Malaysia will continue offering a 100% stamp duty exemption to first-time buyers of houses priced not more than RM500,000 via the Malaysian Home Ownership Initiative (i-Miliki).

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the federal government will not compromise on the strict conditions for affordable housing, despite the objections and appeals from several property developers.


1. Full stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers to continue

In a bid to encourage home ownership, Malaysia will continue offering a 100% stamp duty exemption to first-time buyers of houses priced not more than RM500,000 via the Malaysian Home Ownership Initiative (i-Miliki).

According to the Finance Ministry (MoF), a 75% stamp duty exemption is also offered to first-time buyers of homes priced from RM500,000 to RM1 million via the i-Miliki initiative.

The ministry noted that the stamp duty exemption – which comes under the Home Ownership Programme (HOPE) – covers sale and purchase agreements executed from 1 June 2022 to 31 December 2023, reported Bernama.

It revealed that full stamp duty exemption is also given on instruments of transfer of ownership of property by way of love and affection between parents and children as well as between grandparents and grandchildren. However, the exemption is only limited to the first RM1 million of the property’s value.

“The remaining balance of the property’s value is subject to the ad valorem duty rate with a 50% remission of the stamp duty chargeable,” said MoF.

“This stamp duty exemption applies to real estate transfer documents executed from 1 April 2023,” added the ministry.


2. Gov’t not to compromise on strict affordable housing requirements

Despite the objections and appeals from several property developers, the federal government will not compromise on the strict conditions for affordable housing, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He noted that the government needs to take more effective and drastic measures since housing in Kuala Lumpur and other larger cities has already reached critical levels, reported Malay Mail.

“A few companies have appealed and some objected, but I don’t think the government will compromise as we don’t have a choice,” Anwar told Parliament.

“We want development to continue but we have to ensure that there are opportunists for the poor to own a house be it being bought, rent-to-own or permanent rental.”

He was responding to a question on whether the government is aware that the stringent conditions on People’s Housing Project (PPR) is preventing some applicants, including single applicants who have persons with disability as elderly parents and siblings, from renting.

“Right now there are suggestions to allow permanent rental at a lower rate and at the end of the term to be handed over to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL),” said Anwar.


3. 5,650 replacement homes for B40 group to be ready by 2030

By 2030, a total of 5,650 new replacement homes will be ready for the B40 group living in four low-cost housing projects in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras.

The redevelopment of Sri Melaka, Sri Pulau Pinang, Taman Ikan Emas and Sri Johor low-cost housing projects will improve the residents’ living environment, reported The Star.

Notably, the existing housing units within such areas are cramped, lacking in basic facilities such as a community hall, lifts and surau.

Bandar Tun Razak MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail shared that the project has been mooted since 2016, with the first phase currently underway.

“This first phase was started in July last year and is expected to be completed by July 2026,” she said, adding that residents will then be relocated.

A public-private partnership between the Federal Territories Department and Retro Highland Sdn Bhd, the project’s first phase will feature 1,192 housing units measuring 850 sq ft.

The remaining units will be offered in the project’s second phase.


4. Minister warns architects against undercutting each other’s fees

Minister of Local Government Development (KPKT) Nga Kor Ming has warned architects to refrain from undercutting each other’s fees for services and reminded them to maintain the highest professional standards.

“There is a minimum scale of fees for performing your services; you must be fair to each other and avoid undercutting each other on fees,” said Nga as quoted by the New Straits Times.

Dexter Koh, Vice President of the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM), echoed the minister’s sentiment, saying architects should act with integrity.

“The fees we receive should be commensurate with our responsibilities and properly remunerate our staff in order to provide a consistent level of service to all our clients,” added Koh.

Meanwhile, PAM President Abu Zarim Abu Bakar lauded the ministry’s effort in promoting sustainable development via the Green Building Index (GBI) assessment.

He pointed out that Nga underscored the need for “sustainable, green, and modern designs that promote a clean, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle”.

“Many of the projects awarded this year are prime examples of the high quality of work our architects are capable of,” he added.


5. Batu retention pond alienation approved with no objection

The Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur Land and Mines Office (PTGWP) confirmed that it has approved the alienation of a part of the Batu retention pond for a mixed development project.

It explained that the process to degazette the pond was carried out properly in November 2020, with objection hearings conducted over two consecutive days, reported The Star.

And since no one attended the hearing, the project was approved.

The statement comes after stakeholders within the area claim that they were unaware of the public hearing to degazette the 14.973ha plot of land.

PTGWP said the mixed development project will feature a premium Residensi Wilayah housing scheme, a hawker centre, Residensi Wilayah affordable scheme, and residential units at market prices.

It added that the alienation was given the green light to optimise land usage within the area and spur the economy.


6. Trans-Borneo Railway project a good idea, says expert

A transport expert has called the proposed Trans-Borneo Railway project to connect Sabah and Sarawak with Indonesia and possibly Brunei a good idea, saying it will facilitate the movement of bulk cargo.

Transport consultant Rosli Azad Khan noted that transporting bulk cargo by railway is cheaper than by road, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Moreover, railway infrastructure is more durable as it could last by up to 100 years.

“For long-distance transport, the railway is much better than the road because the road is prone to all sorts of damage like landslides and erosion, cutting people off,” said Rosli.

Aside from reducing congestion, the railway will also provide those living in rural areas within Sabah and Sarawak access to transportation.

First mooted by former prime minister Najib Razak in 2015, the Trans-Borneo Railway was long overdue, given the transportation challenges facing Sabah and Sarawak, said Economist Madeline Berma.

She believes the railway will “bring in more local and foreign investments, spurring economic growth and (creating) employment opportunities for locals in the region”.

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