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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Waterfront view

The house wraps around an island of palms in front with a view of the swimming pool, pond and golf course at the back.

The soft morning dew came, blanketing the wide expanse of golf course, lake and pool. At the edge of the lake, buffered by a swimming pool, stands a double-storey bungalow. With an area of 18,000 sq ft, it is one of the largest plots in Tropicana Golf & Country Resort, Petaling Jaya. Most of the bungalow lots there are about half the size.

By virtue of its lakeside location, and encircled by the golf course, it has one of the best panoramic views. It is along this premise that the house is designed ­– to take full advantage of its picturesque vicinity.

This is more than a waterfront home. It is a sanctuary not for one family but two or more. Artfully designed, with technology and aesthetics to match, the owner has shaped and formed it according to his needs, fancy and imagination. With a built-up of 11,000 sq ft, it is fluidly designed to be a haven for a large and extended family.

“My parents come to stay often, at stretches of several months in a year. Their unit, although adjoining ours, has its own entrance and car porch, although it is accessible from this side as well. The three rooms on that side are separated from the rooms on this side, so there is privacy all around,” says the owner.

What looks like one grand house is in fact two, each with its own kitchen, verandah, rooms, entrance and living area. The second unit is separate from the main family home but is easily accessible as both are designed as a single entity.

With concepts and designs that come with form and functionality, the owner has masterfully designed the house to offer views from every part of the home.

A cluster of palms and a fish pond face the entrance.

The two-storey building curves around a clump of palms and fish pond in the front and spreads out like an Oriental fan, with the verandah at the outer fringes overlooking the waterfront and golf course.

While the main family occupies one portion of the home, the owner’s parents occupy the adjoining unit. There is ample space for parking for both families at both ends of the fan-like structure.

As one enters the front gates, the sound of children’s laughter is evident. The children have their playroom at one end and one has to pass by this to get to the front door. “When I leave or come home, I get to say my goodbyes and hellos,” says the owner.

The children’s playroom is unique. It is large enough to fit a bed with ample area for play. The room opens out to the maid’s room on one side and a work area and kitchenette cum utility area on the other. The children also have their room upstairs, adjoining the master bedroom.

A large and welcoming foyer which leads to different parts of the house.

“The children spend most of the day here and I wanted them to be comfortable as far as possible. The objective is to have an area where the helpers can mind the children and yet continue with their routine chores. If they need to rest, they may do so as their room looks out into the children’s play area. Because of the orientation of the house, they are able to keep an eye on the front entrance as well,” he says. The front door is located at the centre of the structure, after passing the children’s play room. The foyer is large and welcoming with its different arches leading to different areas of the house.

The focal point of the living area is obviously the breathtaking view of the swimming pool, lake and golf course. One is automatically drawn to the verandah, which fans out to offer a panoramic view of the surroundings.

He says: “There are multiple seating and entertaining areas, most of them with a view of the outdoors. I have set the house in a certain way to maximise the view and have also built a home office as most people work from home today. The view from the home office is also inspiring. This house is quite high-tech. You can see it from anywhere in the world.”

Because he believes the kitchen is the heart of the house, he has furnished the dry kitchen practically with space for paperwork to be done besides the normal utility area.

“The children can watch TV here. I have done it this way because people generally spend 30% of their time in the kitchen. And you also get a wonderful view of the outdoors from here too. This may well be the kitchen with the best view in this development.”

Because he travels widely, the owner has decorated the place beautifully with collectibles he has sourced from all over; mother-of-pearl lamps for the Shanghai 1920s room, knick-knacks from Africa for the Safari room, and a Cuba-inspired poster and doors and stone figurines from Bali.

He admits that many of them are whimsical but they complete the place. Other than several pieces from faraway places, most of them are from Bali, Thailand, China and other parts of Asia.

“This is not a Balinese house. If I wanted that, I would have gone to live in Bali,” he says.

He has taken great pains with everything from building, fitting out and decoration. It is, after all, for the family to enjoy. It is a sanctuary for the people living here and a treat for guests.

Salient points

Double-storey leasehold bungalow with pool, selling lock, stock and barrel RM9.4mil (Bill Thompson, 012-205-1259)

Land area: 18,000 sq ft

Built-up : 11,000 sq ft

Seven bedroom ensuite, 1 powder room

Outstanding features: One of the largest pieces of land offering the best view of lake and landscapes. Masterfully designed to fit several generations.

By The Star (by Thean Lee Cheng)

Signature takes on rival European makers

KITCHEN and wardrobe systems designer and retailer Signature International Bhd (SIB) is certainly an example of a homegrown brand that thinks big.

For a brand of humble beginnings, the specialist in the design, manufacture and retailing of kitchen and wardrobe systems can today hold its own in a market dominated by European names.

Its products, under the brand names Signature Kitchen and Signature Wardrobe, are not only perceived as high-end brands, but have also made their presence felt in more than 10 countries.

The company, which started in 1994 at the lower end of the market, today boasts stylish, high-end kitchens and wardrobes with a distinctly European feel.

And these it proudly and prominently displays at its 23 showrooms nationwide and 15 overseas.

Managing director and co-founder K.C. Tan said having the “European look” was part of the company’s strategy to develop the brand and grow the business.

"We want to be recognised as an international brand and where there is market that has growth potential, we look at it" - K.C. TAN

“We don’t tell customers that we’re selling a commodity. We tell them we’re selling them their dream kitchen,” he told StarBiz.

