Your 10 Questions

  • Business
  • Saturday, 27 Feb 2010

Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, SP Setia Bhd president and CEO answers ...

SP Setia has always projected the image of a market leader in the Malaysian property industry. What are your plans for this year to maintain your market leadership position? – K.H. Ho

It has taken us years to be where we are today and our success is a collective effort. We will continue setting benchmarks in the industry with our innovation-driven products and service quality that has kept us in good stead with our purchasers. SP Setia pioneered the 36-month warranty period for homes in 2006. Last year, we were the first to come up with the 5/95 financing package which had others following suit. As we look forward to bringing more new ideas to the market, we are also focusing on adding value to our developments. Be it schools, shopping centres or sports facilities, we are committed to improving the living environment for our communities.

How do you see the market for property now? Is it starting to get hot and will 2010 be a better year for the market? – Melissa Tan

The market is recovering and there has never been a better time to buy property. For sure, properties are not going to get any cheaper and those looking to buy should do so with the current favourable interest rates.

What kind of developments are likely to appeal to Malaysians? – S. Bernard

It’s no longer about bricks and mortar but a complete lifestyle. Today, many homebuyers are concerned about security and gated and guarded developments are getting quite popular. Well-planned enclaves that promote secure living are much sought after as homebuyers look for more than just a roof over their heads. Going green is also very much in fashion today and developments that promote green living are more attractive; which is why the group’s eco concept developments like Setia Eco Park, Shah Alam and Setia Eco Gardens, Johor are doing well. Nonetheless, our experience in developing townships and exclusive enclaves has taught us that it takes more than just beautiful landscapes to appeal to buyers.

Good planning, at the onset, is very important and this includes thinking about things like infrastructure, amenities and facilities so that the community may thrive. I remember when we first launched Setia Alam in Shah Alam, many were sceptical about the project because of the perceived distance from Kuala Lumpur city centre. Our RM150mil investment to build the Setia Alam/Meru interchange linking the township to the NKVE has not only benefited us but other neighbouring developments around the area. The success of Setia Alam has proven that where you are is not paramount if you are well connected.

What do you do to differentiate your company’s projects from that of your competitors? – Brian Ong

One of our strengths is customising our product offerings. Take, for example, our latest campaign called Best for the Best. This campaign encompasses all the best that SP Setia has to offer – from our expertise in development master plans, our focus on the environment, our LiveLearnWorkPlay development philosophy and our focus on community. On top of these best features, there is also an attractive financing package that is customised to each individual project. My team and I continuously challenge ourselves to set new benchmarks in all our projects and we strive to always do better in the next.

Having built so many townships and projects, what do you find most rewarding as a property developer? – K.C. Lim

It is most rewarding to see a community flourish and people wanting to be part of that community. One of the first fruits of our labour was the development of Pusat Bandar Puchong and the townpark of Taman Wawasan. Today, this park is a hub of activity for not only the neighbourhood but other residents who live in the vicinity of Puchong. We are seeing the same happening in Setia Alam and Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam. In just a few short years, we have a thriving community of around 20,000 people in Setia Alam. We have a Chinese school, SJK (C) Pin Hwa, in Setia Alam and Tenby International and Private Schools at Setia Eco Park and the Setia Badminton Academy. Other conveniences include the Tesco hypermarket and a shopping mall that will open in 2011. All these factors that are coming together give us great satisfaction that we are building and growing a whole new community.

Do you think it is necessary for a trust scheme for developments so that when things go awry, there is recourse for property buyers? – Alim Mat

It is important for purchasers to always buy from reliable developers who have a good brand name to avoid any problems that may arise later.

What is your greatest passion in life and how has this tied in to your journey to success? – Benson Ting

I believe that when one does something, you have to do it whole-heartedly. It is all or nothing, and I am always challenging myself to be better. You could say that it’s my motto in life and this has also transcended into SP Setia’s company vision which is “To Be The Best In All We Do”. Apart from that, my family is very important to me. My success would not have been possible without their support and encouragement. They were my inspiration that fuelled my hunger for success.

You have a strong interest in several charitable and philanthropic causes. What motivates you to get involved in such activities? – Vyonna Lee

Everyone deserves a chance to improve their lives and one of the tools to do so is through education. I am what I am today because of the opportunity to learn. My father was a lorry driver and mother a rubber tapper. But they saw education as the key for their children to have a better life. I was given the chance to go to university and that was a first step that changed everything. This was the main reason that the SP Setia Foundation was set up in 2000. The main focus is on education where we fund more than 2,000 underprivileged primary school students yearly under our Setia Adoption Programme.

Currently, we have children of different race from seven states – Kedah, Penang, Perlis, Johor, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Everyone deserves a chance to better oneself. We want to give these children an opportunity to step out from what can be a vicious poverty cycle. Over the years, the foundation has also extended its adoption programme to include secondary and tertiary-level young adults. It is our hope that the children we sponsor will grow up to be responsible citizens and contribute to society so that together, we can make a difference in raising the education standards in the country and make it a better place to live in for all. Other areas that the foundation contributes to are general welfare and medical assistance to meet the needs of Malaysians who are disabled, poverty-stricken or critically ill.

How do you balance your busy corporate life and still have quality time with your family? – Jane Fernandes

I have a great team I can rely on to execute what has been planned even if I am not around. My staff know that I am easily accessible via my mobile or email and I do not have to be physically present to make sure that the job gets done. Trust is very important and my management team know I trust them to do their job. When everyone is efficient, everyone else benefits and gets to spend quality time at home. It is part of the Setia culture. There is no need to work extended hours to impress the boss. If work is done, go home and spend time with your family.

Do you see yourself retiring and are you putting in place a succession plan to ensure SP Setia sustain in this competitive market? – P.H. Chew

Yes, of course. The time will come when I will retire although I would like to think that I have another good 10 years or so to go! I strongly believe in succession planning and we have developed something called the Personal Best Program where we identify potential employees and put them on the fast-track programme for career growth. We have great success stories in the company that shows that nothing is impossible if you believe that you can succeed. In furtherance of the people development objectives, we have set up Setia Learning Academy which takes care of all of our employees training needs.

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