Tag Archives: cover story

Property Boom in Kinta District?

Share

By Jerry Francis

Indications of a property development boom in the Kinta District are everywhere. Large advertising billboards and banners displaying new property development projects are seen strategically located, particularly around Ipoh. Meanwhile, at the project sites, construction works are in progress as developers rush to meet their deadlines. Among the projects are a number of new townships, such as Bandar Baru Sri Klebang, Bandar Sri Botani, Sunway City and Bandar Meru Raya. Other major projects like The Haven, The Thompson Flora Tropika Residences, and Meru Desa Park vie for attention. Commercial projects too like MH Tower and Riverside….are all gearing up for completion.

Construction work in progress in Bandar Baru Meru Raya – mini Putrajaya of Ipoh

Property Buyers on the Increase

Contrary to the signs, there is no boom yet ‘but there are definite and encouraging signs that the property market is stirring. It started about a year ago,” commented Mr. Peter Chan, CEO of Superboom Projects Sdn. Bhd.

On whether the encouraging situation in property development can go on for a decade, he said, “it would depend on how the nation and Perak is doing. From present indications, two to three years is most likely because the trend has started and sentiment has reversed from negative to positive.”

No Property Bubble Noticed

Dato’ Francis Lee, chairman REHDA Perak

His view has been further supported by the Perak Real Estates and Housing Developers Association (REDHA). Its chairman Dato’ Francis Lee stated there is no property boom or bubble existing in the Kinta District.

“In most circumstances a property bubble is evidenced by the existence of an increasing percentage of buyers who purchase properties with speculative intent only with the hope of yielding some short term financial gains.

“This abnormal increase in demand has the effect of escalating the price of properties, often pushing prices of properties beyond the affordability gap of genuine purchasers,” he said.

“In tandem with this increasing pricing, developers respond by increasing delivery well above the true effective demand which will ultimately cause the bubble to burst. However this is not the case in the Kinta district or anywhere in Perak.”

In the case of residential properties in the Kinta district, Lee said almost all the purchasers are  effective home buyers or long term asset class investment buyers. It should be noted that all housing developers in Perak are only making normal profits out of the housing industry and any exception is due to a capital appreciation of the developmental property.

Lee added that the price increase of some 15% over last year is due to increasing costs of delivery, including land procurement, building cost and cost of bureaucratic compliance.

Housing Deliveries Fall Short

“In fact housing deliveries in Perak for the last few years have fallen short of the Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010 target of 58,200 units for the planned period. This is equivalent to 11,640 units per annum for the corresponding period,” he explained.

This is not in keeping with the population growth of Kinta district which has increased from 549,198 in 1991 to 735,601 in 2010 and Perak which has increased from 1,877,471 to 2,258,428 in 2010.

Urbanisation

With this increasing urbanisation of the Kinta district within Perak and the fact that the urbanisation tempo will gain further momentum in the longer term, there will be a corresponding increase in demand for residential housing.

Sunway

According to the report, the number of residential units in existing stock in Kinta is 183,118. Single storey terrace houses and 2 and 3 storey terrace houses account  for

102,631. Detached houses total 24,198, single-storey semi detached 4,990, low-cost h

ouses 36,379 and low-cost flats 5,560. The balance is made up of town houses, clusters, flats, service apartments and condominiums.

Single storey terrace and double storey terrace houses represent a 56.0% of total residential housing stock in the Kinta district as of last year. Consistent with the Perak State Government policy for a mandatory delivery of a percentage of total housing deliveries by way of low cost housing, there is a 23% housing stock of low cost houses/flats in the Kinta district.

Future Delivery

The total numbers for future delivery of residential houses in Kinta as of last year was 13,974 “incoming supply” (physical construction works in progress), 1,796 “starts” (foundation and footing works in progress), and 18,968 “planned supply” (units with building plans approved).

All types of houses are in demand as they cater to  different markets. However, quality housing is preferred as more people demand better quality.

Buyers are both locals and from outside of Perak with an increase in foreigners as well. Their purposes are for own stay, vacation stay, retirement stay and/or investment.

Site for Meru Raya town centre

Criteria for Buyers

As secured location is the most important in the minds of prospective buyers, developers are wooing them with gated and guarded enclaves and with CCTV cameras on every street. Some developers are even providing individual alarm systems and auto-gates to every unit. Other criteria such as pricing, location (how close to public amenities such as schools), value for money (quality finishings compared to other similarly valued units), architectural designs (with minimal “white zones” to enable all parts of building to be used), and the reputation of the developers all play a role in developers’ strategy to woo buyers.

