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Monday, August 22, 2011

Bandar Sunway - a dream come true, a desire fulfilled

PETALING JAYA: Even as a boy growing up in a small mining town called Pusing in Perak, he was certain of one thing - he wanted to lead.

Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, the man behind the development of resort township Bandar Sunway, knew back then he would one day become a leader of some sort.

A business graduate of Melbourne's Victoria University, Cheah started his career as an accountant but soon "became restless" being just an employee.

His wish of becoming a leader began at a derelict tin mine, not far from the busy town of Petaling Jaya, where he dreamed of building something which "I can share with the rest of the world". And the road to that dream was not all a bed of roses.

Recalling his entry into the business world, Cheah said it was not easy as he had approached banks without any track record. However, his determination won the bank over.

Then, the recession came in 1985 and his company lost RM30 million due to its financial leasing business.

A year later, armed with a non-impressive balance sheet, he went to Hong Kong Bank for a loan of RM5 million and a promise that he would pay back every single sen.

"Not once did we ever ask for a haircut and true, we paid all our debts," he said.

But, another economic storm came in 1988, the same year he began his property business. It could not have been any more challenging, he said, but like they say, the rest is history.

Now Bandar Sunway has over 30 million visitations yearly, a thriving RM10.6 billion township and home to over 50,000 people.

Cheah still has plans for the township, hoping to turn it into an education hub or "the Boston of Malaysia" as it banks on five-star ratings of Monash University and Sunway University to grow the number of students to eventually reach 50,000.

"The two trying times were a great lesson for business people like me. I don't believe in regrets but more in the lifelong pursuit of continuous improvements. In business, when you are in a slump, you simply cannot panic ... intelligent failure needs to be embraced."

He noted with pride that in terms of business achievements, building Bandar Sunway and Sunway City Ipoh are his greatest successes.

While his personal success comes from his idea to set up the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF) - where he had transferred all his shares worth RM700 million previously held under the Sunway Education Fund.

In the JCF, the shares will be held in perpetuity and can never be sold. The foundation will ensure that all assets, funds and operating surpluses are used to perpetuate the cause of bringing quality education to deserving Malaysians.

"I believe the best way to give back to the society is through the gift of education because it has the power to eradicate prejudices, correct biases and move nations."

Cheah said his personal motto of "I aspire to inspire before I expire" has been the key motivator to his passion to succeed and doing business with a heart.

By Business Times

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