Malaysia clinches 20th spot in Global Competitiveness Report

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Malaysia’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 improved as it took the 20th spot, up from last year’s 24th position, reported the media.

Despite being the country’s best position so far, Malaysia Productivity Corp director-general, Datuk Mohd Razali Hussain said the government plans to continue to intensify efforts in the pillars of labour market efficiency, macroeconomic environment and technological readiness.

Notably, macroeconomic environment posted a drop of “six places to 44th position from 38th last year. Our area of concern is the government budget balance and general government debt,” said Mohd Razali.

“On technological readiness, Malaysia declined nine places to 60th position from 51st previously.”

He said MPC plans to propose the creation of task force to improve Malaysia’s technological readiness.

Among the initiatives that will be intensified include international Internet bandwidth, mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 population as well as fixed broadband Internet subscriptions per 100 population.

On the labour market efficiency pillar, which climbed from last year’s 25th position to 19th, Mohd Razali revealed that the government will continue to intensify initiatives to promote women’s participation in the labour force.

Notably, 52.4 percent of the country’s entire female population are working last year.

“We will hold discussions with various ministries and agencies to improve Malaysia’s position in the three pillars, as well as, hold more engagements with the business community,” he added.

The Global Competitiveness Report, which is based on the Global Competitiveness Index, was introduced in 2004 by the World Economic Forum.

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories emailfarahwahida@propertyguru.com.my

Johor industrial recorded RM14.9bil investment

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According to Johor Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, between January and May this year Johor recorded RM14.9 billion in industrial investment.

He said the statistics, issued by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida), put Johor in first place, followed by Sarawak and Pahang in second and third places, respectively.

As revealed by local media reports, the total has also surpassed the total investment of RM14 billion recorded last year.

“This shows that investors, both local and foreign, continue to be interested in investing in Johor and make the state the choice investment destination,” Khaled said.

He added that the strong investment figures show that Johor is a prosperous and peaceful state with all the necessary infrastructure, factors that help attract businesses to the state.

“The state government will ensure the continuity of this positive elements in its efforts to make Johor the choice destination for investors. We will also continue to focus on promoting investment opportunities,” Khaled said.

He was speaking at the opening of the state-level exporters forum organised by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade).

The forum is one of Matrade’s initiatives to encourage local companies to expand their businesses internationally and serves as a platform to engage entrepreneurs and exporters on issues and problems related to international trade.

 

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email farahwahida@propertyguru.com.my

High Speed Rail (HSR) project to drive new industries

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The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail (HSR) project could help create many new industries and breathe life into towns, according to MKH Bhd Managing Director Tan Sri Eddy Chen.

For instance, it can help transform Seremban into a tech valley or regional headquarters for biotechnology firms due to its proximity to research and training centres, while Malacca’s tourism industry could benefit from the fact the visitors don’t have to drive once the HSR is completed.

Day trips will become spontaneous and visitors will have more to spend in Malaysia.

But to achieve this, long long-term planning is a necessity, he said, citing how Japan used its Shinkansen (high speed rail) to open new integrated towns along its route. Moreover, there would be a need for more hotels, malls and location logistics services, he said.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Sungai Buloh-Kajang Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) has boosted the land prices in Kajang from RM7 to RM8 psf to RM17 psf.

“It does not seem to matter to them that the MRT is scheduled for completion only in 2017. The MRT has helped to close the gap between the city and Kajang,” said Chen, who is also the President of Malaysia Shopping Malls Association.

“We are seeing Kajang apartments now selling between RM400 and RM500 psf. These are prices at Mont’Kiara and Seri Hartamas,” he added.

 

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email farahwahida@propertyguru.com.my

 

Signs of property bubble noted

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A leading U.K. organisation has said a bubble may be forming in the Philippines property market, although while the fast-increasing rate of household lending has raised alarms in both Thailand and Malaysia, it does not necessarily think it is problematic in the latter two countries.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said in its quarterly report commissioned by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) titled Economic Insight: Southeast Asia, said: “Strong growth underpinned by low interest rates in the Philippines is stoking fears of a property bubble in Manila.

“Inflation is relatively low and economic policymakers are keen to maintain rapid growth; however, property prices in Manila’s financial district, already at a record high, are projected to rise 8 percent this year.”

CEBR also cited an International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning of a domestic asset price bubble, which includes real estate.

The think tank also noted how Southeast Asian countries have showed rising consumption, and over the past four years, the largest economies “have shown a clear trend of putting aside less as they spend more”.

Rising consumption, the report stated, highlights the risks of promoting lending.

It also noted a “striking similarity” in the present situation in Southeast Asia with what transpired during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

In particular, it spotlighted on how investors have again been turning emerging markets, such as those in Southeast Asia, in search for higher yields, with interest rates in the region still better than those in advanced economies.

“A property bubble is often linked to a rise in household debt as it expands the collateral of would-be borrowers, a pattern evident in the U.S. and U.K. property markets in the run-up to the global financial crisis,” the report said.

Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru Group, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email andrew@propertyguru.com.sg

Foreign investments to change Johor’s landscape, says Sultan

Jul 4, 2014

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The Sultan of Johor has welcomed the entry of more foreign investments into the state, which he said would not only change the landscape of Johor but also provide economic benefits and job opportunities for the people.

Notably, Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar has consented to officiate at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Princess Cove project in Tanjung Puteri that is being developed by China-based developer R&F Properties Co. Ltd, reported Bernama.

Sultan Ibrahim said the project is poised to become a landmark that the people could be proud of in Johor Baharu.

“I am thankful to R&F Properties as the company has the confidence in the investment potential in Johor Baharu. It is hoped that this investment would generate profits to the company,” he said.

Located opposite Singapore’s Woodland immigration complex, Princess Cove is within close proximity to the Johor Causeway. It is set to be a new landmark in Johor Baharu, similar to what Petronas Twin Towers is to Kuala Lumpur.

The project will feature twin skyscrapers, with one boasting a five-star hotel while the other with a grade A office tower.

The entire development is set to be completed in five phases until 2022.

Specifically, the first phase involved the development of 15 blocks of luxury condominiums with 3,200 units and a three-storey shopping that is slated to be completed in 2017, said R&F Properties Director-General, Sales and Marketing, Fairus Cheung.

Listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, R&F Properties acquired a 46.94ha of sea-fronting prime land for RM4.5 billion, in a deal that involved the Johor royalty.

The groundbreaking ceremony was also attended by Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Tunku Mahkota of Johor Tunku Ismail Idris, R&F Properties Chairman Li Sze Lim and its Chief Executive Zhang Li.

Image Source: thestar.com.my

 

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email farahwahida@propertyguru.com.my

JB readying for new wave of Singapore buyers

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Jun 27, 2014

Demand hotting up for new developments surrounding the future rapid transit system (RTS) and CIQ complex.

Malaysian developers are positioning themselves to tap on the anticipated surge in Singaporean buyers for properties located in Johor Bahru city centre; particularly projects near the future rapid transit system (RTS) link and the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex.

Demand is expected to be robust due to the strategic location and news that the Tanjung Puteri MRT-RTS station will be connected to Singapore’s Thomson Line via Woodlands North MRT, according to Khalil Adis, Founder of Khalil Adis Consultancy.

“In addition, the cooling measures in Singapore have made it even more attractive to buy properties just across the causeway as the cash outlay is not so prohibitive and the properties are mostly freehold,” he said.

In fact, residential developments in JB city centre are currently selling for about RM1,000 psf (S$388 psf), while condos in Singapore’s central business district go for around S$2,543 psf.

