Announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at his National Day Rally speech on 18 August 2019, a vibrant housing, entertainment and commercial district will be developed in phases at Pulau Brani in the next five to 10 years.
By Khalil Adis
"Punggol by the Bay" - that's how Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has described the exciting developments that the government has earmarked for the Greater Southern Waterfront.
Extending from Pasir Panjang to Marina East, the relocation of Tanjong Pagar Terminal and Pasir Panjang Terminal to Tuas Megaport by 2027 and 2040 respectively, will witness the Greater Southern Waterfront being transformed into a new major gateway and location for urban living along Singapore's southern coast.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the development will take place in phases in the next five to 10 years.
It will start at the former Pasir Panjang Power District, Keppel Club and Mount Faber.
Here are five quick facts on the Greater Southern Waterfront.
#1: 2,000 hectares of land
The development of the Greater Southern Waterfront will encompass roughly 2,000 hectares of land or roughly twice the size of Punggol.
It will also see the development of a 30 km stretch along the southern coastline that spans from Pasir Panjang Terminal to Keppel and Tanjong Pagar Terminal.
The URA has plans to develop a continuous waterfront promenade that will seamlessly connect various places of interest along the Greater Southern Waterfront.
A new Pasir Pasir Panjang Linear Park will connect West Coast Park to Labrador Nature Reserve.
#2: A new transport system that will connect to Mount Faber
There will also be a future transport system that will connect the waterfront to Mount Faber.
One Faber Group is currently studying a new funicular system at Mount Faber to bring visitors from the foothills to the hilltop and cable car station by 2023.
#3: Enough to build 9,000 housing units
The government has set plans to develop both public and private housing options that will be integrated with waterfront promenades and open spaces.
To do this, the Keppel Club site will be redeveloped into a new residential precinct with easy access to the waterfront, nature and two nearby MRT stations - Labrador Park and Telok Blangah.
Park connectors will also be developed along Berlayer Creek and Labrador Park to bring nature closer to homes.
#4: A new office district with nightlife activities
To bring jobs closer to home, a new office district will be developed along the Greater Southern Waterfront that will act as a gateway district.
This will complement existing office spaces which is home to Google, Cisco and Unilever and add more jobs down south.
On top of this, an entertainment enclave will be developed for nightlife activities.
#5: More entertainment options
Speaking of entertainment, the government has announced plans to further inject vibrancy in the Greater Southern Waterfront.
For example, two former power station buildings at the Pasir Panjang Power District and Pulau Brani will be redeveloped into new attractions.
Singapore's labour movement, NTUC, will also be developing a new lifestyle destination similar to NTUC Downtown East.
Referred to Downtown South, it will also feature a new resort.
The Hungry Ghost Month may be around the corner but that does not mean you should leave everything to chance. Here are the tried and tested ways to expel negative energy and invite good ones.
By Khalil Adis
Have you ever stepped into a home and get a creepy and uneasy feeling that you are being watched?
That was exactly how I felt when I once stayed at a friend's place many years ago.
This ghost story happened to me sometime in 2009 when I was covering the Malaysian property market and trying to save on hotel costs.
Located in Sentul, I recall his apartment looked rather run down.
I also remember that it was surrounded by many temples and crematoriums.
Although I felt uneasy, I decided to take on his invitation.
It turned out to be a decision I would regret.
At close to midnight, I kept hearing noises of furniture being dragged in the hall.
I did not think much about this as I thought my friend was busy cleaning.
Then at 3 am, during my sleep, I was attacked by an entity that looked like a black mist.
I could not move and was paralysed by fear.
When I eventually managed to break free, I immediately packed my bags and then stayed up till the break of dawn before leaving the house.
I subsequently texted my friend that I had left, thanked him for his hospitality and related to him about what had happened.
To my horror, he replied that he was not at home.
To cut the story short, I have since exercised precaution especially when I am travelling.
Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, there are some remedies that you can apply to remove negative energy from your home.
This is especially so if the house has been vacant for some time.
#1: Spring clean your home
Regardless of your faith, it is a good idea to conduct a cleansing prayer before moving into your home.
This is especially so if your house had been vacant for some time or if you had bought a home with a particular history (such as a scene of a violent crime).
A cleansing prayer sets the intention that you are now the rightful owner of the property and to expel any unwanted negative energy.
A regular cleaning schedule should also follow to remove dust to keep your home spick and span.
By regularly cleaning your home, it will help to keep the energy in your home clean, positive and uplifted.
#2: Ensure plenty of natural light and ventilation
I recall interviewing Singapore's well-known ghostbuster and this was among his sage advice.
According to him, a home that has plenty of natural light and ventilation attracts good energy while repelling dark ones.
So keep your windows open to let fresh air and sunshine in.
