A Conductor or a Genius?

Sam Tan, Group Managing Director, KEN Holdings Bhd

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see – Arthur Schopenhauer, 19th century German philosopher.

By Ivan Tan


The company began in 1980 when Dato’ Kenny Tan was just a contractor and an engineering service provider. This is where he perfected his trade of constructing buildings with bricks and mortar. Sam, the eldest son, was blessed with the opportunity to see his father at work. Like Donald Trump who saw his dad the same way, the DNA of creating spaces as a business also rubbed into junior’s veins and will go on to be a significant part of Sam’s future.

Sam ended up studying civil engineering at University College London. He then moved on to Arup Consulting Engineers, one of the top engineering consultancies in the world. Time was opportune as Arup was undertaking the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project with a contract value of £6 billion. The good news, Sam was part of the milestone project. But this young man was perhaps a little too visionary as he took on another course to add to his qualifications.

“I had a lot of time in my hands even though I had a big job there. And I told myself that I needed to train myself to handle a lot more things.

“So apart from running a wine club which is my hobby, I actually took on law because I enjoyed it. I did it part time and it has helped me tremendously.”

Admittedly, Sam would apply what he had learned in the UK to the company here. But what drives KEN Holdings today actually resides in five simple but meaningful core values. The first is to be hands-on and committed.

“We are very hands-on in the decisions that we make, in the selection of materials, selection of ideas, concepts, and very committed to what we do.”

Secondly, everyone takes pride in their work.

“If you’re not proud of what you do, you won’t do it well. It will be shown in the final results of your product.”

Thirdly, “We find new ways to do things. We create value for people.” In this he describes it with long-term considerations for the buyers where the property should resonate well in future with price appreciation along with the comfort and sustainability built into the properties.

Being part of the KEN Holdings family is next. He attributes the success of the company to the very team itself. “You need the whole team to pull this together.”

And finally, Mottainai, which means too precious to waste in Japanese.

“It can be applied in every sense, in terms of resource, expediency in doing work, energy, in terms of time; everything is too precious to waste.”

He illustrates that when the Japanese eat fish, they eat everything from the eyes to the scales, the fins, except the bones, which they will grind and turn into fertilizer.

“So not a single part of the fish is wasted.”

It is no wonder then that a great ensemble of achievements are now reflected across the walls of KEN Holdings. Sam has even earmarked to replicate all the award winning green features at KEN Bangsar to KEN RIMBA Condominium, the company’s upcoming green highrise in Klang Valley. Taking from its predecessor, the condominiums would come to share the same green features as KEN Bangsar with north-south orientation, water efficient fittings, low VOC paint; the works.

Resort style facilities at KEN Rimba Condominium 1

A Marvel?

At the KEN RIMBA Condominium 1 showroom, one can’t help but notice a nostalgic piece of fitting – the glass louvers. The adjustable glass louvers according to Sam are incorporated for better air ventilation to counter our hot, humid and rainy climate. In the olden days, such louvers were effectively used to allow the airy wind outside to flow through the house, rain or shine. This is in contrast with casement windows used for most modern homes and highrises, which have to be shut when it rains, prohibiting air movement and causing the interior of the home to be humid.

Another astounding innovation Sam discloses is something I would personally look forward to: a semi-outdoor badminton court, “but it’s underneath a ‘green cage’.”
“The vision is to create an area of recreation underneath a very nice covering of green. We’re hoping that would be something very unique.”

Aside from the green features, the price of KEN RIMBA Condominium 1 would have made it into Ripley’s if the records admit the property sector. You can get a freehold property with three bedroom units measuring 1,119 sq ft from only RM399,000. How is this even possible?

“If I had to do a lot of A&P for the product, I would have to price that cost in, it would be more expensive. But with all the ambassadors and the goodwill that we’ve built through the years, people trust us, they buy our properties, they make money, they’re happy and we should reward them.

“So instead of spending lots of money on A&P, we give this chance to them, give them the savings and they would make money from the property.”

In reality, he estimates the prevailing value to range between RM500 to RM550 per sq ft, “but we’re selling from RM360 per sq ft.”

On top of that, buyers and residents of KEN RIMBA Condominium 1 will get to enjoy top end resort class facilities such as the sunken Jacuzzi, sunken lounge, swimming pool with cabanas and reading lounge. The development is connected to the KTM Commuter Station via a 750-meter covered walkway.

