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IN THE MARKET Marriage made in Medini Mah Sing Group hooks up with Iskandar Investment è PAGE IV Y O U R

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NOVEMBER 2, 2012

M O N T H

Najib must intervene Only the Prime Minister can end the property management crisis, say warring parties By PAVITHER SIDHU pavither@mmail.com.my

The ongoing debate on who has the right to undertake property management after the tabling of the Strata Management Bill 2012 (SMB) can only be resolved with the intervention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is also finance minister. The country’s valuers registered by the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (BVAEA) on the one hand and the Building Managers Association of Malaysia (BMAM) representing non-valuer property managers on the other have both suggested that Najib step in to resolve the matter. The former only recognises the Ministry of Finance’s authority over property management as spelt out in the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act while the latter supports the Ministry of Housing and Local Government’s SMB which will enable others, rather than just valuers, to manage property. The debate arose from the first reading of the SMB on Sept 24, which said only “registered” property managers can undertake property management. That angered non-valuer property managers who said this would create a monopoly. Later, the SMB was amended and at its second reading two days

LOOKING TO NAJIB FOR ANSWERS: (Left) Pro-Register team’s (BVAEA) Ishak (top) and Mani (bottom) as well as (right) Anti-Register team’s (BMAM) Teo (top) and Venkateswaran (bottom) agree that the prime minister can resolve the issue

later, Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung removed the term “registered”. The valuation community was furious. BMAM president Datuk Teo Chiang Kok believes that the prime minister should be consulted to help resolve the long-drawn issue, noting that it will

affect three million property owners. “If there are further amendments to the SMB, resulting in additional fees, most property owners would find difficulty in paying,” he added. On seeking help from a higher authority, BMAM committee member Richard Chan said it would be good

if the issue could be resolved once and for all but if the decision is not in BMAM’s favour, “it’s possible that there will be owners who will refuse to adhere to the law, leading to more issues in the future”. “We also see the need for the regulation to come under the housing

ministry as it is a rational thing to do,” he continued. BMAM secretary-general S. Venkateswaran said efforts are being taken to bring the matter to the prime minister as it is against monopoly. Ishak Ismail, president of the Malaysian Institute of Professional Property Managers, said Najib should stand firm on what is right after studying the facts and figures thoroughly. “No responsible government will allow its people to be exposed to exploitation by the unrestrained proliferation of unscrupulous, unregistered property managers, particularly through the proposed amendment by the housing minister to remove the regulated registered property managers from the SMB.” Datuk Mani Usilappan, former director-general of the Valuation and Property Services Department under the finance ministry, said if the matter is resolved in its favour, there will be a window of 12 months for the unregistered property managers to be registered with BVAEA in the Register of Property Managers. “This means that those responsible experienced property managers will have a period of time to register with BVAEA as registered property managers regulated by the BVAEA and adopting the Malaysian Property Management Standards as their best practices,” he said.

Rise of a new ‘ERA’ By GUNAPRASATH BUPALAN gunaprasath@mmail.com.my

THE largest real estate brokerage network in the Asia-Pacific, ERA Real Estate, has set up office in Kuala Lumpur. As part of its plan to make its presence felt, ERA Malaysia recently hosted a dinner for over 300 real estate professionals, developers, corporate clients and sponsors, with Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung as guest of honour. Also among the guests were rep-

resentatives of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association of Malaysia (Rehda) and the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) as well as ERA delegates from around the world. The event, themed “Celebration of a New Beginning”, was also held to introduce its business system to the local estate agency scene. ERA Malaysia managing director Christopher Lim said the ERA Business System can provide innovative technology and market-centric know-how through established and globally recognised standards and processes in order to help give

real estate negotiators the competitive edge to grow their businesses. “Our goal is to elevate the industry’s best practices and standards so as to enhance the industry’s prospects and global attractiveness,” he said “Malaysia is strengthening its position as a regional real estate hub and our business system will be essential in helping professionals operate optimally to identify new revenue streams and deliver enhanced value to their clients.” ERA Malaysia also takes a holistic view of the industry with activities that will benefit real estate

agencies, developers and the public at large, said Lim. “With the ERA platform, a new breed of professionals may emerge, empowered with the latest technology and cutting-edge methodology developed in-house by ERA Malaysia, providing for enhanced sales conversion and specialised education for real estate negotiators to better cater to the needs of their customers,” he added. “The extensive global networking platform that ERA provides will also give rise to cross-country collaborations and business expansion.”