“Some prospective buyers are very fussy. They would look at the Feng Shui aspects,” remarked a leading developer. “They are interested whether the location and the architectural design of the building are favourable according to Feng Shui.

He said most developers are aware of such demands from the buyers and are doing everything possible to win them over.

“A right property investment is the best hedge against inflation,” said another developer. The property market this year and next year could still see 10%-15% growth, driven by scarcity of land and higher input costs.


Perak’s Own Home Grown Brand – Making a Mark in Education

Share

By See Foon Chan-Koppen

Tenby Schools which started as a small international school in Ipoh, is now a rapidly expanding group of integrated schools comprising an international and a Malaysian private school on each campus. With the opening of Tenby in Miri, Sarawak, together with Tenby Schools in Penang, Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam and its parent in Ipoh, Tenby Schools can proudly stand tall as one of the largest educational groups in

Malaysia offering an international education with an affordability factor to make it accessible to many more young people.

Tenby Schools Setia Eco Park, Shah Alam
Tenby Schools Setia Eco Park, Shah Alam

“A United World At Peace – Through Education”

Tenby Schools’ origins lie in a small kindergarten opened in 1960 in the church hall of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Ipoh, Perak. The school was founded by Mrs Dorothy Nelson-Doig to cater to children of British planters, miners and soldiers. It was named Tenby after her hometown, a small fishing port in Wales.
Over the years, what started as a kindergarten evolved into an international school for both primary and secondary students and by 2001 a private Malaysian school was established to operate alongside the international school on the same campus. In July 2011, their first batch of A-level students achieved outstanding results.
The concept of an integrated school was not only well received by the local community; it is also the source and inspiration of the school’s vision of creating “A United World At Peace – Through Education”.

Tenby Schools Ipoh
Tenby International School, Miri

Rapid Growth
In 2005, Tenby Schools spread its wings to Penang when it took over the ailing Sri Inai School. The steady improvement and development of this school, culminated in the move to a new campus at Tanjung Bungah in August 2011, providing quality international and local education to the community of Penang.
The highly successful Tenby Schools Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam is the first purpose-built school within the group. In less than two years since its establishment in 2008, the school has become one of the most popular and dynamic schools in the Klang Valley. Today, the school hosts a student population of around 1,400 from Early Years to Secondary and is set to open a Sixth Form in 2012.

Shell Chooses Tenby
The latest addition to the Tenby Schools family is Tenby International School, Miri in Sarawak. One of the oldest international schools in Malaysia, the school was established by Shell for the children of its expatriates. When Shell made the decision to open the school to a wider range of students, it invited 13 providers of education both Malaysian and International, to present their operational qualifications and track records.
As testimony to their winning educational formula of an international education coupled with affordability, Tenby was chosen and in September this year, welcomed their first batch of Secondary students. The commitment from Tenby was to expand and take in both Malaysian and other expatriate children aside from Shell employees as well as to open a brand new campus in two years time.
A school planned for Johor will, on its opening in 2013, make Tenby the largest educational group in Malaysia.

‘Beacon’ Schools
The Tenby Educare group was founded by the late Dato’ K.K. Lim, a successful entrepreneur who was passionate about education reform and had dreams of “A United World at Peace – Through Education” which became the Vision for Tenby Schools. He wanted Tenby schools to be “beacon” schools, shining their light on dark areas of the educational system in Malaysia. This is reflected through its mission and actions, which are geared towards developing global citizens of the future who are culturally sensitive and respectful towards others. Tenby students are also groomed to be effective communicators and internationally minded lifelong learners.

Robert Lloyd, Director of Education

Man at the Helm
I spoke to Robert Lloyd, Director of Education for Tenby Schools and the man at the helm, on the explosive growth and his plans for the group. Robert, a veteran educator with a Masters degree in Education from University of London, first came to Malaysia in 2001 as head of the Garden International Secondary School in Kuala Lumpur. He joined Tenby in 2008 initially to set up the Tenby School in Shah Alam. Now as head of the group, his mandate is to develop the brand and establish as many Tenby schools throughout Malaysia as is viable.

International Education
Robert’s interest in international education began when he was Principal at Hendon UK, a government school with a wide range of children from different cultural backgrounds and different mother tongues. A twinning programme with a school in Malaysia brought him out regularly and when the offer to join the Garden International School came, Robert took the job with alacrity.
Joining Tenby provided Robert with the springboard to turn his ideas into reality. “Tenby schools occupy a unique niche in the education scene in Malaysia. On one side are the International schools staffed by a preponderance of expat teachers, charging very high fees, most of which paid by the companies who employ expatriates and on the other extreme, much cheaper private schools staffed entirely by Malaysians offering an international curriculum. Tenby is in the middle with affordable fees staffed by a teacher mix of ⅓ expatriate and ⅔ Malaysian with both an international and national curriculum,” he said.

