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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Raising KL’s living standards

Michael Yam still contributing to property development

VETERAN property developer Datuk Michael Yam wants to contribute towards raising the standards of the country’s living environment through his strategic, technical and project management consultancy firm, Impetus Partnership which he set up last May to offer holistic strategic solutions to property development companies.

Yam ... It’s not too late to undertake a comprehensive master planning for Kuala Lumpur.

Since retiring from Sunrise Bhd last March after helming the company for 11 years, Yam is happy to let go of the responsibilities of “micro managing” to other younger breed of managers.

“My objective is to provide an avenue for people to harness their skills and expand their horizon as entrepreneurs. I see my role as a lead surgeon who works with other specialists to offer holistic solutions to industry players,” says Yam.

He is currently an advisor to several local and foreign conglomerates including Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd, Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd, Serai Saujana Development Sdn Bhd, and more recently Rajawali Corp.

Yam believes the business of creating wholesome living spaces lies with good planning and a good vision from the start of a project’s conception.

“Developers need to be proactive by introducing more zest and refreshing layout plans and designs in their projects. Through more holistic planning strategies, they can make a difference by planning and building more wholesome and energising living spaces for the people,” he says.

The market is getting more sophisticated with consumers demanding more facilities, convenience and built quality to improve their quality of life.

“Good planning and understanding of the relationship between the various usage components is imperative to ensure good quality of life and environmentally-friendly and sustainable developments. Some of the issues to consider include transport connectivity, lifestyle facilities, shopping convenience, community services, as well as security and safety,” he points out.

To keep his passion of building quality residences alive and keep him abreast of the latest building know-how, Yam is also venturing into small niche developments in the Klang Valley.

Together with some partners, Yam is involved in the Serai Saujana residential project, a luxury RM320mil gated and guarded community on ten acres next to the Saujana Golf and Country Club and two 18-hole golf courses in Saujana Subang.

The project comprises two 15-storey blocks of 163 condominiums priced from RM400 to RM650 per sq ft and 42 three-storey villas priced at RM3.5mil to RM4mil each.

Launched early last year, the project is scheduled to be completed next year.

Together with his consortium members who are private equity funds, Yam is also assessing the viability of two parcels in the Damansara area for a commercial project.

With an economic recession at the country’s door step, Yam says the property sector has a big role to play to contribute towards a recovery of the country’s economy given its link to more than 140 other industries.

He hopes to make more contributions and changes for the property industry through his active participation in the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda). He is Rehda deputy president and also the chairman of Rehda Kuala Lumpur.

He sees his recent two-year term appointment as a member of the advisory board to the city of Kuala Lumpur as a good opportunity for him to contribute towards turning Kuala Lumpur into a sustainable world-class city.

“Kuala Lumpur’s 1.7 million population is expected to expand by 30% within the next decade and there is an urgent need to address the various issues such as putting in place an integrated public transport system, well planned housing projects and world-class infrastructures to meet the needs of the growing population.

“Kuala Lumpur must have in place facilities that can sustain a high density if it wants to continue flourishing and become a world-class city,” Yam points out.

He says by adopting a proactive stand and active joint private-public participation in urban redevelopment programmes, Malaysia’s cities will continue to thrive and change with the needs of the times.

According to Yam, it is still not too late to undertake a comprehensive master planning for Kuala Lumpur as long as there is a strong political will and cooperation from all the relevant stakeholders, including land owners, to enhance the city’s sustainability and quality of life for the city folks. A building engineering graduate from the University of Westminster UK in 1978, Yam is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Surveyors and a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

He had an illustrious career spanning 30 years in the construction, real estate and corporate sectors, including five years in Britain and in various Malaysian companies such as Landmarks Bhd, Peremba Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Country Heights Holdings Bhd and Sunrise Bhd. He was involved in the development of hotels, resorts, shopping malls, golf courses, international schools, residential and mixed developments in Malaysia, Australia, Britain and South Africa.

Among the projects that he feels passionate about include the Georgian Mansion in London, which he looks upon as his “finishing school” after his graduation; Sungei Wang Plaza (for its vibrancy, variety, wealth and profit generated); Carcosa Seri Negara (a restored state guest house for the rich and famous); The Datai resort (a truly world-class Malaysian resort); and the recently opened St Regis Bali Resort in Bali.

Recognising his contribution for steering Sunrise to its leadership position in the high-end condominiums market in the Mont’Kiara enclave and for his good leadership qualities, Yam was voted “CEO of the Year 2002” for Malaysia by American Express Corporate Services and Business Times.

Despite his busy schedule, Yam is serving as a director of the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and a trustee of Standard Chartered Charity Trust. He is an independent non-executive director of public listed PECD Bhd and statutory board CLAB Bhd.

Yam is also one of two Asians on the Board of Trustees of the British-headquartered Chartered Institute of Building which sets global standards for the management and implementation of the construction process. He is an examiner and accreditor for the Institute which has 42,000 members worldwide.

With so much on his plate, Yam is taking his time to evaluate and analyse offers available on the table.

“Certain criteria have to be met. Apart from the land being in prime location, the project must be easily accessible, has the right address and on a friendly terrain, is not too large, has good visibility and is located in a neighbourhood where the market is ready and receptive towards a green and sustainable development,” he says.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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