BUSINESS GROWTH: Lim says ERA is geared to propel the real estate industry in Malaysia to new levels


II

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Get Real with the Malay Mail

THE MALAY MAIL

FOCUS We feel it is our responsibility and it is right (for us) to share the profit we received from developing our high-end projects with the masses OTHMAN OMAR, GENERAL MANAGER OF PKNS

SELANGOR

Design to gain mass appeal PKNS’ brand of affordable houses is being built with buyers in mind By GERALDINE LIM geraldine@mmail.com.my

THE modern and distinctive designs of the Selangor State Development Corp’s (PKNS) latest affordable semi-detached houses are not only attracting buyers but also local and foreign builders looking for templates to create desirable homes for the masses. According to the corporation, delegations from Penang and Africa have visited its Taman Selayang Mutiara semidee project, in Selangor, and have shown keen interest to adopt its concept for their use. The project, which will be completed by end-2012, is a squatter resettlement scheme comprising units priced at RM99,000 each. Designed with a modern look, a typical semi-dee will have a built-up area of 850sq ft within which will have three bedrooms and two baths. Due to the pricing, PKNS had to subsidise RM79.6 million for the project’s construction, infrastructure and development costs as well as rental. Another affordable scheme it is undertaking is a six-storey apartment in Section 3

of Bandar Baru Bangi which will have units of 700sq ft to 800sq ft and slated for completion by February 2013 (see table for the list of affordable projects the corporation will undertake over the next six years). On its future plans, PKNS general manager Othman Omar said, “We will build 12,242 affordable houses over the next five years, priced between RM85,000 and RM150,000. “These will be built using our new concept, Kasih PKNS, which stresses on sustainability and creating a holistic environment ... these will be equipped with enhanced facilities for future residents.” He explained that Kasih is the acronym for Kehidupan Aman Selesa Indah (dan) Harmoni (or peaceful, comfortable, beautiful and harmonious living) and that the units will help middle-income Selangorians own a home at a reasonable price (see sidebar). Othman also said PKNS will spend about RM1.1 billion in subsidies to build these houses, noting the proposal to develop such affordable housing projects started in 2009, with a 10-year plan from 2011

PKNS affordable housing projects for 2012 -2018 DISTRICT Hulu Langat

LOCATION Section 3, Bandar Baru Bangi

TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT Six-storey apartment

NO. OF UNITS 124

Gombak

Taman Selayang Mutiara (Bukit Botak) Kg Sri Temenggung

Single-storey semi-dee 12-storey apartment

1,422 418

80 20

Kuala Selangor

Section 5, Kota Puteri Kota Puteri

Two-storey townhouse Apartment

214 714

0.9 71.4

Hulu Selangor

Section 1D, (Phase 1), Antara Gapi Antara Gapi Bernam Jaya

Single-storey terrace Apartment Apartment

129 1,227 5,000

4.5 122.7 500

Petaling

Section U12 Section U10 Section U12

Six-storey apartment Apartment Apartment

104 600 1,000

11 60 100

Sepang

Taman Sains Selangor 2 Taman Sains Selangor 2

Apartment Apartment

350 490

7 49

Klang

Bandar Sultan Suleiman Jalan Dato’ Md Sidin

Apartment Apartment

240 210

24 21

Total units to 2021. “To date, we have built 124,515 units of low-, middle- and high-end houses. Of these, 43% are low-cost, 48% middle-end and only 9% are high-end. These figures do not include the joint ventures we have with private developers. “This shows that we are still building to cater to the underserved segments and that we have not swayed from our

SUBSIDY COST (RM MIL) 12

12,242 initial objective of providing shelter for the people. “The profits from the highend projects will be channelled to build more affordable houses … a high-end residential unit can provide shelter to 10 poor families. “We feel it is our responsibility and it is right (for us) to share the profit we receive from developing our highend projects with the masses.”

