July 2020

TBM breakthroughs as MGKT team overcomes COVID-19 hurdles

TBM breakthroughs as MGKT team overcomes COVID-19 hurdles

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

by Adam Anand Row

“Safety concerns regarding the spread of the highly infectious COVID-19 virus are undeniable, but when it comes to building or tunnelling underground, the longer an element is left unattended, the higher the risks of collapse, sinkholes or ground settlement.”

Deputy Director – Tunnel, Ng Hau Wei

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

As dawn broke on 9 May 2020, a small group of tunnel engineers and workers cheered in celebration through their face-masks, as one of two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) for the tunnel drive codenamed TU4, finally broke through at Ampang Park Station.

The two TBMs had been on a steady underground journey from Conlay Station, with the second machine slated to emerge at Ampang Park Station in mid-July.

From 10 May 2020 onwards, seven more TBMs successfully completed their tunnel drives (including four more breakthroughs) at various sites within the Underground section of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Putrajaya Line project.

While their significance may be lost on the uninitiated, tunnel breakthroughs are major milestones for industry insiders, and mark the completion of daunting journeys, having overcome both technical and environmental challenges.

The achievements of the MMC-Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd (MGKT) underground team are even more worthy of celebration as they were executed within the challenging constraints of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Deputy Director – Tunnel, Ng Hau Wei shared, “Safety concerns regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus were indubitable, but when it comes to building or tunnelling underground, the longer an element is left unattended, the higher the risk of collapse, sinkholes or ground settlement.”

This is especially true for TBMs, which operate in highly sensitive environments, at varying levels of depth between 6m-50m below the ground, with tall buildings or other structures above.

Cognisant of these safety concerns; the government allowed MGKT to push ahead with critical works throughout the MCO, as suppliers, workers and sub-contractors, were quickly recalled to work.

MGKT’s frontliners promptly resumed work, implementing safety procedures including body temperature screening, face masks and regular sanitisation of work sites as well as the TBMs, to stem the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Despite these risks, the commitment and passion of the tunnellers fuelled a final push to complete this series of breakthroughs for the MRT Putrajaya Line project.

July 2020

May the force be with 2020 Gamuda Scholars

May the force be with 2020 Gamuda Scholars

Jannoon028 –

by Sharifah Alauyah Wan Othman

Students who have applied to universities are eagerly awaiting their admissions and financial aid responses. They are also preparing for a variety of scenarios in these unprecedented circumstances. 

The pandemic situation had no impact on how we evaluated applicants for Gamuda Scholarship this year. Every application received our full consideration. 

Since 1996, the unique Gamuda Scholarship has given financial award of over RM41.6 million to more than 410 deserving students. And this year, more than 30 deserving students are set to pursue studies at Malaysian campuses.

This crisis has taught us what we have always known and perhaps forgotten, that there is no substitute for a good teacher.

Traditional campus experience is being reshaped and will transcend age, demographics, socioeconomic status or family situation by offering courses with rich content accessible to students through leveraging technology. 

It is moving to a more blended or fully digital experience. Our scholars will return to a job market that is changing dramatically with roles that used to rely on human interaction being replaced with artificial intelligence.

Skills such as critical thinking and adaptability are important for success in the future. The complex issues in business, environment, and politics are today challenging our society.

Education will continue to be a key driver for economic growth, sustainability and innovation. No matter in any crisis and goals set for recovery, the answer and solution will always certainly come back to education.

The Gamuda Scholarship will be announced in August 2020.

"Skills such as critical thinking and adaptability are important for success in the future. The complex issues in business, environment, and politics are today challenging our society."

Sharifah Alauyah Wan Othman, Yayasan Gamuda Head

July 2020

Behind the voices

Behind the Voices

by Sheena Wong

Amid the Movement Control Order (MCO), a small team came together virtually to make a motivating video, #GamudaLand We Will Pull Through. The entire production was coordinated remotely.
RISE spoke to the two vocals – Central Marketing and Sales (CMSD) Assistant Manager, Daniel Yue and CMSD Senior Administrator, Atika Dean. The duo spent extra hours over the night recording the cheery tunes.

