Sunday 14 Jul 2024
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This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on July 17, 2023 - July 23, 2023

The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards 2023

Au Foong Yee

Au Foong Yee is editor emeritus at The Edge Malaysia and chief judge for The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards 2023

It is heartening to see the awards gain traction outside the Klang Valley. Equally encouraging is the range of properties submitted this year, and they include government-owned and purpose-built properties, big and small.

It is a fallacy that excellent property management practices are possible only at glamorous real estate. Or that the upkeep in newly completed buildings wins hands down over that of older real estate.

As the results of the awards would testify, old can be gold. Less can be more. It is encouraging to see how older strata buildings successfully mitigated inherent property maintenance issues caused primarily by building designs that are unfriendly to the quality of property upkeep.

What it took was passion and commitment from the management committee (MC), whose members, especially the chairman, know that the value of their investment is at stake. They also saw the need to work hand in hand with property managers to “turn around” the condition of the buildings.

An MC or JMC (joint management committee) that has members with self-interest or who choose to go on ego trips is a sure recipe for a badly managed property.

Another observation in this year’s judging process is how rising costs and the government-driven higher minimum wage have affected financial planning and sustainability, a core attribute of quality property management.

Some building managers resorted to cost optimisation. However, excellent property management is never about cost-cutting. Maintaining and enhancing the property throughout its life cycle is paramount. Cost-cutting could result in disastrous consequences.

A shout-out to buildings that emphasise facilitating quality personal health, hygiene and wellness. Unlike yesteryears, liveability cannot be compromised. Only buildings that are maintained with excellence and sustainability can offer that.

Kudos to all the winners! To all building owners and property managers who have participated in the awards, give yourself a pat on the back. If your property manager was reluctant to submit the property for scrutiny, it would be useful to know why.

Lim Lan Yuan

Lim Lan Yuan is president of the Association of Property and Facility Managers as well as a few other allied professional organisations. He currently chairs a technical committee that introduces standards and technical references for building maintenance and management. He is also a tribunal member of the Strata Titles Board in Singapore. He is author of the book, A Guide to Management Corporations, and several publications on property and facility management.

Since its launch in 2017, The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards have gained traction as the benchmark for standards in property management in Malaysia. The submissions this year attracted both private and public sector properties. In addition to the traditionally popular categories such as residential and office buildings, other special properties also participated. This is a welcome sign. Developers and owners have become increasingly aware of the importance of effective management to maintain and enhance the asset value of their properties and developments.

Congratulations to all winners of the awards! They have shown strong management and community teamwork and adopted appropriate best practices. Those submissions that were unsuccessful can take a leaf from the efforts of these winners. Every property has the opportunity to be recognised by ensuring that they are managed in line with good management practices and standards.

Richard Chan

With more than 42 years’ experience, Richard Chan was a founder member and is the adviser of the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association, set up in 1984. He was a founding member of the Building Management Association of Malaysia and has been a corporate member of its national committee since 2010. He is also a member of Fiabci Malaysia. In 2018, he was appointed a registered property manager and has been called to serve as board member (2019 to 2021 and 2021 to 2023) with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers Malaysia.

Another year has passed. There is more effort and more commitment and there are many new winners. Congratulations!

As we are all getting back to our normal way of life after Covid-19 and slowly coming out of the poor economic conditions and business recovery, commercial buildings were hit with a big hammer called the Imbalance Cost Pass-Through. Mixed-use developments and malls face a huge increase in expenditures, so much so that some have already increased the service and maintenance charges. For property managers, the new challenge is not just doing the best but to stay afloat, too. And it is more so for stratified properties. With low reserves, some will definitely need a touch of magic to sail through.

Datuk N K Tong

Datuk N K Tong is group managing director of Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd, a niche developer that offers innovative lifestyles. He is the president of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia, an independent non-executive director at Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia and the Construction Industry Development Board, and a member of the KL City Advisory Board. He has an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Manchester and an MBA in real estate finance from the Wharton School of Business.

The submissions for this year’s The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards continue to raise the benchmark for excellence in sustainable property management in Malaysia. As judges, we had a tough but enjoyable task of distinguishing the best of the best. In showcasing this year’s winners, my hope is that others will continue to be inspired to raise their standards and participate next year.

Chris Tan Chur Pim

Chris Tan Chur Pim has been a practising lawyer since 2000 and founded law firm Chur Associates in 2003. Tan is a regular guest speaker for corporate, academic and public events in Malaysia and overseas, a guest commentator on Chinese and English radio and TV stations, as well as a frequent contributor of articles to local and overseas media publications — both online and print — in English, Chinese and Malay, especially on the topic of real estate. He has been a regular speaker at the annual The Edge Malaysia RealTalk forum.