REFERENCE POINT: A unit of this semi-dee in Taman Selayang Mutiara, Selangor, to be completed by December 2012 and priced at RM99,000, has received great interest from Africa and Penang to use the concept

The Kasih PKNS concept

FOR THE MIDDLE-INCOME: The features of this sixstorey apartment in Section 3, Bandar Baru Bangi in Selangor will be a yardstick for PKNS’ affordable housing projects

UNDER this concept, the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) not only focuses on developing the hardware (the basic structure of a house) but the software as well. It can be best represented by the development of its six-storey apartment project in Bandar Baru Bangi.

With a gross development value of RM11.7 million, it will have a learning centre and a nursery for children as well as centres for the handicapped and old folk located on the ground floor and landscaped greenery for gardening. It will also be equipped with lifts. “The purpose is to create an environment that is conducive for schoolgoing children and convenient for working parents, the less fortunate and the aged ... we want to provide all members of society with better quality of life,” said PKNS general manager Othman Omar. He added that the corporation will use its features as a benchmark for its other affordable housing projects. Besides building apartments, its future affordable housing projects will involve singlestorey terraces and townhouses in places such as Antara Gapi in Serendah where 129 units of terraces are being built.


THE MALAY MAIL

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Get Real with the Malay Mail

III


IV

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Get Real with the Malay Mail

THE MALAY MAIL

In THE MARKET We believe the Meridin Linx SoVo units will do very well as they meet pent-up demand … besides furnishing them for corporate use, we will also provide serviced office facilities which may include receptionist services, meeting rooms and auditoriums TAN SRI LEONG HOY KUM, GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO OF MAH SING GROUP

Meridin@Medini | Offer: Meridin Suites residences, Meridin Linx small office versatile offices (SoVos), Meridin Walk lifestyle retail lots and Meridin Exchange corporate towers. Phase 1 – Meridin Suites | Price: From RM288,000 | Developer: Iskandar Investment Bhd and Mah Sing Group Bhd | Contact: 03.9221.8888 | ISKANDAR MALAYSIA

Marriage of the STARS Two big names join forces to add a unique lifestyle offspring to Iskandar Malaysia

SIGNIFICANT IMPACT: Syed Mohamed says the partnership with Mah Sing Group will give rise to some spectacular offspring

PHASE ONE: Meridin@Medini will commence with Meridin Suites, its residential component, in the second half of 2013

“DO you Iskandar Investment Bhd take Mah Sing Group Bhd to be your lawfully married partner … through good times and bad, through sickness and in health, till death do you part?” And as the relationship was consummated, president and CEO of Iskandar Investment Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim said: “I am very happy with this marriage and look forward to loads of offspring from here on.

“Our partnership will make a significant impact in changing the real estate landscape in the Medini portion of Iskandar Malaysia and fast-track it into a modern metropolis of international standing. “As a strategic developer of catalytic projects, it is important for us to identify the critical components that will complement the ecosystem that we have put in place in making Medini the central business district of

Nusajaya.” The first offspring of the relationship, Meridin@Medini, “has the potential to elevate the profile of Medini to a preferred real estate and investment destination”, said Syed Mohamed, adding that the choice of Mah Sing Group was based on its proven track record in developing projects in Johor such as Sri Pulai Perdana, Sri Pulai Perdana 2, Austin Perdana, Sierra Perdana and i-Parc.

ENTHUSIASM: John Ng, executive vice president of strategic marketing for Iskandar Investment Bhd; Leong; Md Fuzi Ahmad Shahimi, president of Central Johor Baru Municipal Council; Syed Mohamed; and General Tan Sri Yaacob Mat Zain, chairman of Mah Sing Group; at the exchange of documents

With Meridin@Medini, Mah Sing Group has 40 projects located in the Klang Valley, Penang island, Sabah, Johor and Iskandar Malaysia with unbilled sales of nearly RM19 billion and an earnings visibility of eight years. Meridin@Medini, to be developed on an 8.19-acre site with a 99year leasehold tenure in zone A of Medini, will be an iconic integrated commercial development with a gross development value (GDV) of over RM1 billion. It will have a gross floor area of 2.14 million square feet, for which a total consideration of RM74.7 million was paid, which equates to RM34.90psf. The first 10% was paid upon signing of the lease agreement with the balance payable over a five-year period. Based on the “live, work, relax and rejuvenate” concept, Meridin@Medini will comprise four facets: the Meridin Suites residences, the Meridin Linx small office versatile offices (SoVos), the Meridin Walk lifestyle retail lots and the Meridin Exchange corporate towers. The first phase, Meridin Suites, will offer residences from 500sq ft indicatively priced from RM288,000, which means owners can enjoy premium lifestyle features such as concierge services, a facilities deck and high-tech security features for

