Turnaround guru takes helm at MPC

Malaysia Pacific Corp Bhd (MPC) is poised for exciting times now that “turnaround guru” Bill Ch'ng is helming the public-listed company.

Ch'ng, who is MPC chief executive officer, is the man behind the RM6bil Lakehill Resort City, near Pasir Gudang in Johor. This ambitious 484-acre freehold development, part of MPC's 905-acre Nusa Damai, is within Iskandar Malaysia and would have more than 60,000 people when completed in eight years..

Bill Ch'ngand his sonCharles(left), who isan MPCexecutivedirector, witha model ofthe LakehillResort City

“This piece of land was approved for medium low-cost housing and the original intention was to cut the hill and fill the lake. I have instead retained the hill and lake and changed the whole concept. I have also increased the number of mixed units from 8,000 to 12,000 commercial and housing units,” Ch'ng told StarBiz at the CityscapeAsia 2008 in Singapore recently.

Ch'ng said he had introduced some new concepts, one of which was to turn the area around a lake into a one-stop tourism hub complete with pavilions where each state's unique arts and crafts could be exhibited and visitors could also savour the various types of cuisines offered in Malaysia.

Visitors and residents could also ride 13 types of gondolas, each symbolising the 13 states' cultures in Malaysia, and they would be steered by local costumed boys.

The resort township will not only have bungalows, court-linked houses, terrace and town houses, apartments and serviced condominiums but also a host of other unique features such as a food and entertainment area known as Nusa Paradis and even a medical and healthcare specialist centre.

However, the main attraction is the Asia-Pacific Trade & Expo City (APTEC) with a planned four million sq ft built-up area on 23.5 acres. APTEC will have a permanent global “show city” of wholesale consumer products, shopping mall, a three-star hotel, office suites and two serviced apartments. It will offer business networking, family outing, merchandising, shopping and a variety of entertainment experiences.

Off-season and overrun products can be taken to the adjacent Cowboy-themed “The Factory Outlet” to be sold at a discount. “It will be the biggest factory outlet in the region where people can shop for off-season branded goods at a lower price. They can save on VAT (value added tax) here.”

Ch'ng believes that the RM1.5bil APTEC could be a catalyst for the future growth of Johor and Singapore and the Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore synergy would mirror the success of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong strategic partnership.

When he visited Shenzhen in 1984, it was a mere fishing village with a population of less than 100,000 but today it has some 12 million people and is one of the fastest growing cities in China.

“We've a neighbour (Singapore) that is rich and willing to invest here. However, how come our neighbour, which knows us so well, is not investing (much). It does not jive,” he said, adding that Malaysian companies should invest in Malaysia and not “run away.”

In order to attract investors, there must be more incentives properly packaged to woo them, he said. “It is important that we must also look at the investment models of other countries and try to do better than them,” he said, adding that state governments being the biggest land owners should unlock the value of their land.

Ch'ng envisaged that tourists to Singapore would stop over at Lakehill Resort City to enjoy its many amenities, including doing business at APTEC.

Besides helping to source for products and services initially from China, India and Asean countries, APTEC could also enable local traders to showcase their products and distribute them. Imported goods can be stored at the warehouses in the Pasir Gudang Free Trade Zone.

“We want to help the SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and create a new breed of entrepreneurs. We will have a training school to conduct a variety of courses,” he added.

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