What sparked the production?

A: It was drawn from a well-developed video by our Vietnam colleagues to showcase their preparedness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

D: We decided to jump on the wagon, so the team worked out a storyline for the video. At first, it was tough as the whole team was busy rolling out Gamuda Land’s Online Property Deals portal. Eventually, we managed to complete this song in the spirit of good teamwork.

How did the production go?

A: Smartphone was my only recording kit. Since I stayed with my family, I had to hide awkwardly, like next to a cupboard, to sing and record progressively.

D: I have a mic for recording and used Garage Band, a mobile app that edits and stitches our voices to the music. Then, we asked our colleagues to take footages from their home to make the video.

What got you into singing in the first place?

A: Singing has always been a way to express myself and let loose.

D: I discovered my passion for singing since going to church in my teen. I even participated in contests and auditions – and made my way to Top 60 in Astro Talent Quest!

Where do you showcase your vocal talents?

A: I only sing around people I’m comfortable with, so it’s mostly at get-togethers with my friends.

D: Music is my life! I sing all the time and would record them to share with my friends.

How does music get you through difficult times?

A: MCO involved a lot of adjustments to stay connected at work, so music is my sweet escape. Listening to certain genre of music calms me down, while some inspire and help me to focus better.

D: I use music and breathing exercises to deal with anxiety.

Would you share with us your favourite lyric that keeps you going?

A: “Can’t forget, we only get what we give” by New Radicals keeps me grounded in tough times.

D: “Every time I feel afraid, I hold tighter to my faith and I live one more day, I can make it through the rain” by Mariah Carey.

Video © Atika Dean; Audrey San; Christine Chong; Daniel Yue; Joyce Chan; Koay Wei Keat; Sanjay Madhav 

July 2020

Infusing sustainability with writing

Infusing Sustainability
with Writing​

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

by Sheena Wong

Gamuda’s English Language Unit (ELU) and the Group Corporate Communications and Sustainability Department (GCCS) collaborated in organising the second annual English Writing Contest, themed ‘Sustainability, the Savvy Way’.

The contest was launched on the English Language Day and the World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April 2020.

It ran over a month and received a good mix of entries across the Group’s departments and projects, as sustainability is an overarching subject that applies to all.

Incorporating ‘Sustainability’ as a common theme stemmed from a coffee discussion between the ELU Head, Dr Ho Sook Wah and GCCS General Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, Ong Jee Lian.

The collaboration was to kill two birds with one stone.

The ELU wanted to provide an avenue for Gamudians to write in English on a theme important to the Group, while GCCS wished to weave the interest of sustainability among staff members.

Ultimately, the contest hoped to seek feasible ideas for Gamudians to walk the talk on sustainability at a personal and professional level.

A panel of seven judges, including Dr Ho and Jee Lian, was mindfully selected to represent all sides of the business.

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

The judges reviewed the entries for eventual implementation; hence, clearly articulated ideas are the key to writing for the judges to understand the proposed ideas and weigh the practicality to operationalise them.

In the process, the judges found sound suggestions to integrate sustainability, especially in construction operation, procurement processes and utilities usage habits.

Sustainability is certainly a mindset change. This is the common notion that Jee Lian gathered from all the submissions.

“It is heartening to see the writers understood the fundamentals of sustainability, and how the pandemic situation opened their eyes to the fact that the planet lies in balance with profit and people,” she said.

Many of the contest writers highlighted the importance of mindset change in personal habits and work processes, and practising ‘integrity’ to do what is right even when no one is looking.

“These reflect the ESG (environment, social and governance) fundamentals, which the writers understood. Many highlighted that it’s necessary to lead a change in the built environment and use fewer natural resources,” added Jee Lian.