Avoid buying a home that is not exposed to sunlight as they attract dark energy.â
Hoarding is becoming particularly prevalent in Singapore among the elderly, particularly those living in small HDB flats.
Hoarding is a mental disorder that not only negatively impacts the hoarderâs immediate family memberâs quality of life but it makes their home dark and depressing.
Besides, it attracts pests and poses as fire hazards.
If you have too many things at home, then it is time to declutter.
Not only does decluttering makes your home look instantly liveable, but it also helps to break up accumulated energy.
So throw away things that you no longer need to invite fresh energy to your home.
#4: Throw away dead plants
If you have plants at home or regularly buy fresh flowers, be sure to throw away those that are already dead.
This is because such plants negatively impact your environment while preventing fresh, new, energy from coming in.
If you really must have plants, then consider low maintenance plants like money tree.
Smudging involves the burning of herbs to remove negative energy and to clear the energy field.
Also referred to as space clearing, smudging is usually done before moving to a new home, after a gathering or after a particularly negative event at home such as an argument.
White sage works best and is very popular.
Click here for a range of Space clearing smudge sticks
The dreaded R-word is something we will have to talk about as Singapore’s economy has slowed down considerably.
By Khalil Adis
You have probably heard it.
The ongoing trade war is impacting our economy.
Figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry last week confirmed this showing that Singapore’s economy grew by 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2019.
This is much slower than the 1.1 per cent growth in the previous quarter.
It was also the city-state’s lowest growth in a decade.
Additionally, the latest data from Singapore’s trade agency Enterprise Singapore showed that Singapore’s exports fell 17.3 per cent in June in both electronic and non-electronic exports.
This marked the fourth straight month of year-on-year decline.
While we may bemoan about the state of the economy, we can also use it as an opportunity to improve ourselves.
Here are the three ways to recession-proof your job:
#1: Invest in yourself
We often speak about investing in stocks, shares, unit trusts and properties but rarely ever do we invest in ourselves.
When I talk about investing in yourself I am referring to constantly upgrading our skills to stay relevant with the changing market.
With the advent of technology and apps, our world has changed by leaps and bounds.
Disruption is the order of the day.
From Grab to Airbnb, they are disrupting traditional businesses and if we do not keep up, we risk becoming obsolete.
For example, I used to write 2,000-word articles but I realised that consumers do not have time to digest everything.
With social media, they want news in bite-sized nuggets that are easy to understand.
As such, I had to read up on what makes an article ‘clickable’ and constantly rewrite my headline to make it catchy.
One such ‘unicorn’ article was a story that I wrote for iProperty Malaysia. It turned out to be the number one story in Malaysia last year!
Likewise, in your chosen field, you will need to react to changing consumer trends.
For example, if you are in marketing, you might want to understand how to use social media like Facebook and Instagram to plug your products to consumers.
This could mean curating interesting content, videos and photos with a call-to-action button to get more leads.
The library is a good start as it offers a vast array of books to do some research.
Also, you can use your SkillsFuture credit to sign up for courses.
For a full list of course, click here
#2: Have multiple income streams
Let's face it - retrenchments are on the rise.
Instead of worrying and being unprepared if you will be axed, why not have a back-up plan just in case?
Don’t just depend on your salary for your income.
Instead, use it to develop other revenue streams.
For example, you could consider opening a bank account that offers attractive interest rates.
DBS has a Multiplier Account that pays your interest when you use it to bank in your salary, pay your mortgages and manage your expenses.
You might also consider investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) which you can buy direct from your local banks like DBS and OCBC.
Typically REITs invest in various properties such as shopping malls, industrial properties and so on.
REITs are paid every quarterly or every six months with an average return of around 6 per cent.
That’s better than putting your money in your bank account.
However, do read up on the various REITs in the market before you invest.
#3: Start an online business
Starting a business does not necessarily have to be capital intensive.
Online business is one such example.
Online shopping is the way to go as consumers now preferring to buy things online rather than in the store.
If you haven’t already noticed, some well-known retailers on Orchard Road have already rolled down their shutters due to high rental and operating costs.
This makes e-shopping a viable market provided you have the right products.
To set up an online store will require you to buy a domain where you can design the website on your own such as via Wix or Weebly.
This will set you back at around less than US$100 annually.
The latest data from various Singapore’s government agencies do not look good suggesting a sluggish property market ahead.
By Khalil Adis
If you are feeling the heat from the sluggish economy, you are not alone.
In fact, chances are if you are running a business, you would have noticed more businesses rolling down their shutters since the beginning of 2019.
Meanwhile, workers are worried about job security.
Coupled with the current China-US trade war, this will have a significant impact on Singapore’s export-dependent economy and the job market.
As such Singapore’s property market is expected to be in the doldrums this year.
Here are three key indicators:
#1: Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) decreased by 15.9% in May 2019
The latest figure from Singapore’s trade agency, Enterprise Singapore, do not look good with a decline recorded in non-oil domestic exports (NODX) due to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong in May 2019.
The drop was partly due to a sharp decline in shipments to China, following the 10.0 per cent decline in April 2019.
The national trade agency said both electronic and non-electronic exports decreased.
On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, NODX rose by 6.2 per cent in May 2019, after the previous month’s 0.7 per cent decrease.
Non-electronic NODX grew while electronics declined.
On a year-on-year basis, total trade decreased by 2.1 per cent in May 2019.
This was after the 3.2 per cent growth in the preceding month.
Meanwhile, total imports declined by 0.5 per cent in May 2019, after the 7.6 per cent rise in the previous month.
Total exports decreased by 3.4 per cent in May 2019, following the 0.5 per cent decline in April 2019.
The largest contributors to the NODX decrease were China (-23.3 per cent), Taiwan (-34.7 per cent) and Hong Kong (-24.8 per cent).
Overall, exports to the majority of Singapore's top markets decreased in May, except to the US.
#2: More workers were retrenched in the first quarter of 2019
With trade declining, it has had a knock-off impact on the job market.
According to a report released by the Ministry of Manpower on Thursday (June 13), more workers were retrenched in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous quarter and a year ago.
The ministry’s latest report said this increase was driven by manufacturing and affected workers in production and electronics.
For example, as of the first quarter of this year, 3,230 workers were retrenched.
This was higher than the quarter before with 2,510 workers affected and a year ago (2,320).
The top reason cited for retrenchments was business restructuring and reorganisation.
Meanwhile, the number of job vacancies declined following seven quarters of increase.
According to the ministry, it declined from 62,300 in December 2018 to 57,100 in March 2019.
#3: Government to reduce the supply of private residential units for the second half of 2019
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), there is a large supply of around 44,000 private housing units in the pipeline.
This comprises around 39,000 unsold units from the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme and en-bloc sale sites with planning approval, and an additional 5,000 units from sites that are pending planning approval.
In addition, there are around 24,000 existing private housing units that remain vacant.
“Given these factors, the Government has decided to reduce the supply of private residential units on the Confirmed List for the GLS Programme,” the URA said in its statement.
As such, the GLS Programme for the second half of 2019 will comprise five Confirmed List sites and eight Reserve List sites.
According to the URA, these sites can yield about 6,430 private residential units, 92,000 sq m gross floor area (GFA) of commercial space and 1,100 hotel rooms
The five Confirmed List sites are private residential sites (including one Executive Condominium site) which can yield about 1,715 private residential units (including 480 EC units).
Singapore is a very open economy and will be the first in the region to experience the shocks arising from the ongoing trade wars.
However, this will be mitigated by government spendings in building infrastructure projects such as the upcoming Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) and the Cross Island Line (CRL).
Meanwhile, the large supply of private residential units will favour tenants and buyers as they will be spoilt for choice.
It will also mean the rental and resale private property market will likely see a price decline due to the supply in the pipeline.
Vacancy rates for private properties will also increase.
As such, landlords will likely drop their rentals as more units come on-stream.
Located within the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) planning area of Paya Lebar Central, residential property prices in Geylang Serai have performed relatively well over the past two quarters.
By Khalil Adis
Every year, Geylang Serai will come alive with its vibrant street bazaar.
This year is no different but with a slight twist.
Following complaints last year that the bazaar has lost its appeal due to the invasion of many hipster food vendors, the organisers have set stricter guidelines in keeping with the spirit of Hari Raya and Malay culture.
This is certainly good news that will keep the unique culture of Geylang Serai alive for generations to come.
Since its establishment in the 1960s, Geylang Serai has become a cultural icon that is synonymous with Malay culture and customs.
Every year, Malay families will congregate here to partake in the festivity leading up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
With Hari Raya Aidilfitri just around the corner, we decided to check out the vibrant street bazaar at Geylang Serai to find out what makes this place tick.
Here are the six places that have shaped Geylang Serai to where it is today.
#1: Geylang Serai Bazaar
Stretching from Sims Avenue, Tanjong Katong Road, Geylang Road and parts of Changi Road, this year's bazaar features over 500 stalls which are significantly less than previous years.
This will allow for more open spaces for the public to enjoy when breaking their fast or just for a place for the entire family to sit down after a day of shopping.
If you are looking for delicious Malay kueh and other traditional dishes, you are in for a treat.
This year, the organisers, Wisma Sri Geylang, has put a guideline requiring 60 per cent of food vendors to sell food that will appeal to Muslim visitors while the remaining 40 per cent may offer "contemporary" or "hipster" options.
In addition, these stalls are also required to be either Muslim-owned, certified halal by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) or fulfil halal criteria set by consultants engaged by the bazaar organisers.
