9 Tips on hiking safely at Cherok Tokun Hill, Bukit Mertajam

June 5th, 2015

Hiking at Cherok Tokun Hill, Bukit Mertajam (Tokun Hill)  has become my regular weekend outing in the last few years. I used to go for leisure walk at Tokun Hill many years back but only seriously went for hiking after I decided to go for Mt Kinabalu Climbing in June 2013. Prior to the adventurous trip to Sabah, I began to train at Tokun Hill for several months and after the successful climb to the peak of Mt Kinabalu, I have developed an indulgence for hiking as a healthy form of exercise and to get fit.

Tokun Hill Recreational Forest or Hutan Lipur Cherok Tokun, with a highest peak of 547 metres above sea level, is accessible  from Bukit Mertajam Town via Jalan Kulim and thereafter via Jalan Kolam for a distance of 5 km. The nearest exit from North-South Highway is via the Juru Interchange.  The distance from the recreational area at the base up to the Hill Top via the tarred road is about 4.0 km. Hiking via the jungle trails from the base up to the hill top is shorter, about 3.0 km-3.5 km.

There were several incidences of hikers get lost their way while hiking at Tokun Hill involving students, youth, women and retired men. One reported case of two missing women at Tokun Hill in December 2014. See Two women feared missing at Bukit Ceruk Tokkun and the most recent one involved two retired men who lost their way whilst hiking at Tokun Hill and got stranded for 5 hours.

To avoid the risk of getting lost as well as injury while hiking, I like to share my hiking experiences and below are some safety tips that may be helpful for those who wants to go for hiking at Tokun Hill.

Basically, I would classify the visitors of Tokun Hills into 3 categories :-

a) Leisure walkers / amateur hikers

b) Weekend hikers

c) Regular hikers

a) Leisure walkers / amateur hikers

These are mostly families and first time visitors, some of them would walk leisurely along the tarred road with their family members and friends or stroll aimlessly along the stream and jungle trail for a short distance.

These group is the majority of the visitors on weekends, especially morning and afternoon 5pm to 7 pm. Both the parking areas near the main entrance and another one near the base are always full with cars.

b) Weekend Hikers

These group are mostly working people and come to Tokun hill to exercise on weekends or public holiday only.

They are either in a group or alone, with backpack beg and wear proper gear and walking stick.

They are moderately fit and have specific route to trek.Some of them are able to hike up to the peak whilst some may trek up half way, stop and rest at the main rest shed.

Their average time to hike up to the hill top and back is 2 hours – 2.30 hours.

c) Regular Hikers

Mostly are retired men and women. Some of them are elderly persons in the 60s-70s,

They come to hike regularly almost on daily or alternate day basis. They are physically fit, with good endurance and very adaptable to the terrain of the Hill and familiar with the jungle trails. One regular hiker told me , rain or shine, he will come to hike on daily basis and he would feel uneasy and restless if he didn’t come for hiking.

They can hike fast at ease and can reach the hill top and then back to the base for less than one and a half hours.

9 Tips on hiking safely at Tokun Hill

1) Weather – it is best to check the weather condition of the day before you leave home heading towards Tokun Hill. Avoid thunderstorm /raining period as the condition of the jungle trail may be wet and slippery, thus not conducive for hiking. If you still want to go, opt for the tarred road instead of the jungle trail.

2) Ideal time to Hike – most of these incidence of get lost their way whilst hiking is that they went for hiking impulsively with little preparation and started their hike rather late in the afternoon. Best time to go for hiking is in the morning.  If you wish to go for hiking in the afternoon, then start your trip early , 2.30 to 3 pm. To start your hiking trip after 5 pm via the jungle trail is considered too late or risky as the weather condition in the rain forest turn dark very quickly after 6 pm.

The regular hikers normally start their trip rather early and some of them could have already come down and left the place by 5 pm.

Another advantage of starting your trip early is that you have better chances of seeking help in case of emergency when get stranded midway from those hikers who are on the way down.

3) Hike in a group – It is always safer to trek up in a group along the jungle trail as the trail is rather quiet and hardly any hikers during week days. There are more hikers using the jungle trail during weekends.

4) Know your hiking trail – in addition to the existing tarred road, there are numerous trails and earth tracks which are rather confusing to hikers. Go for the trails that are widely used by the hikers and avoid trekking into unfamiliar path.

5) Wear proper hiking shoe, knee support and ankle guard if required to safeguard your knee and ankle from injury. As the jungle trail is of uneven steps make up of stones, path full of rocks and boulder and earth track on sloping terrain, a good pair of hiking gear is necessary for a comfortable, safer and enjoyable hiking trip. Hikers can trek up via the jungle trail and come down via the tarred road if the trail is still wet/slippery after rain a night ago.

6) Hiker’s Conduct - Be an environment friendly hiker, keep your foot print to minimal whilst in the forest do not litter.Bring along a refuse beg to keep empty drinking bottle, snack wrapping and food waste.

7)Take proper meal one hour before hiking and bring along one bottle of drinking water and chocolate energy bar if you wish to bring along. Keep your fruits and snacks inside the beg and away from the eyes of the monkeys to avoid being snatched by the monkeys.

8) Apart from the usual nuisance of mosquitoes, the blood sucker and while trekking and resting , be vigilant on tropical rain forest insects ie leech, centipede, scorpion, ants, bees, snakes etc which can be harmful to hikers. Also watch out for any dead tree branches hanging on the trees.

9) For hikers who wants to go for more challenging hike and training in preparation for mountain climbing, he/she can opt for a shorter but steeper trail to the hill top and carry along a backpack beg with 2kg to 5 kg weight.

If you wish to enquire more about hiking adventure at Tokun Hill, email to tclbm at yahoo dot com . And for ladies who want to know more about hiking through the jungle trail of Tokun Hill, please email to Ms Hor gshor1965 at gmail dot com

Some views of the jungle trails

View of the main rest shed

View of Mengkuang Dam from the hill top rest shed

flora and fauna of Tokun Hill

corpse flower

giant ant


Wild fruits

New Condominium Developments in Bukit Mertajam

February 22nd, 2015

As we usher the “Goat Year” of Chinese new Year 2015, the Penang Property sector is entering a challenging year amid the impending implementation of Goods and Service Tax on 1/4/2015.