Some of the submissions advocated implementing sustainable practices and using technologies to streamline business operations. Regulation compliance would help to kick start the process.

The actionable ideas will be explored for implementation, such as the use of chatbot algorithm for document control process, dashboard that displays utility usage and wastage in monetary value to induce behavioural change among employees.

The judges scored the submissions based on five writing criteria, i.e. content, relevance to theme, coherence and writing structure, language use and succinct communication.

“Generally, all the writers were able to express their ideas, but we found that some would still need to work on communicating with more impact by structuring their ideas more cohesively and coherently,” Dr Ho observed.

She opined that Gamudians should leverage on the writing contest as a platform to hone their writing skills.

The ELU would look at offering writing workshops for aspiring writers.

Gamuda Engineering General Manager, Tan Ek Khai noted many participants brought up the fact that sustainability is about changing human behaviours.

He urged to keep the writing simple and that ‘less is more’ when trying to present their ideas more effectively, which is a crucial skill at work.

Gamuda Parks Chief Operating Officer, Khariza Abdul Khalid stressed that while promoting sustainability is a long journey, writing is a great way to engage people’s interest, especially in the area of biodiversity.

ELU Manager, Pauline Teo, commended on the participants’ efforts as it takes tremendous courage to write for a contest.

She pointed out that it boils down to a lot of reading, researching and understanding of the topic before one could start writing.

Head of Project Information Management, Ronan Collins hoped some of the great ideas could be elaborated upon further. He expected to see a more detailed discussion on the pros and cons of an idea to sum up the written piece comprehensively.

Group Sustainability Manager, Venu Mahendra expressed the need for writing to generate a good first and last impression.

Before any writing commences, the thought process must be in place to ensure logic and consistency throughout the essay, while having a meaningful flow of points.

In summarising the key takeaways from the judges, Dr Ho reiterated the importance of writing to serve a purpose, with the reader in mind.

“In essence, an impactful writing piece should be cohesive, coherent and engaging,” she said.

“Great ideas will just remain as ideas unless they are communicated with impact. Having a good command of English gives us that edge,” she added.

July 2020

Teamwork drives Gamuda Land’s performance

Teamwork Drives
Gamuda Land’s Performance

Jannoon028 –

Gamuda Land’s ongoing digital transformation journey had enabled the team to be digital-ready when the Movement Control Order (MCO) took effect on 18 March 2020.

Prior to the MCO, Gamuda Land Chief Operating Officer, Aw Sei Cheh said his team had been communicating with existing and potential customers digitally via the Gamuda Land mobile app, social media and website enquiries.

“These channels remained open. When the MCO kicked in, we were able to expedite the Gamuda Land Online Property Deals. By 24 March 2020, we were offering customers exclusive value-added deals, extra savings and additional rewards – all available on Gamuda Land’s website.

“We were also able to incorporate unit selection and Live Chats with all our relationship associates. It is a pretty comprehensive site,” Aw told RISE.

He said the e-commerce platform with high-traffic such as Shopee, had helped generate eyeball traffic to Gamuda Land Online Property Deals website.

There, customers browse properties on offer, engage with over 70 relationship associates on Live Chat and view houses via interactive 3D walk-through videos.

“We’ve also expanded our digital marketing reach and branding presence through our partnership with Citibank, Maybank and Shopee. Within three months, we secured more than 200 bookings,” Aw said.

In the first video, Gamuda Land Central Marketing and Sales Assistant Manager, Daniel Yue, Gamuda Gardens Marketing Manager, Sueway Tan and Gamuda Land Branding & Communications Assistant Manager, Steffie Chan shared their experiences in executing the Online Property Deals throughout the MCO.

Play Video

In easing the public household burden, the government had enforced a 6-month loan repayment moratorium until September 2020, revived the Home Ownership Campaign, waived the Real Property Gains Tax, and lifted the 70% financing margin for the third housing loan for property valued at RM600,000 and above.

