Fire guts 850-year-old Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris
A massive fire consumed Notre-Dame Cathedral late yesterday (past midnight today in Malaysia), gutting the roof of the Paris landmark and stunning France and the world, but firefighters managed to save the shell of the stone structure and its two main bell towers from collapse. Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the eight centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof. A centuries-old crown of thorns made from reeds and gold, and the tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th century king of France, were saved. Macron said France would launch a campaign to rebuild the cathedral, including through fundraising efforts and by appealing to “talents” from overseas to contribute. Several police sources said that they were working on the assumption for now that the fire was accidental. (Malaysiakini)

Malaysia and China JV company to operate, maintain ECRL
Malaysia and China have agreed to participate in the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) through a joint venture company, which will be formed between Malaysia Rail Link and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), with each having an equal stake. “CCCC will provide technical support and share the operational risk after the project’s completion. This arrangement will ease the financial burden on Malaysia… In addition, Malaysia can also leverage on CCCC’s expertise in O&M, hence improving the long-term viability of the project,” said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He added that the percentage of local participation in the ECRL project has been raised to 40% in respect of civil works, from 30% in the original deal. The ECRL’s new date for completion is Dec 31, 2026, extended from the original target deadline of June 30, 2024. (NST Online)

Cagamas, Philippine entity to explore home financing methods
Cagamas Bhd, the National Mortgage Corp of Malaysia and Philippines’ National Home Mortgage Finance Corp (NHMFC) have sealed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) to jointly explore housing financing methods to promote home ownership in their respective countries. The MoC enables the wealth of domestic experience in housing finance, mortgage and financial instruments to be mutually exchanged between Malaysia and the Philippines. This is expected to enhance the stability of housing and mortgage markets, mortgage backed securities as well as other funding instruments to leverage private capital to the housing market. (The Sun Daily)

RM70b from Penang reclamation could fund state’s transport blueprint, growth
The Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project could generate over RM70 billion that would pay for an ambitious transport network and drive the state’s economy, said sources. They told The Star that the bulk will go towards funding the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) that includes projects like a light rail transit (LRT) line, the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1), and more. The PSR – which is pending regulatory approval – is a land reclamation project to create three man-made islands covering 4,500 acres off the southern coast of Penang island. It has been touted as a well-planned “smart city” that will include commercial and industrial development. (Malay Mail)

Conceptual masterplan for Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project (Source: Penang Property Talk)

Public urged to beware of dubious real estate ads
The Johor state government will cooperate with the relevant agencies to weed out illegal advertisements offering houses, especially affordable homes under the Rumah Mampu Biaya Johor (RMBJ) scheme. Johor Housing and Rural Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad urged the public to lodge police reports if they came across dubious online advertisements offering these houses to unsuspecting buyers. Dzulkefly advised the public to only deal with the real estate agents registered with the MIEA as they would publish their licence details in the advertisement, unlike the illegal agents. He reiterated that the Johor Housing Secretariat (SUK Perumahan) did not appoint agents to deal with applications for RMBJ houses as all applications are via online only. (The Star Online)