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Country’s tallest condo Astaka to be ready by 2017 in Johor Bahru


A model of Astaka @ Bukit Senyum which is the tallest residential tower in the region that is currently being built here in Johor Baru. Pic by LIM CHENG KIAT/The Star

JOHOR BARU: In just seven months, 50% of the Astaka @ 1 Bukit Senyum, the tallest high-end residential tower development project in the region, has been snapped up by buyers.

The project, which has a total of 438 units, commenced in early July this year and is expected to be ready by 2017.

Its developer Astaka Padu Sdn Bhd is selling each unit between RM2mil and RM8.45mil.

Astaka Padu chief executive officer Datuk Zamani Kassim said another 20% of the units have been booked while waiting for the sales and purchase agreements to be signed.

“The Astaka, which means ‘royal pavilion’ in English, is already on its way to becoming a new landmark here.

“Once completed, the Astaka, standing proudly at 304m above sea level, will be the tallest residential tower not only in the country but throughout the region,” he said during the official launch of the Astaka by Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar here yesterday.

He said the Astaka is being developed on the site of the former Hockey Stadium and Johor Baru Indoor Stadium.

“The towers will house 438 luxury suites, including penthouse duplexes. The units will have a built-up area ranging from 2,207 sq ft to 5,408 sq ft. Each floor will house four units.

“The projected gross development value of The Astaka will be more than RM1bil and will be the forerunner in the Johor Baru city transformation plan,” he said.

The project will have a first phase of mixed development, which includes two condominium towers.

Zamani added that the contractor appointed, Penta Ocean Construction Company Ltd of Japan, is well-known in the construction industry, especially in Singapore, with projects including the ION Orchard, the Esplanade Theatre Bay and Marina Promenade.

Metro Homes would be marketing it in KL soon.


Is Iskandar Malaysia still a hot area to invest? Let’s hear the comments by key industry figures (Part II)

Glen Chan Chief Operating Officer, Pacific Star Group; and President, Pacific Star Development Pte Ltd

