Vouch 15 Cover Story – Interview with Dato’ Loh Liam Hiang
Johor Bahru Property & Ecominic Outlook in 2016
A Tourism Boost The Will Benefit Property Market
We were most grateful to Dato’ Loh Liam Hiang, President of Johor Bahru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry for granting us an interview amidst his busy schedule. During the interview, we had the opportunity to learn a lot more about the economic outlook and property market for Johor Bahru from Dato’ Loh who is knowledgeable and proficient in his profession. Dato’ Loh also has a passion for Chinese literature and is familiar with the strategic ideology of Sun Zi Bing Fa or the Art of War and its application in the business world. Being born and bred in Johor Bahru, Dato’ Loh takes pride in being a Malaysian. These days, Dato’ Loh has retired from his Engineering career but is still active in the property field. He enjoys travelling and his recent travel ventures include a trip to Alaska.
What is your view on the property market in Johor Bahru for the coming year? Will the property market remain buoyant?
In the past two years the market had been heating up but has come down in recent time. However, the market slowdown is temporary and it will recover in due course. Johor holds a good future prospect because of Iskandar Malaysia. Once the infrastructure including the RTS-MRT and the High Speed Rail (HSR) links is in place, Singapore investors will eventually come in due to a lack of land in the country and relatively high labour costs. The commercial or industrial properties in Johor Bahru will attract Singapore investors too. There is potential for retirement residential and medical travelers with the setting up of Gleneagles Medini hospital. All the projects slated in Medini are at least 99-years leasehold, which is unique in Malaysia making the Johor development very attractive.
What challenges does the property market face in the coming year and how do you see ways to address these challenges?
The slowing down of the property market poses many challenges and the cost of property will not come down because the cost of land and cost of living go up with time. However, a property is an investment and it should have the holding power to sustain.
While the long-term prospects are good for Johor, more infrastructure investments are needed and the Internet infrastructure must be improved. This will contribute towards the Johor tourism industry as well. In 2015, a total of 120 million Mainland Chinese travelled overseas. Even if we target at only 5% of the total, there is substantial income for the tourism industry. A tourism boost will benefit the property market. Policy changes to visitor visas for Chinese visitors will promote the growth and JBCCCI is playing its role in facilitating the process.
By 2030, the population of Johor Bahru is expected to double from 1.5 million today to about 3 million. We have a lot of land and there are good prospects for the future. However, safety and security in Johor Bahru is a concern that needs to be addressed.