From carpets to baju Melayu, the street bazaar is awash in bright neon lightings when night falls.
For the best deals, come during the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri where most goods are sold at a deep discount from vendors eager to clear their stocks.
#2: Wisma Geylang Serai
Wisma Geylang Serai is the latest addition to the streetscape here. Launched in January 2019, this community civic and cultural centre is located in the heart of the Geylang Serai precinct housing the Geylang Serai Community Club, the South East Community Development Council, the Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery Family Service and Child Care Centre, Senior Care Centre, and cultural arts group and social/community-related facilities.
The building draws its inspiration from traditional Malay houses with balconies (“serambi”) as well as lemongrass (where Geylang Serai takes its name from) and ketupat. The architecture features a double-pitched roof and columns that look like stilts to give Wisma Geylang Serai its own unique character.
Aside from community care, Wisma Geylang Serai is also home to eight Malay Muslim organisations and agencies to provide one-stop service to the community. They include Association of Muslim Professionals, Creative Malay Arts and Culture, Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulud, Muhammadiyah, Pergas, Tabung Amal Aidilfitri, Berita Harian and Persatuan Persuratan Pemuda Pemudi Melayu.
#3: Tanjong Katong Complex
Home to anchor tenants like First Lady and Giant, Tanjong Katong Complex is known for its loud and colourful carpet auction shows located just outside the building that has helped to draw curious tourists and locals alike. Inside, however, there are many stores selling traditional Malay wears, home decor, gold, jewellery and other accessories.
Over the weekend, the shopping complex is a known haunt among Indonesian maids who would often camp outside the venue. Meanwhile, locals tend to congregate outside Giant supermarket in the evening to break their fast. To avoid jostling with the crowd, it is best to come early for your Hari Raya shopping.
#4: Joo Chiat Complex
Known for its wide variety of textiles and garments, Joo Chiat Complex is a treasure trove for those who need to hunt for ready-made traditional Malay wears for both ladies and men. Established in the 1960s, Joo Chiat Complex is still going on strong today and is one of Geylang Serai’s enduring icon.
Aside from textiles, the complex boasts a number of fabric vendors selling curtains and upholstery by the metre. There are also a number of jewellery shops that are popular among Malay ladies who are eager to show off their latest bling collections. Although the shopping complex is a little run down, it is still worth checking out due to the sheer number of shops that can be found here.
#5: Sri Geylang Serai
Sri Geylang Serai is home to the Geylang Serai wet market and hawker centre. Located just opposite Joo Chiat Complex, the wet market is a popular destination among Malay households from all over Singapore as the goods are fresh yet slightly more affordable.
In addition, the hawker centre above houses a number of famous Muslim stalls that have made Sri Geylang Serai popular among those looking for authentic Malay food. Some of the notable hawkers here include Cendol Geylang Serai, Hajjah Mona Nasi Padang and Haji Mohd Yussof Warong Nasi Baryani. Be warned though that you would most likely need to share a seat as the hawker centre is always packed.
#6: City Plaza
City Plaza is the birthplace of Arnold’s which is famed for its fresh, succulent and well-marinated chicken. This fast food restaurant began its humble beginnings from a corner shop located on the second floor here and still continues to maintain its presence there for three decades. Even today, Arnold’s continue to be packed especially during breaking fast time.
Aside from that, there are a number of thrift boutique stores selling sandals, bags and fashionable clothes. City Plaza is also a popular hangout among Indonesian maids over the weekend as there are a number of remittance outlets here.
According to HDB’s first quarter of 2019 data, the median transacted price for 3- and 4-room HDB flats in Geylang was S$265,500 and S$518,000 respectively. In comparison, its fourth quarter of 2018 data showed that they were transacted at S$280,000 and S$480,000 respectively. This represents a price decline of 5.2 per cent for 3-room flats while 4-room flats have strengthened to 7.9 per cent.
Meanwhile, according to the URA’s first quarter of 2019 data, the median transacted price for apartments/condominiums in the area was S$1,157.40 per sq ft. In comparison, its fourth quarter data of 2018 showed that they were transacted at S$1,137.32 per sq ft. This represents an increase of 1.8 per cent.
On the overall, the upcoming rejuvenation of Paya Lebar Central as outlined by the URA has had a positive spillover impact on residential properties here. Some of the completed projects in the area include Paya Lebar Square and Paya Lebar Quarter 1, 2 and 3 which are all connected via link bridges. Upcoming developments that are currently being constructed are Paya Lebar Quarter Mall, Paya Lebar Quarter and Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter.
Under the Draft Master Plan 2013, Novena is currently being transformed into Singapore’s single largest healthcare complex called Health City Novena.
By Khalil Adis
Known for its iconic Novena Church, Novena falls under the prime district 11 and is home to shopping malls, healthcare institutions, offices, apartments, condominiums and landed homes.
