Saturday, April 14, 2007

Living it up like the rich and famous

Living it up like the rich and famous
by David Bowden

CRUISING into the sunset, sailing to deserted islands, enjoying natural sea jacuzzi and basking in the sun with free flow of food and drinks ... sounds like a vacation for the rich and famous?

Yes, it is and no, because it can be surprisingly affordable for the average vacationers.

While most would consider yachting and sailing as something only for the affluent, take a closer look at what is on offer in Langkawi these days.

Check the recreational desk at the Mutiara Burau Bay Beach Resort, which has taken on a markedly different role over the past few years. While an extensive selection of traditional watersport activities is available, it seems yachting is becoming the really hot activity at Burau Bay and on many other parts of the island.

There has been a huge injection of capital, skill and interest to the sport in Malaysia and Langkawi is where the developments are best noted.

The Mutiara Resort has two types of sailing vessels available for charter or for simply joining in with others to enjoy the beauty and tranquility for which Langkawi is famous.

Bon Ton Cruises operates two motor yachts and both are renowned for impeccable service, the finest food and an extensive selection of drinks to make the journey more pleasurable.

The name Bon Ton is synonymous with stylish elegance and the driving force behind an enthusiastic team is Narelle McMurtrie who loves her adopted Langkawi home and is passionate about sharing it with others.

Numbers are restricted to just 12 on Bon Ton, the more modern vessel in the small fleet. This is the boat to impress friends and influence people and it has been used over the past few years to entertain the world's fashionable set. Being the professional that she is, McMurtrie is discreet about those who have graced the vessel but assures those who inquire that it includes leading politicians, those in the arts to contemporary singers.

Celebrities book Bon Ton for the same reasons that many Malaysians do. Bon Ton opens up a whole area of Langkawi that most visitors didn't think exist in the country.

Most Malaysians will be astonished to realise that what they see in the outer and unpopulated islands of Langkawi is really Malaysia.

The highlight of their popular sunset cruise is to visit a deserted inlet, called "the fjord" by the sailors that use this channel. The scene is truly stunning where steep sided limestone walls meet the green tinged waters of the Andaman Sea. The limestone rock is covered in unique vegetation that supports many plants found only in the Langkawi Archipelago.

The journey into "the fjord" is perfectly timed to coincide with the sunset, which on most days turns the sky shades of deep purple and pink. Sunsets are always a magical time of the day anywhere but Langkawi seems to have taken some degree of ownership on them in this part of the world.

After a cooling swim, Bon Ton guests are treated to a continuous flow of delicious canapes, quenching drinks and then a more substantive meal on the deck of the boat.

There is no pressure on time but eventually it's time to head back into the darkness and towards land. The total journey is about five hours and most guests alight with a big smile suggesting that they have had an exhilarating experience and at good value for money.

Stardust is a different experience in that most of the journey is done under sail on a 70-foot classic two-masted schooner. The yacht was designed and partially built by current owner Hamish Thoburn and captained by the intrepid Michael.

Together the team offers a fantastic day on the northern side of Langkawi. The journey starts in the mangrove flats that are home to many raptors like brahminy kite and white-bellied sea eagle. After a close encounter with these feeding birds, it's time to join the Stardust; home for a day's adventure and sail.

Being a sailing vessel, the Stardust experience is more hands on than Bon Ton. Hauling the rigging up takes the dedicated effort of all those on deck. Through some extensive teamwork, the boat's motors are turned off and the winds take over.

Stardust is not all hard work by any means and the big attraction on the boat is the huge boom net draped over the side. Here guests can enjoy nature's own jacuzzi and be gently massaged by the passing waters of the Andaman Sea while safely suspended in the protective net. It even appeals to non-swimmers.

Food and drinks are an integral component of the day and the quality of the food is superb and no one is going to go hungry. It's a great feeling to enjoy delicious food in the middle of nowhere on the high seas.

Other activities during the day include swimming, fishing and cave exploring. All these are washed down with some liberal doses of relaxation and some excellent scenery.

Stardust offers a whole range of cruises and charters from a few hours to a few days depending on the wishes of those who charter the vessel. The standard cruises are the Stardust Adventure Cruise from 10am to 5pm and the Evening Cruise from 5.30pm to 8pm, but there are many variations on the theme.

Overnight charters are possible on Stardust but for those on one of the standard cruises, the comforts of Mutiara Burau Bay Beach Resort will be a big attraction at the end of a day's adventure.

The resort has some of the best nightlife on Langkawi with the resident band the Sea Urchins playing in the ever popular Seashell Beach Cafe right on the beach.

As yachting develops in Langkawi, there are even more good reasons to return to the popular holiday island group. Firstly, you can enjoy an "overseas" holiday and, secondly you can impress your friends by partaking of a little yachting in the open seas.


By Sager Ahmad

KUALA Rompin, tucked away in the backwaters of Pahang, faces the South China Sea and is actually a good place to escape to if you are the city type requiring all the modern conveniences wherever you are.

There is no short supply of creature comforts and you are assured of telecommunication links, even out at sea.

A good range of hotels and resorts will make sure you keep up with your favourite TV channels while shops are ever ready to sell you what you need.

Good roads from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Kuantan lead to Kuala Rompin and the drive through lush green jungle, peaceful kampungs and oil palm estates is uncongested and peaceful.

For the seafood connoisseur, Kuala Rompin is the best place to try out the numerous restaurants serving udang galah (large freshwater prawns), a speciality of the area, from just RM32 a kg.

Other items include fresh fish, lala and kepah (freshwater clams) picked from the Rompin river mouth and crabs and squids brought in from the sea by local fishermen.

To savour authentic traditional Pahang cuisine, drop by Puteri Inn where the speciality of the house is lemang periok kera, steamed glutinous rice cooked in pitcher plant and served with beef rendang.

Accommodation is available at Rompin Beach Resort, Hotel Seri Malaysia, Summerset Colonial Hotel, Puteri Inn, Peladang Inn, Rantau D'rhu Beach Chalet, Kencana Hotel, Rompin Inn and not forgetting the biggest of them – Lanjut Golden Beach Resort.

Located 21 km from Kuala Rompin town, Lanjut Golden Beach has the only golf course in town and is naturally the "playground" for the "big boys" and their friends and associates.

Resort assistant general manager Th'ng Beng Poh says the 188-hectare resort has much to offer.

It is halfway between Pahang and Singapore along the north-south coastal link and open throughout the year, unaffected by monsoons.

In the mid-1950s till the early 70s, Lanjut was a bustling iron mining town with a much bigger population. Iron ore was brought by train from Bukit Ibam to Kuala Rompin.

The straight road between the two towns, running for 70 km, was formerly a railway line conveying ore to the Lanjut jetty to be transported by barges to ships offshore.

Now lala-catching at the Rompin River is a popular activity. The best season for this is between March and August. Avid anglers can fish in two inland lakes and several ponds including one for udang galah. "These activities make the resort an angler's haven," Th'ng says.

Big game marlin fishing offshore is also a big draw. July will see the GP Joran international marlin fishing competition organised jointly with Berita Harian. The annual Pesta Rompin is scheduled for mid-June.

Anglers also have the added bonus of fishing for udang galah in the Rompin River between January and March.

The resort caters for a wide range of water sports from jet-skiing and canoeing to snorkelling, banana boat ride to diving.

Th'ng says the resort is actually the launch pad to some delightful islands, including Tioman, and dive sites in the South China Sea. Divers, though, have to bring their own gear.

"We have a 100m long net and, at times, it is strung out a short distance from shore in the morning. It requires some 50 people, comprising guests and staff, to help pull it in the afternoon," he says.

"The four-wheel-drive adventure to the Endau-Rompin forest park is quite enthralling. It takes participants to the Sri Mahkota waterfall where they can picnic in beautiful natural surroundings.

"It is just a 10-minute trek to the base camp and you may come across tracks left by wild deer and elephants near the streams." Theme nights are held regularly with guests treated to scrumptious barbecue spreads including the fish hauled in the net while talented staff put up entertaining shows.

"Turtle watching" is one activity not to be missed when egg laying is in season. Night time activities include war games good for team-building.

A visit to Kelong Acheh from Pantai Penyabong in Endau, about 45 minutes from Lanjut is a unique experience. This could be the only kelong with fresh water piped in. Then there's the tour to legendary Tasik Chini and dropping by the Kuala Rompin old jetty.

On rainless nights, guests can go upriver from Lanjut jetty to see fireflies by the thousands nesting on beremban trees growing on the banks of Rompin river.

Star gazing and bird watching are two new activities planned for Lanjut.

Michael Lee, the resort business development executive from Sibu, Sarawak, says he has so far spotted 50 bird species.

Finally, Lanjut offers another rare game – woodball, a cross between golf and croquette and can be played on any grass field.

Three international woodball championships have so far been hosted at the Lanjut course and the resort is a prime promoter of woodball throughout Pahang.

GETTING THERE Lanjut near Kuala Rompin is 215 km or 31/2 hours by road from Johor Baru via Mersing and the coastal road. It is 285km from Kuala Lumpur via Seremban, Bahau, Mu'adzam Shah and also takes about 31/2 hours. From Kuantan and Pekan it is 125 km or a 90-minute drive.

ACCOMMODATION Lanjut Golden Beach Resort has 50 deluxe rooms, four family and six honeymoon suites, and two conference halls with a capacity for 150. It has a Chinese restaurant and two coffee houses. Barbecues can be held at the poolside area for up to 300 people. A souvenir shop sells items made of local wood and shells. Hornbill Karaoke and 3.5 km private beach with fine golden sand and crystal clear water are places for leisure activities. The RM70 million project was completed in the early 1990s with a 18-hole golf course. There is an old but still functioning 762m airstrip, a legacy of Lanjut's mining days. For more information, contact Lanjut Golden Beach Resort, Kampung Lanjut, 26800, Kuala Rompin, Pahang (Tel: 09-4145113, fax 03-4145112). Its KL office is at Suite 30-4-01 Office, Annexe A, Hotel Sri Petaling, Bandar Baru Sri Petaling (Tel: 03-90581718, fax 03-90581719, email or visit or the Pahang Tourism website at www.pahangtourism. Other resorts and hotels: Rompin Beach Resort (Tel: 09-4141367), Hotel Seri Malaysia (09-4132724), Summerset Colonial Hotel (09-4141888) Puteri Inn (09-4141069) and Rantau D'rhu Beach Chalet (09-4142163).

