Malaysian property market remains resilient: housing robust but commerical glutted

Developers optimistic of H2 but not sure about 2013

PETALING JAYA: The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) expects the housing and property market to plateau in the second half of 2012, but will remain resilient.

According to a survey Rehda conducted, property developers are optimistic of the second half and more respondents plan to launch projects.

The survey is based on a sample size of 180 companies, out of the 1,003 Rehda members.

Property developers are less optimistic of the first half of 2013 due to certain factors, including the outcomes of the 13th general elections and Budget 2013. The current global economic situation also contributes some uncertainty.

The results of the survey show that the property market in the first half of this year is still driven by the domestic market, despite beliefs that foreigners are buying more local properties. Last year, only 2% of total properties transacted were from foreigners.

Rehda president Datuk Seri Michael Yam said the Government should review building less low-cost homes. In 2011, 1.04 million units out if the total 4.51 million total residential stock were low-cost homes.

“As Malaysia moves towards striving to reach developed nation status by 2020, the Government should review if there is a need for so many low-cost homes,” Yam said.

Rehda national treasurer N.K. Tong said: “Perhaps the Government should consider implementing a limitation to low-cost homes like what Singapore has done with the HDB (Housing and Development Board) flats.”

HDB flat owners-to-be are not allowed to own any other properties in Singapore, or in any other part of the world. Tong said if such a plan was implemented in Malaysia, there would be less abuse of these properties, unfairness caused to developers and to a larger extent the people. See post in Singapore moves to discourage shoebox apartments

“I’m more concerned with the supply factor. It is moving downwards due to the shortage of prime land and rising building costs. Come 2015, if the Government is serious about implementing the build-and-sell plan, the supply (of houses) will reduce by about 80%,” Rehda past president Datuk Ng Seing Liong said.

His main concern if the plan was implemented was that property prices would continue to trend upwards due to the supply and demand equilibrium.

“In terms of the property sector, we must look at a long-term scenario,” he said in regards to future plan implementations.

Rehda public relations, communications and publication committee member Che King Tow said the Government usually owned the best-located properties.

He said it would benefit the public if the Government could consider releasing its land in high-density areas such as Jalan Duta and Selangor Golf Course in the upcoming budget.

“Those are suitable prime land for mass housing. They can cut down on ownership of cars, and use public transport instead,” he said.

Yam also urged the Government to establish an automatic-release mechanism to enable the release of unsold bumiputera units. Although Rehda has not complained about allocating a portion for bumiputera buyers, the unsold properties are affecting the developers.

“More projects are having unreleased unsold bumiputera lots which impact the developer’s cash flow. An auto-release mechanism should be put in place to automatically release the unsold properties after a stipulated time to prevent this,” he said.


Housing market robust but commercial property glutted

Malaysia’s residential property sector will continue its upward momentum thanks to ample supply and demand as well as a change in the demographic structure, according to figures from the National Property Information Centre (Napic).

Last year, 269,789 residential deals valued at RM61.83 billion were recorded, the largest in the past five years.

Napic’s statistics also showed that demand for units priced below RM150,000 was strong, accounting for 145,785 deals, or 54 percent of all the residential transactions for 2011. Moreover, this is an increase of 12.6 percent compared to the previous year’s 129,441 transactions.

“On a similar upward trend, the demand for high-end units priced above RM500,000 increased gradually to 21,905 transactions from the 16,782 transactions recorded in 2010,” said the Napic report, adding that the Malaysian All House Price Index soared to 154.6 points from 140.7 points in 2010.

“This was (also) attributed to the increase in affordability level and supported by the ease in borrowing and attractive loan packages offered by the financial institutions,” commented Datuk Ng Seng Liong, Past President of Real Estate and Housing Developer’s Association of Malaysia (REHDA).

However, there are concerns that Klang Valley‘s commercial property sector is facing a supply glut, said Dr Ernest Cheong, Principle of Ernest Cheong PTL Sdn Bhd. He believed that the problem can be solved by creating additional demand or stopping construction of commercial property.

