements.

Also present were Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

(NST) Growing demand for serviced residences


LANDED properties remain more popular with buyers than serviced apartments. However, iProperty.com.my’s “1H2019 Portal Demand Analytics” report shows that there is increasing demand for the high-rise dwellings.

Two months ago, the property portal, which is part of REA Group, launched a set of demand-driven findings, based on its user visits and listings data compiled from January to June 2019.

From the analysis, it showed three interesting trends in the market — pent-up demand in the serviced residence segment, the emergence of property hotspots in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, and a shift of buyer interest to mainland Penang.

Serviced residences experienced the most significant growth in demand at 14.7 per cent, contributed by visits shifting over from condominiums. Despite the higher demand, serviced residences (with 11 per cent of total visits) still has to play catch-up game with condominiums (with 23 per cent of total visits).

REA Group Asia general manager (customer data solutions) Premendran Pathmanathan said there is a shift in demand from condominiums to serviced residences due to affordability reasons and location.

“The median price has depreciated by 8.2 per cent to RM490,000, thus making serviced residences more affordable with a slightly lower entry price within and around city centres. However, at a national level, this building type median price is somewhat similar to condominiums (RM500,000) because serviced residences provide convenience and accessibility,” he said at the launch of the report.

Premendran said serviced residences should have the right address, accessibility to public transportation and availability of commercial elements. Recent supply of this building type in the right location with the right elements has resulted in growing interests.

Terrace houses, meanwhile, have seen robust growth in demand by 3.7 per cent (with 32 per cent of total visits). This housing type, which makes up more than half of the residential property transactions in Malaysia, is still popular and has maintained positive capital growth of 6.7 per cent with a 3.7 per cent year-on-year increase in demand.

The analytics concludes that among the top four housing markets in Malaysia — Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor, KL’s demand increased 3.8 per cent and Selangor’s was up 9.8 per cent, while that of Penang and Johor dropped by 4.4 and 16.1 per cent, respectively.

The “most-in-demand” areas in Kuala Lumpur are Batu Caves, Keramat, Sentul, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Wangsa Maju, Damansara Heights, Pantai, Bandar Tasik Selatan, Kepong and Cheras.

Batu Caves, which tops the list, may be officially a town within the Gombak district in Selangor. However, part of it intersects and falls in Kuala Lumpur. Batu Caves performed well in the first half of 2019, with 73.8 per cent year-on-year growth in demand compared to the previous year as there was an increase in the supply of serviced residences that were completed last year.

The “most-in-demand” areas in Selangor are Dengkil, Gombak, Semenyih, Cyberjaya, Sepang, Sunway, Bangi, Petaling Jaya, Klang and Bandar Utama.

Dengkil did well thanks to new launches by reputable developers. The recent opening of the RM150 million Gamuda Cove Interchange in the area may attract more visitors looking for subsale properties to iProperty portal.

The interchange provides direct access from the North-South Expressway Central Link (Elite) highway to the 615.06ha Gamuda Cove township’s commercial business district. Two additional linkages to connect Gamuda Cove and Cyberjaya via Persiaran Cove Selatan are in the pipeline.

In Penang, Batu Kawan tops the list as new townships and housing projects have started there.

The Penang Designer Village and the IKEA shopping centre, which opened its doors in mid-March, have also generated more interest in properties in Batu Kawan.

Others in the list are Nibong Tebal, Balik Pulau, Kepala Batas, Seberang Jaya, Simpang Ampat, Teluk Kumbar, Bukit Mertajam, Bukit Minyak and Sungai Ara.

Batu Pahat takes the No.1 spot in Johor, followed by Senai, Kulai, Pasir Gudang, Gelang Patah, Johor Bahru, Skudai, Permas Jaya, Ulu Tiram and Masai.

These areas were ranked according to the area/property listings which garnered the highest number of unique visits from Jan 1 to June 30, 2019.

The report, with additional data compiled from brickz.my, provides a transparent macro view of the current demand trends in the local residential property market.

The four states — Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor — command more than 60 per cent of the property transaction market share.

(NST) From backwater to exclusive hot spot


BUKIT Rahman Putra, a township in Sungai Buloh north of Klang Valley, is located within a short distance from the prestigious neighbourhoods of Valencia and Sierramas.

This township was established in 1991 by Land & General Sdn Bhd and named after Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

“Back then, people looking to buy a home were not impressed with Bukit Rahman Putra as there were a lot of old factories in the area. Connectivity and accessibility was also a major issue. Location-wise, it was considered a remote area by many.

“The township is now no longer the backwoods. The opening of the Sungai Buloh Hospital Interchange and other types of infrastructure developments has changed the people’s perception towards Bukit Rahman Putra. It started to attract people and developers came in to build more homes,” said a senior marketing consultant familiar with the area.

The interchange provides residents with an alternative exit and entry point into the North-South Expressway and this has become one of the many key selling points for new projects in Bukit Rahman Putra.

Another attraction in the township is Rahman Putra Club Malaysia, one of the most distinguished golf clubs in the Klang Valley. The golf course, which opened in 1987, was designed by the late Tun Ghafar Baba.

Built over 113ha of shimmering lakes and captivating greenery, it is one of few in the country that hosts a 36-hole championship course

which is divided into two — The Lakes and The Hills Championship.

Overlooking the golf course are a handful of housing such as Sunway Rahman Putra, a 8.5ha gated-and-guarded development that was completed in 2006.

Sunway Rahman Putra features 112 superlink courtyard houses and 41 bungalows spread over 8.5ha of freehold land.

The superlink houses with spacious gross built-ups of 3,413 to 4,568 sq ft were sold at RM657,000 to RM1.1 million. The sale prices for the bungalows with built-ups of 5,000 to 6,500 sq ft were at RM1.3 million to RM1.9 million.