Over the years, Novena has been transformed into a bustling healthcare hub called Health City Novena with the addition of three new MRT stations to better serve commuters.
Here are six things to watch out for:
#1: Health City Novena
The Ministry of Health has set a target completion date by 2030 for this sprawling 17-hectare modern integrated healthcare complex that now physically links Tan Tock Seng Hospital, its medical school and all public and volunteer healthcare facilities into one.
In the next 10 years, Health City Novena will see the addition of more facilities and services which will double its built-up area from 250,000 sq m to 600,000 sq m.
#2: Novena Medical Center
Meanwhile, a new mixed-use development comprising a hotel, medical suites and retail shops at the junction of Thomson and Irrawaddy Roads is now open.
Called Novena Medical Center, this privately run medical facility offers a wide range of quality health care services ranging from medical aesthetics to dental surgery.
It is also linked directly to Oasia Hotel Novena for the convenience of overseas private patients to recuperate.
#3: Three new MRT stations under Downtown Line 2
To offer residents enhanced connectivity to the rest of Singapore, three new MRT stations namely Newton, Stevens and Botanic Gardens, were opened in December 2015.
Comprising 16.6 km of train line that runs from Bukit Panjang to Bukit Timah Road, residents can hop onto the North South Line at Novena before transferring to Newton MRT interchange station to get to the downtown Singapore in 14 minutes flat via Downtown MRT station.
By 2021, residents can look forward to the addition of two more MRT stations at Mount Pleasant and Stevens via the Thomson-East Coast Line.
Stevens MRT station will be upgraded to an interchange station where commuters can hop onto the Thomson-East Coast Line towards Woodlands North or Sungei Bedok.
#4: Velocity @ Novena Square
Located directly above Novena MRT station, this sports-themed mall offers shopping, dining and beauty options as among some of its offerings.
Home to an outdoor basketball court, sports lovers can look forward to sporting events that are held here from time to time.
Some of its anchor tenants include UOB, World of Sports, Cold Storage, Starbucks and Toast Box.
#5: Zhongshan Park Integrated Development
The Zhongshan Park Integrated Development was conceived by its architect as a unique opportunity to rejuvenate the Balestier Conservation Area which has more than 160 years of history.
Located at Balestier Road and adjacent to the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Zhongshan Park has now been integrated as a sprawling 39,100sqm mixed-use development comprising Zhongshan Mall, two hotels and an office tower.
#6: 35 Gilstead
In anticipation for Novena’s rejuvenation, a new condominium development will be developed at 35 Gilstead Road.
Called 35 Gilstead, this upcoming freehold condominium development will comprise three blocks of 5-storey residential apartments with an attic and basement, swimming pool and communal facilities.
Offering 70 units ranging from one- to three-bedroom plus penthouse, 35 Gilstead will likely appeal to parents with school-going children as it is located very close to good schools such as Anglo-Chinese School Barker Road, Catholic Junior College, Singapore Chinese Girl’s Primary and Secondary School and St. Joseph’s Institution.
The federal government mooted project had promised to build 1 million affordable homes by 2020. However, the project was from the beginning mired in controversies.
By Khalil Adis
Just last week, it was announced in the media that Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia, a public housing agency which was established under the Barisan Nasional government may be dissolved as it is in a “mess”. The final decision on whether PR1MA projects should be continued is pending a due diligence report, which is expected to be completed end of this month.
For years, the PR1MA initiative has received lashbacks from various stakeholders and the general public for its inefficient implementation.
I recall researching about PR1MA when I was writing my second book.
The 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme or PR1MA was launched in July 2011 and incorporated under the PR1MA Act in 2012. It became operational in March 2013 and to qualify, applicants will need to have a single or combined household income of between RM2,500 to RM15,000 per month.
I couldn’t help thinking how the hoopla around an announced PR1MA initiative usually fizzles out after some time, with no proper project updates disseminated to the public.
For instance, under Budget 2016 that the government promised that it will build 5,000 units of houses under PR1MA and 1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Programme (PPA1M) in 10 locations in the vicinities of light rail transit and monorail stations, including in Pandan Jaya, Sentul and Titiwangsa.
However, a quick check on PR1MA’s website does not show any such projects except for one in Brickfields, Fraser Business Park and Bukit Jalil respectively.
In addition, my interviews with young Malaysians while taking Grab and Uber show a great mismatch in what the government is saying – where many had said they had applied for the housing scheme, but they have yet to receive any official reply from PR1MA.
Here are some circumstances that may have led to PR1MA’s failure
#1: Lack of single housing agency to manage the affordable housing market
Unlike Singapore which has the Housing & Development Board (HDB) to oversee the affordable housing segment, in Malaysia, there are many agencies rolling it out under the federal and state umbrellas.
