Consent from 61% of landowners sufficient to redevelop Kg Baru

Redevelopment of Malay enclave can be expedited despite decision to cancel previous plan, says expert

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by TMR FILE

THE government can still proceed with Kampung (Kg) Baru’s transformation project, even with the consent of only 61% of the landowners who have agreed to sell their plots at the stipulated price.

Rahim & Co International Sdn Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Abdul Rahman said the redevelopment of the Malay enclave can also be expedited despite the Federal Territories (FT) Ministry’s decision to cancel the land acquisition plan mooted by the previous administration.

He said the mega project, which has faced several revisions with stumbling blocks along the way over the years, could be revived if Putrajaya can identify specific development on the parcels owned by landowners who have agreed to sell.

“These core areas are mixed development which comprises residential, retail and offices that can be the catalyst for Kg Baru. But the government needs to work with those 61% who have agreed,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview.

Last year, former FT Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said the government needed between RM6 billion and RM10 billion to buy more than 89ha of Kg Baru lands, based on the valuation of RM1,000 per sq ft. Of the total purchase price, 15% would be in the form of shares.

However, Khalid’s successor, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, recently stated that there was no proper plan to raise such funds, as only 61% of more than 5,000 Kg Baru plot owners have agreed to sell their properties.

Annuar scrapped the idea, describing it as “impracticable”. He also said a new blueprint for Kg Baru redevelopment is being planned, which will include the division of the area into grids and clusters that could make way for the massive project.

Abdul Rahim said the next master plan should include the people who have agreed to sell their lands.

“The government can cluster the lands accordingly and start to identify a few ‘core areas’ that can be developed at a minimum 10-acre (4.04ha) plot through lot combination,” he said.

Abdul Rahim said with a proper and concrete plan, investors would be convinced to have their presence in Kg Baru.

“If there is a good development in Kg Baru, which meets the standards of other developments, people would not mind shifting or living in the area.

“We start with the plots that have the owners’ consent first and let those who are yet to agree, or could not solve their multiple ownership issues, to follow suit afterwards,” he added.

Kg Baru land comprises a total of 121.8ha plots with more than 5,700 owners, including heirs in multiple generations.

In 2015, the project prime mover, Kg Baru Development Corp (KBDC), was tasked to facilitate the Kg Baru Detailed Development Master Plan (PITPKB).

Expectations were huge for the blueprint to transform the Malay enclave into a modern 21st-century “Kg Melayu”.

Among the earlier plans included development of up to 17,500 residential units, which could accommodate up to 77,000 people within the 121.8ha land area by 2035.

KBDC’s priority was also to assist the redevelopment of the Malay Agricultural Settlement that sits on 89ha of lands.

The procurement of the parcels has been hampered with multiple ownership issues, as the plots were mainly passed down a few generations without proper records since 1950.

Khalid and Annuar are on the same page that the redevelopment must take off, so the city would not be an eyesore in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle.

However, Annuar said the acquisition of the entire Kg Baru land would cost the government up to RM7 billion, and there was no fund proposed for that purpose.

Annuar also proposed that the new plan would involve government-link companies, so that the government would not be burdened with huge funds in acquiring the plots.

Abdul Rahim said the government can start engaging landowners who have agreed to sell before rolling out the new plan by the end of next year.

“Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 impact, the market is very soft. Hence, the timing is completely off tangent. You can develop, but you need a timeline and people to buy, so who are you developing this for?

“Therefore, I think what the government can do is go back to the drawing board, plan it and implement it when there is a fortune, which may be at least between 12 to 24 months from now,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a press conference last week, Annuar said KBDC would need more time to conclude the proposal for the new PITPKB 2040.

He said the ministry has allocated RM400 million to upgrade the infrastructure in Kg Baru, including widening the roads in the area, while waiting for the KBDC blueprint. No timeline for the project has been given.