The development of the Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) saw a hike in property prices and rental rates in Johor Bahru, particularly the areas surrounding the station.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government, via Railway Assets Corporation (RAC), has identified 10 parcels of railway land across six states in Malaysia for potential development projects.


1. Property prices, rents in Johor Bahru up on RTS project

The development of the Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) saw a hike in property prices and rental rates in Johor Bahru, particularly the areas surrounding the station.

A Knight Frank report showed that transactions at some high-rise projects hit RM900 to RM1,100 per sq ft, almost on par with prices in the Klang Valley, said RHB Research.

This comes as demand for high-rise units within the Johor Baru city centre is “Singapore dollar-driven”, reported The Star.

Given the scarcity of land for development at the surrounding areas of the RTS station, some parties have offered to acquire old neighbourhoods for redevelopment.

“There is a spate of developments on the ground and various parties are planning different projects. It was also mentioned that there is a new light rail transit proposal on the table,” said RHB Research.

The research house noted that Singapore’s expensive rental rates also fuelled rental demand in Johor Bahru city centre.

Looking ahead, RHB Research expects the improved connectivity due to the completion of the RTS as well as the strong Singapore dollar as the main drivers of property demand within the area.


2. Railway land in six states have high development potential

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government, via Railway Assets Corporation (RAC), has identified 10 parcels of railway land across six states in Malaysia for potential development projects.

Totalling 369.45 acres (149.51ha), the sites are spread across Penang, Selangor, Johor, Perlis, Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan, reported the New Strait Times.

Five of the sites have train access and may be developed with the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) concept.

“These RAC land needs to be developed with value added so that the corporation can enjoy maximum returns, which can then be used for the development of the national railway sector,” said the minister.

He then encouraged major developers to take this opportunity as the government seeks to use the transport sector as a catalyst for economic development.


3. Race remains an issue when renting a home

Many still find it hard to rent a home in Malaysia because of their race.

Newly married couple Anthon Tanabalasingam and Shalini Yeap, for instance, took over a year before they finally found a suitable place to rent, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Tanabalasingam shared that while he had heard stories of others being discriminated due to their race, it still came as a “surprise” when you experience it first-hand.

He and his wife were willing to pay RM4,000 in rent, but still struggled to find a suitable place.

“They were worried that Indians can’t afford rent, so it was very interesting,” said the content creator.

In 2019, a survey showed that 62% of Malaysians seeking rental properties encountered advertisements with racial requirements.

Ryan Chua of Pusat Komas, a non-governmental organisation that advocates against racism, pointed that existing legislations in Malaysia does not address renters facing discrimination.

Taking legal action is also not an option since it can be time-consuming and costly.

A proposed Residential Tenancy Act, which is set to be presented in Parliament next year, aims to counter racial discrimination, levelling the playing field for tenants.

Yeap doubts whether the legal measure could fully address the problem and underscored the importance of not judging people by their skin colour.


4. Abandoned shoplots an eyesore, pose health risks

Residents of Bukit Sentosa, Bukit Beruntung and Serendah in Hulu Selangor want the municipal council to address the abandoned shoplot issue within their area.

They noted that these empty shoplots, which have been left abandoned for over two decades, pose a health risk and have become an eyesore as they have been used as dumping grounds for rubbish.

“This poses a threat as dengue can escalate within the community rapidly if the problem goes unchecked,” said Augustine Maria Dasan, Chairman of Bandar Bukit Beruntung Residents Association.

Residents are also concerned of illicit activities possibly occurring in the abandoned lots, reported The Star.

Junainah Abdullah, Corporate Director of Hulu Selangor Municipal Council, explained that while the council can issue notices to shoplot owners to secure their premises, the responsibility of locking doors, windows and shutters lies with such owners.

“We encourage witnesses to report illegal activities and we will keep their identities confidential,” she said.

“In recent years, we have rewarded informants while culprits caught in the act were penalised with hefty fines,” she added.


5. MHTC partners four wellness residences to promote Malaysia as an active retirement living destination

The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) has partnered with four integrated wellness residences in Kuala Lumpur to promote the country as an active retirement living destination.

The four wellness residences are Komune Living & Wellness, Domitys Bangsar, Sunway Sanctuary and ReU Living, reported the New Straits Times.

The collaboration aims to provide tailored active senior care as well as wellness solutions to position Malaysia as a premier location for active retirement living.

A pilot programme, dubbed “Rejuvenate with Malaysia Healthcare”, has been established by MHTC to address the challenges posed by an ageing society.

Farizal Jaafar, acting CEO of MHTC, said the one-year programme is a testament to MHTC’s commitment to delivering world-class healthcare services and promoting the country as a preferred destination for active retirement living.

“The end goal is to build a sustainable future for the healthcare system. By partnering with such exceptional integrated wellness residences, we are confident that we will help enable and create awareness of the programme, designed to allow seniors to age actively surrounded by various experiential facilities and personal care,” said Farizal.


6. ‘Sick’ housing projects – A persistent issue in Malaysia’s real estate market

Housing project abandonment during construction has been a persistent issue in Malaysia’s real estate market for decades, slowing investments and overall economic growth.

This is evidenced by the construction sector’s diminishing contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), dropping from 4.7% in 2019 to 3.4% in 2022, reported the New Straits Times.

The Local Housing and Development Ministry’s task force identified 481 sick property projects, 141 delayed and 112 abandoned projects as of 30 April.

Notably, abandoned projects affect suppliers, subcontractors and buyers.

For developers, the impact extend beyond financial loss as their reputation is damaged. This makes it harder for them to enter into new collaborations and gain the trust of potential investors and buyers, said Datuk Shamesh Jeevaretnam, partner of Jeeva Partnership.

With this, Shamesh proposed strengthening state planning regulations and assessing developer capacity to ensure projects would be completed.

He noted that these measures would create a more controlled environment, reduce the prevalence of sick projects and promote growth in the construction sector and the overall economy.


7. Selangor waives assessment fees for low-cost, village homes

Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari announced that the newly formed government will exempt assessment rates for low-cost units and village homes within its first 100 days.

The Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional administration will also increase the allowances of bilals, imams, nazirs and siaks, reported Free Malaysia Today.

He added that 5,0000 working women within the state will also be given RM1,000 cash aid to help lower their childcare costs. The same cash aid will also be given to 500 farmers and fishermen.

Book vouchers worth RM200 will also be given to 1,000 university students.

The cash incentives were part of PH-BN’s pledges during the recently concluded state election.

“We will work to make Selangor a successful state, not just in Malaysia, but even in the region. Success not just in terms of economy, but also in creating high-paying job opportunities,” he said.

“Success not just in terms of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) contribution, but also in coming up with solutions to climate change, specifically floods,” he added.

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