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Misfit of Circumstances

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The Property Man of the Year 2010 had not expected it, he says. Actively served as President of FIABCI Malaysian Chapter from 1994 to 2000 and World President in 2005/2006, he vowed never to be a candidate. The thought was left idle, but the honor came…

“Segambut? No way, that’s a wrong place to go for investment.”

There were no roads leading to the area, even the agent who brought him there couldn’t quite make out its boundary. It was, however, smack right next to Sri Hartamas. And he bought it. That was over 20 years ago.

Whether it is by chance that you get to see Mont’ Kiara the way it is now, the visionary leader admits it was birthed out of a series of circumstances, or so he says.

So what is Dato’ Alan Tong, Group Chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd, made of?

He was left without a job when his contract with DBKL as an architect ended in 1964. But his personal skills on architectural design weren’t exceptional, he says. A humbling experience to acknowledge his weakness, he looked beyond and went on to a new found passion – property development. That was when he founded Sunrise in 1968, and later on Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd with his son NK Tong in 2000.

The journey isn’t smooth sailing either. Being roped into politics for almost 12 years from 1974 to 1985, Sunrise went to the back seat. When he resumed stewardship at the end of 1985, only then he realized that his baby had gone backwards and was in the face of another recession. “And I thought to myself, what have I done?”

Still, a sizeable piece of land in Old Klang Road was left in the company. Although it was out of the way that time, it was an opportunity to do something new and different. Led by strong convictions that a city can only grow upwards, the idea of developing OG Heights arose. He knew they were swimming against the tide but his persevering spirit refused to let it deter him. Now, they are ahead of the game.

Of course there were the sweeter times – seeing people benefit from their investments in their projects was what fired his passion, and not to mention, having attained his happiness and security. But more than that, “In the process, I met a lot of friends, and staff. These are the rewards that are not possible to quantify.”

Journeying back memory lane with him, it would seem that it all started with a series of misfits but led to an unfathomed success and passion of a lifetime.

“What keeps me going? Circumstances; you have got no choice but to take it on as a challenge and work your way through, which I did.

Had he not looked beyond the circumstances, all you see would just be a blotch of rubber trees.

“And I’m not retiring. When you enjoy what you’re doing, it is not drudgery…”
“…you have got no choice but to take it on as a challenge and work your way through…”