Tan Sri Dato’ Low Keng Huat age 83 years, is the Chairman of Low Keng Huat Singapore Limited. He was also the Executive Deputy Chairman of General Corporation Berhad. Tan Sri Dato’ Low had successfully turned his business into two public-listed companies namely General Corporation Berhad which was listed on Bursa Malaysia and Low Keng Huat Singapore Limited which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Singapore. General Corporation Berhad had businesses in construction, property development and investment, and motorcycles and shoes distribution. General Corporation Berhad was privatised in 2010 and the businesses are now operated by Low Keng Huat Berhad. Low Keng Huat Singapore Limited is prominently involved in construction activities, property development and investments as well as hotels in Singapore and regionally.
Tan Sri Dato’ Low came from a humble beginning. His education was interrupted by the Second World War, and as a result, he had only a few years of formal schooling. Nevertheless, through sheer determination and hard work, he made outstanding progress to become one of Malaysia’s most successful builders. Tan Sri Dato’ Low, with his charming ways, married the beautiful Puan Sri Dato’ Molly Low and they have four children Florence,Christine, Winnie and Dato’ Marco and 10 grandchildren. Tan Sri Dato’ Low was bestowed with the title of Tan Sri on 2 June 1982 in recognition of his achievements in business and his contributions to society, and had the distinction of being the youngest Tan Sri at the age of 49 years at that time.
Tan Sri Dato’ Low started his construction business together with his three brothers under the name of Low Keng Huat Construction (LKH) in 1957. LKH started small, taking on projects like building extensions, renovations, alterations and other minor works. But the company soon progressed to major construction jobs in the 1960s as it gained a strong reputation for its high quality works and services. And by the 1970s, LKH earned the enviable reputation as one of the biggest builders cum real estate developers in Malaysia and Singapore and the LKH brand became synonymous with high quality construction works.
An important factor that had contributed to LKH’s rapid growth is the calibre of its people. Tan Sri Dato’ Low firmly believes that the employees are the company’s source of strength. LKH made substantial investment in human resource development, building up team spirit among its staff, mechanisation of construction processes and provision of safety features and practices. LKH was the first builder to discard the ‘kepala’ system by employing workers directly. This gave LKH direct control over its manpower which enabled it to complete its projects according to schedule and with stringent quality controls.
Tan Sri Dato’ Low served as President of the Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) from 1972 to 1979 and MBAM Immediate Past President from 1980-1988. In recognition of his services to MBAM, Tan Sri Dato’ Low was awarded the MBAM Gold Service Award on 26 June 1988 and conferred an Honorary Life President on 18 September 2015. Other accolades received by Tan Sri Dato’ Low include the 2013 The Brand Laureate Man of the Year Brand ICON Leadership Award.
A stalwart in the Construction Industry, Tan Sri Dato’ Low often articulated the challenges faced by industry members and channelled them to the appropriate parties and authorities to look into solving these issues. Industry concerns such as employment of foreign workers, approved permits for machinery import and price of building materials have been brought to the attention of the authorities and ministries. Tan Sri Dato’ Low via the MBAM, also assisted in educating members and preparing them through various training programmes, workshops and short courses. In 1973 under Tan Sri Dato’ Low’s leadership, MBAM succeeded in persuading the Government to include a fluctuation clause for cement and steel in Government contracts due to the 1973 construction price spiral. This was based on international practices which enabled contractors to be compensated in the event of a price spiral. Tan Sri Dato’ Low also led a MBAM delegation to the International Federation of Western Pacific Contractors Associations (IFAWCPA) 14th Convention in Seoul, South Korea.
Tan Sri Dato’ Low is a firm believer that determination and hard work are essential criteria to become a successful entrepreneur in Malaysia, a land of many opportunities.