Chapter One

Chapter One - My Professional Career

A. As a graduate Engineer - 1965 t0 1967

After graduating from the University of Malaya in 1965 I joined a local Consulting Firm, Law & Partners, as a pupil engineer and was engaged in the design for civil and structural engineering works. I was lucky to get a job then because we were in the midst of the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation when PWD and DID had stopped recruiting graduate engineers.

A project I undertook when I was in Lau & Partners and which I still vividly remember is the field location, survey and design of approximately five miles of mountainous road to Genting Highland.

To do my work, I drove my jalopy to Genting Sempah six days a week to do route location. But I was not allowed by the boss of the firm to claim my monthly traveling allowance based on mileage travelled. Instead, I was only paid bus fares!

As the initial section of the route was to lead to a Government’s Telecommunication Tower up in the mountain, its design had to comply with JRK’s specifications. One of the main criteria was that the maximum gradient of the route should not exceed 10%. I had no problem in setting up this section of the route amidst the dense virgin tropical jungles and rugged terrain. However, immediate beyond this section, the route was the sole responsibility of the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong who got the Government’s approval to build and operate a casino up in Genting Highland. He would come very often in the mornings to inspect the progress of work in clearing the route by his contractor. When on site he would squat down to see the route I had set up. He would then instruct his workers to bypass it and proceed with the clearing on a route selected by him with a steeper gradient! When I questioned him why he preferred a steeper road gradient, he pointedly told me that there was no problem with steeper gradient as his car could go up the track! He was then being driven in a Mercedes Benz!

I was adamant and reported the situation to my boss who, without any enquiry, told me off point-blank! I was relieved of my duty and was assigned to do structural designs and drawings in the office.

As luck would have it, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation ended in mid 1966 and soon after that, PWD and DID commenced their recruitment exercises. There was a severe shortage of engineers in the government departments then and to overcome this, all engineering graduates had to serve the government for at least two years before one can qualify later to be a member of the Institution of Engineers Malaysia.

I preferred to join PWD instead of DID because I was not impressed by I learnt about the latter from the lectures as given by the DG of DID on drainage and irrigation as a curriculum in our final year in UM. Again, I was lucky to be employed as a graduate civil engineer in PWD Headquarters in KL.


1. Though the construction of the road was regarded as one of the most astonishing engineering projects in Malaysia, slope failures, landslides and accidents were frequent occurrences. Subsequently the road was improved by PWD and became a Federal Road in 2005.

2. Since the completion of the road, I refrained from driving to the casino. I remember driving oversea-visitors up to Genting Highland twice, once shortly it was completed and again after it was acquired by PWD.

3. In 1986, a golf course (Awana Golf Course) was built and is located about 5 miles from the entrance of the Genting Highland Road. I started to play golf in mid eighties and became a member of Saujana and Awana golf courses. I travelled with friends to play golf in Awana about once a month. I enjoyed driving and playing golf in Awana because the section of the road to Awana was located and surveyed by me! However I sold my Awana golf membership in the mid nineties because all my golfing friends were no longer playing there.

B. As a time-scale JKR Engineer – 1967 to 1971

In 1967 I joined the Public Works Department (PWD) and worked in the Design and Research Section of its Headquarters. Initially I was seconded to the Transport and Road Research Laboratory, England to assist in carrying out field tests on Malaysian road construction. Later I became the design engineer in Design and Research and was responsible for the investigations and designs of road bridges, marine structures and other steel and reinforced concrete buildings.

The design of Bota Bridge still remains today my most memorable project I had ever undertaken in my professional career. I was responsible mainly for the sub-structure of the bridge and the re-design of the 102ft pre-stressed post-tensioned girdle. The original designed of the girdle used for the construction of Muar and Batu Pahat bridges was under-designed.

In conjunction with the re-design of the 102ft bridge girdle, I was the pioneer in bringing into Malaysia the world-renowned Freyssinet pre-stressed concrete post-tensioning system. (See Chapter Two)

Bota Bridge

C. As an Engineering Consultant – 1971 to 1994

I left JKR in 1971 and started my own consulting firm. In 1974 I founded Bina Runding together with two other partners and became the Director of the firm. I had extensive experience in managing studies, designs and implementation of many civil and structural engineering projects. I was also the project director in charge of all NRW Control projects and all other water supply projects undertaken by the firm or in association with other foreign consultants. In addition to my engineering duties, I was also responsible for the various key management functions in the management of the firm.

The followings are some significant civil and structural engineering projects which I was responsible for their implementation.

Non-Revenue Water Control (NRW) Projects (Study and Implementation)

1. The National Non-Revenue Water Study Project. The main objective is to assess the NRW levels and to develop a cost effective strategy and programmes for the implementation of NRW Control activities throughout the whole country.

