President Message March 2016


The construction industry is shocked by the Government announcement on the increased levy rate for foreign workers effective 1st February 2016. The 100% levy increase to RM2,500 from the previous rate of RM1,250 for foreign construction workers is too much to bear by the employers. The increase has led to an outcry from industry players and NGOs saying that the move will affect workers and employers besides increasing the cost of doing business, and makes sourcing for labour more difficult. After listening to the appeal by various quarters, the Government finally agreed to hold the increase of levy but at the same time they are also freezing the recruitment of foreign workers indefinitely. I am of the opinion that this move will erode the country’s competitive edge and reduce our attractiveness to foreign investors.

MBAM will continue to keep members updated on this issues and will strive for the best solutions for our members and as well as the rest of the construction fraternity.


The representatives from MBAM, PKIM, PKMM, BMDAM, GBC and MACRA

During the press conference

On 3rd February 2016, MBAM held a joint press conference in Tan Sri Datuk Tee Hock Seng Conference Room where the industry urged the Government to immediately withdraw the hikes in foreign workers’ levy, to urgently review and simplify the entire registration process and to consider legalising illegal foreign workers already in the country as soon as possible.

MBAM was represented by Mr Foo Chek Lee, MBAM Deputy President, Mr Dennis Tan, MBAM Secretary-General, Mr Kwan Foh Kwai, MBAM Immediate Past President, Ir. Chuan Yeong Ming and Tan Sri AK Nathan, MBAM Vice Presidents, Mr Oliver Wee, MBAM Deputy Secretary-General 1, Mr Kenneth Liew, MBAM Council Member, Mr Mazlan Haron and Mr Ng Yee Ming, MBAM HR Committee Members and Ms Loh Mei Ling, MBAM Executive Director.

Other representatives include Mr Sukumar Subrayalu, President and Mr Kanthasamy Kaliappan, Secretary-General of Persatuan Kontraktor India Malaysia, Dato’ Hj Said Hj Mat Saman, Chairman, Guild of Bumiputra Contractors, Dato Sri’ Ricky Yaw, President, Malaysia Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Association (MACRA), Mr Yang Kian Lock, President and Mr Bill Lee, Vice President of Building Materials Distributors Association of Malaysia (BMDAM).


On 4th February 2016, MBAM Executive Director, Ms Loh Mei Ling and MBAM Manager, Ms Chai Min Fung had a meeting with the Directors of Vocational Education Training Academy (VETA) Sdn Bhd, Mr Eric Wong, and Mr Chang Aik Ming at MBAM Tan Sri Datuk Tee Hock Seng Conference Room.

Issues discussed in the meeting include:

  • VETA intends to collaborate with MBAM to provide job placements for its trainees at MBAM Members Companies.
  • To gather information on the top 10 most demanded construction skills trades.

VETA, located in Semenyih, Selangor, is a skills training Centre listed under the MOHR. It provides full training facilities and hostel for trainees. VETA conducts skills training Programme for Form 5 school leavers primarily in skills such as:

  • Welding
  • Automotive
  • WSO (World Safety Organisation) compliant OSH programme
  • Scaffolding Safety Erectors Training

The main sources of VETA operation funds comes from MARA, PTPTN, Tabung Pembangunan Kemahiran (MOHR), FELDA, and Selangor State Government. Graduates are required to pay back to the Government gradually after working for 6 months. Currently, graduates are attached to projects by Sapura Kencana, Hilton Hotel, Malaysian Marine Heavy Engineering (MMHE) and projects in the Iskandar region, Johor.


Representatives of Sarawak Convention Bureau, Ms Weini Tan and Mr Louis Dennis

MBAM Executive Director, Ms Loh Mei Ling presenting MBJ to SCB representatives as a token of appreciation

Representatives from the Sarawak Convention Bureau, Ms Weini Tan, Senior Business Development Executive and Mr Louis Dennis, Business Development Executive paid a courtesy visit to MBAM on 16th February 2016. The meeting was to promote Sarawak as the potential host venue for our upcoming international event namely the 44th International Federation of Asian and West Pacific Contractors’ Associations (IFAWPCA) Conference.  MBAM is set to host this prestigious event again in 2018 after the Association last hosted it back in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.  

It is estimated that the convention will attracts 500-600 foreign delegates into our country.  The Sarawak Convention Bureau has offered attractive incentives such as monetary grant, arrangement for international speakers, consultation and etc. should the event be hosted in Sarawak.  MBAM Secretariat will forward the proposal for the Organising Commiittee’s consideration. 



MBAM President, Mr Matthew Tee expressing his point of view during the discussion

During the meeting

A consultation meeting between the Ministry of Home Affairs (including Government regulators) and industry stakeholders was held on 16th February 2016 and was chaired by the Secretary-General of Ministry of Home Affairs, YBhg. Dato’ Sri Alwi bin Haji Ibrahim.  I was there representing MBAM together with MBAM Vice President cum Chairman of MBAM Human Resources Committee, Ir. Chuan Yeong Ming.  Over 100 attendees were present at the meeting, mainly representatives (approximately 25 attendees) from major NGOs in various sectors as well as officers from related Government regulators such as the Immigration Department of Malaysia.  All representatives who were present at the meeting were given an opportunity to raise their concern on the new levy structure which had caused adverse direct and indirect consequences to their businesses.   