“This project did well as the homes are exquisitely designed within an exclusive environment. The bungalows have golf course view and frontage, and are tastefully designed with Balinese landscaping, complete with water fountains in the garden. The superlink houses resembles the Baba and Nyonya homes in Melaka.

“Looking at the success of this project, other developers started coming as there was pent-up demand for mid- to high-end houses,” said the marketing consultant.

BRANDED DEVELOPERS

In 2014, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) purchased three plots of freehold land in Bukit Rahman Putra from Bisraya Acres Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gapurna Sdn Bhd, for RM83 million.

MRCB had said that the land would be used for residential and commercial development with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM559.1 million.

Kalista Park Homes was launched in early 2016 on the first plot. The 2.2ha project has a GDV of RM101 million.

MRCB recently handed over Kalista units to buyers.

The low-density development comprises

only 28 units of superlink houses which had been fully sold. The houses, with built-ups of between 3,829 and 4,257 sq ft, were priced from RM1.6 million.

There are also 18 units of “semi-dees” and MRCB targets upgraders and owner-occupiers for the units.

The semi-dees, with a land size of 40ft x 85ft each, have built-ups of 4,679 sq ft for the golf view units while the standard units’ built-up is 4,561 sq ft.

MRCB Land chief executive officer Raymond Cheah said there are six semi-dees still available at Kalista. They are bumiputera units released recently for sale from RM2.5 million.

The fully-furnished show unit is also for sale at RM3.4 million, he said.

Alstonia Hilltop Homes is MRCB’s second launch in Bukit Rahman Putra in May this year. The project is an exclusive residential enclave on about 1.7ha of land with a GDV of RM250 million.

Cheah said the take-up for Alstonia currently stood at about 40 per cent

(NST) OYO sees good demand for budget spaces


LOCAL hoteliers are bracing for a boom in the tourism sector next year as several campaigns have been launched to attract international visitors, such as Visit Malaysia 2020 and the Malaysia Year of Healthcare Travel 2020.

The country is targeting to welcome 30 million international tourists and achieve RM100 billion in tourist receipts next year.

OYO Hotels and Homes — the world’s third-largest and fastest-growing chain of leased and franchised hotels, homes and living spaces — believes that with the strength of the domestic and medium-haul traveller demographic, there will be healthy demand for dependable and good quality budget accommodation.

“For asset owners in the budget space keen to grab their slice of the hospitality pie, customer confidence and discoverability are key,” it said.

OYO is helping hotel owners in Malaysia to upgrade their property to boost occupancy and revenue.

On an average, hotels which are part of OYO’s chain, have witnessed an increase in occupancy from 25 per cent to 65 per cent within three months.

The hotels enjoy various benefits, like support for technology, design, operations, revenue management, marketing and distribution.

OYO also help them upgrade their properties to provide quality living spaces for travellers.

The OYO hotel chain, founded in 2013 by Indian entrepreneur Ritesh Agarwal, has more than one million rooms under management globally.

Since its foray into Malaysia in 2016, OYO has been expanding its presence across the country, and more local hotel owners are joining the bandwagon. The company recently achieved a significant milestone, having recorded 10,000 rooms at 300 hotels in its chain across some 40 cities.

There is OYO in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Kelantan, Kuala Terengganu, Langkawi, Ipoh, Kota Baru, Johor Baru and Melaka, among other cities and towns in Malaysia.

Properties like OYO 535 Tanjong Inn in Kota Baru, Kelantan, have seen significant improvement.

This includes 70 per cent occupancy growth and double revenue, with the impact maintained even during off-peak seasons, said OYO 535 Tanjong Inn’s owner, Che Mohd Ariff.

Before joining OYO, Che Mohd Ariff said he often struggled in getting his accommodation offering noticed.

STREAMLINED MANAGEMENT

Every hotel that is a part of OYO’s chain works on OYO operating system (OS), giving them a cutting-edge advantage with sophisticated features, including express check-in and check-out.

It further allows online procurement and inventory management. The OS offers apps for housekeeping and audits while introducing solutions for multiple hotel management aspects like expense management, staff training and engagement along with performance review and incentives for the hotel staff.

Hotel owners have seen a remarkable improvement like enhanced inventory tracking, room turnaround time and service offerings.

Faster and more effective room cleanup, high-quality upkeep and well-maintained features ensure that user experiences always hit the mark.

All these facets come together to deliver technology-driven efficiency at each one of the 300-odd OYO hotels in Malaysia.

Tan Gok Khim said his hotel, OYO 246 Link Inn in Johor, recorded healthy recovery last year.

Besides boosting occupancy, revenue has also seen an increase by 30 per cent.

“With tracking of inventory and assignments switched over to a digital system, the staff have become more focused on operations. This includes delivering high-quality experiences, employing demand management strategy and creating offerings with dynamic pricing,” he said.

Occupancy at OYO 430 Oak Valley Boutique Hotel, also in Johor, saw a healthy jump from 60 per cent to more than 85 per cent.

EXPANSION IN MALAYSIA

OYO recently launched its newest offering in Malaysia, OYO Home.

The hospitality chain aims to extend the new offering to the most travelled destinations, such as Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Melaka, Penang, Kedah and Johor.

OYO Home combines OYO’s existing on-ground operations, hospitality technology, housekeeping skills, revenue management algorithms and distribution prowess to deliver a hassle-free solution to home-owners.

More than 1,000 homeowners in major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor, Kedah and Melaka have trusted OYO as their preferred choice of home management service.

OYO Malaysia country head Tan Ming Luk said the company is working towards creating quality and chic living spaces.

“What we are attempting with OYO Home guarantees unique experience for our guests and higher yields for homeowners. Malaysia offers a huge market opportunity and travellers visiting the country are keen to explore the comforts of a fully-managed holiday home.

