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Thursday, December 31, 2009

A good time to buy

I attended the wake of a distant family member who passed away earlier this year. As we sat in his car porch, drinking our mineral water and muttering platitudes, a family member stood up and declared, “good riddance to bad rubbish” and then sat down again, looking satisfied. Much as I admire and enjoy eccentric behaviour and will always support freedom of speech, I thought this remark was a little ill-timed, denying the target his right to initiate the customary hundred million ringgit suit for defamation.

I shall treat the passing year with appropriate reverence and respect. Suffice to say, it marked the 50th anniversary of the kidney transplant. Now, can we move on please?

But before we do, let me spotlight a couple of non-events that didn’t seem to make the news. Firstly, have you noticed you are no longer being beseeched to buy land in England? And that owning a plot in Canada is no longer your passport to the good life? There are reasons for this. In March, Walton International Property Group, a company which enjoyed prominence here for a while, was raided by Bank Negara following suspected breaches of the Exchange Control Act.

Bank Negara warned the public to be cautious of this type of land banking scheme. Then in October the Companies Commission carried out three simultaneous raids on UK Land International (M) Sdn Bhd, Profitable Plots Sdn Bhd and Edgeworth Properties (M) Sdn Bhd for alleged breaches of the Companies Act as well as the commission’s policy guidelines.

It transpires that one of the companies is already facing winding up proceedings in the United Kingdom. According to the British Financial Services Authority, which initiated these winding up proceedings, UKLI Ltd had over 4,500 investors but none of the land sold had ever received planning permission.

The other curious non-event was that the Kuala Lumpur 2020 City Plan was not gazetted. If you recall, this was the plan drafted in 2008 which reviewed permitted land use and densities. We are told that gazettal will take place in 2010 but there is still time for appeal. This may be your last chance, although only history will record whether this has been a quixotic attempt at reform or whether the task of master planning a city as dynamic as KL is really feasible.

And so here we are, arguably entering a new decade or possibly nearing the end of the old one, depending on whether you start counting from zero or one. (A book that has made a lasting impression on me is, How to Lie with Statistics. Did you know that the average human being has one breast and one testicle?)

Now that 2009 is over, we can probably lower the storm flags over the property market, although I wouldn’t fold them up and stow them away just yet.

Retail and office space looks well moderated but there is still a hefty supply of top-end condos in the pipeline. And we may not have seen the worst of the non-performing loans.

Developers’ friend

Looking ahead, the Government may face difficulty controlling inflation, which is dubbed ‘the developers’ friend’ and which generally pushes values upwards. My long-range forecast is for our next boom to come around in 2013, and there has probably never been a better time to buy, than now.

This is the last in my series, but before I wish you a Happy New Year and Goodbye, I want to share with you one abiding experience that has made this festive season a truly cheerful one for me.

Coming out of Subway last week after a quick lunch, I nearly tripped over a young man sitting on the kerb, apparently gesticulating wildly into thin air. On closer inspection I saw he had his handphone propped between his knees. He had the camera on. Deaf and dumb, he was ‘talking’ to his friend. God bless him, and hooray for technology. There is hope for humanity yet.

Chris Boyd is executive chairman of Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd, property consultants. We welcome your feedback on this article. Please write to



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thank you for sharing this post...

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