 THE unabated rise of business and labour costs in Singapore has made Iskandar Malaysia (IM) a value proposition for SMEs and other major manufacturers. Endowed with abundant land resources, skilled workforce, strong legal framework and increasing expansion in domestic demand, these key drivers will drive investments, confidence and opportunities in IM. The full potential of the IM region to complement Singapore in tackling the high costs of doing business here and in overcoming the restriction on foreign labour has yet to be fully tapped, and will continue as an attractive proposition for Singapore-based businesses.
 Even though there may be short-term challenges in IM for foreign businesses such as the shortage of skilled labour, the longer-term overall benefits are likely to outweigh these short-term adjustments. Importantly, investors should spend time understanding the various master-plans of IM and the implementation milestones of these master-plans so as to calibrate their respective business strategies accordingly in a manner that will reap optimal returns. The list of diligence for all investors is long but vital to avoid a misalignment of expectations versus on-the-ground reality.
Kong Chee Min Group Chief Executive Officer Centurion Corp Ltd
 THE prices of properties including industrial land in the area have grown in recent years. We were lucky to have secured sites for our workers’ accommodation, which is currently either in operation or under development, early on in the cycle. Despite the increase in property prices, I would think that Iskandar Malaysia remains relatively attractive in terms of investments and business opportunities. We have taken a long-term view in the region as it will take several years to develop fully.
Peter Hill Managing Director SimCorp Asia
 MALAYSIA is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. Its export-driven economy, spurred by high technology, knowledge-base and capital-intensive industries, presents Iskandar as an outstanding investment opportunity.
 Companies that focus on growth tend to achieve it, whereas a primary focus on cost alone does not necessarily produce the same results. To succeed in maintaining a profitable and competitive business, organisations need an operational platform strategy that is fully and seamlessly aligned with the business strategy. Therefore, it is imperative for the country to implement new technology channels and move away from potentially cumbersome legacy systems so as to provide value-added services.
Scott Burnett Managing Director, SEA Towers Watson
 THE Iskandar project presents Singapore with a tremendous opportunity – as the ”hinterland” we have lacked – and a complex challenge, insofar as real business investors (as opposed to those seeking to profit purely from the increase in real estate values) need to staff up their greenfield operations across the Causeway.
 Planning around the availability of talent today and in the future is increasingly recognised by Singaporean firms as a strategic imperative. Towers Watson assists businesses to integrate their workforce planning with their business strategy planning in order to give full weight to this issue – including the likely competition for that talent.
 In the medium to long term, Iskandar is in our view definitely an attractive proposition for the right kind of businesses. The enterprises that have invested substantial funds are clearly committed to the project, giving Iskandar a strong vote of confidence.
 Iskandar’s success in the short term perhaps depends on the ability of its investors to encourage their Singaporean managers to commute. This will clearly put a strain on the human resources of the companies concerned but will also allow management to keep a close eye on their new operations.
Jeremy Lee Regional Manager, SE Asia & Taiwan Moog
 GIVEN the limitation of land and labour in Singapore, Iskandar Malaysia is definitely seen as a viable proposition for Singapore companies and individuals. However, only when you walk the talk does one realise the challenges that lie within. It is also about re-orienting expectations, whether the labour force necessary to power the level of industrial activity planned for Iskandar will indeed be forthcoming when the time comes.
 For Malaysia, Iskandar represents an opportunity to reverse a decade of lacklustre growth; and for Singapore, it is an obvious practical option to keep up its growth rate in the face of fast-depleting competitiveness given the high cost structures. Industrial land in Iskandar can cost less than a third of the price in Singapore, and manufacturing wages there are less than half. So, while things may not have moved at a pace that was expected, the options are limited. Iskandar has to succeed and companies may just have to wait and re-strategise in the meantime.
Alick Chia Managing Director SKF Logistics Services Asia
 DUE to the tight labour market in Singapore and the high land cost, I paid a visit to Iskandar to explore the possibility of moving our regional warehouse there.
 After the visit, I had to conclude that it is not a conducive place to locate our regional warehouse. It will still have to rely on Singapore for its seaport and airport to move goods to various parts of the world; and with the uncertainty of the custom authority processing time, it will lengthen our overall lead-time.
 Now that even labour is difficult to find there due to the many new investments, the idea of setting up a regional distribution centre there is definitely out for some years.
 We have to use technology more to reduce workforce and space requirements while still continue to use Singapore as a distribution centre due to its efficient port and airport to reach the global market.
Kenny Goh Group Chief Executive Officer Macrokiosk
 I BELIEVE that the Iskandar Malaysia project is still an attractive prospect and will remain as such for businesses with great foresight. The project presents a great opportunity for businesses looking to invest in property and a natural progression for some Singaporean companies that require a larger space to support and complement its operations in Singapore and globally.
 With human capital in great demand globally, it is important for companies to focus on skill training for their current employees. Companies should also look at capitalising on technology to ensure the new market remains as efficient and effective as the others around the world.
Lim Soon Hock Managing Director Plan-B Icag Pte Ltd
 I HAVE visited the Iskandar region three times in the last one year. Each time I left with an increasingly positive impression and a greater sense of confidence in the project. The companies which I met have reported satisfaction and success beyond their expectations.
 I think this has to do with the Malaysian government wanting to make Iskandar a sustainable success and consequently, as a clear benchmark for other similar developments in the rest of the country. This fact alone is a compelling reason for current and prospective participants to invest in Iskandar.
 Despite the shortage of skilled labour, on the whole, Iskandar is still an attractive location for businesses which want to take advantage of the low cost of land and large expanse of space. Businesses will have to look at Iskandar from this vantage point.
 I am planning to invest and to set up a telehealth services hub in partnership with Medibank. Iskandar appears to be an attractive location for me to set up the hub, given that healthcare is one area which is promoted. It would even be more attractive if my project can be considered catalytic, and therefore will qualify for the government’s subsidies and preferential treatment, to assist in the start-up of an otherwise proven business.
 Businesses will always need to readjust their expectations and strategies, from time to time, to adapt and to grow, irrespective of where they operate. Iskandar is no different. It will continue to be attractive, notwithstanding problems such as labour shortage, when there are other comparative advantages to be reaped, compared to Singapore. Iskandar clearly can complement Singapore, and it appears to be heading in the right direction.
Pollie Sim CEO Maybank Singapore
 I BELIEVE companies which already have a high number of Malaysian employees commuting daily to Singapore may find it attractive to relocate and rehire them in Iskandar Malaysia. This is win-win as employers save on the foreign workers levy and enjoy lower rentals, while employees save on travel time and costs.
 Naturally, any decision to relocate, whether to Iskandar or otherwise, has to be considered thoroughly and tied into the company’s medium to long-term plans, as efficiencies will take time to yield returns.
 In time, it is likely that the link between Iskandar and Singapore will be akin to the one shared by Shenzhen and Hong Kong today, where there will increasingly be more integration and cross-ownership of companies. We recognise this trend and have also set up a team specialising in helping businesses intending to venture to Iskandar. With a full suite of products from factory loans, equipment hire purchase, working capital financing, cash management to foreign exchange hedging, we help ensure that such relocations and expansions can be more smoothly facilitated.
Sam Yap Group Executive Chairman and Co-Founder HTwo Investment Holdings Pte Ltd
 AT the onset, the Iskandar Malaysia project was touted as an attractive place to invest. This is understandable due to its closeness to Singapore. Recent updates however indicated there were problems and delays in some developments.
 Current and prospective investors, in my view, should monitor development trends and do careful market research to ensure that whatever business or investments they are undertaking or going to undertake will be a viable venture. It is not sufficient to take the data given by agents who would be too eager to paint a glossy picture to get investors’ buy-in.
 For some businesses, it would be more prudent to wait till the area has reached a certain level of development and maturity with an established populace before you consider and study the viability of a business venture.