Whilst high rise residential schemes continue to dominate bulk of the on-going developments in Penang Island, one inevitable development trend that is emerging in Central Seberang Perai is the mushrooming of new condominium schemes and the emergence of integrated developments.

Penang Property Skyline

Unlike Penang Island, conventional landed housing schemes of single and double storey terraced houses used to dominate the residential sub-sector of Seberang Perai and the preferred housing types by the mainland Penang purchasers. But this trend is poised to change in the coming years as new housing supply will be coming from high rise condominiums schemes. As land costs for development lands have gone up substantially in the last few years and coupled with depleting land banks available for housing developments, building conventional landed homes at affordable price range are no longer feasible for developers which seek to maximize profits from their projects.

The property sector in central Seberang Perai will see an influx of new condominiums and apartments into the housing market over the next 2-3 years.

Izrin & Tan Properties Sdn Bhd www.intproperties.com conducted a research on the supply of new high rise housing schemes currently being built, launched as well as planned projects in  Bukit Mertajam Area.  The supply of new condominiums/apartments in Bukit Mertajam Area is estimated to be 5,543 units from a total of 24 housing projects. Below is a table showing the new condominium schemes in Bukit Mertajam Area.

New Condominium supply in Bukit Mertajam

New Condominium supply in Bukit Mertajam

Bukit Mertajam Area Map

Bukit Mertajam Area Map

Some general observations on the trend of new condominium developments in Bukit Mertajam Area:-

a) In terms of area distribution, Bukit Mertajam Town - Jalan Song Ban Kheng  Area  contributes 32% of  the  total units  from 11 schemes,  followed by  Bukit Mertajam  South-Western  Corridor, namely Bukit Tengah -Bukit Minyak - Juru Area  with  27% of the total units from 5 schemes and  Bukit Mertajam western corridor, namely Jalan Permatang Rawa-Jalan Baru area, with 22.3 %  of the total units from 4 schemes.

b) About 58% of the new schemes in Bukit Mertajam Area are single block development with less than 150 units each as developers prefer to opt for exemption of 30% low cost provision for their schemes. Under the state housing rulings, it is mandatory for developers to build 30%  low cost units  for new developments exceeding 150 units. Some of these developers are first time builder venturing into high rise stratified housing schemes.

c) In terms of sales price, the average per square foot generally ranges from RM240 psf up to RM350 psf for unfurnished units. Sales Price for units that comes with renovation package or kitchen cabinet or additional home improvement fittings range from  RM365-RM450 psf.

d) In terms of Floor areas, the unit sizes range from 1,000 sq ft to 1,300 sq ft for a 3 bedroom/2 bath unit. There are also bigger units with floor size of 1,300 sq ft to 1,500 sq ft for 4 bedroom  type.

e)Car Parks- most schemes are offering 2 car parks as one car park is considered to be inadequate.

f)The ratio for the number of residential suites (with commercial title) vis-à-vis residential titled units is projected to increase as developers seek to maximize land usage ie. mixed usage integrated developments instead of residential schemes.

g)Service charges at RM0.15 –RM0.19 psf per month for condominiums whilst the rate for service charges of residential suites is generally higher, at RM0.25 psf per month. For purchasers intending to buy residential suites(with commercial title),  please note that  the rates for assessment, utility such as water, electricity and Indah Water for suites are based on commercial rates and thus higher than the residential-titled condominium units.

As more supply of new condominium units entering the market, there will be increased  competition for housing developers to price their units competitively in order to boost their sales take up and this would provide more choices for discerning buyers to bargain hunt and choose their homes according to their budget requirements, loan eligibility, locational preferences, security and facilities, tenure, building design, floor layout and size etc.

The changing trend and living lifestyle of young working population will propel the demand for gated and guarded stratified housing units in Bukit Mertajam Area. According to the draft local plan prepared by MPSP, the population of Central Seberang Perai in year 2015 is estimated to be 430,100 and it is projected to increase to 467,800 in year 2020.

For enquires on sales and rental of Penang Properties, email to tan at intproperties dot com or call +604-6588333.

Tips on how to be healthy using smartphone Free Apps

March 27th, 2014

Many Malaysians are aware that walking is a good form of exercise for health, but how many steps does a person needs to walk in order to be healthy ? According to a joint study conducted by University of Leicester and Duke University which published its findings in the December 2013 Edition of LANCET, the world’s leading general medical journal revealed that :-

Walking an additional 2,000 steps per day could help reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke.

“A large international study of people with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT; a precursor to diabetes) has found that every additional 2,000 steps taken a day over one year—roughly equivalent to 20 min a day of moderately-paced walking—reduces the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke by 8%.

Specifically, for every 2000 steps per day difference in walking activity at the start of the study there was a 10% difference in the risk of cardiovascular disease in subsequent years. On top of this, the risk of cardiovascular disease was further modified by 8% for every 2000 steps per day that walking activity changed between the start of the study and 12 months later.”

For more info, go to article.

Those with sedentary lifestyle and white collar office personnel working long hours on computer as well as those spending long hours in front of TV are likely to be the most vulnerable group. One Australian Study, published in 2010, also found that every daily hour spent in front of TV over a 6 year period increased a person’s risk of death by 11%. The study wasn’t about exercise, it was about the basic day to day activity that involves moving, bending and stretching that keeps your blood circulating and your muscles from losing tone.

With the advent of many health mobile apps, one can monitor and keep track his/her daily movement and I find that these apps are such wonderful yet useful tools for smartphone users that can easily download from Apps Store and use it to keep track his/her daily walking steps and distance.

For IPhone 5S users or with software IOS 7.1, there are many apps available, both free and paid apps.One recommended FREE app which is simple and easy to use is Pedometer ++.

