Hotel Tamu, Proof Malay Reserve Land Has Value

Last update: 30/10/2018

By Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid

This is the fourth of a five-part series of articles on the outstanding issues pertaining to the development of Malay reserve land.


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- From where this writer was standing in Kampung Baru, the familiar Petronas Twin Towers dominated the city's skyline.

However, another new landmark located close to Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru also caught her eye – namely, the 42-storey Hotel Tamu & Suites.

Located at the junction between Jalan Raja Abdullah and Jalan Raja Alang in Kampung Baru, the hotel is certainly the pride of the residents of this settlement, which is about 118 years old and one of the few areas in Kuala Lumpur with land alienated as Malay reserve.

The four-star Hotel Tamu & Suites, which started operating in February, has 276 rooms and suites and it is reportedly attracting good response from Southeast Asian, Chinese, West Asian and European tourists.



Located just two kilometres from KLCC, Hotel Tamu & Suites was developed by Zikay Group of Companies, a bumiputera company with business interests in the property development, construction, financial services, education and hospitality sectors.

Zikay Group proprietor Datuk Mohd Khay Ibrahim said originally, he only wanted to put up a building to house his business operations on a piece of land previously occupied by Wisma Dagang at Jalan Raja Alang.

After he started operating from his new building, named Bangunan Zikay, a friend happened to visit him at his office one day.

"My friend who was from abroad looked at the view from the ninth floor of Bangunan Zikay and told me that I had a great building in the midst of Kuala Lumpur," Mohd Khay related.

Encouraged by his friend's words, he toyed with the idea of constructing another building there and, coincidently, the land next to Bangunan Zikay was vacant.

Mohd Khay, who was born and raised in Kampung Baru, ended up buying the 0.8-hectare plot that belonged to five members of a family. And, eight years after purchasing it, Hotel Tamu & Suites became a reality.

The land on which the hotel is located has the status of Malay Agricultural Settlement, which is equivalent to Malay reserve land (MRL) status.



Hotel Tamu & Suites is ample proof that Malay-held land can be utilised for property developments. And, to think that Mohd Khay's proposal to build the hotel was initially received with much scepticism.

"Some people thought I was insane! They did not believe it was possible for a Malay to put up a building that is 10 or 20 storeys high, let alone 42 storeys. There were some people who thought I would not be able to complete my project," said Mohd Kay, who has been involved in property development for the last 30 years.

Following the completion of Hotel Tamu & Suites, the site's land value escalated by 50 percent, he pointed out but admitted that it was not easy to develop Malay reserve or Malay-held land as its value was generally lower than that of freehold land.

The lower value, he added, is based on the assertion that the Malays have weak purchasing power despite them making up the largest component of this nation's population.

After Mohd Khay embarked on his building projects in Kampung Baru, not once did he lose heart as he was convinced his projects would succeed if he employed the right strategies and kept his spirit and determination strong.   

"I've observed that the development concept for Malay reserve land, for example in Kampung Baru, is more geared towards rentals and asset holdings," he said, adding that commercial real estate development was suitable for such areas as the office space in such buildings can be rented out to not only local companies but foreign entities as well.

For this to happen, there has to be a paradigm shift in thinking with regard to the utilisation of Malay reserve land.

"Don't keep thinking that this land has no prospects. In fact, it is an asset that can be developed," he stressed.



Urging Malay reserve landowners not to be too dependent on the government, Mohd Khay said while the authorities can help to simply processes related to securing approvals and other official matters, it was up to the individual to use their initiative and take the necessary action. 

"One has to be sincere and willing to work hard. For example, if a loan is needed (for a project), then a proper feasibility study must be carried out first," he said, adding that one has to be bold enough to step out of their comfort zone if they want to be successful.

"I've noticed that there are landowners who don't want to get out of their comfort zone. Maybe they are thinking why take the trouble and be indebted to banks.

"But what they don't realise is that if their land is developed, they stand to reap profits amounting to hundreds of millions of ringgit," he said.

Mohd Khay is considering carrying out more projects in Kampung Baru but will only start pursuing them after his hotel operations have stabilised.

He also hoped his hotel venture would motivate others and embolden them to make the move to develop their reserve land.



Meanwhile, Mohd Khay's accomplishments are ample proof that the Malays can succeed in business without having to compromise their religious beliefs. He does it by firmly adhering to the fundamentals of Islam.

When he set out to open his own hotel, he decided to create his own brand instead of latching on to an international hotel brand that was already popular.

"I didn't want my hotel to be bound to the standards of other hotel chains. As this is a syariah-friendly hotel, I don't want any activities of a dubious nature to take place here," he said.

Describing himself as a "Muslim fundamentalist", Mohd Khay believed that only by returning to the basis of Islamic teachings can one succeed.

He also shares his life principles with his family and workforce. He said his three sons (he also has two daughters) have memorised the Quran and have studied the religion in depth.

In his office, it has become a practice for the staff to read the Quran every morning before starting work.

"If we look back at Islam's glorious history during the era of our Prophet and His companions and during the rule of the caliphs, all of them adhered to the teachings of the religion. So, why are we (Muslims) now running away from Islam," he asked.


Translated by Rema Nambiar