Toby Fowlston Managing Director, Singapore Robert Walters (Singapore) Ltd
 THE heightened interest and investment from Singapore in Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia project should strengthen economic ties between Singapore and Malaysia. As we face space constraints in Singapore, the ease of having a world-class liveable city incorporating both residential and commercial developments right across the Causeway has become a viable option. Singaporeans now have a cost-effective solution to the local rising property prices while maintaining close proximity to their home country. In addition, the impending launch of the internal rail project within Iskandar Malaysia will increase transportation efficiency for individuals considering the commute to and from work on a daily basis.
 A challenge current and prospective companies need to be mindful of is perhaps adequately staffing their new offices with the varied functions needed to successfully manage a business. With the reported labour shortage and rising manpower costs, prospective employers are considering how to secure and retain top talent.
David Leong Managing Director PeopleWorldwide Consulting Pte Ltd
 ISKANDAR Malaysia project is not a faddish movement and proposition. Iskandar Malaysia will become an integral part of Singapore’s production extension and our fates will be tightly interweaved and intertwined together. It is to become a tale of two cities with many shared interests. Iskandar provides the space for Singapore’s expansion. For what Singapore lacks – physical land and manpower constraints – Iskandar can provide.
 However, as both cities share the same development tale, the governments on both sides must develop predictable sets of governing laws and policies to regulate the movement of goods and services, including ease of immigration control. The transportation grid from Singapore must be extended to Iskandar with ease.
 Businesses in Singapore should have an ”Iskandar Strategy” at some point in time for their manufacturing expansion. It will be a smarter way to grow with lower cost. The fervour in Johor in the Iskandar development region will intensify over the years. Singapore will be the Manhattan and Johor the New Jersey. Whatever, it will be a situation of prospering together because Malaysia is indeed an inseparable hinterland.
Dora Hoan Co-Chairman/Group CEO Best World International Ltd
 TO ascertain whether the Iskandar Malaysia project is suitable, companies need to re-evaluate their priorities. If their pressing issues are land cost and manpower constraints, then these can be resolved by Iskandar. Furthermore, even though the shortage of skilled labour can be problematic, this is most probably only a short-term issue since staff can be trained.
 With the imperative problems resolved, companies would then need to manage their expectations in other areas, such as the skill level of staff, infrastructure, logistics, etc. In addition, companies need to be cautious about the Malaysian import duty; they have to study whether their products or raw materials are taxable.
 While Iskandar can be an appealing solution in face of the rising business costs in Singapore, the project is, by no means, a panacea.
Ang Swee Meng, Allen Group Managing Director Aldon Technologies Services Pte Ltd
 THE Iskandar Malaysia (IM) project offers many advantages for Singapore companies such as lower operating costs, abundant land, proximity to Singapore, good infrastructure and comprehensive lifestyle amenities. Interestingly, companies investing in IM can enjoy assistance schemes offered by the Singapore government as well as tax and other incentives by Malaysian government for certain qualifying activities. Increasingly, more and more SMEs squeezed by rising operating costs and labour shortage at home are finding IM an attractive proposition to relocate their operations. Not surprisingly, Singapore companies constitute the biggest contributor to IM.
 Notwithstanding the current favourable investment climate, Singapore companies contemplating investing in IM should do their homework and not rush into it. In addition to the cost factor, manufacturing companies should consider other factors including availability of skilled labour, logistics, proximity to customers and intangible costs like security, communications, bureaucracy and supply chain. In addition, manufacturers should consider the longer-term scenario and manage their risks appropriately as factories and machinery are long-term investments.
 As Aldon Technologies provides precision engineering services for semiconductor industries involving the use of specialised equipment and hazardous chemicals, we are more concerned with the availability of technicians and engineers who have the requisite skills and who have the capacity to be trained and re-trained to keep up with the fast-changing technology. Another factor that we have to consider is that most of our MNC customers are in Singapore and they expect us to be near them and provide the fastest turnaround of services which may not be possible if we were outside Singapore.
Annie Yap Managing Director AYP Associates Pte Ltd
 MALAYSIA has been very active in attracting talent to Iskandar, which is a very clear signal on the growth potential that it has. Moreover, despite the higher costs of operations than expected, the costs are still lower as compared to operational costs in Singapore.
 Nonetheless, adjustments of expectations and strategies can be done based on industries. Resources can be allocated more towards automation and technology, which will return higher yields for the company instead of being dependent on labour alone. Also, with plans in place to build a comprehensive transportation network, Iskandar remains a very attractive proposition for Singapore companies and individuals.
Sean Tan General Manager Singapore
 JOHOR has long held interest for Singapore investors and businesses. Prior to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, many Singaporeans and Singapore businesses were actively investing in Johor. The crisis of course intervened, leading to a decrease in investment for some years. More recently the Iskandar development has attracted great interest. Infrastructure investment and various developments have created a very strong and positive momentum.
 Some investors are perhaps abandoning caution, and rushing to jump on the Iskandar bandwagon, believing it is the next Eldorado. I prefer to take the middle ground; while there is definitely potential, investors should tread cautiously.
 Iskandar is an attractive proposition for Singapore companies, when viewed on a long-term basis. Based on IRDA’s (Iskandar Regional Development Authority) Masterplan, it expected to be fully developed only in 2025, with a projected population of at least three million, compared with a current population of around 1.6 million. Businesses should not go in with the idea that everything (ie, infrastructure, manpower, services, etc) is fully in place. We are currently in the early stages of Iskandar’s development life-cycle. There is a fairly long road ahead.
 Recognising the current reality versus future potential of Iskandar is important for businesses. As long as they approach Iskandar aware of the risks, the benefits are there. Property prices remain attractive compared to Singapore, and with the exchange rate currently at S$1 to about RM2.50, the overall cost of doing business is significantly lower.
 For consumers, Iskandar is also attractive, with very affordable housing options. It is still possible to buy a freehold landed terrace house within a gated compound for as little as $235,000, located in the centre of Nusajaya, only a 15-minute drive to Tuas immigration checkpoint. Affordability and the proximity to Singapore are very appealing for anyone wanting to stretch their dollar.
 Anyone interested in Iskandar should start exploring now. With high prices in Singapore, and continued development in Iskandar, it is likely prices there will continue to rise over time, especially once it is more fully developed.
Thirumalai Chandroo Chairman/CEO Modern Montessori International Group
 THE aims of businesses and/or individuals investing in Iskander Malaysia have to be conversant with the scope of their particular endeavours and all the elements surrounding it. THE organisation and successful running of a business venture brings an element of risk in any location of the development; hence the assimilation and adaptability of a business enterprise to this is pertinent. So yes, there will be a need to recalibrate prospects and strategies as in any business, anywhere in the world. Current and prospective participants should perhaps establish a sense of the viability of their potential investments. Enterprises could begin to familiarise themselves and solidify knowledge of the types of opportunities available and the lifestyle that is likely to materialise in Iskandar Malaysia; will they then be able to sustain their projected plans for the coming future given the proposed landscape?
 Competitors are a necessity to check before venturing beyond the seas. Given the current restrictions that have raised concerns, it is fundamental to recognise what their possible adjustment plans are. You can then prepare an outline of plans that are similarly better. Apposite management of the venture is imperative to the realisation of success. Good management means the scheme is working according to plan and readjustments are recognised and made to satisfy changing conditions.
Philippe HJ Huinck Regional Managing Director, South and South East Asia International SOS
 THE Iskandar Malaysia project started in 2006 to capitalise and complement Singapore and Malaysia’s business synergies to form an economic hub for the region. This remains an excellent investment opportunity for companies based in Singapore looking to expand their operations.