Free Health App

Free Health App

Once you have successfully downloaded Pedometer ++ from Apps Store, set your daily goal - 2,000, 2,500, 3,000, 3,500, 4,000 depending on your own target. For a start, you may start with 2,000 as your daily goal and later on, you may increase it to 2,500 or higher. And if you wish to monitor number of the steps before the start of walking exercise, go to the App Icon Pedometer ++ and activate the badge step count icon. The app icon will display the current step counter once you start walking.

Free Health App

Free Health App - 3,500 steps

Free health App

Free health App - 4,000 steps

As for other smartphone users running on Android system, I believe there are similar health apps as well.

If you find that age is still on your advantage and walking is inadequate to bring out the maximum benefits and you aim for higher fitness and endurance level, hiking and treadmill workouts at gyms( either walking or running for 20-30 minutes) can be your alternative choices. The popular places for Penangites go for hiking are Penang Hill, Bukit Jambul Hill and Bukit Mertajam Hill. Surprisingly, The FREE App, Pedometer ++ can work well to track the total number of steps and distance too for my hiking exercise and treadmill workouts.

hiking at BM Hill

Hiking up to BM Hill, overlooking Mengkuang Dam reservoir

treadmill workout at gyms

treadmill workout at gym

However, If you have other preferred sporting activities and you wish to measure how many calories you burn through exercise, there are plentiful health apps available too. One recommended website which I find  helpful to measure how many calories you burn through exercise is

Once you have this FREE App in your mobile phone and set your goal of achieving healthy living, you are in control of your life and what’s more, Penang is such a conducive living place for healthy living environment blessed with natural tropical hills.

If you find that this blog is informative and provide helpful tips, please share out with your friends. If you have interest on buying or selling Penang Property, visit our website at www.intproperties.com.

The Development of Batu Kawan and its land price trends

March 3rd, 2014

Batu Kawan is on the national attention following the official opening of the Second Penang Bridge by the Malaysian Prime Minister on 1st March 2014. It is officially known as Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge.blog.intproperties.com have gathered relevant information and researched the chronological events on the development of Batu Kawan to track its past pricing trends of land transactions from the time Batu Kawan Island was acquired to the present time of the completion and opening of Second Penang Bridge.(Map of Second Penang Bridge).



Background Information

Batu Kawan used to be an oil palm estate previously owned by Batu Kawan Berhad (BKB). On 8th February 1991, the Penang state government has gazetted Batu Kawan Estate under section 8 of the land acquisition act 1960.

In 1992, the entire 5,260 acre Batu Kawan was acquired by Penang State Government through the Land Office Administrator of South Seberang Perai District for a sum of RM53,197,974 or RM8,167 per acre awarded as compensation.

BKB filed the case to the Penang High Court and the judge reviewed the land acquisition and increased the award of compensation to RM15,000.00 per acre (RM15,000 X 5,260 acres = RM78,900,000.00) on 9th October 1995.

Not satisfied with the compensation, BKB pursued the matter to the Court of Appeal but was dismissed on 22th Sept 1997.

Subsequently, BKB took the matter up to the Federal Court seeking higher compensation of RM40,000 per acre but was dismissed by Federal Court on 11th September 2001. BKB exhausted all the legal means which took them 9 years and finally settled with the compensation of RM15,000.00 per acre(Analysed to RM0.34 psf). The Federal Court judge held that the revised compensation of RM15,000.00 as at that time in 1992 is the “Adequate compensation” on the premise that the land is an agricultural estate land with remote potentiality for any development.

Past Events and Transactions

In Feb 1996, BKB set up a joint venture vehicle with a 60%-owned joint venture company, Padova Corporation Sdn Bhd (“Padova”), with the Penang Development Corporation (“PDC”) whereby Padova has entered into a Land Purchase Agreement with the PDC.

Under this Agreement, Padova was to purchase from PDC 740 acres of former estate land on Batu Kawan Island for a sum of RM50 million for property development(analysed to RM1.55 psf). The land was part of the Company’s Batu Kawan Estate, which was compulsorily acquired by the State Government in 1992 and a sum of RM40 million has been paid to PDC under the Agreement. However, due to economic downturn, the plans for property development in the area were reviewed while the Land Purchase Agreement has been terminated.

On 9th May 2002, Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd (ANSB) submitted tender for Penang Turf Club’s relocation and sale of Batu Gantung land. ANSB proposed to build a new race-course for the Penang Turf Club at a 250-acre site at Batu Kawan. On 25th November 2002 – Turf Club EGM approved sale of Turf Club land in Batu Gantung and proposed acquisition of Batu Kawan site for relocation of Penang Turf Club.

On 16th Jan 2004 – PDC entered into a Principle agreement to sell several parcels of land in Batu Kawan, totaling 750 acres to ANSB. The development was planned in six different phases, each divided into Parcels 1, 2A, 2B 3A, 3B and 4 respectively of which mixed development projects were planned on Parcels 1, 2A, 2B 3A, and 3B measuring 450 acres in total. The development of Parcel 4 was confined to the development of a Penang International Equesterian Centre (PIEC) measuring approximately 300 acres. The purchase consideration for Parcel 4 was reported as RM46 million (analysed to RM3.52 psf).

On 8th March 2008, The DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat took over the Penang State Government administration.

In September 2008, CM Lim Guan Eng and 52-member delegation went to Korea for its first oversea trade investment mission. After the trip, it was widely reported that an MOU between PDC and Korean Group DK ENC has been signed to build a US$ 100 million (RM350 million)golf course in Batu Kawan. However, the deal fizzled out after a memorandum of understanding (MoU)on the project,signed between PDC and South Korean-based DK ENC Company Ltd lapsed.

batu kawan golf course

batu kawan golf course

In year 2009/2010, land acquisition process began on private lands in the Batu Kawan locality affected by the Second Penang Bridge alignment and road linkages to North South Highway and were awarded compensation at a rate of RM8-10 psf.

On 5th April 2011, CM Lim Guan Eng announced the sale of Batu Kawan Land TO ABAD NALURI SDN BHD(ANSB) after a re-negotiation process with ANSB since 2008 to proceed with the development of the remaining parcels since the S&P Agreements for Parcels 2B, 3A and 3B were yet to be signed. After serious negotiations and discussions between both parties, a decision was finally made and agreed upon by both parties in early 2011.

