Our first edition of year 2018 features a bespectacled, stoic, friendly person called Datuk Ng Thien Phing, the founder and group managing director of SkyWorld Development Sdh Bhd. After catching the attention of the masses and various other property developers after establishing the SkyWorld Quality Centre, he took up the Malaysia Tatler team’s offer of shadowing him for a full day amidst his busy schedule. Here’s what we discovered about the man himself:

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<strong>Born to a poor family, his dream of becoming a property developer started very early</strong>

“I saw my mother work so hard to get a cheap house from the government, and she had to see various politicians, government officers and members of parliament. Whenever she had to go and see them she would take us and appeal, and tell them we had no money. So after about the 13th or 14th time, the government servant would look at us exasperatedly and say, ‘Ah, you again!’.”

After getting a rough-around-the-edges ‘cheap house’ – which cost RM25,000, it was already considered a goal.

“From there, I told myself that one day, I want to become a businessman and build houses.”

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<strong>He founded and ran his first company in a rented room</strong>

Driven by his need for innovation, love for forums, seminars and conferences as well as the understanding to build capital if he were to go down the development road; NTP World Forum, his first company, was founded in 1997, in the rented room of a three-bedroom house which he shared with a roommate.

Within a span of just three years, it had become the largest and one of the best in the country with clients such as Petronas, Matsushita, Hitachi, Suria KLCC, Sapura Holdings, and Bank Negara Malaysia. Innovative as he is with taking opportunities to build businesses, his end-game was the same.

“I still wanted to be a property developer. They didn’t even call it that during those days. All I knew was that I want to build houses,” he said.

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<strong>He then established NTP World Development Sdn Bhd, and rebranded it as SkyWorld</strong>

Their first project was launched in 2014 in the form of Ascenda Residences at SkyArena, Setapak – which had just finished its handover.

The 28-acre SkyArena development is part of an integrated city development boasting the first multi-storey sports complex in Setapak which will be set in a 2-acre lush environment. Phase 1 of SkyArena, called Ascenda Residences, achieved an exceptional 98% take-up.

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<strong>He takes purchasers&rsquo; feedback very seriously</strong>

He visits the management office frequently to speak to the handover team and review progress.

“I am proudest of SkyWorld’s quality – and its pledge to upkeep it,” he said. “I spoke to my friend, Peter on a house he purchased; he told me that he had bought a doghouse. I was confused at what he had said. He explained that the brochures were amazing, everything looked good, but when he received the house, the walls were uneven, the tiles were not straight and there were a lot of problems.”

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<strong>He is adamant about quality, which some property developers may not focus too much on</strong>

“First things first—go for standards, CIDB (Construction Industry Development Board) standards, QLASSIC or CONQUAS Singapore (CONQUAS being the acronym for Construction Quality Assessment),” he explained. “Get third parties to audit your products and you’ll have no room to play around.”

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<strong>He believes in making purchasers feel special</strong>

One thing we noticed about the recently finished Ascenda Residences was its luxuriously polished looks, but found that it was, surprisingly, affordable.

“That’s the thing! I always explain it this way. Not many people can buy a BMW. But if you can package say, a Vios, with some elements of BMW, people can still feel great about it. That’s what I’m trying to do with these properties. I want to emphasise on the feeling and experience.” He then walked us through the handover centre, where souvenirs from SkyWorld and a photo booth await—again, something uncommon in an affordable condominium area. “I want to surprise the buyers, and make them feel special. That really makes a difference.”

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<strong>He really appreciates his team, and is not afraid to tell everyone</strong>

He knew that although there was land, the toughest part was looking for the right people. “What I was, and still am, most afraid of is that I don’t have good people to work with and for me,” he confessed. “But I am thankful that I have such a great team.”

He often catches up with his staff, chatting as if they are good friends instead of the typical employer-employee relationship often seen in prominent companies. Occasional shoulder massages are also given in lieu of a generic ‘good job’, or a ‘mamak’ session would follow after work arguments to ensure no hard feelings remain.

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<strong>He was responsible for the opening of SkyWorld&rsquo;s Quality Centre</strong>

“RM3.8 million worth of an investment just to educate people on the quality of what they’re purchasing,” said Datuk Ng, when asked to describe the centre.

The aim here was to show that the property that SkyWorld offers, not only looks good, but also feels good and functions well. This is how serious they are about quality, so much so that they constructed this Quality Centre. And it is completely open to the public to scrutinise and experience. Two sets of each demonstration are on display (for example, tiles)—one would be a regular one, and the other quality-compliant. This way, purchasers know exactly what they are getting, and how to spot any error should there be any.

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<strong>He hopes that purchasers will remember SkyWorld for its offer of quality</strong>

“I believe in one thing. Wealthy people can buy 10 houses and not know where their penthouse is. But for other people, they can maybe only buy just one house in their lifetime. If you don’t give them the best quality since day one, they will stay there for many decades and curse you all the time,” he said. “So when their salaries increase, or they get promoted… when they buy a second house, I want them to think of SkyWorld, because the quality is good even if it’s just RM300,000.”

Each of SkyWorld’s property developments are given the QLASSIC certification. They’re one of a select few that can give affordable homes such a certification (especially a QLASSIC one at that).

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<strong>He has a peculiar hobby, which he thinks people would consider boring, but is very productive for him</strong>

Datuk Ng’s hobby is looking for land, wherein he drives up to empty plots of land or hills to survey, before imagining what could and should be built there.

“Sometimes I disappear to find a plot of land and just contemplate. My wife says I’m very boring!” he added with a laugh. Each to his own, but his passion was infectious. He also said, if one doesn’t think of their work as a chore, but rather as a passion, one would enjoy doing it.


Grab our January 2018 issue, featuring Datuk Ng Thien Phing, for the full story of the Malaysia Tatler team tailing him for one full day, or subscribe to our digital issue here.

In case you missed it, check out our December 2017's behind the scenes video of Tunku Dato' Yaacob Khyra and Tunku Elana Khyra here. 

Photography: Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler & SkyWorld
Makeup: Joey Yap
Locations: Dome Cafe & BLVD House