Category Archives: Cover Story

Up-close and personal with the person gracing the cover of EZ

The Powers That Be

Dato’ Mark Yeoh
Director of YTL Hotels and Resorts


Good hotels are everywhere. The edge is always customer service. You can have gold taps and diamond chandeliers.  At the end, what matters in hospitality is always the service. 

Scion of the formidable YTL empire, Dato’ Mark Yeoh is the youngest son of the late Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay, a billionaire and philanthropist who founded YTL Corporation.  Executive director of YTL Hotels and Resorts, Dato’ Mark Yeoh is also part of YTL Power International’s mergers and acquisitions team involved in the acquisition of ElectraNet SA (Australia), Wessex Water Limited (UK), PT Jawa Power (Indonesia) and PowerSeraya Limited (Singapore). 

Born in Klang, young Yeoh grew up in Kuala Selangor with his early education at Pasar Road School before attending Victoria Institution.  Completing his A Levels at Brighton College UK, he went on to read law at King’s College London and passed the bar exams at Grace Inn.  “I was the only son who was not gainfully employed at that time, therefore was summoned back to help the family.  I started the hotel business without knowing a single thing.”   

At his first ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair in 1988, Malaysia was unheard of and often confused with Malawi.  Dato’ Yeoh took steps to place Malaysia on the map with the help of the Ministry of Tourism which launched many projects to promote Malaysia.  Three decades and many welcoming slogans later, YTL Hotels and Malaysia finally established a respectable position on the world tourism barometer.  “Competition is very tough now. Vietnam which never used to be a market is now an aggressive player.  My first trip to Maldives, there were hardly any resorts, and I still remember the pillows made from coconut husks.”

There is a secret formula that holds YTL Hotels in good stead.  “Our tagline ‘treasured moments, treasured places’ means that we are the purveyors of dreams and fantasies.  We have every moment count.  That’s the mantra we’ve been driving into our staff.  Our hotels’ high occupancy rates reflect the popularity of our properties and our abilities to fulfil guests’ wishes.”

Hotel business is like fashion, there is no cookie cutter approach.  You need to reinvest and reimage every seven years, to stay relevant and profitable.

For someone who started with not knowing a single thing in the hospitality industry, Dato’ Yeoh certainly has been put through the wringer.  Yet he emerged an effective and revered leader and entrepreneur.  “We call our staff stars.  In most leadership structures the boss is the head of the pyramid.  Ours is a reverse pyramid.  I’m the most unimportant person in the company because I don’t see the customers.  The moment my team wear the uniform when they start work, they are on parade.  The show starts and they must smile, greet, be courteous.  The challenge is to produce stars who understand our philosophies.  That’s why we have the YTL International College of Hotel Management where we invest in training and hotel development programmes.  Youth is the future of our business.”  

With properties in Asia and UK, Dato’ Yeoh’s brand of management is holistic and immersive.  “Working with partners like The Marriot and Hilton allows us to be more focussed, where we can dissect and segmentise our areas of expertise.  The universal distribution system in the world is such that the big will get bigger so it’s good to have partnerships with these giants.”

Dato’ Yeoh’s superpowers in the hospitality realm are evident in some of his latest triumphs.  One of them the Monkey Island Estate, a centuries-old retreat in Bray-on-Thames, Berkshire that nestles on an island in the River Thames;  The Academy, London is a charming collection of five restored Georgian townhouses centrally located in London’s West End and finally the Higashiyama Niseko Village will be opening in December 2020, channelling unparalleled luxury to Japanese skiing in a hand-selected hideaway destination.  

Forging a Path in Security

Dato’ Dr Nick Ng
Founder of Mega Fortris Malaysia Sdn Bhd

The reason for our success is because we had went through a lot to get there and most important of all, we keep to our integrity and principles

Ng has always had an adventurous streak and he attributed most of his success to the adventures he had as a young man. He literally left home to see the world at the age of 18 years. With little money on hand, he took a ship to India and from there, made his way to Europe. It was a trip that formed who he is today. It taught him perseverance and a die-hard attitude. What he remembered most about that epic journey that spanned several years was how he had to suffer and starve in the beginning due to shortage of money. “I was adventurous and I was determined to make it, I don’t give up easily so no matter how much I suffered, I refused to go home, I wanted to stay on,” he said.