“When we think of kitchens, we are reminded of kitchens in the old days – a place that is full of dirty, oily pots and pans, and cockroaches running everywhere.''

Tan said the standard European kitchen is a picture of contrast.

“The European kitchen looks stylish and elegant. Just think Jamie Oliver and how stylish he looks when he cooks! That is the image and appeal we want to portray to our customers. It’s part of our strategy to push our brand,” he said.

Tan said the company might even consider a co-branding venture with a foreign company as part of its vision to enhance the brand further.

“We want to be recognised as an international brand and where there is market that has growth potential, we will look at it,” he said.

The ambition to become a world brand was already in place when the company went public early this year.

“When we chose to be listed, we decided on the name ‘Signature International Bhd’ to signify that we did not just want to be a local brand. “We want to be a global player,” Tan added.

SIB is the first kitchen and wardrobe company to be listed on Bursa Malaysia.

To maintain its edge, the company takes part in international exhibitions to keep up with the latest styles and trends and to get new ideas.

It uses imported oak, ash, beech or maple rather than the rubber wood most local manufacturers use to give that European finish.

“We also work closely with European manufacturers so that when there are new products over there, we would be one of the first to incorporate them into our products,” Tan said.

He attributed the strong European influence in SIB’s systems to the domination of European players in the kitchen industry in the Asia Pacific region.

This was evident when SIB set up its first showroom overseas in Bangkok in 2004.

“Local kitchen manufacturers within the region are quite far behind in terms of technology and product design. Local players tend to be small operators or small-scale carpenters and are no match for the high-end Europeans,” Tan said.

He added that because SIB’s products were targeted at the high-end market, it was competing with European rather than local brands.

Tan said the Signature brand was on par with the European makes in terms of quality but was way ahead on pricing.

“Some of our competitors’ products can be up to 10 times more expensive than ours despite the similarity in quality,” Tan said.

Today, the Signature brand has become a benchmark for quality, affordably priced kitchen and wardrobe products.

SIB also provides installation services to its customers all over the world, a value-added feature that most international companies could not.

“We also send our people overseas to install our products. This is a huge advantage for us because even if our competitors did the same, it would still be too expensive,” Tan said.

In recognition of the standing of the Signature brand, SIB has won numerous awards, including the Golden Bull Award in 2003, the Enterprise 50 Award in 2006 and the Brandlaureate SMEs Chapter Award in 2007.

Universiti Technologi Malaysia’s Prof Dominic Lau also featured SIB as a Blue Ocean Company in the Malaysian edition of Blue Ocean Strategy.

According to Tan, having a strong brand has everything to do with the company's success and where it is today.

“When you invest in branding, you invest in the future of your business. I firmly believe that business success and brand strategy go hand in hand,” he added.

By The Star (by Eugene Mahalingam)

Steel millers to ask for windfall tax exemption

STEEL millers plan to ask the government not to impose a windfall tax on them despite their good profits of late.

The government slapped the tax on power producers and oil palm planters recently, and steel millers fear that they may be next.

The Malaysian Iron & Steel Industry Federation (Misif) plans to make its appeal next week.

"Our association will submit a memorandum to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir (Samad) next week," Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd (Masteel) managing director Tai Hean Leng said.

A windfall tax is usually imposed on industries that make supernormal returns and are insulated from inflation.

Shahrir had said that steel millers might face a windfall tax if steel bars sold in the country continued to be more expensive than in neighbouring countries, such as Singapore.

Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM), which represents some 600,000 contractors, said that despite the liberalisation of the steel bar and billet market from May 12, steel bars sold in the country remained more expensive than in Singapore.

MBAM president Patrick Wong said steel bars in Malaysia sell for around RM4,000 a tonne, but are priced at RM3,679 a tonne in Singapore.

Tai, however, said the steel millers have not been spared from inflation.

"Malaysia does not have iron ore deposits of any viable commercial quality. We have to import the steel scraps and iron ore, and we have to manage the rising costs of these raw materials," said Tai, who is also a Misif council member.

Steel millers also have to contend with rising costs of electricity, coal and natural gas, he added.

By New Straits Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)

IJM wins India road deal worth RM500m

IJM Corporation Bhd, through its special purpose vehicle Vijayawada Tollway Pvt Ltd, has embarked on a major highway project worth nearly RM500 million in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Vijayawada Tollway and the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI) yesterday signed a concession agreement to build a six-lane 82.5km stretch along the Chilkaluripet-Vijayawada Section of the NH-5 in Andhra Pradesh.

The concession is for 15 years, including construction period of two-and-half years, and work is expected to begin this December.

"We have been given two-and-half years to finish the project and we are confident of completing the project within the timeframe. IJM has successfully completed almost 1,000km of road project in India," said IJM country director (India) Ng Chin Meng.

The project, under NHAI phase five, was awarded on a design-build-finance-operate (DBFO) basis, the first of its kind to be awarded by NHAI.

The project has adequate provision for bridges, flyovers, vehicular under-passess, pedestrians under-passes and automatic traffic counter.

There will be 152.5km long service road on both sides throughout the project.

The project is part of the Indian government's ambitious plans to upgrade its existing national highways to transport people and goods efficiently across the mammoth country.

IJM and India's Infrastructure Development Finance Company are the other consortium partners in the project.

By Bernama