 While the project offers many advantages, companies looking to invest in the Iskandar project must realise that things are organised and handled differently in both countries. Multinational companies are well placed in understanding the challenges of setting up operations and working in a foreign environment.
 Having operations in Malaysia will offer companies the benefits such as space and cost. However this will also come at the expense of other challenges that companies will not face in Singapore. Singaporean companies need to embrace these, while conceptualising plans to alleviate them.
 At International SOS we are already doing our part, partnering several companies to provide medical staffing and occupational health advice. We will continue to be heavily involved, helping Singapore companies to realise the full potential that the Iskandar project will bring.
Joshua Yim CEO Achieve Group
 THE two major value propositions that will attract businesses to Iskandar are the comparatively low cost of land as well as lower labour costs. However, with projects of such magnitude, there are bound to be teething issues and roadblocks along the way. Another major consideration is whether the infrastructure has been sufficiently developed, and whether this infrastructure facilitates accessibility. In addition, while labour costs for unskilled workers may be considerably lower, the likelihood of there being a shortage of skilled workers is quite high and this may eventually translate into higher labour costs overall.
 Ultimately, the success of Iskandar will depend on how the Malaysian government chooses to handle such issues should they transpire. The authorities have put in so much effort in trying to build up Iskandar and attract foreign sovereign funds so they have a large vested interest and they would not want the project to fail. Thus, I believe the authorities will need to look into establishing the right legislation to handle manpower issues, in order to make it attractive to do business in Iskandar.
 In deciding whether to establish operations in Iskandar, the Singapore business community will need to take a long-term perspective. They will need to consider the abovementioned factors and weigh them against their confidence in the Malaysian government being determined enough to solve manpower and other issues that may arise.
 Ultimately, I believe the success of Iskandar will be largely policy-dependent. Ideally, it would be good for the major investors, such as the property developers, and relevant trade associations to open dialogues with the authorities – to come together to iron out any potential kinks in order to ensure the success of the entire region. Such open communication will certainly go a long way towards building up confidence within the business community.
Ronald Lee Managing Director PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd
 AS with the development of any new economic zone, it will take some time for the region to mature into a self-sustaining, bustling hive of activity. Businesses that are considering moving there will, first and foremost, need to understand this and calibrate their strategies accordingly.
 At this point, the availability of cheaper land is probably the most attractive proposition. However, the other pillar of any business is its workforce and the reality is that the likely shortage of skilled labour in the initial stages is a valid cause for concern – until a pipeline of skilled local talents is built up over the next few years. This manpower shortage may even result in an upward pressure on wages, and negate the cost difference that made Iskandar attractive in the first place. In addition, operating out of Iskandar may not be suitable or viable for certain industries due to their nature of business.
 Thus, companies should conduct their own feasibility studies and take these issues into consideration, as well as other factors like the different business regulations, operating logistics, access to financing, and accommodation for workers who may need to be imported in the short term.
Steve Melhuish Co-Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer PropertyGuru
 THE Iskandar project is very much a talking point among business leaders in Singapore and still garners much shared interest as a viable port-of-call for commercial relocation or expansion. With many international companies and brands expressing their desire to move their operations into the Iskandar region, Singapore companies must understand the need to proactively incentivise their employees accordingly to stay competitive if they plan to relocate.
 One such area is in the prospect of providing attractive housing choices as a key component to attract and retain talent. Whilst Iskandar is able to provide a large land quantum designated for commercial use, it also offers vast options to support firms in terms of property needed to accommodate their growing labour force and drive productivity in terms of reducing the hassle of commuting to and from work.
 In my personal opinion, companies need to expect that their employees will require the necessary infrastructure to protect their welfare, especially so when it comes in the wake of a big decision such as migration and outsourcing. This is especially pertinent for companies which wish to retain their current Singapore workforce base after relocation.
 The trend has been picking up in recent times, where recent research has indicated that currently 90 per cent of foreign buyers into the Johor state, including Iskandar, are from Singapore. Moreover, results in our property sentiment survey in Q2 reveal that one out of two Singaporeans are attracted to buy into Malaysian properties, out of which over 25 per cent mentioned a willingness to relocate themselves, if the situation calls for it, in the pursuit for better opportunities abroad. This, together with the fact that 150,000 more units across all private property types will be completed in Iskandar by 2015, shows that there is enough motivation and supply of real estate and the relevant amenities to support a large influx of labour into the area.
 Singapore companies therefore need, and should, consider a much bigger picture of how they can balance both the expectations on the monetary business end, and the social aspect of employment before they do decide to move into the Iskandar region.
Patrick Liew Special Adviser HSR Global Limited
 THE Iskandar region is a critical and win-win part of the economic development equation for both Malaysia and Singapore. It can play a complementary role in our value chain by providing land, a lower cost of operation, various raw materials, an attractive range of fiscal and non-fiscal investment incentives, and other supporting resources.
 In support of the projected growth in the Iskandar region, a comprehensive ecosystem is gradually being formed. The investments cover a myriad of developments, including more than 300 manufacturing companies, a RM300 million mega integrated resort, advanced healthcare facilities, a RM3.5 billion Motorsports City, and other value-added developments. Total investments from the public as well as private sectors have made it one of the largest single development projects ever to be taken in this part of the world. To date, it has attracted more than RM110 billion worth of business investments, creating an upsurge potential for the property market.
 There are also many other exciting developments in the near future, including the establishment of the customs, immigration and quarantine facility located at Puteri Harbour; the development of the projected rapid transit system between Singapore and Johor, scheduled to be completed in 2018; and the development of the high-speed rail. These developments will improve connectivity and value-add to the Iskandar region.
 Looking at the fundamentals, there is no reason not to believe that Iskandar will represent one of the fastest growing corridors in the region. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it may start the next gold rush and one that may generate positive returns in the long run.
Liu Chunlin CEO K&C Protective Technologies Pte Ltd
 THE main attractiveness of the Iskandar Malaysia project to Singapore companies and individuals lies in the facts of cheaper land price and labour cost, similar culture and language, and last but not least, its proximity to the island of Singapore. As long as these facts are present, the attraction will also be there. The shortage of skilled workers is a worldwide problem and there is no short-term solution. After all, it took Singapore decades to achieve its current state of development.
 What Iskandar needs is both a long-term and a near-term plan when it comes to shortage of skilled labour. In the long run, it must have a large population of skilled workers willing to come and stay for generations to build up the talent pool. In the meantime, Iskandar also needs to bring in skilled labour forces from nations like China, India and other countries where university graduates are always looking for a place for a better and brighter future. Singapore used to be one of their favourite destinations but it is no longer the case nowadays. Iskandar could be a beneficiary.
 Current and prospective participants do need to readjust their expectations and strategies. For companies, they could maximise their returns by using Iskandar as their back office and warehouse, taking advantage of the land price and labour cost, for the time being, while making their operations at and the living conditions of Iskandar enticing enough to attract skilled labour from overseas to relocate for their long-term expansion plan.
 For individuals who have bought properties in Iskandar, they should look at their property as a home away from home when they need to relax over the weekend or during the holidays, not just an investment tool. As such, they get to enjoy the benefits of the laid-back lifestyle that could help them achieve a better balance with the hustle and bustle of city life in Singapore. Any appreciation in values of their property in Iskandar should be considered a bonus.
Danny Chua Branch Director of Metro Homes Sdn Bhd / Property Scoopers Sdn Bhd