It was reported that the change in the development of Parcel 4 from the PIEC to the proposed mixed development has benefited PDC by enhancing the value of the land from RM3.05 psf to RM4.77 psf amounting to an increased value of RM22,500,000.00.(Approximately 56% increase in value of the land)- Click here for more info.

On 27th June 2011, CM Lim Guan Eng held a press conference and announced that an industrial park catering for SME with 150 acres will be established at the Batu Kawan Industrial Park(1,600 acres) and 67 acres acres for SMEs opened for sale as backbone for solar and renewable energy industries. The current sales price of SME industrial land in Batu Kawan Industrial Park is priced at RM30 psf.

batu kawan industrial park

batu kawan industrial park

On 23rd August 2011, CM Lim Guan Eng unveiled that PDC has allocated 200 acre site in Batu Kawan for the proposed Mega housing project of which at least 7,300 affordable housing units will be built over a period of 5-7 years at a density of 55 units per-acre.

mega housing at batu kawan

mega housing at batu kawan

On 16th February 2012-Ground breaking ceremony for HDB designed affordable homes was held at Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan- Video.

On 29th February 2012, a signing ceremony was held between Robert Bosch with PDC for the purchase of a parcel of industrial land for RM58 million. 20% of the purchase price has been paid in December 2011. The land is estimated to be 35.2 or 87 acres(Analysed to RM15.30 psf).

In September 2012, Equine Capital Bhd, the controlling company of ANSB, changed its name to Global Oriental(GOB). GOB still has a remaining 350 acres of leasehold land in Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan.

On 10th October 2012, Malton Berhad announced that Silver Setup Sdn Bhd (”SSSB”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malton, had entered into a Joint Development Agreement (“JDA”) with Batu Kawan Development Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd) (”BKDSB”) for the proposed joint development of a piece of land situated at Batu Kawan, Mukim 13, Seberang Perai Selatan, Pulau Pinang (“Land”), measuring approximately 300 acres (“Joint Venture”).

The proposed development under the JDA is expected to comprise mixed commercial and residential development (“Proposed Development”). Based on the preliminary plans, the gross development value of the Proposed Development is estimated to be RM3.8 billion.

The Proposed Development is expected to be carried out and completed in phases over 10 years from the date of issuance of the title of the Land, subject to extension as may be approved by the PDC.

Details of the Joint Venture Entitlements under the Proposed Development :-

BKDSB’s entitlement under the JDA is 18% of the Gross Development Value of the Proposed Development, subject to not less than RM300 million, which represents the minimum return expected by BKDSB from the Joint Venture. Whilst SSSB shall be entitled to the remaining 82% of the Gross Development Value of the Proposed Development. Under the JDA, SSSB is solely responsible to meet the costs of the Proposed Development. Upon signing of the JDA, SSSB has paid a sum of RM20 million as deposit to BKDSB as part of BKDSB’s entitlement under the JDA (“Deposit”).

On 28th March 2013, after slightly more than a year, Media reported that Bosch Solar Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd has decided to shelve its plan to invest RM2.2 billion in a new mono-crystalline solar cell plant at Batu Kawan Industrial Park although a sales and purchase agreement had been signed between Bosch and PDC in December 2011 for a 35.2ha of land in Batu Kawan to build the plant, citing circumstances did not allow Bosch to proceed with the project.More on Bosch pull out.

In August 2013, PDC called for a request for proposal (RFP) for an international theme park and golf resort (with a minimum 18 holes). The RFP is for the purchase and lease of a total 685 acres of land – 215 acres for the theme park (west of Batu Kawan) and 470 acres for the golf resort (north of Batu Kawan). Both projects are required to be completed within four years from the date of agreement. The entire development must be fully completed in 10 years. No new announcement on the outcome of this RFP yet.

On 12th October 2013, PDC signed a purchase and development agreement for the construction of a premium retail outlet in Bandar Cassia,Batu Kawan. The agreement, signed between PDC and developer PE Land Sdn Bhd, will see the nation’s second premium outlet after the Johor Premium Outlet. The premium outlet, costing about RM200mil, will be built on a plot of 16ha (39.54 acres) land that will also include a 300-room international-class hotel, cafes and food and beverage outlets, a landscaped garden as well as residential units. It was reported that the Payment for the land premium of RM65.34mil would be within three months.(Analysed to RM37.94 psf).

On 10th January 2014 – CM Lim Guan Eng announced IKEA’s Entry Into Batu Kawan with the sale of 245 acres of land for the purpose of development of an integrated shopping mall, anchored by an IKEA store to be developed by Ikano Pte Ltd, and mixed development of offices and residences to be developed jointly by Aspen-Ikano (a joint venture company to be formed by Aspen Vision Land Sdn Bhd and Ikano Pte Ltd).  The 245 acres development in Batu Kawan will include: 30 acres for the development of IKEA Store and phase 1 of the Shopping Mall 45 acres for the development of phase 2 of the Shopping Mall; and 170 acres for mixed development purposes (Remaining Parcels) The total land cost for the project is RM 483,951,600 and payment is to be made within 60 months from the date of Agreement. A RM 5 million non-refundable deposit has also being paid to PDC.

Off all the land dealings in Batu Kawan, this is considered as the landmark transaction of year 2014 which analysed to RM45.34 psf with payment terms of up to 5 years.

The last one year also witnessed several big players joining the bandwagon of acquiring lands in southern Seberang Perai in anticipation of the improved infrastructure networks with enhanced accessibility following the completion of Second Penang Bridge. Several reported land acquisition by established developers are :-

MAH Sing Group Bhd bought about 76.38 acres of freehold land in Jawi, Southern mainland Penang for RM42.59 million It was reported that the land was acquired at RM12.80 psf in December 2013 with payment terms within 18 months.