“There’s a huge untapped opportunity in this space and we are using our strong capabilities in design, hospitality, technological expertise, financial acumen and operational capabilities to make OYO Home the preferred choice of guests,” said Tan.

(NST) Camerons MP welcomes bypass plan


CAMERON Highlands member of parliament Ramli Mohd Noor welcomed the proposed bypass to the highlands as well as the setting up of a Cameron Highlands Development Board.

He said the new road would boost the local economy by attracting more tourists.

Potential tourists, he said, tended to cancel their plans of visiting the spot out of fear of being caught in massive jams.

Ramli said that the hospitality industry would benefit the most from the increase in visitors by providing food and lodging.

Which would stimulate downstream sectors, such as farming and arts and crafts.

‘Look into the best routes that provide the best outcome when doing this joint-feasibility study.’

On the proposed board, Ramli agreed to the Pahang government initiating the measure.

‘The board can focus on the development of the highlands, including Cameron Highlands, and consolidate all functions and agencies of development under one roof.

‘On enforcement efforts, it is a very important aspect. There should not be any compromise or giving in to offenders.

‘Enforcement efforts will be easier with the departments under one roof. Serious action must be taken when it comes to illegal farming and encroachment on land and forests.’

On Monday, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail told the New Straits Times that the government had agreed to conduct a feasibility study worth RM1.5 million on the Cameron Highlands bypass project next year.

The RM800 million proposed project will include two stretches.

The first is a 23.5km route between Ringlet and Tringkap in Pahang. The second, a 7km stretch, will connect the north of Cameron Highlands.

This 7km stretch between Kuala Terla and Blue Valley, and Federal Road PT185, a route that leads to the Simpang Pulai NSE interchange in Perak towards the west, and Gua Musang, Kelantan, towards the east.

As for the board, Wan Rosdy said it would function as a planner, coordinator and regulator for sustainable development of the highlands.

The project’s proposal would be tabled in the state assembly sitting next month and if approved, work would start on Jan 1.

(The Star) Renewed commitment to urban agenda

Think City, a social purpose organisation focused on urban rejuvenation, has updated its existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) to cement their strategic partnership on achieving urban improvement goals.

“Since my appointment and the launch of the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, my work has involved advocating and introducing the New Urban Agenda (NUA) along with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) all over the world, ” said UN-Habitat executive director Datuk Seri Maimunah Mohd Sharif after signing the MOU with Think City in Kuala Lumpur.

“However, the time has come to advance the narrative, moving away from advocacy towards action. This has prompted us to extend our relationship with Think City.

“With aligned goals, joint capabilities and combined experience, we want to take action to a higher level, diving deeper to achieve improved urban environments in Malaysia and beyond, ” she said.

Maimunah said it was time for the Government to intensify localising the SDGs and the NUA to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation in Malaysia.

“In many ways, Malaysia leads in the region, in devising and implementing urban solutions such as waste management, climate action and municipal finance, ” she added.

Think City managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed said: “Think City has always had a productive partnership with UN-Habitat, particularly in achieving our joint vision of people-friendly, resilient and sustainable cities.

“This MOU further reinforces our commitment to improving the cities of Malaysia and beyond, and comes at an opportune time as we celebrate Think City’s 10th anniversary.”

The MOU between Think City and UN-Habitat, first signed in May 2018, outlined specific objectives to advocate and promote the NUA and the SDGs, specifically SDG 11 that aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The updated agreement includes laying the framework for the establishment of a centre of excellence for sustainable urban solutions in Penang, which will serve the South-East Asian region.




Hamdan (right) and Maimunah signed an extended MOU, representing Think City and UN-Habitat respectively, witnessed by Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad.



Secondly, it will guide them as they contribute to the shaping of policies and strategies in the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025) in the implementation of SDGs and the NUA.

Thirdly, the two organisations will introduce scalable projects in urban regeneration, climate change, urban resilience, territorial analysis, city diagnostics and inclusive communities as well as spatial equality.

Finally, both parties will work on expanding UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Initiative in Malaysian cities.

Next week, Think City and UN-Habitat will jointly host the first-ever regional placemaking conference.

Targeted at Asean city planners and managers, the conference aims to promote knowledge and best practices in placemaking besides encouraging discourse on solutions for the future of communities and public spaces.

Placemaker Week Asean will feature three themes for the inaugural event, namely waterfronts, historical streets and healthy communities.

Placemaking is the process of managing and designing or adapting public spaces to benefit the community’s well-being and happiness.

“It can also promote cultural identity, community bonding, population diversity, inclusiveness, health, tourism and increased commercial activities.

“Whether it is through public markets that provide fresh and nutritious food, street festivals or bike lanes to address traffic congestion, the way public spaces are designed and how these places are used have a profound impact on urban citizens and businesses, ” said Hamdan.




Hans Karssenberg of Stipo, will share his many years of experience in placemaking. (Right) Architect Nani Kahar of Lab DNA is one of the speakers at the inaugural Placemaker Week Asean which takes place from Nov 4 to 8.



Placemaker Week Asean will take place in Kuala Lumpur’s cultural heart from Nov 4 to 8, with activities consisting of educational workshops, intensive design workshops, “place games” (where participants pitch placemaking solutions to a panel based on actual locations), and seminars. It culminates in a two-day plenary session on Nov 7 and 8.

Place games is where multi-disciplinary teams consisting of urban designers, architects and planners look at solving urban challenges, while the plenaries are expected to be highly fruitful as they will feature urban rejuvenation case studies centred on placemaking by international and regional placemakers.

Other than Kuala Lumpur, various programmes will also take place in multiple locations in Penang and Johor Baru, places where Think City is also present.

According to Hamdan, Placemaker Week Asean is prompted by the rapid change that South-East Asian countries are experiencing through mass urban migration and development, placing pressure on city builders and managers to ensure public spaces are inclusive, accessible and sustainable.

“It was also initiated to help South-East Asian cities benefit from a collaborative approach to better placemaking.

“As much as our cities are pursuing economic growth, reflected in the increasing number of skyscrapers, we should not neglect what is happening within our public spaces, ” he said.

“We need to ask how we can create a sense of place and belonging. How and where can we forge social connections beyond our own homes?

“Can we still develop meaningful experiences with others as well as with our surroundings? How do we create places that people will love?” Hamdan added.

“Ideally driven by communities and city stakeholders to ensure sustainable outcomes and liveable places for all, it is also a critical component to address some of the challenges of massive urbanisation happening throughout South-East Asia, ” he said of placemaking.

He added: “We want community partners such as local councils, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, private property developers and young people to work together to answer pertinent questions, which can then lead to building a stronger civic-consciousness.”

Placemaker Week Asean is supported by Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, among others. For more details, visit www.placemakerweek.com.


(The Star) Ame Elite buys land for industrial buildings

KUALA LUMPUR: Ame Elite Consortium Bhd plans to acquire 6.08ha in Kulai, Johor for RM25mil to develop units of industrial buildings with a gross development value of RM120mil.

“The development cost will be funded by stage-of-completion payments from customers, as well as internally-generated funds and/or bank borrowing.

“The expected commencement date of the development is by the second quarter of 2020 and slated for completion in a period of 18 months, ” the company said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

The integrated industrial property solutions provider said due to the rise in demand for its industrial properties by its customers, the proposed acquisition would increase its land bank for future development and is expected to contribute positively to the group’s earnings in the future. — Bernama


(The Star) Caring Pharmacy RM10mil capex, 15 new outlets opening

KUALA LUMPUR: Caring Pharmacy Group Bhd is targeting a capital expenditure (capex) of RM8mil to RM10mil for its next financial year, where a main portion will be for the opening of new outlets.

Managing director Chong Yeow Siang said the group would open between 12 and 15 outlets, which will contribute some RM6mil to RM8mil to the total capex.

The new stores will primarily be in second-tier cities where Caring Pharmacy has low to no presence. The group currently has 125 outlets nationwide.

Meanwhile, the remaining capex will be invested in system upgrades and automation to keep its costs low.

“We believe that systems and processes are among the key winning factors in our retail business. We can increase our profit by reducing the cost of doing business. We invest quite a lot in system upgrades, ” he told reporters after the company’s AGM here yesterday.

Caring Pharmacy recorded a 10% jump year-on-year in its net profit to RM25.65mil on the back of a 17.9% increase in revenue.

Chong said the group achieved all its three key performance indicators for its financial year ended May 31, which are revenue, profit and inventory.

“Retail business is very competitive and we focus on our strategies to execute the maximum of what we’ve set.

“We will continue to work hard to achieve results and continue to add value to our shareholders, ” he said.

Asked on possibilities of collaboration between Caring Pharmacy and 7-ELEVEN MALAYSIA HOLDINGS BHD following the latter’s acquisition of a 2.65% stake between August and October this year and potential acquisitions by other parties, Chong said there is nothing material to be announced.

“7-Eleven belongs to Tan Sri Vincent Tan. I think he’s a smart investor and probably he does see some value in the long-term of Caring Pharmacy and he has confidence.

“We do evaluate any opportunity or any collaboration with anyone, ” he said.

Tan began acquiring Caring Pharmacy shares since August and has since raised his stake from around 5.29% to 11.64% as of Tuesday.

He has a direct ownership of 0.55% and 11.09% indirect ownership.

Chong also said the group has started working with reputable local manufacturers and suppliers to bring forth more high quality local products.

Caring Pharmacy imports some 70% of its pharmacy products.

He stressed that collaborations with local players did not mean the group is trying to reduce imports as it is still reliant on multinationals and pharmaceutical giants in terms technology and knowledge.

“For personal care and household products, the quality of our local-made products is on par with those imported. These manufacturers don’t have the exposure and the financial resources to build their branding and to be a nationwide retailer. We believe in giving fair chances to all local manufactures to bring forward their products, ” he said.


(The Star) Grab, TNG eWallet among most used mobile e-wallet apps

KUALA LUMPUR: Grab, Touch n’ Go eWallet, Boost, and Fave are Malaysia’s most actively used mobile e-wallets applications (app) in the past two years.

According to a research conducted by App Annie Intelligence, a mobile data and analytics platform, together with iPrice Group, an information aggregator platform in South-East Asia, the Grab app leads the most actively used app.

“It is the most downloaded app on our list as well. However, unlike other mobile apps on this list, Grab is considered as a super-app, integrating its ride-hailing, food, delivery, and other services under a single app, ” Iprice said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Touch n’ Go eWallet is the second most used and downloaded e-wallet as of the third quarter (Q3) of 2019.

Iprice said gauging its performance in the past years, the Touch n’ Go eWallet is amongst the fastest growing mobile payment apps in the country.

The e-wallet app currently has more than five million registered users.

In support of the country’s vision to be a cashless nation as aspired in the recent 2020 Budget, the research was conducted to analyse the most important e-wallet trends and key players in Malaysia today.

The prominence of e-wallets in Malaysia has grown significantly in the past years, with its huge growth mainly driven by the government’s efforts and active marketing efforts by various companies.

With a high Internet penetration rate of 80 per cent and smartphone penetration at 63 per cent, the outlook for digital payments and e-wallets is certainly bright entering into the year 2020 and beyond.

Another app, Boost, launched in 2017 and backed by Axiata Group Bhd, has consistently remained as one of the most prominent e-wallets in Malaysia. — Bernama


(The Star) MAS and SIA sign wide-ranging deal

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) and Singapore Airlines (SIA) yesterday signed a wide-ranging commercial agreement that will significantly strengthen the long-standing partnership between the two airline groups.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the national carriers propose to share revenue on flights between Singapore and Malaysia, expand code-share routes, and participate in joint marketing activities to develop tourism.

