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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A RM53mil road in Balik Pulau no one wants, now a township will be taking shape there on dangerously unstable mangrove swamps, and the Penang govt isn't aware of it !!

Ongoing work: A general view of the road project linking Kampung Sungai Pinang to Kampung Pulau Betong.
Ongoing work: A general view of the road project linking Kampung Sungai Pinang to Kampung Pulau Betong.

It's is unnecessary and the money is better spent elsewhere, says locals

BALIK PULAU: The government’s move to build a RM53mil road linking Kampung Sungai Pinang in the north to Kampung Pulau Betong on the south-western end of the island has got local folks fuming.

Fisherman Wan Mohizan Wan Hussein is one such person. The 52-year-old said the project would threaten Balik Pulau’s image of being “one with nature”.

“It would be better to spend the money on flood mitigation in the area,” he suggested.

“If it rains for two hours straight, there will definitely be flooding. That’s something that should be addressed,” he said.

Wan Mohizan said furthermore, the new road would be built along an existing narrow dirt trail and he felt that prices of land in the vicinity would increase.

“What if developers start coming here and offer to buy Balik Pulau farmland for development? Can we stop them?

“This side of the island is flat and easy to develop. The road can change Balik Pulau,” he said.

Balik Pulau is the “last hinterland” of Penang island, a flat farmland of about 1,000ha with narrow dirt trails.

For the first time since Penang was founded in 1786, this land on the island’s rustic eastern side will get a two-way tarred 10.2km road stretching almost the entire north-south length.

But the road construction has left many wondering why this road was being built through mangrove swamps, padi fields, shrimp ponds and oil palm estates.

Another fisherman, Mazlan Sahib, 48, said the new road was unnecessary and it would only welcome over-development.

“There are hardly any residents living there so it doesn’t make sense to have it at all.

“The project might also be a threat to the mangrove swamps along the coast,” he added.

Balik Pulau’s Simpang Empat resi­dent Zainudin Ahad wondered why the government planned to build a new road when the existing Jalan Baru that ran parallel to the new road about 3km away never experienced traffic congestion.

“I thought we need new roads only when existing roads are congested.

“The only traffic jam we get in Balik Pulau is in the town itself.

“There is never any traffic jam in the kampung area, so why give us a new road?” Zainudin questioned.

Kuala Sungai Burung Fishermen’s Association committee member Abd Malik Man, 55, said there was talk about the road project since the Barisan Nasional government.

“We thought that the project would be shelved. I didn’t think the new government would go ahead with it,” he said.

Abd Malik said many residents in the area around the new road were living or farming on government land and their leases might be over soon.

“The government has all the right to develop the land but the long-term impact should be taken into consideration,” he cautioned.

Even Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakthiar Wan Chik was dumbfounded by the new road.

He urged the Rural Development Ministry to look into more pressing areas that need the funds, beginning with flood mitigation, a new hospital and traffic snarls in the heart of Balik Pulau town.

“The new road is not top priority and does not serve much purpose,” he pointed out.

“I hope the ministry will practise stakeholder consultation with the locals and hold town hall meetings to see what the residents want.

“Neither the locals nor me knew that the road project was approved and the construction had begun,” he said.

He also appealed to the ministry to foster entrepreneurial projects for Balik Pulau’s numerous cottage industry products including bedak sejuk (cooling powder, a traditional facial treatment product), nutmeg, otak udang (prawn paste) and salted eggs.

By arnold loh and intan amalina mohd ali The Star

Parts of controversial road run along mangrove swamps

BALIK PULAU: The state government had tried to stall plans for a new road in Balik Pulau’s coastal farmland by insisting on an application for planning permission.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said he had asked for realignment proposals of the road because stretches of this new road will run along the edge of the mangrove swamps.

“When the 2004 tsunami hit us, the mangrove swamp saved Balik Pulau from the worst effect.

“We also agree that the swamps are vital breeding grounds for the jumbo prawns that our inshore fisherman can catch when they are in season.

“So we want the road to be away from the swamps,” he said.

State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the requirement for an environmental assessment (EIA) impact report was initially done away with because the proposed road was to run along the existing dirt trail and the footprint was therefore too small to need an EIA.

