Thursday, 13th August 2020,1:53:11pm

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 colleagues, for the profession and for our community and nation for whom, all architects ultimately serve.

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 resources, the threatened natural environment as well as the 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 opportune 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.

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-renowned skyline and national icons, which we indeed have in Kuala Lumpur, the making of a world-class. Putrajaya is also a global standard for a new city built from scratch in a short few years from a green field site of plantations. Penang is an 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 cumulatively form a formidable economic resource and productive force for our country.

Value of our architect’s services is 1/800 of the GDP while the ratio of architects to population is 1 in 15,000 people in Malaysia. Meaning our output to the national economy is about 20 times 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 4 times more compared to lawyers.

Our architects are talented and bold, highly skilled, most importantly highly experienced, but quite unarguably, an underpaid industry despite our achievements 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. Architects are often accused of perpetrating monopolistic practices when in fact, these have been granted by our Malaysian laws, through the Architects 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 quite regrettably, that I’m only the second female PAM President in the 100-year-old history of the profession in Malaysia. But more meaningful for me is that this year, PAM achieved the national target for women leadership with an unprecedented 30%, 9 women 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-building, 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 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 critical 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.

Coincidentally 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 center to help our Council to work on these issues for the common benefit and well-being of not just our profession but for our community and nation.

PAM Architecture Excellence Award 2019

I wish to congratulate all the shortlisted and winners of this year’s PAM Design Excellence Awards. Our annual PAM awards is 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 achievements of participants and winners for their efforts in this important agenda, to give further recognition and hence value to our profession.

KLAF 2019

I also wish to congratulate this year’s Festival Director Ar. Dr Tan Loke Mun and his dedicated team of volunteers for this year’s outstanding Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival, a vibrant thought-provoking and inspiring journey that telescopes on issues of basic shelter, food security, 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, humanitarian crisis and natural catastrophes, it 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 humbly before you as the newly elected PAM President, and in spirit I would like to extend appeal for everyone to close ranks in the aftermath of a closely fought election. It is indeed my first duty as PAM President, as it is the duty of every PAM President, to bridge the divide and bring everyone together to be a united, respectful and harmonious community and profession – so we can 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
President (2019-2020), Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia