Management changes at Far East

PHOTO: Management changes at Far East

SINGAPORE - Far East Organisation is making some changes to its management line-up as key man Chia Boon Kuah prepares to leave the firm in January next year.

Chief among the changes is the appointment of Shaw Lay See, currently director of property sales at Far East, as the successor to Mr Chia's position as chief operating officer (COO) of property sales.

BT understands that Ms Shaw will report to Augustine Tan, executive director of property sales at the group. Mr Tan will provide strategic counsel and leadership in developing the team's management capabilities.

Previously, Mr Chia - who is also an executive director at Far East - reported to group CEO Philip Ng. As COO, Mr Chia has been responsible for the business planning and positioning of the sale of Far East's residential, commercial and industrial properties, and the steering of its marketing activities regionally and locally.

When contacted by BT, Far East confirmed the changes, which will officially kick in when Mr Chia leaves for Guocoland next year.

Last Friday, Guocoland announced that current head honcho Quek Chee Hoon is retiring from the company after 15 years, and will leave his post on Jan 31 next year. Mr Quek told BT that he was diagnosed with early-stage kidney cancer last year, and has received treatment but wants to "take things easy".

Ms Shaw has spent 10 years with Far East, during which she has been involved with its serviced apartments and leasing business before becoming a director in its property sales team. Like Mr Chia, she worked at Singapore Airlines before joining the property developer.

Sources in the property market whom BT spoke to say that Ms Shaw has played a major role behind the scenes in helping Far East with its residential sales in the last few years.

Said one market player, who declined to be named: "Lay See, working under Boon Kuah, has played a key role in helping Far East achieve a lot of the good sales it has seen in the last three years or so."

Far East has been the top seller of private homes in Singapore in the last few years. Last year, it topped the table with 2,181 transactions - accounting for about 10 per cent of the 22,290 new homes sold, with The Hillier in Hillview and Watertown in Punggol among its star projects.

BT understands that Far East is also looking to strengthen its administrative processes, and will name Oh Thay Lee, currently its group general manager and director of corporate affairs, as group director of administration from Nov 1.

The latter is a newly created title which includes oversight in Far East's overseas administrative operations such as in Indonesia and China.

As he takes on the new title, Mr Oh will relinquish his responsibilities at corporate affairs to better focus on boosting Far East's processes. His position at corporate affairs will be taken over by Edwin Koh, currently the department's deputy director.

Far East's decision to strengthen its administration capabilities comes amid its expansion both locally and regionally, and the need therefore to ensure that its backroom systems are in place to keep up with the expansion.

Much of the expansion involves its hospitality operations. Just last week, Far East Hospitality Management said that it will launch three Singapore hotels over the next three months. These are the Village Hotel Katong in the Marine Parade/East Coast area, Amoy at Far East Square in the Chinatown/

CBD area, and a relaunch of the Rendezvous Grand Hotel in the Bras Basah area - which Far East Hospitality Trust (FEHT) acquired recently from The Straits Trading Company.

Far East Hospitality is the hospitality management arm of main board-listed Far East Orchard (FEOrchard). Far East owns about 52 per cent of units in FEHT.

In August this year, a 70:30 joint venture company between FEOrchard and The Straits Trading Company completed its 50:50 joint venture with Australia-based Toga Group, expanding Far East Hospitality's portfolio to 72 properties and 10,600 rooms under management.

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