La-Brooy, Chief Executive Officer at Axis REIT Managers Bhd, concurs. He explained that rental and occupancy rates will be pressured later this year because as much as five million sq ft of office space are scheduled for completion for the remainder of 2012.

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Why Malaysian Evidence Act Section 114A should be repealed

Continued opposition to this piece of legislation may yet result in it being taken off the statute books.

THE recent amendment to the Evidence Act with the insertion of Section 114(A) basically presumes that a person who is depicted in a publication as owner or administrator is presumed to have published the contents.

This effectively means that those named in publications are presumed guilty of any offending content that may be posted, including those on the Internet where there is no licensing and it is easy to use some other person’s name, photograph and details as the originator.

This presumption of guilt, requiring the accused to prove his innocence, instead of the prosecution having to prove his guilt, is a strange reversal of the rule of law when the entire justice system is based on the assumption of innocence unless guilt is proven.

It is stranger still coming in the wake of moves to liberalise draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act which provided for detention without trial, and the Universities and University Colleges Act which severely curtailed the rights of students to participate in the political process.

When there is such liberalisation taking place, it is strange that the Government should be setting the clock back by introducing legislation that goes clearly against the grain of justice.

Yes, the Internet space is a raucous one and lots of stuff are pasted and posted, and people, including many in the Government, the Cabinet and the Opposition, are regularly blasted for things that they may or may not have done.

But there are laws to deal with them such as the defamation laws. And some of the victims have sought recourse to these with visible success, which includes Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

Why, therefore, should a sledgehammer be given to prosecutors to bring a tonne of weight down indiscriminately on people who may not have committed the offence, but may have a tough time proving that they had not and may become involved in tangled knots with the law for a long time?

Conspiracy theorists, of whom a lot exist in this country due to the nature of the way things are, have immediately seen this as a move to limit criticism. That’s hardly a PR effort by the Government.

When the Centre for Independent Journalism organised an Internet blackout on Aug 14, it met with a tremendous response and many people just did not post anything on the Net during that particular day.

Such support must have had an effect on the decision of the Prime Minister to call upon the Cabinet to review its decision to pass the amendment to the relevant Act.

“Whatever we do we must put the people first,” the PM had tweeted, and who can disagree with that?

But unfortunately, the Cabinet stuck to its guns and backed its previous decision.

Dr Rais said the Cabinet discussed it exhaustively and decided not to make any changes because Parliament was represented by the ruling party and the Opposition and had debated it.

“Once it is officially passed, to do something now is an afterthought,” he said.

Dr Rais added that the Law Minister would explain further.

Later, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the controversial amendment would be explained further by the Attorney-General.

“If explained properly, I believe right-thinking people will know why the amendment was tabled in Parliament and approved. If there still are fears, laws can also be tweaked, amended and abolished, but don’t get emotional about it,” he said.

Those interested will wait for the Government explanation, although Dr Rais had already said that presumption of fact was nothing new in law and there was still room for accused persons to defend themselves.

The converse position is that such a law can be abused.

Those who want to “fix” someone on the Net can post comments and claim that it came from that particular person. And that person will be tied up in knots trying to defend himself.

That is the main fear among Internet users and other publishers.

Inordinate power is in the hands of prosecutors who now don’t have to prove who the real publishers are.

The question is why grant them these additional powers under the amendment when the entire Internet is subject to the laws of the country?

The only difference is that there is no licensing of the Internet compared to conventional media such as print and broadcasting.

Thus, the new laws are seen as a move to bring the Internet under control more quickly than using existing laws, a move which the disinterested would oppose.

Policymakers may actually realise that. As seen by the quote from the Home Minister above, if there is continued strong opposition to the amendment, it could be repealed.

Perhaps it may need another tweet from the Prime Minister to make that happen, and this time he will be at that Cabinet meeting.

That should make a difference to what the Cabinet may think.