S’pore link to Tanjung Puteri land

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 10): The long-awaited rail transit system (RTS) from Singapore will likely land in Tanjung Puteri, Johor Baru, according to executives involved in the project.
An announcement, expected in the next two months, will finally put to rest speculation on the location of the RTS that is likely to provide the connection from Woodlands in Singapore to Johor Baru.
“The RTS station will be located in Tanjung Puteri, which is where the old Woodlands causeway link is located. From here, the plan is to also develop a tram system to connect the terminal to other major areas in Johor Baru such as Kempas, Bandar Nusajaya and the eastern side of Johor Baru,” said an executive.
Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman announced last week that a further 200 acres would be reclaimed in Tanjung Puteri which would be extended as the new centre for Johor Baru city. He also said trams would be built from Tanjung Puteri to other parts of Johor to ferry traffic.
Ghani said the existing Johor Baru buildings would be developed into a heritage city, a project awarded to Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH).
Previously, there was speculation on the location of the RTS in Johor with three areas short listed. Apart from Tanjung Puteri, the other areas are Bandar Nusajaya in which the state administrative capital is located and Kempas, where the majority reside and commute daily to Singapore for work.
However, the locations favoured in the last few months are Bandar Nusajaya and Tanjung Puteri. This comes as no surprise as there are multi-billion property projects in both areas taking advantage of the cheaper alternative Johor offers compared with Singapore.
Nusajaya is an integral part of Iskandar Malaysia positioned by the government as the corridor that will fuel economic growth in the southern region because of its proximity to Singapore through the Second Link.
The development in Iskandar Malaysia, particularly Nusajaya, is driven by Khazanah Nasional Bhd. Its listed subsidiary UEM Land Bhd owns the bulk of the land in Iskandar Malaysia and has gone into several joint developments.
The latest is a joint venture with Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim to build a RM3.5 billion Motorsport City in Gerbang Nusajaya, Johor. It is located close to the Second Link and is expected be operational in 2016.
The development in Tanjung Puteri falls under IWH, primarily the master developer of all water front land in Johor Baru, and the redevelopment of the city.
Currently, the group is jointly controlled by Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo, who has a 60% stake through his family company Credence Resources Sdn Bhd, with Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor, a unit owned by the state government, holding the rest.
However, the group is said to likely see a shift in the shareholding in the next few months as Iskandar Investment Bhd is expected to end up with 20% of IWH. Credence Resources’ equity interest is to be reduced to 40%.
“IWH is also undertaking massive development in JB at the water front and the existing city itself. However, the progress has been relatively slower compared to the speed at which development is taking place in Nusajaya,” said an executive.
For instance so far, IWH has sold less than 160 acres of land for water front development in Danga Bay. This is primarily because the concept of development is different as IWH is a developer of water front projects compared with housing and industries in Iskandar Malaysia.
“Water front projects are more expensive because the cost of land reclamation itself is RM60 per square feet (psf). In the latest transaction involving Country Garden Holdings Ltd of China, the land was at RM376 psf. So the units are priced higher compared to Iskandar Malaysia,” said the executive.
The executive said the location of the RTS at Tanjung Puteri would help speed up development in the areas under IWH.
The RTS is part of an agreement between the governments of Malaysia and Singapore inked in 2010 as part of the relocation of land belonging to KTM Bhd in the island republic. In return for giving up the land, the government was given 199 acres and Singapore committed to build a RTS with a single customer and immigration clearance in Woodlands.
The target date for completion of the RTS is 2018 and it has not been decided whether it will be along the causeway or below the sea through a tunnel.
Singapore recently announced that its 30km Thomson mass rapid transit line will run through the north-south corridor of the island from Woodlands to Marina Bay.

No privileged zone in Iskandar – after Nusajaya, comes Senai the next Iskandar Hotspot E!

No privileged zone in Iskandar – after Nusajaya, comes Senai the next Iskandar Hotspot E!

