"We see a very big market in Indonesia — and not only are we selling our properties in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, we also want to tap into the investment opportunities here," S P Setia president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin told members of the media in Jakarta last Saturday.
He was speaking at the official launch of the developer's representative office in Jakarta, which had opened its doors in August last year. Jakarta represents the fifth overseas destination that the developer has ventured into after Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and China.
Liew sees the exploratory foray into Indonesia as a natural progression because of the promise and potential brought on by the country's growing wealth. "Indonesia has become a very rich country, and the Indonesian middle class and above are investing in real estate. There is a globalised trend; Singaporeans are keen to invest in Malaysia and vice versa, and Indonesians are no different."
While Liew acknowledged that local developers have a slight edge over foreign developers due to lower land costs, he believed S P Setia's products are of world-class standard, and could compete well with local developers.
"In terms of concept, I don't think we will lose out to any other developers — but to invest also depends on luck. We can be here for a few years, but still can't find a good piece of land to invest in. However, our presence in Indonesia works two ways — it's not only for us to invest here, but also for Indonesians to invest in us and our products," said Liew, who cited the award-winning 791-acre Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam as an example of world-class development.
He added that the group is looking at developing townships and integrated developments in Indonesia. There are no Indonesian projects in sight yet, as the developer is still in the midst of studying the market.
Liew stressed that it was important to first learn and understand the mindset of Indonesians, and come up with the right project for them. The same goes for selling Indonesians its products overseas. "If you ask them to invest in Setia Eco Park, they wouldn't know where it is — but if you talk about city projects, then they do. As we expand internationally, this is a pool of market for us to tap into. We are no longer looking at Malaysia as a market, but the world today."
Liew believes that expanding internationally enables the developer to enlarge its customers base and more importantly, allows it to learn from other countries. "For example,we learn about landscaping in Indonesia; in Australia, it's the environment; and in Singapore, maximising space," he said.
S P Setia is also looking to work with more local architects as it has long been a n admirer of Indonesian culture and architecture. The developer's very first luxury development — Duta Nusantara in Kuala Lumpur — was designed by an Indonesian architect, and inspired by Indonesian architecture and the serene lifestyle offered by many world class resorts of Bali.
The developer also included more Indonesian influences in subsequent developments, such as Duta Tropika in Dutamas and Setiahills in Ampang.
"We also used Indonesian architects for our Setia Eco Park development as we hope to work with more Indonesian architects in the future," said Liew.
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