The Chairman, YBhg Dato’ Sri Alwi highlighted that the increase of foreign levy is inevitable quoting the low levy structure adopted by the Malaysia Government compared to other countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.  Besides, he said that the new rates are justified as currently the foreign workers are enjoying local facilities.  Thus, the purpose of the consultation meeting was to seek input and consent from all industry sectors on the levy structure rate that can be accepted by all parties.  The business communities are to provide input on the new levy rate and legalization process of undocumented foreign workers to the Government by early March 2016. 



On 19th February 2016, MBAM Secretariat had a meeting with Ms Sherena Wong, Trade Fair Officer, Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MGCC) to discuss on the possibility of MBAM member to join the 31st Edition of BAUMA 2016 which is set to be held from 11th -17th April 2016 in Munich, Germany.  This exhibition is held once every three years in Germany. 

The MGCC invited MBAM members to be part of their delegation to Munich, Germany.  At the moment, they have 3 types of package for the delegates:-

The package prices are as follows:

Air-ticket (as of 22 Jan, subject to changes) Ground Package
KLM Royal Dutch @ RM4,064.90 Single Occupancy @ RM10,890.00
Emirates @ RM3,202.90 Twin Sharing @ RM6,890.00
Qatar Airways @ RM3,201.90 * ground arrangement includes: 4-nights’ accommodation/ hotel stay based on minimum 3-star hotel; daily breakfast, airport transfer; permanent pass to Bauma 2016, one dinner with 1 drink at Hofbrahaus, side programme, travel insurance


Currently, there are no incentives offered to MBAM to get our members to participate in the exhibition. MGCC also proposed for a joint collaboration for future trade fairs e.g Bauma Shanghai, 22nd-25th November 2016.  They will work out some incentives for MBAM to get the delegates to attend the fair e.g. offer 1 seat complimentary for MBAM Secretariat for every 10 or 15 delegates registered.



MBAM Secretary General, Mr Dennis Tan being interviewed by reporter from Astro AEC

MBAM Secretary General, Mr Dennis Tan presenting the MBAM 60th Anniversary Coffee Table Book as a token of appreciation

MBAM Secretary General, Mr Dennis Tan had an interview with ASTRO AEC on 21st February 2016 at Saujana Golf and Country Club on the suspension of intake of foreign workers. The interview gave MBAM the opportunity to share our views and to educate the viewers of ASTRO AEC on the latest trend and issues in the Malaysian construction industry. In the interview, Mr Dennis reiterated MBAM stand that suspending the intake of all foreign workers will most probably negatively impact the construction industry in the medium term, when new construction projects that requires new manpower are launched. It must be noted however that the Rehiring Programme which started on 15th February 2016 will not be affected as reportedly mentioned by Home Minister Secretary-General, Dato’ Sri Alwi Ibrahim on 19th February 2016.

The construction industry in Malaysia is perennially facing the issue of manpower shortages. The reliance on foreign workers are brought about by a number of factors such as the lack of locals joining the industry as well as the lack of incentive to increase mechanization and the usage of Industrialised Building System (IBS) and is not solely because the industry wanting cheap labour. The decision to suspend the intake of all foreign workers will exacerbate the shortage of manpower already affecting the construction industry.



Mr Ishak Nengah interacting actively with the participants

Group photo with the participant of the MBAM PR Training

MBAM Public Relations committee organized the first Training on Public Relations as a Tool to Build Businesses on 25th February 2016 at MBAM Training Centre. The training was conducted by the renowned communication practitioner, Mr Ishak Nengah who have over 40 years experiences under his belt. He is also a professional emcee and is one of the few who can emcee fluently both in Malay and English. This one-day seminar proved to be useful for MBAM Members in understanding the role of public relations and how to go about conducting it. The training was attended by 16 participants that came from various communications related backgrounds.



Chairman of MBAM Mechanical & Electrical Committee, Mr Kenneth Liew (2nd from left) with other participants inside the mock train

The participants group photo at the depot

The Mechanical & Electrical Committee organized a half-day on the job technical training visit to Sungai Buloh MRT Depot. The training was held with the aim to create awareness and enhance our members’ knowledge on M&E equipment, power equipment, signaling system, control system and trains. The MRT Sungai Buloh Depot will be the biggest train depot in Southeast Asia once construction is completed. It measures approximately 2km long and 0.5km wide. It will serve both the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line (SBK Line) and MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line (SSP Line).

A total of 58 trains will operate along the SBK Line, allowing a frequency of one train every 3.5minutes during peak hours. Each train, which is driverless, is made up of four cars. Each train has a total capacity of 1,200 passengers. The trains, which are supplied by Siemens of Germany, are completely assembled in Malaysia by SMH Rail Sdn Bhd in its plant in Rasa, Hulu Selangor. It is the first train to be fully assembled in Malaysia. There were a total of 23 people who participated in the training visit.


Matthew Tee


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