From federal-led initiatives like PR1MA and Residensi Wilayah (RUMAWIP) to state-led schemes like Rumah Mampu Biaya Johor (RMBJ) and Rumah Selangorku, this not only confuses the public but leads to inefficient use of public resources competing for the same market.
What would work in my opinion is to have a single housing agency to streamline the entire process across the nation.
This could also allow the agency to gauge demand from the public via available government data.
In addition, this will allow them to allocate land according to demand to ensure that they are successfully balloted and fully taken up like the Singapore model.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government had studied the HDB model last year and is reportedly looking to emulate it.
#2: Federal versus state government complicates matters
While on paper this may sound ideal, it is not so easy in reality as land is a state matter.
As such, federal-initiated programmes like PR1MA will likely face bureaucratic red tapes and are less likely to receive priority when applying for the release of state land.
YB Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) recently shared that it is the responsibility of the state governments to offer up their spacious lands for the development of affordable housing. However, as of end-2018, only 27 plot of lands out of the total 127 for affordable housing projects around the country, were supplied by state governments.
Let’s not forget that the state and federal governments may have different objectives which can further complicate matters.
#3: Costly to acquire land
Considering the challenge in securing land from respective state governments, the federal government would have to acquire them from private parties at a hefty cost.
As land cost takes up a significant percentage of a project’s cost, this will inevitably drive up the cost of building affordable homes.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that previous PR1MA projects were mostly built in undesirable locations, where homebuyer demand is low.
#4: Far-flung location with sub-par connectivity
Hence why, one of the common grouses about PR1MA is the project’s far-flung location away from the city.
With the exception of the homes within KL mentioned above, most of PR1MA’s housing projects are inaccessible and will require applicants to own a car.
This then defeats the purpose of building affordable homes as most of the applicants will be financially burdened with the double whammy of a car and home loan.
Given Malaysia’s patchy connectivity and lack of seamless connection to public transport, this thus makes some of PR1MA’s projects highly unpopular.
#5: Some applicants were left in the dark
The applicants are the most important stakeholders for PR1MA.
As such, communication ought to be done more diligently.
Many young Malaysians I had spoken to said they did not receive any form of acknowledgement on the status of their application.
Some have been waiting for more than five years and are still waiting.
I had highlighted this at a panel discussion but a representative from PR1MA replied that this wasn’t true.
Perhaps, she had reasons to as this was during Najib Razak’s era.
Looking back, if this wasn’t the case, surely PR1MA would not be in its current position right now.
In addition, it would certainly help if PR1MA were to address these issues head-on to assure applicants.
Whether or not PR1MA will be dissolved remains to be seen.
However, PR1MA is already costing Malaysian taxpayers more than RM8 billion.
Three reasons why speakers are paid a fee while agencies earn a commission
By Khalil Adis
Recently, I was approached by a real estate agency in Singapore for an upcoming launch event.
I generally work directly with developers and try as much as possible to avoid working with a real estate agency as they have a very unrealistic expectation.
It turns out I was right.
During the first meeting, I had asked if their client has a budget. They said no. However, they said they can pay me a commission. That itself was a huge red flag.
Nevertheless, I continued with the meeting to see where it was going.
However, I still wasn’t sure what the deal was.
I do know they needed a speaker and someone to conduct their agent training.
They subsequently asked for a copy of my presentation slides and samples of my editorial work.
A second meeting was then requested but I made it clear that I do not operate on a commission with zero marketing cost as that would be unfair to my paying clients.
They then requested I do up a marketing proposal and the costing for their client to consider.
The second meeting was supposed to be a conference call with the developer but it was delayed and subsequently cancelled.
They did inform me that the client will contact me to ask me further questions.
However, I never heard from their client nor received any confirmation about my proposal.
With nothing signed off, I am therefore not legally bound to provide any form of services.
It got me thinking about the potential conflict of interest when working with real estate agencies and why I generally avoid working with them.
#1: Developers leverage on the speaker’s expertise
I have been very blessed that developers look for me when it comes to launching their projects in Singapore and Malaysia.
It is because they see the value in the research, books and analysis that my company had done over the years.
We provide unparalleled insights into the property market from a Singapore perspective.
They also understand that consumers generally trust an unbiased point of view which will thus act credibility to their project.
On the other hand, an agency operates solely based on commission.
They also justify paying a referral fee for any closing.
As a business owner, this does not make any sense as the risk and marketing cost is totally on me.
In addition, it does not justify freeing up my time at the expense of other clients.
#2: A speaker has marketing missiles
When I do events with developer clients, I would put together a strategic marketing communications plan to ensure the client gets its bang for its bucks.
From public relations, social media content, book signings to a dedicated electronic direct mailer campaign, this helps to ensure the desired communication strategy is achieved when communicating with the public, consumers and shareholders.
Having a book signing and giveaway also helps to attract the public to come to the developer’s event.