MUST DO Net hauling, picking lala, Horror Trail walk, ATV ride, sample lemang periok kera at Puteri Inn restaurant and fresh udang galah.


Putri Zanina

NO Dogs, No Children and No Asians Allowed! We would seethe if we see such a sign outside any hotel. Yet this "warning" was posted by an eccentric, snooty autocratic Englishman, retired army officer Colonel Stanley Jack Forster who built the Forster's Lakehouse in 1972.

Forster was so arrogant he would chase away Asians with a whip or cane! Yet, it was said he had discreet rendezvous with Chinese women and even married two of them in his lifetime!

After his demise in 1984, his wife sold the property, which is located in Ringlet, Cameron Highlands. Everyone was then welcome. Forster's Lakehouse became just the Lakehouse.

Today, it is managed by HPL Hotels and Resorts which also has under its wings nine hotels and resorts in the region including Concorde Hotels in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, Casa del Mar in Langkawi and the Hard Rock Hotels in Bali and Pattaya.

The Lakehouse was not the only hotel built by Forster. His first "masterpiece" was the famed Ye Olde Smokehouse in Tanah Rata, which he later sold to a local Chinese.

He then bought the bigger property in Ringlet to build his "little England" in the "Malaysian Emerald Hills" where he would spend his golden years.

So particular was he in creating his very own "English home" that he painstakingly designed most of the furnishings which include four-poster beds and winged armchairs with floral upholstery and his eye-catching cast iron lamps with red shades adorned with white pom-poms.

The Lakehouse is like a grand old English cottage inn with typical Tudor-style architecture exemplified by solid black wooden beams juxtaposed to white concrete.

If you are looking for absolute peace and tranquility, the hotel at about 1,000m above sea level is simply perfect. It sits on top of a hill overlooking the Sultan Abu Bakar Lake.

With rolling hills and colourful blooms in well-manicured lawns as the backdrop, the place is a haven and a balm for the soul. You get doses of invigorating cool air especially in late evening and early morning.

Occasionally you hear birds chirping in the garden and in the woods nearby. Perhaps the only thing that mars the perfect setting is the murky lake which used to have dark green waters.

Uncontrolled development upstream has caused siltation that damaged the lake. But, according to hotel manager Krishna Badhur, work is underway to remove the silt and clear the lake.

Nevertheless, if you confine yourself to the compound of the hotel or take refuge indoors, you will be lulled into a dream world of your own.

Relaxation is easy with soft and soothing sounds of English classical music played in common areas of the hotel.

In the guestrooms, it's absolutely quiet. There is no television, radio and air conditioner. Once inside the room, you will bask in its luxury, including even in the bathroom.

Plush decor and antique furniture vie for your attention. Soft and cushy pillows make you feel immediately at home. Sleep comes easy and you'll wake up to the sound of birdsong.

Badhur keeps the place spick and span all the time. Badhur, a Malaysian Nepalese, speaks good English and exudes a polished manner when dealing with all the "Mat Sallehs" and local guests alike.

He says about 55 per cent of the guests come from European countries especially United Kingdom, Germany and Netherlands while the rest are mainly Malaysians and Singaporeans.

Many guests prefer to lounge about. To while away the time, nothing beats sitting around the fireplace in the common lounge on the lobby floor for quiet tete-a-tete. Or if you prefer something more "upbeat", go watch TV or play games in an adjacent hall.

The Cameron Bar is next to the lounge where you can have your drinks till late hours. However, most times, guests settle in their rooms before midnight.

Something else can also be interesting, that is simply to climb the creaking imposing staircases (which old Forster had scrupulously ensured they were built as such to exude a rustic character) or to gawk and to touch old paraphernalia, artifacts and curios from candelabra, porcelainware, horse saddle, spindle, bed warmers to imposing grandfather clock, all displayed at nooks and corners, on the walls and window sills.

The items are priceless, unique and still intact reflecting Forster's fastidious character.

Everything there is so "English" including the menu. Tops on the list are sumptuous scones, so soft and moist, served with dollops of strawberry jam and cream. They are very much like those which one can find in quaint little cafes in London.

At the Lakehouse, you can have them served in the outdoor Lakeview Terrace amidst colourful blooms luxuriating in the cool forested hill or by the fireplace in the Highlander Lounge or at the fine dining place simply called the Restaurant.

The Restaurant also serves time-tested dishes like roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, turkey ham, roast lamb rack, lamb medaillion, smoked or grilled salmon and sinful desserts from apple pie, cheese cake to crepes with ice cream, chilled mango, strawberries and whipped cream.

Now Asians will feel more at home too for the chefs also whip up local dishes like fried prawns with asparagus and lettuce with oyster sauce to go with rice. The menu changes daily.

Chef Edmund Ling takes pride in serving delightful dishes. He concocts some wonderful sauces to go with meat and seafood and high on his recommendation list are the rack of lamb with garlic mint sauce and butter, the lamb medallion, grilled salmon with infused lemongrass sauce, good old roast beef and of course those fluffy scones.

Now if you want to know how those scones are made, come on down to the Lakehouse and corner chef Ling for the secret.


Take the North-South Expressway and exit at Tapah in Perak. Follow the sign to Cameron Highlands. It takes about three hours to drive from Kuala Lumpur. The last one hour takes you up a winding road to the hill. Ringlet, the first of three districts of Cameron Highlands, is about 1,000m above sea level.


30th Mile, Ringlet. Tel: 05-4956152, fax: 05-4956213, email:, website Has only 18 rooms, comprising family suites, junior suites and deluxe rooms. 15 are located in the main wing while three, including the Honeymoon suite, are in the more exclusive house wing. Each room has a four-poster bed, antique furnishings, attached bathroom, long bath and shower facilities. F&B outlets: The Restaurant for breakfast and ala carte dinner; Lakeview Terrace for light lunch and afternoon tea; and Cameron Bar for drinks till late night. Highlander lounge open for residents' use. Room service up till 11pm. Conference, meeting and catering facilities for groups up to 30 persons. Rates negotiable. Games room with board games, bar billiards and satellite TV. Published nett rates: Single, double/twin for 1 or 2 persons RM370; junior suite for up to 3 RM450; Family suite for up to 4 RM550; Master/Honeymoon suite for 1 or 2 RM650; Additional bed/rollaway RM50. Tours: Guided trekking in jungle behind hotel can be arranged. Highlands tour and local/outstation taxi transfer services available. Tanah Rata about 10km from Ringlet and popular tourist spots like flower, fruit and vegetable farms; cactus valley and tea plantations within easy reach. With the coming school holidays starting May 29, a good idea to join specialised eco-programme tours of the highland wilderness. Details, call Camping Holiday at 05-4915107 or Suresh at 019-5761076.


THE white sandy beach, crystal clear water and picturesque scene made me fall in love with Redang island. I was touched by the glory of nature on the island, surrounded by the coconut trees. It was an unforgettable trip. We stayed at Redang Beach Resort, did all the standard activities and mingled with other guests. At night, we enjoyed the barbecue, walked along the beach and sat on the rock enjoying the night scene. Snorkelling was most enjoyable. Since it was our first experience, there was initial fear which was overcome by curiosity. It was totally delightful to see corals, sea cucumber and colourful fish like reef shark, blue spotted stingray and clown fish. The best was when the fish bit my finger and swam all around me. It was wonderful. This was my first trip to the island and definitely won't be the last!

Nurhidayah Abdullah Perak


Story and pictures by Zalina Mohd Som

IT'S not an uncommon failing of visitors to Kota Tinggi to miss the rich legacy of the area while being distracted by the famous waterfalls, fruit farms and sandy beaches.

The untrained eye may spot some nondescript tombs with tombstones quaintly covered with yellow cloth, an old mosque and quiet kampung without knowing what they represent.

But given the right perspective from a knowledgeable guide, an exploration of Kota Tinggi's quite illustrious past will take the visitor back some 450 years, regaled with colourful tales and legends.

Interestingly, the relics found dotting the 72 km Sungai Johor has a lot to do with the river which branches off from the Sayong River before draining into the South China Sea at Tanjung Pengelih.

History has it that the river's natural environment – promontories and sheltered shores – made it ideal for fort fortifications and settlements.

It played a very important role for the Johor Sultanate, as the early seats of government and administration sprung up along the banks.

Upstream from Tanjung Pengelih, the first site is Kota Johor Lama at Teluk Sengat, about 27 km from Kota Tinggi town.

The fortress made of rocks and turf is said to be one of the best defensive forts built along Sungai Johor to stop the Portuguese after the fall of Malacca.

Though "tourists" are only taken to the hilltop fort which now appears as a plain well-maintained field surrounded by bunds, a walk around Kampung Johor will lead to more hidden bunds.

Kampung folk say the bunds cover 2.4 km through the rubber plantation surrounding the small kampung.

Also found here are two tombs in two different sites. One near the fort is unidentified while the other in the rubber estate belongs to the royal midwife.

Further upstream is Kampung Panchor which was made a ruling centre by Sultan Abdul Jalil Riayat Shah IV, the 11th Sultan of Johor, under the name Kota Panchor.

Besides the remains of the fort and still-hidden historical relics, the kampung which is surrounded by oil palm plantations takes pride in another two ancient tombs.

Drive through the plantation dirt road to reach an isolated mausoleum of Sultan Muzaffar Syah atop the hill in the middle of Bukit Seluyot. This too is located by the river.

