Before the Muda River irrigation project, Kedah and Perlis depended on the North East monsoon rain to plant only one crop of rice a year. In order to plant 2 crops a year, in early 1960s our government borrowed USD $ 100 million from the World Bank for the Muda irrigation project to irrigate the rice fields during the dry season.
Malaysia had to follow the World Bank’s procurement guideline to employ a consulting engineering firm with the necessary experience to design the irrigation project. All the contractors must be prequalified and all contracts would be open for competitive tenders. Contracts would only be awarded to the contrators who submitted the cheapest prices.
To be able to submit the lowest tender, a contractor has to be very optimistic. He must assume he could get all the labour and construction materiels without difficulties, at the current prices and without delay. Moreover, he has to assume with God’s help he will not meet incliment weather. In actual practice, most of his assumptions would not come true. That is why contractors’ profit margin is always very thin.
I started with 3 small time contractors to form Chye Hin Construction Sdn Bhd. We had to compete with all the local contrctors. We managed to secure a few small contracts with thin profit margin.
Chye Hin joint ventured with 2 of the largest contractors namely Lim Quee and Low Keng Huat to form a JV company called Quee Hin Huat to tender for the larger contracts.
Fortunately we secured one fairly large contract with very good profit margin because we were competing with foreign contractors. My monthly salary was Rm 10,000 and I was given 10% of the profit as bonus. I became a millionaire.
When I was working for the Government my monthly salary was only Rm 760 and I bought a new Volkswagen for Rm 5,400 only.
I was so rich that I bought a Dodge Polara in 1966 as below.