Developers are often viewed as house builders, but many of them have also expanded their roles to building communities, and gone beyond their duties to benefit not just their own developments, but also the community at large. Known or unknown, there have been manifold efforts by numerous developers to help the less fortunate through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

Though the philanthropic exercise has not started only now, it has become even more crucial at such times when the Covid-19 pandemic has deepened the predicaments for and unsettled a larger part of society.  

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To warm our hearts and lift our spirits during this Merdeka month, shines the light on the less highlighted sides of the developers, where they have employed various ways to help the marginalised and pandemic-affected groups and individuals tide through the storm.

Sharing their stories here are the recipients of EdgeProp Malaysia’s Responsible Developer: Building Sustainable Development Award, who have been inducted into the exclusive Malaysia Developers’ Hall of Fame when they won the awards in their respective years: AME Development Sdn Bhd (2018), Paramount Property Development Sdn Bhd (2018), S P Setia Bhd (2018), ParkCity Group (2019), Sunway Property (2019), Gamuda Land (2020), Tanah Sutera Development Sdn Bhd (2020), Eco World Development Group Bhd (2021), Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd (2021) and Sime Darby Property Bhd (2021).

Restoring homes of the hardcore poor
AME Development Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of AME Elite Consortium Bhd
Kelvin Lee Chai, Managing director of AME Elite Consortium

The Covid-19 pandemic opened up several opportunities for AME to champion several social projects to serve the communities around us.

Noting the urgency of face mask shortage and the importance of keeping our frontliners safe during the initial MCO in April 2020, AME embarked on one of its very first projects by donating 100,000 face masks and 108 bottles of hand sanitisers to the Johor State Government to distribute to frontliners and public officials.

Specifically for the B40 group, AME’s CSR Team embarked on “The Survival Box Distribution Programme,” to distribute essential household items to needy families who were identified through the “White Flag” campaign and in cooperation with various Johor NGO (non-governmental organisation) branches. The boxes, worth RM100 each, contain essential foodstuffs to sustain a family of three or four for one month. The first batch of 100 boxes was delivered to households in Senai and Kulai on Aug 1, 2021, and we plan to continue this initiative to help more families in the near future.

Also, in collaboration with Yayasan Budi Ihsan Malaysia and TV AlHijrah under the “MYHAUS programme”, we were one of the contributors to efforts to restore 13 houses occupied by the hardcore poor nationwide to improve their living quality. These works included building additional rooms with concrete floors, enhancing the existing bathroom and water piping systems, rebuilding sturdy porches, and undertaking painting works.

These projects are part of the “social” component within our Environmental Social Governance (ESG) initiative. This is part of our endeavour to enhance our long-term business sustainability and will be part of our long-term projects to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged communities around us.

Meeting the needs of every segment
Paramount Property Development Sdn Bhd, the property arm of Paramount Corp Bhd
Benjamin Teo, Executive director of of Paramount Corp Bhd

The past year has been first and foremost about prioritising the health and wellness of our employees. This includes setting aside the funds to ensure our employees are fully vaccinated and given time off to get their shots as well as to recover post-vaccination.

Our communities of construction workers are also taken care of and have been supplied with food, care packages as well as cash allowances over the various lockdowns.

Our support has also extended to poor and needy communities. This includes providing food packages to over 400 families in both the central and northern regions. In addition, donations of medical supplies, wheelchairs as well as oxygenators have also been made to support our medical frontliners.

Our coworking division, Co-labs Coworking, has also been collaborating with non-profit organisations to fundraise for various causes including feeding the homeless as well as supporting equal learning opportunities for children during this pandemic.

Quite early on, Paramount also contributed to the Edge Covid-19 Healthcare Workers Support Fund which went towards assisting health care workers affected by the pandemic. My late father Datuk Teo Chiang Quan and I also personally supported this cause.

All these are cumulative efforts made by the different teams across the Group with everyone guided by our company vision of “Changing lives and enriching communities for a better world”.

Based on our aspirations under the “Social” pillar of the Group’s sustainability framework, our goal is simply to make a positive difference to our local communities, especially those in the areas we operate.

