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Friday, December 7, 2007

Sime Darby to build model townships

Sime Darby Berhad president and group chief executive Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid (left) and Sime Darby Berhad chairman Tun Musa Hitam (right) showing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a model of the Bandar Gemilang township last night.

: A dream home within budget is what low and middle-income earners will soon be able to look forward to. Set to be competitively priced, the first phase will be built in Labu in Negri Sembilan, followed later in Gurun, Kedah, and the Vision City in Selangor, benefiting thousands of would be home-owners.

The Sime Darby Bhd initiative was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last night.

Under the "Bandar Gemilang Sime Darby" programme, the multinational will turn slivers of its vast tracts of its plantation land in the three areas into model townships.

"I am delighted and pleased by the uniqueness of such a development project. I believe it holds great promise in providing affordable homes for the people, at the same time raising the quality of life as well as enhancing their economic prospects," Abdullah said at the launch. These townships will consist of a mix of apartments, link-houses, semi-detached houses, libraries, schools, sports fields, police stations and places of worship for major religions.

Abdullah said that this was done by Sime Darby with the aim of creating a township that would become a model for multi-racial living.

An interesting feature is the size of apartments and houses, which will be comparatively larger. For example, a low-rise apartment in Bandar Gemilang could measure up to 900 square feet, Sime Darby said in a statement.

Another interesting feature of which Abdullah was particularly delighted with is that the houses not only will be surrounded by greenery, but also will be energy efficient and benefit from a water recycling system.

"The houses will have the concept of 'green houses' - they will be environment-friendly," he said.

He urged the crowd in the packed hall to visit the exhibition centre downstairs which carried models of the townships.

"Take a look before you go home tonight. I believe this will be a project of very high quality," he added.

Abdullah also said that the measure of a nation's progress and development was signified not just by the level of economic growth, but also by the quality of life enjoyed by its people.

Sime Darby chairman Tun Musa Hitam in his speech said the number of units to be built at the three initial sites would depend on the demand.

"Efforts will also be made to encourage sustainable initiatives such as waste recycling, utilising recyclable building materials and harnessing rainwater for irrigation purposes," he said.

He added that for the programme to be a success, various government agencies needed to play their part to fast-track approval and concessions.

Musa also said the multinational was also in the process of putting together their many corporate social responsibility projects from all the different units and companies that make up Sime Darby so as to be able to announce soon the newly-founded Sime Darby Foundation.

The Sime Darby Foundation, said Musa, would cater to the needs of society in education, sports as well as social and cultural exchange.

By New Straits Times (by Shamini Darshni and Nisha Sabanayagam)

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