New rail link to push up prices

Although it isn’t fair to compare the two locations as Singapore is more developed, once the MRT-RTS link becomes operational, real estate prices in Johor Bahru will likely rise. “The city is also attractive to Singaporeans living close to Woodlands as they are more familiar with the area and the surrounding amenities,” noted Adis.

As such, several developers are building new developments in the heart of Johor Bahru that are mostly intended for Singapore investors within the price range of RM900 to RM1,100 psf (S$349 – S$426 psf).

“We can already see developers like China’s R&F developing land parcels along the Tanjung Puteri area which is expected to be a prime site,” Adis said.

Other projects in the vicinity targeting Singaporeans include TriTower Residence by MB Builders and Suasana Iskandar Malaysia, UMLand’s new commercial development situated next to Bukit Senyum. Malaysia’s tallest residential tower, 304-metre The Astaka @ 1 Bukit Senyum (pictured), a project by the Sultan of Johor and developed by Astaka Padu Sdn Bhd, is also reportedly eyeing buyers from Singapore.

Units at TriTower and The Astaka are priced from about RM850 (S$330) psf and RM1,100 (S$426) psf respectively, while those in Suasana range between RM1,200 (S$465) psf and RM1,300 (S$504) psf.

Speaking exclusively to The PropertyGuru, a UMLand spokesperson said that Suasana is not just a serviced apartment, but was designed to be a coveted address along one of the city’s busiest roads, given its built-in luxury retail shops and a renowned 4-star hotel. Located in Jalan Wong Ah Fook, the project will also benefit from the rehabilitation of Sungei Segget once the river is revitalised by end-2015.

But Adis reckons that these projects could see a 50 percent increase in buyers from the city-state if the units are priced attractively within RM850 (S$330) psf to RM950 (S$368) psf.

“I suspect most will be buying for investment. However, I would like to alert Singaporeans that the rental market in Iskandar Malaysia is not as strong as Singapore’s as the population there is currently around 1.4 million, while it is three times the size of Singapore. Thus, I hope they will be wise enough to use this for their long-term occupation,” Adis added.

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Not all that glitters is gold

Another downside is that Johor Bahru still lags behind Singapore and even Nusajaya in terms of infrastructure. The city also continues to face problems such as crime, cautioned Adis.

To tackle this issue, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak unveiled the RM1.8 billion Iskandar Malaysia Transformation Programme. Under this initiative, 138 additional police posts will be established across the city by 2025, with 15 already in place including those in Galleria @ Kotaraya and outside JB City Square.

“You can also see more armed police personnel patrolling the shopping malls. Along Jalan Wong Ah Fook, CCTVs have been installed at Plaza Seni with panic buttons along the stretch in case you are a victim of crime and the entire Royal Johor Police force will be activated. There is also a dedicated hotline for Singaporeans which you can call at 07-2212999,” Adis said.

UMLand’s spokesperson is in agreement that Johor’s safety and security has improved significantly due to the federal and state governments’ efforts.

“Safety is no longer a big worry, because it is recorded that more and more Singaporeans have invested in numerous properties in the state, and some have even set up home in Johor amidst the rising cost of living in the island republic and commute to Singapore daily for work,” she said.

 

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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Pengerang terminals need RM16b more

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Jun 27, 2014

To cater to future demand, Pengerang Independent Terminals Sdn Bhd (PITSB) may spend an additional RM16 billion over the next five years to further develop the terminals, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He noted that the investment will see the independent terminals expand from its current capacity of 1.3 million cubic metres to 10 million cubic metres over the next 10 years.

“What is also very important is that with every RM1 billion investment, the multiply effect will be RM20 billion,” said Najib at the opening of the PITSB’s Phase 1A at Pengerang yesterday.

Najib, who also serves as Finance Minister, said the project’s economic spin-off was enormous.

“With the rapid development taking place in the country, I hope it will encourage our young Johorians and Malaysians, in general, to get involved in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry,” said the prime minister.