“If there is proof that a tarred road through the western coastline of the island will impact the environment, we will not hesitate to require an EIA,” he said.

When told of the sentiments of the locals, a senior officer in the Rural Development Ministry declared that the ministry would immediately conduct a stakeholder consultation on the road construction.

“We renegotiated the road project because it was first proposed in 2016 and we did not want any more delays.

“But since there are signs that locals find the road unnecessary, we will go to the ground at once and find out what the Balik Pulau community wants,” the spokesman assured.

It is understood that the budget for the road comes from the 10th Malaysia Plan in 2015 and the state was willing to surrender 11.5ha of land along the route without asking for the premium, which came up to RM18mil, for the 10.2km two-way street.

Things changed after the general election when the Rural Develop­ment Ministry renegotiated with contractors and brought the price down to RM53mil from the initial ceiling budget that was over RM78mil.

As is permissible for government projects, the state government subsequently waived the need for planning permission and state approval was given late last month.

Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun visited the newly begun road construction last month.

Meanwhile, cycling enthusiasts were disappointed that the new road would be built over a dirt trail that made up the Balik Pulau Eco Bike Trail.

“This is a popular route for cyclists to enjoy some light off-road mountain biking across Balik Pulau’s rustic farmland,” one cyclist said.

A netizen, Adrian Chan, also wrote on Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik’s Facebook page: “We already have Jalan Baru (a two-way street serving villages in Balik Pulau). Just upgrade or widen it.

“We should keep the cycling trail. That is the only (rural) asset in Penang island.

“Batu Maung, Bayan Lepas all gone with the concrete like Queens Bay.

“Visitors from overseas really admire that we have a cycling trail with the nature view.”

Balik Pulau residents riled after finding out about latest development
 

BALIK PULAU: While residents in Balik Pulau are unhappy with a new road being built, it has been revealed that there’s actually a proposal to set up a new township on this last hinterland of the island.

A developer from Kuala Lumpur has promised farmers a payout of at least RM120mil to turn a strip of rural land on western Penang island into a township with nearly 600 houses, four blocks of high-rise buildings and two blocks of shoplots on top of community amenities.

It wants to develop 36ha of oil palm estates along which will soon be a new road for which the Rural Development Ministry is spending RM53mil to build.

When the road project was announced by the federal government last mid-December, many Balik Pulau residents were left wondering why the 10.2km road was needed along 1,000ha of oil palm land, shrimp ponds and mangroves, with hardly anyone living there.

Even the state government is left dumbfounded and completely unaware of plans to develop this countryside.

“This is something new to me. I don’t remember ever seeing a proposal to develop that area or to convert the land use.

“We have got to find out what is being planned. Is the ministry building that road for the developer?

“At first, we were unhappy that the road is being built right beside the mangrove swamp and we wanted another alignment away from it.

“And now we find out a developer has plans to build a township there.

“We will find out what is going on,” state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh told The Star, stressing that the road was a federal project and the state was kept in the loop about it on a “for-your-info” basis.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia on Jan 30, the public-listed developer announced that it has entered into a joint-venture development agreement with Koperasi Kampung Melayu Balik Pulau Berhad to build 276 terraced houses, 214 semi-detached houses, 91 double-storey bungalows, two 16-storey blocks of condominiums, two 16-storey blocks of low-cost flats, two blocks of retail shoplots, a school, mosque, community hall and other public amenities on land which the co-op owns.

The 36ha is specified as being on Lots 254, 804 and 803 of the area.

A check with the Malaysia Co-operative Societies Commission database shows that the co-op exists though no other information on its members are available.

The developer guarantees in writing that the co-op will earn RM120mil, out of which RM45mil will be in cash payouts and the remaining will be given in the form of units built on the land.

It will be an 80-20 joint venture between the developer and the co-op, respectively.

The developer informed Bursa Malaysia that the gross development value of the joint venture deal is RM600mil.

In its Bursa Malaysia filing, the developer specified that the deal is conditional upon the successful extension of the land lease to 99 years, re-zoning of the land use category, and approval of all relevant building plans. The current status of the land is unclear.