For me, this pandemic has been an eye-opening as well as a humbling experience. While it has exposed the struggles of people, it has also brought many together in the spirit of collective effort. Ultimately, unity is strength. When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.

Cultivating a caring society
S P Setia Bhd
Datuk Sri Koe Peng Kang, Senior executive vice president

Over the past year, S P Setia Bhd has extended its aid to vulnerable communities across the nation through our CSR programmes. These programmes have extended its help to construction workers, students and to everyday Malaysians.

In an effort to help the government to ramp up the vaccination for the rakyat and to achieve herd immunity against the Covid-19 whereby 80% of the population is fully vaccinated, a total of six S P Setia venues were used as vaccination centres (PPVs) as part of the national immunisation programme.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with Merdeka and Malaysia Day, Malaysian kuih packs were given to the volunteers and frontliners of Setia’s PPVs as an appreciation for their sacrifice of time for the nation. A total of 2,300 servings of savoury and sweet Malaysian snacks and desserts were distributed to approximately 1,060 frontliners and volunteers of the PPVs in the central region.

Additionally, we have also continued our Food Aid programme where dry rations such as rice, instant noodles, canned food, flour, salt, sugar and cooking oil were distributed to approximately 8,000 workers at more than 20 project sites in Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Johor.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continued to affect the livelihoods of many low-income families, Setia Foundation continued its efforts in providing aid to schools and disadvantaged students under its Setia Caring School Programme (SCSP) and other initiatives during the first quarter of 2021.

In line with its objective to assist in the advancement of the education of disadvantaged pupils, the Foundation provided financial support via the Annual Stipend Programme to the B40 families as schools were reopened in early 2021. School supplies, reference books and two full sets of school uniforms per student were distributed to all nine SCSP schools in Selangor, Penang and Johor.

Through these programmes, ​​caring for those who need it the most is the essence of Setia’s commitment to our community.

We are invested in the future of our nation, having lent a helping hand to Malaysians in need since 2000. Our CSR projects are all designed to create a positive impact, foster integration and national unity and cultivate a more caring society especially during times like this.

Inspiring community to be part of CSR
Parkcity Group
Datuk Joseph Lau, Chief executive officer

We believe that CSR starts from within the company, and eventually the communities and society at large. Throughout the Covid-19 period, ParkCity has introduced a series of initiatives both privately and also through collaborations with other partners.

For instance, ParkCity’s collaboration with the local community in Desa ParkCity to kickstart the “Food Share’’ initiative has benefitted many people in need of food supplies, especially during the current pandemic.

During the start of the pandemic, we were also among the first contributors to The Edge Covid-19 Equipment Fund & Health Care Workers Support Fund to help fight against the country’s health crisis.

Similarly, we collaborated with a private institution, PACTS Schools in support of NEEDS International community food delivery programme called “Food Postman”. The programme was initiated for the purpose of reaching out to people in the rural areas who were affected by the lockdown in Miri, Sarawak.

Other than a series of CSR programmes, everyone played a crucial role in curbing the spread of the infectious coronavirus. When Covid-19 hit, we realised we have a much more important role to play in creating a safe and healthy environment.

The national guidelines and SOPs (standard operating procedures) were still at their budding stages then. But from a strategic viewpoint, it was crucial for speedy implementations of strict SOPs and other proactive initiatives. We saw the importance of this as it can ensure the safety and health of all our employees and communities especially the frontliners, our tenants, visitors and residents within our communities. Beyond our internal offices, we also implemented the government-sanctioned SOPs in our retail spaces and parks.

After the first few months, people were raring to go out again. As the movement restrictions were easing, we needed to maintain the low Covid-19 infection curve. We rolled out initiatives to encourage and remind our communities and the public to maintain a high level of hygiene at all times. To strengthen our efforts, care packs containing sanitisers and masks were distributed to visitors of The Waterfront at Desa ParkCity — one of the township’s hot spots with a high foot traffic.

We’ve implemented extra precautions to ensure the safety of our communities in communal spaces as well as workers in construction sites. Additionally, our premises are sanitised on a regular basis. In order to effectively coordinate this large effort, constant communication and cooperation from all of our contractors, project site teams and township’s joint management committees were required to ensure that every SOP is adhered to and practised.

