Monday, December 28, 2009

The Case with Conversion of Public Area to Gated and Guarded Community

Gated and Guarded Community
Tuesday, 1 December, 2009 11:11 PM
From: "ng boonhong"

Dear All,
I am a resident of USj2 and write, on behalf of a few residents in USJ 2, to offer our humble opinion on the proposal for a GnG community in USJ2.

Firstly, we would like to record our appreciation and thanks to the Committee of USJ2 RA for the commendable effort in trying to ensure a secure and safe environment for residents in USJ2. It is also heartening to note that generally the residents are concerned with the security problem in the area.

We are in favour of viable measures to improve safety and security in USJ2. The proposal for a GnG community in USJ2, on the surface, looks attractive. However, there are concerns that the implementation may have legal and practical implications that merit in-depth considerations.

Some of these are :
1. The project may be unlawful. The roads in USJ2 are public places and it is unlawful to prevent/restrain members of the public from having free and unrestraint lawful movement/access. The mere act of stopping vehicles, erecting barriers, diverting traffic and recording particulars of persons wanting access into the area, to my mind, constitutes "restrain". Only the Police and some relevant authorities are empowered by law to conduct such activities for purposes of security, maintenance of public order and traffic management. The security guards are not vested with such powers ;

2. It is said that the local authorities, in this case the MPSJ, can approve the project if substantial number of residents ( 75% - 80 % ) agree to it. We would greatly appreciate if we could be enlightened on the provisions of the Law or Regulation authorising MPSJ to act as such and also whether or not this Law or Regulation, if any, are ultra vires the Federal Constitution which guarantees lawful free movement.

3. If the project is unlawful, who will bear the consequences of any litigation that may arise from any untoward incidents or challenge. The USJ2 RA Committee needs to be protected from this eventuality.

4. The infra-structures in USJ are unique ( unlike other housing schemes in USJ ) and affect practical implementation of the GnG project. Two schools and a mosque are located in the middle of USJ2. The area is flanked by Jalan Kewajipan and Jalan Tujuan - two of the busiest roads in USJ/Subang Jaya. There are six entry points into USJ2, a pedestrian crossing from USJ2 to SS 14 Subang Jaya, two petrol stations and two rows of low-cost shop lots. Implementation of the GnG project will cause inconvenience to movement within USJ2 itself and traffic jams especially during peak hours.

5. It is said that the principals of the 2 schools had agreed to the GnG project. Theirs are only 2 opinions. Have they brought the matter to the attention of the Parents/Teachers Association ? What have the people in areas outside USJ2 who send their children to school got to say ?

6. Sad to say, it would appear that the residents have to fend for themselves to ensure their safety and security. To many, this appears to be an Abdication of Responsibilities by the proper authorities. In particular, it does not speak well for the Police. For this reason too they do not support the GnG project.

7. This is a project to be funded by voluntary contributions by the residents and is not bound by any agreement. Many may choose not to contribute. There are also those who may eventually withdraw support if, by and by, they consider the required cost and monthly maintenance too high. In this eventuality, the project may collapse.

The concerns enumerated above represent the reasons why some residents are not in agreement with the implementation of the GnG project. It is presented in good faith and not intended to undermine support for the project. As pointed out earlier, we are all in favour of viable measures to improve security and safety in USJ.

In the meantime, in view of the high crime rate ( not including those that go unreported ), representation needs to be made to the Police to conduct and maintain "high visibilty patrols" in our area.

To my mind, the following are some measures requiring study/consideration as viable alternatives :

1. In most cases, house breaking were through the back doors. MPSJ should consider allowing construction of gates to prevent unauthorise entry into the back lanes. I surmise MPSJ objects to this for reason that keys to the gates cannot be readily available in case of emergencies like fire-fighting. Actually, in such eventuality, the gates can be smashed down if keys are not readily available.

2. CCTV coverage of USJ2 with links to Police Station. The cost and maintenance may be high. On the other hand, this may not be so if the project is undertaken with support from Telcos and MPSJ. Telcos may be interested in view of benefits they can derive from such projects.

3.Rukun Tetangga has proved difficult to implement in our area. In lieu of this, we can probably look into the possibility of employing Malaysian citizens as security guards with Auxillary Police powers to conduct patrols and checks. The auxillary Police powers can only be exercised within USJ2 or any area in USJ approved by the IGP. 8 to 10 such personnel working on 8 hourly shifts should suffice.

This email is forwarded in good faith and sincerity in supporting any viable measures to improve safety and security in our community.