just a fraction of what a mass market condominium unit would cost in neighboring Singapore. Aside from appealing to young working couples, expatriates and empty nesters, it will also serve the elderly requiring assisted living as there will be a wellness residential enclave equipped with facilities for continued care. Its location with views of the Legoland theme park also makes it suitable for foreign investors looking for holiday homes, as would its proximity to EduCity@Iskandar and various healthcare facilities including the existing Columbia Asia Hospital and up-and-coming Gleneagles Medini Hospital. Medini@Meridin will be connected via tarmac such as the toll free Coastal Highway, Eastern Dispersal Link, Johor Baru Inner Ring Road, Jalan Skudai interchange and Johor Baru East Coast Highway. By 2018, a proposed rail transit system should also be operational to join JB to Singapore, thereby enhancing accessibility and improving property values. Meridin@Medini is currently 10 minutes from the Tuas Singapore second link and 30 minutes from Senai Airport. “We foresee a lot of interest from parents whose children are studying in the various institutes of higher learning in EduCity@Iskandar such as Newscastle Medical School, Marlborough College, Trust School and University of Southampton,” said managing director and group CEO of Mah Sing Group Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum. “Our project has an attractive entry point from only RM288,000 and with its practical layouts, high quality facilities and good security, parents can have peace of mind knowing their children will be well looked-after in Meridin@Medini.” For investors, Leong foresees a gross rental yield of 6% to 8% based on a capital value of RM300,000 and rents ranging from RM1,500 to RM2,000 per month. “We believe it is right for us to offer smaller unit sizes to ensure absolute affordability, in order to tap into these markets,” said Leong. The project is expected to take off in the second half of 2013 and registration of interest in underway.


THE MALAY MAIL

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Get Real with the Malay Mail

V

OPINION

If a housing developer is not licensed, the agreement signed with a purchaser is void and of no effect

Nightmare on con street As if it’s not enough that some buyers have been deceived by devious developers, some of them have also been kicked when they’re down. By banks. What can be done?

DOWN TO EARTH SALLEH BUANG

I WAS outstation on a speaking engagement when news broke about the plight of 400 people who had been conned into buying into nonexistent housing schemes some six years ago and was therefore not able to immediately comment on it. According to reports, the schemes purportedly to be built in the Klang Valley had housing units priced between RM150,000 and RM280,000, making them clearly highly desirable affordable properties. According to Selangor Chief Police Officer Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah, 138 victims have so far filed police reports against the “property agents” who were allegedly responsible for defrauding them and that more are expected in the near future Tun Hisan said preliminary investigations reveal that there were never any approvals for the schemes in Meru, Klang and Banting and that the police are also looking into the element of complicity on the part of some banks. So far, he said, the police had identified six banks that had approved loans to buyers of these non-existent projects. The case is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code – the offence of cheating and dishonestly inducing the delivery of property. Upon conviction, the penalty ranges between a jail sentence of one to 10 years, whipping and fine. When asked to comment, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung said: “I have asked my officers to investigate. I also hope the victims will come forward and lodge a complaint with us.” It is a pity that the conned housebuyers waited so long before making their police reports, as the responsible parties (the property agents and the blacksheep housing developers) could have disappeared from the housing landscape, records might have been lost or misplaced, and the bank officials concerned

DOWN FOR THE CON: There are very few happy endings for victims of abandoned schemes

might have left their employment. Evidence gathering would also be a major problem, but I suppose the police can still cope with that and in the end prove that a crime had indeed been committed so the culprits can be brought to justice. But even in this best-case scenario where the culprits are caught, hauled to court, tried, convicted and appropriately punished, how will it actually help the victims? We are told that some of the victims have even been made bankrupts by the lending banks! How can the slate be wiped clean so the buyers won’t be further burdened and how can the crooked developers as well as the banks (whether by negligence or outright complicity) be made to “pay” for their sins? A look at a couple of past cases that have made their way to the courts may yield some answers. In Keng Soon Finance Bhd vs. MK Retnam [1996] 3 AMR 3021, loans had been granted to an unlicensed developer. When the developer defaulted in its repayment and the bank moved to recover the loan (by seeking an order from the court to sell off the land), the court held that