Aw noted that these measures would help stimulate the property sector.

In the second video, Aw shares strategies behind the new normal of targeting potential customers digitally and how Gamuda Land’s brand visibility is enhanced to a wider group of audience via strategic partnerships.

Play Video

Wirestock –

July 2020

Leading the way in ethical labour management amidst COVID-19

Leading the way in Ethical Labour Management amidst COVID-19

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

by Adam Anand Row

As construction industries worldwide struggle to evolve and adopt new best practices and operational models in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, MMC-Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd (MGKT) continues to lead in the safe and ethical management of worksite labour.

To this end, a new Centralised Labour Quarters (CLQ) is being constructed at Sungai Buloh, adding to the existing four which house tunnel workers.

Providing humane and safe accommodation for our foreign labour workforce has always been the company’s priority. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to further push the industry forward in terms of CLQ standards and design.

The team worked tirelessly through the Movement Control Order (MCO) to fast track submissions to the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), so that construction could begin immediately, using pre-fabricated container units to shorten building time.

Hygiene, Cleanliness, and Low-Density, these three concepts have been incorporated into the design of the new CLQ.

With a total capacity of 1056 people, the CLQ is divided into four sub-sections, each housing up to 240 persons.

Each sub-section contains all housing amenities and facilities for self-sufficiency if isolation is required.

It also features a dedicated isolation/quarantine complex with a capacity for up to 96 people which is the first-of-its-kind for Malaysian CLQs.

Goh Chee Young, Acting Project Director, Underground Station Department at MGKT shared some insights on the new CLQ, “We were already ahead of the curve with the establishment of the Cochrane CLQ in 2013.”

“However many of our workers had been sharing housing across different projects and worksites at an extremely high density (20 persons staying together in some instances) to save costs,” he said.

“Under these conditions, it’s obvious that workers paid little attention to their own health, safety and hygiene due to various reasons,” explained Goh.

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

“Comparatively, with the new Sungai Buloh CLQ we can maintain a limit of four persons to a room, which is significantly lower than the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) standard.”

“Ultimately, we aim to house 100% of our project workers in project CLQs. Controlled environments allow for better management of their hygiene, health and safety for easy contact tracing in the event of a disease outbreak like the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Goh.

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

Location of the new CLQ (marked in red) which spans eight residential and four quarantine blocks.

“Transitioning our foreign labour workforce to be fully housed in CLQs is not without its challenges, but these are being managed and dealt with and are outweighed by the overall larger benefits of being prepared in case of any eventuality.”

“Moving forward we want to be an employer that can make a difference in the lives of our workers. Thus, we believe fully equipped and well-managed CLQs are the solution, as we adjust to the ‘new normal’ of the world today,” Goh added in closing.

July 2020

Gamuda’s commitment to ensure the safety of its people during COVID-19

Gamuda’s commitment to ensure the safety of its people during Covid-19

Peenat –

by Andy Lee Choon Foh and Wong Lye Ling

“We’re in a war, you either fight the war or you’re not, there is nothing in between.” Dato’ Lin Yun Ling

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. In just a few months, the virus has infected more than 8,600 people in Malaysia and resulted in 121 deaths as at 26 June 2020.

As Malaysia braces for an economic crisis, many corporate decision-makers face difficult decisions.

In such a critical time of budget constraints, Gamuda is spending money on regular COVID-19 testings and re-testings, as the Group has always been committed to the safety and health of its employees.

In late-March 2020, Gamuda Group of Companies took the lead and proactively allocated a substantial budget for its staff, who are at high risk of COVID-19 exposure, to be tested, traced and treated.

Gamuda Engineering Head of Quality, Safety & Health, and Environment, Andy Lee Choon Foh highlighted between April to June, more than 18,000 of Gamuda staff and workers had undergone reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-pcr) COVID-19 testings that were approved by the Health Ministry.

