ECRL and pipeline projects axed
The cancellation of two multi-billion dollar projects in Malaysia awarded to companies from China ends months of uncertainty, besides marking new parameters for investment by companies from the world’s second largest economy. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the cancellation of the RM55bil East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and two gas pipeline projects worth RM9.41bil at the end of his five-day visit to China. The Prime Minister said the projects only added to Malaysia’s debts and had to be cancelled until the country could afford it. He said China’s leaders understood Malaysia’s plight and their response was positive. Asked about compensation, he said details including the amount would have to be negotiated and worked out by officials later. (The Star Online)

1,800 auctioneers risk losing jobs to e-lelong, says association
An auctioneer has asked the federal government to intervene in the move to adopt an online system for public bidding as some 1,800 jobs are at stake. While the move towards adopting an integrated electronic system is lauded, it should not come at the expense of jobs, a Penang Auctioneer Association committee member said. “The system literally takes over our functions as auctioneers as the transactions are done electronically rather than the conventional way of going under the hammer,” said Adrian Rajamoney. The e-lelong system has been in place since late last year but it is mostly used in the Kuantan court complex as a pilot project. It was reported that Malaysia was among the few countries in the world to have online property auctions conducted through its courts. The public auction of immovable properties such as landed homes is done in online in real time. It is regarded as convenient to the participants. (The Sun Daily)

KL luxury condo segment likely to see improvements
The Kuala Lumpur luxury condominium segment is expected to see improvements this year, on the back of renewed confidence and improving market sentiment. Property consultancy Knight Frank noted that a total of 216 condominium and apartment units changed hands in Kuala Lumpur in 1Q this year. There was an uptick in enquiries from potential buyers due to renewed confidence in the new government. The three-month tax holiday period, effective June 1, is also positive for the property market. “The zero-rating of the goods and services tax (GST) is expected to boost the commercial sub-sector as buyers purchasing commercial properties during the tax holiday period pay 0% GST. As for the housing sector which is already GST exempted, there will not be significant price movement in the short term.” The property consultancy said the rental market, which is believed to have already bottomed out, is also receiving more enquiries. (The Star Online)

Jagdeep: Penang to meet affordable housing pledge by 2020
The Penang state government will meet its 14th general election pledge to build 75,000 units of low-cost, low-medium cost and affordable houses in the state by 2020. State Housing, Local Government and Urban and Rural Development Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state government was confident the total could exceed 100,000 units by 2020. “In just 100 days, we have built, building and will be building 82,000 units of low-cost, low-medium cost and affordable houses,” he said. The state government had approved 165 applications encompassing 269 unit maintenance projects under the Housing Maintenance Maximum 80% Fund worth RM24 million. The function of the fund is to assist financing maintenance cost of low-cost, low-medium cost and affordable houses. (Malay Mail Online)

Sime Property puts prime parcels up for sale
Sime Darby Property Bhd (Sime Property), the property arm of conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd, is inviting bids for two prime parcels of land in Kuala Lumpur and on Penang Island. Together the parcels may be able to fetch Sime Property over RM80 million. The land in Kuala Lumpur is located in the upscale U-Thant area near the US Embassy while the piece in Penang is in the affluent area of Pulau Tikus. “Sime Darby Property has earmarked the 1.16-acre parcel in Jalan U-Thant, Kuala Lumpur, and the 1.71 acres in Pulau Tikus, Penang, for disposal as they do not come under the company’s key development focus, given their small size. The parcels are intended for residential use and proceeds from the monetisation exercise will be used for the company’s future developments in key growth areas,” the company stated. (The Edge Markets)

(Image from The Edge)