What is TRX and Bandar Malaysia?

Deconstructing TRX and Bandar Malaysia

Bandar Malaysia and TRX are sister projects about five kilometres apart and managed by TRX City Sdn Bhd – formerly known as 1MDB Real Estate Sdn Bhd.

Situated at the intersection of Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Sultan Ismail, TRX is meant to be an international financial district.

According to its website, the master plan for the 28-hectare development will feature at least four “investment grade A” office towers, two five-star hotels, six “up-scale” residential towers, a lifestyle retail mall and a large urban park.

Essentially, TRX appears to be geared to become Malaysia’s version of Midtown Manhattan, New York – the home of most of the US’ big financial giants.

Among the companies that have bought into TRX are Mulia Property Development Sdn Bhd, Affin Bank, Lembaga Tabung Haji, WCT Precious Development Sdn Bhd and Lendlease Group.

Lendlease is developing a 17-acre Lifestyle Quarter in TRX on a 60-40 joint-venture with TRX City. The quarter will house Signature Tower, which is set to be the second tallest building in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, Bandar Malaysia is set to be developed where the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Sungai Besi is located.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has a grand vision for the 194ha mixed development, which he said must have “great content, great cultural value” and be a “tremendous entertainment attraction”.

Among others, Najib wants it to be the new KL Internet City – the key hub of the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone.

He also wants Bandar Malaysia to be a transport hub, hosting the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail station, the MRT and connections to KTM Komuter, the Airport Express Rail link and twelve highways.

As of writing, a master developer for the project has yet to be appointed, although China’s development giant Dalian Wanda group appears to be a front-runner for the job.

The RMAF base which Bandar Malaysia will replace, has also yet to be relocated.

What criticism have both projects faced?

TRX and Bandar Malaysia both came under intense scrutiny because the government had sold the land it occupies for below market price. 1MDB then re-sold the land at a far higher price.

This can be best observed in TRX, which 1MDB said it had paid RM230 million or RM76 per square feet (psf) for the 28 ha land – although its 2011 financial statement indicate the land was bought for just RM194 million (RM64 psf).

However when pilgrimage fund Tabung Haji bought into TRX in 2015, the price had skyrocketed to about RM2,773 psf with the firm paying RM188.5 million for 0.63ha.

1MDB has defended the price at which it purchased the land, saying it was fully owned by the government and that any rise in land value would also benefit the government.

But in Tabung Haji’s case, there was an uproar as the firm is a public fund. Its decision to buy land in TRX had sparked concerns that public monies were being used to bail out 1MDB, which at the time had RM42 billion debts.

Deconstructing TRX and Bandar Malaysia
24 May 2017 – malaysiakini


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