The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world topsy-turvy, but there is much that Malaysians can still be thankful for. For one, many of us have come to realise the importance of family and friends, as well as of relishing the simple delights we have in Malaysia such as the different cuisines and places to visit. We asked last year’s top 15 property developers (not all were able to participate) as well as property-related associations to give their comments on five simple questions. Malaysia offers a great many things the world can learn from and, as we draw closer to each other through the travails we have to face, together as Malaysians, we will be able to weather the current storm together and stand as a united testimony for generations to come.
Datuk Koe Peng Kang
International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci) Malaysia
What are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
The government was very decisive in imposing the Movement Control Order (MCO) — at very short notice — to contain the pandemic. We are one of the best in the world in managing the crisis. I am grateful that we Malaysians are united in going through the crisis together. I am also grateful to be in the position to help others in need, such as charity centres and young graduates. And I am grateful that family, friends and colleagues are healthy and safe.
What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Petronas Twin Towers. Notwithstanding other taller towers that have been built since then, it is still the most beautiful building to me, as it is both majestic and enduring. It is sentimental to me, as I was then a young engineer involved in the construction.
What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
The curry mee at Lorong Seratus Tahun in Penang. I have been enjoying the curry noodles since I was five. Altogether, there are 53 years of sentimental attachment.
What is your favourite local holiday destination?
I like to go scuba diving at some of the East Coast islands such as Pulau Tioman and Pulau Tenggol. I also like to explore charming small towns in Malaysia such as Taiping, Raub, Kuala Selangor and Tanjung Sepat.
What do you do to unwind/relax?
I like gardening, listening to music, exercise, photography and fishkeeping.
Ngan Chee Meng
Chief executive officer
Gamuda LandWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
I am most grateful that my family and I are in good health and that we have not been infected by Covid-19. I was able to enjoy more quality family time during the MCO while working from home. And I am thankful for our good Director General of Health, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who continues to lead our fight against Covid-19.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
Glasshouse at Seputeh. It is the epitome of urban architecture that connects people with nature through creative space. Though modern in style, the space is designed to blend well with natural surroundings. This is similar to Gamuda Land’s town-making ideology, where we are mindful about creating places that bring people together, surrounded by lush greenery.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Teochew-style bak kut teh at Chao Zhou Bak Kut Teh, SS18 Subang Jaya.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
The Datai and The Andaman, both in beautiful Langkawi. I have yet to get a chance to discover new destinations, as we try to stay at home as much as possible but, if I may, do pay Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands a visit if you enjoy nature. My first experience there was an eye-opener; it truly makes us marvel at the natural beauty Malaysia has to offer.What do you do to unwind/relax?
I enjoy spending time with my family, and also watching movies, reading and doing workouts.
Head of corporate communications
IGB BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
Good friends and a great social network. I had my full check-up, including a CT angiogram, and I am in good health. I am particularly thankful that Malaysia has not been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic compared with other countries. Our Director General of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and the Ministry of Health have done an amazing job in this fight against Covid-19.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Petronas Twin Towers is still very iconic and represents Malaysia. The upcoming Merdeka 118 is looking very good, and will be the second-tallest building in the world. I am excited to see what Merdeka 118 and the Park Hyatt, which is located in it, will offer.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Char kway teow. Outside of Penang, there are only a handful of good and authentic char kway teow in Kuala Lumpur. I would frequent Steven’s Char Kway Teow in Lucky Garden, Bangsar, and Robert’s Char Kway Teow in Petaling Jaya. Another craving would be for honey roasted and caramelised char siew. The best ones would be at My Toast N Roast in SS2 and Char Siew Yoong in Cheras.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Penang, as the pace is slower than KL, but with a lot of food options. Kota Kinabalu is also a good destination offering the sea, nature and seafood.What do you do to unwind/relax?
I enjoy spending time at home to recharge my batteries. And being an avid foodie, I go to the gym five to six times a week. I often say, ‘I gym so I can eat.’
Chai Kian Soon
Senior general manager
IJM Land BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
I’m grateful that there is a low number of new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia and the situation is under control. I am also grateful that the lockdown has not affected my family in a big way. Home is a safe haven and I am thankful for the chance to spend meaningful moments with my family during the MCO period. I am also grateful for my health and for the health of my family and colleagues. We are all adjusting to our new normal.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Petronas Twin Towers. It is an icon, a statement of a nation’s ambition and aspiration that is intended to raise the bar in all aspects of design, architecture and construction — ambitious for the country, yet optimistic for the world.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Nasi lemak. It is something I look forward to on my flight home to Malaysia with Malaysia Airlines. I usually get my fix from a stall at a wet market near where I stay.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Penang because it is a tapestry of colours rooted in its people and their cultural influence. The harmonious blend of cultures has resulted in a unique heritage comprising the architectural and cultural townscape, arts and the vibrancy of the food. There are also the natural sites, including the beautiful beaches.What do you do to unwind/relax?
