Edmund Cheng: ‘Asia is a Challenging Market’

THINK globally! That’s the motto of Singaporean business people. Understandably so, as the 710.3-square kilometer city state with a population of five million cannot depend solely on its internal resources.

That is also the viewpoint of Edmund Cheng, deputy chairman of Wing Tai Holdings Limited, which is listed on the Singapore stock exchange. “Ours is a global market,” he said while introducing the company’s latest property product, Belle Vue Residences, on September 3, 2010.

Indonesia is an important market for companies in Singapore, including Wing Tai. Out of the 29 percent foreign market, one fifth is Indonesia while other potential countries are China, India and Malaysia. “Asia is a challenging market,” said Cheng.

Belle Vue Residences is a freehold five floor condominium designed by Toyo Ito & Associates from Japan. The exclusive and luxurious residences consisting of 176 apartments harmoniously combining modern architecture and natural elements are strategically located in District 9, Orchard-Oxley.

Belle Vue Residences stand on an area of 250,000 square feet and its architectural design flows freely like a poem with its expressive geometrical curves, courtesy of renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito. Belle Vue’s design is inspired by nature to blend our relationship with natural elements and the environment. “It is more than a bond between humans and nature; it also brings the serenity of nature into one’s life,” explained Ito, about his very first project outside Japan.

Edmund Cheng is quite confident about Belle Vue’s salability which is priced at about S$2,400 – 2,800 per square feet. “Investors are always attracted to our products because they are strategically located, are of high quality and a timeless design,” said Cheng, who is also Managing Director of Wing Tai Land Pte Ltd and executive director of DNP Holdings Berhad, which is registered on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange.

As the spearhead of Wing Tai’s successful diversification from the garment business Cheng oversaw a promising expansion of property business in Asia since the mid 80s. Under his leadership Wing Tai is famous for its high quality and innovative design reflected in all of its projects in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and North America. Wing Tai was established in 1955 in Hong Kong and began its operations in Singapore in 1963. Wing Tai Holdings Limited has now become a leading property developer in Singapore.

Wing Tai, which has been registered at the Singapore Stock Exchange since 1989, is the parent or holding company that focuses its business in developing markets in Asia. The main business of WingTai Asia Group, which consists of Wing Tai Properties Limited in Hong Kong and DNP Holdings Berhad in Malaysia, includes developing of properties and investments, hotels and lifestyle retail. Wing Tai owns assets totaling over S$3 billion and numerous strategically located plots.

According to Cheng, during the ups and downs of business Wing Tai has strictly adhered to its basic principle: creating a mutually beneficial relationship with all stakeholders, including partners, customers and employees. “Our commitment is to build trust and a mutually beneficial relationship and this has created a positive track record and portfolio so that Wing Tai has been able to combine quality skills and human resources to create the most innovative projects in Asia,” said Cheng, a graduate of civil engineering with a master’s degree in architecture from Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University in the United States respectively.

With the Pan-Asia focus, continued Cheng, the public listed company and the subsidiaries of Wing Tai Group in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong have numerous superior features as they have a deep knowledge of the related market and an expansive business network.

“We keep focusing on the market trend and latest demand and opportunities in order to expand our business strategically in Asia. With full dedication to our innovative design and craftsmanship we have built a strong and successful image in our quality projects,” said Cheng who is also Chairman of National Arts Council and Design of Singapore International Advisory Panel, Singapore Airport Terminal Services Limited and Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd. as well as President of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore.

For its properties, Wing Tai consistently collaborates with renowned architects and designers such as French architect and Pritzker Prize winner Jean Nouvel (for Le Nouvel Ardmore, Singapore and Le Nouvel KLCC, Malaysia); Japanese architect Toyo Ito (for Belle Vue Residences, Singapore); Pritzker Prize winner I.M. Pei of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners from the United States (for The Tomlinson, Singapore); Arquitectonica International which is headquartered in Miami (for W Square, Hong Kong); an architectural company called Foster + Partners in London (for Tai Po project, Hong Kong); lighting consultant L’Observaitoire International in New York; and the famous interior designer Atelier Ikebuchi.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Wing Tai often receives awards for its highly innovative designs and architecture that reflects the company’s commitment to preserving the environment. Based on its conservation, preservation and cultural identity concepts in restoring an historical house called Tan Yeok Nee, for example, Wing Tai won a Special Mention from FIABCI Prix d’Exellence for the most excellent property; the equivalent of an Oscar in the field of architecture.

Meanwhile Draycott 8 also received an award from the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Architectural Heritage for restoring an old, historic bungalow that existed in the colonial days and turning it into an exclusive clubhouse in a luxurious residential area. Also The Tomlinson received an Honorable Mention in the Singapore Institute of Architects Façade Design Excellence Award.

Wing Tai has also received awards for its commitment to conserving the environment from Singapore Building and Construction Authority, namely, Green Mark Gold for Helios Residences and L’VIV. “All these awards confirm our vision and commitment to keep developing projects that can integrate and combine innovative designs with good environment,” concluded Cheng. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, September 15, 2010


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