26 June 2014

‘BBCC will be iconic project’

  26 June 2014


UDA Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani is passionate about the Bumiputera agenda. However, he is also a practical man.

Johari wants to see the multi-billion ringgit redevelopment of the former Pudu Jail, near the shopping district of Bukit Bintang, emerge as a truly iconic project that all Malaysians can be proud of.

“I don’t want it to be a Wisma Yakin
(an 11-storey building built in the 1970s) housing low-end retail outlets at Jalan Masjid India in the middle of the city,” he said.

“I also don’t want it to be another Plaza Rakyat (a RM8 billion commercial project in Jalan Pudu here still abandoned in the aftermath of the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis).

“I want it to be another popular destination for tourists after the Kuala Lumpur City Centre,” Johari told a media briefing on the project dubbed Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC), here, yesterday.

“I am confident that BBCC project will be successful. In fact, I am confident that it will be a first choice for buyers,” he added.

Johari is well aware of the recent history of the redevelopment plan of the former prison.

UDA, a Minister of Finance (MOF) Incorporated company, had in 2011, under its previous board, approved the proposal by China’s Everbright International Construction Engineering Corp to redevelop the site.

The proposal, however, was met with opposition from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which wanted UDA to fulfil its Bumiputera agenda mandate of uplifting the community’s participation in economic activities in urban areas. The MOF then directed UDA not to consider the proposal.

Johari said the present board had considered the possibility of such opposition. “I am willing to engage with any NGOs to explain to them how this project will benefit the Bumiputera community.

“We have selected a partner (in Eco World Development Holdings Bhd) who understands our mandate and on how to work in a consortium,” he added.

Johari said UDA will ensure that at least 50 per cent of the construction work will be undertaken by capable Bumiputera contractors.

“From our experience in developing township, we have encountered some Bumiputera contractors who are capable. However, we do not want to appoint contractors who would just sub-contract the jobs to others. We want them to do the work themselves,” he added.

UDA will set up a consortium with Eco World Development Group and the Employees Provident Fund) for the development of BBCC, with the former owning a 40 per cent stake and the latter 20 per cent.

~ By BUSINESS TIMES

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