Malaysia Rail Link: ECRL deal has no clause for Jho Low-linked companies

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd, the project and asset owner of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), has denied that contracts it signed with Chinese contractor China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and the Export-Import Bank of China came with a clause to nominate an unrelated company to buy 70% of Putrajaya Perdana Bhd for US$244 million (RM971 million) as well as 90% of Loh & Loh Corp Bhd for US$71 million (RM282.6 million).

In a statement released today, MRL called the information in an article in a business weekly headlined “Jho Low's Handiwork” baseless and an irresponsible allegation.

The article sought to establish links between Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and the negotiations for Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd's RM9.4 billion pipeline projects and the ECRL among others. Putrajaya Perdana and Loh & Loh are companies linked to Jho Low.

“There is no contract between and MRL that stipulates this clause. Neither does this clause appear in the loan agreement between MRL and the Export-Import Bank of China.”

“As the project owner of the 688km ECRL, the inaccurate information presented in the said article potentially ruins the reputation of MRL and its cordial relationship with CCCC, the main contractor of the project. As such, MRL urges the media to engage with its Corporate Communications Department to verify information with regard to the ECRL project,” it said.

MRL went on to explain that the long overdue ECRL infrastructure project was done based on a government-to-government agreement. It mooted the setting up of a special purpose vehicle company to oversees its implementation.

MRL was incorporated on Sept 26, 2016, and only then was the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract with CCCC and the loan agreement with Export-Import Bank of China, for the ECRL project was under its purview.

To date, the ECRL has made 14.33% overall progress of its construction, which includes setting up of base and satellite camps in all eight sections of the project, land acquisition, site clearing and construction of road access.

Multiple road access totalling some 95km in length and temporary bridges spanning 1,067m have been constructed at many of the ECRL project sites in the East Coast states.

MRL, calling the ECRL a key catalytic project, said the ECRL is progressing slightly ahead schedule and is on track for completion and operation by mid-2024. The construction works for seven tunnels in various parts of the rail alignment in Pahang and Terengganu have started.

Preparatory work for Southeast Asia's longest rail tunnel – the 16.3km Genting Tunnel is also in progress. Tunnel boring machines for the twin-bore Genting Tunnel are expected to arrive in November to facilitate tunnelling works between Bentong and Gombak.

“We trust the Federal Government will soon make an informed decision on the best course of action regarding the ECRL project. Meanwhile, we continue to provide information to the Federal Government in their review of the project,” MRL said.

Bank Islam Q1 net profit rises to RM172m

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — BIMB Holdings Bhd’s (BHB) net profit in the first quarter (Q1) ended March 31, 2018 rose 13.9 per cent to RM172.14 million from RM151.10 million in the previous corresponding period. Revenue increased to RM999.36 million…

Financial institutions & markets closed for special public holiday

KUALA LUMPUR: All financial institutions, as well as, the onshore money, bond and foreign exchange markets will be closed from today and reopen for business on Monday May, 14, 2018, said Bank Negara Malaysia.

The central bank said this is following the announcement by the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa that May 10 (Thursday) and May 11 (Friday) will be declared additional public holidays for the whole country in conjunction with the 14th General Election (GE14).

For states such as Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and Johor which observe Friday and Saturday as the weekend holidays, then Sunday, May 13 would be the additional public holiday, it said in a statement. – Bernama

AirAsia to step up flights within Sabah and Sarawak to grow domestic operations

SEPANG: Low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd sees room for expanding its domestic operations, which contribute about 40% to its revenue currently, with intercity flights within Sabah and Sarawak.

The airline’s CEO Riad Asmat (pix), who recently took over the reins of the Malaysian unit, told SunBiz in an exclusive interview that the airline has a strong foothold in Sabah and Sarawak, but there are areas where it could “still serve”.

He said its domestic market share ranges between 50% and 60% depending on the state it operates in.

According to international aviation research entity Centre of Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), AirAsia’s share in the domestic market has significantly increased “over the past six months, benefiting from capacity reductions by both of its competitors at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)”.

“AirAsia’s share of the domestic traffic at KLIA is now 66%, compared to 55% a year ago. KLIA accounts for 65% of total domestic traffic in Malaysia, which increased by 4% in 2017, to 25 million,” CAPA said.

Domestic flights account for 31% of the flight breakdown based on the number of routes and international 69%. AirAsia Malaysia’s total number of routes stands at 114.

“So we are working with authorities and state governments to see how we can get more rights to fly internally within the state … that is work in progress,” Riad, who marked his 100th day in office last week, said.

“We have also committed ourselves to aircraft that we are likely to put into Sabah and Sarawak and that is to increase our frequency, again because the current ones will serve a certain expectation … what we have learnt and what we have studied now is that there are still a lot more passengers who want our services,” he explained.

AirAsia, which has hubs in state capitals Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, its busiest routes, will look into timings, putting in the right aircraft and rescheduling flights once it obtains approvals for the routes, which Riad declined to reveal.

According to the Malaysian Aviation Commission, airports which can accommodate passenger jets in Sabah are Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Sandakan Airport, Tawau Airport and Labuan Airport while in Sarawak, it is the likes of Kuching International Airport, Sibu Airport, Bintulu Airport and Miri Airport.

Statistics provided by the commission showed Kota Kinabalu-Tawau as the busiest transcity route in Sabah while Kuching-Miri was the busiest for Sarawak. The least busiest are Kota Kinabalu–Lahad Datu and Miri–Sibu respectively.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd noted that passenger traffic from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau rose to 630,864 in 2017 from 586,570 in 2016, while Tawau to Kota Kinabalu rose to 630,949 from 586,567.

