Ladies and gentlemen,
1. I am honoured to be here this evening, at this 50th anniversary dinner for UEM Group. The anniversary actually fell on March 10th last year, but getting quite such a distinguished gathering of people all together in one room is not always easy. So that is why we are meeting now, some months later. But what is a few months between friends, anyway?
Ladies and gentlemen,
2. It has been quite a journey for UEM Group. It has undergone a remarkable transformation from humble beginnings, all those years ago, in 1966. If you look at old photos from then, their colours all faded to sepia, you see a long, low-rise office space, nestled next to trees and a field in Petaling Jaya.
3. When you look at the photos, you can almost feel the heat in the air, and the chairs you can see under the trees must have been very tempting for anyone working there to take a doze in the shade with a cool drink. It looks like another Malaysia.
4. But one of the reasons why it looks like another time and place, is because of UEM. Because we have UEM to thank for helping create the Malaysia of today.
5. Over the last 50 years it has been one of the leading contributors to Malaysia’s economic growth and infrastructure development. I’ll mention just a few landmarks: the North South Expressway, completed 15 months ahead of schedule. The Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit. LRT2 – which is the world’s longest fully automated driverless rail system. The Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge in Penang.
6. UEM Group has been one of Malaysia’s outstanding GLCSs, delivering world-class services to Malaysians.
7. Its name continues to be associated with key national projects, such as Menara Merdeka PNB118, the Women and Children Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, and the Pan Borneo Highway. These are developments that will have transformative effects on people’s lives, and on the Malaysian economy.
8. We know that UEM Group has, without a doubt, the capability and competency to undertake further key infrastructure initiatives such as the High Speed Rail. But we believe in promoting healthy competition, and we will always be committed to an open, fair, objective as well as transparent procurement process. So while I have full confidence in UEM Group, when it comes to HSR, I must say, Tan Sri Chairman, may the best man win!
Ladies and gentlemen,
9. The success story we have come here to celebrate is not just at home. UEM Group is a proud bearer of the Malaysian flag abroad. They constructed, and are currently operating, the 116-kilometre Cikopo-Palimanan toll road, the longest toll road ever built in Indonesia.
10. In Australia, their 92-storey Aurora tower is the tallest residential development in Melbourne’s Central Business District, and was 95 percent sold in just three weeks.
11. UEM Group has expanded its healthcare management services to Singapore and Taiwan; and has a significant presence in many other countries, from India and New Zealand to Canada and the Middle East.
12. Throughout its 50 years, UEM Group has shown resilience, strong fundamentals, and pride in the infrastructure the group develops – as well as a sense of pride amongst its employees. It has made a great contribution to communities, connecting people and improving their lives, pushing boundaries and innovating, creating thousands of jobs and generating billions which are ultimately for the benefit of all Malaysians.
13. I would like to take this opportunity to urge not only UEM but also all other Malaysian construction firms to work towards being regional and global construction and engineering giants, to compete with the likes of Bechtel of USA, Hyundai and Daewoo of Korea, Skanska of Sweden and JGC of Japan.
14. If Japanese and Korean construction companies can do it, I believe so can Malaysian firms. They can be listed in the world’s top 50 construction companies. After all, as you know, I am aiming for Malaysia to be a top twenty country by 2050!
15. I am proud that Malaysian construction companies have done well in exporting their services abroad, but I believe that we can punch above our weight even more. To do so, Malaysian construction companies need to expand their capabilities, which include the company’s size, project management skills, specialist technology expertise level, company branding and reputation, and their networks.
16. In view of the several large infrastructure projects that I have announced recently, it is clear that there will be major construction works at home in the next five years or more. In some cases, due to the nature of the projects, the Government will be obliged to conduct open international tenders. Where possible, we will, of course, ensure that there will be local and Bumiputra contracts as part of these works.
17. Nevertheless, these substantial home projects should not in any way deter our best construction players from further expanding their markets abroad – to establish themselves globally for the future beyond 2025.
Ladies and gentlemen,
18. UEM is a great example of how Government-Linked Companies, or GLCs, deliver for Malaysia and contribute to the Economic Transformation Programme.
19. The GLCs themselves underwent their own transformation programme, and when they graduated in August 2015, they had become stronger institutions better placed to serve the people.
20. From May 2004 to the final month of the GLCT Programme, July 2015, market capitalisation of the G20 grew almost three times – from RM134 billion, to RM386 billion. Over the same period, total shareholder return increased 11.1 percent per annum.
21. Meanwhile, G20 net profit grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 10.2 percent from FY2004 to FY2014, and the group made significant inroads into foreign markets. Their performance, and their transformation, was indeed remarkable.
Ladies and gentlemen,
22. This performance has enabled GLCs to participate actively in other areas of nation-building, and to support the government’s stress on sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth in a number of ways. UEM’s wide range of initiatives provides a role model.
23. UEM has, for instance, placed great emphasis on empowering the Bumiputera.
24. It is one of the anchor companies entrusted with providing opportunities for Bumiputera vendors in the property development, expressway and facilities maintenance sectors.
25. At the same time, it is also supporting the highest standards of performance through the Business Excellence initiative, in order to eventually create truly global players.
26. UEM Group is also helping Bumiputera vendors move from the relatively lower value areas of the supply chain such as Planning, Design and Maintenance – which make up approximately 15 percent of any given contract’s value – to the relatively higher value areas such as Procurement, Supply, Construction and Development, which often come up to 85 percent of the total value.
27. The results are already starting to show, with three Bumiputera companies under its guidance recently making it to the final round of the Industry Excellence Awards organised by MITI.
28. Through UEM Group’s partnership with SME Bank, there is now a channel to provide up to RM30 million in facilities for Bumiputera SMEs over a period of three years, as they grow under the guidance of UEM Group of Companies.
29. UEM Group raised the bar when it partnered with a medium-sized Bumi construction company to construct and develop the Women and Children Hospital, and struck a similar partnership with a local Sabah construction firm to assume the Project Delivery Partner role for the Pan Borneo Highway Sabah.
30. UEM Group has also inked collaborations with various universities such as Universiti Teknologi MARA, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, and Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS in its efforts to promote graduate employability, and industrial attachments for lecturers to participate in Research and Development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
31. UEM Group invested some RM54.72 million between 2013 to 2016 on human capital initiatives, including the upward mobility scheme to ensure that our workforce stays ahead of the curve in terms of knowledge, implementation, and technology.
32. On education, UEM Group is one of the biggest supporters of the Government’s SL1M initiative. With UEM’s programmes, in addition to hands-on job exposure, participants are also provided with training in language and communications.
33. So far, UEM Group has taken on 1,550 SL1M trainees, including 400 in 2016 – a number that will rise to 440, with an allocation of RM10.8 million, for 2017 alone.
34. Another RM50 million was invested by UEM Group in community engagement and charitable activities, with education the focus, from 2013 to 2016.
35. It continues to run Kolej Yayasan UEM, an A level college with 90 percent of its graduating students carrying on their studies in premier universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge and MIT; and it has adopted 44 schools under PINTAR Foundation, the largest number for a single company.
36. It provides financial support to trust schools programme, under Yayasan AMIR; offers tuition and motivational classes as well as scholarships to students across Malaysia; and to help ease the burden of underprivileged parents, it has been working with Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club to provide Back-to-School essentials to 40 thousand students of all races across the country, investing over RM8.5 million since 2013.
37. From its Tabung Zakat, UEM Group provides annual funding to University Malaya Medical Centre and UKM Medical Centre, thus allowing less fortunate individuals to receive the medical attention they deserve.
38. The same is offered to UiTM students to help ease their tuition fees; and since 2006, its volunteer programme, UEM ALERT has provided a helping hand to flood victims in various states, including recently in Kelantan and Terengganu.