All areas in growth corridor given equal attention, says Irda CEO
Ismail: ‘Different zones in Iskandar Malaysia cater to different investment and economic activities.’

JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia is more than just Nusajaya as the other four flagship development zones in the economic growth corridor also offer good prospects and opportunities to investors.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said many had associated Nusajaya as the only main development area in Iskandar Malaysia.

“Irda pays equal attention to all the zones and we are not giving special treatment or privileges to any specific area in developing Iskandar Malaysia,” he told StarBiz.

Irda is the regulatory authority mandated to plan, promote and facilitate the development of Iskandar Malaysia into a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing by 2025.

Located in the southern-most part of Johor, Iskandar Malaysia the country’s first economic growth corridor was launched on Nov 4, 2006. Measuring 2,217 sq km, it is three times bigger than Singapore and two times the size of Hong Kong.

The 9,712.45ha Nusajaya is one of the five flagship development zones the other zones are Johor Baru City Centre, Western Gate Development Zone, Eastern Gate Development Zone and Senai-Kulai.

“Irda and other stakeholders have to work even harder to continue promoting Iskandar Malaysia to the world and correct the perception that Iskandar Malaysia is only about Nusajaya,” he said.

According to him, from 2006 until Sept 30, 2012, Iskandar Malaysia received RM99.79bil in cumulative committed investments in the various sectors. “In fact, we will breach the RM100bil mark by the end of the year, but the party is now over yet as we have to put in more efforts to bring in more investments,” said Ismail.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is the co-chairman of Irda is expected to announce the final figure of the cumulative committed investments received by Iskandar Malaysia on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur.

Ismail said the misconception of Iskandar Malaysia was only Nusajaya probably arose from many news reports written on the progress and development taking place in Nusajaya.

He said Iskandar Malaysia was divided into a brown field and a green field and Nusajaya happened to be a green area with a large tract of lands available for new development.

He said the completion of some of the catalytic projects within Nusajaya might also give the impression that Iskandar Malaysia was Nusajaya and vice-versa.

Among the notable projects in Nusajaya are the Johor State New Administrative Centre in Kota Iskandar, Legoland Malaysia Theme Park, Puteri Harbour Indoor Theme Park, Newcastle Medicine University Malaysia and Marlborough College.

“Different zones in Iskandar Malaysia cater to different investment and economic activities. This helps to spread the cake evenly and create economic spills-over,” Ismail said, adding that IIrda did not influence investors to make the final choice of investing the particular zone but would advice them that their investments suited better in one zone than another.

He said for instance, it would not be advisable to set up a manufacturing plant in the Johor Baru City Centre as there were other more suitable zones such as the Western Gate Development Zone, Eastern Gate Development Zone and Senai-Kulai.

“In fact, with the multi-billion dollar redevelopment project of Johor Baru City Centre starting in the first quarter of 2013, property developers can take part in it,” he said.

Ismail said brown field and green field in Iskandar Malaysia offered opportunities for investors depending on the key economic activities promoted in the areas.

While the manufacturing sector was still relevant, he said it had to move up the value-chain as the country’s manufacturing sector could no longer remain labour-intensive.

Ismail said the setting up of the BioXCell biotechnology park in Nusajaya and Senai Hi-Teck Park would cater to the sector’s shift into the high-research and development, and high-technology activities.

“Moving up the value chain will support the Federal Government’s plans to develop Johor into a leading electronics manufacturing services (EMS) hub in the region,” he said.

The 323.74ha site in Sedenak belonging to the state investment arm, Johor Corpo, and the 404.68ha site near the Senai Airport by a public-listed company in Senai-Kulai have been identified as the suitable location for the EMS hub. The premium condo named Senai Garden would benefit and would fulfill the needs of the growing expat staffs in these areas.

Ismail said it was important for Irda that investors supported the key economic sectors that were being promoted in Iskandar Malaysia. The sectors are electrical and electronics, petrochemical and oleochemical, food and agro-processing, logistics and related services, tourism, health, educational, financial services and ICT and creative industry.

He said Asean countries, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East were showing a lot of interest in these key economic sectors.

Less time should be spent on debating whether too much attention was given in developing a certain area in Iskandar Malaysia and neglecting others in the process, Ismail said, adding that with the uncertainties in the world economic growth, it was becoming more challenging to attract new investments into Iskandar Malaysia but it could be done if all stakeholders worked together.

Related Articles: The Senai Garden Project

Mah Sing in RM1bil project Property firm signs 99-year lease purchase deal with Iskandar Investment

Mah Sing Group Bhd will develop a mixed development project with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM1.1bil in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor.

To this end, the property developer has signed a 99-year lease purchase agreement for 8.19 acres with the Government’s commercial arm Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) for a total consideration of RM74.7mil.

This will come with a gross floor area of 2.14 million sq ft or RM34.90 per sq ft.

“The first 10% (of the land acquisition cost) will be paid upon signing, the rest of the payments are flexible and should come from internal funds,” said group managing director and chief executive Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum.

Mah Sing has completed seven development projects thus far with 33 ongoing projects located nationwide.

So far, the take-up rate for all of its launched projects stood at 70%, said Leong.

The total unbilled sales and remaining GDV of the company currently stands at RM18.8bil. This provided the company with earnings visibility of up to eight years, Leong said at the agreement signing ceremony between Mah Sing and IIB here yesterday.

“We are very careful with our investments. We do not want to over-gear ourselves and are conscious of our cash flow,” said Leong, adding that the company’s gearing ratio as at June 30 was 0.3 times.

He said Mah Sing was “comfortable” being in Malaysia, when asked whether it was looking to spread its wings overseas.


This latest project called The Meridin@Medini is a stone’s throw away from the newly-opened Legoland Theme Park as well as the upcoming financial hub, Medini Business, according to a press release by Mah Sing.