Another developer , Tambun Indah (TILB) acquired additional 21 acres freehold land at Pearl City of Bandar Tasek Mutiara.This came after the acquisition of a 24.1 acre land parcel also in the township a month earlier.The purchase consideration of MR12.7m translates into a land cost of MR14.00 psf, similar to the earlier transaction. Tambun Indah has an accumulated land bank of about 550 acres of Pearl City of Bandar Tasek Mutiara

IJM Land has also acquired 70 acres of land in Jawi, Southern mainland Penang for RM56 million (Analysed to RM18.50 psf ) in July 2013.

According to RHB Research, EcoWorld also bought about 60 acres of land located at the junction of Jalan Paboi and the old Simpang Ampat federal route, near Simpang Ampat, Southern Seberang Perai at over RM30 psf.

After a span of 22 years, Batu Kawan is poised for higher intensity of development with the recent opening of the Second Penang Bridge. There is no doubt that the construction of RM4.5 Bil Second Penang Bridge since 2008 have accelerated the development of Batu Kawan as evidenced by increased investments and land transactions over the past one year. Improved road networks and accessibility has significant impact on its land usability.Its zoning use from that of pure agricultural land in 1990’s has gradually maturing into lands with potential and suitable for housing and industrial use and likely to scale up to higher economic land usage such as commercial and mixed development township. So as its land prices which have surged significantly in recent years in tandem with the change of land usability, zoning and enhanced accessibility.

For more information and advisory on Penang property matters, please visit our website at www.intproperties.com or email to tan@intproperties dot com.

Updates :

On 25th March 2014, Property developer Paramount Corp Bhd (PCB) signed an agreement with PDC to purchase 12.14ha ( about 30 acres)  of freehold land in Batu Kawan for a total of RM65.56 million to develop a university metropolis. It was reported the land cost for the 10 acres of land for education use ie. for development of KDU University College is RM40.50 psf whilst the land cost for the remaining 20 acres earmarked for integrated development is RM55.00 psf.

Under the agreement, PCB is required to commence and complete the development of the education component within 5 years whilst the integrated development is targeted for completion within 10 years from the agreement date.

Update on the Malaysia Real Property Gain Tax(RPGT)-Budget 2012

October 9th, 2011

One of the measures to curb real estate speculative activities in the property sector as announced by the Malaysian Government in its budget 2012 on 7th October 2011 is the revision of RPGT rate. For properties held and disposed within 2 years, the RPGT rate is 10%. For properties held and disposed within a period exceeding 2 years and up to 5 years, the rate is 5%. Properties held and disposed after 5 years are not subject to RPGT. (refer picture below)

(source picture : btimes )

RPGT has been introduced in Malaysia at multi-tier rates since year 1995 up to 2007. It was suspended from 1st April 2007 to 31st December 2009 in a move to shore up the sluggish Malaysia property sector affected by the world financial crisis.  In January 1, 2010, RPGT was reinstated at a single rate of 5% for all taxable gains (for all disposal within five years). 

Effective  January 1, 2012, property owners and investors who dispose off their property in Malaysia within five years will be subject to the revised RPGT rate on taxable capital gains for sale and purchase agreements signed on or after that date. For disposal of property whereby state consent is required, the date of disposal shall be the date when such conditions have been complied with but not the date of SPA. However, genuine property owner who disposes their property can apply for exemption of RPGT under the following circumstances ie. a) one-in-a-lifetime exemption for malaysian individuals, b) disposal by way of gift ie between parent and child, husband and wife etc.     

Briefly, the computation of RPGT in Malaysia is as follows:-

A)     Disposal  Price ( LESS allowable expenditure ie. upgrading and improvement costs to maintain or enhance the value of the property  and incidental expenditure such as legal fees and stamp duty, agent fees, administration charges etc)   

B)      Acquisition Price ( ADD incidental costs legal fees, agent fees, administration charges etc)

Taxable capital gains = A-B less RM10,000.00 exemption or 10% of the net gains, whichever is higher for an individual. 


 If there is capital gains arising from the disposal of a property after deducting allowance for capital gains exemption up to RM10,000.00 or 10% of the net gains, whichever is higher for an individual, the RPGT rate  shall be 10% on taxable capital gains for disposal within two years and 5% on taxable capital gains for disposal exceeding second years but within fifth years.

In standard practice, A 2% retention sum of the disposal price will be retained by acquirer’s solicitor for RPGT purpose and filing of notification of disposal to Board of Inland Revenue of Malaysia  is required within 60 days. Picture below shows a sample format of the RPGT also known as CKHT form issued by Board of Inland Revenue of Malaysia for your easy reference.

The revision of RPGT rate under the Budget  2012 is considered moderate and  expected to have gradual impact on the property market in key urban areas in KL/Klang Valley, Penang Island and JB where bulk of the property investments and market activities are actively taking place. More  here .

Where to buy a Penang Apartment for less than RM1,000 a month

October 18th, 2010

The residential subsector for the state of Penang in the second half of 2010 remains vibrant and continue to be the dominant sector in terms of number of transactions of the Penang Property Market. It is inevitable that home prices are on the rising trend in recent quarters brought about by improving economic conditions nationwide and continued bullish outlook of the Malaysian economic performance. It is also a widely known fact that landed house prices such as single and double storey terraced houses, in particular, Penang Island are amongst the highest in the country which have gone beyond the affordable levels of the medium income groups and new home seekers.

However, first time home buyers can still look for affordable Penang Apartments in the secondary market of Penang Island as there are many choices of medium range apartments priced from RM130,000 to RM220,000 per unit.

Incentive for first time home buyers under Budget 2011

Following the recent budget announcement on 15th October 2010, the government will introduce the “Skim Rumah Pertamaku” or “My First Home Scheme” through Cagamas Berhad to assist the newly-employed younger group earning less than RM3,000 per month to buy a house costing less than RM220,000.00.

First time home buyers will be eligible for 100% FINANCING. First-time house buyers will also be given stamp duty exemption of 50 per cent on instruments of transfer on a house price not exceeding RM350,000 as well as stamp duty waiver of up to 50 per cent on loan agreement instruments to finance such first-time purchase of houses. With the exemption in stamp duty, first time home buyers stand to SAVE UP TO RM2,250.00.

Read more :-Full loan for first-time house buyers and Pinjaman rumah 100 % untuk golongan muda.

