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Statement By Datuk Michelle Ong, CEO Of KAJ Development Sdn Bhd And Founder Of Melaka Gateway

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Good afternoon,

I am Michelle Ong and I am the founder of KAJ Development who came up with the Melaka Gateway project which I created from scratch and made it into a sustainable project which I believe will be a lasting legacy to benefit the rakyat and future generations.

Let me share with you now how and why I came up with this project, a vision that many people fell in love with. I am uniquely qualified to share this with you, having come up with idea it in the first place.

I am a simple person, I grew up in a small kampung called Kuala Pilah. My late father was nicknamed “Panjang”. He used to earn just 30 ringgit taking photographs for Malay weddings to take care of my family of 6 brothers and sisters who lived in just one room while my mum used to sew pants for 7 cents each for extra income.

Coming from such humble beginnings, I wanted to make sure my family would be comfortable when I grew up. With this enterprising spirit, my family and I built up a company that has generated billions for Malaysia over the last 4 decades, with exports to Australia, Asia, South America, Middle East and more.

With such an achievement, anyone else would have been happy to retire comfortably. But I am at an age where I want to create more opportunities for the next generation. I feel sad when I go to the mall and see our young people only having opportunities to sell DVDs some time ago, or phone accessories today. They have the potential to do so much more if only they get the opportunity and I want to give them that opportunity.

I have a dream for Malaysia, which has now become known as the Melaka Gateway project – which I believe when I build this, will create a beautiful picture for the future generation. I want to leave a legacy for Malaysia and its people to highlight how great Malaysia is if we dare to dream.

We need as a nation to dream bigger to achieve our full potential. We have the potential to achieve a lot more, and I wanted the people of Melaka to have better opportunities, beyond just tourism.

The strategic advantage of the Straits of Melaka is that it sits on major shipping and trading routes but we are NOT taking advantage of this huge potential.

Before I got to this stage, I was already sponsoring children who had potential by paying for their education, providing them with the necessary support to start-up businesses and even helping those who went on Hajj.

Thinking hard, how much more I could help them, my idea grew to become a sustainable mega project. It would raise the profile of Melaka on the world map. And when I presented my idea at the World Bank Summit, people came up to me and said “I would like to invest in your project” before I even started actual groundwork.

When I came back and presented my Melaka Gateway project idea to the Malaysian government, they saw the potential of my project to bring development to Melaka such that it could become the new mega catalyst for development in the country. Potentially making Melaka the number one or number two economic contribution to the nation’s GDP, equal to or possibly exceeding Selangor or Penang in the next 10 years or so.

The project has been endorsed as a national project by two of our ex-prime ministers from both sides. If the project did not have the potential to benefit Malaysians, this would not be so.

My Melaka Gateway project is something that I have invested my heart and soul in over the years. Many of the investors that I have spoken to have committed billions of US dollars because they believe in me being able to execute this project to become the glorious potential that they can see for Melaka and Malaysia.

I’d like to share what one of our loyal investors told me. Dr Charlie In of Raffles Financial said “We are proud to be associated with this prestigious initiative to make Melaka a significant oil and gas hub and cruise liners preferred port-of-call in the heart of the RCEP region.”

The most important factor for me was to make sure this is not a white elephant and I had to prove this Melaka Gateway project would start generating income even before its major components come into realization and I have proven it is possible. So that anything that happens from now on for this Melaka Gateway project is my responsibility and all the investors are committed to me and remain unchanged.

Still, I didn’t expect so many problems along the way. I am strong enough to face it but why do I have to face this when it’s something good for Melaka and the Country. It’s painful. It’s very painful.

What has given me comfort enduring this time is the trust and support I have received from my family, my colleagues and my local & international investors. However I fail to understand why it is so hard for others to also share in this vision when I am trying so hard to bring huge benefit to our fellow Malaysians?

For example, there have been many other land reclamation projects in Melaka, some of them have been in place for many years before us but we are going much further to build an eco-system.
When I first started this project I was guided by the principles where the past presents the future. Historically the strategic location Melaka has allowed it to be a key centre of trade spanning the Middle East, India & China.

Restoring Melaka as a centre of international trade is our destiny but in order to achieve this in today’s world, what is essential is an ecosystem. If I had merely done land reclamation, it would not have worked.

It is with this project that we will be able to shift Melaka from a predominantly weekend economy to a 365 days economy.

Gross Development Value: 68 billion ringgit

The number of jobs we’ll create: 40,000 – 45,000 over the next 10 years

Contribution to Malaysia’s GDP by 2030: 125 billion ringgit

Multiplier Effect An astounding: 1.188 trillion ringgit

Having spent close to a decade planning and nurturing this project, I realised my vision also needed validation from experts. I have spent close to a billion ringgit getting all kinds of studies done by international experts and let me quote to you what one study by PWC Asia, Ernst & Young JLL (Hong Kong), Deloitte (Malaysia) and Broadway Malyan (London) had concluded:

There are so many more reasons why I should be the right person to continue this project but more importantly, I’m doing it because I want to make a difference for the benefit of our people and our country, profit alone doesn’t interest me because I have already achieved that.

It’s important to have a legacy we can all be proud of. So I implore the federal and state government to give me the opportunity to continue this because I believe that it will be very difficult for anyone else to catch up quickly. Let me steer it to the glory I had envisioned.

Thank you.

 

Also read: Melaka Zoo Has a White Tigress Named Elsa & We Can’t Let It Go

Melaka Zoo Has a White Tigress Named Elsa & We Can't Let It Go - WORLD OF BUZZ 2


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