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Knight Frank Malaysia wins Real Estate Category at the Malaysia International Business Awards

Knight Frank Malaysia facilitated the introduction of professionally managed workers accommodations in Klang Valley, driving the ESG agenda in the Malaysian industrial real estate ecosystem.

Knight Frank Malaysia celebrates its 20th anniversary this year as the leading independent property consultancy. Being part of the global network of more than 300 offices internationally, Knight Frank Malaysia has built its strategy around providing quality services and solutions to clients, understand clients’ needs and going beyond the mere premise of basic professional service. 

Evident of the drive to go the extra mile, Knight Frank pushed beyond traditional real estate to introduce the very first professionally managed workers accommodation in Klang Valley, securing them the Malaysia International Business Awards 2022 trophy in the Real Estate category for the project’s effectiveness and overall impact to larger community.

The Malaysia International Business Awards 2022, presented by Singapore Business Review, is now in its fourth year of giving recognition to the most outstanding initiatives of international firms in Malaysia. The program recognises the biggest companies in Malaysia for their hard work and dedication that significantly enhanced their business.

Introduction of Professionally Managed Workers Accommodation (PBWA) in Klang Valley

Since the 1980s, the manufacturing and industrial sector has underpinned the Malaysian economy as an important contributor to our GDP growth and this has consequently spurred the increase of foreign workers population within the country. However even with a large number of close to 2 million registered foreign workers as at end of 2019, the living conditions of these population have always been a neglected area in the constant pursue of economic growth.

The unsanitary and cramped living conditions of these foreign workers have been the cause of many hygiene and social issues for neighbourhoods close to industrial areas. More recently in early 2020, these very same deplorable conditions gave rise to COVID clusters that fuelled the spread of the pandemic in the country, warranting the first few Enhanced Movement Control Orders (EMCOs) being enforced at buildings used predominantly as worker quarters i.e. Selangor Mansion, Malayan Mansion, etc.

The Knight Frank team felt a strong conviction towards matters related to workers housing as it is an integral part of the industrial real estate ecosystem. However, there is significant gap in the market with no ready immediate managed dormitory that manufacturers can tap into. As such, the team collectively and decisively manifested their strong conviction into actionable steps by playing the part to address the bottleneck within industry with the introduction of the very first professionally managed workers accommodation within Klang Valley – by securing the largest international provider of professionally managed workers accommodation in Singapore & Malaysia – Centurion Westlite to manage c. 6,000 beds of Purpose-Built Workers Accommodation (PBWA) in partnership with the state development arm of Selangor (PKNS) within Petaling Jaya.

Knight Frank’s CSR drive in combating COVID and promoting ESG

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the immediate origination of new PBWA supply provided the necessary tools for immediate COVID management and business continuity plans. Companies and industrialist now have a better avenue to flatten the pandemic curve associated with foreign labour population by reducing concentration risks. Industrialists can strategize to move their workers into different portions of managed accommodations to diversify concentration risks associated to any single dwelling unit / plant. Any COVID infections can be detected and quarantined immediately to avoid further spread, and accordingly business continuity of the rest of the units remained unaffected.

With companies’ relocation of their workers into PBWA, the existing residential schemes used to accommodate previous workers housing can be alleviated from additional risks of COVID spread and create a barrier of distance to eliminate risks of infections between the manufacturing plants and residential communities.

In the longer-term view, the introduction of sustainable and equitable housing solutions to foreign workers via professionally managed purpose-built workers accommodation (PBWA) in substitute of present haphazardly managed / cramped housing is Knight Frank Malaysia’s way of driving the environment, social, and governance (ESG) agenda.

Elevating the Malaysian industrial landscape to compete in the global arena

Knight Frank Malaysia envisions the provision of equitable workers housing through PBWA will elevate Malaysia industrial landscape to be ready to receive more foreign direct investments (FDIs), especially from multinational corporations (MNCs) that pride themselves in ethical supply chain sourcing and ESG initiatives.

With the current climate and global changes, ESG is gaining significant momentum as an important investment evaluation tool alongside financial factors. Progressive workers’ welfare, including equitable workers’ accommodation, will gain stride as part of the ESG agenda. With PBWA, Malaysia now can offer the complete ecosystem which manufacturers and industrialists prioritize when making country selection and investment decisions – further solidifying Malaysia as an attractive investment destination in Asia.

Paving the way for more PBWA via exemplary working model

With the introduction of successful PBWA working model spearheaded by the state development arm of Selangor in partnership with Centurion - this will accelerate industry awareness and serve as model to be replicated throughout Klang Valley and Malaysia. This very PBWA project has been referenced and studied as part of the formulation of new regulations governing future PBWA developments.

Whilst Knight Frank Malaysia will continue to play their part to advocate the need and importance of proper and professionally managed workers dormitories in the future of our economy. A bespoke publication highlighting The Changing Landscape of Workers’ Accommodation was produced as part of this meaningful effort.

For more information: www.knightfrank.com.my 

To access Knight Frank’s Workers Accommodation publication: https://www.knightfrank.com.my/research/malaysia-workers-accommodation-report-2021-8618.aspx?search-id=01e403e5-2a7b-4c71-8afb-3248ffb275c2&report-id=2348&rank=

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