The recent MCO period saw me spending more time in the kitchen than usual, unveiling my culinary skills. I enjoy the calm and the chance to cook and have meals together with my family.
Chief sales and marketing officer
IOI Properties Group BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
I’m grateful that my family members, friends and colleagues have been safe and sound through this pandemic. I’m also grateful that we were able to unleash the full potential of our team members, during the MCO period, in achieving good sales. In addition, I am grateful that our Covid-19 cases are well under control and, that generally, Malaysians are practising the SOPs in public spaces.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The IOI City Towers because it has a unique architecture and glass façade against the backdrop of the beautiful Putrajaya wetlands.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
It is the nasi lemak at Village Park, Uptown Damansara or Nale Nasi Lemak at iCity, Shah AlamWhat is your favourite local holiday destination?
Kuching, Sarawak, and my new local discovery is the Paya Indah Wetlands in Dengkil.What do you do to unwind/relax?
Play PS4/PS5 games.
Director of group strategy and operations
Mah Sing Group bhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
I am grateful for a healthy (and growing) family! The wisdom and courage to exercise good judgment. And a God who continuously blesses us.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
Bank Negara, Sasana Kijang in Kuala Lumpur.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Kin Kin pan mee in Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman, Kampung Baru. The original and the best.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Cameron Highlands. Nothing beats hiking under cool temperatures!What do you do to unwind/relax?
Crime, crime, crime! I’m currently watching BBC’s Sherlock. Also recently picked up meditation from Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now.
Leong Jee Van
CEO property development
Matrix Concepts Holdings BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
First, being in a company that is stable and sustainable. Most importantly, it has not carried out any austerity measures, furlough or pay cuts, especially post-MCO. Second, being a Malaysian at this trying time. Hats off to the Ministry of Health for its handling of the pandemic, to all our frontliners and to Malaysians for being united and disciplined in this fight (except for a few rotten eggs). And lastly, being healthy and well, for both my family and me.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which was once government offices, and the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. The mix of Anglo-Asian or Neo-Moorish — very Mughal in that sense — architecture is a sight to behold.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Curry mee with roast pork. When I travel around Malaysia, I normally will try to check out the eateries that serve this.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Right now, Langkawi Island. I love the quaintness and the duty-free goods. The beaches are great for lazing around and the sea is pretty clean and calm for leisure swimming.What do you do to unwind/relax?
I play a bit of golf. I usually do a long, slow run or go for a bicycle ride to clear my head. On some weekends, it is usually chilling-out with family and friends over a good meal and drinks.
Datuk Kenneth Chen
Deputy property director
MKH BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
i) A healthy environment: Malaysia has been recognised as among the five nations in the world to have succeeded in controlling the spread of Covid-19; ii) harmonious living: The spirit of Malaysia Prihatin is expressed not only by the frontliners but also by all Malaysians regardless of race, religion and political aspirations; and iii) a resilient economy. I feel grateful that Malaysia’s economy, although experiencing a slowdown and uncertainty, is showing that it is resilient and, with a united Malaysia, we can be confident that the economy will recover.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The building I call home is my favourite building. Otherwise, Wisma MKH is another for its influence and impact, especially in Kajang and the surrounding places.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah with sambal belacan is one of my favourites. My regular stall in Kajang can no longer be found, so please share if you know of a good one.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Thanks to an event by The Edge, a few years ago, Kota Kinabalu has become my favourite local destination. I would love to visit Kopi Hutan — the highest café in Penang — which is about 730m above sea level.What do you do to unwind/relax?
I like listening to music while driving, building LEGO sets and chilling out with friends.
Ong Ghee Bin
Chief executive officer
OSK Property Holdings BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
I am grateful for the reintroduction of the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) 2020. I am also grateful for our country’s ability to sail through the pandemic with all Malaysians making the effort to adhere to the SOPs implemented by the Ministry of Health. Importantly, our frontliners have continuously devoted their time and energy to containing this pandemic. Lastly, I am grateful for OSK Group’s prudent business philosophy, which has put us in a strong financial position that also helps weather the storm and capitalise on the opportunities that arise during this period.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Petronas Twin Towers stays close to my heart, as it represents the desire and aspiration of all Malaysians and continues to captivate everyone with its majestic structure and breathtaking views, while positioning Malaysia prominently in the eyes of the world.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Hokkien mee. I usually visit the best spots for my local food fix in Subang Jaya and Kuala Lumpur.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Penang for the diversity in food and its rich heritage. My family and I often enjoy the local flavours in Penang such as char kuey teow, assam laksa, cendol and nasi kandar, to name a few.What do you do to unwind/relax?
