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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bouquets and brickbats by investors

Nice entrance: Legoland Malaysia general manager Siegfried Boerst showing The Beginning – the main entrance to Legoland Malaysia Theme Park in Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia.

ALTHOUGH Iskandar Malaysia has been having a pretty good run the last year or so, there are areas that need to be looked into if the Government is serious about promoting the growth corridor, investors, real estate agents on both sides of the causeway and people familiar with the project say.

A foreign investor who declined to be named says he has read about government-linked companies (GLCs) flip-flopping and he personally experienced it when he took an interest in Imperia, a condominium project to be developed by UEM Land.

“The GLCs need to improve their marketing skills and be more focused on their planning and when dealing with customers,” he says.

Most investors and property consultants worth their salt would rather see past promises become a reality before they decide to invest in any future planned projects.

This investor registered his interest in the condominium project Imperia at the end of 2010. He was given a layout and the price of the unit and was told the project will be officially launched early 2011. It was launched at the end of 2011 and was told the price of the unit has increased by 20% and the layout has changed.

When he brought this up with the developer, the attitude was “if you want it, this is the price and this is the layout.”

This investor says that left a poor impression of the developer.

“I don’t think the private sector will do something like this,” he says.

“Right now, I only see the highways. The education component, or Educity, is coming along well. As for the others, I have yet to see them so I am looking forward to the later part of this year when Legoland Malaysia is unveiled,” he says.

Another investor says the size of Iskandar Malaysia is considerable and thus far, the Government has talked about so many things. There is Medini, the education component with various participation from universities and other educational institutions, Nusajaya and the different zones.

“Can so many things take off on time? I am aware that the project has a long gestation period of between 10 to 15 years. I am also aware that investment is a risk and the future is uncertain. So, as an investor, it is natural that I would want to mitigate risks.

“If it is a risk as a result of contagion effect from Europe and the US, that is not within the control of the people who are managing Iskandar. But if it is a risk as a result of poor management or changes in plans, then it is something that is within the control of companies set up to manage this economic corridor,” he says.

He reiterates that he is able to digest and comprehend a small project like KL Sentral but Iskandar is a lot bigger and the risks of failure due to poor management will also be greater.

Another Singapore realtor residing at Sentosa cove has invested in Iskandar Malaysia and comes across as more hopeful. She says she read about the Iskandar scheme and decided to purchase a semi-detached house in a gated and protected community called Straits Views Residence about six months ago at Permas Jaya in Johor. The project is located 10 minutes away from Singapore along the main route connecting Johor Baru City Centre to Pasir Gudang (Coastal Highway). Straits Views Residences is developed by BRDB’s wholly-owned subsidiary Permas Jaya Sdn Bhd.

“It can be an investment or a weekend home,” she says.

She says her main concern is the ringgit, hoping that it will not go lower and that the crime rate in Johor can be kept to a minimum. On her outlook for the Iskandar region, she says the nearest country is Singapore, which is doing well.

“I see that this will spring over to Iskandar,” she says.

By The Star

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