“Our Block C is fully booked and we’re opening Block B now for booking.”

At KEN Holdings, we believe in social sustainability, economic sustainability and environmental sustainability. These three must co-exist.

With such a steal in the market, the primary focus will be on delivering plans that are already etched in the blueprint of KEN RIMBA Condominium 1. However, the company is also looking forward to the completion of KEN TTDI where its headquarters will call home by mid-2015.

Again, the sustainability agenda is not left out for the tower like all its other projects. To up a notch on its social sustainability focus, the company will be investing into a performing arts theater and an art gallery. On the environmental front, they will boldly attempt to cool the central atrium without air conditioning. Yes, without air conditioning.

Future forward includes Kota Bharu, Pahang, Penang, Melaka and Johor Bahru. The company will also be looking at recurring income properties which commensurate with the sustainability model. This has actually inspired the company to look at the hospitality sector as well.

To Sam, who is also the Chairman of REHDA Youth, he credits his current accomplishments to both his parents, especially his father who has been a mentor to him. He confesses to brushes at work with his parents and two of his sisters Jasmine and Yvonne but he does not frown upon such tensions; instead, he hails it as necessary to encourage excellence. It is all in a day’s work to relate well to each other, to act professionally and to think like an innovator creating value for everyone.

“I always believe as a developer, we are merely the conductor of the orchestra. We have the pianist, the violinist, the drum and the bass at the back. What we need to do is for everyone to come together to create the perfect symphony.

“If everyone can come together, we will create a perfect masterpiece.”


Comfortable dining and kitchen at KEN Rimba Condominium 1
It’s always bright at home in KEN Rimba Condominium 1
The master bedroom of KEN Rimba Condominium 1

KEN Holdings Bhd

  • KEN Bangsar is the first Malaysian project to receive BCA Green Mark GoldPLUS Award in 2009
  • The first Malaysian company to consistently achieve Carbon Neutral Status since 2010
  • KEN RIMBA is Malaysia’s first multiple award-winning green township
  • KEN RIMBA Legian Residences is the first Malaysian landed residential development to receive BCA Green Mark Gold Award 2010
  • KEN RIMBA Jimbaran Residences outdid Legian Residences by earning the BCA Green Mark Gold Plus Award (Provisional) 2012
  • KEN RIMBA Condominium 1 earned BCA Green Mark Gold Plus Award (Provisional) 2013 for highrise residential – the highest green rating at the time
  • KEN RIMBA Condominium 2 is the first to receive the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award (Provisional) 2013
  • KEN TTDI received multiple platinum awards – BCA Green Mark Platinum Award (Provisional) 2013 and the USGBC LEED Platinum Award (Pre-Certification) 2013


  • 60-acre township consisting of two phases of terraced houses, two phases of condominiums with full facilities, a commercial centre of 2 to 3 stories shoplots.
  • Participant in the Pilot Projects for GBI’s Township Tool, KETTHA’s Low Carbon City Framework, CIDB’s Green Pass, and the UNDP-PWD’s Building Sector Energy Efficiency Project with the objective to improve energy utilization efficiency in Malaysian buildings, and promoting the energy conserving design in new buildings.


KEN RIMBA Condominium 1

  • 679 units of condominium, penthouses and pool villas
  • Facilities include swimming pool with cabanas, wading pool, Jacuzzi, sunken lounge, reading lounge, badminton court, gym, multipurpose hall, children’s playground, 24-hour security with access card system

How green is KEN RIMBA Condominium 1?

  • Louvered windows, high window to wall ratio, north-south orientation of building, low VOC paint, environmentally friendly materials (e.g. tiles in certain areas), recycling bins, compost bins, water efficient fittings (all WELS rated), energy efficient bulbs at common areas.

How to get there?

GPS Coordinate 3.058062,101.484261.

Address: Sales Gallery is at Jalan Sungai Rasau, Seksyen 16, 40200, Shah Alam, Selangor. Sales Gallery is open daily from 9am to 6pm.



Call 1-300-22-9933, fax +603-7728 8246 or email contact@kenholdings.com.my or surf to www.kenholdings.com.my/Properties/KEN-Rimba.aspx