The new agreement also includes SIA’s subsidiaries SilkAir and Scoot, as well as Firefly, the sister airline of MAS.

In a joint statement, MAS and SIA said flights between Singapore and Malaysia would operate under a joint business arrangement. MAS and SIA intend to coordinate flight schedules to provide customers with more flight choices and frequencies for passenger convenience.

“As part of the agreement, the two airline groups also plan to offer joint fare products, align corporate programmes to enhance the value proposition to customers, and explore tie-ups between their frequent-flyer programmes, ” said MAS and SIA.

The two airline groups will also expand their code-share arrangements to include more destinations on each other’s networks. Today, the airlines code share on flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang.

With the expansion, SIA and SilkAir plan to code share on MAS’ domestic flights and as such, serve a total of 16 destinations in Malaysia.

In turn, MAS will progressively code share on flights between Singapore and Malaysia, Europe, South Africa and other destinations once necessary approvals are granted.

This will be implemented in phases. It represents a significant expansion of the existing code-share agreement and will provide MAS with more opportunities to expand connectivity to and from Malaysia.

In addition, MAS and SIA have agreed to work on joint marketing activities to boost long-haul tourism to Malaysia and Singapore. Both airlines will also explore the potential development of air passes, which will enable customers travelling to Malaysia through the Kuala Lumpur and Singapore hubs more choices to visit other parts of the country such as Kuantan, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu on a single ticket.

“Subject to regulatory approvals, the code-share flights will be progressively made available for sale through the airlines’ respective booking channels in key markets around the world, ” said the national carriers.

“We are very pleased to take our partnership with MAS to a new level. This will be a win-win for both our airline groups, and provide new benefits for our customers. In particular, the expanded scope of our partnership has the potential to provide a significant boost to the tourism industries in both Malaysia and Singapore, as well as the wider South-East Asian region, ” said SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong in the statement.

MAS CEO, Captain Izham Ismail, said: “We are honoured to collaborate with SIA in providing our customers a more competitive product between Malaysia and Singapore and the opportunity to travel to more global destinations. This is in line with MAS’ long-term business plan of engaging in deep partnerships to extend our reach and presence globally. This partnership is more than a conventional partnership and we believe in the mutual benefits for both airline groups and countries.”


(The Star) Khazanah not selling PLUS stake despite higher bids

PETALING JAYA: Khazanah Nasional Bhd has reiterated that it is not interested in selling its 51% stake in PLUS Malaysia Bhd highways, even as the interested private-sector suitors continue to raise their bids.

“We are not in the mood to sell the asset and actually haven’t got any kind of bidding process going on, ” Khazanah’s managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said yesterday on the sidelines of Permodalan Nasional Bhd’s Corporate Summit 2019.

“I don’t think our stand has changed. I haven’t seen their (referring to Widad Business Group or WBG’s) latest proposal, to be fair. But our stand hasn’t changed, ” he added.

WBG had yesterday made a new offer for PLUS, which makes it the highest bidder so far for the highway, which is also known as the North-South Expressway.

WBG increased its offer for PLUS with a new proposal to acquire a 100% equity interest in the company for RM5.3bil.

Including the compensation waiver of RM3.04bil and debt assumption of RM30bil, the total enterprise value of the offer comes to RM38.34bil.

The offer from WBG represents the highest bid from the private sector thus far, beating all other potential suitors.

According to WBG, the revised offer also includes the waiver of the RM11bil sukuk guarantee by the government, and a new option for the government to buy back PLUS Malaysia after 10 years based on market valuation.

The new offer by the company is a follow-up from its Oct 9 proposal to purchase a 51% stake in PLUS Expressways’ concessionaires for RM1.5bil cash or 100% of the concessionaires owned by Khazanah and the Employees Provident Fund for RM3bil in cash.

It comes in response to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comments on Oct 22 that the offers by the private sector had not been attractive enough and did not reflect the bright prospects for PLUS Malaysia.

“After some deliberation, we have come up with an upgraded offer that better reflects the bright prospects of this company, and a takeover plan that can help further reduce the financial burden of the government, as well as provide much-needed savings and convenience to the rakyat when using our roads, ” said WBG group executive chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ikmal Opat Abdullah in a statement.

WBG said it made its presentation to the Works Ministry yesterday, listing also a few commitments for the PLUS takeover.

For toll rates, WBG has proposed two different mechanisms, the first is a 25% to 40% reduction that will be passed on to road users through direct toll discounts.


(The Star) Rehda begins talks with state governments

PETALING JAYA: The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) has started talks with various state governments to reduce their pricing threshold for property purchases among foreign buyers in order to fall in line with the federal government’s Budget 2020 proposal.

In the recent budget, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng proposed that the RM1mil threshold be reduced to RM600,000 to help reduce the country’s huge residential overhang, including serviced apartments and small office home offices, which exceed some RM34bil.

Rehda Selangor chairman Zulkifly Garib said: “Land is a state matter and the final decision is still up to each individual state.

“The federal government can only suggest and the states themselves decide... the various Rehda branches are in discussion with their state governments to discuss what is the best price. It is only for one year anyway, ” he said.

He was speaking at a press conference to announce two coming Malaysia Property Expos for Ampang/Selayang and Shah Alam/Klang on Nov 1-3 and Nov 14-17, respectively.

He said that so far, only Penang has reduced its threshold from RM1mil to RM800,000.

Each state practises different pricing thresholds and policies for foreign buyers. Selangor has a cap of RM2mil and foreigners can only buy strata properties, including landed strata, but not landed non-strata properties.

Penang has a minimum threshold of RM1mil, likewise Johor. Melaka has a threshold of RM500,000.

Zulkifly said the number of foreign property buyers in the country is very small. Even then, most of them are limited to the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang.

