Towering problem for Marina

  • Business
  • Sunday, 26 Jun 2005

She was known for her fiery political speeches, especially after she switched from the establishment to the opposition. But politics no longer holds centrestage for Marina Yusoff who is fighting tooth and nail to regain possession of Menara Marina. S.C. CHEAH reports. 

FOR SALE: Marina in front of her ‘life blood’ Menara Marina which, she says, is worth at least RM350mil. — STARpic by KAMARUL ARIFFIN

EVERYTHING is for sale, including me!” Hajjah Marina Yusoff said half-jokingly when I approached her at the darkened lobby of Menara Marina recently. She must have thought I was a prospective buyer. Her eyes glinted when I told her who I was. 

She had a plaster on her forehead, and her eyes were slightly bruised. She had slipped and fallen on her face while buying provisions in Pasar Chow Kit. 

“Though dazed, I could hear a commotion around me. The Chinese vendors realising what had happened came to my aid. One Chinese man picked me up from the floor while another quickly found a stool for me to sit on. Another propped me up by supporting my body as I was still very dazed.” 

“I could feel the blood oozing from my forehead and trickling down my face. People around me were fussing and wiping the blood with tissues. One Chinese lady helped to clean my wound and applied medication on it to try to stop the bleeding. They also put a plaster on my wound,” she said. 

Marina said she was overwhelmed by the concern from total strangers. 

“I felt so grateful, and truly appreciated that all they were concerned about was that a fellow Malaysian was in distress and they sincerely wanted to help,” she added. 

Her enthusiastic recollection of the Chow Kit accident, for a moment at least, seemed to make her forget about her present predicament. 

But the reality is that time is running out for Marina. She has until the end of this month to pay Danaharta Urus Sdn Bhd the redemption sum of RM122.77 million in cash. 

Failing to do so would mean that Danaharta would commence action to recover the amount, and she may lose ownership of the 36-storey mixed commercial building in Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. Her prized possession, aptly named Menara Marina. 

She has sold practically everything – from her luxury cars, houses and even her legal practice – to dedicate some 20 years of her life to seeing her dream tower named after her become a reality. 

Ironically, trouble began just when the building was nearing completion. Her company Pekeliling Triangle Sdn Bhd, where she was its former executive chairman, was taken over by special administrators appointed by Danaharta. She is now a director of her company Marina Sdn Bhd. 

Over the past several years, she seemed to have “vanished” from the public eye only to resurface recently at Menara Marina where she and her grown-up children are busily taking prospective buyers to view the “intelligent” building. 

She admits that she is in financial ruin. “I have no money but I can deliver. I am a person of my words!” she said. 

And deliver she did, with her Sri Manjung project in Perak where she managed to complete some 300 houses despite her financial woes.  

In fact, many people may not know that she has been a property developer since the 1980s when she and her brothers successfully completed and sold some projects in Kuantan. 

She said she has never shirked from her responsibilities, and she has no intention of doing it now. 

More so when Menara Marina is fully completed. All she needs is a bit more time for her to market and sell the units and bring in the money to pay off her debts. 

That is why the moment she got a final extension from Danaharta, she placed advertisements in the local newspapers announcing an “open day” to sell and rent out retail and office units as well as 60 luxury serviced apartments in Menara Marina. 

She believes she has a good product. Besides the prime location (it is very near KLCC) and proximity to many amenities like the National Heart Institute and the National Library, it also boasts of many “intelligent” features. 

She is giving a hefty discount: selling the first 20 unfurnished apartments for only RM650 psf instead of the usual RM800 to RM890 psf. A furnished unit is priced at RM1,000 psf. 

It is understood that she is supposed to sell the whole building instead of on a piecemeal basis. 

But as Marina puts it: “Who is going to buy the whole building for RM350mil? 

In a letter to Danaharta dated May 29 this year, Marina again appealed to Danaharta to allow her to sell by units instead of the whole building. 

She said had she been allowed to sell the property from the beginning (as in her Sri Manjung project that was successfully implemented) she would have sold enough to satisfy the bank requirements and settled her debts. 

Marina who has five children (a daughter died in an accident several years ago) is now left with three sons and a daughter. One of her sons, Nasruddin Hussain, currently working and residing in London, flew back just to help her market her building. 

Daughter Ida, an actress has also been busy showing visitors around Menara Marina that boasts of a 10-storey-high atrium with fountains below and surrounded by exclusive apartments on the upper floors. There is a nice roof-top garden with a swimming pool.  

Sales have been picking up, with an entire apartment floor sold and all city-view units in another floor snapped up. 

According to a Danaharta spokesperson, Marina has been given several extensions and she had agreed to the conditions, and thus has no reason to complain (see box). 

Marina intends to donate her profits (if any) to charity and help the poor and under-privileged irrespective of race, creed or religion. She has left politics for good, and has written a religious book. 

She is not prepared to let Menara Marina undergo a “fire” sale. No, not after she has put 20 years of her life into it. And she may just pull it off. 

“I now only need to sell half the units and I will have enough to pay off the banks. All my life savings have gone into it (Menara Marina). If something is rightfully yours and you sweat for it, God will not allow it to be taken away from you. It’s not money anymore but a matter of principle!” 

“I can’t just walk out but have to finish what I set out to do. In Islam, jihad is where you can defend to the death your right to your property. This is my jihad. I will defend to the death the right to my building.” 

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