Saturday, 17th August 2019,7:28:32pm

President's Speech

First and foremost, having just been passed this responsibility and literally, this heavy chain of office from my predecessor, I must again thank all my fellow architects and friends here who have supported me and voted for me in this closely fought elections with the highest voter turnout in PAM’s history. I am honoured and humbled to stand before you today as PAM President and I renew my pledge today to do my very best for my collegues, for the profession and for our community and nation for whom, all architects ultimately serve.

Thank you everyone for taking time to attend our PAM Awards & Annual Dinner this evening – it’s a Full house of over 700 architects & friends. We are especially grateful to Deputy Minister of Defense, YB Senator Liew Chin Tong for being our Guest of Honor, in this busy final Raya festive weekend. It’s the first time, a Minister of Defense is gracing our Architects’ gathering.

But most important for me today, we are in the throes of a New Malaysia. And it is with deep belief and hope in the promise and vision of the New Malaysia, that I ran for the PAM President’s post. I feel an even greater sense of responsibility and urgency for PAM President and Council at this time.

Because today we live in a unique window in our nation’s history, with a more inclusive, fearless and action driven political leaders at the helm of the New Malaysia. It is a window for driving transformative change. This is the time for PAM to seize the moment, backed by facts, figures, to call on policymakers in our still new Government, to address urgent global agenda the primary of which includes climate change, depleting natural sources, the threatened natural environment as well as built environment challenged by intense urban migration and population growth, increasingly inflation of basic necessities of food and shelter, unemployment and underemployment. These global challenges are equally real in Malaysia.

The culture of transformative change in Malaysia is also an ooportune time for us in the architects community, to resolve long-standing obstacles to improve our practice environment and sustain the well-being of our architects.

Architecture and National Defense may seem a world apart but Perhaps not. While YB Senator Liew ensures the security and well-being of our Country & Citizens, our Architects also ensures the well-being of our People through creating good places to live, work, play, to Learn and to Grow - homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, parks, airports, train stations, places for commerce & tourism - all of which make up our towns and cities in Malaysia, which are highly regarded in development rankings, a formidable achievement especially in consideration of our national per capita income.

Architects do believe good architecture and city planning is a key foundation to building a quality of life, uplifting the happiness factor and creating a cohesive, resilient community and ultimately, a Proud and strong Nation.

On top of that, great design and enlightened clients will give us a world renown skyline and national icons, which we indeed have in Kuala Lumpur, the making of a worldclass . Putrajaya is also a global standard for a new city built from scratch in a short few years from a greenfield site of plantations. Penang is a exemplary benchmark for a vibrant, heritage-driven city tourism economy instantly making good on its UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Spearheaded then and again today, by the vision of our indomitable PM, Tun Mahathir- - - who by the way, is an Honorary Fellow of our Institute of Architects - our Architects, engineers, contractors, tradesmen and workers – today cumultatively form a formidable economic resource and productive force for our country.

Value of our Architects services is 1/800 of the GDP while the ratio of architects of Architect to population is 1 in 15,000 people in Malaysia. Meaning our output to the national ecnomy is about 20X more if compared to the per capita population.

Not just ensuring the well-being of the public through safe, efficient and inspiring buildings, statistics show that in Malaysia, Architects rank highest among the professions, surpassing lawyers, engineers, accountants in job creation performance where 1 architect generates 4.2 jobs, about 4x more compared to lawyers – I hope there are few in the hall.

Our architects are talented and bold, Highly-skilled, and most importantly highly experienced, but quite unarguably, an underpaid industry despite our acheivements as a profession and part of the vibrant construction industry. Yet the reality is the salaries of architects have stagnated at less than 0.5% growth per annum, in the past decade despite the leaps of progress made in building our towns and cities.

I do hope that is not why from the low wages in our profession , that we as a nation are ranked globally as the 22nd Most competitive economy in the world.

In any case, we see that the main cause of the inequitable remuneration is the lack of compliance to our regulated Scale of Minimum fees. Thus we shall make renewed and concerted efforts working alongside our Board of Architects Malaysia to address this widespread and long-standing problem.