Sustaining hard-hit business owners
Sunway Property
Sarena Cheah, Managing director of Sunway Bhd property division

At the onset of Covid-19, and subsequently the stay-home orders, our hearts went out to our fellow Malaysians who were the hardest hit – those on the frontlines, the B40 families, as well as the small businesses within our communities.

Together as a group, we have worked to reach more than 200,000 lives across the nation throughout the pandemic period through various #SunwayforGood initiatives with a commitment of close to RM60 million since March 2020.

To help the government achieve widespread vaccination coverage, we have dedicated four of our Sunway facilities rent-free to be used as vaccination centres over 12 months. Totalling close to 200,000 sq ft, the four centres – Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre, Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway Medical Centre Velocity and Sunway Specialist Centre Damansara are helmed by our Sunway healthcare staff and volunteers.

To lend a helping hand to the businesses within our communities, our malls granted RM120 million in rent assistance last year to our retailers.

Currently, our malls division is facilitating the disbursement of RM200 million in working capital to assist our retailers within seven malls through the Sunway Malls SME Retailers Relief Financing Programme provided by RHB Banking Group and Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd (CGC).

For the National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations, we are extending our efforts by reallocating all our advertising funds to purchase some 25,000kg worth of food for 2,100 B40 families under our #SunwayforGood Food Bank initiative.

In order to support the SMEs during this challenging time, we will be launching our MyCommunityHeroes 2.0 campaign and provide our digital platforms in Sunway Property to our business community to spread awareness about their brands. At the same time, we will also be supporting them by purchasing vouchers as redemptions for our customers.

The pandemic has shown us how Malaysians can come together in spirit, in unity and strength to overcome one of the toughest challenges of our times. Together, we shall persevere, together, we stand.

As a Master Community Developer, we aspire to build a better tomorrow by creating integrated spaces where everyone can live, learn, work and play in a safe, healthy and connected environment. We remain committed to building sustainable communities where our future generations can continue to thrive.

Helping low-income earners to help themselves
Gamuda Land
Ngan Chee Meng, Chief executive officer

Subscribing to the Gamuda Green Plan 2025 and aligning to its ESG framework, Gamuda Land reached out to various groups of society that needed help. Besides helping to alleviate short-term needs such as food and daily essentials, Gamuda Land has also reached out to the Orang Asli community with programmes that help generate sustainable income towards addressing ongoing poverty and income equality issues.

During these challenging times amid the pandemic, Gamuda Land has rolled out GL Cares to help those in our surrounding community by delivering food items and daily essentials to those in need, including workers in our CLQs (Centralised Labour Quarters), charitable homes and NGOs.

Meanwhile, Gamuda Parks has been extensively engaging with the Orang Asli community as part of Gamuda’s Native Community socio-economic development programmes as listed below: 

The Upskilling Business Project: Sewing and Selling Reusable Masks Partnering with The Asli Co provides both business opportunities and helps upskill Temuan women in Kg Bukit Cheeding to be self-sufficient income-earners. This is through the provision of machinery and materials needed for face masks which are sold to corporations.

The Farm-to-mouth Project helps Orang Asli plant their own edible gardens, harvesting enough for the family and to sell.

The Wild Tree Seed Bank, through our partnership with Binturong Alam Ventures, has provided the Orang Asli over one thousand seedlings consisting of native forest tree species. This project supports Gamuda Land’s #OneMillionTrees movement while providing sustainable income for villagers as they search for seeds in the virgin forest and propagate them at the nursery in the village.

The Empowering Orang Asli students through education project has plans underway to distribute tablets supported by broadband to Orang Asli schools. On top of that, we are engaging qualified teachers to provide additional classes for the students to improve their literacy.

Meanwhile, at the Group level, we’ve taken proactive measures to ensure our workers’ and public health and safety are protected. For instance, we have launched our RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) testing facility (Gamuda Laboratories) in Nov 2020 with the intention to provide fortnightly testing for the Group’s workforce of 20,000, playing a crucial role in increasing the rate of Covid-19 screening.

