Tribute to YTL founder

Property Talk: A weekly column by S.C. Cheah

THE exuberance was spontaneous. About 200 people stood up to cheer when their “patriarch” Tan Sri Dr Yeoh Tiong Lay was named the Property Man of the Year at the 11th FIABCI Malaysia's Property Award of Distinction 2003 award presentation dinner held in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 3. 

The YTL staff had come in full force occupying some 20 tables at the black tie dinner that was graced by their majesties the King and Queen at the Shangri-La Hotel.  

It is indeed a fitting tribute to Yeoh, the founder and executive chairman of the YTL Group for his untiring efforts in introducing many pioneering features that have become an industry standard today. 

From left: Evaluation committe chairman Lim Eng Chong, Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay, Kumar Tharmalingam and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail.

For example, YTL was a pioneer in building low cost terrace housing with its concept of a 740 sq ft, three-bedroom house for a mere RM25,000.  

At that time social housing consisted of only walk-up flats or single-storey two bedroom houses. 

During a visit to YTL's Taman Pakatan low-cost housing projects in Bercham, Ipoh, in the early 1990s, I was impressed with the two-storey low-cost houses. YTL also provided playgrounds and even a wet market for the housing estate.  

It also built the Kondo Rakyat, a low-cost condominium project in Kampung Kerinci in Kuala Lumpur.  

The units were again sold at RM25,000 each. YTL has built more than 10,000 units of such social housing in Ipoh, Raub, and Masai in Johor. 

Although Yeoh (who heads five listed companies) is less seen these days, preferring to let his capable children run the show, he has left his mark in the real estate and construction industry in Malaysia and the Asia and Western Pacific regions.  

His diversified group has also been successful in the business of power generation and utilities, cement and manufacturing, and hotel and tourism. 

Today the group is synonymous with such quality developments as Pantai Hillpark, a low-rise, low-density Mediterranean inspired condo-villas and the regeneration of abandoned projects like Sentul Raya.  

The group's property arm, YTL Land & Development, has revived the integrated property project at the site of the former railway station in Sentul in KL. 

Yeoh now joins the ranks of the other recipients of the prestigious Property Man of the Year awards: Datuk Tan Chin Nam (1992), Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah (1993), Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan (1994), Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah (1995), Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew (1996), Tan Sri Mustaffa Kamal (1997), Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye (1998), Tan Sri Dr Teo Soo Cheng (2000), Tan Sri Dr Lee Shin Cheng (2001) and Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong (2002). 

The other winners for 2003 were: Bukit Gita Bayu (Residential Development), Langkawi Lagoon Resort (Resort Development), Bandar Botanic (Master Plan Development), Kulim Hi-Tech Park (Industrial Development) and Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur (Hotel Development). (FIABCI is the acronym for the International Real Estate Federation). 

One can expect more entries in future from the numerous “gated and guarded” communities that are being developed these days.  

Few would dispute that Yee Seng Heights Sdn Bhd has put in much effort in creating a unique enclave for its Bukit Gita Bayu. Its lovely Balinese-style clubhouse is the talk of the town.  

Although the location is nothing to shout about, the developer has managed to create high value out of a piece of old rubber estate. 

Bandar Botanic too is poised to be an attractive place to live in.  

As Gamuda Land architecture and product development assistant general manager John Yong said, Gamuda land as a “lifestyle” township developer had considered all aspects of market trends and community needs in the planning process. 

”With our comprehensive masterplan, Bandar Botanic is planned and designed with value-added features such as superior infrastructure, abundance of greenery, parks, community facilities and amenities and a safe and secure living environment for the community,” he said. 

Shangri-La Hotel's win is expected especially after its hefty RM100mil “face-lift” (its Lemon Garden Cafe is very popular) while the Langkawi Lagoon Resort's 57-acre waterfront “paradise” would help to promote this northern island as a tourist destination.  

Meanwhile, it is heartening to note that this property “Oscar” has become more transparent since it was first established 11 years ago.  

The fact that winners were only picked from six out of eight categories showed stringent selection. 

FIABCI Malaysia president Kumar Tharmalingam said selection involved a rigorous inspection process and that nominations were screened by an evaluation committee.  

He is pleased that the awards had become a brand name. 

Stock watch on YTL Land

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