Malaysians must improve financial literacy
Malaysia has long been a global leader and hub for Islamic finance, but its community still has a long way to go in terms of financial literacy, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani. Islamic financial education remains a pressing challenge for industry players as well as individuals, with a need for more talent to further develop innovative products. He said industry players needed to do more to narrow the knowledge gap among Malaysians in terms of financial literacy and financial planning. Young Malaysians would also benefit from good financial planning skills, which would help them make sound and informed financial decisions. Johari added that many Malaysians were still falling for scams and get-rich-quick schemes because they did not understand financial products. (The Star Online)

National policy needed for property sector
Bank Negara Malaysia’s Annual Report 2015 stated that the property market is experiencing an undersupply of affordable homes, especially in major urban areas, and an oversupply of office and retail space in major cities and towns. If left unchecked, it could lead to further imbalances in the property market and negative spillovers to other parts of the economy. Therefore, a comprehensive and well thought out national planning policy is needed for the property market, which will help support the government’s aim of delivering more housing while also managing oversupply of commercial properties. (The Sun Daily)

one ringgitBook a house for RM1 in Johor
In a collaboration with the Sultan Ibrahim Foundation, Bank Rakyat is offering eligible buyers a full housing loan with payment of only RM1 as deposit during registration. The program will enable eligible first time home buyers to own low cost and affordable homes in Johor priced below RM100,000. The bank has allocated about RM500 million financing facilities to the eligible buyers, and plans to extend the housing loan scheme to other states. Eligible buyers are required to register with the housing unit of the State Secretary office and not with the bank to screen their eligibility. The move has been lauded by potential house buyers who would benefit from the scheme. (The Star Online)

EcoWorld courts investors for RM2bil IPO
Malaysian property developer Eco World International Bhd is in talks with potential investors ahead of a planned RM2 billion initial public offering (IPO) of its overseas assets. Eco World International is the overseas real-estate unit of Malaysia-listed Eco World Development Group Bhd. If successful, it would be the largest IPO in Malaysia in nearly a year. An inside source said that it would take about two weeks to line up the cornerstone investors, which include local and international investors, and the IPO is expected to be launched in the second quarter of the year. Proceeds from the IPO will be used to finance Eco World International’s ongoing real-estate projects in Australia and London. (The Wall Street Journal)

More bids for 1MDB Penang land
Two more parties have joined the bidding for 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) land in Air Itam, Penang. The two are Suiwah Corp Bhd, a supermarket chain operator, and property developer Titijaya Land Bhd. Two other parties had earlier submitted their bids when the request-for-proposal exercise was opened. In 2013, it was reported that 1MDB had paid RM1.06 billion for the property, and its current valuation is Rm1.325 billion. It is understood that the companies tendering for the land deal have also included a profit-sharing package with 1MDB from their proposed mixed-development projects. (The Star Online)

Controversial Borneo dam project scrapped
The Sarawak state government announced it has scrapped a planned hydroelectric dam project, a victory for tribal activists who have fought against it for years. Since 2013 activists and local tribes in Sarawak have blockaded jungle roads leading to the proposed dam site on the Baram river. They say decades of government-orchestrated logging and dam-building have led to social and environmental disaster, and that the project would have flooded rainforests and displaced 20,000 tribespeople. Authorities had previously declared plans for around a dozen dams, saying Sarawak must tap its massive hydroelectric potential to provide power for hoped-for investment in a nascent industrial sector. Three dams have already been completed, at Batang Ai, Murum and Bakun, and have been heavily criticised. (The Sun Daily)

Members of the Baram Protection Action Committee during a peaceful demonstration in 2012 (Photo from The Borneo Post)

Members of the Baram Protection Action Committee during a peaceful demonstration in 2012 (Photo from The Borneo Post)

China’s Greenland to list REIT in Singapore
Chinese property developer Greenland Group announced that its unit plans to set up and list a real estate investment trust (REIT) on the main board of the Singapore Exchange. The REIT will be backed by hotel assets in China, comprising 19 hotel properties worth 21 billion yuan ($3.23 billion). The company did not say how much it was looking to raise through the listing, but said it would be the largest REIT issued by Chinese property firms so far. (Reuters)

Berjaya Land Q3 revenue boosted by property segment
Berjaya Land Bhd (Bland) saw its third quarter revenue rise marginally to RM1.48 billion from RM1.47 billion a year ago, due to higher progress billings rom its property development and investment businesses. The higher progress billings had offset the lower revenue contribution from gaming business operated by Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd and the hotels and resorts business. Its other businesses also reported lower profit contribution mainly due to lower revenue, higher operating expenses and foreign exchange loss. (The Sun Daily)