a bank has a duty to ensure that the developer (which it is granting the loan to) has a valid housing developer’s licence. In this case, as the developer did not actually possess a valid licence when the loan was granted and disbursed, the security it held is bad, the loan cannot be recovered and the bank cannot therefore institute foreclosure proceedings. In another case, Arab Malaysian Finance Bhd vs. Chan Sai Mee [2001] 2 AMR 1743, end-financing was granted to purchasers who bought condominium units from an unlicensed housing developer. When a purchaser defaulted on his housing loan repayment, the end-financier obviously sought to recover the loan by applying for an order for sale from the court. However, the purchaser resisted the application for the order for sale by seeking to void his Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with the developer (which preceded the loan agreement between him and the end-financier). This led the court to have to consider the following interconnecting legal issues: Was the SPA between the purchaser and the unlicensed

developer illegal? If yes, was the loan agreement between the purchaser and the endfinancier also tainted with illegality since it was dependent on the SPA? If yes, was there a valid “cause to the contrary” – a basis for which the court can refuse to give the order for sale? And should the purchaser be penalised for raising the avoidance so late in the day – only at the point when the end-financier wanted to foreclose on the loan and not much earlier after the SPA was signed? The court held that the purchaser could still void the contract and also that he had succeeded in showing a valid “cause to the contrary”. The application for an order for sale by the end-financier was therefore dismissed. In simple language, what these two cases show is that if a housing developer is not licensed, the SPA signed between this so-called developer and its purchasers is void and of no effect. However, purchasers must not sit still and do nothing; they must take their case to court early to enable the court to declare their agreements as being null and void. Once this

is done, then whatever ensuing transaction arising from it (such as the end-financing agreement with a bank or finance company) can also be questioned – as shown in the second case above, it was held to be tainted with illegality as well. If the end-financing transaction can also be declared null and void, then the “debts” of the 400 defrauded housebuyers in Selangor can be wiped clean and their bankruptcy orders can be reviewed and set aside. In practical terms, it is probably now impossible for the poor helpless defrauded buyers to get back their money from the crooked developers. But to those who have been declared bankrupt by the banks (which may or may not be complicit in the fraud), it is still not too late to extend a helping hand to them. At least, I hope so. Perhaps the housing ministry or the National House Buyers Association can scrutinise the issue along these lines. Salleh Buang is senior advisor of a company specialising in competitive intelligence. He is also active in training and public speaking and can be reached at getreal@ mmail.com.my


VI

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Get Real with the Malay Mail

THE MALAY MAIL

FOCUS Limited land in township for further development will underpin capital appreciation of properties MALATHI THEVENDRAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF JONES LANG WOOTTON MALAYSIA

SUBANG JAYA

Properties in Subang Jaya still good buys Although it has matured as a township, there’s still room for prices to grow

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT: The remaining landbank should be developed in a way that will integrate residential and commercial offerings and transportation facilities

its popularity and growth over the years.

SUBANG Jaya in Selangor is a 1,800acre self-contained, mature, freehold township launched in 1974 as a southerly extension of Petaling Jaya. To date, the township has been almost fully developed by a single developer – then known as Sime UEP Bhd and later renamed Sime Darby Property Bhd. Thus, the township’s growth, which was done in controlled phases, was well planned and coordinated. It has a good mix of amenities ranging from a renowned medical centre to local schools and international universities as well as retail centres, playgrounds and parks. Its profile has moved up over the years and today, it has become an affluent upper-middle class neighbourhood. The township is a far cry from its early days in the 1980s when it was anchored by the Subang Parade shopping centre and the Subang Jaya Medical Centre, now called Sime Darby Medical Centre, Subang Jaya. It is also linked to numerous highway interchanges and has good road connectivity to other parts of the Klang Valley and these have supported