As for Sarawak, Miri to Kuching increased to 546,235 from 543,295, and Kuching to Miri to 549,646 from 546,351.

The route with the highest increase in passenger traffic is Bintulu-Kuching which saw a passenger traffic growth of 50,859, to 343,081 from 292,222.

The airline has also been strategising its asset and resources utilisation, by releasing capacity from certain segments and increasing flights to routes with good pickup in terms of load factor and better earnings potential.
Terengganu is one of the routes to have seen an increase in flights, to 24 weekly flights from 21 previously.

On whether there are any untapped markets, Riad said the group is constantly on the lookout for new destinations.

Fitters to supply pipes for Felda water project in Pahang

KUALA LUMPUR: Fitters Diversified Bhd’s subsidiary Molecor (SEA) Sdn Bhd has been appointed as the strategic supplier of HYPRO® PVC-O pipes for Felda Water’s RM57.9 million project in Pahang.

The appointment is part of a memorandum of understanding signed between Molecor SEA with Felda Water Sdn Bhd to jointly explore and co-operate in the application and use of HYPRO PVC-O pipes in water and wastewater projects in Malaysia and the region.

The project awarded by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water to Felda Water, entails the installation and commissioning of main and distribution pipelines to supply treated water to 14 orang asli villages throughout five districts in Pahang, spanning 80km.

Fitters managing director Datuk Richard Wong said Molecor SEA has made significant inroads in Malaysia since its introduction four years ago, and installed projects in Sarawak, Sabah, Kedah, Terengganu, Pahang, Kelantan and Johor.

Meanwhile, Felda Water CEO Ir Devan Iyavoo, said the collaboration is timely in line with the Malaysian government’s encouragement for industry players to explore better technology and materials in water and wastewater projects to optimise costs, shorten construction time and enhance our water system’s efficiency and durability.

He also said that the partnership will also enable the two to seek new project opportunities in Southeast Asia.

The HYPRO PVC-O pipes also obtained the SIRIM Eco-Label mark, certifying it as an environmentally-friendly product, enabling Molecor SEA to target new markets in the Southeast Asia region that hold eco-conscious solutions in high regard.

Fitters’s share price closed unchanged at 40.5 sen with more than half a million worth of shares changing hands.

East-coast’s GDP expected to rise 1.5% with ECRL


KUALA LUMPUR (April 11): The construction of the high-impact East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) in Kelantan is progressing slightly ahead of schedule, according to Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) which is optimistic of the economic spin-offs that the connection will bring to the region. In a statement today, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Sri Darwis Abdul Razak said out of 2,951 respondents in Kelantan, 79% of them had endorsed the Kota Bharu-Wakaf Bharu-Pengkalan Kubor alignment during the recent 3-month Public Inspection for Phase 2Read More

ECRL to help further boost M’sia’s economy

KUALA LUMPUR: The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) stretching 688km will be among key elements in boosting Malaysia’s economy as it gives a competitive edge, as well as attract foreign investments, especially from China, Former Transport Minister Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat said. He said being part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the […]

Protasco wins extensions to federal govt, Perak road maintenance contracts

KAJANG: Protasco Bhd bagged an eight-year extension to its concession to maintain federal roads in central and eastern Peninsular Malaysia, which will run until 2026, and two other road maintenance concessions in Perak worth RM216.2 million in the first two years.

The federal roads concession contract sum was not disclosed.

Protasco said in an announcement to Bursa Malaysia that its subsidiary Roadcare (M) Sdn Bhd signed the concession extension agreement with the government today. The deal covers federal roads in Selangor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan for a period of eight years from Feb 17, 2018 until Feb 16, 2026.

This eight-year period is the second part of a 10-year concession awarded in 2016. The initial two-year period expired in February 2018 and was extended in the interim for three months.

Another subsidiary, Empayar Indera Sdn Bhd, was awarded two concession extensions for routine and periodic maintenance works by the Perak government.

The first, covering state roads, is a five-year extension for an existing concession which expires in December 2019. This agreement for routine and periodic maintenance includes a two-year extension, which would mean the contract ends on Dec 31, 2026.The contract sum for the first two years is RM126.1 million.

The second concession is also a five-year extension for both routine and periodic maintenance works for agricultural roads in Perak, worth RM90.1 million in the first two years. Both contract sums are subject to review every two years during the contract period of five plus two years.

The contract is for five years from March 1, 2019 until Feb 28, 2024 with an extension of two years from March 1, 2024 until Feb 28, 2026.

“The award is an extension of the existing maintenance contract with the state government of Perak, which expires in February 2019,” it said.

ExxonMobil advocates STEM-related careers at OTC Asia

KUCHING: To further promote efforts to encourage students to pursue an education and career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc (EMEPMI) provided young students with the exclusive opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the oil and gas industry. This was done via a High School STEM […]

TNB inks six solar purchase deals

PETALING JAYA: Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has signed six large-scale solar (LSS) photovoltaic power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 30MWac generating facilities each, at locations like Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and Negri Sembilan.

Successful bidders were Kenyir Gunkul Solar Sdn Bhd, Idiwan Solar Sdn Bhd, BGMC BRAS Power Sdn Bhd, Viva Solar Sdn Bhd, Cypark Estuary Solar Sdn Bhd and Cove Suria Sdn Bhd.

Each of the SPCs will design, construct, own, operate and maintain a solar photovoltaic energy generating facility, with scheduled commercial operation dates ranging from Dec 31, 2019 to Dec 31, 2020.

The PPAs govern the obligations of the parties to sell and purchase the energy generated by the facility for a period of 21 years from the commercial operation date in accordance with the agreed terms and conditions.

TNB shares dropped 4 sen or 0.3% to close at RM15.72 yesterday with some 7.22 million shares changing hands.