If one were to tell Dato’ Dr Nick Ng that he would reap huge success in selling security seals back when he was young, he would have laughed it off.  Never in his imagination had he thought that his eventual success in life was from selling security seals that initially only earned him a few sen of profit per seal.

Ng had ventured into the security seal business with his brother Adrian, who is 15 years younger than him, in 1996. When he first started, he was quite sceptical of the profit as each security seal costs about 9 sen which they had to sell at 12 sen. “Yet, we had to push on, we wanted to penetrate the market,” he said.

The brothers persisted and thanks to Adrian’s sales skills, Ng said they started making it big and soon they were venturing overseas. Before long, Mega Fortris was manufacturing its own security seals and exporting it to various countries. It is now one of the leading security seal manufacturers in the world.

“I was adventurous and I was determined to make it, I don’t give up easily so no matter how much I suffered, I refused to go home, I wanted to stay on,” 

Even after he came back to Malaysia, Ng found it hard to stay put in Penang. Life here was monotonous and boring so he left again and this time, he went to United Kingdom to work as a window cleaner for three years.

He came back to Malaysia from that stint and tried a few businesses which failed. This never deterred him. Instead, he pushed on with his die-hard attitude as he believed he would eventually make it.

The Ng brothers started Mega Fortris with a RM2 million debt and it was their joint hard work that led to their success today. ”The reason for our success is because we had gone through a lot to get here and most important of all, we keep to our integrity and principles,” he said.

His advice to the youths is to venture out and take risks. “I was bold enough to take risks and this was where I learned important lessons about life,” he said. 

Faces of Penang 2019

FACES OF PENANG 2019: Influential Captains & Upcoming Leaders

  • YAB Chow Kon Yeow
  • YB Steven Sim Chee Keong
  • YB Sim Tze Tzin
  • YB Yeoh Soon Hin
  • Tan Sri Datuk Alex Ooi Kee Liang & Puan Sri Datuk Joanne Phor Li Wei
  • Dato’ Seri Damien Chua Wei Kee
  • Dato’ Cher Chen Chiang
  • Datin Poon Lee Fah
  • Allen Tan
  • Alvin Poh Hsien Yang
  • Anne Lee
  • Sean Lau Chee Seong & Cheryl Ng Chai Hong
  • Caren Lee Gie Lun
  • Chris Daniel Wong
  • Dr Lim Ban Keong
  • Fifi Ch’ng
  • Eric Tiw Haojie
  • Joseph Goh Kah Leong
  • Jimmy Foo Kok Keong
  • June Goh Hooi Choon
  • Tan Loy Sin
  • Leon Lee
  • Ooi Chok Yan
  • Tan Li Mei
  • Syed Aidid Syed Mohamad
  • Chef Petr Feher
  • Dr Tan Boon Cheong
  • Tan Wei Xin
  • Toh Bok Piew & Desmond Toh
  • Vincent Chew & Ann Lee
  • William Koay
  • Wilson Yeoh & Edwin Yeoh
  • Waqar Saeed Bhatti
  • Wong Soon Ping
  • Boey Tze Nin
  • Chef Audee Cheah
  • Franco Tan
  • Esther Loh
  • Katharine Joan Chua
  • Kevin Wong
  • Ooi Wei Ming
  • Ravin Vello
  • Seah Kok Heng
  • Stephen Soon
  • Nigel Law
  • Oo Lean Hooi

Where Medical Education Thrives

EZMY54_RUMC_Prof Stephen Doughty“The cornerstone of RUMC being a successful medical school lies not only in the quality of the education it provides, but also in its students’ motivation in pursuing a career in medicine.”

RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus (RUMC) is Malaysia’s first accredited private medical school, owned and established by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University College Dublin (UCD), two world-renowned medical universities in Ireland.

As the demand for doctors continues to grow, there is a greater need to ensure that Medicine graduates are industry-ready. It goes without saying that the road to becoming a doctor is paved with ambition, discipline, and dedication from the get-go. And perhaps above all, it begins with the right drive and attitude that make RUMC’s students stand out from the rest.

RUMC is the first Irish Foreign University Branch Campus (FUBC) in Malaysia. This is where students begin their transnational journey in Dublin, Ireland and receive an Irish medical education as they undertake a high quality two-and-a-half year’s pre-clinical study at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University College Dublin (UCD).

Upon completion, the students return to Penang, Malaysia for a two-and-a-half year’s clinical phase where they will receive on-site training as they interact with patients at Penang General Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital, and Taiping Hospital.

This means that RUMC doctors-in-training would have better access to patients, allowing them to focus and nurture their patient-care and medical skills to its full potential. Graduates are conferred a National University of Ireland (NUI) degree, a globally-recognised medical education qualification, and are industry-ready thanks to the immersive clinical years.

The cornerstone of RUMC being a successful medical school lies not only in the quality of the education it provides, but also in its students’ motivation in pursuing a career in medicine. Today, RUMC is amongst the top medical schools in the country in preparing students for Housemanship.

“As an elite FUBC, our staff works in an environment that drives forward the pursuit of knowledge and aims to impact society around us”, said Professor Stephen Doughty, President & CEO.

RUMC’s unique relationship with the Malaysian Ministry of Health allows exclusive use of the Penang General Hospital for the students’ clinical training. Students graduate as doctors, receiving an internationally recognised medical degree, namely the MB BCh BAO (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Obstetrics) followed by a two-year placement as House Officers.

RUMC_Management Team.jpg“Today, RUMC is amongst the top medical schools in the country in preparing students for Housemanship.”

The University is recognised by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and Irish Medical Council (IMC) as graduating high performing doctors. Students are recognised for practice in the USA, Canada and others by the ECFMG and FAIRMER with the institution listed as an Irish medical school in the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOMS).

In ensuring that its top-of-the-class standard is maintained, RUMC’s medical education is delivered by a faculty of experienced and highly qualified practitioners and academics, supported by a diverse executive team and staff.

Established as Penang Medical College (PMC) in 1996, RUMC was awarded University status by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) as a Foreign University Branch Campus in 2018, one of the highest levels for a foreign-owned institution in Malaysia.

Penang’s New Property King 槟城新房产之王

Tan Sri Datuk Alex Ooi

Ideal Property Group executive chairman 宏升集团执行主席


Tan Sri Datuk Alex Ooi.png“We want to ensure that the living space of the community consists of value added features such as major public amenities and upgraded infrastructures.”

Royalty is a novelty. So unless you’re born into it or through marriage, most of us just live ordinary lives. But in the property world, you can become royalty through the old fashioned way of hard work and merit. That is how executive chairman of Ideal Property Group, Tan Sri Datuk Alex Ooi became the “Property King” of Penang. He has definitely earned this commendable title through his dedication and passion. From nothing, he started Ideal Property Group in 1997 and is now an award winning and well known Penang institution with an array of impressive local and international projects under its belt.

Some of its notable developments include the Attwood Business Centre with a gross development value (GDV) of USD15 million in Cambodia in 2006 and I-Avenue in 2007. Ooi has wrapped up SummerSkye Residences with Solaria Residences and is looking forward to the completion of One Foresta in January 2019.

With such a vast portfolio of projects and more in the pipeline, the 46 year old remains humble and says that property is a passion, rather than an ambition. He is also the chairman for FIABCI Malaysia Chapter Penang Branch, the vice president for Penang Chinese Chamber and Commerce and Convenor for Penang Development, Construction and Management Committee (a Group under Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce).