Perks for first-time house buyers

a)Savings on 50% waiver of stamp duty on transfer instrument:-
House Price say RM220,000.00
1% on first RM100,000.00 – RM1,000.00
2% on balance RM120,000.00 – RM2,400.00
Total RM3,400.00
50% waiver RM 1,700.00

b)Savings on 50% waiver of stamp duty on loan instrument :-
0.5% on full loan say RM220,000.00- RM1,100.00
50% waiver RM 550.00

First time purchaser needs to pay RM2,250.00 only instead of RM4,500.00. Hence, effective savings is RM1,700.00 + RM550.00 = RM2,250.00.

Where to find Penang Apartments ?
Below is our compilation of apartment schemes in selected areas of Penang Island which are within the affordable pricing bracket for first time home seekers where we can help you to locate and own a Penang Apartment at affordable repayments from as low as RM500.00- RM1,000.00 a month. Our company, Izrin & Tan Properties Sdn Bhd is ever ready to assist you to own a Penang Apartment in a hassle-free (no headache to find where to buy), easy and convenience way.

Penang Island Apartment Information
Tanjung Tokong/Tanjung Bungah/Batu Feringgi – Aquarius , Azuria, Bayu Emas, Delima Condo, Ferringhi Delima, Ferringhi Mutiara, Permai Ria, Taman Krsytal, Taman Tegoh
Jelutong – Simphony Park, Mutiara Heights, Mutiara Idaman, Serina Bay, Desa Selatan, Menara Riverview, Taman Jelutong, Taman Cemerlang
Bukit Dumbar – Sinar Bukit Dumbar
Bandar Baru Air Itam – Seri Semarak, Desa Intan, Desa Baiduri, Fortune Court, Sri Impian, Sri Ivory, Sri Krystal, Tanjung Court, Asia Height, BL Garden, Treasure Ville
Padang Tembak - Boundary Court
Paya Terubong – Desa Permata, GL Garden
Perak Road – Casa Impian, Tmn Sri Perak, Tmn Kheng Tian, Kota Emas, Suteramas, Seruan Emas
Gelugor/Bukit Gambier – U Garden, Jade View, Gambier Heights, N-Park, Taman Batu Uban, Villa Sri Kenaga
Bukit Jambul – Taman Bukit Jambul, BJ Court, Desa Daya, Jambul View, Sri Nibong Apt
Batu Lancang/Greenlane – Mewah Court, Desa Green, Kota Emas, Desa Penaga, Eastern Court, Greenlane Heights, Medan Penaga, Taman Sri Damai
Georgetown –Taman Pelangi, Macallum St Ghaut flat, Sri Kota, Medan Samak, Desa Singora
Relau/Sungai Ara – Marina Tower, Taman Desa Relau, Acres Villa, Ara Mas, Desa Alor Vista, Desa Bayan, Relau Vista, Sri Abadi, Sunshine Garden, Villa Kejora, Vista Condo
Sungai Dua- Taman Pekaka, Taman Jubilee, Nipah Emas, Taman Lip Sin
Sungai Nibong/ Bayan Baru – Century Park, Desa Bistari, Gedung Hts, Halaman Cendana, Mahsuri Apartments, Nibong Indah, Taman Jubilee
Bayan Lepas – Saujana Damai, Bayan Permai

Mainland Penang- Seberang Perai Apartment Information
Butterworth – Park View, SeaView (studio unit), Pangsapuri Cantik, Pangsapuri Ria, Vista Perdana, Pantai Apartments, Pangsapuri Sena
Bagan Lallang/ Raja Uda area- Seri Cemerlang, Taman Mesra Indah, Taman Pandan, Pangsapuri Mawar, Pangsapuri Seri Mekar
Bukit Mertajam- Kondo Mutiara, Pangsapuri Seri Pelangi
Prai–Pangsapuri Aman(Prima Prai), Pangsapuri Pesona

Contact us now at +604-6588333 or SMS to 0124072329 to find out how we can assist you to own an affordable Penang Apartment for less than RM1,000.00 a month.

Acres Villa in Sungai Ara, Penang

Asia Height Apartments in Air Item

N-Park in Batu Uban

Jade View Apartments in Gelugor

Park View Tower @Harbour Place in Butterworth

Cassia Resort Condo@ Raja Uda, Butterworth

4 Market indicators on Penang Property Sector 2010

September 5th, 2010

1. More new property launches - More housing projects are being slated for launching in the second half of this year by established developers in Penang as there is growing optimism amongst housing developers and market players on the recovery of domestic economic and improving market outlook on the property sector. Read more at Penang gears up for more property launches.

2. Property transactions on the rise -According to NAPIC’s press release, there is an increase of 16% in terms of number of property transaction in 1st Quarter 2010 compared to the corresponding quarter in year 2009 whilst the total transaction values surged significantly, almost 49% from RM16.92bil to RM25.5bil. It is projected that the rise on the property transactions and total values are likely to continue for the forthcoming quarters. The overall property market performance this year is expected to be much better than year 2009 which have been marred by the world financial crisis.

3. Rebound in market demand -The rebound in market demand experienced by the Penang Property sector in the first half of this year is mainly attributable to the pent-up demand after a period of subdue market activities brought about by the impact of the world financial crisis.

Recent reports of higher take up and improving sales performances experienced by Penang’s established housing developers indicates that the market demand has indeed picked up and the demand trend is likely to remain firm in the short term as property investors are flocking back into the property market in anticipation of buoyant economic outlook as well as further price increase following the recent government’s move to implement gradual removal of subsidy on energy and raw materials.

Another factor that could fuel the buoyancy of the property market is the recent strong performance of the Bursa Malaysia KL Composite Index which have recovered over 1,400 points. The stock market has made substantial gains this year and this could boost the property sector.

A local research fund house predicted that Malaysia’s property sector is set to see its biggest residential boom in a decade. The property sector was already entering the early stage of a property “super cycle”. More at OSK bets on Malaysian Property boom.

The Economic Clock - Malaysia’s property sector is currently at the stage of 9 - 12

4. Rising home prices - There is a growing concern that home prices are getting costlier due to the cost push factor as most of the newly launched projects appeared to be in the category of upmarket segment offering luxury housing units.

Penang Island is facing very limited land bank for housing development particularly medium cost housing units and landed homes. With limited supply in land bank, land costs on the Penang Island keep rising and inevitably push up home prices to unprecedented range that go beyond the affordable levels of the majority of the island’s population. A Penang politician MP has recently voiced his concern on rising home prices and has urged the housing ministry to relook into the present housing policy. In the meantime, more parties are urging the state government to review and address the housing issues in Penang which may have an impact on brain drain of Penang employment. The rising prices of homes, if left unchecked, may result in gentrification. Urban gentrification is a phenomenon on socio-cultural changes in an area resulting from wealthier people buying up the housing units in a less prosperous community area.

Fire Sale of two commercial buildings in Penang

July 7th, 2010

Property investors now have the opportunity to acquire assets at fire sale prices from Danaharta. There are two striking landmark commercial buildings located in the heart of Bukit Mertajam town in Central Province Wellesley of Penang being put up for sale again at fire sale prices by Prokhas in its 2nd tender exercise starting from 5th July to 4th August 2010.

Brief info on Plaza Utama

Brief info on City Parade

These two assets are possibly the last tranche of residual recovery asset of Danaharta. www.intproperties.com conducted a research on the background of these two assets and its indicative values ..


Plaza Utama development commenced in Nov 1995 and completed in 1997. The 5-storey departmental store of Plaza Utama was opened for business in early 1997 together with many other smaller retail lots (sold to individual buyers). The Hotel block of Plaza Utama commenced business on January 23, 2008 and the development value of the entire Plaza Utama is RM230 Million according to an article published by The Sun as follows:-

Owing to the onslaught of the 1997-1998 financial crisis, Plaza Utama ceased business operation after a short stint of about 1-2 years and subsequently, the bad loan of Plaza Utama was acquired by Danaharta. More related info at my earlier blog - Impacts of Global Financial Crisis vis-a-vis Asian Financial Crisis on Penang property sector.

This completed skyscraper formed by a nine-level retail podium and 14-level office cum hotel tower capped off by a helipad sits on 2.88 acres of freehold land. Within Plaza Utama are 661 car-parking bays; 286,000sq ft of retail space made up of 23 shoplots, three areas previously designated for supermarket use and three whole floors; 112,500sq ft of office space consisting of 19 suites and nine whole floors; and 188 business-class hotel rooms at the top-most floors of the tower.

It was reported that when Plaza Utama first put up for sale in year 2000, the indicative value was more than RM50 Million. In year 2004, its indicative value was revised to RM42.1 Million. There is no taker despite being put up for sale in the market (By Danaharta until 31/12/2005) and Prokhas for a period of about 10 years. And to-date, Prokhas Sdn Bhd, in its quest to dispose off the asset, has make substantial hair cut and fixed the minimum price at only RM15,913,800.00.( Analysed to RM39.90 per square foot).


City Parade is another completed commercial building which is similarly affected by the 1997-1998 financial crisis and ceased operation after opened for business for a short period and have remain vacant until the present time. It has a total of 135 retail lots with a combined floor area of 224,773 sq ft.

The reported indicative value of City Parade was RM28.3 Million in Danaharta’s 5th Property Tender document from 5th June 2001 till 4th July 2001. In 2003, the indicative value was revised to RM19.546 Million as per Danaharta’s 8th Property Tender Advertisement below.

Similarly, there is no taker despite being put up for sale in the market for more than a decade. And to-date, Prokhas has also make substantial hair cut and fixed a minimum price at RM5,488,100.00.( Analysed to RM24.40 per square foot).

With such attractive fire sale prices at deep discount from its indicative values, it is now opportunity at the right entry level for investors to explore the investment viability as well as its restoration or refurbishing costs of turnaround it into viable and usable building.  Act now and contact us at Izrin & Tan Properties Sdn Bhd ( A panel real estate agent of Prokhas Sdn Bhd) for further information and FREE investment advisory and factors that investors should look into before making investment decisions. Email me at tan@intproperties.com, or SMS/CALL  +6012 4285453.

UPDATE (4/9/2010) - According to the tender results and information provided by Prokhas, Plaza UTAMA has been SOLD …

UPDATE (19/10/2010) - City Parade is currently put up for sale again by public auction scheduled on 26th October 2010. The reserve price is further revised to RM4,939,000.00 (RM22 per square foot) compared to last reserve price’s at RM5,488,100.00.( RM24.40 per square foot).

Penang Property Guide : Is it better to buy or rent ?

May 1st, 2010

Many consider property, be it a landed home or stratified condominium unit, is a big ticket item which involves high capital and long term commitment, so the question of whether is it better to buy or rent is very much depends on one’s financial affordability and needs. www.intproperties.com looks into the advantages of owning a home versus renting.

Advantages of home ownership

i) Provide stability and certainty of stay for your family;
ii) Benefit of security and pride of home ownership;
iii) Freedom on choices of usage ie. for self-occupation or weekend second home or rent out;
iv) Built equity of your own home. Instead of paying rental monthly, you make repayments to the banks and gradually building up your home equity and ultimately owning the property after you redeem the property.
v) Hedge against inflation. Owing to the scarcity of landbank earmarked for new developments and growing population, demand for quality and affordable housing in established areas in Penang remains high which leads to higher home prices. In addition, the cost to build new housing stock continues to rise due to inflationary factor.
vi) Tax relief. Malaysians are eligible for tax relief of up to RM10,000.00 a year on loan interest payment to finance the purchase of property for three consecutive years subject to conditions that it is limited to one residential home for own occupation( not for rental) and the sale and purchase agreement is signed between March 10 2009 and December 31 2010. Besides, the government has further relaxed the EPF housing withdrawal guidelines beginning of January this year to encourage more Malaysians home seekers to own houses.