It will comprise residences, small office versatile offices, retail and corporate towers.

The project would be officially launched in the second half of next year but registration commenced immediately, it added. .

The first phase of the project will offer residences from 500 sq ft to 1,500 sq ft indicatively priced from RM288,000 per unit. The entire development project will be undertaken in three phases over the next five years.

“We are targeting largely Malaysians who are working in Singapore,” Leong said of the first phase.

Currently, most of Mah Sing’s customers were Malaysians, constituting about 90% of its customer base, he added.

Meanwhile in a note issued to clients, AmResearch said it was “very positive on this land-banking deal”.

Apart from the “attractive pricing”, the key point to note was that the remaining 90% of the cost of the land would be paid over a period of five years which would boost its cash flow, it said.

The research outfit noted that Mah Sing would enjoy “healthy margins” from this project – pre-tax profit margins of about 25% – for which it would be exempted from corporate tax for 10 years as well as enjoy a slew of other special incentives, as it has Iskandar Development Region status.

The region is one of the corridors identified for high growth by the Government.

Registration is open from 1 Dec 2012 to book for priority purchase.

Please fill up the registration form here:

Twin Galaxy International lots 85% sold out! Left with fully furnished Studios. Act fast!

Twin Galaxy International lots 85% sold out! Left with fully furnished Studios. Act fast!

What you see in this photo is what you get inside this cozy unit – all furnitures and renovations – all tastefully done up for you or your tenants at about RM3000 pm (7% pa yield) lease in 2016. From 2018/9, there would be MRT extensions into Singapore and I would surmise that Studios rental would raise to RM3500 (8.5% pa yield) as in SGD comparison, its only S$1400 pm for a high end Studio with easy connectivity to Singapore.

Click this link to watch its Video > < Click here.

Comprising two 35-storey mixed development towers set against the bustling backdrop of JB’s city skyline, Twin Galaxy is located within the sought-after prime commercial zone along Jalan Dato’ Abdullah Tahir. This is your gateway to opulence.

Tower A are fully sold. Tower B is opened for booking on 6/10/12 and as of today, only fully furnished Studios from $480,000 and big Dual Keys units are left!

Please call Dan 65 97912988 or email for more details. Prices are 15% lower than Setiasky88 and are better furnished, with better North-South orientation with zero blockage and wider main road frontage.
Experience a new lifestyle in Johor Bahru’s Prime District
I am part of Metro Home and represent as a real estate negotiator. Should you keen to find out more about this project and contact me.

UEM Land in S$1.5bil Iskandar tech park venture with Singapore’s Ascendas

SINGAPORE: Ascendas, a Singapore government-linked firm, said on Tuesday it has entered into a joint venture with a unit of Malaysia‘s UEM Land to develop a technology park in an economic zone that the Malaysian government has been promoting aggressively.

The 519-acre (210-hectare) technology park in Iskandar Malaysia, with a projected investment value of S$1.5 billion ($1.23 billion), will cater to businesses in electronics, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food processing and precision engineering, Ascendas and UEM said in a statement.

Ascendas, a developer and manager of industrial properties across Asia, is a unit of Jurong Town Corp, a Singapore government body. UEM’s main shareholder is Malaysian stateinvestor Khazanah Bhd.

Malaysia has been trying to woo companies to Iskandar, an economic zone in the southernstate of Johor that is connected to Singapore by two bridges.

This venture would propel the pricesof industrials, commercial and residential properties even further northwards!

Metro Home Iskandar

Metro Home Sdn Bhd

Who are they?


One of the largest estate agency firm in Malaysia, with a strong team of over few hundred Real Estate Negotiators/Salespersons, in 14 offices nationwide.


To enhance the Quality of life by providing Value-added professional service.
To be the Leader in the market that we serve and revolutionize the organization to have the strength of a big companies combined with the leanness of the small company.


Metro Homes was born in KL in 1994 to realize the dream of providing top quality service and translating information technology and economies of scale to benefit consumers. Thus, a new fusion of real estate agencies that believe in making a difference via its service to both real estate professionals and customers alike is created with one dominant goal on our minds. Making Your Home Our Priority.


Metro Home Sdn Bhd

Who Are they?


One of the largest estate agency firm in Malaysia, with a strong team of over few hundred Real Estate Negotiators/Salespersons, in 14 offices nationwide.


To enhance the Quality of life by providing Value-added professional service.


To be the Leader in the market that we serve and revolutionize the organization to have the strength of a big companies combined with the leanness of the small company.


Metro Homes was born in KL in 1994 to realize the dream of providing top quality service and translating information technology and economies of scale to benefit consumers. Thus, a new fusion of real estate agencies that believe in making a difference via its service to both real estate professionals and customers alike is created with one dominant goal on our minds. Making Your Home Our Priority.


To date,, has received several awards for our efforts in bringing you the Real Estate Information in Malaysia. The awards so far:

CNBC Asia Pacific Property Award 2009

CNBC Asia Pacific Property Award 2009

Real Estate Award

“Best Sales Performances”

First Property Sale By Open Tender November 1999.

“4th Runner-Up Submission of Bids”

March/April 2004 Property Tender.

Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Berhad (Danaharta)

Website Award

MSN – Microsoft Network

Top Ranked by Popularity under Direct Hit web Sites for the keyword search using “Malaysia Properties” or “Malaysia Real Estate” among 51,114 websites. (Count conducted on 4th July 2001)

Web Site Garage








(Test conduct on 14th April 2002)

Pure Gold Award


The final review of your site is complete. Your site has received “Pure Gold”. – Micheal Schaffer



Your site is great and worthy of our REALS site award. – Micheal Wong

Award Of Excellence


You site has been selected as the Wednesday, February 03, 1999 Apresence Award of Excellence winner. Your site display impressive programming knowledge, impeccable design and rich content. Your presence on the Web is truly one to be reckoned with. Keep up the great work!