Corporate Team (L-R): Kelvin Leong (IT Administrator), Jasmine Ooi (Corporate HR Manager), Michelle Chan (Group Financial Controller), Dr. Goh Kok Keng (Director of Staff Training & Development), Robert Lloyd, Denise Sinclair (School Improvement & Development Manager), Edwin Tan (Business Development Manager), Emily Thong (Accounts Executive), Yeun Yin Fong (Senior Marketing & Communications Executive), Faye Chin (Administration Assistant)

Stranmillis College Link
“I believe training is vital to our success and we put a lot of resources into training our teachers. We have links with Stranmillis College, a part of Queen’s University in Belfast where Professor George Beale comes out for a month each year to monitor and evaluate the quality of our teaching programmes. The rest of the time, the experienced expat teachers act as trainers and role models for the local teachers under the guidance of Dr. Goh Kok Kheng a former principal and experienced educationist from Penang who is responsible for training across the group. We even send some of our local teachers to the UK for intensive training,” he added.

Happy children learning through play

English Speaking, Global Minds
But why would parents pay to send their children to Tenby Schools for the national curriculum albeit the fees being lower than those for the International, when the local schools are free? “We currently have 60% of our students enrolled in the International curriculum and 40% in the Malaysian. Our classes are small with a maximum total of 25 per class, compared to the local schools where classes are much larger. Where it’s a Malay or mother-tongue speaking environment in local schools, ours is all in English which helps to raise the level of English for those in the Malaysian curriculum. Consider also the priceless advantage of raising children in a multi-cultural setting where they’re rubbing shoulders with expats from all over the world. Our students learn to think globally and from a young age are taught to evaluate the consequences of their actions on other individuals, the community and the environment. If you’re preparing a child for the world stage when they leave school, be it for a foreign university or an international work assignment, then this is the kind of education you’d want for your child,” he enthused.

Mdm Lee Yam Sei, Director of Tenby Schools Ipoh

Improving Quality
What of plans for the future? “We have begun to accelerate our drive for improved quality and have recently hired Denise Sinclair from the UK as School Improvement and Development Manager. Her designation says it all. We have also introduced Baseline testing for new students which are used by many international schools. This tests for Literacy, Numeracy and IQ, and will be the first time in Malaysia that it is used for children following the Malaysian curriculum.”
He explains that it is Tenby Schools’ aim to make international education and the opportunity for developing global citizens accessible to as many young people as possible by means of affordable fees and the provision of scholarships.
Well, if I had young children, I’d be rushing to get places for them.

Ipoh City Council’s Plans For VPY 2012

Share

When Visit Perak Year was announced by State tourism chairman, Dato’ Hamidah Othman and reported in the July 16 issue of Ipoh Echo, she said that locals must think Tourism and do Tourism. “Visit Perak Year 2012 will involve the whole state,” stressed Hamidah. “We need to create awareness throughout the state and have the local residents as well as local councils to participate.” So Ipoh Echo set out to investigate exactly what plans have been made by Ipoh city Council in anticipation of VPY 2012.

Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim

Mayor Serious about Visit Perak Year 2012

At the last full Board Meeting of Ipoh City Council on August 26, Ipoh Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim stated it was serious about getting ready for Visit Perak year 2012. In this regard, he recently returned from a visit to Xiamen, Fujian and Shenyang China as part of a Ministry of Tourism’s “Sales Mission to China” delegation led by Tourism Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. One of the products that Roshidi promoted about Ipoh was its food as part of Tourism Malaysia’s “Fabulous Food 1 Malaysia” programme.

Roshidi also announced that the Tourism Ministry had provided Ipoh City Council a sum of RM3.8 million to upgrade its tourism related facilities around town though most of it was focused around Old Town specifically along the heritage trail as per Map 1.

Railway Station Park

The park at the Railway Station which is the start of the Heritage Trail has been proposed to be given a facelift by re-landscaping the garden area. The existing water fountain at the garden, which hasn’t been working for a long time, will be upgraded. It was proposed that it be replaced with a musical fountain, but the decision is still pending.

