Budget 2020: A futuristic sounding budget that (unfortunately) brings Malaysian and foreign buyers back to square one
Despite its focus on the digital economy, the budget is a regressive one for both local and foreign buyers
By Khalil Adis
Another year, another budget.
This year is no different except that they were announced against a backdrop of the ongoing global trade wars and a general slowdown in the global economy.
While the Malaysian government has announced several measures to spur its economy specifically in the digital arena, Malaysia is likely to ride through the current economic climate largely unscathed as it has a strong domestic economy, unlike Singapore.
As such, I will focus solely on those affecting the property market.
From the looks of it, the measures appear to be cosmetic to address the shortcomings and mess left behind by the previous government.
Foreigners and Malaysians at the losing end
Call it a band-aid if you will but the budget seems regressive by bringing us back to the Budget 2014 and 2016 eras for foreign investors and locals buyers respectively.
Let us look back at Budget 2014.
During this period, the minimum purchase price for foreigners buying a property in Malaysia was raised from RM500,000 to RM 1 million.
This was to prevent a property bubble from forming in the market and thus preventing Malaysians from buying such properties.
Well, guess what?
The situation got even worse despite this measure as there were no checks and balances in place by the Housing Ministry.
As such, developers were at the free reign to build units that local could not buy resulting in a huge glut that we are seeing right now.
To reduce the overhang, Budget 2020 now allows foreigners to buy completed and unsold units that are priced above RM600,000.
So what happens to foreigners who had bought a property at RM1 million and are now looking to sell?
Most probably, due to the current market conditions, they will now be selling at a loss to either a local or a foreign buyer.
Also, they will now have to compete directly with the primary market where foreigners can buy at a steep discount of RM400,000 (RM1 million - RM600,000) directly from developers.
This mixed signal could potentially deter foreign investors from buying property in Malaysia.
Verdict: Foreign sellers: 0, foreign buyers: 1*
*it remains to be seen if subsequent budgets will see a change in the minimum purchase price across the various states in Malaysia.
Next, let us take a look at Budget 2016 in the affordable housing segment for Malaysian buyers.
Previously, under Barisan Nasional, the government had announced that it was building PR1MA homes across various states during Budget 2016.
There were also promises to build such homes that are planned around transport hubs and train stations in Kuala Lumpur.
Back then, the government had announced that a total of 5,000 units of PR1MA and PPA1M houses will be built in the vicinity of LRT and monorail stations in 10 locations, including Pandan Jaya, Sentul and Titiwangsa.
Fast forward four years later, PR1MA has become a massive liability for the government.
As we speak, PR1MA is undergoing restructuring and is nowhere close to the lofty 1 million housing units it had previously promised to deliver.
Meanwhile, there is still no news on the 5,000 transit-oriented development units (TODs).
This leaves Malaysians who are in dire need of affordable homes stranded.
From the looks of it, they are now back to square one with another new policy in place to replace the old one.
A new budget for local buyers
As part of Budget 2020, the government will collaborate with financial institutions in introducing various schemes.
The first is the Rent To Own (RTO) financing scheme.
This scheme aims to assist those who cannot afford the initial 10 per cent deposit and access to financing in purchasing their homes.
This scheme, however, is not new and has been in place among private developers.
As such, Malaysian buyers who had hoped for a roof over their heads during Budget 2016 are better off buying from private developers.
Verdict: Malaysian buyers: 0, private developers: 1*
*Imagine the agony among those who had applied for PR1MA homes and are still waiting. If I were a Malaysia, it seems buying from a private developer is the way to go.
*It is an open secret that there are many Malaysians who had previously applied under this scheme are still waiting for their homes. Just speak to any Grab drivers.
While many other schemes are being rolled out such as Fund for Affordable Home that was launched by Bank Negara Malaysia in January 2019 and the Youth Housing Scheme, they remain under the umbrella of various government agencies.
As such, this could be very confusing for the first-time homebuyers who are unsure how to navigate the market.
What would work is for Malaysia to streamline them under one single government housing agency just like Singapore’s HDB model.
Announced yesterday by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant for first-timers and higher income ceilings will provide more flexibility and housing options. We study how this will impact the property market.
By Khalil Adis
#1: Who will this benefit the most?
First-time homebuyers will benefit the most especially the middle to low-income bracket groups. It will also benefit first-time homebuyers who want to live close to their parents in mature estates.
#2: Why now?
This is because incomes have been rising since the HDB last reviewed the income ceiling in 2015. As such, the policy has been tweaked to address this.
#3: How will this affect the HDB market?
The sandwiched class may now opt to buy an HDB flat compared to buying a private property due to the increase in income ceiling and Enhanced CPF Housing Grant as it will mean less cash upfront.
This will help to prop up demand for resale HDB flats.
It is worth noting that the resale HDB market has been rather muted.
As such, we are likely to see an increase in activity particularly for those who want to live close to their parents.
#4: How will this affect the private housing market?
We may see the sandwiched class now switching to buy from the HDB market and thus ease pressure from the private housing market.
As such, we are likely to see the Private Property Index (PPI) see a slight correction in the next quarter.
#5: Will this affect HDB prices across the board?
It will affect prices in the HDB resale market as buyers are now given more help with the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant.
The HDB Resale Price Index has seen a decline since the first quarter of 2013.
However, with the increase in income ceiling and Enhanced CPF Housing Grant, we could see more sales activity in the otherwise muted resale market.
#6: How will this affect the rental market?
The HDB and private property rental market will be very soft as more buyers will be switching to buy rather than rent a property. In the HDB market, the HDB will be launching 15,000 units later this year.
Meanwhile, in the private property market, we have a total supply of 53,696 uncompleted private residential units (including ECs) in the pipeline with planning approvals as at the end of the second quarter of 2019.
Also, we have another 4,398 units (including ECs) that will be completed in the remaining second quarters of 2019.
This incoming supply, together with the sluggish economy due to the ongoing trade war, will make the rental market extremely soft.
First residential project at the doorstep of the Greater Southern Waterfront previewed. Here are the 5 key takeaways
Sited within proximity to mega project such as the Greater Southern Waterfront, the Rail Corridor and the SGH Campus, Avenue South Residence offers owner-occupiers and investors the first-mover advantage.
By Khalil Adis
Developments at Singapore’s Greater Southern Waterfront district is fast gathering pace with the preview of Avenue South Residence last Friday.
This comes hot on the heels when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last month during his National Day Rally speech that the government will be developing the Greater Southern Waterfront as a vibrant housing, entertainment and commercial district.
A joint-development by UOL Group Limited (UOL), its subsidiary United Industrial Corporation Limited (UIC) and Kheng Leong Company, Avenue South Residence has been described as “the first major residential project at the doorstep of Singapore’s Greater Southern Waterfront.”
Here are five fast facts on Avenue South Residence:
#1: Located at Silat Avenue the former Kampong Silat site
For those who grew up in the Spottiswoode Park area, Kampong Silat will bring back many fond memories.
Probably named after the Malay martial arts, Silat Avenue was once home to the Silat Community Centre.
Known for its three to four-storeys Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, some of these landmark buildings were soon demolished to make way for point-block flats.
With the Greater Southern Waterfront announced just last month, Avenue South Residence sits at the doorstep of this massive waterfront city development that will encompass roughly twice the size of Punggol.
Located just off Kampong Bahru Road in the CBD fringe, nearby property boosters include the SGH Campus, two upcoming MRT stations namely, Keppel and Cantonment as well as a new office district with nightlife activities.
This will complement existing office spaces which is home to Google, Cisco and Unilever and add more jobs down south.
Nature lovers will also enjoy direct access to the 24km-long Rail Corridor as well as the park connectors that will be developed along Berlayer Creek and Labrador Park.
#2: A total of 1,074-units on offer
Comprising two 56-storey super high-rise towers and five conserved flats, this 99 years leasehold development features one to four-bedroom units ranging from 474 to 1,668 sq ft.
According to the developer, half of the 1,074-units will be priced below S$1.5 million.
The first 300 units range from S$858,000 for the one-bedrooms to S$1.15 million for the two-bedroom units.
This works out to S$1,810 and S$1,750 per sq ft based on a floor area of 474 and 657 sq ft respectively for such units.
As a piece of background information, the land parcel was awarded to the consortium in May 2018 at $1.035 billion.
This works out to S$1,138 per sq ft based on the gross floor area.
#3: All units will face the north-south direction while ensuring privacy
With a plot ratio of 3.7, the developer has surprisingly managed to orientate all the units in the north-south direction.
This is considered a feat as according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan, anything that is above a gross plot ratio of 2.8 is considered a very high-density development.
Additionally, this orientation is considered ideal as it helps to reduce heat gain from the morning sun, especially in Singapore’s tropical climate.
In total, Avenue South Residence will offer buyers a choice of 242 one-bedroom units, 505 two-bedroom units, 223 three-bedroom units and 104 4-bedroom units.
None of these units will be facing each other which is another plus point for discerning buyers who value privacy while wanting to live close to the city.
#4: Three distinctive collections to choose from
What sets Avenue South Residence from other new launches in the market is the unique development architecture which comprises five conserved buildings.
Formerly known as Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, these conserved buildings are reminiscent of the charming walk-up apartments in Tiong Bahru that has made into a hipster enclave.
Built between 1949 and 1952, these buildings are the second oldest surviving public housing estate in Singapore after those found in Tiong Bahru.
For the discerning investors wanting a piece of history complete with squarish Art Deco-styled architecture with a huge red-tiled roof, these buildings have been beautifully restored and rebranded as “limited edition” Heritage Collection.
They are priced at around S$1,780 per sq ft
Meanwhile, the Peak Collection will offer premium homes starting from the 37th storey onwards.
As its name suggests, the Peak Collection will offer unblocked views of the city skyline with a price tag of S$2,250 per sq ft.
Living up to its reputation of living the high life, buyers will be offered a complimentary platinum membership to the Pan Pacific DISCOVERY.
This loyalty programme offers exclusive privileges to the group’s “Pan Pacific” and PARKROYAL hotels
Last but not least, the Horizon Collection will be launched at $1,980 per sq ft.
All collections come with high-quality specifications such as marble flooring and branded kitchen appliances.
#5: Public preview attracts a strong 7,000 crowd
Since Avenue South Residence was opened for public preview on 30 August, it has attracted 7,000 people to date at its sales gallery located along Alexandra View.
Sales of the 1,074-unit development will commence on 7 September.
When completed, Avenue South Residence will also offer close to 10,000 sq ft of commercial facilities, including F&B outlets and a childcare centre for the convenience of families with young children.
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.
An independent analysis from yours truly