Ooi strongly envisions the improvement of Penang’s transportation infrastructure and currently has a 20% stake in SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd, the project delivery partner of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). The PTMP is a RM27 billion investment that was formed by the Penang state government to improve transportation by providing alternative transportation modes to combat worsening traffic congestion – such as Light Rail Transit (LRT) and monorail lines.

“While I have multiple roles, what’s really important to me is CSR for the Penang community. Some of my causes were to build infrastructure and amenities like markets, hawker stalls, community centers, a fire station for the Sri Tanjung voluntary firemen. I’ve also supported the build of the St.John service centre, constructed the new access road of Persiaran Rajawali and widened the road along Jalan Tun Dr. Awang. We’ve also raised the road level and upgraded the drainage system in Relau, Bayan Lepas for flood mitigation purposes,” says Ooi, who is also a dedicated family man.

“While I have multiple roles, one thing that is important to me is carrying out CSR for the Penang community.”

He believes that Ideal Property Group has been successful because of its consistent CSR projects. On the business side, Ooi maintains his competitive advantage by delivering sustainable community-oriented development rather than offering just tower blocks as shelter.

“We’re prudent in planning developments where the surrounding environment is well taken care of. We want to ensure that the living space of the community consists of value added features such as major public amenities and upgraded infrastructures,” he said.

By doing this, the Property King will continue to reign as he will create more community-oriented and affordable development and at the same time, deliver more property gems and ultimately contribute to the nation’s economy.

“我们希望社区的生活空间获得保障,包含齐全的公共设施和不断升级基设等配套增值功能。”

皇室是相当新奇的。除非你是含着金钥匙出生,或者通过婚姻,但是大多数人都只能过着普通生活。而在房地产行业,却可以通过传统的刻苦工作和功绩成就的方式受封为王。

宏升集团执行主席丹斯里黄继樑就是这样成了槟城的“公寓之王”。他的高度奉献精神和激情无疑是赢得这个尊贵称号的理由。他白手起家,于 1997 年创立了宏升集团,如今已是一家获奖无数的知名机构,旗下拥有一系列令人印象深刻的本地和国际开发项目。

其中一些引人瞩目的开发项目包括 2006 年在柬埔寨的 Attwood Business Centre,总发展价值(GDV)达 1500 万美元,还有 2007 年的 I-Avenue

黄继樑已把 SummerSkyeSolaria 住宅计划合并,并期待 20191 月圆满完成 One Foresta 项目。而他在面对如此庞大的项目组合,尚有更多筹备中的计划,仍然保持谦逊态度,认为房地产开发工作是一种激情,而不是雄心。同时,他还是世界不动产联盟马来西亚分会槟城支会主席、槟州中华总商会产业发展、建筑及管理组副主任(槟州中华总商会属下组织)。

“即使身兼数职,但对我来说重要的一件事是为槟城社区履行社会责任。我的一些目标是建立公共和便利设施,比如市场、小贩摊位、社区中心、Sri Tanjung 的志愿消防队员的消防站。我也支持了圣约翰服务中心的建设,还有 Persiaran Rajawali 设新通道的工程,包括 Jalan Tun Dr. Awang 的道路拓宽。我们还提高Relau的道路水平和提升排水系统,以缓解防范 水患问题。”他认为,宏升集团之所以成功,是因为坚定贯彻企业社会责任项目(CSR)。在商业策略方面,黄继樑持续透过建设社区为主要导向的发展,而不仅是提供楼宅作为住处以保持市场竞争优势。

“我们在规划所有开发项目都很谨慎严苛,确保周边环境良好。我们希望社区的生活空间获得保障,包含齐全的公共设施和不断升级基设等配套增值功能。”

因为秉持着这个信念,“公寓之王”将继续统治下去,他将创造更多面向社区、让人负担得起的开发计划,同时发掘更多的房地产瑰宝项目,最终为国家经济做出贡献。

Queens Waterfront - Promenade.jpg


By Karina Foo 

Guide To Your Investment Journey 指引您的投资旅程

RHB Premier.png

Several months ago in 2017, Malaysia’s stock market seemed robust and full of potential, however, today there are rumours of an impending slump in the market due to various factors. On that note, Malaysia’s first quarter performance in 2018 has indicated a less than impressive earnings performance. Although investment experts explain that markets tend to rise and fall, it is always wise for one to be cautious and well-informed of how to navigate the volatile market place, while achieving positive outcomes.

To strike a good balance, the buzzword today is to consider goal-based investing which is to simply prioritise a series of key life goals and objectives, and duly put away funds with a view to accumulating these goals a somewhat complex affair.

“Recognising that our customers need help in navigating a complex market environment with the aim of optimizing returns from their investments, we have set in place a five-year strategy that is aimed at delivering greater value to our customers. One of the core areas of our FIT22 strategic direction to gain greater market share in the affluent segment through differentiated products and services which offer greater value and helps customers to strengthen financial portfolio and achieve their goals,” explains Dato’ Khairussaleh Ramli, Group Managing Director, RHB Banking Group.

Less than a year ago, the global investment environment was awash with positive sentiment. Technology stocks were the darlings of the fund management industry, and seemingly everyone wanted a piece of premium tech equity. Malaysia’s own stock market was rosy; for a while in the 2017 in- vestment climate, it almost seemed impossible to lose money.

Fast forward to today, and the conversation has turned distinctly from one of unbridled optimism in company earnings, to whispers of the next market slump. Malaysia’s stunning General Election results this year further threw a wrench in an already softening financial market. Malaysia has seen a less than impressive earnings performances in quarter 1 of 2018. But why is this relevant? Markets may rise and fall, but the need to fund major financial milestones is constant. The market may well be softening, but you can ill-afford the same fate for your finances.

RHB group photo

Building the nest egg 构筑安乐窝

So, you’ve resolved to take the bull (market) by the horns and get your long-term finances in order. Well done, but the challenge is only just beginning. Goal-based investing, that is, prioritising a series of key life goals and objectives, and then putting away funds with a view to accomplishing these goals, can be a complex affair. Not everybody has the funds to accomplish all of their goals, so prioritising is key.

In this regard, Encik Nazri Othman, Acting Head of RHB Group Retail Distribution opine allocating different weightages according to the urgency of these goals. Once you know how much you’re willing to commit to which goals, start working on these goals as early as possible, and let the compounding interest do all the hard work. As a general rule, a goal with a longer-term horizon can have a more aggressive investment allocations, while shorter-term goals should ideally be played more safely. Short-term investing typically lasts no more than three years or so, which means you’d need a larger than normal initial investment amount. Alternatively, one might have to commit to fairly frequent top-ups in order to achieve the goal, if there is any shortfall. However, being short-term does not mean being reckless; over a shorter-term investment horizon, your allocations should mainly go into defensive as- sets such as investment grade bonds with shorter maturity dates, as well as resilient blue-chip equities with strong dividend track records.

Advise from the experts is always welcome, but even so, investors should never take their eyes off the prevailing investment climate. Managing volatility can mean all the difference in terms of having enough for your children to take their pick of the top universities. It may be understandably tempting to make a play for a bit of alpha and go bargain-hunting in the current softening environment. However, undervalued equities should not be the sole reason for diving headfirst back into the current equity market. So, what is a person to do in this softening environment?

Common Investment Goals

In the view of Calvin Goon, Head of Affluent, WM & Banca, RHB Bank, investors to stay invested, but to also periodically rebalance their portfolios in order to keep up with market forces and the overall outlook. After all, money hidden under the bed is money that isn’t working for you. Softening markets can offer alluring opportunities to bargain hunt, sure, but it is also a good time for goal based investors to strategize and go defensive with their portfolios. Calvin further explained that funds have flowed out from equities and the high yield space, into investment grade bonds. Investors would be well advised to revise their asset allocations to favour inflation-friendly commodities like precious metals, downside protected structured products, as well as investment grade bonds. These assets will be more appropriate in late economic cycles or even periods of recession.

Evolution Investment of portfolio