Millions in HRDF funds misused to buy property, pay huge bonuses
A significant portion of money belonging to the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) had been misused by several individuals linked to the previous management for their personal gain. Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran, in disclosing this, said the money, which amounted to millions of ringgit, were used to buy property as well as pay salaries and hefty bonuses for selected employees. In some instances, these acts were done without the knowledge of the board of directors. The minister said two police reports were lodged last week on the financial abuse. HRDF, formed in 1993, was given the mandate by the government to catalyse the development of competent local workforce that will contribute to the country’s vision of becoming a high-income economy. (NST Online)

Rising oversupply of commercial properties yet to be resolved
While the recently-tabled budget has tackled various challenges facing the residential property sector, it was silent on measures dealing with the rising oversupply and overhang situation in the commercial sub-segment. According to Jones Lang Wootton’s in-house research, a total of 13.332 million sq ft of office space, in the form of 33 office buildings, is scheduled to be completed in the Klang Valley over the next 30 months. There is already a growing trend of developers deferring completion dates to 2019 or beyond. By state, Johor topped the list with 26.7% (1,214 units) of the national shops overhang, followed by Melaka (13.9%) and Kedah (9.9%). Savills Malaysia says the high impending supply of office space is likely to cause a subdued-to-negative effect on office rents, adding that office vacancy rates are expected to rise. (The Star Online)

Jagdeep: Penang laying groundwork for micro-home shophouses
The Penang state government is laying the groundwork to coax inhabitants back into the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site after many departed due to high rent and property being sold off to investors for big profit. State housing, local government, town and country planning committee chairman, Jagdeep Singh Deo, said the micro housing concept for shophouses will attract people to move back in through affordable rent. A RM3 million Heritage Habitat Seed Fund has been started to aid Category II building (which must be conserved as original) owners who intend to offer long-term tenancy. The fund will help with the cost of professional fees, as well as restoration and building material for those selected. (Malay Mail Online)

Gamuda Land launches GL HOME to facilitate home ownership
In light of current property market conditions, Gamuda Land aims to facilitate home ownership with a new campaign called GL HOME, which offers one-stop tailored solutions to assist buyers purchase their dream property with ease. GL HOME – which stands for Gamuda Land’s Home Ownership Made Easy – will provide services like an immediate financial health check by Gamuda Land’s relationship personnel on purchasers’ Credit Tip Off Service (CTOS) and Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) to help them understand their financial health, as well as their debt service ratio and borrowing ability. GL HOME will run until Dec 31 and will cover the following projects: Gamuda Cove, twentyfive.7, Gamuda Gardens, Kundang Estates, Bukit Bantayan Residences, HighPark Suites, The Robertson, Madge Mansions, Jade Hills, Horizon Hills, Valencia and Kota Kemuning. (The Edge Markets)

Development projects in Johor still a govt priority
The government has given its assurance that it will help improve the current congestion at both land entry points that Malaysia shares with Singapore, including going ahead with the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said despite the change in government, many development projects in Johor, including the Johor Baru-Singapore RTS Link, would be carried out. The link, with a co-located Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex, will provide seamless connectivity between Johor Baru and Singapore. It will run above ground in Johor and on a 25m-high bridge track across the Straits of Johor before travelling underground to the Woodlands North MRT station in Singapore. (The Star Online)