The water fountain located in the garden fronting the Railway Station has not been working for years

Birch Memorial

The garden where the Birch Memorial is located has been proposed to be extended to the Old Post Office Building currently being repaired by Jabatan Warisan Negara. The food stalls collectively named “Medan Selera Dato Sagor” will be relocated to the area closer to the elevated car park. The elevated car park, which was the “First Elevated Car Park” in the country” will not be touched.

When the Old Post Office upgrade is completed together with the extended Birch Memorial garden, the road stretching from the Railway Station and Town Hall right down to the steps of Sheik Adam Lane after the Birch Memorial, will be an interesting gallery of history.

Panglima (Concubine) Lane

The plan for Concubine Lane was to upgrade the lane with granite cobblestones and install decorative lighting along the lane. Work was scheduled to start this month but due to the collapse of two shop lots in the lane earlier this month, work has been postponed pending a safety study by JKR.

The Heritage Trail logo will be imprinted on the upgraded sidewalks

Heritage Trail Upgrade

The sidewalk of the Heritage Trail has been proposed for an upgrade to “imprint tiles”. This will be for the entire length per Heritage Trail Map 1. The sidewalk tiles will have a Heritage Trail logo imprinted at regular intervals. Each Heritage building along the trail will have its own plaque describing its history similar to the Heritage Map. The purpose for these upgrades is to enable visitors to walk the trail without the map.

Medan Kidd Upgrade

The MBI food stalls located at Medan Kidd will be upgraded. Currently the stalls offer only food. The plan after the upgrade is to introduce a touristy environment with souvenir shops as well as food.

Relaxing Rules for Budget Hotels

Roshidi stated that City Council is considering relaxing the rules for budget hotels in Old Town specifically for the number of car parks required per budget hotel. Old Town is within walking distance of Ipoh Central Bus Station and the Railway Station. His rationale is based on visitors arriving by train and bus who don’t drive and therefore will not require a car park.

Roshidi also stated that an investor was committed to converting the 3 storey SPH De Silva Heritage Building, located in the centre of the Heritage Trail, into a budget cum boutique hotel.

Upgrading Water Fountains

Ipoh City Council will be upgrading three water fountains. One will be a musical fountain while two more will be upgraded with coloured lights. The fountains identified are at the Railway Station garden, Dataran MBI and Jalan Sultan Yussuf circus beside the Menteri Besar’s residence.

Hotels and Accommodation

Currently there are six 3- and 4-star hotels in Ipoh while there are 71 under 3-star hotels with a total room capacity of 2,591 rooms. Before the end of this year three more 3- and 4-star hotels will begin operations. These include MH Hotel along Tasek Road and Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites among the three.

Upgrades for Roundabouts

The roundabouts at Anderson Road, Silibin, Kampar Road (next to MGS School) and at Jalan Raja DiHilir have been identified for upgrading.

Entry Point Upgrades

The entry points into Ipoh at Simpang Pulai, Kuala Kangsar Road (next to Wing Onn Garden) and at Lahat-Lumut Highway have been identified for upgrading with a suggestion from the Menteri Besar that the first visual be a pleasant one.

Clean Eateries

Tourism also involves a clean and healthy environment. City Hall has identified 1,500 eateries in Ipoh. Clean eateries that meet MBI’s cleanliness standards are issued a Grade A certificate. Since the start of the grading exercise over a year ago, close to 10% of eateries have obtained the A certification. City Hall does not issue Grade B and C certificates.

Clean Drains

City Hall is currently planning to outsource its drain cleaning services.

If all the above initiatives are taken by City Council and conscientiously carried out, hopefully the rest of the stake holders and industry players will join in and are gearing up for VPY 2012. And may Perak achieve the ambitious target for three million tourist arrivals under its Visit Perak Year 2012. That should bring in much appreciated revenue to the State.

Ambitious Target for Visit Perak Year 2012

Share

By James Gough

Perak is to embark on an aggressive programme to promote tourism in the state. It has set a target for three million tourist arrivals under its Visit Perak Year 2012. The promotion, which lifted off this month, has a two-prong approach. One is to spruce up the various tourist attractions available in the state and the other is to draw up attractive tour packages to lure tourists to stay overnight.

Publicity Campaign to Put Perak on Tourism Map

State tourism chairman, Dato’ Hamidah Othman, hopes to put the state on the tourism map through an intensive publicity campaign in the country and as well as abroad.

She said it was important that they start preparing now for the Visit Perak Year 2012. She is seeking a RM10 million budget for promotions from the state with a ringgit-to-ringgit match from the federal government.
Although Perak has many tourist attractions, it has not felt the full impact of the country’s successful tourism industry each year. Though tourism is the second largest revenue earner in the country earning RM56.5 billion from the arrival of 24.6 million visitors last year, Perak recorded just 2.2 million tourist arrivals during the same period.