Question Time By P. Gunasegaram

> Like most people, P Gunasegaram can’t stand presumptuous people.

Related posts:

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60% of Malaysian accountants from Ktar?

KUALA LUMPUR: Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman (Ktar) has produced 60% of accountants from Malaysia, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

The college, he added, was also a recipient of the Platinum Status Award by the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

One of the criteria to qualify for the prestigious award is that students must consistently achieve pass rates that exceed the rest of the world in the ACCA examination.

While Ktar would be elevated to a unversity college next year, Dr Chua gave his assurance that its School of Business Studies would continue to flourish.

Nevertheless, he said there would be some changes like consolidating its 130 programmes, continuing only selected diploma programmes and introducing university programmes.

Dr Chua said deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has been given a month to come up with recommendations on the changes.

The changes would also make sure that Ktar and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) would complement each other and develop together, instead of competing against each other, he said in an interview at his office here.

Dr Chua noted that the two institutions were set up and run by MCA to provide quality and affordable education to Malaysians and contribute to the country’s development.

Both had produced some 200,000 graduates who found jobs within six months upon graduation, he added.

Dr Chua said the college was proposed by then MCA president Tun Tan Siew Sin at the party’s annual general assembly in July 1968.

Ktar, which took in its first batch of 320 students in February 1969, now has a total enrolment of 25,000 at its main campus here and branch campuses in Penang, Perak, Johor, Pahang and Sabah.

It had undergone rapid expansion at its main campus and set up branch campuses under then MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik in the 1990s, he added.

Dr Chua said the Government’s ringgit-to-ringgit annual allocation for Ktar’s development and administration costs since 1972 would continue, adding that RM56mil had been allocated for the purpose next year.

The allocation was needed to keep its fees affordable, he said, adding that the fees were between RM9,000 and RM10,000.

Fees at other established private colleges ranged from RM20,000 to RM40,000.

Plans were afoot to expand the main campus here to include a faculty building, students’ centre and hall and vocational training building.

He said the development on Ktar’s 21ha plot could proceed after the relocation of about 500 squatter families.

Dr Chua said Ktar principal Dr Tan Chik Heok has been given six months, beginning last month, to resolve the squatter issue.

Dr Tan heads a committee of academic staff which is working with Kuala Lumpur City Hall on the relocation, he added.


House price hike likely

Penang properties said to increase 5%-10% due to more costly cement

GEORGE TOWN: The selling price of properties in Penang will soon surge by 5%-10% following the recent move by Lafarge Malayan Cement to raise cement prices by about 6%, according to housing developers here.

Following Lafarge’s announcement, a 50kg bag of cement is now priced at RM17.50, compared to RM16.50 before the hike.

Penang Master Builders & Building Materials Dealers Association president Lim Kai Seng said 60% to 80% of the materials used for a building comprised cement and cement-related materials.

“This is why an increase in cement price will have a significant impact on property prices.

Lim: ‘The price of sand is now RM40- RM43 per cu yard.’ Lim: ‘The price of sand is now RM40- RM43 per cu yard.’

“The other cement manufacturers in the country have sent signals that they will raise prices very soon,” Lim said.

There are six cement producers in Malaysia, namely YTL Cement Bhd, Tasek Corp Bhd, Cement Industries of Malaysia Bhd, Lafarge, CMS Cement Sdn Bhd, and Holcim (M) Sdn Bhd.

Only Sarawak-based CMS Cement has confirmed it would keep prices at the current level.

Lim said the price of other essential building materials such as sand and aggregate had also increased.

“The price of sand is now between RM40 and RM43 per cu yard, depending on the grade, compared to RM38-RM40 earlier this year.

“The price of aggregates is now at RM21 per tonne, compared to RM20 per tonne earlier this year,” he said.

House prices on the island are expected to rise by 10%, while in Seberang Prai, housing prices are expected rise by 5%, following the hike in cement price.

Kuala Lumpur-based developers such as Mah Sing Group Bhd and SP Setia Bhd with projects in Penang will continue to absorb the cost of the cement price increase.

Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Alex Ooi said the company was now revising the selling prices of its new projects upwards, due to the hike in cement price.

Ooi: ‘There will be a 10% hike in the selling price of properties in Penang.’ Ooi: ‘There will be a 10% hike in the selling price of properties in Penang.’

“There will be at least a 10% hike in the selling price of properties on the island.

“A hike in cement price means the price of all cement-related products such as concrete and bricks will rise. Construction cost will go up by between 15% and 20%.

“We expect the rest of the cement manufacturers in the country to adjust the price of cement upwards in the next one to two months,” he said.

In addition to the rise in cement prices, the cost of labour and transportation charges have also increased this year.

Tambun Indah Land Bhd managing director K.S. Teh said the cost of labour had increased to RM45 per day this year, compared to RM35 a year ago.

Transportation charges for sand have increased to RM450 per truck load this year from RM400 a year ago.

“There is also a labour shortage, as many Indonesian workers have gone back to Indonesia, which is booming currently.

“The selling price of properties will be impacted by the hike in raw materials and labour costs.

“However, Tambun Indah will absorb the increase in the price of raw materials until year-end.

“We will revise our pricing next year,” he added.

Teh said the selling price of properties on the island would increase more because of the additional transportation charges to ferry the raw materials to the island.

“This is why the increase in property prices on the island will be around 10%, compared to about 5% in Seberang Prai,” he said.

Tambun Indah will be launching next month the Straits Garden@Jelutong on the island, the Pearl Residence@Pearl City and Pearl Indah@Pearl City projects in Simpang Ampat.

The Straits Garden is a high-rise project comprising 183 condominiums priced from RM688,000 onwards, while the Pearl Residence@Pearl City and Pearl Indah@Pearl City schemes comprise landed properties priced between RM353,000 and RM508,000.

Mah Sing managing director and chief executive Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum said the cement price hike would have less than a 1% impact on construction cost.

“Most of our projects have been tendered out and the construction costs are already locked in,” he added.

SP Setia property (north) general manager Khoo Teck Chong said the group would absorb this impact for now to be competitive.

”If other raw material prices such as bricks, rebar and tiles were to increase drastically, we may then have to review and adjust our property selling price accordingly,” Khoo added.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) chief executive officer Shila Dorai Raj had said the price hike by cement manufacturers did not at this juncture warrant a formal investigation.

“Price increases are by themselves not anti-competitive in nature. However, if there is evidence of collusion among the competitors to increase prices, this would be of concern to MyCC and may merit an investigation,” she said.


When the wife is boss

Hubbies fall victim to abuse of high-earning, dominant spouses

PETALING JAYA: Earning less than your wife can be hazardous to your wellbeing as quite a number of men have discovered.

Although incidents of wives abusing husbands rarely appear in the media, the Welfare Department has been receiving cases of men being mistreated by dominant women every year.

Many of the culprits are women who earn more than their spouses.

The Welfare Department received 25 reports from men who were abused by their wives or girlfriends last year, 32 in 2010 and 14 in 2009.

Most cases were reported in Selangor, followed by the Federal Territory, and the offences included threatening injury, causing physical harm, emotional abuse and locking up the men.

The Department of Women Development received four cases of abused men last year, with financial disagreement being the root of all cases.

In each case, “the wife is more dominant in the family and earns a higher income than the husband,” it said in an e-mail.

Women, on the other hand, reported 117 cases of domestic abuse up to June this year, compared to 649 last year and 663 in 2010.

Neuro-psychologist Dr Nivashinie Mohan said that financial stress was the major cause of domestic violence against men.

“Studies have shown that women assault men about as often as men assault women,” she said.

“While men tend to cause more damage because they are usually stronger, women can even the odds with weapons such as knives, high heels and sharp nails.”

Dr Nivashinie said abused men were reluctant to turn to the authorities for fear of appearing “unmanly”.