The third Sultan of Johor was not alone, for buried in the same resting place was his sister Raja Fatimah and nephew Sultan Abdul Jalil.

Backtracking from the first Johor capital – Kota Johor Lama at the rivermouth – we now reach modern Kota Tinggi where more tombs are located.

One of the most significant is Makam Sultan Mahmud Mangkat Dijulang of the 10th Johor Sultan at Kampung Makam. He was ambushed and killed by his general, Laksamana Bentan, on his way to Friday prayers.

The killing was to avenge the death of the general's pregnant wife killed by the sultan over some jackfruits.

The tomb is housed in a beautiful complex with rich architecture with the tombs of other royal members in the compound of antique-looking Masjid Sultanah Rogaiyah and a huge burial ground.

In the vicinity of Kampung Makam, there are also Makam Tun Habab and Makam Tauhid. The latter has several tombs in its compound within stonewalls resembling the remnants of a building or palace. This site is believed to be the old Kota Tinggi.

Other important tombs are Makam Laksamana Bentan at Kampung Kelantan, Makam Siti Jalang at Kampung Tembioh and Makam 7 Sayong at Kampung Sayong Pinang.

The walk through Johor's past is therefore mostly a tomb tour of a short drive from the heart of Kota Tinggi.

Back to Kota Tinggi's more mundane offerings. The itinerary can start with its famous Bazar Kota or known locally as Bazar Kelantan for a round of heavy bargains.

Take another short drive to its prominent landmark – the Kota Tinggi waterfalls which boasts of scenic tumbling falls from Gunung Panti.

Besides being historically significant and noted for its nature and agro-tourism attractions, one of modern day Kota Tinggi crowd pullers is the Desaru Fruit Farm popular with visitors from Singapore, Taiwan and Japan, apart from locals.

Heading to the coast, make a stop at one of its beautiful stretches of beach – the swimmer-friendly Desaru or more scenic Pantai Balau.

Pantai Balau is also a site for a homestay programme offering the opportunity to sample fishing village life and learning more about the fishing industry at the Tanjung Balau Fishing Museum.

Teluk Ramunia, another coastal kampung, offers not only scenic coastal settings but also an educational tour at the Ostrich Show Farm Desaru.

The Kota Tinggi area is becoming an increasingly popular place to visit. What it has to offer more than meets the eye.


Kota Tinggi is the largest district of Johor at the southeastern end of the peninsula, requiring an hour's drive from Johor Baru. From the north, the easiest way is to take the Kulai exit of the North-South Expressway followed by a 90-minute drive to the historic town. The coastal road is a lot more scenic. There are reliable public transportation services from all major towns. There is a direct ferry service between the Tanah Merah ferry terminal in Singapore and Sebana Cove, about an hour from Kota Tinggi.

Kota Tinggi boasts of a wide choice of beach resorts along its long coastline – at Teluk Mahkota, Tanjung Balau, Desaru, Batu Layar, Teluk Punggai and Teluk Ramunia. Those who like to stay near the famous waterfalls can check into the Kota Tinggi Waterfall Resort. In town itself, there is quite a number of budget hotels scattered all over. Golfers also have a few choices, one of which is Sebana Cove. The all-in-one retreat has a marina, 18-hole course and resort. Guests can choose from 40 executive rooms, 20 suites and 24 two-bedroom apartments housed in two-storey blocks. The main clubhouse has a swimming pool, food and beverage outlets, gymnasium, sauna and tour desk. A five-minute drive away, the apartments have their own swimming and wading pools and children's playground. All rooms and apartments have air-conditioning, room safe, TV, mini bar, coffee/tea-making facilities and IDD phone. Services include laundry, resort shuttle, mail and postal, business centre and round-the-clock security. For reservations, call 07-8266688.


By Tina Melan

Port Dickson Municipal Council (MPPD) also found that the beach area hosts an average of 200,000 visitors per month. So say what you like, Port Dickson (PD) is still attracting tourists by the thousands.

The beach on 8th Mile, Jalan Pantai is undoubtedly the most popular recreational beach in the area. For many years, families and friends have enjoyed activities together like swimming, picnicking, sandcastle building or simply holidaying.

A factor in its popularity is perhaps easy accessibility for those on the West Coast. Accommodation is also aplenty, food outlets are everywhere and stores supplying personal necessities are in abundance.

Today, Port Dickson – particularly the Teluk Kemang area – is undergoing major upgrading work in an effort to serve its loyal tourists better.

MPPD tourism officer Mohd Said says RM94 million has been allocated to upgrade facilities and beautify the landscape of Teluk Kemang.

"Even though right now we already have facilities like shower and changing rooms, terrace shops which sell beachwear, souvenirs and handicraft, as well as food stalls, they are lacking in uniformity and presentation," he says.

Work has started early in the year and is expected to be completed before year-end. The plan includes better landscape, proper pedestrian mall and storage space for watersports businesses.

"With Teluk Kemang's proposed new look, we hope to have a better management of the area," he says.

The last general upgrade of Teluk Kemang was in 1998 and the current project is certainly timely. "Frequent visitors have called for some major renovation," he says.

But for those who have made plans to visit PD, fret not – albeit the renovation – Teluk Kemang can still be enjoyed with activities like jet-skiing, banana boat rides, windsurfing or simply having a picnic with family and friends, making sandcastles and swimming in the sea.

The beach area houses the Dataran Seri Kemang where official Government functions, pop concerts and the well-known Pesta Port Dickson are held.

For those not so familiar with PD, there are other beaches to be enjoyed, if you so wish.

Going from north to south, the first is Saujana on the 4th Mile. It provides a pleasant spot for those seeking privacy and quiet to start or finish a book as well as bonding with loved ones. During low tide, one can enjoy up to half a km of beach at Saujana.

A mile south of Teluk Kemang is Purnama on 9th Mile. Here, shower and changing rooms, toilets, rest huts and camping facilities are provided. The beach is popular for its beautiful scenery, especially sunset. For those who value privacy and serenity, the beach is an alternative to Teluk Kemang.

The next is Tanjung Biru on the 10th Mile – mostly known as the Blue Lagoon. It is very close to Tanjung Tuan or Cape Rachado where a raptor watch is held every year. Also a popular spot, the beach is part of the upgrading work.

In the pipeline are piers to enable more people to go further out to sea, a pedestrian walkway and upgrading of rest huts.

Immediately after Blue Lagoon is Cermin, currently a little-known beach. Mohd Said mentions that the beach is being studied for some development.

Besides beaches, MPPD is working on promoting other activities. "We want to give tourists – be it day-trippers or holiday-makers – more to do in PD," he says. This is a major concern of the council.

Accommodation is the smallest worry, with about 52 hotels operating (from budget to five-star establishments), all packed during weekends, public and school holidays.

"We do not have any problems in regards to accommodation. What PD needs are activity-based facilities. The private sector can come in and lend a helping hand," Mohd Said says.

MPPD, though, is happy that such attractions are slowly making an appearance in recent years.

The tourist map starts with Kuala Lukut jetty and fishing kelong, located near the Sungai Lukut estuary in the north. A minimal charge of RM3 is charged for jetty fishing. Boats are also provided for those who wish to fish at the kelong, with a transportation fee of RM27 for 12-hour trip.

"We are also proud of the Admiral Marina Leisure Club, the only internationally-recognised marina in this part of the country," Mohd Said says.

Another area which PD can win greater acclaim is golf. It has three courses – PD Golf Club, Guoman Resort and Palm Springs Resort – which attract tourists from Taiwan and China.

For those who fancy history, the Pengkalan Kempas Historical Complex is a mystifying discovery. There is also the popular-among-families Ostrich Farm and mini rabbit farm.

"There are the three museums – 2nd Royal Armour, RAMD and Fort Lukut Museums. We want to upgrade these to attract casual visitors. At present they only interest academicians, researchers and students," Mohd Said.

But PD doesn't want to lose its popularity as a family-oriented destination. It's more a question of expanding its appeal.

In this, MPPD is gearing up to offer or provide support to tour packages that will promote overnight vacations among the present day-trippers. "We want tourists to stay longer in PD," Mohd Said says.

GETTING THERE By road: Take the Port Dickson exit on the North-South Highway and follow the Port Dickson Highway which will lead you to a T-junction heading towards Port Dickson town or Teluk Kemang. Accommodation available on both sides of coastal road, Jalan Pantai. Passengers from Puduraya, Kuala Lumpur are recommended to take the Kesatuan Express Bas Service (Restu), the only bus service to Port Dickson on a regular basis. Fare RM6.15, journey about two hours. For more information on tourism, contact Pusat Penerangan Pelancongan Port Dickson at Dataran Teluk Kemang (Tel: 06-6621864).

ACCOMMODATION Port Dickson offers more than 10,000 rooms ranging from five-star hotels, resorts to apartments, condominiums and budget hotels. Glory Beach Resort (Tel: 06-6516888), Le Paris Hotel and Resort (06-6479999), Merlin Hotel (06-6473544), Seaview Hotel (06-6471818), New Hai Tian Hotel (06-6471378), Sunshine Bay Resort (06-6470000), Corus Paradise Hotel (06-6477600), Golden Straits Villa (06-6476688), Avillion Village Resort (06-6477688), Rotary Sunshine Camp (06-6473798), Seri Malaysia Hotel (06-6476028), Asrama Belia (06-6472188), Royal PD Yacht Club (06-6474470), Bayu Beach Resort (06-6473703), Tanjung Tuan Beach Resort (06-6473013), Regency Hotel (06-6474492), Desa Lagoon Resort (06-6477515) Admiral Marina Leisure Club (06-6470888), Marine Bay (06-6479288), Marina Crescent (06-6479288), PD Perdana Condo (012-6111200), PD Golf & Country Club (06-6473123), PD World Marina Resort (06-6626778), Kemang Indah Resort (06-6626778), Muhibah Hotel (06-6625711), Pantai Ria Hotel (06-6625122), Selat Hotel (06-6625120), Lang Leng Hotel (Tel: N/A), Kong Meng Hotel (06-6625633), Impiana Resort Apartments (03-20266060, KL sales office), PD Villa Resort (06-6625962), Lido Hotel (06-6625273), Rumah Rehat MDPD (017-3571495), Seri Bulan Kondominium (06-6627030), Nube Training Centre (06-6628503), Pantai Motel (06-6628503), Ocean View (06-6627808), Laguna Condo Resort (06-6628352/7808), Halycon Guest House (06-6625323), Guoman Hotel (06-6627878), Rumah Penginapan Persekutuan (06-6628700), Tanjung Biru Beach Resort (06-6625545), Casa Rachado (06-6625177), Ilham Resort (06-6476070), Institut Latihan Fama (06-6626212), Royal Palm Spring Golf & Country Club (06-6610260), Eagle Ranch Resort (06-6610495).

