High-speed rail key to Bandar Malaysia’s success, says economist

Bandar Malaysia is a mixed-use development located on 486 acres of prime land in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: An economist has recommended that the massive Bandar Malaysia project located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur proceed only if it is accompanied by the proposed high-speed rail (HSR) to Singapore.

Yeah Kim Leng said Kuala Lumpur is experiencing a glut of commercial and retail space. He said more development would only add to this glut unless it has a distinctive feature.

“It will only make sense if the HSR project continues at Bandar Malaysia. It will spur growth,” he told FMT.

Work on the HSR project, linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, has been deferred to Dec 31.

Bandar Malaysia meanwhile is being developed by a joint venture between government-owned TRX City Sdn Bhd and a consortium comprising Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd and China Railway Engineering Corporation.

Concerns over the 486-acre mixed-use development were raised even before business activities were shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Former government adviser Daim Zainuddin had asked if there were enough buyers for the commercial space in the project, which occupies a plot of land in Sungai Besi that was formerly an air force base.

Yeah, an economics professor at Sunway University, said the HSR project would turn Bandar Malaysia into a main transport hub, linking the Klang Valley with other parts of Malaysia and Singapore.

“We have seen development in areas surrounding transit links before. It has been favourable to businesses in the surrounding commercial areas,” he said.

Independent economist Hoo Ke Ping said the project developer should be allowed to build the 10,000 affordable homes now as stipulated in the agreement between the developer and government.

He said the project would create jobs, kickstart other industries linked to the construction site, and provide homes to people at an affordable price.

Economist Nazari Ismail of Universiti Malaya however warned that the economy was heading towards a recession.

“Any project is going to be risky. Even the affordable housing project is risky, in my opinion,” he said.

“Under the present (economic) circumstances, people should avoid debt.”

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