Extending beyond the Group’s workers, Gamuda Laboratories is now offering Covid-19 PCR Testing and Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assay tests for the larger community – commercial entities and also the public.

Taking a holistic approach in addressing students’ needs
Eco World Development Group Bhd
Datuk Chang Khim Wah, President & chief executive officer

EcoWorld engages with local communities in providing equal access to education and development for the young, while also conducting activities in nature conservation, and supporting the health and wellbeing of the community. Our focus on education is also aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Eco World Foundation (EWF) was established in 2014 to carry out EcoWorld Group’s CSR projects with a focus on underprivileged children, and their education and health needs.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, this commitment is ongoing and this year, EWF has continued to support more than 2,000 primary, secondary and tertiary students under EWF’s core Students Aid Programme (SAP) by providing financial aid for their education expenses.

SAP practises a holistic approach by addressing every aspect of a student’s educational requirements such as subsidised school, tuition and computer fees as well as paying for students’ uniforms, stationery, workbooks and canteen meals.

To ensure that the programme’s objectives are met, the Foundation actively and frequently engages with students and parents through activities such as UPSR Motivation Camp, learning trips, UPSR Excellence Award Ceremony, Dialogue with Parents, Career Talk and home visits.

Due to movement restrictions in the current pandemic, a few of our planned programmes were put on hold. However, we conducted our core programmes involving education and providing financial assistance to underprivileged students.

This year, EWF also kicked off a fresh charity initiative, the Covid-19 Special Aid, to provide additional support for needy families under the SAP. Since early 2021, RM55,000 worth of vouchers from 99 Speed Mart have been given out to over 150 families and eight shelter homes for orphans and disabled persons.

The Group’s latest effort is the “Bantu” initiative. It was a staff-led #KitaJagaKita initiative that aimed to raise funds through the generosity of Team EcoWorld. This was an opportunity for Team EcoWorld to show our solidarity with the less fortunate by offering help to the communities under our care.

Team EcoWorld managed to raise RM80,000 in just two weeks! We are truly amazed by the kindness shown by Team EcoWorld in wanting to help the poorest in our communities tide through this season of need.

The funds were distributed to families of students under the SAP who have suffered losses of income as well as the Orang Asli community in Pahang, IQ70 Home Plus, Sai Pandian Home, Victory Home, The Handicapped & Mentally Disabled Children’s Association of Johor, The Elijah Centre and 25 hardcore poor families living near EcoWorld developments in Penang.

Nurturing Environments, Enriching Lives
Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd
Datuk Lee Tian Hock, Founder & group executive deputy chairman

It has been almost 18 months since the first Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020 and the daily Covid-19 statistics have been alarming for all of us. Businesses and livelihoods have been affected greatly with many losses including lives, yet the spirit of humanity remains strong within Malaysians.

Matrix Concepts observes the five CSR pillars (community, education, environment & social, sports and Covid-19) as per our tagline “Nurturing Environments, Enriching Lives”.

We have contributed over RM8.48 million to various organisations and communities over the past one year. Out of the RM8.48 million, close to RM2 million was channelled to national and state Covid-19 funds, frontliners, media personnel and affected communities such as the Orang Asli, foreign workers and even our associates.

Additionally, an extra RM400,000 has been dedicated specifically for our very own Matrix Concepts Food Bank programme, which is the highlight this year. It is a two-pronged focus to assist the needy and those in dire needs during this pandemic, while also to assist the small traders and sundry shops in our two townships (Bandar Sri Sendayan in Negeri Sembilan and Bandar Seri Impian in Johor) as the food items are sourced from them.

The food bank programme has four specific locations, and each location will give out 100-150 food packs on a specific day weekly. Each food pack provides a week’s supply for a family of six. By end-August 2021, our Matrix Concepts Food Bank would have handed out 3,350 food packs to almost 3,000 families, feeding 18,000 people in these two months!

We are blessed to live in a multi-racial country with cultural differences and religions, and we have to help each other – to ride through this pandemic wave for a better tomorrow. Together we care. 

This story first appeared in the E-weekly on Aug 27, 2021. You can access back issues here.

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