As we recover from the pandemic and move into the endemic phase, we have learnt to appreciate more of what we have and make the best of things that we have long taken for granted, starting with the property that we live and work in. The increased awareness of the need to improve our immediate living space, develop a harmonious neighbourhood and foster a stronger community is obvious in the diversity of submissions for the latest edition of these unique awards.

The increased number of winners from outside the Klang Valley further highlights the efforts being carried out throughout the country. This first world mentality in maintenance is a tell-tale sign that Malaysia is now ever closer to being a developed country than most would give us credit for. Any journey of sustainability starts with acknowledging the need for timely management and routine maintenance, and not constantly chasing the new to replace the (g)old that we are sitting on.

Leong Kit May

Leong Kit May began her career at Ernst & Young, where she gained a strong foundation in auditing and accounting. In 2001, she joined the UOA Group of Companies, taking on various roles across the group’s property operations, including development, construction and investments, and was actively involved in the successful listing of UOA REIT in 2005.

In 2006, Leong joined Axis REIT Managers Bhd (ARMB) and was promoted to chief financial officer in 2008. That year, she spearheaded the conversion of Axis REIT into the first Islamic office/industrial real estate investment trust in Malaysia. She continued to assume greater management responsibilities and was appointed to the board as an executive director in November 2011. As part of the board’s succession plans, she was groomed to be CEO of ARMB. In preparation for this role, she took on the position of chief operating officer in 2015 before assuming the role of CEO on Jan 1, 2016.

Leong continues to lead Axis REIT to new heights as the fund extends its leadership as an owner, manager and developer of industrial properties in Malaysia. She has successfully steered Axis REIT through the pandemic, with the fund recording continued growth and operational resilience. She has also been instrumental in driving the fund’s portfolio expansion, particularly in property development, actively overseeing the sourcing, implementation and handover of three “built-to-lease” projects so far, with two more development projects underway. She is currently the Malaysian REIT Managers Assocation vice-chairman.

I would like to congratulate not only the winners but all the participants for being able to fulfil the stringent criteria set out for these awards. This year’s edition of The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards did not disappoint, given the list of properties managed by esteemed real estate companies. I must also congratulate The Edge Malaysia for its effort in holding these awards year after year to give recognition to well managed and sustainable properties.

During the judging process, it was good to see that management companies had been proactively capitalising on the latest available technologies to enhance the properties, in particular, the security measures. Property management is no easy task, given the dynamic landscape of the industry and also requirements of tenants and owners.

I hope these prestigious awards will further instil awareness of the importance of sustainability in the day-to-day property management landscape. And, finally, a big, sincere thank you to The Edge Malaysia for inviting me as one of the judges. I am truly humbled.

Anthony Lee Tee

A registered and practising architect since 1995, Anthony Lee Tee is managing director, accredited architect, independent forensic building inspector and trainer at Architect Centre Sdn Bhd. With more than 30 years’ experience in the construction industry in the region, he is now Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) honorary secretary for 2023/24 and chairs the professional practice committee and disciplinary committee. He is also group chief operating officer and transformation officer at Bina Puri Holdings Bhd, overseeing the operations of the Bina Puri Group of Companies, particularly its property and construction businesses. He has been appointed an expert in numerous dispute resolution matters in and outside Malaysia, including at international arbitrations.

This year’s awards have seen an impressive number of serious submissions, reflecting a growing awareness of the true value and objectives of these awards. Winners were recognised for their careful planning and execution, focusing on good management practices, long-term maintainability, financial sustainability and value creation. Property developers that prioritised these factors over short-term sales with skin-deep aesthetics and frivolous facilities are clear winners, too.

Savvy investors are on the lookout for properties with these attributes. The recognition of the winner in the affordable housing category indicates that well-managed properties can be achieved across the spectrum of properties, benefiting all stakeholders. It is noteworthy that good property management is not limited to upmarket properties but applies to all property players. This year, I detected a significant shift in the industry’s mindset towards good management and maintenance; sorely lacking here was the comment, “Five-star buildings with Third World maintenance,” which sounds painfully familiar!

There is a growing awareness of the importance and impact of having healthy collections, adequate sinking funds to maintain and replace M&E equipment and facilities while keeping their property and occupants safe. I am truly encouraged by this positive trajectory. Congratulations to all winners!

Ishak Ismail

Ishak Ismail is founder and managing director of IM Global Property Consultants Sdn Bhd, a property consulting firm registered with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents and Property Manager (Bovaea). He has been in real estate practice since 1991 and was licensed by Bovaea to practise as a registered valuer, estate agent and property manager in 1998.

He is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and registered as a chartered surveyor since 2008. In 2015, he was accredited as an international certified valuation specialist, or business valuer, by the International Association of Consultants, Valuators and Analysts. He has also been actively involved in the auction industry since 1992 after obtaining a licence to conduct auctions for Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang. In recent years, he was appointed REIT property manager for Damansara REIT Managers Sdn Bhd (Al-Aqar KPJ REIT), Pelaburan Hartanah Nasional Bhd and Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera.

The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards is organised to acknowledge the best property management practice in the country. It is also an industrial recognition as well as benchmark for properties that are managed with excellent sustainability. Therefore, I am very proud and honoured to congratulate all the winners. They have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of the present and future without compromising on the maintenance of the buildings.

I hope these prestigious awards will motivate other companies to be more innovative, not to create only ecological features but also sustainable living environments that enrich people’s lives.

The Edge Malaysia-ILAM Sustainable Landscape Awards 2023

Au Foong Yee

Au Foong Yee is editor emeritus at The Edge Malaysia and chief judge of The Edge Malaysia-ILAM Sustainable Landscape Awards 2023

An aesthetically pleasing landscaped garden is a feast for the eyes. An equally pretty and sustainable landscape space does more than that — it purposefully connects us to the natural world as well as the built environment. Besides being environmentally friendly, sustainable landscapes also foster community building, which is key to one’s well being and quality of life.

Outstanding sustainable landscapes can take shape in varying forms and sizes. It is about working in sync with the existing landforms to create a natural habitat that welcomes the birds, bees and more.

The winners of the awards this year have successfully shown how creativity and innovation can transform even the most trying of land conditions into enthralling, sustainable landscapes.

Bodies of water are a strong component of any landscaping. Besides providing a healthy, aesthetic and soothing backdrop, they can take the lead role in architecture and design — as one of our Gold winners, The Era Wetlands, has shown.

The use of native plants is a common trait in all of the winning entries. Exotic species, naturally expensive and difficult to maintain, would not pass a sustainability audit. Plants selected for sustainable landscaping are long-lasting and do not demand attention, such as the use of fertilisers and pesticides.

The winners of these awards promote plant diversity to create stability within the environment besides enhancing aesthetics.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Nor Atiah Ismail

Nor Atiah Ismail is an associate professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture, the Faculty of Design and Architecture, Universiti Putra Malaysia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Master of Science in Architecture from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and obtained her PhD in Landscape Architecture from Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand. Her areas of research specialisation are rural and urban cultural heritage landscapes.

Nor Atiah is president of the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia (ILAM) (2022-2024). She is a Fellow member of ILAM and the Malaysian delegate of ILAM to the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), IFLA Asia-Pacific and the World Congress and ICOMOS-IFLA. She is also honorary secretary of the Malaysian Professional Centre. She is one of the expert panellists for the architecture and landscape heritage committee at the National Heritage Department of Malaysia and Perbadanan Adat Melayu dan Warisan Negeri Selangor. She is actively involved in conserving and preserving cultural heritage monuments and sites.

This year’s The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards has witnessed a growing emphasis on innovative and sustainable landscape projects that harmonise with the natural environment while meeting the evolving needs of urban spaces. The best landscape projects of the year have showcased several prominent trends that have shaped the industry and captured public attention.

First, there has been a notable shift towards eco-friendly and sustainable designs. Landscape architects and designers have integrated green technologies, such as rainwater harvesting systems, vertical gardens and renewable energy sources, into their projects. These initiatives not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also contribute to environmental conservation and promote sustainable living.

The concept of biophilic design has gained prominence. This trend involves incorporating natural elements, such as plants, water features and natural materials, to create a connection between people and nature. Biophilic designs have been widely adopted in urban spaces, fostering a sense of well-being and improving the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

Another trend is the integration of smart technologies into landscape projects. From intelligent lighting systems and automated irrigation to interactive displays and smart park amenities, technology has become an integral part of creating immersive and interactive experiences in outdoor spaces.

In addition, there has been an increased focus on cultural and historical preservation. Landscape projects have embraced Malaysia’s diverse heritage by incorporating traditional elements, indigenous plant species and design motifs that reflect the country’s cultural richness. This trend not only preserves cultural identity but also promotes tourism and educates visitors on Malaysia’s unique heritage.

In conclusion, the best landscape projects of this year’s awards have showcased trends such as sustainability, biophilic design, integration of smart technologies, cultural preservation and community engagement. These trends have not only transformed the physical landscape but also contributed to creating more liveable, resilient and environmentally conscious urban environments throughout Malaysia.

The Edge Malaysia was also represented on the judging panels by City & Country editor E Jacqui Chan

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