This helps the agency to do their closing.
A recent Singapore event saw a client closing eight units.
#3: A speaker should not be involved in sales
In the life of a journalist, we must declare any potential conflict of interest that may impact the credibility of our story.
It is how journalists are able to write the truth and earn the trust of the public.
Likewise, a speaker must not be involved in any property sales as it impacts their credibility in the market.
In the past, developers and agencies had tried to exploit this to their advantage.
This is one reason why I decided not to renew my real estate agency licence.
In closing, I would like to remind real estate agencies that there is a service fee for any form of work and that their client should respect someone else’s time.
It also is an insult to the speaker when you request them to do a dry run presentation when they had spent many years conducting research, writing books and honing their skills.
And that is what separates a good speaker from the average.
With 10,000 affordable homes in the pipeline, Bandar Malaysia is both a boon and a bane for Kuala Lumpur’s sluggish property sector. We analyse how this development will impact the market.
By Khalil Adis
The recent announcement by the Malaysian government that it is reviving the shelved Bandar Malaysia project is a piece of welcome news as it gives some clarity to investors on the status of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project.
Since winning the 14th general election, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had reviewed several mega infrastructure projects including Bandar Malaysia and the HSR.
In the face of the country’s mounting debt, both projects were at first announced as cancelled in May 2018.
This prompted Singapore’s Ministry of Transport to issue a statement stating that it “will wait for official communication from Malaysia”.
However, the Malaysian government backtracked on this subsequently.
Instead, it announced in June 2018 that the project was “postponed”.
This created a lot of confusion on both sides of the causeway.
After many months of speculation, the market finally received some clarity in September 2018 when representatives from both governments met in Putrajaya.
In a joint-statement, both Singapore and Malaysia announced that they had signed an agreement to suspend the project until 31 May 2020
“Malaysia will bear the agreed costs in suspending the HSR Project. If by 31 May 2020, Malaysia does not proceed with the HSR Project, Malaysia will also bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore in fulfilling the HSR Bilateral Agreement. During the suspension period, Malaysia and Singapore will continue to discuss on the best way forward for the HSR Project with the aim of reducing costs,” the statement read.
The HSR project is now expected to commence service by 1 January 2031, instead of the original commencement date of 31 December 2026.
With Bandar Malaysia now being revived, we list down the possible implications on Kuala Lumpur’s property market.
#1: Boost for the construction sector
The construction sector is currently in the doldrums due to the lacklustre property market in Malaysia.
Loan rejections from buyers and the demand-supply mismatch mean developers are faced with unsold inventory leading to cash flow problems with contractors.
In March, for instance, Bursa listed engineering and construction company, Zeland Berhad filed a statement with the Malaysian stock exchange that it was initiating arbitration proceedings against NRY Architects for RM305.4mil and other contract breaches for the construction of buildings of International Islamic University Malaysia in Kuantan.
It also announced that it is claiming RM3.34mil in outstanding payment for construction works from BBCC Development Sdn Bhd located at the former Pudu jail near Hang Tuah monorail station.
With Bandar Malaysia now back on track, contractors will be willing to bid at a much lower price to stay afloat amid the challenging market condition.
Subcontractors will also benefit.
#2: 10,000 new housing units will likely worsen overhang in Kuala Lumpur’s property market
Initially, DBKL had announced that Bandar Malaysia will house around 30,000 affordable homes.
However, a recent announcement puts the figures to 10,000 units.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had previously indicated that it has set a development guideline for developers to build such homes at around 800 sq ft but priced below MYR450,000.
Meanwhile, Bank Negara’s figures showed that 80 per cent of homes, or 146,196 units priced above RM250,000, remained unsold as of end March 2018.
While Bank Negara did not break down the figures according to each state, recent data provided by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) showed that Kuala Lumpur recorded the third highest number of residential overhang at 5,114 units.
So unless the homes are priced below RM250,000, we are likely to see Kuala Lumpur’s housing glut worsen.
#3: Boon for first-time homebuyers
Bandar Malaysia has been cited by DBKL as a case study for government and private developers in building transit-oriented development (TOD).
Bandar Malaysia will house two MRT stations – Bandar Malaysia North and Bandar Malaysia South – which will form part of the alignment for the Sungai Buloh – Serdang – Putrajaya Line (SSP Line).
Bandar Malaysia will also possibly serve as the interchange to the MRT Line 3, which has now been postponed.
If indeed Bandar Malaysia will build affordable homes according to DBKL’s guidelines, then it will be a boon for first-time homebuyers as the entry price in Kuala Lumpur is easily above RM600,000.
It will also mean young Malaysians will no longer have to buy a car first after completing their education and thus improve their chances of getting their home loans approved.
Currently, many young Malaysians are trapped in the debt cycle due to various financial commitments such as their National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN), cars, personal and credit cards loans.
So while demand is strong, loan rejections remain an issue further worsening the cash flow for developers.
#4: Bane for landlords and sellers
If indeed 10,000 new housing units will be coming on stream, Bandar Malaysia’s surrounding areas such as Pudu, Brickfields, Cheras, Bandar Tun Razak, Sungai Besi and Taman Desa will be badly affected.
As such, landlord and sellers will likely see their asking prices fall even further as consumers will soon have more choices.
Landlords will also find difficulty in doing short-term accommodations as the Malaysian government will be regulating this market segment.
Therefore, rent-seekers and buyers are the clear winners as they are in the position to haggle for the best price.
#5: Sluggish commercial and office market ahead
The initial projection for Bandar Malaysia stated that it will have a gross development value (GDV) of RM150 billion.
Measuring around 196 hectares, Bandar Malaysia’s master plan indicates that it will be a mixed-use development with commercial and office buildings.
With so many mega malls and office buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Malaysia will add on to more floor space in Kuala Lumpur’s already weak commercial and office markets.
Despite this, Bandar Malaysia will likely attract multinational companies to set up their operations here as it is located within the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).
Located within the Eastern Gate Development Zone of Iskandar Malaysia, Bandar Seri Alam boasts a number of good schools and is dubbed the 'City of Knowledge'.
By Khalil Adis
Bandar Seri Alam is one of Johor's best-kept secrets.
Home to 16 educational institutions and located in between Pasir Gudang and Permas Jaya, the township has a growing young population of around 220,000.
We list down some of the attractive points about living in Bandar Seri Alam.
#1: Located in the growth corridor of Flagship Zone D of Iskandar Malaysia
Also known as the Eastern Gate, this is the third phase of Iskandar Malaysia's next growth.
There are a few catalytic projects currently happening here, namely Iskandar Halal Park (formerly known as Johor Halal Park) and the Pengerang RAPID Project.
First announced on 19 November 2015 by the former Chief Minister of Johor Dato' Khaled Nordin during the Johor Budget 2016, it is part of the state government's effort to promote entrepreneurship in Johor.
A 50:50 joint venture collaboration between UMLand and the Johor State Government via Johor Biotechnology & Biodiversity Corporation (J-Biotech), the private-public initiative aims to put it as an international halal park and is one of the catalyst projects in Eastern Iskandar Malaysia.
Recently, IHP scored a major coup among when US based-company, Chocolat Moderne from New York, picked JHP as the manufacturing site to set up its first business in Asia.
Meanwhile, the Pengerang RAPID Project will be the largest oil & gas hub in Malaysia that will create around 40,000 to 50,000 job creation in the construction industry, 400 jobs for engineers and 4,000 jobs for trained technical.
#2: Education is a recession-proof industry
One of the attractive factors about Bandar Seri Alam is it is home to a number of higher learning institutions such as Universiti Teknologi Mara campus, Universiti Kuala Lumpur campus, the Masterskill University College of Health Sciences campus as well as international schools.
While the Iskandar Puteri/Medini and Johor Bahru/Danga Bay areas boast a number of catalytic industries such as tourism and finance, they are not immune to economic down cycles.
Bandar Seri Alam is 100 per cent focussed on education, particularly among the local population.
This makes it even more attractive as education in an evergreen industry.
One of the oldest and biggest schools in Malaysia, Foon Yew High School is set to open its third campus in Bandar Seri Alam in 2021.
#3: Homes are still affordable with the potential for capital appreciation
According to data from Brickz, prices of homes here were transacted at a median price of RM320 per sq ft from Jan 2018 to Dec 2018.
In comparison, homes in Iskandar Puteri/Medini and Johor Bahru/Danga Bay are priced at around RM900 per sq ft.
Being a relatively new township surrounded by various property booster will give room for capital appreciation for homes here.
This, plus the price point, make it suitable among first-time homebuyers.
#4: Master planned by a reputable developer
Bandar Seri Alam is one of United Malayan Land Bhd's signature projects developed by its subsidiary company Seri Alam Properties Sdn Bhd.
Thoughtfully developed across 3,762 acres by its subsidiary, Bandar Seri Alam has been planned as a self-contained township with a mix of freehold residential, commercial, industrial and hospitality offerings.
At the centre of this township lies a bustling commercial arena with various exciting and attractive retail features and green elements.
Some of the world's best brands can be found here including Starbucks, KFC, Burger King and Subway.
#5: Growing population
Bandar Seri Alam is a thriving township which boasts a population of more than 220,000.
As Iskandar Halal Park and the Pengerang RAPID project are currently being developed, we can expect the population to increase in the next 10 to 15 years as more jobs are being created.
As we speak, a new RM500 million Pasir Gudang Hospital will also be constructed as part of the government's announcement under Budget 2016.
An independent analysis from yours truly