Advantages of renting

i)a cheaper and affordable way (less upfront costs) as you only need to come out with deposit payments equivalent to 3 months rental of which the security and utility deposits are refundable;
ii) Faster move in time unlike property purchase which takes 3-4 months to complete the deal and hand over the property.
iii) option of choosing length of stay according to tenant’s need ie. monthly or yearly tenancy ;
iv) No need to bear documentation costs such as legal fees for preparation of sale and purchase agreement and loan documents and stamping charges in connection with home ownership transfer and yearly taxes like assessment rates and quit rent.
v) No need to bear maintenance charges and structural repair costs either as these costs are also to be borne by the landlord.
vi) flexible of being relocated without having to worry about the empty home!

Recommended blogs on the advantages and disadvantages of Buying versus Renting, go to Renting vs Buying a home or Buying vs. Renting.

Whether renting is better than buying depends on many factors, including how fast prices rise and how long you will stay in your home. And now there is a new method rent-buy interactive calculator to compare the costs of buying and renting equivalent homes.

The methodology of the calculator keeps a running tally of the most common expenses of owning and renting. It also takes into account something known as lost opportunity costs — for example, the return you could have earned by investing your money instead of spending it on a down payment. The calculator assumes that the profit you would have made in your investments would be taxed as long-term capital gains and adjusts the bottom line accordingly. The calculator tabulates lost opportunity costs for all parts of the buying and renting scenarios.

This rent-buy interactive calculator allows home seekers to do their own comparisons on renting versus buying whereby you can i)  adjust the annual home price change and annual rental rates according to local market conditions  and ii) change inputs or variables such as your rate of return on investments, condo/common fees and your tax bracket to find out whether the buying is better than renting or otherwise!

Whilst no one can accurately predict the future pricing/rental trend of the houses in a particular area, however, analysis to find out average house price index or its trends based on the past historical housing data of say past 10 years or 15 years or 20 years of a similar class of property in a specific housing area can be quantified.

In Malaysia, information on property pricing trends and rental movements, current and future supply and take up rates of various sub-sector of Malaysia property market can be obtained from the annual publication of Malaysia Property Market Report published by Department of Valuation and Property Services (JPPH) and NAPIC quarterly reports. Find out more at 6 websites that property investors need to know in Malaysia. It would be good that a similar calculator can be generated in Malaysia using our very own housing data.

Views of new completed housing schemes in mainland Penang

Villa Cendana 2 ( Cendana Permai) at Juru

Dedaun - another housing scheme by PDC at Batu Kawan

How to determine property investment yields

January 6th, 2010

In property investments, there are two main determinants ie capital growth and rental income. Capital growth is the increase in the value of a property over time whilst rental income refers to the amount of monthly rents that can be collected from the tenancy of a property. A good property investment has two key elements ie. a) one that have the potential of high capital growth, which appreciates in value over time and b) secure rental, which generates cash flow or steady incomes to the property owner.

When making investment decisions, property investors need to know what is the expected rental yields from a property investment and how its yield would fare in comparison with similar class of properties as well as other alternative investments available in the market such as REIT, stocks, unit trusts etc.

A rental yield provides indication about the performance of a investment and its relative attractiveness against other types of investment. For example, if a residential property can produce a rental yield of 5% pa, it is considered a better investment than the fixed deposits offered by the local banks at prevailing rates of 2.0- 2.5% pa. On the contrary, the 5% yield is considered less attractive if compared to other higher yields but riskier investment options like stocks, equity-based unit trusts etc.

Besides, the yield can be used as a yardstick to measure and evaluate similar class of competing investments for decision making. For example, condominium investors would be keen to know which class of condominium in Penang can offer higher rental yields ?

a) beach / holiday resort condominium within the tourist belt of Batu Ferringgi or
b) city condominium in the inner city of Georgetown or
c) Suburb condominium at new growth areas along the reclaimed coastal area of Jelutong- Gelugor- Bayan Baru

Ways to determine property investment yields

The rental yield for a property investment can be determined by using the following calculation, commonly known as investment method:-

Estimated Rental per annum
______________________ X 100 = Gross Yield (%)
Property Acquisition Cost

Property Acquisition costs = Purchase Price + incidental costs ie legal fees, stamp duties, agent fees etc

Example :

Monthly rental RM1,000.00. Estimated annual rental income = RM12,000.00
Property acquisition cost= RM185,000.00

——————- X 100 = 6.5% gross yield

For computation of net yield, which is more reflective of the actual return, the following expenses ought to be deducted :- maintenance charges, sinking fund, management fees, insurance, quit rent, assessment, and other expenses.

Indicative gross yields of several property class in Penang

Landed houses- terraced, semi-detached and bungalow: 2 – 3%
Townhouse/Apartment/Condominium : 4-7%
Commercial shops/light industrial : 6- 9%

Generally, landed homes in land-scarce Penang offer lower rental yields as compared to high rise stratified and commercial units. Lower yield signifies that it is a safer or lower risk investment and hence  investor is willing to accept longer payback period for his investment. Property investors would expect higher yields for commercial/industrial property investments due to higher holding costs and risks.

Property investor need to set out his/ her investment objectives whether to invest for rental returns or long term capital growth or combination of both as each investor has his own investment requirements and rental yield expectations and hence difference strategies and choices of properties as their investments.

• Landed houses vs condominiums/apartments
• High price single property vs low price multiple properties
• Off-the-plan housing unit vs secondary market unit

A retiree might seek higher rental as passive income from his property investment whilst a young working professional would be more interested in wealth creation and achieve long term capital growth.For more related information on investment strategies, go to 6 strategies to succeed in Penang Property Investment.

In addition to the above investment method, other sophisticated approaches that can be used to aid property investors in decision making are:-

The Discounted Cash flow (DCF) model can be applied to determine the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) or Net Present Value(NPV) of an investment property. The DCF method is one of the valuation methods being used by property valuers particularly in evaluating income-producing properties and potential   development lands.

The Monte Carlo Analysis is another decision-making tool using multivariate modelling technique that allows investors to forecast various investment outcomes. The risk/return profile of any investment can be calculated and compared to investor’s risk tolerances.

View of the coastal area along Tanjung Bungah- Batu Feringghi