Top Property Developers Awards Judges’ comments

Top row, from left: The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Datuk Ho Kay Tat, F D Iskandar, Soam, Kumar and Teo
Bottom row, from left: Yam, Ng, Chen, managing director and editor-in-chief Au Foong Yee and City & Country editor Rosalynn Poh

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Datuk Seri F D Iskandar

F D Iskandar, group managing director and CEO of Glomac Bhd and patron of Rehda Malaysia, has three decades of experience in the property and real estate development industry. He sits on the boards of several private limited companies, including Axis REIT Managers Bhd, and serves as chairman of the Construction Research Institute of Malaysia.

(Note: He abstained from judging Glomac Bhd)

The Edge Malaysia Top Property Developers Awards is the benchmark that property developers look forward to and one that we take seriously. The friendly competition helps developers to improve their product design, quality and services for all Malaysians. Congratulations to all the winners!

Datuk Soam Heng Choon

A qualified civil engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the construction and property industry, Soam is president of Rehda Malaysia and sits on the boards of Sime Darby Property Bhd, Construction Labour Exchange Centre Bhd and the Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB). He was CEO and managing director of IJM Land Bhd (2004 to 2015) and IJM Corp Bhd (2015 to 2019).

(Note: He abstained from judging Sime Darby Property Bhd)

From the winners’ list, it can be seen that many developers are emerging out of this elite group. However, those with strong branding still command recognition among stakeholders. It is important for those aspiring to be ranked higher in the coming years to embrace market changes and listen to their potential customers.

Kumar Tharmalingam

The past president of FIABCI Malaysia and board member of FIABCI International is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Fellow of the Institution of Surveyors Malaysia and a registered real estate valuer and property consultant with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents, Malaysia. He has been in the real estate industry for more than 35 years.

From 2010 to 2013, he was CEO of Malaysia Property Inc and an executive director of Sunway Bhd. In 2016, he was appointed an independent director in Public Islamic Bank. He is currently the senior adviser to AREA Management Sdn Bhd, a private equity fund that develops gated industrial projects in Malaysia.

The pandemic has upended the property market. Consumers are concerned about their jobs and loss of employment. The government is handing out cash to those who need it, but it is inadequate when the virus is continuing its rampage. Fear of the unknown is the overriding emotion. So far, we have not seen a clear standard operating procedure from the current leaders to bring confidence to the economy or look after the welfare of all citizens.

Developers are pushing to sell completed, unsold homes and there is some traction, with banks pushing lower interest rates. I understand there is also migration back to hometowns as jobs become scarce [in urban areas]. We have to ride out this downturn until 2021 or 2022. Our basic fundamentals are still good. We can survive this.

Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok

He is a patron and past president of Rehda Malaysia and a trustee of the Rehda Institute. He was also president of FIABCI Malaysia. He is the current president of the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association and Building Management Association of Malaysia.

Teo is a director of the See Hoy Chan Holdings Group in Malaysia. He has been involved in the property development industry for 48 years and has developed some 30,000 homes and over 20 million sq ft of commercial properties.

This year’s ranking has seen the most changes in recent years, but this is not unexpected due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially on the business plans of companies in the property industry. The intermittent stopping of construction would have gravely affected the progressive stages of completion, resulting in inability to send out billings. Rental income from investment properties have also suffered — from having to give deep rental rebates as well as delays in collecting rent. The financial results for this period would most likely be dependent on the recognition of earnings, depending on the stage of launches, sales and construction progress which, more likely than not, have been delayed or rescheduled. We look forward to returning to normalcy as soon as possible.

Datuk Seri Michael Yam

Yam is a patron and past president of Rehda Malaysia. He has experience in the real estate and corporate sectors, and was CEO of two Bursa Malaysia-listed companies. He now manages his own private equity, corporate advisory and development consultancy firm.

