City&Country: The Edge Property Excellence Awards 2011-- What the judges say

Datuk Alan Tong
Tong is the first and only Malaysian to have held the post of Fiabci (The International Real Estate Federation) World president (2005 to 2006) and it was during his term that Fiabci’s Kuala Lumpur-based Asia-Pacific regional secretariat, which he now chairs, was set up. Also a past president of Fiabci Malaysia (1994 to 2000), Tong founded Sunrise Sdn Bhd in 1968. The property development company was subsequently listed as Sunrise Bhd on the Main Board of the local bourse in 1995. Tong exited the company in early 1997, just before the Asian financial crisis, and is now group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd, a private company he formed in 2000 with his son N K Tong to undertake niche property development. He was also named Property Man of the Year 2010 by Fiabci Malaysia.

“This year again, we saw healthy competition among the developers to be at the top of the property development industry in the country. Healthy competition augurs well for the country, industry players as well as homebuyers and investors.

It is heartening to see many of the country’s top developers continuing to do well both qualitatively and quantitatively to meet the expectation of customers. They have set a high standard for the industry and I believe many of them may even compete internationally and give international players from other countries a run for their money — such is the standard of Malaysian property developers these days.”

Kumar Tharmalingam
A past president of Fiabci Malaysia and a past board member of Fiabci International, Kumar is a registered real estate valuer and property consultant. He has been active both as a property consultant and a property developer and has, over the past 35 years, observed the growth of local real estate. Kumar is currently CEO of Malaysia Property Inc.

“The local property market is more resilient than people realise. Malaysia has never seen the kind of runaway values seen, for example, in the US since 1974. However, a tightening of credit by Bank Negara is in place as it seems to think we have inflation in house prices. This is a persistent perception although available data does not show any shift to runaway values. But while there is real demand, there is also a shift to smaller homes and housing in clusters where services are geared towards the Y generation or to an impending retiring X generation.

Both generations have opposing needs. X needs to be near hospitals and supermarkets with no steep stairs, for example, and close to the city where they grew up, with security. They will pay a premium for these.

Y needs lifestyle entertainment. They have no problems being located further away from the city and have no use for land lines since they are on permanent WiFi.

Savvy developers are already gearing for this shift. And our Top 10 developers are on the ball in this aspect. In this year’s awards, we have the same faces we saw previously, playing musical chairs, and certainly quality and excellence once again win the day.”

Datuk Eddy Chen
A Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia past president, Chen, who is the managing director of MKH Bhd (formerly known as Metro Kajang Holdings Bhd), has been in property development and construction-related businesses for nearly three decades. He sits on various government-private sector committees that formulate policies governing the housing and real estate industry. He is also the chairman of the board of trustees of the Rehda Institute.

“The Edge Top Property Developers Awards has become a much-awaited yearly ranking for many property players as they look forward to see where they stand among their peers. Much like university rankings, many developers use this ranking as part of their branding exercise. The weight placed on qualitative features reflects the market’s continued pressure on developers to improve in this aspect of the ranking. One of the key reasons many support the build-then-sell delivery system is poor quality, which is only apparent after the houses are handed over, by which time homebuyers have little or no bargaining power.

I believe this emphasis on quality also helps level the playing field for the smaller players. Both big and small developers can deliver similar quality as a percentage of cost. If incorporated into the conceptualisation, design and construction from the day the developer decides to purchase the land, the cost of qualitative input into properties can be reduced. And quality as we know it today is different from that 30 years ago.

Modern lifestyle, climate change, reducing one’s carbon footprint, renewable energy and many other new trends have altered the way we look at quality in housing — a holistic and sustainable approach.

While it may be difficult to capture all of these in just one ranking, I believe the ranking goes a long way to spur the qualitative aspect of property development.”

Datuk Teo Chiang Kok
A past president of Rehda Malaysia and Fiabci Malaysia, Teo is currently the president of the Building Management Association of Malaysia. He is also a council member of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia and heads its construction and property committee as well as infrastructure committee.

He is a director of companies in See Hoy Chan Holdings Group, which is behind the development of the Bandar Utama township in Petaling Jaya, where the award-winning 1  Utama Shopping Centre is located.

Teo has almost four decades of experience in property development and is a pioneer in incorporating green initiatives and technology into the master plan and buildings of Bandar Utama.
“There is no surprise about the finalists as they are all well-regarded and well-known developers. Their qualitative credentials are very high and recognised by the public at large. The few changes in the ranking are due to the respective performance of the property developers, which can swing quite a bit due to the stages of completion of their various phases brought into account for the year.”

Datuk Jeffrey Ng
A patron and past president of Rehda Malaysia, Ng is into boutique property development. His experience in finance, corporate planning and executive management in the property and hotel industries in Malaysia and Australia spans more than 28 years. He was an executive director of Sunway City Bhd. At the moment, he is the CEO and non-independent executive director of Sunway REIT Management Sdn Bhd, which is the manager of Sunway REIT. Ng is also a director in Urban Hallmark Properties Sdn Bhd.

“There are no surprises in the ranking of this year’s Top 10 property developers. They are all market leaders in their own right and share common achievements. such as strong corporate branding, mass-appeal product concepts and mass-customer support. Up-and-coming property developers will find this pack hard to beat for now.”

Datuk Richard Fong
Fong is the immediate past president of Fiabci Malaysia and past chairman of Malaysia Property Inc. He is also the group executive vice-chairman of Glomac Bhd. A civil engineering graduate of University College London, Fong began his career at Mudajaya Construction Sdn Bhd and IJM Corp Bhd before founding Glomac in 1988 with Tan Sri F D Mansor.

“The result of the Top 10 property developers awards shows that the top companies remain entrenched in their positions. It also shows that they are all going from strength to strength in line with buoyant conditions last year. Other developers who seek to break into the Top 10 will need to step up their image building and sustain their branding for a few years. Having one successful year will not be good enough to break into the Top 10. The developers will need to have a high profile consistently for a few years.”

Au Foong Yee
Au Foong Yee was executive editor at The Edge when she conceptualised The Edge Top Property Developers Awards.

She is now the chief marketing officer of The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd.

“Privately owned property developers as well as those under the umbrella of a listed entity that have offered themselves for scrutiny must be highly commended. Unlike property developers which, by virtue of their listing status, are automatically eligible for this vigorous ranking introduced in 2003, the former have the option of staying off the radar screen.

That the 10 companies volunteered to be examined speaks volumes about their intent to compete with the best and the biggest players in the country. Such a competitive spirit will help raise the standard of the Malaysian property industry.

For the record, the 10 are Bandar Utama City Corp Sdn Bhd, Al-Batha Bukit Kiara Holdings Sdn Bhd (Bukit Kiara Properties), I&P Group Sdn Bhd, IOI Properties Bhd, Khor Joo Saik Sdn Bhd, Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd, SBC Corp Bhd, Sime Darby Property Bhd, Trinity Group and WCT Land. Kudos to all 10.

As for property investors, clearly, there is a need to not only look at the overall ranking of the winners but also how they fared in their qualitative attributes.

Moving forward, qualitative attributes will continue to play a significant role in differentiating the men from the boys in the industry. This is especially given the government’s expressed intention to soon amend the law, which will pave the way for a build-then-sell marketplace.”


This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 878, Oct 3-9, 2011

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