indepth

Passing of an iconic nation builder

The passing of Datuk Teo Chiang Quan, chairman and executive director of Paramount Corp Bhd on May 24, has left Malaysian corporate and property development sector players in a state of shock and despair.

This has been mirrored in an outpouring of tribute and affection for the 72-year-old widely respected for his visionary leadership, integrity and compassion. Besides building award-winning real estate and townships, Teo was also a notable pioneer promoter of education and a philanthropist.  

Clearly, this is a man, soft-spoken and low-profile, yet who has touched the lives of many – from his business associates, friends, neighbours and families to employees, both past and present.

Teo's contribution to the nation has also caught the attention of the Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin, who describes him as an exemplary and responsible developer who did not hesitate to contribute back to society. 

"He was an icon among Malaysian property developers and led Paramount Corp to great heights. Despite his success, the late Datuk Teo did not forget to contribute back to the country and community," adds the minister, who last interacted with Teo at the EdgeProp Malaysia's Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards held earlier this year. Teo was one of the award recipients honoured at the event attended by those in the local property sector.

Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC)'s founding senior pastor Datuk Dr Daniel Ho calls Teo a true gentleman who was humble, caring and a loving man of God.

“Brother CQ, a man with a true heart of gold, disarmed anyone in his or her encounter with him in spite of his stature and success. His corporate achievements are legendary and yet he remained humble, affable and cared deeply for all – young and old, rich and poor, and the educated and uneducated – and treated them all with dignity and respect," says Ho.

Teo's cousin, Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok, remembers fondly the days they grew up together. "CQ was a gentleman and considerate person and will be dearly missed not just by me but also all those whose lives he touched," adds Chiang Kok, who is Bandar Utama City Corp Sdn Bhd director.

Paramount Corp CEO Jeffrey Chew says Teo was a man of strong principles. "The Paramount family will always remember him for his work ethics, integrity as well as his relentless insistence on quality in everything we do."

Paramount Corp senior independent non-executive director Datuk Seri Michael Yam says Teo was the epitome of a gentleman and a professional while at the same time a patient mentor and loving family man. "Most of all, he was a sincere friend to many and a well-respected chairman of Paramount Corp, a well-established property and education public-listed company that just celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019."

Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) president Datuk Soam Heng Choon says the Malaysian property development and real estate industry has lost a great leader.

Rehda, Soam says, has lost a mentor and a pillar of support as Teo was always approachable and ever willing to contribute for the betterment of the industry.

EdgeProp Malaysia editor-in-chief and managing director Au Foong Yee remembers Teo as a humble and caring corporate captain of distinction who chose to stay out of the limelight.

She recalls the occasion how genuinely and unhesitatingly the late Teo had responded to an appeal for assistance for a cause that was close to his heart.

Au adds: "Each time I greeted him, he would remind me to call him just CQ. Farewell and rest in peace, brother CQ".

A member of Malaysia Developers’ Hall of Fame

Paramount Corp had its beginnings in Malaysian Rice Industries Bhd which was established in 1969 and then listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in 1971.

In 1978, the company restructured into a property development company and in 1980, adopted the name Paramount Corp Bhd. The following year, Paramount debuted its property development in Sungai Petani, Kedah, where the developer has since become a household name.

Besides expanding its property portfolio, Paramount has also ventured into the insurance and private education sectors, amongst others.

In 1989, Teo was appointed the group managing director and CEO of Paramount Corp. He was appointed chairman of the board of Paramount on June 8, 2015.

“From the time I was given the opportunity to take over the company, I saw its potential and knew that failure was not an option,” Teo had said in Paramount’s 50th Anniversary coffee table book.

This has manifested in Paramount Property being acknowledged as a builder of distinction.

Among the accolades it has achieved was its induction into Malaysia Developers’ Hall of Fame. The exclusive membership is not for sale. It is only accorded to Malaysia's developers who have been awarded the EdgeProp Malaysia's Responsible Developer: Building Sustainable Development Award.

