Govt revives Bandar Malaysia project

by PRIYA VASU & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government has revived the previously suspended and controversial Bandar Malaysia project as Putrajaya seeks to kick-start the massive project with a gross development value (GDV) of more than RM140 billion.

The project on the former airbase site just on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur (KL) was mooted by the previous government, but issues about financing and getting the correct developer had bungled its progress.

Yesterday, the government agreed to restart the project with new conditions after worries that local contractors and resources would not participate in the multibillion project.

The project has been put on the backburner for two years.

Putrajaya had insisted that the project include the construction of 10,000 units of subsidised affordable homes and a massive 85-acre (3.4ha) piece of land to be allocated as a park. It has also made it key that Bumiputera contractors and local resources are used in the project.

To be called the People’s Park, the previous plan allocated about 40 acres for such greenery.

Yesterday, the government signed an agreement to transfer its stake in Bandar Malaysia back to master developer IWH-CREC Sdn Bhd (ICSB).

The revival of the project will also see the reinstating of the delayed high-speed rail (HSR) project which linked the Malaysian capital with Singapore, but at a reduced cost, said Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Yes, it will have the HSR station although we have not decided on the actual HSR project itself, we will have a station for the HSR,” said Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will go ahead with the rail link if some terms of the agreement can be reviewed.

At the signing ceremony to revive the massive RM140 billion GDV initiative, Dr Mahathir said the Bandar Malaysia project should be viewed in the context of a longterm development to uplift KL as a financial district.

“Bandar Malaysia has the opportunity to help shape KL’s direction in the next few decades — how as a potential transport hub, it will change the way people travel; how as a commercial centre, it can provide continuous boost for trade and innovation; and how as a liveable and sustainable development in this age of environmental consciousness, it can be a model of quality city living,” said Dr Mahathir.

Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH) and China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC) as a consortium secured the rights to develop Bandar Malaysia back in 2015. Covering an area of 486 acres, it is the single-largest development plot within the capital with about 1.7 million population.

In May 2017, the deal was abruptly terminated following the unravelling of the 1MDB scandal.

The present government revived the deal after what was deemed as a “detoxification exercise” and resolutions of billions of debts related to the state-owned development fund.

Since then the Bandar Malaysia Development Advisory Committee under the Ministry of Finance has renegotiated improved terms that ensure the project will truly benefit the country, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

“In this revived deal, the staggered payment terms have been shortened and accelerated from the original seven years to three years.

“In addition to the original deposit sum of RM741 million, IWH-CREC will also pay an additional RM500 million as an advance payment, he said, adding that the improved terms include the construction of 10,000 subsidised affordable homes. Bumiputera participation is prioritised at 30% in delivering construction works,” said Lim.