Need to safeguard
The Star 24/1/05
Property Talk: A weekly column by S.C. Cheah
OVER the past few weeks, we have been inundated with
gory photos of deaths and destruction wrought by the Asian tsunami.
In Selangor, there is an even more insidious form of
destruction that has been going on for years - the wanton vandalism of
I've been harping on this issue but my appeals seem to
have fallen on deaf ears.
Hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of property in the
state are being so badly vandalised that the “human vultures” are
stripping off anything they could lay their hands on.
It will cost a lot of money for the property owners to
fix things back again and judging from the situation, owners seem to have
resigned to their fate as it is pointless replacing the window frames and
doors as there is no guarantee that the thieves will not be back again.
The crooks are so bold that they can remove hundreds of
window frames from the walls overnight.
They have pulled out electrical wirings and casings and
even carted off water closets.
Shop offices in Bukit Sentosa 3 in Rawang vandalised
Blocks of factories, shop offices and shop apartments
look like hollow hulks.
Power sub-stations and letterboxes have been damaged.
Among the worst hit areas are Bandar Bukit Beruntung and
Bukit Sentosa in Rawang where commercial centres in the Jalan Kemboja,
Jalan Telipot, Jalan Trompet and Jalan Kasturi areas have been badly
Even steel frames used as part of the buildings' facade
had been also stripped off.
During one of my recent outings, I was horrified to find
that the newer of the two commercial centres in Jalan Kemboja in Bukit
Sentosa 3 had been transformed into a sort of “war zone”.
More than a year ago all the window frames were still
intact and the shop offices looked new in the Jalan 2A to Jalan 2C areas.
About six to eight months ago, all the windows and most
of the shutters had vanished.
The situation has deteriorated when I dropped in
Tall grass lined the front of the shop offices and glass
splinters covered a large section of the roads there.
It seems that the thieves and vandals have become
impatient and have crudely knocked off remaining window frames when in the
past they had skilfully removed them without breaking the glass panes.
The older commercial centre in Jalan Kemboja (Jalan 3A
to 3F areas) had also not been spared despite owners putting up grilles in
front of the staircase for each block.
Burst pipes sprinkled water all over the place.
A man who had driven there to check on his property in
Jalan Kemboja complained aloud to someone over his mobile phone.
“If only they had some form of security such thefts and
vandalism would not have occurred,” he lamented.
Who is going to pay for the security maintenance?
Some owners may be willing to do so, but there are many
purchasers who have not bothered to pay their assessment rates and
maintenance charges for years.
Many developers have moved on and have not returned to
their former projects for a long time. Some just turned a blind eye.
Perhaps the authorities can freeze applications to build
more commercial units in a development where there are still many vacant
and unsold commercial units.
The authorities should also consider the feasibility of
requiring developers to provide adequate security especially for a
commercial centre for at least two to three years upon completion of their
projects. This would help safeguard properties for the first few years
until the people have moved into their units or start business operations.
The developers can either be made to foot the security bill or they can
volunteer to pay for it or claim part of the expenses from the property
Meanwhile, such scenes of “destruction” can also be
found in Pulau Indah, Semenyih, Kesuma Lakes' commercial centre, Lembah
Beringin, Prima Beruntung, Puchong, and many other developments that have
been completed for years but are largely vacant.
Many of these vacant properties have been put up for
auction but response is still poor as people shun them partly because of
their ''cold” locations or because of their bad condition.
Property values have dived drastically.
A 680-sq ft third floor office unit in a four-storey
mid-terraced shop office building in Jalan Kemboja 3B in Section BS8,
Bukit Sentosa 3 was offered for auction at a reserved price of only
RM12,915 in September 2003.
The developer's price was about RM43,980 in 1997. A
615-sq ft freehold fourth floor low-cost flat in the newly-completed
Pangsa Rakyat in Pajam was offered for auction at a reserved price of
RM32,400 in August last year. When there were no bidders, the reserved
price was dropped by RM3,200 to RM29,200 within a month, but there was
still no takers. This is a nice development but there are still many empty
An auction that I attended at the Amcorp Trade Centre in
Petaling Jaya on Jan 13 saw only four out of 40 properties sold that day.
A 982-sq ft factory unit on the first floor at the Kepong Entrepreneurs
Park offered at a reserved price of RM70,000 was sold for RM87,000. A
similar unit on the same block but on the second floor was sold at a
reserved price of RM60,000 to a lone bidder.
Auctioneer Leong Why Hoong said in the past, many people
shunned from buying auctioned properties because of the stigma attached to
these properties. However, these days, some wealthy people were prepared
to pay more than the market price for auctioned properties that were in
good locations, he added.
This goes to show that vacant units, if properly
rehabilitated and have good security, could still regain some of their
values and might even fetch a reasonable return to the astute investor.
As it is, no one seems to care and these properties are