Meanwhile at the EdgeProp Malaysia's Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards this year, Paramount Property took home the Gold (highest award) in the EdgeProp-ILAM Malaysia's Sustainable Landscape (Landscape Planning Category) for its HillPark @ Bukit Banyan project in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Relentless value creator

The late Teo did not stop at creating value for his stakeholders alone. A case in point – as chairman of the Joint Management Body of Serai Bukit Bandaraya, KL, he was known and respected for his relentless pursuit of enhanced safety for his fellow residents as well as liveability and sustainability of the condominium.

Serai Bukit Bandaraya was awarded Gold in the Below 10 Years – Multiple-owned Strata Residential Category at the 2021 edition of the EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards.

Those who have known or worked with Teo would attest to his being a great mentor and team player who was always open to ideas that would impact others positively.

An industry icon 
- Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin

“It is with great sorrow that I hear the passing of Datuk Teo Chiang Quan, Chairman of Paramount Corp Bhd. My sincere condolences to his family and loved ones in these difficult times. 

He was an icon among Malaysian property developers and led Paramount Corp to great heights. Despite his success, the late Datuk Teo did not forget to contribute back to the country and community. 

Under his leadership, Paramount Corp ran the Sayangi Rumahku programme as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts back in 2019 to support the KPKT’s (Housing and Local Government Ministry) Dasar Komuniti Negara (DKN) by repairing and upgrading facilities at PPR (Projek Perumahan Rakyat) Seri Cempaka, PPR Lembah Subang 1 and Perumahan Awam Seri Kedah. 

As the Minister of Housing and Local Government, these exemplary contributions have not escaped my attention and I am grateful that Malaysia had such a considerate man that was dedicated to the people of Malaysia.

Again, I offer my sincere condolences to the late Datuk Teo’s family, loved ones and the management and staff of Paramount Corp.”

He treated all with dignity and respect
- Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) Founding Senior Pastor, Datuk Dr Daniel Ho

“Brother CQ, a man with a true heart of gold, disarmed anyone in his or her encounter with him in spite of his stature and success. His corporate achievements are legendary and yet he remained humble, affable and cared deeply for all – young and old, rich and poor, and the educated and uneducated – and treated them all with dignity and respect. That is the true measure of a man!

His concern, burden and love for everyone was shown ultimately in his love for his wife, Esther, because just as he was being wheeled into the ICU, he reminded me to call her. Such was the gentle touch of a true gentleman and a loving man of God.

He was one of the closest business leaders I have had the privilege of journeying with as a pastor, and to see him in his personal self – not just his joys, successes and blessings, but also his tears and heartaches – is something I will forever deeply treasure. Such is the worth and weight of the man – no pretence but only deep authenticity and security. Such is my joy, honour and blessing to have encountered CQ, which will be deeply etched in my memory.

I look forward to having many teh-tarik sessions with him one day [in heaven]. Then we can have as much sugar as we like in our teh and that would be glorious!”

A gentle and considerate person
- Bandar Utama City Corp Sdn Bhd director and Malaysia Shopping Mall Association (PPK) president, Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok

“My cousin Chiang Quan and I grew up together from birth for 15 years until his family moved into their own family home. We had many fond memorable times together exploring the jungle behind our home then. 

In the family business we were running different operations but even then his approach was more of corporate organisation as opposed to our more traditional family-managed businesses. This corporate structure led him to modernise and expand many folds of the Paramount Corp Group to what it is today. This is a great story about transforming a family business into a corporate behemoth.

CQ was a gentle and considerate person and will be dearly missed by not only me but by all whose lives he had touched.”

The cornerstone of the company
- Paramount Corp Bhd CEO, Jeffrey Chew

“He was the cornerstone of our company, setting the vision and mission and epitomising our core values of TRIBE (Trust, Respect, Integrity, Bravery and Energy), which we hold dear to this day. 

