PM: ECRL may continue if price is right
The cost of building the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is too much for Malaysia under the current circumstances. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there were two options, which was either to bring down the cost and proceed when the price was right or to postpone the implementation of the project. “If the price is right then we will continue, but at the moment we have not agreed on the price,” he said. Dr Mahathir explained that the RM55bil cost would take Malaysia 30 years to repay the loan for it, and the country would be saddled with a lot of interest which in the end will amount to RM140 billion. Last week, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said he believed Malaysia and China could arrive at a deal to revive the ECRL projects by April this year, with ongoing negotiations with China for a reductions of the project’s cost. (The Star Online)

Mapex HOC secures RM11.9bil worth of properties
The three-day Malaysia Property Expo (MAPEX) Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) that will kick-off this Friday has already secured RM11.9bil worth of properties from 26 developers. HOC organising chairman Datuk NK Tong said the event will feature 51 developers offering properties ranging from below RM300,000 to more than RM1mil. MAPEX, which is part of the six-months HOC that ends in June, is a collaboration between Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) and the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT). All the properties at the HOC will come with a minimum 10% discount and stamp duty waivers on the instrument of transfer and the instrument on loan agreement, as well as additional incentives from participating developers. (The Star Online)

Penang government wants urban regeneration law
The Penang state government has called for an urban regeneration law to allow for old housing schemes to be demolished and rebuilt. Penang state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo said there is no single law that governed urban regeneration of old housing schemes in the country. Under existing laws, there must be unanimous consent by residents before the regeneration project can be implemented. He has raised this issue with the housing ministry and the federal government is also looking into the legal aspects of implementing urban renewal projects. Penang, through its urban renewal committee (URC), is planning several regeneration projects in the state, but there are no provisions for regeneration in the Strata Titles Act 1985. The state has spent over RM55 million to maintain old low-cost and medium-cost housing in the state since 2008. He pointed out that the maintenance costs for old buildings – which will only continue to grow – is not economically viable compared to reuilding. (Malay Mail)

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TRX master developer plans for higher GDV than estimated RM40bil
TRX City Sdn Bhd, the master developer of Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), is in no hurry to sell the remaining 30% of its 28.33-ha land, a move that will likely boost the project’s GDV to more than the estimated RM40 billion. The firm has sold about 70% of the total land to Lendlease, Mulia Property Development, HSBC, CORE Precious Development, Affin Bank Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd and Urusharta Jemaah Sdn Bhd. TRX City CEO Datuk Azmar Talib said the firm was looking to maximise the land value by pacing (down) the remaining land sales despite many investors, local and international, knocking on its door. “If we sell now, then we lose the upside(potentially greater gains later)… We also need to allow space for infrastructure construction and logistics,” he said. (NST Online)

139 illegal plastic recycling plants ordered shut
A total of 139 illegal plastic waste recycling factories which violated the Environmental Quality Act 1974 have been closed from January to date. Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said from the total, 48 investigation papers have been opened with four factories punished while 44 more were charged with summonses exceeding RM3 million. Yeo said the operation would continue to be stepped up to ensure those found guilty would not only be punished according to the law but also bear the cost of disposing the plastic waste seized. (Malay Mail)