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More than 400 property professionals from around the world will gather to discuss the issues and challenges of rebuilding cities devastated by natural disasters.

This forum will take place during the Asia Pacific Real Estate Congress (APREC) which will be held from 28th to 30th September in Osaka, Japan. Organised by the Japanese chapter of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), the Congress will be looking at the very issues currently confronting governments and city planners of countries in the region that bore the brunt of the tsunamis in December last year.

FIABCI World President-Elect Dato' Alan Tong Kok Mau encouraged members of the property industry here and abroad to attend APREC in the light of the natural disasters that the region has seen of late.

"Given the tsunamis triggered by the massive earthquake in December last year, property professionals and public sector officials should take advantage of Japan's past experiences in coping with the effects of such disasters," said Dato' Alan Tong.

"The Japanese experience is invaluable. We should make full use of the opportunity that APREC is presenting, to learn from them. This will help us be more prepared in responding to such natural catastrophes," he added.

Dato' Alan Tong met officials from FIABCI-Japan who were in Kuala Lumpur to promote the Congress. FIABCI-Japan president Shin-Ichiro Takagi and secretary general, Takamasa Matsumoto had called on Dato' Alan Tong during their three-day visit to the country.

Matsumoto said Japan as a result of its geographical location, had experienced many earthquakes and tsunamis throughout its history.

"It is this experience that we want to share. One of the forums at the Congress will be looking specifically at Japan's recent experience of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake a decade ago which caused the destruction of 270,000 buildings," said Matsumoto.

In addition to its experience in reconstruction, Japan is also able to provide its experience in mitigating the effects of such natural disasters.

"The Congress will also provide valuable information concerning disaster prevention besides post-disaster restoration, both of which are crucial given the growing number of highly populated mega cities in Asia," said Takagi.

Besides reconstruction of cities, APREC will discuss the phenomenon of mega cities and their housing, transportation and environmental problems.

Dato' Alan Tong is the first Malaysian to be elected World President of FIABCI International, an organisation of real estate associations and professionals with chapters in more than 50 countries around the world. He will be taking office at FIABCI's coming World Congress which will be held in Athens, Greece, May this year.

Dato' Alan Tong is also the group executive chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd, the company with which he re-entered the property market after selling his stake in a public-listed property development company in 1997 before the financial crisis hit the region.

BKP's maiden development Aman Kiara, comprised 19 upmarket bungalows and 12 duplex condovillas set in a gated-and-guarded enclave located in the Mont'Kiara neighbourhood of Kuala Lumpur. The project with a gross sales value of RM75 million is 100 per cent sold and handed over to purchasers nine months ahead of schedule.

Its second project, Hijauan Kiara comprising 188 units of upmarket luxury condominiums is expected to be launched soon. It introduces a number of first-of-its-kind features in the Mont'Kiara neighbourhood, such as private lift lobbies, a unique Spa Island and a layout of no more than two units on each floor.

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