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Monday, October 20, 2008

FIABCI aims for higher standards

The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Malaysia is poised to raise the standard of property development in the country with its annual Malaysia Property Award (MPA).

FIABCI-Malaysia honorary treasurer Yeow Thit Sang said the awards, now into its 16th year, has attracted some of the finest participants in the country over the years.

Yeow Thit Sang near his office at Plaza Mont’ Kiara

“We want to contribute to the improvement of the industry and raise the benchmark for property development with this award,” he told StarBiz.

Yeow said this year’s awards would be no different, having attracted the creme de la creme of property development.

“We have received more than 40 entries this year and all of them developed projects of outstanding quality,” he added.

Despite being a local award, winners of the prestigious MPA have gone on to attain international acclaim and recognition.

It is no surprise that the MPA has been considered by many as the “Oscars” of the property industry.

Winners of the MPA in their relevant categories will go on to represent Malaysia the following year at the FIABCI International Prix d’Excellence, an annual competition that honours the world’s best property projects.

Yeow gave the example of former MPA and International Prix d’Excellence winner SP Setia Bhd which was offered a development project in Vietnam.

“Winning the award contributed to the Vietnamese government asking SP Setia to be a partner in one of their projects. A lot of red tape were also removed with the win.

“It takes up to a year to get a business licence when you embark on a development project in a country such as Vietnam but SP Setia received the licence in half the time,” he said.

He also cited Westin owner Ireka Corp Bhd, which had problems selling one of its properties because the purchaser insisted on buying the property at a 10% discount.

“When Ireka won the Prix d’Excellence, the purchaser agreed to pay the full amount,” Yeow said.

The next Prix d’Excellence will be held in Beijing in May 2009.

In line with the need to recognise and honour the best, FIABCI sets high standards when it selects its winners. One of its judging criteria includes taking into consideration the impact a particular project has on the environment.

FIABCI has raised the bar significantly on environmental awareness for this year’s MPA.

“The impact a particular project has on the environment used to account for 10% of the judging criteria.

“This year, we have increased it to 25%. We want to promote environmental consciousness among Malaysian developers,” said Yeow.

He said projects that used recycled building materials and environmental friendly equipment such as solar panels usually received high points.

Yeow noted that the 1 Utama Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya was the recipient of an International Prix d’Excellence award last year mainly because of its efforts in minimising its impact on the environmental.

The building has a huge underground tank that collects rain water which can be used over a few days.

“The main factor that gave them an edge at the Prix d’Excellence was the fact that they were recycling rain water for purposes such as flushing toilets,” Yeow said, adding that the shopping centre also saw a huge drop in its water bill ever since.

In addition, the evaluation process this year has also been modified and is now more comprehensive and critical.

Yeow said the evaluation committee comprised senior real estate agents, evaluators, architects and planners.

This year’s MPA will be held on Nov 1 at the One World Hotel in Petaling Jaya, with Malayan Banking Bhd as the official sponsor. A total of 10 categories will be contested.

By The Star (by Eugene Mahalingam)

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