For the first time since Penang was founded in 1786, the island’s rustic western coastline will get a two-way tarred road stretching almost the entire north-south length, from Bagan Sungai Pinang to Pulau Betong.

The road was first proposed by the federal government in 2016 and initially, the state Town and Country Planning Department requested the Public Works Department to apply for planning permission from Penang Island City Council.

The initial budget for the project was RM78mil and after the general election, the new government renegotiated with contractors and brought the price down to RM53mil.

Earlier, state Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said that the state waived the planning permission requirement after being convinced that the footprint of the road, which will be built along an existing dirt trail that villagers have used for decades, would be small.

The road construction began in December.

‘Risky to build on ex-mangrove swamps land


BALIK PULAU: A mangrove ecologist has warned of the risk of development encroaching into mangrove swamps, and the risks are for people and buildings.

Dr Foong Swee Yeok predicted that the road or planned property development on the eastern coastline of Penang island would not endanger the swamp or wildlife.

But she said the future road and buildings might suffer because the land on Balik Pulau’s coastline is all ex-mangrove swamp land, and there could be as deep as 25m of mud and clay down below.

“Developers will know how to pile deeply until they reach the bedrock for high rises, but there is no piling requirement for two-storey homes.

“You see nothing wrong in the first 10 years or so, but after that, things start sinking.

“Roads become wavy, uneven and start breaking apart,” she warned.

Dr Foong, who has been studying mangrove swamps since 1996, explained that the thick column of peat, mud and clay below the swamp is high in organic matter and once disturbed, it is prone to shifting over a long period after development.

“Waterlogged and anaerobic peat in the swamp becomes aerobic when drained. Then you get biological oxidation or mineralisation of the organic deposits. That is why the soil will sink,” she pointed out.

She said in developed ex-mangrove swamps on the island, such as parts of Bayan Lepas and Batu Maung, there have been numerous instances of buildings sinking and cracking after a few decades and this was due to the slow shifting of the mud and clay below.

Dr Foong also urged authorities to look into the operations of over 40 shrimp or fish dugout ponds fronting the land which a developer from Kuala Lumpur plans to build 276 terraced houses, 214 semi-detached houses, 91 double-storey bungalows, two 16-storey blocks of condominiums, two 16-storey blocks of low-cost flats, two blocks of retail shoplots, a school, mosque, community hall and other public amenities.

She said the tens of tonnes of shrimp and fish reared in the ponds produced vast amounts of nitrate and ammonia pollution.- The Star

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Monday, February 25, 2019

2nd Kim-Trump summit in Vietnam deserves more support

https://youtu.be/ofUtSOORUmk
https://youtu.be/_GhgGe7das8
Live: Kim arrives in Vietnam ahead of summit with Trump 第二次特金会 金正恩抵达越南
https://youtu.be/XMTJu1SeLUE North Korea's Kim Jong-un takes train to China - BBC News
https://youtu.be/Zvi4PBdd74Y

Inside train used by Kim Jong-un to travel to China - BBC News
https://youtu.be/_Bcpx6PUpys

Kim Jong-un en route to Vietnam summit by train
https://youtu.be/t4blLDfNrSo

According to media reports, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un left Pyongyang by train for Vietnam on Saturday for his second summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi, which reportedly will be held on February 27 and 28.

The upcoming second summit sends positive signals, indicating that Pyongyang and Washington have been moving forward on both denuclearization and permanent peace for the Korean Peninsula since the first summit last June.

Nonetheless, there exist anxieties among certain American and South Korean elites. They worry Trump may make too many concessions and harm Seoul's interests. In their view, the first Kim-Trump summit was a failure and Trump should not repeat the mistake in the upcoming meeting.

North Korea-US relations achieved a major breakthrough since the first summit, providing a new impetus for fundamentally solving the peninsula issue. However, those elites proclaimed that Trump's decision to stop the US-South Korea joint military exercise was a unilateral concession, while North Korea did nothing.

Pyongyang declared it would cease nuclear and missile testing, and dismantle its nuclear test site. According to this logic, did Pyongyang make a unilateral concession?

