Tough on property investors, says Johor developers' group

JOHOR BARU • The Malaysian government's decision to cancel the high-speed rail (HSR) project will be hard on property developers who have invested in land near the proposed stations, said Johor Real Estate and Housing Developers Association branch chairman Steve Chong Yoon On.

He said the move to scrap the 350km HSR was a definite "setback" for developers, but they are supportive of the initiative for the greater good of the country. "Yes, there will be an impact for developers and some people who bought properties that were supposed to be close to the stations," said Datuk Chong. "But everyone has to look at the bigger picture of saving our country's economy."

He added: "The project is now scrapped, but who knows - when our economy is much healthier in the future, the HSR project might be reconsidered."

Mr Chong told The Star daily that interest in properties near the planned station sites might cool, but he did not expect prices to drop drastically.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday that Malaysia is pulling out of the HSR deal with Singapore. He had labelled it an "unnecessary project" that "will not earn us a single cent".

The proposed Kuala Lumpur-to-Singapore HSR has eight stations - seven in Malaysia, and one in Jurong East. Its planned terminus in KL is at what is now the Sungai Besi military airport in the Bandar Malaysia township. The other HSR stations are in Sepang-Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri (formerly Nusajaya).

Mr Foo Gee Jen, president of the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia, said the cancellation would affect corridors of growth, such as the Batu Pahat-Muar and Melaka-Seremban corridors, and especially the Malaysia Vision Valley in Negeri Sembilan.

"However, I believe that despite this big announcement, not many people are buying big tracts of land around the station locations," he told The Edge Malaysia, as reported yesterday. "The investments are more small-scale. The losses would be more in terms of time and planning. There was not much speculative buying around where the stations are supposed to come up."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'Tough on property investors, says Johor developers' group'. Subscribe