* Little Indias pulsating with colours and vibrancy
* Chugging back to colonial Borneo
* Choice is yours for the New Year
* Home of 'patin' and two singers
* Timeless Taman Negara
* Central Market of arts and culture
* Invitation from Sarawak, Johor and Perlis
* Nature, nurture and CULTURE
* Do the homework
* Living it up like the rich and famous
* Spooky encounters in KL

Istana Bukit Serene

Istana Bukit Serene is a royal palace of the Sultanate of Johor which is located in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Istana Pasir Pelangi is a royal palace of the Tengku Mahkota(crown prince) of Johor which is located in the royal town of Pasir Pelangi, Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Pasir Pelangi is the royal village of Johor, Malaysia. It is situated near Stulang and Johor Bahru. This royal village was established in the early 1900s during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim of Johor.

Notable places in Pasir Pelangi

* Masjid Diraja Pasir Pelangi
* Istana Pasir Pelangi
* Istana Hinggap Diraja
* Istana Tengku Mahkota Johor
* Kelab Polo Diraja
* Kelab Lumba Kuda Diraja
* Best 104 royal radio station
* Mados Travel Services Sdn Bhd offices
* Taman Iskandar

See also

* Istana Besar
* Istana Bukit Serene
* Istana Taman Teratai , Istana ONG, Yang Mulia Leftenan Muda Ungku Mohd Salleh Bin Ungku Mansoor

WHO WE ARE: A column about Australia by David Dale

WHO WE ARE: A column about Australia by David Dale
Print Normal font Large font Published in The Sun-Herald, 15/4/2007
It may not feel like it, but you're getting richer. We all are. One way to confirm this proposition is to look at the tax we're paying. The Bureau of Statistics reported last week that in the year 2006, the average Australian paid $14,551 in taxes. That included income tax, GST, stamp duty, local council rates, and every other way our rulers have found to screw money out of us. In the year 2001, the average Australian paid taxes totalling $11,118.
That $14,551 could buy a nice round-the-world trip, with a few nights at the Ritz in Paris, for every one of us. So they'd bloody better be spending our money on stuff we need. Because, of course, our governments are getting richer too. We handed the federal government $245 billion in 2006, up from $176 billion in 2001. About $68 billion of that was in the form of GST, and $176 billion was income tax.

We gave our State governments $44 billion last year ($13 billion of which was payroll taxes, and $17 billion was property taxes). That was up from $33 billion in 2001. And we gave local councils $9 billion (up from $6 billion in 2001).

So what do they spend it on, and is it worth all of us taxpayers forgoing those nights at the Ritz? If you take the Government's propaganda at face value, it looks pretty impressive -- $91 billion last year on social security and welfare, $39 billion on health, $17 billion on defence, and $16 billion on education, even if you might raise an eyebrow at a figure of $29 billion for "general government services".

But such Big Picture assertions only boggle the mind. As ever, God is in the details. And when you go looking for the details in the Budget papers, you find a fascinating literary phenomenon. The bureaucrats who spend our money are now obliged to write a description of the "outcome" they expect that money to achieve.

Some are better at it than others. For example, justifying the $7.3 million it received last year, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (our censors) say "Outcome: Australians make informed decisions about films, publications and computer games which they, or those in their care, may view".

ASIO's outcome writer could learn from the censors. How vague is this for $174 million: "A secure Australia for people and property, for government business and national infrastructure and for special events of a national and international significance." Where's the promise to stop terrorism and right wing plots?

The Australia Council justifies its $150 million with "Australian citizens and civic institutions appreciate, understand, participate in, enjoy and celebrate the arts". Do they really? That's reassuring. The ABC's $774 million last year ensured "audiences throughout Australia and overseas are informed, educated and entertained."

The outcome I found most plausible was this: "Informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community, based on the provision of a high quality, objective and responsive national statistical service". Can't think of a more worthy recipient of $318 million than the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which keeps all the other bastards honest.

On what do you think the government should spend your money -- and NOT spend your money?

David Dale is the author of Who We Are -- A snapshot of Australia today (Allen and Unwin). For further discussion of Australian attitudes and behaviour, go to

Posted by David Dale
April 15, 2007 1:22 AM

NTU offers new degree in game development

NTU offers new degree in game development
By Evelyn Choo, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 14 April 2007 1937 hrs

SINGAPORE: Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is breaking new ground with a new master's degree, specialising in gaming.

Its pioneer batch of six students is working with industry veterans and is in the process of developing a new game.

One of the students, Brian Tan Kian How, said: "This is one of the areas I have identified for my research which is basically to create a flocking simulation which is efficient and can run on the Xbox 360 as well."

The students work as a team, each one concentrating on a different aspect of gaming.

Gabriyel Wong, Lecturer, School of Computer Engineering, said: "It's really exciting because the students are involved in pushing technology in the next generation consoles so what they research on is the different aspects of the game application such as animation, real-time physics, computer graphics and computation in general."

And due to a collaboration with TQ Global, an international game company, the course fees of the students are fully paid for.

The company is investing S$3 million in this course and will recruit the students once they graduate.

Parimal Aswani, Director, TQ Singapore, said: "Game development is a very high-tech industry, it needs not only good programming skills, but also a good mathematics background, good physics background. And I, formerly from NTU, know it's easy to get good students here in NTU."

The university is recruiting a new pool of students for its second enrolment and the application date closes on 15 April.

- CNA/so

Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho opens Tiong Bahru Hotel

Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho opens Tiong Bahru Hotel
By Song Keng & Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 14 April 2007 1828 hrs

SINGAPORE: Business ties between Singapore and Macau had a chic boost with the soft launch of the quaint Tiong Bahru Hotel.

Wrapping up his three-day official visit to Singapore, Macau's Chief Executive Edmund Ho opened the hotel on Saturday morning.

Block 53 at Tiong Bahru Road was formerly under the Singapore Improvement Trust.

Now it has been turned into the Tiong Bahru Hotel, owned by Macau-based conglomerate Hang Huo Enterprise Group Limited.

The Hotel has 288 rooms.

- CNA/so

S'pore, Macau sign MOU to boost business relations

S'pore, Macau sign MOU to boost business relations
By Chow Penn Nee, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 13 April 2007 2208 hrs

SINGAPORE : Singapore companies and investors are now starting to look at opportunities in Macau, particularly in its booming gaming industry.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on Friday, giving a boost to business relations between the two parties.

The MOU, signed between the the Singapore Business Federation and the Macau Chamber of Commerce, aimed to provide mutual assistance in the understanding of each other's markets and investments.

Both parties also pledged to facilitate co-operation between businesses from both sides.

Macau is hoping to attract Singapore investors, with its close proximity to the Chinese hinterland and its successful gaming industry.

Ma Iao Lai, Vice President, Macau Chamber of Commerce, said, "Macau is making a platform for a free port, and making a platform between Macau and Portuguese-speaking countries, and a platform for the Pearl River Delta, platform for the global Chinese entrepreneurs. We have very good outside connections".

Tourism and gaming are the main economic drivers of Macau, and they are seen as offering good opportunities for Singapore firms.

CapitaLand and Star Cruises are among the Singapore-listed companies which have recently announced plans to invest in Macau. And although Singapore is building two integrated resorts, gaming players in Macau are downplaying the issue of competition.

Dr Ambrose So, Director, Sociedade De Jogos De Macau, SA, said, "I think there is no direct correlation between if Singapore succeeds Macau must fail. That is not the right perception. I think (that) Singapore and Macau (each) have their own niche market. Macau has a very strong hinterland, which is China, around it, it has Hong Kong, Taiwan. Around Singapore you have India, you have South-East Asian countries. I think we can work on complementary activities... a lot of interactions where we can complement each other".

Macau's gaming industry has been booming since the sector was liberalised in 2001, helping the territory to overtake Las Vegas as the prime gaming destination in the world.

Gambling revenues from Macau's casinos hit nearly US$7 billion last year. - CNA/ms

One-stop property portal offers latest news, listings

One-stop property portal offers latest news, listings
By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 14 April 2007 1620 hrs

SINGAPORE: Almost everything you need to know about the Singapore property scene can now be at your fingertips.

The Nation Property portal ( , which had clocked over 3 million hits since 2005, was officially launched to help buyers, sellers and investors with their decision making.

At the ceremony, Mayor of South West CDC Dr Amy Khor said the launch is timely given the hot property market now.

The comprehensive list of residential properties, transacted prices and market trends will further help the public make informed choices.

It boasts property listings from over 21,000 members in the real estate industry.

The portal also features property-matching services and "Voice-Over IP" technology which will allow an overseas buyer to chat with local sellers.

South Johor Economic Region (SJER)

South Johor Economic Region

South Johor Economic Region (SJER) (Malay: Wilayah Pembangunan Ekonomi Selatan Johor) is the new main southern development corridor in Johor, Malaysia. The SJER was established on 30 July 2006. It is also known as Iskandar Development Region (IDR) (Malay: Wilayah Pembangunan Iskandar) after Sultan Iskandar of Johor.

