Vietnam threatens to scrap $3.5-bln property project as Malaysian investor dawdles

By Trung Son, Dam Tuan   August 15, 2016 | 05:09 pm GMT+7

What should have been a state-of-the-art learning facility remains a field of grass.

Once expected to be one of the most modern university complexes in Southeast Asia, Malaysia's Vietnam International University Township (VIUT) project remains dormant, despite receiving an investment license eight years ago.

The Ho Chi Minh City municipal government has recently asked its Department of Planning and Investment to review the project and help Berjaya Land, the investor, solve any difficulties it may be facing, otherwise the investment license for the $3.5 billion project will be revoked.

Berjaya Land did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Licensed in July 2008, the project should have covered 925 hectares (2286 acres) in Hoc Mon District, and was scheduled for completion from 2011 to 2021, but the project has seen no progress as of yet.

vietnam-threatens-to-scrap-35-bln-property-project-as-malaysian-investor-dawdles

A rendering of the Vietnam International University Township. Photo from bqltaybac.hochiminhcity.gov.vn

The Malaysian investor planned to use more than 100 hectares to develop a university training center to rival others in Southeast Asia, along with 20 schools ranging from kindergarten to high school levels.

The remaining area was to be used to build a commercial center, residential property and cultural centers, but instead all that grows on the site now is a field of wild grass.

According to experts, Vietnam's sluggish property market in recent years has hampered work on site clearance for the project. Falling house prices have resulted in low-ball relocation packages, making many residents reluctant to leave.

It has had negative impacts on local people who were evicted and has hurt the city’s economic and social development strategy, which had huge expectations for this massive foreign direct investment project.

Berjaya was considered a reputable real estate investor before its failure to materialize the plan, which would have contributed significantly to the city’s northwest and neighboring provinces of Long An and Tay Ninh.

Berjaya Land is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berjaya Leisure Ltd., (Caymans). The Malaysian investor is the owner of a wide range of projects in Vietnam, including the Sheraton and InterContinental hotels in Hanoi, the Long Beach resort on Phu Quoc Island and the $500 million Hanoi Garden City residential area in Long Bien District.

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