There is a serious lack of mutual trust between the US and North Korea. Washington requests Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons completely, while Pyongyang desires security guarantee and permanent peace on the peninsula. Both sides have been playing the game with their own chips from the outset, making the denuclearization process somewhat fragile.

Nonetheless, denuclearization is not something that can be accomplished in a single action, but through a cumulative process.

There are no more nuclear and missile tests, nor US-South Korea joint military exercises on the Korean Peninsula. Even verbal battles and threats between Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang have faded.

In addition, bilateral meetings between Pyongyang and Washington, and between Pyongyang and Seoul have been constantly taking place.

Both denuclearization and permanent peace on the peninsula are positive targets. From the perspective of the big picture, there is no need to argue which country is moving faster toward the two ultimate goals.

The old thinking must be altered of demanding only the other party take the initiative but using one's own responsibilities as a bargaining chip.

Both Washington and Pyongyang were once extremely tough. Now the peninsula's situation has been finally reversed. Trump has shown the will to move forward, which should be encouraged by both the US and South Korea.

The US partisan struggle should not take the Korean Peninsula issue as a new battlefield. As for concerns among some South Korean people, it is a disturbed way of thinking to worry US-North Korea reconciliation may undermine the US-South Korea alliance.

China welcomes the second Kim-Trump summit. Chairman Kim's travel through China from the north to south by train is meaningful. China has played a constructive role in Pyongyang's new routes. Beijing is both a promoter and a stakeholder in this summit.

We hope that the second summit will achieve new breakthroughs. Although the peninsula issues are complex, peace is obviously a good thing. Nothing is impossible to overcome.

Newspaper headline: Kim-Trump summit deserves more support -Source:Global Times

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

For the love of our troubled nation in full parade


Casting whining and whinging aside, it's time we pull our socks up, put our best foot forward, and show the world what Malaysia is all about.

IT’S time for Malaysia to change its narrative. For a start, our leaders must end the hyperbole of how the previous Barisan Nasional government stripped and looted the country’s wealth.

We generally know enough about the financial crime of the century, the hunt and arrests of those implicated in the cases.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, are facing a barrage of corruption and money laundering charges, and they are expected to spend the next five years in court.

The main character, the infamous Jho Low, and his family, are on the run, and it’s a given fact that the long arm of the law will eventually reach them.

A corrupt government has collapsed, and it’s now coming to a year since the new federal leaders took charge.

Malaysia can’t continue telling the world how we’re a troubled country with a deep financial hole, and neither should we keep contradicting our stand.

We can’t be saying we’re near bankrupt one day, and the next, concede that our economy is in good shape.

The Pakatan Harapan government marks its first year at office in May. So, its ministers can’t still be whining about inherited problems of a 60-year-old government forever.

Many of the current leaders, including the Prime Minister, were part of the system, and in the case of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he was at the helm for 22 years, lest we forget.

Admittedly, an eye-watering amount of money has been pilfered, so, the government needs to retrieve what’s stolen.

Ironically, PH was elected to fix these problems.

Malaysia can’t seem like an attractive business proposition with our troubled nation in full parade, especially when investors have many countries to choose from.

The country’s economy for the next two years will be turbulent, but forming the Economic Action Council is a good start to indicate that we intend to tackle the issues together, with public and private participation.

The Prime Minister has made the right move, but the EAC must run fast to come up with confidence-building measures.

Against the backdrop of a challenging environment for global equity markets and a US-China trade war, Malaysia has continued to tread on a steady economic path. It’s slower than we want to, but at least a recession isn’t looming.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng must continue his positive tones, as he has finally been doing, to renew confidence both locally and internationally.

The idea of revenue through taxation should be canned, but grumblings among the small base of individual taxpayers is ringing out loud.

It’s unfair to keep scrapping for crumbs from these taxpayers. A more progressive tax regime should be in place. Give it a name if necessary, but importantly, a firmer consumption tax is required because it will be fairer. It’s simple, if you don’t spend, you don’t pay.

In a way, it needs to be balanced out since individuals can’t be paying both income tax and consumption tax.

Lim has taken the right direction to keep selling the messages of how Malaysia has introduced policies and measures to invigorate the capital market.

“Our stock market has remained resilient in comparison with our peers in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and China.

