City & Country: Rehda Youth comes into its own

THE YOUTH WING of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association, more widely known as Rehda Youth, was formally recognised as an independent society by the Registry of Societies Malaysia on Aug 23.

Prior to this, Rehda Youth was an unofficial subcommittee under Rehda Malaysia. Its legitimisation has transformed it into an autonomous branch under the umbrella body and a formal society in its own right.

Speaking to City & Country after Rehda Youth’s first Annual General Meeting on Oct 29, its deputy chairman Sam Tan says the youth wing will continue to focus on sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and education.

When asked whether this will create a conflict between the two bodies, Tan says, “We have many different committees in Rehda, so we didn’t want our roles to overlap. We’ve had to be very clear and careful. We will complement whatever Rehda is doing.”

In the past, it spearheaded a movement towards greener developments in Malaysia, resulting in greater awareness of and demand for sustainable buildings and the national body launching a new green rating tool earlier this year.

As an organisation composed of senior management under the age of 40 from different property development companies, Rehda Youth allows its members to learn from each other via its educational platform. Since its inception, it has organised annual green tours both at home and abroad, reviewing different products in the market, pooling its resources and sharing knowledge.

“As an industry, if you keep sharing knowledge with other people, the quality of what you’re going to build is only going to get better. The long-term objective is to take the industry to another level. And where do you start? With the future developers,” explains Tan, who is also the group managing director for Ken Holdings Berhad.

It was Rehda Malaysia president Datuk Seri Michael Yam who mooted the idea of a youth division in April 2010. When also asked about a conflict between the two bodies, he describes Rehda Youth as an understudy of the national body. “I think it’s totally aligned. Rehda Youth is not just about those various focus areas, but also about succession planning. Organisations are not sustaining themselves when they do not have youth coming in. This is the official channel through which we engage the youth.”

Yam highlights the fact that Rehda Malaysia is made up of corporations while the youth wing comprises individuals, which enables them to promote CSR on a deeper level. “They are the softer side of Rehda — we are a responsible organisation playing our role in CSR.”

Rehda Youth plans to increase its membership from 91 now to 200 by next year. It also plans to expand its society to include the subcommittees of various states, such as Penang, Kelantan and Johor.

“Now that Rehda Youth is formalised, more people will recognise us. So our promotional efforts will be more effective and there’s a physical way to get people in here,” says Tan.

The society already has a new secretariat and will hold its own elections and annual general meetings. It can also legally collect subscriptions. All these will strengthen the body as a whole.

“What we want is not to just enlarge own sales, but of the entire industry,” says Tan, commenting on the future synergy between Rehda Youth and its umbrella body.

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on November 4, 2013.

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