Silver Award – Best Of The Wed 99

I enjoyed surfing your site, and I am sure everyone else will too. You have won the Silver Award! (Close to a Gold) – Eric Nielsen

Editor’s Choice Award


Your web site has been selected as an “Editor’s Choice” Award winner by the Real Estate Software Catalog. It is been given in recognation of your site’s exemplary contribution to the real estate industry. It is based on site design, content, relevance, and overall contribution to our field. This honor is given only to the very best real estate sites. – Gary L. Sherman (President)

Quatec Website Design Award

Hello and Congratulations!

We are pleased to announce that your submission for the Quatec Website Design Award has been approved. Your site was reviewed for originality, usefulness of information, graphic design, and was found to add an outstanding artistic flair, careful and concise design, and a wealth of information. Your site only enhances the originality of our Internet community. Job well done!

Medaille d’Or Award

We took you up on your invitation to take a look at your site, and were very impressed by what we saw. Congratulations on being awarded the Medaille d’Or for it. Once again, well done! – Ken & Maureen Lussey

Review -This neatly designed site promotes the business of a real estate agency firm in Malaysia. The site allows visitors to search for property of various types and in a range of price brackets

King of the Web Award

CONGRATULATIONS – You have an award winning website!

We have been to your site and found it informative, easy to navigate, original and an excellent contribution to the internet community as a whole. We are proud to present this award to a quality site such as yours. – Bob King

Seal of Excellence Award

Recently we enjoyed a very pleasant visit to your web site!

It is with great pride that we announce that your web site is a WINNER of our most esteemed Majon Web Select “SEAL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD.” (As mentioned in the Wall Street Journal.) – The Web Select Team

G.M.Designs Award


Your site has recently been reviewed by our design team and we would like to present you with this award! While reviewing your site we were overwhelmed by the content as well as graphic selection by the web master. – Greg (Operations Manager)

Award of Excellence

Thank you for visiting our corner of the web and giving me the opportunity to visit your site. I was very impressed by all the hard work you have put into the site and have to congratulate you on a wonderful achievement in web site design, both in appearance and content.

Please extend my congratulations to your web site development team on producing a web site that reflects the highest standards of creativity and professionalism on the World Wide Web . Excellent quality of content and ease of navigation with some very very impressive graphic and design work. A wonderful addition to the web and a superb resource site about Malaysia. – Ben


The purchase of real estate is a major decision in life. At Metro Homes, we attend to your every need and concern to ensure you make the right decisions. Our services include:

–       Commercial Sales & Leasing

–       Industrial Sales & Leasing

–       Retail Sales & Leasing

–       Residential Sales & Leasing

–       New Project Marketing

–       Danaharta Tender

–       Public and Private Auction (Metro Homes Auction Centre)

–       Corporate Services

–       Metro Islamic – Bumiputra Sales & Leasing

Johor Office Location:

Metro Homes Sdn Bhd (Iskandar) No.6, Jalan Hijauan 4, Horizon Hills, Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia 1st Malaysia Real Estate Agency with Corporate iPhone App (since Feb 2011) & Asia Pacific Property Awards 2009 Winner – “Best Malaysia Real Estate Agency Website”

Should you need to find out more details, and please send me an email


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Iskandar Malaysia succeeds in drawing investments earlier than targeted date

In this articles published on 26 September, Iskandar Malaysia succeeds in drawing investments earlier than targeted date .

KUALA LUMPUR: In just six years since its inception, Iskandar Malaysia, which has caught the eye of regional and global investors, has managed to lure well over a quarter of the RM383 billion investment targeted by 2025.

As of June, the special economic zone in the southern-most part of Iskandar Malaysia attracted RM95.5 billion of committed investments since it was set up on Nov 9, 2006.

Of this, 43 per cent or RM41.4 billion of the investments have been realised, said the 2012/2013 Economic Report issued by the Finance Ministry.

Indicating strong participation from both local and foreign investors, the Treasury report said 62 per cent or RM59 billion of the committed investments at the corridor came from domestic investors while the rest were foreign direct investments.

Iskandar Malaysia, one of the five growth corridors in the country, also received strong backing from the government, which has allocated RM7.3 billion for key infrastructure projects, the report said.

Among the completed infrastructure projects are the Coastal Highway from Johor Baharu to Nusajaya, new interchanges and bridges as well as upgrading of roads to improve traffic flow and dispersal in and around Johor Baharu.

“The government also provides a range of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract quality investments and high-skilled workers in specific sectors in Iskandar Malaysia, including tax exemption to qualified companies.

“Government investment in infrastructure is expected to attract more private investment which, in turn, will further spur growth,” the Treasury report said.

The rising investment in the region, marked by the completion of key projects such as Johor Premium Outlets, LEGOLAND Malaysia Theme Park and Educity, has created 54,000 jobs as at June.

With key catalytic projects such as the Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, MSC Cyberport City and Urban Resort Wellness expected to be operational over the next five years, employment opportunities are expected to double. – Bernama

Strong interest prompts IIB to launch EduPark in Nusajaya

Strong interest prompts IIB to launch EduPark in nusajaya.

We have Marlborough College with a UK edu system and Raffles American School in Nusajaya. They will definitely attract more expatria from all over the world.

In Singapore, you can’t easily enter to an international school during your primary and high school. Singapore government has this restrictions to the local Singaporean unless the school can’t handle them with a official case. How truth is this restriction? We got to find out more details.

How about Malaysia? Do we have this restrictions? I guess not but we have to explore it.
With this US and UK Edu School in Nusajaya, it will definitely create the good impacts. What kind of impacts?