EDITORIAL

Andrew Wong andrew@mmail.com.my Zoe Phoon zoe@mmail.com.my

Property appreciation feasible Being a mature township does not mean that prices of properties in the area cannot appreciate further. In the early days, capital appreciation was slow. However, as the township became more established, house prices started to increase at a faster rate. The price trend of an average standard double-storey house in Subang Jaya (see graph) shows a compounded average growth rate of 6% per annum between 2003 and 2011, with the strongest growth occurring in 2010 and 2011. Looking ahead, Subang Jaya is expected to grow further with infrastructure improvements. The Kelana Jaya LRT line’s extension will benefit the area, especially where the new stations will be sited, namely in USJ 7, USJ 10, USJ 17, USJ 18, SS 17 and SS 18. The new rail connectivity is expected to ease traffic congestion and improve accessibility to the area. Schemes located close to the new stations are expected to register good capital appreciation in the future. Studies have shown that properties located near an LRT station benefit from stronger capital appreciation and higher rental yields than those

S. Sivaselvam sivaselvam@mmail.com.my Gunaprasath Bupalan gunaprasath@mmail.com.my

RM per unit

By MALATHI THEVENDRAN

Price trend of standard double-storey houses in the township

600,000 550,000 500,000 450,000 400,000 350,000 300,000 250,000 200,000

2003

2004

that are not. On this score, there are plans already in place to develop the limited remaining landbank in Subang Jaya in a way that will integrate the residential and commercial offerings, transportation facilities and amenities that will come onstream. This will naturally bring about unprecedented levels of convenience to those who live and work in the area, further bolstering the demand for – and appeal of – properties in Subang Jaya. Apart from this, the limited land available for further development in the township will underpin capital appreciation in the area. This is reflected in the way Subang Jaya is attracting a good number of high net worth individuals today as a result of new high-end property products

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

GOOD ACCESSIBILITY: Highway connectivity has supported its popularity and growth over the years

being offered.

Buoyed by the ETP While projects under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) are not physically located in Subang Jaya, the proposed Greater KL MRT line serving neighbouring locations such as Kota Damansara will improve connectivity in the overall surrounding area and alleviate heavy

traffic congestion in the township. The MRT alignment arose from the need to effectively connect the highly populated areas and encourage better flow of travellers in the Klang Valley. This, too, will have a positive effect on Subang Jaya. Malathi Thevendran is executive director of real estate consultancy Jones Lang Wootton Malaysia.

ADVERTISING SALES Geraldine Lim geraldine@mmail.com.my Pavither Sidhu pavither@mmail.com.my

Daniel Hong danielhong@mmail.com.my

BC Tiang Nimraj Sidhu Vijendran Nair bctiang@mmail.com.my nimraj@mmail.com.my vijendran@mmail.com.my 016.333.1288 016.341.8001 019.600.1797

For inquiries, Get Real, c/o Property Media Hub, 05-03-01, Blk 5, Level 3, VSQ @ PJ City Centre, Jalan Utara, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia T: 03.7956.6522 | F: 03.7954.0922 | E: getreal@mmail.com.my


THE MALAY MAIL

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Get Real with the Malay Mail

VII

NEWS Homeowners and the public do not know much about how cracks develop in retaining walls. They would only seek advice when the situation worsens PK LIM, A PANEL ARCHITECT OF ARCHITECT CENTRE SDN BHD

KUALA LUMPUR

Watch out for your retaining walls! Improper or blocked drainage is a main contributor to retaining walls collapsing By GERALDINE LIM geraldine@mmail.com.my

WITH incessant heavy rain causing water levels to rise well above the norm, homeowners have been advised to protect their properties by carrying out frequent checks on any retaining walls they may have. The property inspection arm of Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia, Architect Centre Sdn Bhd (ACSB), advised homeowners to regularly check for earth movements. Its panel architect, PK Lim, said, “Water including rain is a major cause of retaining wall failure as improper installations and lack of maintenance of the wall will cause water to build up behind the wall. This will exert pressure on the wall which then can crack and fail.” He added that even though the weakening and failure of retaining walls have become a common sight, homeowners and the public in general do not know much about how cracks develop in the retaining walls. They would only seek advice when the situation worsens – when cracks widen and there is shifting of the wall. “Homeowners should take cracks in

retaining wall seriously and undertake early repairs. For instance, cracks in the retaining wall adjacent to a swimming pool could be due to water seeping or leaking onto the back of the retaining wall. He pointed out that a houseowner may hesitate to dole out RM350 to repair a crack in the retaining wall at the onset of the problem but if left unchecked, in six months the crack could widen to a greater degree and cost ten times more to repair. Lim also urged homeowners to share the responsibility in maintaining retaining walls built along a common boundary. He advised them to be observant of the condition of the retaining walls and take steps to prevent cracks and wall collapses by carrying out the following: • Place stones behind the wall so that the water draining out from the soil flows out between them rather than accumulate and form a force against the wall; • Allow for weep holes of 150mm in diameter at regular intervals to drain the water from behind the wall; • Stop at source the water that drains

or leaks to the back of the wall; • Ensure that the weep holes remain clear and there is no blockage; • Go for a retaining wall that is built of reinforced concrete to an engineer’s design for heights above 900mm; • Ensure that the walls are hefty, for example, 200mm thick bricks, to resist the movement and collapse of the wall; and • Always consult the professionals on cracks in retaining walls and perform checks on them. PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE: Collapse of retaining walls could result in ACSB’s Australian counterpart, homeowners forking out huge sums to repair them Archicentre Ltd, concurred that rain is a major contributor to the failure work can be vital in protecting home- ture, causing it to have structural of retaining walls, with a collapsed owners in the case of retaining wall damage and in some cases, the house boundary having a major impact on failure, both in terms of having it fixed will have to be pulled down, it said. the value of the affected home. and also in countering legal action by It also said that the problem could a neighbour whose home had been Impact on the integrity of a retaining lead to a costly legal battle between damaged or devalued by the failure of wall can be caused by, among others: neighbours if the walls are on a com- the retaining wall. • The presence of large trees close to mon boundary or close to another the retaining wall; The Australian centre added that the property. use of retaining walls to support land • Poor drainage resulting in the strucIt said its architect inspectors have higher than a footpath is common and ture being weakened by hydrostatic observed many instances of retaining varies from low walls to above head pressure; walls cracking due to construction height which could present major legal • Poor construction through the use shortcomings and that the relevant problems if they collapse and injure of the wrong materials for the site; paperwork is also often unavailable in pedestrians. • Lack of proper and approved conrelation to the design of the retaining struction; and Any movement of a retaining wall wall or any approval process. which is close to a property can have • Changes in earth levels at the top or Archicentre stressed that paper- dramatic impact on the existing strucbottom of the wall.

Retailers celebrate in style By PAVITHER SIDHU pavither@mmail.com.my

MORE than 1,000 shopping industry players networked at Persatuan Pengurusan Kompleks Malaysia’s (PPK) Glamorously Gold Gala Dinner 2012 held recently at the Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa in Petaling Jaya. PPK president and CEO of Sunway Shopping Malls, HC Chan, said during the event – graced by Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen – that the retail scene is an important element in driving tourist arrivals and receipts. “In 2011, tourist arrivals and receipts rose to a record 24.7 million arrivals and RM58.3 billion in receipts,” he said. “Foreign tourist spending on shopping alone stood at RM17.5

billion, representing 30% of the total tourism receipts.” For 2012, Chan said tourist arrivals in the first six months grew an encouraging 2.4% and receipts 4%. On the retail industry, he said that since the shopping mall industry opened less than four decades ago, it has grown to over 330 malls covering 100 million square feet of net lettable area and a real estate value in excess of RM100 billion. These malls provide direct employment to 500,000 people and generate an annual sales turnover in excess of RM 83 million, Chan said, adding that this is impressive for an industry that is less than 40 years old. Guests at the gala dinner, held to promote better networking outside the normal work environment, included mall owners and managers, retailers, service providers and associates.

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Chan notes that Malaysian malls have outperformed western ones in terms of size and the top 10 largest malls are bigger in size than the top 10 in the United Kingdom

FEAST LIKE ROYALTY: (From left) Secretary-general of the Malaysian chapter of the International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci), Dr Yu Kee Su; PPK past president Richard Chan; HC Chan; Ng; Yap; and Ngeow at the dinner

GLITTERY AFFAIR: Ng (centre) being welcomed to the event by (left) CEO of Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and advisor to PPK, Joyce Yap; and managing director of property investment at Sunway City Bhd and advisor to PPK, Datuk Ngeow Voon Yean


VIII

Get Real with the Malay Mail

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

THE MALAY MAIL

2 November 2012  

The Malay Mail, Get Real

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