“There is no reason to be concerned that developers would raise their prices to meet the RM600,000 threshold. Our prices are subject to the approval of the Local Government and Housing Ministry. So, developers cannot simply raise prices.

“Secondly, this suggestion by the federal government is limited to unsold completed units. It is limited to strata developments. It is only valid for one year, from Jan 1,2020.”

He said the state governments are looking at the federal government’s suggestion, its mechanism, and the pros and cons of a similar ceiling price.

“It is still status quo as far as the states are concerned (for now), but it is good to lower it. It is a good (temporary) policy because it would enable developers to reduce their inventory.

“But really, it depends on each state (if they view it as such). It is just to encourage foreign buyers to buy to help absorb the overhang.”

He said if this move could spur foreigners to buy, it would indeed help the property sector because a lot of the developers’ resources are now tied to the huge stock of unsold but completed units.

Zulkifly said Selangor had a RM2mil threshold, so different states would put (in) different conditions.

He said official meetings with the respective state authorities have yet to begin.

Rehda Selangor deputy chairman Datuk Ho Hon Sang said: “It is a good move for property developers. As far as property developers are concerned, most of them have (tried) to sell these properties over a period of time already.

“So this is one avenue – opening it up to foreign buyers. This may motivate them to come and unlock (these unsold units) into cash. So far, we are glad that Penang has made a change. So, we are seeking the states to lower the floor price. We have not made an official representation.”


(The Star) PM: GLCs must not stifle private sector

KUALA LUMPUR: The call has become louder for government-linked companies (GLCs) to not crowd out the private sector, and to reassess their priorities.

The Prime Minister said GLCs and government-linked investment companies (GLICs) must re-evaluate their level of participation in corporate Malaysia.

Speaking at the Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) Corporate Summit 2019, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this was necessary in order to build a solid and inclusive future for the country.

While these companies were initially set up with specific mandates, he said GLCs and GLICs had now become “very involved” in almost every sector of the economy.

“While this has created corporate juggernauts, it needs to be recognised that it is not their role to smother the opportunities of others.

“They should not crowd out and directly compete with the private sector, especially in non-strategic businesses, ” he said in his opening address.




Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad delivering his opening speech at PNB Corporate Summit 2019. AZMAN GHANI/ The Star



Dr Mahathir said there were some exceptions to this, such as in the manufacturing sector, whereby its steady growth had been underpinned by strong private investment.

He said multinational corporations from more than 40 countries have invested in over 5,000 Malaysian companies in the manufacturing and related services sectors.

“This is a clear indicator of the positive impact of allowing the private sector to take the lead.

“This is not to say the GLCs and GLICs should not play a role, but they – especially the GLICs - all have distinctive purposes, ” he said.

PNB, he noted, had been set up with a clear mandate on affirmative action to increase bumiputra participation and ownership in the corporate sector – and had done an excellent job.

Others include LTAT – to generate returns for the pensions of members of the Armed Forces – and Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP), which is the pension fund for the civil service.

“These companies have well-established and clear mandates.

“Unfortunately, despite this, they were previously made to serve the interest of self-serving and greedy leaders, ” he said, adding that the government had “no business to be in business”.

GLCs and GLICs, he said, must be professionally-run and should not stifle private-sector competition.

A competitive landscape, he added, would ensure healthy competition and efficient outcomes.

Dr Mahathir said the imbalance between public and private sector participation in corporate Malaysia, if left unchecked, could prove detrimental to the country’s future.

“GLICs and GLCs must focus on creating strong institutions and establishing the necessary infrastructure and supporting policies to fuel the growth, and by doing so, become a catalyst that will spur the private sector, ” he said.

The PNB Corporate Summit was organised by PNB Research Institute Sdn Bhd, the research unit of PNB.

PNB group chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, in her welcoming speech, said the summit aimed to surface the important issues relevant to the corporate sector.

The private sector, she said, had a key role in driving and achieving the country’s sustainable growth agenda.

“Towards this end, and echoing the government’s call for transformation, GLICs and GLCs must be conscious of their role in the economy and for the need to re-evaluate their priorities, ” she said.

She added that these companies must take on an important role in propelling greater private-sector participation to contribute to Malaysia’s long-term sustainable growth.

Later, during a panel session, Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said corporates should not be deemed as “GLCs” just because they had GLCs or GLICs as investors.

“Just because Khazanah happens to own shares in CIMB (Bank), it doesn’t mean CIMB should be considered a GLC.

“It has to compete head on with all the other commercial banks – as well as with the fintech companies and other disruptors, ” he said, citing the bank as an example.

The best thing that the government could do, he said, was to “unshackle” these companies from having to act like GLCs or government entities, and to enable them to focus on improving their business and competing on a level playing field.

“And if this means being disruptive to your own workforce, or shedding jobs, then you should just do it, ” he said.

He noted, however, that there were some national monopolies, such as Tenaga Nasional Bhd, for which a slightly different approach was needed.

which is the pension fund for the civil service.

“These companies have well-established and clear mandates.

“Unfortunately, despite this, they were previously made to serve the interest of self-serving and greedy leaders, ” he said, adding that the government had “no business to be in business”.

GLCs and GLICs, he said, must be professionally-run and should not stifle private-sector competition.

A competitive landscape, he added, would ensure healthy competition and efficient outcomes.

Dr Mahathir said the imbalance between public and private sector participation in corporate Malaysia, if left unchecked, could prove detrimental to the country’s future.

“GLICs and GLCs must focus on creating strong institutions and establishing the necessary infrastructure and supporting policies to fuel the growth, and by doing so, become a catalyst that will spur the private sector, ” he said.

The PNB Corporate Summit was organised by PNB Research Institute Sdn Bhd, the research unit of PNB.

PNB group chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, in her welcoming speech, said the summit aimed to surface the important issues relevant to the corporate sector.

The private sector, she said, had a key role in driving and achieving the country’s sustainable growth agenda.

“Towards this end, and echoing the government’s call for transformation, GLICs and GLCs must be conscious of their role in the economy and for the need to re-evaluate their priorities, ” she said.

She added that these companies must take on an important role in propelling greater private-sector participation to contribute to Malaysia’s long-term sustainable growth.

Later, during a panel session, Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said corporates should not be deemed as “GLCs” just because they had GLCs or GLICs as investors.

“Just because Khazanah happens to own shares in CIMB (Bank), it doesn’t mean CIMB should be considered a GLC.

“It has to compete head on with all the other commercial banks – as well as with the fintech companies and other disruptors, ” he said, citing the bank as an example.

The best thing that the government could do, he said, was to “unshackle” these companies from having to act like GLCs or government entities, and to enable them to focus on improving their business and competing on a level playing field.

“And if this means being disruptive to your own workforce, or shedding jobs, then you should just do it, ” he said.

He noted, however, that there were some national monopolies, such as Tenaga Nasional Bhd, for which a slightly different approach was needed.


(The Star) ‘Sarawak will achieve target of five million tourists this year’

KUCHING: Sarawak will be able to achieve its target of five million tourist arrivals this year, says Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said Sarawak had a lot of tourism products to offer to visitors, as well as a wide range of events to attract foreign tourists.

“The tourism industry in the state has made tremendous achievements, including the Visit Sarawak campaign, which started this year.

“Sarawak is well known overseas, so visitors will continue to come,” he said after opening an engagement session with local industry players in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020 soft launching here yesterday.

Mohamaddin said the session was a platform for building close relationships and smart partnerships between industry players and government agencies while contributing to the growth of the tourism sector in the state.

“Among one of the main objectives is to improve the tourism industry in Sarawak.

“It will also look into the most effective promotion efforts to increase tourist arrivals from both domestic and international markets.

“It is timely to leverage on this opportunity as we are stepping up promotions ahead of Visit Malaysia 2020,” he said.

The minister said the government hoped to welcome 30 million tourists from all over the world to experience the beauty and wonders of Malaysia next year.

Mohamaddin also told the participants that the government had launched a RM5mil special tourism promotion fund known as Gamelan Malaysia, under which matching grants would be offered to eligible industry players.

He said the fund aimed to assist industry players in their international tourism promotion and marketing programmes to increase international tourist arrivals while boosting domestic tourism.

“The ceiling of the matching grant is RM200,000. Industry players can apply online through Tourism Malaysia,” he said.

Those eligible include certified tourism associations, tourism agencies registered with the ministry and clubs promoting special interests such as golf vacations and scuba diving packages.


(The Star) No formal sales target set for luxury homes

The government has not set an official target for the recently-announced sale of luxury homes to foreigners policy, the Dewan Rakyat heard.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said there were no formal or structured plans with regard to the sales target for the sale of such homes to foreigners.

“The price of luxury homes for foreigners is still a state matter with the respective states having differing thresholds,” she said when answering a question raised by Tan Sri Annuar Musa (BN-Ketereh).

Zuraida cited examples where Selangor and Penang had a threshold of RM2mil while other states pegged it at RM1mil.

She also said efforts were underway by the ministry to develop a big data system to resolve the property overhang issue in the country.

Pressed further by Annuar if it was her ministry that had proposed lowering the threshold for foreigners to own luxury homes, Zuraida said it wasn’t.

“This policy was introduced by the Economic Planning Unit under the previous administration which is currently under the Economic Affairs Ministry.

“However, the proposal was from the Finance Ministry in view of sales of such homes to foreigners was only 0.4% or only 386 individuals who had bought homes above RM1mil,” she said.

Zuraida said the proposal was introduced by the Finance Ministry following concerns over the overhang of luxury properties.

“The move to lower the threshold to allow foreign ownership of luxury homes would ensure cash flow in the country,” she added.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in his Budget 2020 speech announced that the threshold on the prices of high rise property in urban areas for foreign ownership would be lowered from RM1mil to RM600,000.

(The Star) Taiping picked for Age-Friendly City pilot project

TAIPING: Taiping has been selected for the implementation of the first phase of the Age-Friendly City pilot project.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the project would involve a development planning process that was expected to take two years.

She said based on the expected scenario of the country’s population for years to come, the government, through the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, in collaboration with the Perak government, Taiping Municipal Council and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), drafted a pilot project towards establishing an age-friendly city in Taiping.

“To date, the government has received funds totalling US$267,000 (RM1.1mil) from UNDP to begin a comprehensive study on Taiping’s current status as an age-friendly city based on international guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation,” she said in her speech at the launch of the pilot project here yesterday.

Dr Wan Azizah said the results of the comprehensive study would be compiled to develop a National Comprehensive Framework adjusted to local needs that could be adapted elsewhere.

“The project is also an instrument to integrate the role of individuals in the community and the local community so that the living environment is barrier-free and safe by establishing an effective support system,” she said.

The ministry, she said, hoped that the age-friendly city concept could be expanded throughout the country with the cooperation of state governments and the local authorities.

Perak is expected to become the oldest state in terms of population in Malaysia in 2020 when the senior group reaches 385,000 or 14.9% of the estimated 2.6 million total population, she said.

According to data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the country would reach aged nation status by 2030 with the percentage of people aged 60 and above at 15.3%, she added.

“This means that the population of senior citizens at that time will be 5.8 million compared to the estimated population of 38.1 million,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah said according to WHO, the percentage of senior citizens who would migrate or stay in cities was the same as for young people at 80% and it was expected to increase at the same rate.

“More senior citizens are expected to live in urban areas by 2050, representing one-fourth of the total urban population in developing countries,” she said.

At a press conference after visiting a relief centre at SK Changkat Lobak in Kerian, Dr Wan Azizah said the study on age-friendly city was started in September and MyAgeing Universiti Putra Malaysia was appointed as the main consultant.

Meanwhile, UNDP deputy resident representative Niels Knudsen said as the world continued to urbanise, creating more sustainable pathways depended increasingly on the successful management of urban growth.

“We are therefore excited about the prospects of the Age-Friendly City project and of the potential for using the lessons generated in Taiping to form national policies as Malaysia prepares for the future,” he said. — Bernama


(The Star) Malaysia seeks another RTS extension

KUALA LUMPUR: There will still be no decision today by the Malaysian government on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project. Despite the pressing need for the proposed Johor Baru-Singapore connection and the possibility of a hefty compensation payable to Singapore, Malaysia is seeking another six-month extension to review the RM4bil project.


This is the third request for more time.

The initial six-month grace period approved by Singapore expired on Sept 30.

This was followed by a one-month extension granted by the republic, which meant that the Malaysian government was to have made a decision by today.

The extra time was given without Singapore making any financial demands over the delay in the project.

Officials told The Star that the latest request for a six-month extension was made known to Singapore on Monday – 48 hours before today’s deadline.

It was learnt that the Transport Ministry was still unable to resolve certain issues on its side, prompting the need for more time for the review.

These issues include the relocation of the RTS depot, currently proposed to be in Singapore, and the rail system to be used.

An official said Singapore could reserve the right to backdate claims for damages relating to the delay, or even reduce the review period sought by Malaysia.

Work on the 4km link was suspended in May.

The proposed RTS will use the same rolling stock and signalling system like Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast line Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

According to one official, some observers said that an MRT system was costlier to build and maintain, and Malaysia could be looking for a less sophisticated system to bring down the cost of the project.

Last month, The Star reported that Malaysia was studying the option of getting the private sector to fund and operate the RTS.

The request for a further extension is expected to set off a storm in Johor, where officials have been pressing for an expedited resolution to the issue due to worsening congestion at the Causeway.

At present, more than 367,000 people use the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex daily, with 254,000 of them at the Johor Baru side and 113,000 at the Second Link.

In unveiling Budget 2020 on Oct 11, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the government would proceed with the RTS project.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed this but said “it will take some time”.

Both governments signed a bilateral agreement last year to build the cross-border MRT link from Woodlands in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in Johor to help alleviate congestion at the Causeway.

Under the proposal, the RTS will have two stations, with the Singapore terminus located at Woodlands North and the Malaysia terminus at Bukit Chagar.

Both stations will have co-located Singaporean and Malaysian customs, immigration and quarantine facilities.

Initially targeted for completion by Dec 31, 2024, the RTS will be the second rail link between the two countries after the KTM Tebrau shuttle service.

However, the agreement with Singapore spells out that the KTM shuttle train service will have to cease operating within six months after the RTS starts operating.

Should Malaysia choose to scrap the RTS project, it may have to pay Singapore up to RM200mil for the preparatory work that the republic has done on its side.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

(NST) Chant wants Penang to explain 'new' land reclamation proposal


GEORGE TOWN: A non-governmental organisation (NGO) has called on the Penang state government to come clean about a proposal for a 121 hectares land reclamation project.

Citizen Awareness Chant Group (Chant) legal adviser Yan Lee said he was tipped off by a highly placed source that the project would involve creation of an island off the coast of Tanjung Bungah.

“The graphics of the proposal shows that the project will start near the floating mosque in Tanjung Bungah and go further north to the Shang-ri La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Batu Ferringhi.

“We were told that at least 300 acres would be reclaimed from this area. Our question to the chief minister (Chow Kon Yeow), can the government please be transparent and reveal whether there is such a proposal and is the state government considering this project?

“What is the reclamation for and is it also to fund the Penang Transport Master Plan?” he asked in a press conference today.

Lee also shared pictures allegedly of the developers' proposal to the state government, which says the island and the shorefront reclamation would result in “world-class luxury hotels and resorts, wellness centre, private institution, apartments, and floating villas.”

Lee also asked State Local Government chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo whether the proposed reclamation project was to combat climate change.

He said this was because Jagdeep had previously stated that the Penang South Reclamation project, which will see three islands measuring about 1,800 hectares created off the southwestern tip of the island, was to combat climate change.

“Jagdeep is a brilliant lawyer, would appreciate if he and the state government can engage a climatologist to advise on this. The rakyat (people) are concerned,” he said.

Meanwhile, when contacted Chow said he would answer the matter during the State Legislative Assembly sitting, which starts this Friday.

(NST) Zuraida: RM8.3b worth of luxury homes unsold


KUALA LUMPUR: Unsold luxury homes (worth RM1 million and above) is a serious matter, which needs to be addressed urgently.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the issue has affected the country's economic growth as well as creating social problems in affected areas.

According to her, in the second quarter of 2019, a total of 4,213 or 12.8 per cent of luxury homes worth RM1 million and above, worth RM8.3 billion in total were unsold.

Zuraida said selling off these houses to qualified foreigners would reduce the unsold unit of homes and would ensure the country's economic growth.

"The Finance Ministry has noted the surplus of luxury homes is a serious matter. My ministry needs to manage and find a solution to ensure our cash flow is restored, with the selling of these homes at a cost of RM600,000 and above," she said at the Dewan Rakyat here today.

Zuraida was replying to a question from Tan Sri Annuar Musa (BN- Ketereh) on whether the new threshold policy on the luxury homes came from her ministry or the Finance Ministry.

She said from January till June this year, only 0.4 per cent of luxury homes (398 units) in the country were sold to foreigners.

"The ownership for Malaysians is still at 99 per cent.

"The threshold to sell luxurious homes from RM1 million to RM600,000 was announced by the Finance Ministry in 2020 Budget.”