It is against this backdrop that in July 2005, the Government of Malaysia had tasked Khazanah to conduct a feasibility study for the development of a special economic zone in South Johor in what was then referred to as the Southern Belt Economic Zone (SBEZ).

In October 2005, Khazanah presented a Conceptual Outline Plan for the proposed South Johor Economic Region (SJER) to the National SJER Planning Committee (NSPC) that concluded that there was a strong economic, social and developmental rationale for the proposed development of SJER. The NSPC was chaired together by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Chief Minister of Johor, Abdul Ghani Othman. Khazanah acts as the secretariat for the committee. The NSPC further tasked Khazanah to develop a detailed and comprehensive Master Plan for the development of SJER that aims to address socio-economic development in a holistic and sustainable fashion.

In March 2006, the Ninth Malaysia Plan covering the period 2006 to 2010 was launched by the Prime Minister and inter alia. It identified SJER as one of the catalyst and high-impact developments under the Plan. This was further reinforced when in November 2006, the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Johor and Khazanah announced further details on SJER on the following Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP):

Physical Development Strategies
Bay of Johor Bahru
Bay of Johor Bahru

SJER area covers 221,634.1 hectares (2,216.3 sq. km) of land area within the southern most part of Johor. The development region encompasses an area about 2 times the size of Singapore and 48 times the size of Putrajaya. SJER covers the entire district of Johor Bahru (including the island within the district), Mukim Jerang Batu, Mukim Sungai Karang, Mukim Serkat, and Kukup Island in Mukim Ayer Masin, all within the district of Pontian.

The Planning Area falls under the jurisdiction of five local planning authorities, namely: Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru (Johor Bahru City Council). Majlis Perbandaran Johor Bahru Tengah (Johor Bahru Tengah Municipal Council). Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan Pasir Gudang (Pasir Gudang Local Authority). Majlis Perbandaran Kulai (Kulai Municipal Council). Majlis Daerah Pontian (Pontian District Council)

Five Flagship Zones are proposed as key focal points for developments in the SJER. Four of the focal points will be located in the Nusajaya-Johor Bahru-Pasir Gudang corridor also known as the Special Economic Corridor (SEC) The flagship zones listed below are envisaged to both strengthen further existing economic clusters as well as to diversify and develop targeted growth factors.

Flagship Zone A – Johor Bahru City Centre

* Service and business district
* Free Access Zone

Flagship Zone B - Nusajaya

* Johor state administrative centre
* New financial and business district
* Multimedia Super Corridor Cyber city and Nusajaya Cyber park
* Education hub

Flagship Zone C - Western Gate Development

* Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP)
* RAMSAR Sites
* Second Link Free Access Zone

Flagship Zone D - Eastern Gate Development

* Pasir Gudang Port and industrial zone
* Tanjung Langsat Technopolis
* Kim-Kim Regional Park

Flagship Zone E - Senai-Skudai

* Senai International Airport
* Integrated logistic hub
* Skudai Knowledge Centre
* Senai Multimodal Terminal Hub

The Special Economic Corridor (SEC)

It is targeted that developments within SJER will initially focus on the medium term in the Nusajaya-Johor Bahru-Pasir Gudang corridor. The corridor is an established area of development with two major ports, Port of Tanjung Pelepas and Pasir Gudang, and a third oleo-chemical port at Tanjung Langsat. The area also has two major links to Singapore, the Causeway and the Linkedua (Second Link). Many of the new catalyst developments are expected to be in the relatively new and greenfield area of Nusajaya. Nusajaya houses the new state administrative centre and has been identified as an area to house several targeted new growth sectors including in education, healthcare and tourism, among others.

The SEC is envisaged to house most of the leading-edge developments in SJER including proposed Free Access Zones that will have a relatively large international component.

Economic Development Strategies

The two main economic growth sectors in SJER currently are manufacturing and services.

The key sectors in the manufacturing sector that drives the SJER economy are electrical and electronic (E&E), chemical and chemical products (petrochemical, plastics, oleo chemicals) and food processing sub-sectors. They contribute 60% of the total value-added in manufacturing.

These key sectors lead to the emergence of supporting or induced sectors such as retail, wholesale, hotels, restaurants and finance. In manufacturing, the induced sectors include fabricated metal products, non-metallic products and transportation equipment.

Strategic Economic Thrust (SET)

A combination of seven strategic economic development thrusts is needed to accelerate growth of SJER during the CDP period. The thrusts are as follows :

* strengthen the existing main economic drivers and diversity into new economic growth sectors.
* strengthen supporting industries and the basic foundation.
* strengthen international linkages.
* build on existing strength in respect of resource endowment and lever on Singapore’s strength.
* optimise spatial distribution of economic activities.
* adopt the cluster approach.
* provide the right type of incentives and support.

Future Growth Senario, 2005-2025

The future scenario for SJER should include:

* A well developed, internationally and internally integrated, strong and efficient logistic system giving it a high level of national and international accessibility and internal mobility,
* A strong base for vertically and horizontally integrated dynamic manufacturing and service clusters. With well developed external linkages to major regional and global development nodes.
* A sizeable foreign residents (about 12-15%) with high skills and income would render viable the various international class social and educational, health, recreational and other facilities that are necessary for an international class ‘life style’ which is vital to attract and retain the inflow of international investment and highly skilled managerial and professional workforce.

Social Development Strategies

The following Strategic Social Development Thrusts (SSDT) are proposed;

* SSDT 1: Enhance coordination and cohesion of all government and non-government agencies involved in social development

* SSDT 2: Build social capital as the basis for social cohesion and integration

* SSDT 3: Enhance ability of individual Bumiputra and privately owned Bumiputra companies especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to acquire landed properties and enhance their property portfolio by leveraging and participating in the capital gain.

* SSDT 4: Adopt and implement regional and physical development strategies that will result in the increase in the value of Bumiputra land and also bring other benefits.

* SSDT 5: Promote more mutual funds to spread benefit of the increase in property and rental values to Bumiputra and to take out the allocated new property units not taken up by Bumiputeras.

* SSDT 6: Enhance and upgrade education and training programme at all level of skills and with the cluster associations identify critical skill categories for SJER development.

* SSDT 7: Enhance cluster linkages among major public and private sector corporations and research institutions with Bumiputera companies especially SMEs.

Livable Communities

A key thrust of SJER is to create livable communities that encompass quality housing, adequate facilities, quality services and a healthy, safe and lively environment.

In line with this objective of enhancing the city-living environment, the city must be functional, liveable and impart a sense of community and belonging. In addition, the city must also provide a clean, healthy, safe and caring environment that caters to the needs of all stakeholders. To this end the CDP plans not only for the current needs of the population but also for the future, ensuring that inter-generational equity is also sensitively addressed.

Livability in South Johor

In creating liveable communities, the following factors are to be taken into consideration:

* Integrate low cost housing developments with other types to give residents common facilities and environment and reducing social marginalization.
* Provide Rental Homes for Transient Population
* A detailed register of data, including income levels, affordability and location preferences of the Special Needs Group must be kept and constantly updated to match up with residential units offered in the market.
* New Housing developments should incorporate the needs of the disabled in the units allocated to them. These include sizes of doors, ramps for external areas, height of light switches, hand rails for bathrooms and toilets.
* Create Neighbourhood Structures that promote a sense of belonging to the local community
* Design of new developments and redevelopment of housing areas shall refer and conform to guidelines of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).
* The Green Building rating shall be used and implemented to encourage builders to build energy efficient buildings, including for residential units, and to introduce energy efficient mechanisms on older or existing buildings in the city.

The Physical Development Plan

The Physical Development Plan (PDP) primarily contained in this chapter of the CDP outlines the management of land use development within the planning area of SJER. The objectives are to influence, control and regulate urban activities so as to create an organically harmonious city through the control of the quality, quantity, location and timing of development and building construction activities and inducing land use development towards a desired direction.

For the CDP, the land use zoning plan will be zoned into ‘Zoning Districts’ where areas are identified based on the urban character of the area and/or function of the area instead of identifying specific land use attached to a specific lot. The zoning district system is made up of two important layerings:

* Base zoning district; and
* Special overlay zones

Base Zoning Districts

The main base zoning districts identified for SJER CDP are;

* District Centre Commercial Zone (DCC) - Refers to commercial areas located within the identified boundary of district centres. Certain activities that would normally be permissible within the Johor Bahru Central Business District (JB CBD) can be permitted in this zone. Such activities could be entertainment, 24-hour/extended opening hour activities, etc.

* Local Centre Commercial Zone (LCC) - Refers to commercial areas located within residential neighbourhoods and serves the neighbourhood area to provide small-scale retails and services. Intensity of development and type of activities permissible should be consistent with the character of the neighbourhood area in order to limit adverse impacts on nearby residential areas. It can also refer to commercial areas serving large industrial parks as in Tanjung Langsat and Senai.

* Free Access Zone (FAZ) - Subject to further approval by the SJA and other authorities, this may refer to areas that allow seamless work, business, entertainment and living environment between Johor and Singapore.

* Established Housing (EH) - Refers to existing residential areas in planned neighbourhood units.

* Residential 1 – Low Density (R1) - Low density residential refers to a gross density of nine units/acre and comprises detached and semi-detached unit homes. Village homes within urban areas that are of good quality and have proper services can also be considered as low density residential.

* Residential 2 – Medium Density (R2) - Medium density residential refers to a gross density of 24 units/acre and comprises link homes, low-rise apartments, exclusive condominiums and town houses.

* Residential 3 – Medium High Density (R3) - Medium high density refers to a gross density of 33 units/acre and comprises apartments, condominiums, and town houses.

* Residential 4 – High Density (R4) - High density residential refers to a gross density of 38 units/acre and comprises apartments or condominiums.

* Residential Villages (RV) - Refers to villages within non-urban areas.

* Mixed-use - Residential, Office, Commercial (MX) - Refers to areas zoned for mixed-use development within city centre areas such as within Johor Bahru City Centre and Nusajaya City Centre and also within Transit Planning Zones. It is intended to promote a combination of commercial and housing on the same site. It allows developments with increased intensity especially the residential component. This aims to support the strategy of encouraging city living and transit oriented development.

