Mindef lost RM258m in land swap deal with Syed Mokhtar
The ministry of defence (Mindef) allegedly lost RM258 million by selling the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Kinrara, Puchong at a 34% discount to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary in a politically motivated land swap deal. According to sources, a company owned by Syed Mokhtar, Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd (KVSB), was the private party involved in the land swap agreement for the 101.81-acre (41.2ha) base. Other dubious land swaps involved army bases in Paloh and Hutan Melintang, which were not part of Mindef’s original plans under the 11th Malaysia Plan. The land swaps were used to boost votes for Umno politicians, specifically Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in Sembrong and Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Bagan Datuk, both of whom were defence ministers in turn while the deals were negotiated. (The Edge)

Hong Kong’s IBN launches RM1.5b Bukit Bintang project
Hong Kong-based property developer, IBN Corp Ltd, officially launched the RM1.5 billion GDV mixed-use project, the IBN Bukit Bintang, off Jalan Bukit Bintang yesterday with a ground-breaking ceremony. Director Datuk Seri Michael JW Yang said the project would be developed over three years at a cost of RM650 million. It will include the development of a combined hotel and residential tower in a single 68-storey building on a 0.31ha plot of land in the heart of the city. “The development order has been approved by DBKL. We are currently waiting for approval for the current building (Hotel Fortuna, which is no longer in operation) to be demolished,” he said. The property development project is a partnership between IBN Corp, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shenzhen ZRPZ Group, and land owner KKH Pavilion Development Sdn Bhd. (The Sun Daily)

JPPH: Overhang issue requires cooperation between private and public sectors
Solving the much-publicised issue of overhang properties requires stakeholders from the private and public sectors to come together, said Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) director Ahmad Zailan Azizuddin. Citing the launch of the Unsold Property Enquiry System Malaysia (UPESM) by the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC), he said developers can check the status of unsold properties on the system before launching a project. The government has also taken steps to overcome the issue of high number of unsold properties by organising a Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) 2019. “We also feel there is a need for a special committee to monitor the cost of development to keep prices affordable especially for the M40 and B40 income group,” he highlighted. (The Edge)

Foreign investors needed to boost property market
Malaysia’s current focus on affordable housing may cause an oversupply in this segment in the medium term, said Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) president Michael Kong. “Encouraging homeownership among people in the middle to low income group is important but attracting foreign buyers to invest in high-end properties is equally important to create a vibrant real estate market. We [Malaysia] shouldn’t isolate ourselves from the international market,” he said. Citing the move to turn the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) into an evergreen tax, Kong said that it may be effective to curb property speculation, but could reduce the country’s attractiveness to foreign investors of commercial properties in Malaysia. (The Edge)

Guan Eng: Govt in talks wth China on Panda bonds
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng confirmed that Malaysia has received an offer for the issuance of Panda bonds from China and said the relevant parties are currently in discussions. The offer from China Construction Bank has been communicated to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. “But we are still at the discussion stage. Unlike the Samurai bond for which the working paper has been presented to and approved by the Cabinet, and both countries have agreed on it. This one is still at the discussion stage,” he said. He said such offers from Japan and China reflect the interest of foreign investors in Malaysia and their confidence in the new government, which was not seen before. (The Sun Daily)