SP Setia uses ECO approach

Top property developer SP Setia Bhd set up a Corporate Responsibility Think Tank late last year to map out a long-term strategy towards fulfilling its corporate social responsibilities.

For years, everyone in the public-listed group, from the directors to the most junior employees, have been involved in community work, preserving the environment and nurturing a caring community.

The best part is that staff members enjoy their voluntary work, with many even performing at the company’s annual dinner and other functions.

Chief operating officer Datuk Voon Tin Yow said the group believes the time is ripe to take its social activism to the next level. “Our aspirations as a responsible corporate citizen can be summed up in a single statement: Building Sustainable Communities for All.”

Voon said the group’s activities and approach were reflected in the acronym “ECO” where “E” stands for environment, “C” for community and “O” for organisation.

Environment: Its focus is on the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – and it pledges to never develop projects on environmentally sensitive land.

It recently held a 13-week long Setia Indah Recycling Campaign initiated by Setia Indah Residence Club, Southern Waste Management (SWM) and the Johor Baru City Council. Some 1,200 residents turned up every week with old newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles and aluminium cans to exchange for cash.

Voon said 34 tonnes of material were collected during the campaign and SWM paid out RM9,348 to the residents.

“We take into consideration how our developments could impact the environment. For example, at Setia Eco-Park we try not to cut too much of the terrain but keep as much to the original contours as possible. We also try not to disturb the eco-system and change the drainage system too much,” he added.

Other efforts include designing offices that are energy-efficient such as the new Setia Corporate Tower and the Setia Eco Gardens sales office.

It also observes Earth Day 2008 at Setia Eco Gardens with a carnival, nature excursions and exhibition. It has also introduced energy-efficient homes and preserved the biodiversity and created living environments in projects such as Setia Eco-Park in Shah Alam and Setia Eco Gardens in Johor Baru.

Community: SP Setia prides itself in being a developer of communities where people can live in harmony and interact closely with one another. With plenty of amenities, residents can “live, learn, work, play” in the same township.

In the case of its 4,000-acre Setia Alam in Selangor, the company has set aside some 200 acres for a commercial centre and amenities for the residents. In the adjacent Setia Eco-Park, it is building some 3,000 high-end homes and even built a link to the North Klang Valley Expressway.

“We also take into consideration the travel patterns of the residents and plan our development in such a way that residents do not generate too many trips. All our projects have amenities such as parks, schools, a sports academy and shopping malls. We also invest heavily to provide top-notch infrastructure for all our projects,” Voon said.

Its biggest contribution to society is via SP Setia Foundation, a charity trust established in January 2000 to provide financial assistance to needy individuals and charitable bodies.

A core activity of the foundation is the Setia Adoption Programme that has adopted 2,300 students of all races from 119 primary schools.

The programme provides school bags, stationery, school uniforms, books, school fees, canteen meals, and tuition fees worth RM700 to RM800 per pupil annually up to Year 6. A series of holistic activities like home visits, holiday camps, UPSR motivation camps, dialogues with parents and excellence awards night are organised under the programme.

Voon said the foundation had raised RM35.5mil since 2000, with group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin personally donating RM300,000 a year. The group alone donates RM1.5mil a year to charity.

The foundation has spent over RM11.6mil in the Setia Adoption Programme from 2000 to 2007. In 2003, the programme was extended to secondary education where straight A scorers in the UPSR examination would each receive RM1,000 a year. At present the group has adopted 168 such pupils.

Organisation: Hewitt Associates, Asian Strategy of Leadership Institute and Malaysian Employers Federation have voted SP Setia the Top 10 Best Employer in Malaysia for 2003 and 2005.

Voon said its many staff benefits include interest-free study loans, free lunch boxes for all employees on normal working days (annual cost is RM60,000), three paternity leave days and 60 maternity leave days, staff discount on the purchase of a residential unit for every two years of service, merit-based performance appraisal system which rewards high productivity, outpatient medical treatment and check-up reimbursement for employees and their family members, including parents, spouses and children, and over 100 types of in-house and external training.

“We also have an Employees Prolonged Illness Scheme whereby the company will continue to give full monthly basic salary for the first two months of medical leave; half pay for the second two months and no pay for the third two months’ leave,” Voon added. - By The Star

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