* Commercial Zone (CZ) - Refers to areas of commercial use and activity.

* Established Industry (IE) - Refers to existing industrial areas that are well established and still providing employment.

* Industrial Park Zone (IP) - Area zoned for planned industrial uses that are generally compatible with one another and with adjoining residential and commercial districts. Service commercial uses that are compatible with and complimenting light industrial uses should also be permitted. The intention is to promote a cluster strategy in planned industrial areas incorporating manufacturing clusters, support services, trade, storage and other service industries to facilitate towards achieving k-economy.

* Enterprise Zone (EZ) - This zone is intended to concentrate high technology industries and industries with a significant amount of research and development activity in line with a cluster strategy. Professional offices, financial institutions and other similar uses may be included when they provide services to the enterprise zone employees.

* Port Zone (PZ) - Refers to all seaport development areas i.e. namely Tanjung Langsat, Pasir Gudang and Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

* Institutional and Community Zone (INS) - Major institutional and civic uses such as art galleries, museum, government offices, palace reserve, hospitals, universities and other civic use.

* Special Security (SS) - Military reserve & emergency operations such as police headquarters.

* RAMSAR Zone (RAMZ) - Refers to sites approved by RAMSAR. These are wetlands of international importance which are of rare and unique and for conserving biological diversity. The three RAMSAR sites in SJER are Pulau Kukup, Sungai Pulai and Tanjung Piai, which are Environmental Sensitive Areas (ESA) Rank 1.

* Free Trade Zone (FTZ) - Free Trade Zone refers to an area where special tariffs, quotas and incentives are given, and where bureaucratic requirements are lowered in order to attract companies to do business or locate its business in the area and in particular in the Port of Tanjung Pelepas area.

* Public Open Space (OS) - Parks and open spaces that are amenities to the general public.

* Private Open Space (POS) - Refers to private green areas particularly golf courses.

* Forest Reserve (FR) - Refers to existing forest reserve in the SJER area which are ESA Rank 1.

* Agriculture Zone (AZ) - Refers to productive agriculture areas.

* River Reserve (RR) - Rivers and their reserves which are ESA Rank 1.

* Cemetery (C) - Refers to cemetery reserve land.

* Government Reserve (GR) - Refers to Government lands that are used for offices, institutional, etc

Special Overlay Zones

The above land use zoning districts is further overlaid with a series of overlay zones/boundaries to provide further details for specific areas requiring specific treatment and control. Examples of the special overlay district are as follows;

* Johor Bahru CBD - Refers to core commercial areas located within Johor Bahru City Centre. It provides the broadest range of uses and is most intensified in terms of commercial plot ratio and height to reflect its role as the centre of business, finance, and employment of SJER and as the capital city of Johor.

* Nusajaya Central Planning Area - Refers to the core commercial and administrative areas located within Nusajaya. It provides a broad range of uses and is intensified in terms of commercial plot ratio and densities to reflect its role as the centre of administration, business, commerce, and employment of SJER and the new growth centre within the Special Economic Corridor (SEC)

* Environmental Protection Zone - Overlay of areas identified to require further environmental control by virtue of their identification as Environmental Sensitive Areas (ESA)

* Historic Zone - Overlay of historical area boundary over the base zoning district. The intention is to provide specific controls with regards to building and land within the designated boundary.

* Coastal Zone - The coastal zone for SJER is the water of Johor Straits within the Malaysian boundary and within a 3km inland zone along the coastline of Johor Strait that also lies within the SEC.

* Highway Business District - The Highway Business District is intended to provide development opportunities for commercial uses along the highway requiring or well adapted to location on primary roads and to provide shopping areas for uses that are not generally compatible with residential districts, yet reasonably convenient to the general location of the retail market areas. Uses with the most significant visual, traffic, noise and other impacts are allowed as conditional uses.

* Transit Planning Zone - Areas within the 400m radius of rail stations where transit oriented development can be pursued.

* Water Catchment Zone - The water catchment area refers to the catchment of Sultan Iskandar Dam; that is an ESA Rank 1 and needs to be protected. Thus, all activities within the water catchment zone must be controlled and no industrial activities should be allowed.

South Johor Urbanisation

Natural and Green Environment

The Coastal Zone

Johor Bahru City Centre

Urban Infrastructure

Urban Linkage System

Transit Oriented Development

Commercial Development Initiatives

The establishment of South Johor Investment Corporation Berhad (SJIC) by Federal and State level investment agencies, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah), the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) will spearhead catalyst developments in the SJER. SJIC is a commercial entity with long term profit objectives, set up for the purpose of overseeing the development of the SJER.

SJIC, a managing entity, would be formed with the mission to create an environment for development in the SJER by mobilizing the efforts of government, private sector, international organisations and civil society. It will be the umbrella organisation of the SJER initiative.

It is a profit-motivated company to drive strategic and catalytic projects in SJER, with a long term view, set up for the purposes of raising funds to kick start and to ensure continued development of SJER. SJIC will invest in selected strategic and catalytic initiatives through shareholding stakes in joint ventures and contribution of land either through sale or lease or granting of a concession or development rights.

SJIC is an Investment Holding Company (IHC) whereby it will operate as a discretionary fund i.e. all investment decisions shall be at the sole discretion of its appointed Board of Directors (BOD). SJIC may provide bridging or mezzanine financing to catalyst projects to assist in any funding gap at the initial stages.

Participation in SJER is via investing in Project Development Vehicles (PDV). SJIC may own land banks but will not directly participate in property development or construction. It will promote strict project evaluation and selection process to ensure that the projects in SJER are successful and sustainable. SJIC may partner with major foreign players to participate in SJER via PDVs.

Strategic Catalyst Development

The current plans for the Strategic Catalyst Development include but is not limited to the following:

* waterfront development
* international mixed commercial and residential development
* leisure and destination tourism development
* international manufacturing and logistics development
* education-based development
* healthcare-based development
* iconic buildings and parks

See also

* Johor Bahru
* MSC Cyberport
* Ninth Malaysia Plan

External links

* South Johor Economic Region

Re-creating European cities China's latest housing trend

Re-creating European cities China's latest housing trend
By Ariana Eunjung Cha


Hu Jun, 53, a retired accountant, was mesmerized by an advertisement for Venice Aquatic City and had put down cash for a new apartment within a week. "It's just like being abroad, like living in Venice," Hu said.


A construction boom in China has given rise to a vast landscape of developments with a foreign flair.

SONGJIANG, China — The "ding-dong" from the neo-Gothic church next door signals to Wu Yuqing that it's time to wake up. On her way to the grocery store each day, she walks past the Cob Gate Fish & Chip shop and bronze statues of Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale and William Shakespeare. Tall men decked out in the red uniforms of the Queens Guard nod hello.

The place looks a lot like a small town on the Thames River, but Wu's new home is actually in a suburb of Shanghai.

As China's modernization continues to pull hundreds of millions of people from farms to cities and suburbs, a construction boom has given rise to a vast landscape of foreign-looking settlements. These real-estate developments are the latest manifestation of the technique that has fueled China's economic boom: making copies.

In Nanjing, there are Balinese retreats and Italian villas. In the southeastern city of Hangzhou, there are Venice and Zurich. In downtown Beijing, everything is about Manhattan, with Soho, Central Park and Park Avenue.

"Many people in China today associate the exotic with wealth. They buy into these developments to differentiate themselves from ordinary people," said Tino Wan, a manager of ERA Real Estate in Shanghai.

Shanghai's plan is among the most ambitious, calling for a ring of satellite developments modeled after different parts of Europe, including German, Czech, Spanish and Scandinavian districts, in addition to the one that looks like London, known as Thames Town.

Between now and 2015, about half the world's new construction will take place in China, with as much as 6 billion square feet of space expected to be added each year. All over the country, blocklike concrete edifices and empty fields are giving way to flashy architectural developments that promise to give the new middle class a taste of places most of them have never seen.

Some traditionalists, however, have lamented the trend, blaming it for the destruction of older, Chinese-style homes and attacking it as a form of "self-colonization."

Yu Renze, 74, a retired government administrator from Shanghai, said she didn't not understand the appeal of the Western-style developments and that she would not allow her family to live in them even if someone gave her a house. "We're not foreigners," she said.

But Ren Bing, general manager of Venice Aquatic City in Hangzhou, said these theme complexes should not be disparaged. "Even many Americans in America also prefer to buy non-American things," Bing said. "It doesn't mean people are denying traditions their ancestors have passed down."

Indeed, Wu said she has no desire to leave her country even though she likes the comfort and ambience of her new four-bedroom town house. "It's like I'm living abroad, but it's still China and everyone still speaks Chinese," said Wu, 45, an investor.

If not for the street signs with Chinese characters in Venice Aquatic City, it would be difficult to place where in the world you were exactly. Gondolas ply canals just below Hu Jun's new apartment. Her view includes porticos with flowers and half-moon bridges. "St. Mark's Plaza" is a five-minute stroll away.

In all, the 8-square-mile Venice Aquatic City will house 4,500 residents in villas, town houses and high-rises.

Hu, 53, a retired accountant, saw an advertisement in the local paper and immediately ran to the sales office. "It's just like being abroad, like living in Venice," Hu said. "I haven't been to Venice. I really want to go. I have seen it on TV."

She closed on a $50,000 two-bedroom, one-bath apartment within a week.

"For regular people, this development fulfills their fairy-tale desires," Bing said.

James Ho, director of Henghe Real Estate, which developed the downtown area of Thames Town, also talks about efforts to create an escape.

Shanghai's Thames Town is not an exact replica of anything in Britain but features a mishmash of hundreds of years of architecture, from Gothic to Tudor.

"At the beginning we were afraid to build such a classic project," Ho said. "So we paid a lot of attention to detail."

Workers took three trips to Britain to learn different roof tiling, stone molding and other techniques.