I like to watch movies or interesting series. I also love reading books during my free time.
Datuk Ezumi Harzani Ismail
Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM)What are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
Our ability to unite in fighting a common enemy, Covid-19; the MCO, which gave us opportunities to spend more time with family and work more efficiently; and the calm weather that has not been too hot, with no haze so far.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
Menara Dayabumi for its intricate expressions of Islamic geometrical design that works very well in tropical climates. Completed in the early 1980s, Dayabumi is among the earliest modern green buildings by Malaysian architects.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
In Kuala Lumpur, it is nasi goreng ulam ayam bakar at Naj & Belle Bangsar. Whenever I am in Kota Baru, I will go for authentic nasi kerabu with kerang percik.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
My favourite destination is Redang Island, Terengganu. And my new local discovery is Pulau Banding National Park — the boat house and jungle trekking are something memorable.What do you do to unwind/relax?
Outdoor dining and watching movies in our yard with my kids.
Paramount Corp BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
I am most grateful for my family’s health and well-being. Second, during this time, many of us have become almost wholly dependent on digital technologies for everything, from remote working to social interaction to access to healthcare and banking. This is something I am thankful to have access to.
Finally, having a resilient mindset. This year has been the toughest for our business. We need to work smarter and harder than ever before. This makes me realise that setbacks can only make me stronger and this has made me more appreciative of the opportunities I have with what I do.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
Family is very important to me, so my home is my favourite place to be.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
For a delicious and affordable meal, nasi lemak from Village Park in Uptown Damansara is my go-to. For special occasions, the best local culinary experience is from Dewakan in Naza Tower, Platinum Park, Kuala Lumpur.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
I have had consistently amazing stays at Pangkor Laut Resort at Pulau Pangkor Laut. I am looking forward to visiting Batu Batu Island in Mersing, Johor later this year.What do you do to unwind/relax?
Meditation and yoga help me unwind. I also love hanging out with my dog!
Michael Kong Kok Kee
President (2018 to 2020)
Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector
Malaysia (PEPS)What are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
The three things that I’m grateful for in 2020 are peace, harmony and health. As a nation, our country is free from war, unrest and major disasters. Aside from the constant racial bombardment from political parties, Malaysians are generally harmonious. Only in times of health crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic do we realise and appreciate the excellent healthcare service and standards that our country has.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Petronas Twin Towers, due to its iconic design, architectural wonder and signature representation of our country.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Nasi lemak, which is simple, nice and delicious. I’m always in search of various types of flavour in every nook and corner.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Pulau Langkawi for its beautiful sand, sea, sun as well as duty-free goods. I’m a relaxed type of person, for whom a holiday is a lazy chair, a mug of beer and good company.What do you do to unwind/relax?
Chill out with good friends and company over drinks.
Datuk Soam Heng Choon
Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia (Rehda)What are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
I am grateful that our country remains peaceful regardless of our diversity. I am also grateful that Covid-19 in the country has been handled well by our good healthcare system and dedicated frontliners. Lastly, I am thankful that the country still managed to carry out economic activities during this pandemic.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, as it is a century-old heritage building that was a backdrop for our Merdeka Day parades.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
Curry laksa in Kuala Lumpur is one of my favourites.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Penang, as it is a melting pot of people and culture, and a city full of history and has the best street food. However, I was unable to explore any new local spots because of the MCO.What do you do to unwind/relax?
By catching up on sports programmes and reading up on new technological trends.
Zulfa Ashida Zulkifli
Chief people officer
UEM Sunrise BhdWhat are the top three things you are grateful for in 2020?
Health, family and friends and the internet. The year 2020 has been focused on renewing connections and taking stock of what we really need to be happy.What is your favourite building in Malaysia, and why?
The Islamic Arts Museum building in Kuala Lumpur. There is a beauty and calmness in the spaces there that truly speak to my soul. And the way the tile work, domes and profusion of natural light complement the exhibits is always a visual treat.What is your favourite local food and where do you go for it?
I cannot live without nasi lemak, and I try to have it as often as health allows. My absolute favourite is Restoran Zaman in Kuantan. I really miss the Nasi Lemak Conventions.What is your favourite local holiday destination?
Anywhere with a beach or any body of water — but not the parit and longkang. I’m planning for a road trip later this year, so let’s see what we discover.What do you do to unwind/relax?
Netflix and chill (literally). My latest binges are Orphan Black, Phua Chu Kang and Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories.