Youth Parliament discusses housing woes
Lack of affordable housing for youths took centre stage in this year’s first session of the Youth Parliament, which started yesterday. A representative said that politicians were reluctant to take moves such as revising the real property gains tax (RPGT) for feat of losing voter popularity, while another urged GLCs to consider abolishing land premium payments when selling their land to property developers, to enable the construction of affordable homes. It was also suggested that the government supply homes costing RM30,000 with a 20-year loan to increase home ownership among rural youths. The discussion also saw criticism of the government’s housing policies; it was pointed out that plenty of government-owned land was not developed for affordable housing, and instead sold to private developers and resulting in high home prices. Unlike Parliament, the youth version is not divided into the government and the opposition, but several committees table motions on particular issues to be debated. (The Malay Mail Online)

Islamic banks launch investment account platform
A group of 6 Malaysian Islamic banks have launched a sharia-compliant investment platform that is poised to transform Islamic lenders from credit providers to investment intermediaries. The Investment Account Platform (IAP) will serve as a central marketplace to finance small and medium-sized businesses, with the Malaysian government backing the scheme with an initial RM150 million in funds. The project could be listed as early as next month, and is open to international investors. For Islamic banks, the IAP creates a differentiated product that presents a new source of income and funding profile. The six shareholding banks are Affin Holdings, Bank Islam Malaysia, Bank Muamalat Malaysia, Maybank Islamic, Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia and Bank Simpanan Nasional. (The Malaysian Insider)

Sime Darby launches Lifestyle@9 campaign to promote Negeri Sembilan townships
Sime Darby Property has launched a campaign to promote its Negeri Sembilan townships. The Lifestyle@9 campaign, a new initiative under Sime Darby Property, is aimed at promoting its various developments in the statek, which focuses on sustainable living, a concept of an environment that nurtures social and emotional health. Its townships in Negeri Sembilan include Nilai Impian, Bandar Ainsdale, Chemara Hills and Planters’ Haven. “As a result of improved accessibility, developments in Negeri Sembilan are increasingly on the radar of prospective buyers searching for properties. We foresee Negeri Sembilan to be the next investment hub after Klang Valley,” said its managing director Dato’ Jauhari Hamidi. (Malaysian Digest)

TSR acquires Sungai Buloh land for office tower project
TSR Bhd is acquiring the entire stake in Satu Kahwin Sdn Bhd, which owns a 5,078 sq m development land in Sungai Buloh adjacent to its existing Menara TSR, for RM48.1 million. The company plans to begin construction of two blocks of office towers comprising 19 storeys and 11 storeys together with four storeys of basement carpark, with an estimated GDV of RM230 million. Its board views the deal as having good development potential, and is in line with TSR Capital’s future expansion plans to strengthen its presence in Klang Valley’s property market. It intends to partially sell or lease the buildings to be developed, with 70% kept for rental income and capital appreciation. (The Sun Daily)

Former estate workers protest against property developer for breaking promise
Over 100 former estate workers from Sungai Belata, Hulu Selangor have lodged more than 60 police reports against a property developer, after its subsidiaries failed to build low-cost single-storey terrace houses for them as promised. The developer had also promised a hall, a Tamil school, a temple and a cemetery in the new housing area. Holding placards and banners, the group staged a protest outside the Kuala Kubu Baru police headquarters yesterday, after the companies failed to build the houses for the past 23 years. The issue started in 1994, when the estate was sold off. About 64 families signed the sale and purchase agreement with one of the subsidiaries in 2001, some paying a deposit of RM2,500 and even taking bank loans of RM25,000. The land has been left vacant until today. (The Malaysian Insider)

Former Sungai Belata estate workers staging a protest against the developer (The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim)

Former Sungai Belata estate workers staging a protest against the developer (The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim)

Fire victims cannot rebuild houses in same area
Sandakan residents with houses that were burned down in a fire have been advised by the authorities not to rebuild them at the same area. Sekong assemblyman Datuk Samsudin Yahya said the site where their houses were destroyed is not suitable to re-construct the houses due to safety reasons, especially in squatter areas and along coastal areas. On February 4, more than 100 families became homeless after a fire started from one of the wooden houses and spread to more than 70 nearby houses. Efforts have been made to relocate the fire victims to People Housing Project (PPR) of Taman Batu Sapi, but it is fully occupied. A proposal for 320 more units have been made to house the fire victims of Kampung Disayang. (The Borneo Post)