In the end, they were so skilled at old techniques, Ho said, that the team was asked to help work on a new Thames Town-like development — in Britain.

Washington Post researcher Ai Ghee Ong contributed to this report.

IBM to take up AWB's space

IBM to take up AWB's space
Maurice Dunlevy
April 12, 2007

THE scandal-plagued and slimmed-down AWB will sub-lease three floors of its Melbourne head office to IBM.
The deal, to be announced soon, involves levels 13, 14 and 15 of the APN Property Group-developed - but Cromwell-owned - 380 La Trobe Street building, where AWB has about nine years to run on its head lease.
IBM has agreed to a rental of about $280 a square metre net for around 3300sqm, although neither it nor AWB was willing yesterday to confirm the deal.

AWB leases about 11,250sqm on the ground floor, level one and levels 13 to 21, which accounts for about half the building.

The balance is occupied by the Australian Taxation Office, which is on levels four to eight, and workers compensation management company Cambridge Integrated Services Victoria, which leases more than 3000sqm on levels 10 to 12.

A rash of AWB head office redundancies overseen by new managing director Gordon Davis after the Iraqi kickbacks scandal has freed up three floors of the 24-level building, which Cromwell Diversified Property Trust purchased for $88 million in December 2005.

IBM's main Melbourne offices are in one of two towers at Deutsche's Southgate complex.

IBM has naming rights to its 60 City Road building, where it originally signed up for around 25,000sqm in the mid-1990s.

After years of speculation about moving out, IBM has reportedly agreed to stay on after its lease expires in 2009.

Meanwhile, in Adelaide, developer Zis Ginos has struck a new leasing deal for his CBD Regent Arcade, signing Bendigo Bank to a five-year lease with two five-year options.

In a deal, brokered by Peter Isaksson, Savills' South Australia manager of retail leasing, Bendigo Bank has agreed to pay annual rent of $148,800 for a 186sqm shop.

Bendigo will move from an existing branch at the corner of Frome and Grenfell streets.

Mr Ginos paid $26.3 million for the arcade, which runs between Rundle Mall and Grenfell Street, two years ago.

Mr Ginos has also snared Sarah's Cafe group as a tenant for his Leigh Street precinct in the CBD.

Mr Ginos bought the entire city street for about $9.5 million in 2003.

Savills has signed long-standing cafe owner Stuart Gifford and business partner Andrew Cooper to a 10-year lease at 12 Leigh Street.

The operators of Sarah's Sister's and Future Cafe at seaside Sempahore have opened a new CBD cafe, live music and gallery outlet.

The Leigh Street lease involves around 350sqm at an annual rental of $90,000.

Trusts dip as punters bet on equities

Trusts dip as punters bet on equities
Florence Chong
April 12, 2007

A SURGING Australian dollar, low property yields and the sluggish US economy have led investors to desert listed property trusts in favour of safe-haven stocks.
Investors are concerned that close to 40 per cent of LPTs' assets are located offshore, particularly in the US, according to stockbroking analysts.
With LPTs' offshore income earned largely in US dollars, investors have become wary of how the strong dollar may affect earnings. The dollar reached a 17-year high yesterday, touching US82.67c.

However, these analysts also pointed out that, without exception, LPTs with overseas assets hedged their exposure precisely to avoid currency fluctuations.

LPTs have rolling hedging programs to protect their foreign currency income and some even hedge their capital investment.

Investors also hold concerns over the emerging weaknesses in the US economy.

Although the LPT sector reflected the volatility in the general equities market, analysts said the sector fell more sharply in March.

The average return was minus 4.1 per cent and the sector lagged the broader equities market by minus 7.48 per cent (the lowest since October 1993), according to a JP Morgan research note.

Analysts said the sector was sold down in the wake of concerns about the US economy, rising interest rates and falling property yields.

A significant factor was the outflow of funds as international investors fled the Australian market for safer havens.

Property Investment Research analyst Bhavin Patel said there was also a perception that property had become overheated, pointing to Centro's New Plan Excel deal, which was struck on a yield of 6.7 per cent.

JP Morgan said pricing remained the main issue for LPTs, with yields relative to bonds/cash more stretched than ever.

Pengana Capital's fund manager Mike Thorpe-Apps, who manages $1 billion in property securities investments, said larger investors deserted LPTs in March, moving their funds to general equities.

"We've also seen international players pull out of LPTs and go to the more defensive markets," he said.

A lack of new floats had also been blamed for the sector's softness.

One potential listing - Tokyo-based New City Corp, which was to raise around $200 million for an ASX-listed trust seeded with around $350 million of Japanese office buildings and shopping centres in Tokyo - had been deferred or cancelled.

There was a rash of new raising early in the year with new issuance for the first quarter totalling $2.6 billion, representing 71 per cent of the total raisings last year, JP Morgan said.

Mr Thorpe-Apps said the market had recovered in April, clawing back most of the March losses.

And Mr Patel still expected returns to be "reasonable" this year, but he said it was highly unlikely they would reach last year's total average return of more than 33 per cent.

JP Morgan said overall total returns for the sector were expected to be 7 to 9 per cent in 2007.

Pengana in $158m German spree

Pengana in $158m German spree
Florence Chong
April 12, 2007

THE rush to buy European property is gathering pace with Pengana Capital the latest Australian fund manager to acquire northern hemisphere assets.
Yesterday Pengana announced the acquisition of German properties worth $158.5 million, to seed its proposed Pengana Credo European Property Trust.
Pengana expects its new European trust to grow to a billion-dollar fund within a few years.

Down the track it will consider listing the fund. Led by Macquarie Bank, Stockland, GPT, Rubicon Asset Management, APN Property Group and Valad Property Group have recently joined Lend Lease, Multiplex and Westfield, which have already established a strong footprint in Europe.

Pengana executive chairman Russel Pillemer told The Australian yesterday that six months ago senior executive Stuart Stuckey relocated to London to set up an office.

Mr Pillemer said having an on-the-ground presence there made it more comfortable to expand into Europe.

Pengana has formed a joint venture with British property management company Credo to source and manage assets.

Pengana Credo joint venture executive director Alex Vynokur said having a good partner was the key to success in Europe.

He said Credo had a good track record.

It has bought and sold more than $1 billion worth of properties in the past five years and managed around pound stg. 750 million ($1.8 billion) in assets.

Mr Vynokur said assets in the newly acquired portfolio were built in the past six years and they were all leased to leading Germany companies on long leases.

Mr Pillemer said Germany had presented the initial opportunities.

But he said the venture would also look at Austria, Belgium and Switzerland for future assets.

Based on the covenants of its tenants and quality of the assets, Pengana intends to gear the fund up to 70 per cent.

It will raise $52 million from institutional investors and rich individuals for the fund.

National Australia Bank's structured property finance team will lead-manage the placement.

Arthur Psaltis, managing director of structured property finance for NAB Capital said: "We will be seeing more activity offshore in the coming months as we focus on international expansion with our clients."

A month ago Macquarie Office Trust acquired almost $260 million worth of office buildings in Milan, Italy.

And Macquarie Goodman is reportedly close to exchanging contracts to purchase the privately owned British property group Rosemound, which specialises in warehouses and logistics sites.

Chief executive Greg Goodman said at the time that Macquarie Goodman was doing due diligence on about $800 million of British assets.

One of its largest acquisitions was the $600 million purchase of Eurinpro, which will deliver an annual pipeline of $424 million in logistics properties in Europe.

Stockland is due to finalise the purchase of British property group Halladale for pound stg. 171 million.

The listed $500 million Rubicon Europe Trust bought assets worth E58 million (almost $96 million) in Austria last month to boost its $500 million fund.

Another listed trust, APN European Retail Trust, which manages about $500 million worth of assets, added 23 properties, costing $251 million, to its holdings last November.

The Melbourne-based SAI group has also flagged its interest in expanding to Europe.

Stockland in $42m retail deal

Stockland in $42m retail deal
Florence Chong
April 12, 2007

STOCKLAND bought the retail component of Cammeray Square on Sydney's lower north shore yesterday for about $42 million.
Stockland will undertake the leasing, tenancy design, marketing and delivery of the retail component, to be renamed Stockland Cammeray.
Developer Hamptons Development Group plans to complete construction by August next year.

The centre will have a total gross lettable area of about 5000sqm on four levels of retail space.

Stockland retail chief executive John Schroder said the asset was well located in a "sought-after, high-traffic location in a strong demographic area".

He said Stockland was focused on delivering high-quality mixed-use precincts as part of urban rejuvenation projects at sites across Australia.

When asked if Cammeray Square would be included in a new trust, a Stockland spokeswoman said the property would be held on Stockland's balance sheet, along with other retail assets.

Stockland launched its third office syndicate and sixth overall fund on Tuesday with a $60 million equity offering to fund the acquisition of four office properties and a car park, valued at $132 million. The group, which will take a 10 per cent stake in its latest fund, expects to close the fund by June.

Exploring five-star retirement in Oz

Exploring five-star retirement
Maurice Dunlevy
April 12, 2007

MELBOURNE-based developer Richard Buxton is exploring new markets for his Rylands-branded five-star retirement accommodation business.
Recently returned from an around Australia sailing adventure in which he was caught in the tail end of Cyclone Larry and was chased by crocodiles in the Kimberleys, Mr Buxton has plans for retirement apartments in all capital city markets as well as the Gold Coast.
"We already have our eyes on two facilities in Brisbane, but Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast are part of our plans," said the adventurer, who in 2003 also piloted his own aircraft around Australia.

With two Rylands facilities opened and a third under way, Mr Buxton said there was scope for at least 15 luxury independent living style apartment complexes to be built around Australia, possibly in joint venture arrangements.

He said Rylands wanted to be a leader in this burgeoning sector of the property market.

The brother of Michael and Andrew Buxton, who control Melbourne's MAB Corp, Richard Buxton established the Buxton Group construction and development business in the 1960s.

Its developments have been across all sectors and have included the $23 million conversion of Portsea's famous Delgany hotel to luxury apartments.

Its Rylands projects have included 68 luxury apartments in a $25 million retirement development at well-to-do Kew and a $15 million project at bayside Brighton.

Currently looking at two other Melbourne sites, the Buxton Group has already started a $27 million Rylands of Hawthorn project on Riversdale Road.

With an average age of 75 for residents at its recently completed Rylands of Kew project, the Buxton Group targets well-off retirees, most of whom have come from the professions.

They pay from the high $500,000s to $1.4 million for strata-titled apartments ranging in size from more than 80 to 120sqm.

While residents own their apartments, Rylands manages common areas that include dining rooms and kitchens.

The latest Kew facility has been built around a Victorian Italianate mansion and includes a restaurant with its own celebrity chief, David Clouston.

Part of a Melbourne property dynasty spanning 150 years, Richard Buxton entered the retirement business after seeking residential care for his 93-year-old father, Dick Buxton, the son of Buxton real estate founder J.R. Buxton.

"Disappointed" with what he saw, Richard Buxton decided to create his own luxury accommodation retirement concept. He and daughter Samantha extensively researched state-of-the-art facilities in the US and Holland before building their first facility in Brighton in 2004, where Dick Buxton is a resident.

London home prices go through the roof

London home prices go through the roof

April 12, 2007

LUXURY home prices in London rose at a record monthly pace in March as Russians and Middle Eastern buyers competed for a smaller number of properties with financiers from the City of London.
The average price of London's most expensive houses and apartments rose by an average of 3.1 per cent last month from February, real estate broker Knight Frank said.
The annual increase was 32 per cent, the highest in 28 years.

"The continued strong performance can be explained by supply shortages and ongoing international demand now that City bonus money has been paid out," Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, said.

The average price of a luxury house in Knight Frank's monthly index is now almost pound stg. 5 million ($11.9 million), with apartments costing pound stg. 2.5 million.

A typical house has gained pound stg. 100,000, or about four times the average annual UK wage, in value each month over the past year.

Prime residential property prices in London have now risen for 27 consecutive months.

In the first quarter of 2007 house prices rose by 10 per cent and apartments by 7.5 per cent.

Chelsea, favoured by bankers, and St John's Wood continued to perform well, said Mr Bailey.


Point Cook project part of Lang's grand plan

Point Cook project part of Lang's grand plan
Maurice Dunlevy
April 12, 2007

ONLY five months after the sale of a $1.2 billion chunk of his property portfolio, billionaire Lang Walker laid more foundations yesterday for a third property empire.
With 20 projects already in Australia, his Walker Corp said yesterday that it had signed national retailers Coles, Target and Aldi to anchor a $100 million Point Cook Town Centre development in Melbourne's booming southwest.
The leases virtually guarantee the success of the 25,000sqm project, a joint venture with the state Government's VicUrban land authority and Mr Walker's largest single retail project.

Coles will occupy 4000sqm, Target 6153sqm and Aldi 1300sqm, while Pharmacy Select has already signed for a 1300sqm medical centre and pharmacy.

Seven years on from selling his publicly listed company to Australand for $245 million in 1999, the property magnate sold a substantial part of his private Walker Corp to publicly listed Mirvac for $1.12 billion in November, fuelling speculation the yachting-mad billionaire would sail off into the sunset.

But since then he has dispelled any doubts about his future, unveiling plans in February for a $2 billion master-planned community at Buckland Park, north of Adelaide, which is part of a grand plan to develop up to 30,000 residential sites in Australia in the next 10 to 15 years.

Within weeks, Mr Walker is expected to lodge development plans for an $800 million commercial development at the Melbourne Docklands in a joint venture with the Kouk Group at its Village Docklands waterfront precinct.

Mr Walker is also making his mark in bulky goods, already owning a home-maker centre at Bateman's Bay on the NSW south coast and soon to unveil plans for another bulky goods centre at South Morang in Melbourne's outer north.

All up, Walker Corp is understood to have 20 projects around the nation and, while many are still in the planning stage, approvals would given them a retail value of more than $12 billion.

His Point Cook retail facility will include about 80 speciality shops as well as an additional 5000sqm of commercial space and a small residential component.

Mr Walker is currently overseas but in a statement yesterday he said that the facility would incorporate the best features of the group's landmark retail centres - Sydney's Broadway Shopping Centre and Rhodes Waterside Shipping Centre.

Located 24km from Melbourne's centre, the Point Cook centre will be based on a strip shopping theme.

About 135,000 people are expected to live within a 10-minute drive of the centre.

It is between the Geelong Freeway and Port Phillip Bay and has become the main focus of Melbourne's booming southwest.

Babcock & Brown owns residential blocks worth more than $150 million at the nearby Sanctuary Lakes golfing estate and FKP controls prime Point Cook greenfields residential land acquired as part of its $284 million Wilbow takeover late last year.

At the end of last month ISPT No3 Fund invested about $50 million in a $250 million Sneydes Road residential project by developer Villawood Properties.

HK group seeks failed China projects

HK group seeks failed China projects
Tom Mitchell, Robin Kwong, Hong Kong
April 14, 2007

HONG Kong's most prominent developer of property in China is to head an international consortium to invest in distressed real estate left in the rubble of China's construction boom.
Vincent Lo, chairman of Hong Kong-listed Shui On Construction and Materials, is teaming up with Spinnaker Capital, JP Morgan and others to form the company. China Central Properties will seek an overseas listing. Led by Socam, the partners will inject five properties valued at about $US250 million ($301 million) as well as $US200 million in cash.
According to Mr Lo, possible listing destinations include London's Aim, Euronext, Hong Kong's GEM and Singapore. Deutsche Bank is acting as sole global co-ordinator for China Central Properties. China's cities are littered with the concrete skeletons of office and residential properties abandoned during construction. According to CB Richard Ellis, the country's stock of unsold property reached 320 million square metres at the end of last year compared with 65 million square metres in 2000.

Such assets can be completed a year or two after new capital is injected. Mr Lo and partners are betting that China Central Properties can realise quick returns and avoid the headaches of traditional property investment, such as relocating and compensating residents.

"We will be entering the development at a late stage, so the risk is much lower," Mr Lo said at a briefing in Hong Kong. "It is not like developing a new site where you have to wait for design and the construction. This is much faster."

But investing in distressed assets - lan wei lou or "rotten tail buildings" - can involve legal risk. They are often the subject of Byzantine court spats involving bankrupt state companies and jilted Chinese banks.

Socam and partners have already invested in five lan wei lou in Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian and Qingdao.

The shares of Mr Lo's other Hong Kong-listed company, Shui On Land, have risen 20 per cent since last October when it raised $US880 million in a listing.

Singapore's GuocoLand May Double Investment in China on Demand

Singapore's GuocoLand May Double Investment in China on Demand

By Wing-Gar Cheng

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- GuocoLand Ltd., a Singapore-based developer controlled by Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan, may double its investment in China this year to $5.4 billion to tap growing demand for new homes.

Unit GuocoLand China Ltd. is in talks, which may be completed in as soon as six months, about several projects in Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai, Violet Lee, managing director of GuocoLand China, said in Beijing yesterday.

Singapore developers including CapitaLand Ltd. have expanded in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, as construction increases amid rapid growth in the nation's urban population. The world's most populous country posted economic growth of 10.7 percent last year.

``I'm not building enough to meet China's demand,'' Lee said. ``With this rate of urbanization, there'll always be this continuous demand for housing.''

Guocoland China also plans to expand into the management of properties and real estate investment trusts, or REITS, by 2010, Lee said. The company has 2 million square meters of property reserves in China, she said.

``The market is just enormous,'' Lee said. ``The appetite is there, the need is there.''

Parent GuocoLand agreed to purchase a 90 percent stake in Beijing Cheng Jian Dong Hua Real Estate Development Co. for 5.8 billion yuan ($750 million), the company said in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange yesterday.

Development Rights

Beijing Cheng Jian owns the development and land use rights to the Dongzhimen site, a 106,000 square meter (26 acre) land parcel in central Beijing, the statement said. The property will be developed into a retail, hotel, office and residential complex with up to 600,000 square meters (6.5 million square feet) of space, the company said. Including the development cost for Dongzhimen, the agreement is valued at 10 billion yuan, according to the company.

The development includes a transportation hub and a rail link that will be able to take passengers to Beijing International Airport within 15 minutes, the statement said.

Shares of GuocoLand closed unchanged at S$4.20 in Singapore yesterday. The stock has risen 65 percent this year, compared with a 11 percent gain in the benchmark Straits Times Index.

Phase I of Kuwait’s $1 billion shopping & leisure destination unveiled

Phase I of Kuwait’s $1 billion shopping & leisure destination unveiled

The Avenues, a premier shopping and leisure destination in Kuwait

His Highness the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah has officially launched phase I of The Avenues, the premier shopping and leisure destination being developed by Mabanee, Kuwait’s premier real estate developer; the project is set to be Kuwait’s largest commercial real estate development.

The Avenues is the first major project conceived and developed by Mabanee. The landmark project will be opened in four phases involving an overall investment of $1 billion and is set to be Kuwait’s premier shopping, leisure and business destination when completed in 2010. Speaking at a press conference held during the launch, Mohammed Abdulaziz Alshaya, Chairman of Mabanee and M.H. Alshaya Company, said: “The Avenues will not only emerge as one of Kuwait’s premier leisure and shopping destinations and redefine retailing in the region, but will provide a boost to the economy and prestige of Kuwait."

The Avenues will host the widest selection of international brands in the region spread over 216 stores including Kuwait’s first Carrefour hypermarket, the region’s largest IKEA store, Cinescape, (a ten-screen Cinema complex), in addition to a mall, numerous restaurants and cafes. The mall’s design comes from world-renowned architects Norr Consultants International, a firm that has built some of the most distinctive real estate developments in the Middle East, including the Emirates Towers in Dubai.