One of the catalytic project under the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC), PITSB is a public-private partnership between Holland’s Royal Vopak, the Johor state government and the Dialog Group.

Najib also revealed that the investment from Phase 1 of PIPC alone was expected to contribute RM18.3 billion to the country’s Gross National Income by 2020 and create over 8,000 jobs.

“Beyond 2020, the numbers are expected to grow more than RM48 billion to the country’s GNI and create 15,000 jobs,” added Najib.

 

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email farahwahida@propertyguru.com.my

Malaysia ranked 19th in the world’s most investor-friendly

Jun 17, 2014

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Malaysia has moved up five spots in a survey from The Economist Intelligence Unit that identifies the most business-friendly cities and countries around the world.

Kuala Lumpur is now ranked 19th in the Business Environment Rankings report – up from 24th place in the previous report.

Singapore remained top for the second consecutive report, followed by Switzerland and Hong Kong in second and third place respectively. Thailand’s ranking also increased – from 38th to 34th place.

Asia is a diverse region, the report noted, and there are large differences between the overall scores and global rankings of its top four countries (Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand) and its poorest performers (Bangladesh and Pakistan, in 69th and 74th place respectively, out of the 82 countries ranked).

The gap reflects the widely varying levels of economic development and political stability between these countries, alongside sharp differences in the underlying structure shaping laws and regulations of foreign investment.

Asia’s best performers have several factors in common: a favourable policy environment – particularly for finance and foreign investment – with competition policies that encompass international best practice. Despite tensions in some countries over immigration from poorer neighbours, migration of skilled labour within Asia will remain relatively unimpeded and overall labour market conditions will continue to compare extremely favourably to other regions, with companies able to expand or reduce their workforce with ease, as well as benefitting from freedom to set wages and hire foreign nationals.

Infrastructure remains a relative weak point for Asia, with only Singapore ranking among the world’s top 10 in this category (compared with other areas of the business environment, faring relatively poorly, in 7th place). Australia, Japan and New Zealand trail in joint 14th place, with Hong Kong coming in at 18th.

While some of the region’s infrastructure is excellent, particularly in telecoms and air transport, other areas require investment to improve distribution networks and utilities provision, as well as lower office rents.

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It is designed to reflect the main criteria used by companies to formulate their global business strategies, and is based not only on historical conditions but also on expectations about conditions prevailing over the next five years.

 

Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru Group, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email andrew@propertyguru.com.sg

 

Property gallery for Johor coastal town attracts 10,000 visitors

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Jun 25, 2014

The opening of the sales gallery for R&F Princess Cove, a 116-acre integrated coastal township by China-based developer R&F Properties, has received overwhelming response with more than 10,000 guests in attendance last Saturday.

Visitors were not left empty handed as they were provided with free gifts, as well as food and drinks. They were also entertained by a Cosplay event, a mini concert by Malaysian Youtuber Joyce Chu, live band performances and a fireworks display as finale.

The guests were also awed by the huge property gallery, which measures 45,000 sq ft, and its modern resort-style design. Apart from its elevated garden decks, music fountain, infinity pool and private wharf, the nearby 3km long beach further boosted its appeal

Located near the Johor Bahru-Woodlands Checkpoint and the upcoming MRT link between Singapore and Malaysia, Princess Cove aims to become a renowned destination for leisure and living.

R&F Properties also hails it as a HOPSCA development. Pronounced as Hao-bu-si-ka, the term stands for Hotels, Offices, Parks, Shopping malls, Convention centres and Apartments.

Furthermore, registration for luxury homes in Phase I will soon commence.

Notably, R&F Properties has more than 100 projects under its belt, including over 14 International 5-star Hotels built in collaboration with Hyatt, Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Apart from luxury homes and malls, the Chinese company also has developed more than 26 Grade-A office towers, including Tianjin Guandong Building, one of the ten highest buildings in China.

 

Image Source: thestar.com.my

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email farahwahida@propertyguru.com.my

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