“Amidst large capital outflows among emerging markets and Asean countries this year, the FBM KLCI benchmark index registered a year-to-date decline of 5.8% as at end-November, compared with other Asian markets that have experienced declines ranging from 9.1% to 22.7%.

“And, we are the second-best performing stock market in the Asia Pacific region,” he said recently.

There is other good news which we’ve yet to shout out loud enough for, like Malaysia currently ranking 15 from 190 economies in its facilitation of commerce, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings.

Malaysia’s ranking improved to 15 in 2018 from 24 in 2017. Ease of Doing Business in Malaysia averaged 18.18 from 2008 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 24 in 2017 and a record low of 6 in 2013, it was reported.

Although we may have lost crucial time, we still have a year to make Malaysia look good because two major events take place next year.

Highlights for 2020 include Malaysia celebrating Visit Malaysia Year, and hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ summit, some 22 years after doing so for the first time.

Let’s do it right and make Malaysia proud. It’s not just an occasion befitting Dr Mahathir, but all Malaysians as stakeholders.

The government’s proverbial tale of empty pockets isn’t an excuse anymore. It just doesn’t work that way. If we need to spend, we need to find the money, because we expect a return on investments.

We need to finance-telling a good story internationally, it’s that simple.

However, the lack of momentum to galvanise the nation hasn’t been motivational.

The world doesn’t want to keep hearing our negative stories and neither do Malaysians.

Tell the world we have fixed it and now we’re on the road again.

Come May, and it’ll be crunch time for underachieving ministers.

Everyone invariably tries their best, but those who are unfit just shouldn’t get the nod. After all, the last thing PH needs is painting a picture of a failed administration, but the coalition should be wary of many Malaysians believing the Barisan government fared better.

It’s unfair how some ministers are passing the buck to the PM because they lack the confidence to decide or are just indecisive because the responsibilities of their portfolios exceed their ability.

Visitors to Dr Mahathir’s office have noticed the growing mountain of uncleared documents, which is surely too much a task for anyone, what more a 93-year-old man.

We need to take advantage of the new Malaysia to construct a fresh national narrative which emphasises Malaysia and Malaysians.

There is a need to build national pride over the coming years, one which makes trust and integrity its main framework.

A shared vision beyond 2020 is crucial. Also, to bring Malaysians together and not let race and religion hijack the national discourse.

The question now is, do our leaders have the gumption for this, or will they just let New Malaysia be another piped dream?

By the time world leaders take the stage in KL, Malaysia should be ready to display a new sense of direction, purpose and plan.

Wong Chun WaiWong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

chunwai@thestar.com.my https://twitter.com/chunwai09 http://www.wongchunwai.com/

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Flat property market seen for Penang

https://img3.penangpropertytalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/pptrends.jpg

Resilient values: Geh believes that both landed and high-rise units in prime locations will hold their values.

Research house says it will be buyers’ market over the short term

THE Penang property market is expected to remain flat yet resilient this year and could bottom out within the next two years.

CBRE|WTW Research in its Real Estate Market Outlook 2019 says it will be a buyers’ market over the short term, particularly for residential properties.

“Under the prevailing subdued market, launches of smaller, single phase developments would reduce in the short-term but larger integrated mixed developments or townships would carry on.

“The property market is anticipated to remain generally soft and flat in 2019. This is in consideration of the challenging global and domestic economy, rising cost of living, as well as supply-demand imbalances, particularly in the high-rise residential sector.”

The property consultancy however adds that Penang’s property market still demonstrates resilience, aided further by recovery in the economy.

“Meanwhile, the current excess in supply will effectively be absorbed by the market. Benefits of reforms undertaken by the new government could also trickle down to the local property market.”

Raine & Horne Malaysia senior partner and FIABCI Malaysian chapter president Michael Geh says transactions and values will most likely remain flat, at best.

“As residential market activity, in terms of transacted units, has been falling over the last few consecutive quarters, at best the year-on-year levels will hold. In light of the overall soft market, property values are not expected to rise in 2019,” he tells StarBizweek.

Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents Penang chairman Mark Saw says the Penang residential market will see “some correction” this year.

