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Sabah property scene 'vibrant despite concerns'

STILL SAFE: The property sector in Sabah remains vibrant despite recent incidents, says Mr Chris Tan, an expert on property investments in East Malaysia.


    Oct 13, 2014

    Sabah property scene 'vibrant despite concerns'

    WITH limited land in Singapore and property-cooling measures in place, those looking to invest in real estate are now looking farther afield.

    One such location could be Sabah.

    This is despite the East Malaysian state being in the news lately over talk of secession, and Kuala Lumpur raising the security alert there following the release of a video showing terrorist group Abu Sayyaf pledging allegiance to the violent Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) movement.

    When asked how such developments could affect property prices in Sabah, Chris Tan, an expert on property investments in East Malaysia and the founder and managing partner of Chur Associates, told My Paper: "While there are recent incidents of concern, the property sector remains vibrant.

    "The government has taken action to reinforce one of the longest coastlines in the world, and it is slowly showing results."

    The video had sparked concern because experts believe it was shot in the jungles of the southern Philippines, just across from Sabah.

    They also believe that the Abu Sayyaf group, whose main business is kidnapping for profit, has been inspired by ISIS' growth in the Middle East.

    But Mr Tan, who will be speaking at a My Paper Advance seminar on buying property in Johor and Sabah on Sunday, took pains to point out that, overall, Sabah is still a safe place.

    "A point to note is that these incidents took place in more isolated locations, and there is a balance between heavy surveillance and the exclusivity that tourists demand to juggle," he said.

    He also dismissed talk of secession, which cropped up during the recent Scottish referendum for independence.

    Mr Tan explained: "This is speculative in nature and nothing official is on the table.

    "Politically, this is extremely unlikely given that West Malaysia's political parties and even the opposition have established their stronghold in Sabah.

    "The politicians in power now have every intention and commitment to keep Malaysia the way it is."

    Mr Tan noted that, as an investment location, Sabah has many things going for it. These include its capital, Kota Kinabalu, having one factor that other cities in Malaysia do not have: building-height restrictions due to its airport's proximity to the Central Business District.

    He also pointed out that Sabah has Malaysia's second-busiest airport, is packed with plenty of international direct-flight connections, and is the country's oil and gas hub.

    The other speakers at the seminar will be Khalil Adis, Vincent Tan and Richard Oon.

    Mr Adis, founder of Khalil Adis Consultancy and brand ambassador for Iskandar Malaysia, will discuss the incentives and pitfalls of investing in Johor's Iskandar region.

    Mr Vincent Tan, head of Mah Sing Group's Singapore office, will address Malaysian real-estate trends.

    Mr Oon, the national tax director at TY Teoh International, will speak on the mechanics behind the impending goods and services tax roll-out in Malaysia, and how it will affect property investors.

    The seminar will be held at Singapore Press Holdings' News Centre Auditorium in Toa Payoh on Sunday from 2pm to 5pm. There will be a registration fee of $5. Participants will receive goodie bags and refreshments. To register, visit