39. For the victims of the 2014 floods in Kelantan, I’m pleased to say that UEM Group, in cooperation with the Ministry of Works, has built 58 units of new homes in Kuala Krai under the programme, Rumah Kekal Baharu.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
40. In celebrating its 50th Anniversary, this Company has done something quite different. Instead of glitzy advertisements, it decided to focus on its employees, partners and communities.
41. For its personnel, UEM Group provided a Golden Gift – ranging from RM2,000 to RM5,000 – for all of its employees earning RM6,000 or less a month, which was also extended to its SL1M trainees. They spent a total of RM44 million on this alone.
42. And tonight UEM Group is saying thank you to its stakeholders, all of whom have played an important role in the Company’s success.
43. I must commend UEM Group, including its Board Members and Management, for having the commitment to balance operational, financial and business realities with the needs of its personnel and the rakyat at large.
Ladies and gentlemen,
44. I have just listed some of the CSR initiatives carried out by UEM Group. It was quite a long list, and I thank you for your attention. But they are all worthy of mention. In fact they all should be mentioned.
45. Because when certain of our politicians shamefully try to run down Malaysia with baseless stories for their own gain, they will never bring up the numerous programmes undertaken by the Government and the GLCs – which are for the betterment of our people.
46. For them it is as though these programmes don’t even exist – when in fact they have real and meaningful impacts on the lives of ordinary Malaysians.
47. Our opponents make wild allegations, but their slogans and their promises are empty.
48. It is this Government, and our world class GLCs, that have delivered and will continue to deliver for the people.
49. And that it is why it is very relevant that we dwell on UEM Group’s programmes, which provide a wide variety of assistance, education, training and charitable activities.
50. For the vision we have for Malaysia is not just about big infrastructure projects like the new LRT line. It is about the student who may not be able to continue at university – but who can do so because of the financial assistance he or she receives. It is about the Bumi small business that wants to take the next step – and can do so because of the support from SME Bank.
51. Our vision includes having international airports that are the envy of the world. But it is also about enabling the less well-off to receive the best medical care. It’s about helping the victims of floods and providing new homes for families that have lost theirs. It’s about providing the children of underprivileged families with back to school essentials.
52. Many of these initiatives are unsung, or undersung. But they are a vital part of the inclusive, sustainable Malaysia that we are building.
53. They are all part of the plan that has seen 1.8 million jobs created, and Gross National Income rise by nearly 50 percent, since the start of the Economic Transformation Programme in 2010.
54. They are part of the plan that has seen 2.9 million people lifted out of poverty immediately through the implementation of the minimum wage.
55. They are part of the plan that has kept Malaysia on the path of healthy growth – at rates European nations can only dream of – despite the drop in the price of oil and challenging conditions in the global economy.
56. They are part of the plan that has seen us consistently praised by the IMF and the World Bank, and given high ratings by the international ratings agencies.
57. This is the reality of Malaysia today. And it is appropriate that we reflect on that as we gather to celebrate 50 years of UEM Group – for 50 years ago Malaysia was a very young country. Our forefathers had a vision for Malaysia then, just as the founders of UEM Group did for this company.
58. Being true to that vision does not mean sticking rigidly to the same methods. It means taking the bold but necessary steps to ensure that our economic fundamentals remain strong, like introducing GST and the reduction of blanket subsidies that help the rich as much as the poor.
59. We had an economic plan to remain true to that vision. And that plan is working and delivering.
Ladies and gentlemen,
60. These are difficult times for many around the world, of course, and we know that some of our people struggle to provide their families with all they would like.
61. Let me say this: This Government is listening to you. We want no one to be left behind in our vibrant, diverse country. As we continue on the journey towards becoming a high income status nation, we want all to be offered the skills and opportunities to be part of the Malaysia of tomorrow. We want our country to be one that cares about the well-being, safety, security and prosperity of each and every one of our citizens.
62. UEM Group is an example of that approach – of delivery for all. Of building brick by brick, year by year, a society and a country that – as we near the 60th anniversary of our independence – we can all be proud of, and of which we know our forefathers would have been proud too.
63. My congratulations to UEM Group on this great milestone, and I wish you all a very enjoyable evening.