Ting Pek Khiing once again making waves

Ting Pek Khiing, who impressed Mahathir in 1991 when he built the Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort in 100 days.

(FMT) – Renowned developer Ting Pek Khiing made headlines again yesterday with news that he would be embarking on a multi-billion ringgit development project in Langkawi.

Given that he has been laying low for the past 16 years, younger Malaysians may not be familiar with his story. But in the 1990s, Ting was one of the country’s best-known developers.

He was born into a poor family in 1945 in Bintagor, near Sibu. In his teens, he helped his father sell fruits in various towns in Sarawak.

Before long, he ventured into the construction industry, starting as a subcontractor doing small jobs. He gained a reputation for efficiency and hard work and eventually caught the eye of former Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud.

In 1991, ahead of the first Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace expo, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was the prime minister at the time, was said to be looking for a developer who could quickly build a five-star hotel on the island. 

It was said that Taib recommended Ting to Mahathir. He managed to build the Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort in just 100 days and this impressed Mahathir.

In 1994, his company, Ekran Bhd, secured what was dubbed the “deal of the century”, the RM15 billion Bakun hydroelectric dam and transmission project. The idea was for electricity to be generated in Sarawak for use in the state and also to be transmitted to Peninsular Malaysia.

But the project was plagued by various issues and was badly hit by the Asian financial crisis.

Ting also owned a 33% stake in Wembley Industries Holdings Bhd, which was the shareholder for Plaza Rakyat Sdn Bhd. That company was involved in the construction of the Plaza Rakyat skyscraper complex but the project stalled in 1998 and was subsequently abandoned.

In the ensuing years, it was reported that both Ekran and Wembley ended up in receivership. It was also reported in 2010 that Ting was declared bankrupt by the KL High Court.

Yesterday, Ting disclosed that the Langkawi New City project was expected to cost around RM30 billion. It will be located on 81ha of reclaimed land off the west side of the island.

The project is expected to be launched today and will be undertaken by Ting’s group of companies. He declined to name the companies.

He said the project would involve the construction of 30,000 high-end condominium units, commercial centres, berthing facilities for ocean liners and yachts and other facilities.