Saturday 02 Mar 2024
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BUILDS operates on three key pillars — community, sustainability and potential. While each pillar has its specific objectives, they are interconnected. These goals are centred around ensuring and contributing to the well-being of people and the environment.” — Ong Ping Ping

As a homegrown Malaysian company, YTL Cement has been very much a part of the nation’s development. Being a leader in the building materials industry, its commitment extends beyond business to making a positive and lasting impact on the communities where it operates. In 2019, the company took a significant step forward with the launch of BUILDS, its dedicated corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm, aimed at strengthening and expanding its commitment to CSR initiatives.

YTL Cement director of communications Ong Ping Ping says BUILDS operates on three key pillars — community, sustainability and potential. While each pillar has its specific objectives, they are interconnected. These goals are centred around ensuring and contributing to the well-being of people and the environment.

Building communities together

Ong explains that YTL Cement has always coexisted harmoniously with the local community where it operates.

“Often, our operation is the main employer in the local area, firmly establishing our connection and interdependence with the community. It is only natural that we continuously support the community in their activities and programmes,” she says.

Every year, YTL Cement makes financial and in kind aid to support community programmes and initiatives. This includes facility upgrades, festive celebrations, education programmes and sporting activities. One example is its Back to School programme where the company assisted students in preparing for the upcoming academic year by providing essential textbooks, workbooks and cash vouchers to purchase stationery and books.

Environmental stewardship in action

Sustainability is the second pillar of BUILDS. YTL Cement’s commitment to environmental initiatives and sustainability is demonstrated in its collaboration with the Department of Environment (DoE) in its annual celebration of Hari Alam Sekitar Negara (HASN). The company teamed up with DoE Putrajaya to do a park clean-up in Hulu Langat, Selangor, in 2022, which saw 60 volunteers collect more than 200kg of waste.

Continuing the commitment, YTL Cement has collaborated with DoE Perak for two consecutive years in river clean-ups, tree-planting programmes and recycling campaigns. This year’s recycling campaign in Perak amassed over 5,200kg of recyclables. Proceeds from the sale of these recyclables were channelled to the hosting school in support of its future environmental programme.

The most recent initiative involved coral planting in Langkawi, together with DoE Kedah and Rakan Alam Sekitar (RAS). The project saw 80 volunteers prepare 30 racks of coral fragments as a base to regrow in coral reef areas that have been degraded, with the aim of restoring the biodiversity in that area. This project is a showcase of the unique collaboration between industry and government.

The company’s commitment to sustainability extends to its quarries. Since 2014, YTL Cement has been proactively conserving the southern part of its Kanthan quarry where Gua Kanthan is located and in 2016, the company committed to conserving Gua Pinang, located at its Langkawi quarry.

The initiatives were in support of the state governments’ designation of Lembah Kinta as a National Geopark and the Langkawi Kubang Badak Geopark respectively.

Ong says, “We worked with a team of renowned experts to scientifically map and delineate these Geosites for conservation. YTL Cement is the first and currently the only company in Malaysia doing conservation in an active quarrying site.”

Investing in education for sustainable development

Education has always been and will continue to be an important focus for YTL Cement’s CSR efforts. The company has different programmes to help the country’s future talent fulfil their potential by working closely with local universities.

“Our Masterclass Series aims to enrich the learning experience of our local tertiary students. We run seminars and workshops for architecture and engineering students, where students are encouraged to work and experiment with cement and concrete in their coursework. We also introduce the idea of sustainable construction to help shape the perspectives of our future practitioners,” says Ong.

“We encourage students to learn through doing and aim to inspire them by having our young engineers and managers share their experience. Since 2019, we have conducted over 20 sessions in seven universities, benefiting more than 1,000 students, and we intend to grow this programme further.”

Recently, YTL Cement, together with the Ministry of Higher Education, launched Malaysia’s first university-industry research consortium involving five top local universities to study tropical limestone karst landscapes in the country. The company is offering scholarships to 40 postgraduate students for research in areas like geodiversity, biodiversity, archaeology, sustainable resource management and public education.

Its commitment to nurturing the country’s future talent is further reflected in the YTL Cement Scholarship programme, which started in 2007. To date, about 100 scholarships have been awarded to aspiring engineers.

“As the company reflects on the progress achieved since the inception of BUILDS, we acknowledge that there is more to be accomplished, and we eagerly anticipate continued collaborations with the communities and stakeholders as we strive to advance our shared objectives under the three BUILDS pillars of community, sustainability and potential,” says Ong.

Gua Bama, Kuala Lipis, Pahang

Tropical limestone karst research

YTL Cement, together with the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), recently launched the nation’s inaugural University-Industry Research Consortium, working alongside five top local universities — Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak — for the conservation and sustainable development of tropical limestone karst landscapes in the country.

Leading this initiative is professor emeritus Datuk Dr Ibrahim Komoo, a leading scholar in the field of earth science and specialising in engineering geology, conservation geology and sustainability science. He was appointed as the consortium director and is a UNESCO Global Geopark international expert.

The research consortium employs a multidisciplinary approach with a focus on five main areas — geodiversity and tropical limestone karst landscapes, biodiversity and ecosystems of tropical limestone karsts, archaeological history and culture of tropical limestone karsts, economics and sustainable management of limestone resources, and sustainable use of tropical limestone karst landscapes for conservation and public education.

According to Ibrahim, this initiative will strengthen the relationship between universities and industry, promote policy recommendations and increase public awareness of the significance of tropical limestone karst landscapes.

“Tropical limestone karst landscapes hold aesthetic, educational and ecological value. They represent just a fraction of Malaysia’s land and play a significant role in industries like construction and tourism, leading to conflicts with conservation efforts.

“We need to manage this resource wisely to balance the need to conserve heritage and to utilise limestone as a crucial resource for national development. Hence, there is a need to conduct more research in this area to better manage these unique landscapes and resources,” says Ibrahim.

Research conducted under this consortium will take place in Perak, Pahang, Perlis and Kedah, while also examining the potential and heritage value of limestone in Sabah and Sarawak.

We need to manage this resource wisely to balance the need to conserve heritage and to utilise limestone as a crucial resource for national development.” — Datuk Dr Ibrahim Komoo

YTL Cement will award scholarships to 40 master’s degree and PhD students for research on sustainability of tropical limestone karst landscapes in Malaysia with a matching grant from MoHE over five years.

“These students represent the next generation of experts who can continue the research and contribute to the long-term sustainability and conservation of limestone karst landscapes. This investment in young talent ensures a continuous pool of professionals dedicated to the cause,” says Ibrahim.

A scientific committee comprising field experts and representatives from MoHE and universities will oversee the selection process to ensure only outstanding and dedicated students receive this scholarship.

“The primary goal of this collaborative effort is to build the capacity and expertise necessary to help the country conserve the heritage of limestone karst landscapes and sustainably utilise resources. I am confident that the results of this research will provide important information that will complement the National Mineral Policy,” says Ibrahim.

Applications for the scholarship are scheduled to open in January 2024. The details will be announced soon. For the latest updates, please visit ytlcement.com.

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