“However, long-term planning on infrastructure improvements will go some way towards ensuring those locations currently only accessible by cars are better served with public transport.

“For those who have been holding back their launches the past few years, there may be a need to start selling, especially if land were bought on loans.”

He adds that measures taken by the state government will help to spur the Penang property market.

“With the waiver of the 3% approval fee for foreign purchasers starting from Feb 1, Penang must be seen to be investor friendly and foreign buyers should be encouraged to come.”

Meanwhile, Knight Frank Malaysia in its latest research report Real Estate Highlights for the Second Half of 2018 says the general outlook for the Penang property market “remains mixed without a dominant overall trend”.

“However, resulting from the interplay of supply and demand as well as the general economy, different sectors are performing differently. The residential sector, which is the leading sector in terms of total volume and value of transactions, has shown some improvement during the first half of 2018. “It registered a 5.4% increase in the volume of transactions year–on-year. This trend is expected to continue.”

Saw says prices of landed property in Penang are unlikely to drop.

“However, the high-rise market will remain challenging and developers will need to continue to offer incentives as well as alternate options of home ownership.

“Developers with deeper pockets or less loans may look into rent-to-buy schemes in tandem with the recently-announced National Home Ownership Campaign by the government.”

Geh believes that both landed and high-rise units in prime locations will hold their values, while speculatively-purchased condominiums will be affected.

“Government announcements on transportation plans, infrastructure and stimulus plans are among actions that can help stimulate the Penang property market tremendously,” he says.

Easing overhang

CBRE|WTW Research says the overhang within the Penang residential property market is likely to ease over the next two to three years, with developers offering special packages and postponing launches, all of which would allow demand to catch up with supply.

“The medium to long-term outlook remains positive given that various policies and efforts are being undertaken by the government,” it says.

Citing data by the National Property Information Centre, CBRE|WTW Research says there are over 2,200 high-rise overhang units worth nearly RM1.6bil as at the second quarter of 2018. “This is due to the abundant apartment and condominium units launched, constructed and completed within the past three-to-five years, coupled with the high rejection rate of end financing, unreleased bumiputra units and low demand for units in secondary locations.”

In terms of unsold residential units, CBRE|WTW Research says around 34% or 1,300 of the overhang units are in the RM500,001 to RM1mil per unit price range.

“On the other hand, units priced at RM1mil and above form the bulk (58%) of the total overhang valued at approximately RM1.75bil.

” The property consultancy adds that high-rise projects, particularly, are experiencing increased sales pressure amidst an oversupply situation.

“Under the challenging market, developers have resorted to offering incentives such as rebates on selling prices, zero or low downpayment, easy instalment payment of up to 24 months, deferred payment of (say) 30% of the selling price over five years at 0% interest, free legal fees and one year’s maintenance fee.

“Complimentary packages include interior design package, kitchen and electrical appliance vouchers as well as referral and reward schemes.”

Office and retail markets

Knight Frank Malaysia says the office sector is still enjoying stable rents and high occupancies, pointing out however that the overall occupancy rates in some buildings have dropped marginally.

“This favourable state of affairs is expected to continue for the next few quarters as new supply is only expected to come on-stream beyond 2020.”

CBRE|WTW Research says pent-up demand for newer and prime offices persists in Penang.

“New supply of offices in Penang in the past ten years was limited. New prime purpose-built office buildings completed within the past three years such as HunzaTower and Straits Quay Commercial Suites are enjoying commendable occupancy rates, although charging new benchmark rentals.

“Newly set-up offices, as well as offices relocated from older office buildings, comprise the tenants in these new buildings. Office occupiers are seeking newer office buildings that serve their contemporary needs and enhance their corporate image.”

It adds that pent-up demand for newer and prime offices would continue in the short-term, as most of the upcoming purpose-built office buildings are scheduled for completion in year 2020 and beyond.

“Older buildings are likely to experience a slide in demand thus lower rentals and capital prices.”

CBRE|WTW Research says stable occupancy rates can be anticipated, adding that rentals will increase.

“As at mid-2018, the overall occupancy rate of purpose-built office buildings in Penang declined slightly to 77% from 82% year-on-year. Occupancy rates are anticipated to generally remain in the region of 80% in near future.

“Rentals of prime office space in Georgetown were between RM2.50 and RM3.50 per sq ft. Prime offices outside George Town, particularly newer buildings in Bayan Lepas/Bayan Baru and Tanjung Pinang (Tanjung Tokong), registered higher rentals of RM3.30 to RM4.50 per sq ft.”

Due to increasing maintenance cost, CBRE|WTW Research says rentals of office space in most buildings are expected to increase in the short term.

“The overall average rental of prime offices would also increase, pulled-up by new entrants with higher asking rentals.”

As for the retail sub-sector in Penang, Knight Frank Malaysia says the current supply remains unchanged, adding that a more challenging scenario is anticipated for this sector with new supply to come on-stream with the expected opening of IKEA in Batu Kawan in the current quarter and the extension of Penang Times Square.

“Other retail centres/expansion of retail centres will be adding on the supply in 2020 and 2022.”

CBRE|WTW Research says the retail sector in Penang is likely to be flat, buffered by cautious optimism.

“Mixed performances will be more evident between the better and under-performing retail complexes, of which the latter is likely to drag down the overall occupancy and average rental rates.

“With abundant supply in the pipeline, shoppers can look forward to exciting shopping experiences.”

It says the overall occupancy rate stood at 72% as at mid-2018, with 79% for Penang island and 63% for Seberang Prai.

“Retail lots on the ground floor of selected prime retail complexes on the island commanded higher gross rental rates of up to RM45 per sq ft.”

Meanwhile, Geh says better-managed malls in prime locations are sustainable.

“These malls have sustained rental rates but vacancy factors have certainly increased by 5% to 10%.

“There is no oversupply but a rise in vacancy factors. Going forward, the general population’s purchasing trend remains cautious and wary of big-ticket items.”

Saw is less optimistic about the Penang retail sector, saying “this sector has been saturated for a few years and there is no end in sight”.

By Wugene Mahalingam, The Star

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Real Estate Market Outlook 2019 - CBRE | WTW - C H Williams Talhar ...


Property sector expected to recover in first half
Property sector expected to recover in first half



 



 

 

 

 

 

Property sector may take up to two years to recover



 

Malaysian REITs: Key financials based on various segmentsScepticism over housing policy


Property goodies with Govt and developers offering various incentives

A new challenge for the EPF

 

 
MANY international experts and organisations have expressed concern about the global economic outlook this year.

Tighter monetary policy, weaker earnings growth and political challenges are confronting major economies.

The long-running US-China trade war and uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the European Union have soured business and consumer sentiment in recent months. However, the risk of a recession remains small, say economists.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

PAS left in a state of confusion, the only way is to lie

Awkward turnaround: (From left) Nik Abduh, Hadi and Takiyuddin find PAS in a precarious position after a scandal over political dishonesty - Provided by SMG Business Services Sdn Bhd.

WE take for granted politicians lying to win elections, or doing so as and when necessary. It’s a given of course, so it would be naïve of anyone to think otherwise, but Malaysians learnt something new recently.

It’s probably the first time we’ve come to hear of Syariah-compliant lies, and to hear these supposedly respected religious scholars expounding on the need to lie, or to conceal a destructive truth, has left Malaysia flabbergasted.

This kind of pathological lying must have caused the recent spate of head-scratching and conflicting statements.

PAS is in a state of confusion. The hardcore grassroots PAS members – ones who would donate their life savings, or even body parts, if asked, to save party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in his court case – must be disappointed.

Many of these diehards have either applied for leave or requested to stop working so they can campaign in the Semenyih by-election.

Their mission, together with Umno’s, is simple – to defeat the Pakatan Harapan candidate.

Suddenly, PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan has advised them not to bother working so hard.

In his own words, the Islamist party’s “degree of commitment” in supporting Barisan Nasional in the Semenyih by-election varies from the Cameron Highlands polls.

Simply put, relak lah bro. Tak payah kempen gila gila.

Then comes the most bewildering part – PAS is now supporting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

A written commitment has been given to the Prime Minister as PAS’ support for the leadership of Dr Mahathir for the sake of religion, race and country until the next general election.

So, one minute, Dr Mahathir is PAS’ greatest enemy, and the next (well, a 45-minute meeting later), these poor PAS campaigners must return to the villages to reveal that, well, the Prime Minister isn’t so bad.

In the interest of race and religion, we must now support him against the infidels.

The infidels, the DAP, were once their political ally, of course, but that’s another story and another fib to justify. The same formula applies to another ex-infidel, Umno, too.

It must be difficult because to sustain the new narrative, these party operatives need to come up with an improved mantra. Well, the only way is to lie, of course.

Of course, Ana (Ana is Arabic for “I” or “me”) knows that we can’t accept Dr Mahathir, but Hadi has said it’s ok to lie, so we have to lie lah.

And that comes after Bachok MP Nik Abduh Nik Aziz’s dramatic admission that he was ordered to be untruthful.

He revealed that Hadi instructed him to deny that a recording of him confirming PAS payments from Umno was genuine, even though he wanted to divulge that it was true.

Nik Abduh said he was torn between admitting the truth that it was indeed his voice and refuting the audio recording’s authenticity.

“I had two choices. One was to tell the truth and admit. Second, to deny it.

“It was a closed-door meeting to a targeted audience. Very closed. My right was to keep the secrecy and not to betray it. Both were Syariah-compliant choices,” said Nik Abduh.

What an incredible explanation. But Hadi took it even further. When questioned if it was permissible to lie to protect Islam, Hadi apparently conceded.

“Of course, if a criminal came here to look for a victim, will you identify the victim (to the criminal)? We will be compelled to lie to save the person ... there are times (where lying is permissible),” he was quoted.

Demi menjaga maslahat. To put it succinctly, a white lie is acceptable, especially one that brings benefit. To stretch it further, in order to accommodate Hadi’s argument, it is rational to lie if it means saving someone’s life.

Well, in this case, it looks more like it’s to save Hadi’s political life, and that of his party’s and its other leaders.

He still can’t convince Malaysians – except perhaps his fanatical supporters – why he didn’t go all the way in suing Claire Rewcastle Brown of Sarawak Report, who accused PAS of pocketing millions from Umno.

His decision to withdraw the defamation suit has resulted in these allegations hanging over the party like a spectre, leaving many Malaysians in no doubt of their belief.

The party’s integrity and religious facade have been compromised by these bearded politicians with their flowing robes, all of which have left the party flag in tatters.

They would like to continue projecting themselves as politicians who lead a modest life sans interest in material pursuits, but the allegations and images that have surfaced paint a very different picture.

Of course, we believe the BMW superbike was borrowed for a photo opportunity and, naturally, the Porsche Cayman was merely under one person’s name but belonged to another. Sure, sure, we believe you, but err... sorry, we lied.

The list of acquisitions is mindboggling because RM90mil was apparently used to purchase the said vehicles and cars with brands such as BMW, Mini Cooper, Toyota Vellfire, Range Rover, Audi Q7, Audi A6, Toyota Camry, Toyota Fortuner, Volkswagen Passat and Mercedes Benz.

And by the way, don’t forget the bungalow and the wives, too. Wives, as in plural.

These revelations must have come as a curve ball for their supporters in the rural constituencies who ride their kapcai (underbone motorcycle).

With no conclusion, no convincing explanations (or lies), enduring sleepless nights, and having to be hauled up by the dreaded Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the only way out was to seek medical help.

Well, the old doctor has been trained in the human anatomy and knows the parts of the body that cause sickness and pain.

Malaysians were sure about where he would tap, or squeeze, if necessary, to trace the cause of the illness.

PAS found the right doctor and, of course, they were so convinced and impressed that they left the consultation convinced that they had to support the doctor.

We can assume that the doctor, like his fellow practitioners, has asked them to return for follow-up checks.

Here’s a little vignette of wisdom I found online: pathological lying (also called pseudologia fantastica and mythomania) is a behaviour of habitual or compulsive lying.

Pathological lying has been defined as “falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime”.

The report also said that prolonged lying can lead to patients suffering from sustained periods of delusion, and consequently, may see conspiracies, plots, sub-plots, and possibly a vote of no confidence.

Sorry, but I pulled a fast one in that last line.




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