2. NRW Control Project for Kluang, Johor, Sabak Bernam District, Selangor and Petaling Jaya, Selangor. The primary objective of these projects is to implement a NRW reduction programme and to strive for lower target figures for NRW losses.

Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Water Supply Systems

1. Bina Runding was a member of the Consortium appointed by Asian Development Bank (ADB) to undertake the Study on the rehabilitation and upgrading of water supply systems in Malaysia. The main objective is to assist the Government in formulating a water supply improvement strategy to rehabilitate and upgrade 32 existing water supply systems in various parts of the country.

2. I was the Project Director for the Pilot Pipeline Rehabitation Project in Selangor. Four “No-Dig” techniques were introduced and they were:

a. Pipe Bursting or Replacement Moling;
b. Ambient Swage Lining;
c. Slip Lining and
d. Scraping and Cement Mortar Lining.

A total length of more than 5 km of leaking mains was successfully rehabilitated in conditions where hold-ups to traffic were unacceptable and where local authorities imposed strict limitations on excavation of open tranches.

It has also been demonstrated that no-dig techniques are a cost-efficient alternative to traditional methods, offering savings up to more than 50%.

3. I was the Project Director for the rehabilitation and upgrading of:

a. Sg. Lebam Treatment Plant. The project involves the rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing treatment plant from 27 mld to 46 mld using the latest technique of Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) in the existing clarification tanks to increase the throughput.

b. Gombak Treatment Plant. The main objective is to increase the capacity of the existing treatment plant from 5 mgd to 8 mgd to meet the addition demand due to the establishment of the International Islamic University campus located in the vicinity of the treatment works.

Water Supply Projects

I was the Project Director for the detailed engineering design and tender documentation for:

1. Package C of Sg. Selangor Water Supply Project. The main work consists of 30 km of pipelines of diameters ranging from 1200 mm to 1800 mm, 4 reservoirs of capacities ranging from 18 ml to 46 ml and a booster station.

2. Kluang New Water Supply Scheme which is being funded by the World Bank. The main work consists of an 80 mld water treatment plant, 120 km of pipelines and 13 reservoirs.

Infrastructured Works for Development of Major Townships

I was the Project Director for the detailed engineering, tender documentation and contract administration for infrastructural works for rural townships. The works consists of earthworks, roadworks, drainage water supply and sewerage. The townships are:-

1. Bandar Seladang in Pahang Tenggara.The total development area is approximately 2800 acres.

2. Bandar Mas in Johor Tenggara. The size of this township is about 600 acres.

3. Bandar P1 and T11 in Johor Tenggara.The two townships have a total development of 500 acres.

Major Roads and Bridges

Route location, survey, detailed engineering and tender documentation/contract administration for:
1. 25 km of access road to Felda Lebir, Kelantan. The project also includes construction of 4 pre-stressed concrete bridges.

2. Improvement of Johor Baru- Pontian Road. The improvement is approximately 27 km of existing road and consists of upgrading, strengthening, realignment and diversion of existing service.

3. Telok Kalong Bypass, Trengganu. The total length of the Bypass is 16 km and the work includes the construction of two pre-stressed concrete bridges.

4. 40 km of roads for an Orang Asli Settlement Scheme in Pos Betau, Pahang.

5. 55 km of rural roads in Pahang and 25 km in Kelantan. The works include construction of 21 bridges.
Design and tender documentation for the following road bridges:-

1. Bridge over Sg.Anak Endau, Pahang,

2. Penarek Bridge, Trengganu and

3. Bridges over Sg.Tapah and Sg.Repang and Jalan Dabung Jeli, Kelantan.

Major Building Works

I was the Project Director involved in the following projects:

1. Kuching Airport Extension Project.

Bina Runding was appointed to carry out civil and structural designs and construction supervision of buildings and other infrastructural work. The buildings include terminal building, control tower, cargo building and all other ancillary structures within the airport complex. The infrastructural works include drainage, water supply and sewerage and sewage treatment. The cost of the works designed is approximately $15 million.

2. Bukota Building, Jalan Pantai, Kuala Lumpur.

This is a pre-stressed concrete building of 25 storey founded on bored piles. Bina Runding was appointed to carry out structural design and construction supervision. It was then the tallest pre-stressed concrete building in Malaysia.

Bukota Building

3. Faculty of Advanced Study, University of Malaya.

This is a building complex consisting of 4 blocks of 5-storey pre-stressed concrete structures founded on bored piles. Bina Runding was appointed to carry out designs and supervision of construction of all civil and structural engineering works.

Note: In the above two buildings, the use of Freyssinet’s post-tensioning system in the construction of concrete floor slabs was adopted. This post-tensioning structural system provides an economic solution to the design of floors and roofs, giving large clear spans, fewer columns and reduced floor thickness. The bare flat roof of Bukota, without any water-proofing, was inundated for a week and there was no sign of water seepage.

End of Chapter One

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