1MDB on track to develop Bandar Malaysia and financial district

  • Nation
  • Monday, 09 May 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: The two huge projects by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) – KL International Financial District and the redevelopment of the Sungai Besi Airport – will take off this year as scheduled.

1MDB chief executive officer Shahrol Halmi said negotiations with stakeholders including the air force, army and police were currently under way with meetings to discuss their requirements, the value of the requirements and the timeline.

“Negotiations for the Sungai Besi Airport land are expected to be concluded next month to secure land for its development.

“We are currently working with the Government on when (the RMAF, army and police have) to move out and especially about compensation.

“We hope to get everything settled by the middle of the year and then the development can start after that,” he told The Star.

He revealed that 1MDB would not have to rebuild a new air base for the RMAF but “we are committed to helping them maintain national security requirements”.

“Air force functionality needs to be there, for example, the national radar system. It is too sensitive for me to say how but the principle we are following is that none of the functions will be removed,” he added.

1MDB has obtained the approval from the Federal Government to redevelop about 160ha of the Sungai Besi Airport site in a project codenamed by Shahrol’s team as Bandar Malaysia, which will include residential, commercial and recreational areas as well as a library, public park and a public square.

Shahrol said the ratio of commercial to residential development was still being determined, but the goal was to have the project be self-sustaining.

“It is still too early to say how much returns we will generate.

“We will decide on what will generate the greater returns, as this will go towards the maintenance of the park and all public amenities.

“We must be self-sustaining. The Government cannot afford to keep subsidising,” he said, adding that 1MDB’s foreign partners will be brought in when the time is right.

“Our main partner, the Qatar Investment Authority, is eagerly waiting to start. But we want to ready the plan first before they can come in.

“As they are strategic partners, they will have first choice. But we will keep certain areas for ourselves because we want to create enough opportunities for local partners,” Shahrol said.

He added that no local partners had been selected yet, although many companies had expressed a keen interest.

Asked about 1MDB’s other project, the financial district, Shahrol said the masterplanning was well under

way and the project was expected to be launched at the end of the year.

He said both the financial district and Sungai Besi development would be used as a catalyst to change the rest of Kuala Lumpur and the way development would take place.

“Bandar Malaysia is going to be a microcosm of 1Malaysia, where different races and social levels can mix.

“Personally, I believe people will usually gravitate to places they are familiar with – the Malays to where the Malays are and the Chinese to where the Chinese are.

“With this, we can bring back the days in the 50s and 60s where everybody lived together.

“KLIFD (the financial district), with its 28.3ha of offices and retail space, is the benchmark for a world class city and can spur beautification of other areas,” said Shahrol.

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