Part 2 Plans for 4 More Sustainable Projects
JOURNEY IN IPOH AND JOHOR
Cheah said when he got a hold of tin-mining land in Ipoh, it was surrounded by jungle. But there were also hills and hot springs.
“The hot springs coming out from the ground was over 300 litres a day, at more than 70 degrees centigrade. I remember when I was a child and a teenager, I used to come here to boil eggs in the little pool, and so did the late Sultan. He came here very often when he was a young man. With all this nature and beauty, I could add on to make it more exciting.”
Cheah said if compared to the Sunway City Kuala Lumpur township, it was much easier to work on the Sunway City Ipoh land because it had all the natural ingredients.
“There was almost everything in Sunway City Ipoh. But in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, which Lee Kuan Yew (former Singapore prime minister) once called a wasteland, there was nothing. The area was washed out twice, and mined for sand, stone and tin. But after developing Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, I felt that there were lots of opportunities to do the same, and make it even better. We came to Ipoh... where there was also an ex-mining site. But when I saw the site with the beautiful limestone hills, the forest and the gem of the place, the hot springs, I fell in love with it.
“Although it was a sleepy hollow, I knew it would take a bit of time to bring vibrancy and get the foot falls. It was a challenge and I spent a lot of time in Ipoh. We have done it. Of course, it’s not completed. There are a lot more components to come in yet,” he said.
Cheah said as far as Sunway Iskandar is concerned, he was offered 728ha of land to be developed in joint venture with Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd.
“Khazanah, who owned the land, approached me and asked whether I would be interested to do a joint venture with them. Of course I asked that if you want to have a township development, I would have to drive the project. (They said) ‘Oh, you have the power to do so’. That was how we started Iskandar.”
Cheah hopes Sunway Group’s three existing townships will be his legacy as a sustainable developer.
He also hopes other people will emulate to bring their eco-system into wastelands.
Cheah reiterated his motto — “I aspire to inspire before I expire”.
“Now, before I expire in that form, I hope to be able to do a lot of good for mankind. Climate change is a real thing that is happening. If we don’t address that, all of us will have a problem in the future. Hopefully, when people want to practise (sustainability), they will come and see what Sunway has done and do the same... to help bring better prospects, better future, better health, better well-being, (eradicate) poverty and all these things. That’s my hope, as my legacy.”