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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Forum: We can do more to attract investors

KUALA LUMPUR: The property market in Malaysia, like much of Asia, is facing a slowdown, but the country can still use various initiatives to ride out the economic crisis and help the sector, industry players said.

Ascendas Pte Ltd, Singapore, South-East Asia operations chief executive officer Ong Beng Kheong said Malaysia could do more to make its property sector more attractive and competitive, especially in the area of image.

“Malaysia needs to improve its image abroad to make the real estate properties in the country more competitive,” he said at the property seminar

“As you can see, Malaysia has quite a number of good grade A buildings at cheap prices but why this not been much detected by foreign investors. Instead, they prefer to invest in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines though the prices of commercial properties there are more expensive than here.”

Beneton Properties founder and executive chairman Datuk Chan Sau Lai said some of the legislation in Malaysia had resulted in foreign investors being reluctant to invest in the country.

“Our income tax regime, for example, is much higher compared with say, Hong Kong and Singapore. Both are perceived to be friendly cities for foreign investors and we must find ways to become more friendly to woo these investors,” he said.

Hong Kong Savills Valuation & Professional Services Ltd deputy managing director Simon Smith said there were still large current account surpluses in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and China and large foreign exchange reserves in Japan and China, which meant Asia was in better shape compared with the US and Europe.

“There is still plenty of infrastructure required as targets of stimulus measures and historically, post-slump, Asia emerges with a greater share of the global growth domestic product,” he said after presenting his paper on global market changes and the perception on Malaysia.

By The Star

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