The Low Yat Group
May 14, 2021
Tan Sri Datuk Seri Low Yow Chuan (1932-2021) passed away on 8th May 2021 surrounded by his family and loved ones. He is the son of Tan Sri Low Yat who founded the pre-Merdeka Low Yat Construction in 1947. This is old money family.
Founder Tan Sri Low Yat was a visionary. In the 1940s he foresaw the future potential of Jalan Bukit Bintang as a vibrant shopping and business district of Kuala Lumpur. So he bought land around the area and he built the first international class hotel along Jalan Bukit Bintang, the Federal Hotel. He built it in time for the Merdeka or Independence celebrations. Federal Hotel was officially opened on 28th August 1957, 2 days before Merdeka day on 31 August. Thereafter the hotel was the place to go to for top money tourists and for major events in the city. Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali and his opponent Joe Bugner stayed there too.
The Federal Hotel has been refurbished, renovated and expanded since then but its old world charms remain and memories grace its corridors. Tan Sri Low Yat’s construction company also built the Victoria Institution at Petaling Street, government bungalows at Federal Hill (now Sri Bukit Persekutuan), shophouses in Jalan Imbi, Tong Shin Terrace, and the Clubhouse of Royal Selangor Club besides many other buildings in the city. Eldest grandson, Low Gee Tat remembered that his grandfather was a stylish man with good taste. He was also very affectionate towards his grandchildren. Being the eldest grandchild, Gee Tat would get to ride with his grandfather in the Tan Sri’s black Jaguar around Kuala Lumpur. No doubt it was fun!
Tan Sri Low Yat groomed his son, Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan, to take over the family business. By then the family’s businesses had been listed in 1969 on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange as Asia Pacific Land Berhad (AP Land). In 1971 when Tan Sri Low Yat passed away, Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan took over the helm of Low Yat Group. He followed his father’s footsteps and continued the legacy of Low Yat in a way that would make his father proud. Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan’s accomplishments included the building of Langkawi’s first hotel, the 100 room Langkawi Country Club, Mount Pleasure Resort, the Prince Hotel, the Federal Beach Hotel Port Dickson ( sold in 1980 to the MUI Group and renamed Ming Court Vista Hotel), Hotel Capitol Kuala Lumpur, and the Federal Singapore, City Square Centre (KL’s first luxury shopping mall), Hotel Fairlane, and Low Yat Plaza (KL’s biggest IT Mall). Property developments included Bandar Tasik Puteri (a 2,670 acres of integrated development with an international Golf course and Country CluB), Rivercity Condominium in Jalan Ipoh (now known as Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah), Bintang Fairlane Residences, and Tribeca, luxury serviced suites and hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Overseas hotel investments included two hotels in Sydney and the flagship luxury condo development, Shiki Niseko in Hokkaido, Japan. Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan also invested in oil palm land in Kalimantan.
Besides being an astute property and hotel developer and investor, Tan Sri Low held numerous executive positions in tourism and hospitality related organisations such as the ASEAN Tourism and Hotel Trade Committee, Deputy Chairman of the Accommodation Sub-Committee of the 1972 Pacific Asia Travel Association Conference, member of the Joint Labour Advisory Council, member of the National Advisory Council on Industrial Training, member of the Tourism Development Corporation, Deputy Chairman of the Finance Sub-committee of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, and a member of the Hotel & Catering Wages Council. In 2014 he was awarded the Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Award for Outstanding Contribution to the tourism industry. Tan Sri Low was acknowledged as a driving force behind the city’s tourism industry since the early 1960s. It made him very happy and he responded by saying that he had “never regretted being involved in the industry for the past 50 years.”
Passing the Baton
In 2006, Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan passed the baton to his children. Eldest son Low Gee Tat was appointed Executive Chairman of the Board of AP Land while second son, Low Gee Teong and sister, Low Su Ming, were appointed Joint Managing Directors. Youngest son, Low Gee Soon subsequently joined the family business as Executive Director. In 2012 the Low family privatised listed AP Land. Low Su Ming, the only daughter of the late Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan, and the apple of his eye, is married to Tan Boon Lee, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Tan family controlled IGB Berhad.
The third generation Lows are determined to keep the legacy of Low Yat intact. According to Low Su Ming, the fourth generation are currently being groomed to take over when they are ready. The Low Yat Group is today one of the largest privately-owned groups in Malaysia with diversified interests in property investments, hotels, constructions, development, management and trading.
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