Update: That was quick. An arrest warrant has been issued against Ting Pek Khiing for failing to appear in court to be questioned by creditors regarding his dealings and ability to pay under provisions of the Bankruptcy Act 1967.
Original post (1 June 2018):
Just when you thought this guy had disappeared into oblivion, the former Mahathir blue-eyed boy Ting Pek Khiing, once declared a bankrupt years after his Bakun Dam efforts flopped, thinks Langkawi could be his new playground.
He wants to build about 30,000 expensive condos, commercial centres, and berthing facilities for ocean liners and yachts on reclaimed land in the eco-paradise of Langkawi.
Is this guy dreaming or what? Just because Mahathir is ruling the roost, and especially in Langkawi, Ting thinks he can see this through?
The project will be off the west side of the island. (Hopefully, it won’t be the coast beyond Gunung Matchingchang, which I am told is one of the very few pristine coasts left in Langkawi, where no road or infrastructure has been built.) How will the reclamation of 81ha affect the Unesco listing for the Langkawi geopark, which I think is already on shaky ground now.)
Ting, now 72, once impressed Mahathir by building the Sheraton Hotel in Langkawi in a record 100 days. (See the fall and fall of Ting Pek Khiing.) But take a look at the recent reviews of this hotel, which seems to have changed hands.
Meanwhile, the government had to pay Ting’s Ekran about RM0.7bn to RM1.1bn as ‘compensation’ over Bakun Dam. The failed project was taken over by government-owned Sarawak Hidro and the new civil builder was the Malaysia–China Hydro JV consortium, led by Sime Engineering Berhad of Malaysia (a subsidiary of Sime Darby and Sinohydro Corporation of China). Last year state-owned Sarawak Energy Berhad acquired Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd.
As part of the “RM1 trillion” federal government debt, under the debts guaranteed by the federal government, Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd has a RM1bn debt due. How was that incurred and who is going to fork out money for that debt in the end?
If Ting wants to build all these high-end condos in Langkawi, who is going to buy all those high-end homes planned under the ‘three islands’ project on 4,500 acres of reclaimed land off the southern coast of nearby Penang Island? The Penang state government is hoping to sell the reclaimed land on these three islands to raise funds to finance SRS Consortium’s exhorbitant RM46bn transport infrastructure proposal.
But will developers be able to sell those high-end homes (only 20% of homes on the three islands will be affordable) on the three islands in Penang especially if Ting builds another 30,000 high-end homes in nearby Langkawi? And what about Ideal Property’s plan to build 1,200 mostly high-end homes in Jerejak Island? (Ideal has a 20% stake in SRS Consortium.)
Even without Ting’s mega plan, the Penang housing market is looking rather “subdued”, to put it politely, of course:
As you can see from this report (above) in today’s theSun, the residential housing market, which makes up 73% of total property transactions, has fallen (in terms of volume) over the last three years berturut-turut.
And “despite the slowdown in new launches, the residential overhang worsened with 3,916 units worth RM3.82 billion. The increase was more than double, both in terms of volume and value, from 1,896 units worth RM1.47 billion in 2016.”
Let me repeat: the residential property overhang in Penang more than doubled last year. And this is the clincher: most of this overhang comprises condos priced at more than RM500,000 – ie way beyond the reach of the vast majority of Penangites.
On the right-hand section of the same report above, you will see a couple of announcements of new property launches. The Montage condos in Sungai Nibong are starting from RM700,000 while the City of Dreams “luxury apartments” are starting from RM1.5m. Even an ‘affordable housing’ project in Bayan Mutiara starts from RM300,000, which would put it beyond the reach of the bottom 80% of Penangites.
And we haven’t even talked about Phase 2 of the Seri Tanjung Pinang project on 760 acres of reclaimed land in Tanjung Tokong and all those new homes in the pipeline.
So, to me, it looks like some people are still in la-la land, fantasising about the property market while in it reality the property overhang in Penang has doubled in one year.
If the idea over in Langkwai is to hopefully provide jobs and improve the livelihood of the people there, it is hard to see what kind of jobs a high-end construction project and a playground for the rich can provide to the ordinary people of Langkawi. Would the environmental impact of this project instead harm the tourism and hospitality sector on which many Langkawi folk rely for their livelihoods?
Already, a petition has gone up asking Mahathir to review Ting’s Langkawi project.