Striving to be a force to be reckoned with globally


BY ANGIE NG

GLOBALISATION is set to herald greater coast-to-coast transnational trade and opportunities, bringing with it bountiful opportunities for both the physical and services-related sectors.  

Malaysia's fast growing services sector has the potential to become more productive and an important contributor to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth.  

According to the Department of Statistics, 50% of the country's labour force in 2002 was employed in the services sector compared with 36% in the industrial and 14% in the agriculture sectors. 

This has mainly resulted from the growing trend of global outsourcing of services following relocation of businesses and production facilities to lower cost regions offshore.  

The growing importance of the services sector will make it a force to be reckoned with, especially if Malaysia becomes a net exporter of the various services such as accountancy, engineering, property surveying and other related professions. 

Construction groups such as Gamuda Bhd, Road Builder Holdings (M) Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd and Bina Puri Holdings Bhd have made inroads overseas by exporting their expertise in infrastructure building projects such as highway and bridge construction in India, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, the Maldives and the Middle East countries. 

Property development companies are also venturing overseas, especially to China, as the strong economic growth and higher incomes of the people has translated to good property sales.  

LBS Bina Group Bhd will be developing a 267-acre parcel in Zhuhai, China, into 2,462 units of apartments, condominiums, cluster and terrace houses, semi-detached homes and bungalows. 

The Zhuhai project will be the launch pad for LBS into greater China as the company has also set its sights on building up a presence in the leisure sector.  

LBS is also management consultant for a 36-hole golf course and racing circuit located close to the property project.  

According to the Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia (ISM) president Ong See Lian, the advent of globalisation has set the platform for greater opportunities for a broad spectrum of Malaysian service providers including architects, engineers and the surveying profession to go international. 

“If we do not seize the opportunity to grow and better ourselves now, we will lose out to others including China, which has 40,000 cost engineers (American term for quantity surveyors),” added Ong, who is also president of the Pacific Association of Quantity Surveyors, an umbrella body for all professional institutions of quantity surveyors in the Asia-Pacific region.  

He said Malaysia had the potential to export its expertise in the various services for the property and construction related industries and had so far made headway in India, the Middle East countries and neighbouring countries including Thailand.  

“In venturing offshore, we do not lack in terms of expertise but what we lack is capacity and international market intelligence,” Ong said. 

Most of the quantity surveying firms were sole proprietorships and did not have the capacity to undertake research and development, he said, adding that the only way was mergers among the smaller players or forming strategic alliances with bigger groups. 

“There is a need for our surveyors to establish international networking with foreign partners to tap investors from outside the country to invest in our properties. To reach out to a wider spectrum of clients, market intelligence and networking is mandatory.” 

To be an integrated service provider and compete in the world market, Ong said, there was a need for a “complete paradigm shift” among the surveying practitioners.  

The “must do list” includes training in human capital, innovation and introducing new ideas as well as capacity and capability build-up. 

John Loh & Associates principal John Loh said construction and property groups, which had clinched overseas projects, would need quantity and land surveyors to undertake the necessary studies for the projects. 

“If they are income-yielding or real estate projects, the services of property consultants, valuers, real estate agents and property managers will also be needed. This will provide a good opportunity for our professionals to become global players,” he said. 

Loh said it would be helpful if the Government could provide more incentives to promote the export of the services sector. 

“Tax breaks alone are not sufficient but some form of direct grant would encourage companies to establish a base in those countries that offer potential, especially within the Asean and Oceania regions,” he added.  

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