ASIA’S DEVELOPING HOUSING MARKET
One of Malaysia’s leading real estate developers looks at property development in Malaysia and Asia.
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Lim Gait Tong serves as Executive Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Farlim Group (Malaysia) Bhd. He joined the company as a first Director on March 12, 1982 and is the chairman of the executive committee.
He started his business career as a contractor with his father’s construction company at the age of 15 and subsequently began his own construction firm, Lim Gait Tong Construction in 1959. In 1962, he was awarded the Society Anonyme Des Etains De Kinta (“SEK”) Mining Relocation Contract for 200 units of houses, the Kampar railway station and the Kampar market.
In 1964, following a massive landslide, he rebuilt a sizable portion of the Ringlet and Brinchang townships in Cameron Highlands. In the same year, he obtained his JKR Class C Status which permitted him to bid for jobs throughout the Malaysian Federation. From 1964 to 1968, he undertook various projects under Lim Gait Tong Construction and his family’s development company. He was the main contractor for the Island Park and Jesselton Heights housing projects, which were then among the private sector efforts in Penang.
From 1969 to 1975, he completed the Taman Evergreen and Taman Goodwood projects in Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur. He was instrumental in the development of Taman Cheras Utama project in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur and Taman KKB Utama project in Kuala Kubu Bahru through an affiliated company, Perumahan Farlim Sdn Bhd. He initiated the development of Bandar Baru Ayer Itam, which is the biggest private sector development
in Penang. In recognition of his achievement in the construction/property sectors and contribution to the society, he was conferred the Grand Fellowship Award by the British Graduates Association Malaysia.
He is Overseas Advisor of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese And a member of the Standing Committee of China Overseas Exchanges Association.
Q: Has the Economic Transformation Programme had a positive effect on Farlim?
A: The Transformation Programme - the Government Transformation Programme (GTP); The Economic Transformation (ETP) and the New Economic Model (NEM) – generally have had a positive effect on the Malaysian economic outlook. Since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998, Malaysia has been very observant of the international economic climate and its impact on the domestic economy. You can say that this watchful and cautious approach has helped Malaysia to steer the economy on an even keel. Now under Prime Minister Najib, the strategic thrusts have been clearly articulated. More importantly, they are not only strategic statements but actually you see results. Farlim is a company involved in the real-estate development business and there are early signs of positive effects. It will take a while before the full impact is felt in the housing industry.
Q: Do you think the Asean Economic Community’s arrival in 2015 will expand your market? If so, in what countries?
A: The Asean Economic Community - (AEC) arrival in 2015 will see a lot of activities in trade and investment, especially in manufacturing, where consumer goods and also services will move speedily across the borders. Real estate development is dependent heavily on land. Land laws and related matters are not only complex, but are different in the Asean sovereign countries. The AEC has not yet specifically addressed these issues and therefore, I do not see any immediate rush to expand our activities. Maybe specific projects will be looked at from time to time.
Q: What are your current and projected projects?
A: The projects are mainly in the island of Penang and in the Klang Valley in Malaysia. We are planning to expand our activities in these areas where we have strategic advantages and accumulated experience.
Q: Has Farlim penetrated the Chinese market?
A: Farlim entered the China market in 1994. There were sizeable opportunities in the Fujian Province, where our investments were tied up in industrial activities and property development.
Due to down turn in Malaysia later, we decided to exit from the industrial activities. Now we concentrate on our core development activities. Now China offers renewed opportunities. Our earlier contacts and goodwill built in the process are giving us an entry into a greenfield opportunity in the Shandong Province near the city of Jinan. This is a long-term project now in the initial stage of planning.