Datuk Teo’s life is also the inspiration for Paramount’s vision of ‘Changing lives and enriching communities for a better world’. He was a warm person who could strike up a conversation with anyone at any level. He had a great sense of responsibility and was generous with his employees. 

A man of strong principles, the Paramount family will always remember him for his work ethics and integrity as well as his relentless insistence on quality in everything we do.”

A leader who led by example
- Paramount Corp Bhd senior independent non-executive director, Datuk Seri Michael Yam

“Datuk Teo Chiang Quan is the epitome of a gentleman and a professional while at the same time a patient mentor and loving family man.

Most of all, he was a sincere friend to many and a well-respected chairman of Paramount Corp, a well-established property and education public-listed company that just celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019.

Personally, it has been a great experience and absolute pleasure for me to sit on the board of Paramount Corp as an independent non-executive director for the past 11 years and over the past seven years as its senior independent director under his leadership.

He encouraged a free flow of ideas and debates amongst the directors while exercising the highest standards of governance and transparency. He also led by example, tempering his stewardship with core values of integrity, generosity, humility, compassion and care for others, especially for employees. We have indeed lost a great friend, industry leader and nation builder.”

We have lost a great leader
- Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) president, Datuk Soam Heng Choon

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Datuk Teo Chiang Quan, chairman of Paramount Corp Bhd. We have lost a great leader in our property development and real estate industry. 

Rehda has lost a mentor and a pillar of support as he was always approachable and ever willing to contribute for the betterment of the industry. 

We will always remember his selflessness in agreeing to allow his director of Paramount Property (late Datuk Ricque Liew) spearhead the supervision in the construction of Wisma Rehda. We will all miss him dearly. We would like to extend our deepest condolence and heartfelt sympathy to his family. May his soul rest in peace.”

Admired for his contribution to Malaysia’s education sector
- EcoWorld president and CEO, Datuk Chang Khim Wah

“Datuk Teo Chiang Quan’s sudden passing is a real loss to the Malaysian property development fraternity. 

He was a true gentleman and apart from building up the Paramount Group into the highly reputable developer that it is today, his commitment to advance and improve our country's education sector is something we deeply admire. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family in their time of grief.”

A man who changed other people’s lives
- Mah Sing group managing director, Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum

“Datuk Teo Chiang Quan’s demise is a big loss to all of us, as he was a true professional corporate leader. His contribution to both the real estate and education sectors has changed lives for many people. 

I offer my sincere condolences to Datuk Teo’s family, loved ones and the management and staff of Paramount Corp.”

A leader that left a profound impact on many
- Sime Darby Property Group managing director, Datuk Azmir Merican Azmi Merican

“On behalf of all of us at Sime Darby Property, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the late Datuk Teo Chiang Quan's family and everyone at Paramount Corp. 

The outpouring of affection and respect since his passing has served as a fitting memorial and tribute to a leader whose generosity and compassion have left a profound impact on many. 

We have lost a well-respected leader whose contributions in the property development industry have not only benefited those around him but also the nation at large. As we mourn his loss, we also celebrate the legacy he has left behind and the impact of his work, which we know will continue to be felt for many years to come.”

His contributions will be remembered forever
- Fiabci Malaysia president / S P Setia Bhd senior executive vice president, Datuk Koe Peng Kang

“Datuk Teo Chiang Quan was a very highly respected icon in the property industry and society. 

I am absolutely saddened by his departure. His immense contribution to the industry and society will be forever valued and remembered.”

A curious learner
- EcoWorld Malaysia chairman, Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin

“Datuk Teo Chiang Quan was a very learned person. He was always curious to learn new things. His deep desire for a good education system is deeply respected.”

Thanks to him, we won
- Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont Kiara) Sdn Bhd executive director, Low Hon Keong

“I have known Datuk Teo Chiang Quan since 2016 when Henry Butcher (Mont Kiara) was appointed as the property manager for Serai Bukit Bandaraya. He was the chairman of the Joint Management Body (JMB) at that time.

