Tabung Haji reconsider selling TRX land due to public feedback

Nikita Nawawi
Written by Nikita Nawawi

KUALA LUMPUR – June 18, 2015: Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) is reconsidering the decision to sell its Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) 1.5 acre land parcel after taking into account feedback from the public.

Several members of parliament and non-governmental organisations had also suggested for the pilgrim’s fund to keep its prime land acquisition.

TH chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim when contacted by The Mole said the fund’s management is currently in the midst of discussion with its subsidiary TH Properties to figure out the best option for its contributors.

“The management will conduct a research to determine the pros and cons on the options of selling and keeping the land parcel.

“They will then suggest the best option to the board members based on the profit projection if we decide to sell and if we are to keep it,” he said.

Azeez added while the management is undertaking the study, TH’s negotiations with potential buyers will proceed.

“We are still looking for the best way to deal with the land. We have received a few offers that I am not at liberty to disclose yet but it is still in the process of discussion,” he added.

TH had announced on May 9 that it will sell its TRX land plot within a week, just a month after buying it from the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The decision was made after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also the adviser of 1MDB had recommended Azeez to dispose of the land so that the fund’s reputation would not be ‘tarnished’ due to its association with the much criticised 1MDB.

Azeez had then said that the pilgrim fund had received a total of three offers for the land plot which he insisted would generate at least RM5 million in profits for TH.

Since then, a number of Barisan Nasional parliamentarians have been reported as advising TH to keep the property. They include Liang Teck Meng (Simpang Renggam), Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh (Kalabakan) and Amran Ab Ghani (Tanah Merah).

The objection over TH’s decision to sell the land parcel due to what was deemed as a ‘public outcry’ is apparently shared by others as well.

A poll conducted on SeaDemon Says, a blog of former Royal Malaysian Air Force officer Captain Abdul Rahmat Omar’s, found that 92.48 per cent of the respondents want TH to keep the land parcel.

The poll that was initiated on May 28 received an overwhelming response with 3,191 vote counts, which was believed three times more than opinion research firm Merdeka Centre’s normal sample.

Blogger Zakhir Mohammed, better known as Big Dog wrote in his blog on Monday that TH should reconsider letting go of the land for its value could appreciate in the future.

“The parcel could be made into a very productive asset with the current development order of 10.47 plot ratio.

“It means the land now could have a development area (gross floor area – GFA) of 710,000 square feet (sq. ft). Of that, a net build up and lettable area of 500,000 sq. ft,” he said.

Zakhir added that a prudent rental income of RM4.5 million to RM6 million per month should be attainable at current market prices of similar luxurious residential in the area of between RM9 to RM12.

He said the RM55 million to RM72 million incomes per annum would also be sharia-compliant.

“If factored to the market four years away on an expected to cater for demand of growth for high end properties, then annual revenue of RM80 million to RM85 million could be projected.

“The RM2,774 per square foot (psf) price that TH paid to TRX is not outrageous at all considering that TRX would be spending about RM1,500 psf to provide infrastructure for the mega development, which include three MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) lines,” said Zakhir.

Senior journalist Datuk Ahirudin Atan on his blog Rocky’s Bru surmised that the poll speaks volume that TH should hold on to its TRX parcel.

He said the outcome of the polls can mean two things; a few can initiate disturbance (hence, the term ‘silent majority’) or the silent majority are not easily swayed by the few.

“In TH-TRX’s case, most right thinking people ask themselves pertinent questions and eventually get answers. You can do the same.

“If it was a bailout, why would Indonesia’s Mulia Group pay nearly 20 per cent more than what TH paid for a similar plot of land? Why are Chinese and Japanese investors queuing up also?

“More importantly, if TH is allowed to sell the land (for a hefty halal profit, no doubt); what is left for Malaysians in TRX? Takkanlah semuanya menjadi hak milik asing? (Is everything going to be foreigners’ properties?)” Ahirudin added.

Yesterday, Firdaus Abdullah of the Apanama blog had questioned TH’s reasons for keeping the land after Azeez had promised to sell it last month.

“After being advised by Najib, Azeez promised to sell the parcel in one-week time.

“He claimed then that TH had already received three offers rolled in to buy the parcel that would give profit to the fund and now it has been a month since the promise was made,” he wrote.

He added that the latest report from the parliament has revealed that the plot still belongs to TH and further questioned the reason behind it.



About the author

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi is an up-and-coming writer who started his involvement in the media industry serving established local English daily, before joining The Mole in October 2014 as journalist.