An astute businessman loved for his warmth and humility

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on May 31, 2021 - June 06, 2021.
An astute businessman loved for his warmth and humility (Photo by Paramount)

An astute businessman loved for his warmth and humility (Photo by Paramount)

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Datuk Teo Chiang Quan, chairman and executive director of Paramount Corporation Bhd, will be remembered for his significant contributions through the years. He was not only an astute businessman and property developer; aside from being instrumental in shaping Paramount into what it is today, Teo was also one of the pioneers in private tertiary education in Malaysia.

According to a statement released by Paramount, he made tertiary education affordable to Malaysians, setting up the Sri KDU schools and later building the largest K-12 education group in the country, through the acquisition of REAL Education Group. 

On his passing on May 24, Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia president Datuk Soam Heng Choon told that Rehda has lost a mentor and a pillar of support.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Datuk Teo Chiang Quan. We have lost a great leader in our property development and real estate industry. Teo has always been a mentor to Rehda; losing him is like losing a pillar of support as he was always approachable and ever willing to contribute for the betterment of the industry.

“We will always remember his selflessness in agreeing to allow his director of Paramount Property (the late Datuk Ricque Liew) to spearhead the supervision of the construction of Wisma Rehda. We will all miss him dearly. We would like to extend our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to his family. May his soul rest in peace,” Soam said.

Teo became chairman of the board of Paramount on June 8, 2015, and provided leadership and guidance in the formulation of the group’s long-term strategic plans. In 2019, he was named FIABCI Property Man of the Year.

“He has been the cornerstone of our company, setting the vision and mission and epitomising our core values of TRIBE (Trust, Respect, Integrity, Bravery and Energy), which we hold dear to this day. Datuk Teo’s life is also the inspiration for Paramount’s vision of ‘Changing lives and enriching communities for a better world’,” said group CEO Jeffrey Chew in a statement.

“Datuk Teo was a warm person who could strike up a conversation with anyone at any level. He had a great sense of responsibility and was generous with his employees. A man of strong principles, the Paramount family will always remember him for his work ethics and integrity as well as his relentless insistence on quality in everything we do,” he said.

As for me, the very first property I bought was by Paramount. I remember, over dinner at Dewakan (then located at the KDU Glenmarie campus) several years ago, I told Datuk Teo I had grown up just a few houses away from KDU college in Damansara Jaya. Many years later, I bought an apartment facing the KDU Glenmarie campus. “It must be fate,” I said,  which made him laugh. I will always remember him as a warm, approachable and genuine man.

One thing is for sure — Datuk Teo was very much respected, loved and admired by the people around him. It was evident whenever I spoke to any Paramount staff. He may have gone too soon, but his legacy lives on.