Every morning he walked around the community as part of his exercise to fulfil the daily 10,000 steps. He was very friendly and humble, smiling and greeting everyone he met, even the cleaners. We all like him very much.

Datuk Teo was very active and enthusiastic in property management. He always took the initiative to drive long-term plans to improve the overall community. We always felt motivated working with him as he always encouraged us and had confidence in the JMB committee members.

Even when dealing with difficult situations, he stayed calm and listened to all opinions before making a decision.

We have continuously submitted Serai Bukit Bandaraya to participate in EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards but we had not won anything. Datuk Teo didn’t give up and kept improving every year to enhance the facilities and safety of the building.

Finally, this year, Serai Bukit Bandaraya was awarded the Gold in the Below 10 Years – Multiple-owned Strata Residential Category, thanks to Datuk Teo.”

Deep passion in promoting good education
Federation of Methodist Schools Alumni Association Malaysia (FMSAAM)

“We extend our deepest condolences to Datin Esther Teo and the family at this difficult time. May they stay strong with great fortitude. 

Datuk Teo Chiang Quan will be greatly missed for his humility and leadership. A soft spoken gentleman, civil to all, he would be fondly remembered for his astute and calm leadership role, advice and encouragement. 

He served as the President of FMSAAM from 2018 up to the time of his demise. Prior to that he was for a very long number of years the President of the Alumni Association of Methodist Boys School, Kuala Lumpur and the Chairman of the School’s Board of Governors. 

He had deep and extensive passion for promoting good education as an integral part of nation-building. Other than investing in and promoting schools and colleges to deliver quality education, Datuk Teo believed in continuing the Methodist Schools legacies of bringing a sound education to students of diverse background, especially those from financially less advantaged family circumstances. 

He was deeply committed and passionate in these endeavours and in furthering FMSAAM’s objectives. He was one of the promoters in 2012 in registering FMSAAM as a national forum for championing the cause of mission schools in our country, especially the Methodist mission schools. 

The FMSAAM leadership shall continue the programme and initiatives that Datuk Teo had set for the current term of office. Rest in peace, Datuk Teo.”

Immense contribution to philanthropic activities
- UDA Holdings Bhd president and CEO/Fiabci Malaysia secretary-general, Mohd Salem Kailany

"To the late Datuk Teo Chiang Quan, you have contributed immensely to the property industry and philanthropic activities.

Your passing is deeply felt. May your soul rest in peace.

Heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the family of Datuk Teo."

He will be missed

Official statement from Paramount Corp Bhd

It is with profound sadness that Paramount Corp Bhd announces that Datuk Teo Chiang Quan, chairman and executive director, passed away this evening (May 24, 2021) due to complications from an unexpected illness. He was 72.

Over and above being an astute businessman and property developer, Datuk Teo may best be described as a nation-builder. 

He began his career in what was known as Malaysian Rice Mills in 1976, which, in 1980, was renamed Paramount Corp Bhd. Through his leadership and determination to succeed, Datuk Teo helped shape Paramount into the company it is today.

He became chairman of the board of Paramount on June 8, 2015 and provided leadership and guidance to its management in the formulation of the group’s long-term strategic plans, particularly in the areas of land banking and communication with stakeholders. 

As one of the pioneers in private tertiary education in Malaysia, he made tertiary education affordable for Malaysians. Under his leadership, he set up Sri KDU schools and later through the acquisition of REAL Education Group, built the largest K-12 education group in Malaysia.

On July 19, 2005, he was awarded the “Datukship” for his contribution to the progress and well-being of the Malaysian society. In 2019, he was awarded the accolade of FIABCI Property Man of the Year.

Read also
Covid-19 claims life of Paramount Corp chairman Datuk Teo Chiang Quan

The passing of Datuk Teo Chiang Quan: We have lost a great leader - Rehda

Datuk Seri Michael Yam: Datuk Teo Chiang Quan – a leader who encouraged ideas and debates

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