Five Newsbytes to Start The Day – 6 May 2019

Govt to reclaim RTS land if ownership transferred to Johor Sultan
The government is determined to claim back federal land in Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru if its ownership had been transferred to the Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the federal government was the rightful owner of the land surrounding the Sultan Iskandar Building Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ). It was earlier reported that a 4.5ha plot of land in Bukit Chagar, which was initially earmarked for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) train link, was now registered under the Johor ruler’s name. Dr Mahathir said the government did not have all the information with regards to the matter yet, adding that Sultan Ibrahim’s ownership of the plot still remained a rumour. He added that the government was still considering whether it needed to continue with the RTS project as it would not totally resolve the massive congestion that occurs daily at the busy border crossing. (NST Online)

KRI report: House prices increase 9.1% annually
Based on a report by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI), house prices in the country have escalated at a compounded annual growth rate of 9.1% since 2009. The median multiple for Malaysia hovered between 4.0 and 5.0 from 2002 to 2016, exceeding the 3.0 threshold for housing affordability. KRI’s recent report titled “Rethinking Housing: Between State,Market and Society” includes analysis on Malaysian housing demand, supply and market conurbation. The report noted that the deterioration in housing affordability has partly stemmed from the unresponsiveness of housing supply to effective demand. It said while house prices have doubled since 2008, available data showed that construction costs – labour, material and machinery, and equipment – increased only marginally in the same period. The disproportionate increase in prices and costs suggests either increasing profit margins, land prices or regulatory costs. (NST Online)

Johor has the most unsold properties in the nation
Johor has the highest number of unsold completed properties in Malaysia over the last two years, with 6,066 units left without buyers. State Housing, Communications and Multimedia Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said the combined value of these units amounted to RM4.068bil. Nearly 60% of these units are priced at RM500,000 and above. Perak was in second spot with 5,357 units (RM1.632bil), followed by Selangor, 4,693 units (RM4.2bil); Penang, 3,502 units (RM3.088bil) and Kedah, 3,311 units (RM889.54mil). He said in 2017, there were 4,376 unsold completed properties worth RM2.859bil throughout the state. He added that the number showed developers needed to focus on producing more affordable houses below the RM500,000 threshold. (The Star Online)

PR1MA may be dissolved
Public housing agency Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia may be dissolved, pending a due diligence and turnaround plan which hinges on the take-up rate of its units becoming actual sales. The turnaround plan is to help PR1MA make good its obligations, or a “substantial part” of whatever it has contracted, PR1MA chairman Tan Sri Eddy Chen Lok Loi said. The due diligence is expected to be completed by the end of this month. “At that time, PR1MA was tasked to build-then-sell. This means that we do not sell for a few years. In good locations, when we started selling, it was all right. However, in locations with lower demand, it becomes challenging,” he added. Earlier last week, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said PR1MA may be “dissolved” as it was in “a mess”, with many of its buildings built in locations which were “questionable”. (The Star Online)

Report: One in 20 jobseekers have fake degrees
A fraud investigation agency found that over one in 20 work applicants in Malaysia try to pass off fake academic qualifications while one in 10 holds credentials from unaccredited institutions. The Akhbar and Associates agency that conduct backgrounds checks on potential hires for companies found that up to 7% of people investigated had fake degrees, while between 10% and 15% had degrees from unaccredited universities. “Many of these people with fake degrees are applying for senior management jobs and it happens in multiple industries, including banks, clinics and hospitals,” said the agency’s managing director Datuk Akhbar Satar. He stated that Malaysia was “one of the worst” countries with such problems because of poor backgrounds checking practices, saying companies rarely took legal action or lodge police reports against employees with fake qualifications. (Malay Mail Online)

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