UDA boss: Malays must help themselves

By Muda Mohd Noor and Syed Jaymal Zahiid, Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malays must help themselves if they want to stay on top of the commercial game, said newly minted Bumiputera property conglomerate chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

Nur Jazlan, who is also the MP for Pulai, said UDA Holdings Bhd has done a lot to help increase Malay property ownership but the Malays had failed to fully capitalise on the assistance given by government linked-companies like UDA.

UDA or Urban Development Authority started as a government set up in 1971, and was tasked to oversee urban property developments, management and the leisure industry as well as to strengthen Malay property ownership. It was also responsible for the conservation of historic urban buildings.

The company was recently awarded the contract to preserve the historical Pudu Prison’s arch after the building was controversially torn down following the government’s refusal to recognise the colonial-era infrastructure as a “heritage” site.

UDA also owns several shopping complexes situated at commercially strategic locations within the city centre like the Bukit Bintang Plaza and Pertama Complex.

While Bukit Bintang Plaza had done fairly well to keep itself as a shopping haven, the latter, however, claimed Nur Jazlan, was struggling to catch up with the other more modern and attractive malls.

Complacent businessman

And the UDA chairman, who took over the reins on June 16, said this was caused by complacency among Malay businessmen who have become too comfortable with the charitable policies under the Bumiputera quota system.

“If a particular shopping mall is just for one race, than only once race will go there,” he said during an interview with FMT. “This is not good for business,” he added, referring to Pertama Complex which houses 80 percent Malay businesses.

The Pulai MP, who is the son of the late information minister Mohamed Rahmat, said despite the strategic location, Pertama Complex was struggling to improve its charm.

“UDA wants to upgrade Pertama Complex but the tenants don’t want to pay for the cost. They say if we renovate the complex, they will not pay for it.

“They still want to pay low rents. The profit made here does not justify the investments made by UDA,” he lamented.