“The 18,000 staff and workers includes joint venture partner, contractors and sub-contractors working for the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Putrajaya Line,” he said.

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

Gamuda’s COVID-19 Working Committee has started to leverage on Quick Response (QR) Codes together with the Fieldview system to register and keep records of employees’ body temperatures when they arrive at work.

Anyone who registered above 37.5°C would be sent to the nearest hospital.

All staff have been wearing face masks and keeping a safe distance from each other while waiting to get into or out of office elevators. This, Andy said, coupled with frequent handwashing, is the most effective way to combat this pandemic.

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

Staff categorised as high risk of exposure to the virus are those who worked throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, workers who stay in and outside of the Construction Labour Quarters (CLQs), staff who live with family members or housemates involved in providing care or services to COVID-19 patients.

Staff with underlying medical conditions like chronic diabetes, hypertension, kidney/heart disease are also deemed as highly at risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Putting to practice the ‘Safety First’ construction mantra, Andy noted frequent testings of staff, who are at high risk of exposure to the virus, allows for prompt detection, isolation of the infected person and effective contact tracing to curb the spread.

“When the MCO took effect from 18 March 2020, we appealed to the government and were allowed to carry on with the critical works,” he said.

“We had to continue with the tunnelling and long span crossing highway activities because it was a much safer option considering the impact to public safety if work had stopped,” he added.

Gamuda Berhad Senior General Manager of Group Human Resources and Admin, Wong Lye Ling, acknowledged that while the rigorous testings involved a lot of money, what is more important is to ensure employees’ safety, the impact to the business and our people, if we do not take the necessary preventive and mitigative actions.

“Yes, there is a cost to this initiative. We do it because the testings yield timely information for us to provide a safer working environment for everyone,” she said.

Wong cited Malaysia’s Health Ministry Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stating the asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 has proven to be the bulk of cases and therefore, not a good sign.

“All it takes is one infected person to spread the virus to others, especially at project sites,” she cautioned, adding “prevention is better than cure. When a confirmed case is identified at a construction site, the authorities will issue a stop-work order and this will impact the entire project.”

In view of the potential risks, the Group also started to engage on re-testing with Rapid Test Kit antibody, on a weekly basis, for early detection and to curb possible spread before it is too late.

“It is only when the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and other regulatory bodies have evaluated and are satisfied with the mitigative and prevention measures, the construction works resumed,” she explained.

Recently, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Works Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Dr Syed Omar Sharifuddin Syed Ikhsan and CIDB Chief Executive Datuk Ahmad Asri Abdul Hamid visited Gamuda’s integrated township twentyfive.7 in Selangor.

During the inspection, the Minister lauded Gamuda for being proactive in its COVID-19 safety precautionary measures practised throughout its township developments that exceeded CIDB’s benchmark.

CIDB had also visited Gamuda’s construction sites at MRT Putrajaya Line, Belfield Tunnel and building projects such as KK257, IOI Gems, Rumah SelangorKu Puncak Bestari (RSKU PB) and C04.

When asked to comment on the government’s recent relaxation of MCO restrictions, Wong cautioned we are still co-existing with this virus until an effective vaccine is available.

So far, epidemiologists all over the world are forecasting it could take between 12 and 18 months before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares an effective vaccine against the highly infectious COVID-19 virus.

Meantime, many have been embracing the ‘new normal’ of working remotely instead of going into the office, Mondays to Fridays.

“For staff, please be responsible and deliver your work while working from home. For bosses, trust your staff even if you don’t see them in the office,” she said.

Wong’s advice to all Gamuda colleagues is to accept that the COVID-19 virus is not going to go away anytime soon. “We all need to treat this seriously. This is going to be a long battle for all.”

“Like what Dato’ Lin had previously mentioned, “we’re in a war, you either fight the war or you’re not, there is nothing in between,” she said.

Wong urged all staff to continue being vigilant. “Please do not think you’re invincible as the virus does not discriminate.”