This is being attributed to tour agents from Penang and Kuala Lumpur for organising only day trips to the various tourist attractions in the state, while local tour agents appear to be just interested in outbound tours.
As a result, the number of visitors to Perak has been experiencing a declining trend in the last three years. Perak therefore needs to offer attractive tour packages to lure tourists to stay longer.

Lure Tourists To Stay Longer
“Our goal for Visit Perak Year 2012 is to create 3 days-2 nights (3D2N) packages to allow visitors to the state to stay overnight,” said Hamidah. According to her, getting visitors to stay overnight would have a spill-over effect for the industry players.

Generally, a visitor to Ipoh who is staying for a 2D1N package spends an average RM300 which covers accommodation, transport, food and shopping. Based on this simple formula and at 3 million visitors the spill over effect to the industry would be RM900 million.

However, Hamidah is planning to come out with 3D2N package stays. She has identified four packages to be worked on. They are Belum and Lenggong, Kuala Kangsar and Taiping, Pangkor and Manjung and Ipoh.
With just over five months to go, preparations for the Visit Perak Year will start with a seminar to be attended by the stake holders and hoteliers.

Similarly, Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abdul Kadir will also be holding briefings with representatives from all district councils and local authorities to prepare for events on district, federal and international levels.

Locals To Think Tourism And Do Tourism
“Visit Perak Year 2012 will involve the whole state,” stressed Hamidah. “We need to create awareness throughout the state and have the local residents as well as local councils, to participate to have a Fiesta. We have to tickle the locals to think tourism and do tourism”.

The theme for Visit Perak Year 2012 is “Green Tourism. Yours to Discover. Nature and Heritage” which is aligned to Tourism Malaysia’s tagline “Go Green, Go Clean”.

Hamidah has budgeted RM7.5 million for promotions. Besides new brochures, it will include 14 billboards throughout the North-South Highway from Johor to Perlis with additional billboards at KLIA, LCCT and KL Sentral. Two LRT coaches will feature Visit Perak Year’s wraparounds while aggressive promotions via the main-stream media will commence this month. Apart from these, road shows are also to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore, Medan and Jakarta.

Hamidah also announced that the state was working with an outside agent to develop the inbound tourism market saying that the local agents were more interested in promoting outbound tourism.

Meanwhile, the state is preparing some new tourist attractions; among them an allocation of RM200,000 for the Kinta Nature Park in Batu Gajah and a RM300,000 allocation for upgrading Lorong Panglima (Concubine Lane) in Ipoh.

Others include steps taken to float the last tin dredge at Tanjung Tualang, converting a decommissioned Royal Malaysian Navy warship, KD Rahmat, at Lumut into a living museum with a hotel and floating restaurant, promoting the firefly colony at Kampong Dew near Taiping, more Heritage Trail Maps for Old Town Ipoh, and plans for Batu Gajah and Gopeng.

Lenggong Valley archaeological site, where remains and artefacts from the Palaeolithic (old Stone Age) and Neolithic (new Stone Age) were found as well as the skeleton of the 11,000 years old Perak Man will be featured strongly.

On Ipoh/Tin Heritage, Hamidah initiated a move to gazette the area from Ipoh to Batu Gajah, Kampar and Gopeng as a Tin World Heritage site. Perak Tourism is collaborating with National Heritage Department to gazette the area though she is now going for National Heritage Gazetting.

Meanwhile, the Malayan railways company (KTMB) has donated one of its three ‘domed verandas’ that protrude outward from the Ipoh Railway station to be used as a Tourist Information Counter and centre for the heritage walk where visitors would be briefed before setting out on their walk.

Ipoh Railway Station is the starting point of the Ipoh Heritage Walk every Saturday. According to Hamidah the Perak Tour Guides Association would operate the information centre when ready.

Calendar of Events
Perak Tourism too will be coming out with a Calendar of Events throughout next year with contributions from NGOs, associations and local government bodies. The calendar will be finalised by September and the printed copy out by October.

Other activities proposed by Hamidah include participation by commercial retailers to promote local products such as white coffee and even shoes, and promoting cycling to get around heritage trails.

On the overall preparations, Hamidah said that “generally we are ready. Our theme song and logo are ready while our promotions will start this month. Everything else should be completed by September as we plan to have a soft launch in October while the actual launch will be on January 1, 2012 after the New Year countdown.”