Urban Governance - by Alan Tong

07 June 2013


The Fiabci World Congress with the theme Innovation in Sustainable Development was held on the same day as the Prix d’Excellence Awards 2013. The congress, held over five days, saw over 1,100 global leaders from the real estate industry coming together to network, build business, and advance industry knowledge.

Prominent speakers featured included Fiabci world president Judy Shenefield and Fiabci Chinese Taiwan president Nan-Yuen Huang.

Bukit Kiara Properties (BKP) Group chairman Datuk Alan Tong was also among the speakers, presenting a paper on Creative Urban Governance.

The topic refers to flexibility in adapting to new situations and transformation in the face of new challenges. It is the ability to manage demands of sustainable development, social equity and economic prosperity.

Tong’s paper noted that rapid urbanisation requires a new city of one million people every five days, between now and 2050. However there is no one winning policy that fits every city. Developing and developed urban centres require different policies to address the demand of sustainable growth—hence innovative planning is needed for every changing urban environment.

Using Petaling Jaya as a case study, Tong said when the planner did the master plan, it never occurred to him what would happen 50 years later. As it is, now 50 years down the road, PJ can no longer cater to its community.

“It is too far for planners to think 200 years later. Their assignment is to come up with a master plan for the next 20 years. When we point out that there is congestion, the answer is to sprawl out, but it is not quite right as the traffic system will kill you.

“The way PJ is planned, (it is not possible) to provide MRT system to all of them. The MRT cannot go very far and it has got limitations. How far are you prepared to walk to the station?

“PJ cannot stay the way it is. I can suggest (ways to overcome it) but the planners don’t have the same vision. It is not so much the property developer because the developer can only build what the authority can agree or approve, and that goes back to the master plan,” Tong said after presenting his paper.

“There is a need for every growing city to look at urban redevelopment but what about the legislation that supports it? If it cannot be done, do we leave it as it is for the next 50 years? These are issues a growing city should look at—if not, it is very wasteful.

“We are not prepared but I hope that the legislation will come, for the sake of the country. You need that legislation for the benefit of everyone. Redevelopment is a good thing, otherwise you impede growth not only for yourself but also the community and country.

“In general, the legislation must permit redevelopment but whether it is wasteful or not depends on the individual building,” he added.

In 2005, Tong became the first and only Malaysian to ascend to the position of world president in Fiabci’s 56-year history. In 2010, he was bestowed the Honorary World President. He was crowned Property Man of the Year at Fiabci’s Malaysia Property Award the same year.

Tong founded Sunrise Sdn Bhd in 1968 where he earned the title “Condo King of Malaysia” after having transformed a rubber estate at the fringe of Sri Hartamas into one of the country’s most premium residential addresses, known as Mont’Kiara today.