The city of Kuala Lumpur as we experience it today is comparable, certainly not far from when you are in Singapore or Melbourne, in amenities and quality of the urban environment, yet we built our cities to this high quality level even though our average income per capita in Malaysia is half of Singapore or half of the city of Melbourne.

Today’s free trade pacts and increasingly borderless services are putting severe pressure on our Architects profession. Architetcs are often accused of perpetrating monopolistic practices when in fact, these have been granted by our Malaysian laws, through the Architetcs Act 1967 that regulates minimum fees, mind you, not to enrich Architects but to ensure that sufficient resources and professional expertise is put into the design and construction of building structures so that they are safe and conducive for their users. Recent deregulation of building permits processes in other countries appears to be now creating gaps in building safety standards as seen in recent fire catastrophes in UK and Australia.

I’ve been told in the last few weeks, quite regrettably, that I’m only the 2nd woman PAM President in our 100 year old history. PAM celebrates our centennial next year in 2020. But more meaningful for me is that this year, PAM achieved the national 30% target for women leadership with an unprecedented 30% women, 9 out of 27 in our PAM Council this year.

I thank my fellow architects in delivering the national target and you can be assured that you will see and you are already seeing this year, a different PAM determined to reach out to women, to all genders, to those with special needs and especially to the younger Future Architects who will continue the task of community-builing, and of nation-building of which Architects profession is a vital player, as a leader in the building industry, although often the Unsung Heroes and heroines.

In line with this, you will notice this year, that I have initiated a several new committees for PAM. This is to rally our architects community and to reinforce PAM’s commitment, to build our architects’ advocacy role and leadership in these criticial national and global agenda.

The new initiatives are:

  • Sustainability, Climate Change & New Urban Agenda Committee
  • Community & Social Responsibility Committee - with its tagline of We Build, We Care
  • Promotion of Profession Committee
  • Research & Futures Committee
  • Gender Equity Special Committee
  • and the Taskforce for Scale of Minimum Fees.

Conincidentally or not, most of these are led by our new women Council Members. I do ask many of you here to come to PAM in our inspiring new home, the GBI Platinum-rated PAM cnetre to help our Council to work on these issues for the common benefit and well-being of not just oru professin but for our community and nation.

PAM Architecture Excellence Award 2019

I also wish to congratulate all the shortlisted and winners of this year’s PAM’s Design Excellence Awards which will be announced later. Our annual PAM awards are a testimony of the skills and expertise, talent and the passion for design and dedication to craft of our architects community here in Malaysia - you will see that is evident in every awarded project.

Awards are crucial in recognizing excellence and achievement and together, to participants and winners for their efforts in this important agenda to give further recognition and hence value to our profession.

KLAF 2019

Before ending, I wish to congratulate this year’s Festival Director Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun and his dedicated team of volunteers for this years’s outstanding Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival happening now until 7 July, a vibrant thoughtprovoking and inspiring journey that telescopes on issues of basic shelter, food security and sustainability of the planet and our lives on Earth as we know it today, in the face of depleting natural resources, climate change, urban migration, humanitrian crisis and natural catasptrophes, which compels us to focus and commit towards a sustainable and innovative future.

The festival throws a lens on what everyone from young to old, from the able to the special needs, professionals and lay public, to do our individual bit to embrace living practices and working policies in our jobs and businesses that are kinder to the Earth and minimise negative impact to the environment.

I also thank the previous PAM President and Council for their dedication and efforts which allow us to move further forward to newer directions.

Finally and very importantly, as I stand dhumbly befor e you as the newly elected PAM President, and in the spirit of Hari Raya Maaf Zahir Batin, I would like to extend appeal for everyone to close ranks in the aftermath of a closely-fought elections. It is indeed my first duty as PAM President, as it is the duty of every PAM President, to briidge the divide and bring everyone together to be a united, respectful and harmonious community and profession –so we ca indeed take the lead to work together for the betterment of the built environment, our villages, towns and cities, to serve our community and nation.

Ar Lillian Tay Wai Fun
President (2019-2020), Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia