Thursday, August 28, 2008

Work Minister, did you have a bad dream?

New Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin succeeded the historical minister Samy Vellu in March 2008.

But he speaks like Samy, thinks like Samy and acts like Samy.

Yesterday, his deputy, Datuk Yong Khoon Seng read out his speech at the launch of the International Construction week 2008 and the 24th Malaysian International Building Exposition 2008 (Malbex 2008) at Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

In his speech, Datuk Mohd Zin called on property developers to use Industralized Building System (IBS) in order to cut down construction time from 18 months to just 4 months. According to Mohd Zin, this IBS is an advanced construction technique which has been promoted by Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) who has drawn up a 7-year IBS roadmap starting in 2003.

Hello Datuk Mohd Zin, you can never built a high-rise flats and apartments in 4 months; the building foundation alone will take 4 months. Even if the structural floors can be fabricated in 4 months the M & E works will need time for installation, fit-out and testing and commissioning. Then there's also the landscape, roads and drains. 12-18 months are normal construction time; not 4 months, my dear Minister. Please don't create chaos and then watch in horror the collapse.

I am truly amazed and at the same time amused by Mohd Zin and CIDB's new found "advanced technology".

I hope Mohd Zin and CIDB would pay a visit to Lumut Naval Base and view the 29 blocks of 11-storey apartments which was constructed in 1976 by Hazama Gumi and supervised by FH Kocks GmBH who is the consulting engineers at that time. The 11-storey apartments are built using pre-cast concrete walling system which CIDB renamed it as "IBS system". The apartments are still facing problems with regards to defects caused by water penetrations and leakages largely due to the construction joints and panel integration between the wall system and the floor system. There's also the issue of renovation works carried out which is constraint by the pre-cast system design and also the M & E system.

Apart from the pre-cast concrete paneling system at Lumut Naval Base, YTL (previously Yeoh Tiong Lay Construction) had also constructed the pre-cast paneling system for Hospital projects in the late 70s. There were many other pre-cast system constructed in the last 30 years and there's also the tilt-up system construction, pre-cast Box-up shearwall system, etc. Those JKR engineers who were in-charge of the Naval Base pre-cast paneling system project and the hospital project have all retired; but there are still some engineers in JKR who have good understanding of these system design and who would be able to tell you the limitations and risks of using such system which we like to label it as "IBS innovative design system".

I truly hope CIDB CEO Datuk Hamzah, CIDB Chairman Tan Sri Jamilus Hussein and CIDB Director Tan Sri Omar would spent some time to visit such projects before propagating them to the developers and constructors. At the same time, please don't call this IBS system as new technology nor innovative technology - it's a 40-year-old technology which had been discarded by the Japanese, Singapore HDB, Americans and even Hong Kong and Taiwan. Please ask Datuk Sei Wahid Omar about the pre-fab system design lah - he can give you good advice!



jangan kerja ringkas (jkr) said...

I always believed Semi didn't quite know what he was talking about, although he would like people to think otherwise. Now we have another Works Minister like him. Is this a prerequisite for the Works Minister's job or are the being supportive of the PM by being even more blur?

artchan said...

Another Samy Vellu in the making?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Josh...

It sounds like him, looks like him, but can't say it's 100% him.

Datuk Mohd Zin :"Correct, correct, correct!"

Yan said...

I'm not a civil or structural engineer. What you have wrote are "news" to me. Likewise I don't expect our ministers are all professionals in their respective ministries though I would prefer them to be! But why cann't they engage or employ qualified & knowledgable professional as their respective advisors?

As it is, it seemed that we are 40 years or almost a generation behind Singapore, Hong Kong & Taiwan, not to mention the advanced country like USA.

We have idiotic, unqualified or irrelevant politicians being appointed in most of the minitries who don't have professional advisors but cronies. How to compete with our neighbours?

Maverick SM said...


Maybe, you're right.


I think so.


The Minister has hundreds of professional advisors; but most of them prefer to be YES man and it is the businessmen who had a better influence.

Anonymous said...

Sir Maverick,

"Only the minds in UMNO can produce the best lies, and only the people in UMNO are gullible enough to also believe it."


seefei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seefei said...

singapore had progressed over the year in term of precast construction. from 2-d token structural element like staircase and refuse chute, sg had progressed to the 3-d construction box method. singapore has not abandoned the precast method but has refined it over the year and weaned itself from foreign precast technology. precast technology had proven to be superior to cast-in-situ method but application has to be incorporated in during the design stage, otherwise problems like water seepage will prevail. but never in our short history has precast construction method shorten project duration from 18 to 4 months. and definitely precast construction method is not the magic bullet that going to solve defects like poor workmanship, material selection, finishing etc that homeowners dread.

Maverick SM said...


You made a strong statement.


I am glad to hear and read opinions about this subject from a renown engineer from Singapore.

Could you give me an article on the evolution of the pre-cast system used in Singapore/

moo_t said...

Doc Mave, politickus don't think, they just use their brain to command their mouth to open.

This is similar jokes somewhere in old time China. A minister try to show off his intelligent to a bunch of students,"If a house take 10 workers, 50 days to build, double to 20, it will shorten to 25 days."

A student response in sarcasm, "Yeah, it will take 12.5 days if you put 40 workers, 6.25 days with 80 workers. With 5120 workers, we can make a house in 1 hour".

It is strange that after 50 years of independent, our school and society seems FAILED to train BN minister to use their brain.

naaim said...

precast concrete is one of 5 segment in IBS, whils precast concrete is IBS, IBS is not precast concrete alone, there are modular items, steel construcion, timber panels etc etc... more on this check in CIDB lah... whilst the 70's and 80's precast technology always hampered by the joints problem, newer technologies and advancement had been invented. mainly IBS is used to shorten time, use less skilled labour, to achieve higher quality and overall to have a better project in Cost, Quality and Time than a conventional construction system per se.

and to say that pre cast had been abandonned is waaaaaaaaaay not true, now constructors are using 3D precast ( as seefei says it) or Volumetric Modules, as the industry knows it. these volumetric construction is very advances and the quality achieved is simplky marvelous. whilst the take up for IBS in malaysia is small, due to our cheap labour and permitting weather, in temperate contries such as the Scandinavian, Uk etc, the only way of construction is IBS... and please do not hamper down the IBS agenda due to some stupid statement from a miinister.... personally i think the 4 month is for the substructure construction alone.. and the wonder abt IBs, the moment the lower portion of a building is settled, M&E works can immediately go in, overlapping of trades will in total cut short the total development period.... hence we can see a 30 - 40 % cut in total delivery time to the client... btw i am a professional, dealing with the IBS, with CIDB, JKR, GLC cos. in malaysia with experiences in 4 continents , doing what CIDB term as IBS... - my 2 cents

toolan said...

What to do Mav, when you put a person who know nuts about his job, you get this sort of request lah! Actually it's not just this Minister, Lah Lah appointed so many of this kind of "standard" Minister in his administration. That is why his administration are actually non-functioning group of people that just paid for producing "crap" work!.
What can I say, just have to bear with it loh, like all Malaysians do, it's a norm already.

Maverick SM said...


You can't train the brain; the brain must be there.


Thanks for the info.

Let me elaborate: all precast paneling system are basically modular, with steel construction, timber panels, etc etc, and IBS is not any super technology which are new. I too agreed with SeeFei that the older precast system had evolved and improved, but the essence is still the same.

I am glad to hear that you had traveled 4 continents in dealing with this technology. I too had built many blocks of apartments using the precast technology.

What I can say and agree is that it do reduce labor content and can be speedier; but 30-40% cut in delivery time is surreal. I had spent 30 years in this industry and able to understand the complexities of the construction processes which consist of Sub-structure construction and earthworks, superstructure and roof, architectural, M & E, Landscaping works, external works and services, testing and commissioning and finally authority inspections and CF (which is now delegated to the architect).

We can remain idealistic and naive. But if you are a constructor you can better understand the difficulty integrating and coordinating the M & E services with the architectural requirements and the structural constraints. Apart from this, we also have client's internal furnishing requirements, built-ins, ICT and intelligent building system, etc which had to be integrated and fitted within the confined space and symmetry.

Consultants and CIDB and JKR are promoters, not constructors. By their own weaknesses in their own system they are often the reasons for project delay, drawing and details delay, lack of integration between the architectural, structural and M & E system. Then we have RE and COW who lacks competency in the specialised fields such as IBS.

I accept and agree with your ideal conceptualization and simple mindedness. However, the reality in the projects are far from your idealism.

BTW, please not that the constructors and consultants in the European nations and Scandinavians are better organized and adequately resourced with personnel who are well trained and equipped. They had sufficient plants and equipments with adequate capacity. They have stronger financial muscles and better equipments and well trained workers. Even the consultants are well qualified and experienced in their specialization. In Malaysia, we have general consultants, architects, and general contractors; oh, BTW, we have lots of Ali-Baba Contratcors.

Maverick SM said...


Be patient; ming tian hui kern hau.

K.A.M.K said...

i wonder how many CIDB's staff read this blog... as CIDB staff myself, I am pro-IBS, but the roadmap implementation is classic example of Malaysian good plan but fail to implement. Mismatch.. uncordinated between gov. department etc. you name it!!!

The roadmap also fail to addressing MAJOR issues, foriegn labour policy and UBBL ammendment.

Almost all program are 'syok sendiri' rather than understanding contractor's real world problem which hinder them to use IBS

K.A.M.K said...

To be positive in this issues, CIDB has recently establish IBS Centre in Cheras to provide consultancy, showcase best practice, R&D facility and VCT program

More construction workforce will train as system integrator to close the skill gap

More and more R&D is on-going to solve leakage problem and so on.

mass-customisation and open system will be introduce to cope with renovation problem and flexiblity.

New incentive scheme will be introduced other than reduction of levy

Its all in paper.. how good the implementation... i dont know..

Maverick SM said...


You probably are the only one from CIDB that reads my blog.

I am neither pro-IBS nor against.

But I have been in the construction industry for 30 years and have used prefab systems and precast systems and tilt-up system. I can understand the problem of such system and I can also understand the engineers trying to solve the leakage problems, renovation problems, etc.

However, CIDB's IBS system is based on a group of professionals who had never work as a contractor and had only being preachers and designers. My challenge is that these professionals should try and built one of their proposals themselves and not just remain theoretician and preachers. They should invest their own money on their own concepts and then sell the products themselves and see for themselves whether it was viable or not.

K.A.M.K said...


I had to agree with you sir. Most of IBS Working Group and Technical Commitee is lead and patronise by IPTA lecturers. The practitioners are too busy to involve. However, it suit CIDB's role as a promoter but i can feel that the program is too idealistic rather than paractical.

I will bring your proposal/ challange at least to my own departmnet (R&D) and see what they said. I also invite the practitoner / contractor to apply CIDB's research grant to develop more new IBS system.

I will be hoping more expert like you to come forward and contribute idea to CIDB in order to promote IBS in Malaysia. NOT TO CONDEMN US!!

Maverick SM said...


I am impressed with your statement.

But do you think CIDB is truly interested with the real practitioners? If that is true, how is it that only theoreticians are engaged plus a few high profile engineers and Quantity Surveyors?

Wasn't it the "Cari Makan Group" that were involved with CIDB? Ask Datuk Hamzah and Tan Sri Omar and they will tell you the commercial reality of the Capitalist society.

BTW, they knows me!!!

K.A.M.K said...

Sir Maverick,

maybe i'm too young & naive to realise 'the commercial reality of the capital society'. But i really hoping that the young blood in gov. agency will at least make some significant contribution to Malaysian Cons. industry.

i also hope expert like you, Dr. Wahid, Tan Sri Omar, Dr. Gue will guide us along the way.

it would be nice if more non-bumi get involve in gov. set -up. Or is it the root of all problem??

Maverick SM said...


You are one person whom I have respect and if there is anything I can do for you or advice you, feel free to write to me. You can leave your email address here or at the SHOUT BOX on the left of this Blog and I will communicate with you.

This is the first time that a young professional has shown me that he deserved guidance; KAMK, you have my greatest respect.