Thank you for your attention.
Ng Boon Hong

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Investing in Students Accomodation - Casa Subang

Since I am targeting investments in students accomodations and after a visitor in this blog prompted me, out of curiosity I visited Casa Subang. I learnt that besides Segi College, there are students from Summit College and Pantai College nearby living here besides those from Taylors further away. Taylors provide a shuttle service for the students.
The access road to this building is via the back of Summit as well as via neighbouring Mydin hypermarket's car park. Unfortunately, the access to the USJ1 area where Casa is located is not so good. I found myself stuck in traffic for almost half an hour trying to get out.
However, despite the access issue, due to the students population, the occupancy is actually very good, almost 100%. There are also ample car parks in the building but the car parks are dark and water logged, very badly maintained much like the rest of the building.

Security access uses a keycard system and there are several security guards on duty at the gate house above. Some students managed to get in without any car park access card because the security personnel know them and there are ample car parks anyway.

There are facilities like basketball courts, tennis, there is a very nice swimming pool and restaurants and laundry shops. To get to the basketball court above, one has to go through a very dark and smelly stair case. There was a decomposing rat inside the stair case.

There are about 4 or 5 of these mamak shops below on the swimming pool deck which serves affordable food to the residents. As you can see, the trolley from a neighbouring hypermarket even found its way into the building, past security and everything.

However, due to bad business or the weekend, many of the shops are closed below.

In terms of convenience for students, as long as they do not intend to wander beyond this is actually not quite a bad place. But I must emphasize on the quality (..or lack of) of the maintenance. It's hard to imagine that this building is new and things have already fallen apart. The security fire door below for example may not be able to provide much security, nor protection if an emergency happens. I also did not see any fire hydrants. I am surprised this building received the CF (or not..?)

Typically, the picture below is how the corridors look like. Dark, dinghy and water-logged. This visit was at around 5pm on a weekend and there seems to be a lack of light. It is easy to slip and fall or worse, get mugged.

About 10 to 12 students share a unit ranging from 3 to 4 bedrooms in various sizes. One college appointed a warden who regularly visits the dorms but he does not seem to notice all the obvious signs of delapidations of the place which endangers the students.

Now, this explains why there were rat carcasses in the staircases. There is no rubbish bins. Rubbish are just left in the open for god knows who to collect. I can't describe the smell as I need to go for lunch after writing this.

I have no more kind words to offer. I know it's cheap to rent. Students pay RM250 per month for a bed and they share 2 to 3 to a room. With 10 students to a house, one would collect RM2500/month for an investment which returns almost 10% yield. So, it makes me wonder who makes this kind of money and think that students deserve to live in this kind of dump. This is Malaysian standard. If we want to change, we have to change from this attitude. Because if students live in dump, when they grow up they think its alright for their future generation to inherit a dump country. That's why we are still a shit hole despite having all the resources.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flip Flop

Not that I am complaining. But this kind of flip flop does not bode well for investment stability. Policies in this country are not very well thought out before they are announced. But at least speculative activities are going to be curbed by introducing the tax for properties sold under 5 years. This is how they should have done it, Right First Time.

Najib announces RPGT reversal
NEWS/COMMENTARIES Thursday, 24 December 2009

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid, The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced tonight a reversal of his government’s decision to reintroduce real property gains tax (RPGT) on January 1 for all transactions, amid concerns that it would hit long-standing homeowners and foreign investors.Instead, the government has now decided the five per cent RPGT would only apply to property sold within five years of purchase.

The five per cent tax, which was announced under Budget 2010 in October, is normally imposed to curb speculation but due to its flat structure does not differentiate between homeowners who have been holding a property for 20 years or those who are flipping properties within one or two years for a profit.

The property sector was taken by surprise by the announcement and had expressed worries that it would have sent a message to potential investors that the government has not been consistent in its policymaking.

An exemption on the RPGT was given in 2007 by the then-Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration in order to boost the property development industry.

Its removal two plus years later with little warning could have heightened the feeling of uncertainty among investors.

But speaking at a dinner with the federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia tonight, Najib allayed fears from the business sector, many of whom are from the Chinese community.He said the decision to backtrack on the implementation of the RPGT will likely cost the government RM200 million in lost revenue.

Apart from this, Najib also announced that the hospitality industry will enjoy a 60 per cent reinvestment allowance from the government, to be handed out to hotels undertaking investments for renovation and refurnishing.

He said that in line with this new policy, the government will extend the investment allowance for 15 years.

The announcements were made following requests made by the Federation of Chinese Associations for the government to help the property sector.

“I hope the Chinese community will respond to the announcements accordingly,” he said.
Najib also said that he hoped to see the Chinese reciprocate his gesture by helping him realise his “1 Malaysia” concept.