He is the current chairman of InvestKL Corp, KL Airport Hotel, Malaysia Airports (Niaga), Kwasa Land and Triterra Sdn Bhd. He is also the senior independent director of Paramount Corp Bhd, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and was recently elected the global vice-president of the former.

(Note: He abstained from judging Paramount Corp Bhd and Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd )

It is indeed a strange and unusual year, with business primarily done virtually and remotely because of the global pandemic. Judging and meeting to deliberate on this year’s Top Property Developers Awards was no exception, with judges such as myself having to rely on whatever intelligence and information was gathered from the marketplace and through the grapevine to help evaluate the submissions made.

There is a noticeable drop in quantity and, to some extent, quality of hard copy submissions this year, probably a reflection of the weak sentiment in the marketplace. While the economy and mood is negative, the usual group of premier developers have maintained their enthusiasm in competing for the top 30 places of these prestigious awards. The perception of their ability and track record in providing quality delivery and customer service in the past have helped underpin their confidence and their winning legacy.

My heartiest congratulations to the top 10 and other winners. We look forward to reverting to a more rigorous contest when normalcy returns in 2021.

Datuk Jeffrey Ng

Patron and past president of Rehda Malaysia, Ng has more than 35 years’ experience in finance, corporate planning and executive management in the property and hotel industries in Malaysia and Australia. He is a member of the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a Fellow of Chartered Accountants, Australia and New Zealand. He is also a member of the Appeals Board under the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982, and holds a capital markets services representative’s licence from the Securities Commission Malaysia.

He is CEO of Sunway REIT Management Sdn Bhd and chairman of Rehda Institute. He is also chairman of United Overseas Bank (M) Bhd and a director of Urban Hallmark Properties Sdn Bhd.

(Note: He abstained from judging Sunway Bhd)

No surprises when it comes to the winners of The Edge Malaysia Top Property Developers Awards 2020. Reputation-wise, their developments are well regarded and, with respect to design, offer product differentiation and creativity. Financial performance-wise, although weaker than previous years, they have done relatively well despite the difficult market conditions, thanks mainly to strong unbilled sales in previous years and the current recognition of revenue based on progress of work in 2020. The situation would have been worse had it not been for the historically low interest rate regime and introduction of massive government stimulus packages.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not spared property developers and has caused considerable strain on sales and cash flows. This black swan event closed down sales galleries and stopped construction activities nationwide. Notwithstanding the short-term hardship, most developers have persevered. It is good to know that the top 10 winners have shown resilience in their management competencies and strength to overcome today’s challenges.

Despite a turbulent market, this year’s winners have made their presence with their new project launches and aggressive marketing strategies via traditional media and social media. Congratulations to S P Setia for being No 1 again and also to Sime Darby Property, Gamuda Land, IOI Properties, Tropicana Corp and Eco World for their strong showing in the overall rankings for 2020.

Tan Sri Eddy Chen

He is group managing director of MKH Bhd and chairman of Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia. A patron and past president of Rehda Malaysia, he is serving on its national council and was a member of the executive committee for the 2016 to 2018 term. Chen was president of the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association from 2016 to 2018 and president of the Building Management Association of Malaysia from 2016 to 2018. He was the vice-president of FIABCI Malaysia (2016-2018).  

(Note: He abstained from judging MKH Bhd)

My heartiest congratulations to all the top 10 developers — well done! We were on the verge of a recovery in 2019 when the pandemic struck. Virtually none of us was spared as the entire economy began to struggle. Some say the worst is over, with the vaccine now available; others say it will be 2023 before we are fully out of the woods. The good news is the Malaysian economy is expected to grow by 6.3% next year and we are already seeing some increase in activity. Some of us have begun to see sales growth over the last few months. This augurs well for the industry. This, I hope, will continue as we slowly but safely lift the movement restrictions.

Generally, signs are pointing to a better 2021, a continuation perhaps from where we left off in 2019. My congratulations again to The Edge Malaysia as you persevere in holding the awards despite these challenging times. Cheers, and stay healthy and safe.