“Society also teaches men that it’s wrong to hit women, so they don’t retaliate,” she added.

Many of the women who abused men were alcoholic while some could be suffering from certain personality disorders that cause them to be violent towards their partners.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said that some women were breadwinners and abused their husbands for “reckless spending”.

He also encountered four cases of wives becoming violent after learning that their spouses had affairs.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Ting Joe Hang said women might look on spouses who earn less as “useless” and as a result, would abuse them.

He said there may be reasons other than money problems.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kie said there was no excuse for domestic violence and advised the victims both women and men to contact the Welfare Department or its 104 district offices nationwide or Talian Nur at 15999

By P. ARUNA and YUEN MEIKENG The Star/Asia News Network

Land sold for a song?

Taman Manggis land sold at half the market price

GEORGE TOWN: A company owned by a businessman from Kuala Lumpur bought the 0.4ha state land in Taman Manggis here for RM11mil although the market price is RM22mil.

Contentious issue: The 0.4ha plot of land in Taman Manggis at the junction of Jalan Zainal Abidin-Lorong Selamat in Penang.

State Barisan Nasional information chief H’ng Khoon Leng, who revealed this, questioned why the land was sold so cheaply.

He said only two bids were received and both bids were from companies owned by the businessman, who is a Datuk.

He said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should explain if he knew the businessman personally.

“I challenge Lim to declassify the open tender documents, including minutes of the exco meeting which approved the sale of the land,” he told a press conference here.

H’ng said information obtained from the land office showed that Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre Sdn Bhd and Victoria International Medical Centre submitted bids for the land.

Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre Sdn Bhd emerged successful when it submitted a bid of RM232 per sq ft or RM11mil.

H’ng said the businessman owned more than 20 companies, including several medical specialists centres, tour agencies and foreign workers’ agencies.

It was reported that the land at the Jalan Zainal Abidin-Lorong Selamat-Jalan Burma junction had been sold to a company which plans to set up a private medical specialist centre.

The land was earlier reserved for a People’s Housing Project.


Straits International School (SIS) coming up in Penang

PENANG has been chosen by Charter Sdn Bhd as the site of their first educational centre called the Straits International School (SIS).

SIS Charter Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Lita Nasyitah Goh Abdullah said they decided on Penang as their first education hub in Malaysia as they believed Penang was one of the most developed states.

“We look forward to nurturing and guiding young Penangites towards greater success and a lifetime of achievement.

“We choose Bayan Lepas specifically as it is a free industrial zone and a destination for plenty of multinational companies.

“The locality also has great accessibility, infrastructure and logistics,” she said.

She was speaking before the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between Oztek (M) Sdn Bhd and SIS Charter Sdn Bhd at the Eastin Hotel recently.

“We see that Penang is gearing up to be an education hub. Hence, the setting up of our campus here is a decision which will defi-nitely benefit all concerned,” she added.

Oztek (M) Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Alex Ooi, who is the developer, said that his company was currently finalising the building plan with the Penang Municipal Council.

The company is clearing a 0.809 ha plot of land in Jalan Tun Dr Awang.

“The build-up area of the school is about 200,000sq ft (about 18580sq m) and the building costs about RM20mil to RM25mil.

“Construction will start in January next year and is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2014.”

Ooi added that the building will be able to host about 1,500 students.

“We are looking to lease the building to SIS Charter Sdn Bhd for 20 years,” he said.

SIS will begin its academic programme from its temporary campus at 1-Square, Penang Cyber City, which is at Tingkat Mahsuri 1, Bayan Lepas,

The new term will start on Aug 27.

Witnessing the MoA followed by the launching of the temporary campus was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Lim said that the new five-storey building of the school would be a state-of-the-art facility.

“The incorporation of the SIS underlines the growing importance of providing quality curriculum.

“This move will help place Penang as an educational hub of choice for not only the locals but the expatriate communities living in Thailand and Indonesia.”

The Star/Asia News Network

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