ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
S'pore firm may build Brunei's 1st car restoration facility
Publication Date : 27-08-2012
A Singaporean businessman has been in talks with authorities to set up a full-fledged car restoration facility in Brunei.
Kumar Balasingam, the chief executive officer of JSD Group in Singapore, an aviation maintenance company, is set to open a car restoration facility in Brunei after having been in talks with local authorities in the past six months.
Balasingam said that it "now rests in the hands of the Ministry of Finance and this approval has been eagerly awaited for some time".
However, there is currently no time frame for when the centre will open, but the Singaporean businessman, who is applying for pioneer status, said that he wants to open it "as soon as possible".
There are also plans for the car restoration centre to donate 30 per cent of their profits to supporting single mothers and abused girls in Brunei, said Balasingam, who read about the plight of a Bruneian woman who was heavily in debt after her husband passed away. The woman had been living in a mosque and bus shelters with her son.
"This would be a way to do something for the local community," he said.
The full-fledged restoration centre, which would be the first of its kind in Brunei, would also be aimed to provide jobs to local vocational students. Balasingam said he has also met with the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) to kickstart the project.
The centre's supervisors would be workmen with "great experience who would do the work and also train the youth that will be employed by the center".
Balasingam said that he saw a potential in local students, especially those equipped with vocational skills to further develop their skills and business with the centre. Around 10 students who are interested would be selected to learn from two of the supervisors that Balasingam has hired for the centre.
"Restoring cars, knocking the cars back into shape, these are skills that are very valuable in today's world," he said in an e-mail to The Brunei Times.
There are also plans in the pipeline to bring in 20 vintage cars to Brunei for restoration works, after which some will be sold off for profit, while others will be kept on display in a museum that will also be part of the centre. There will be an entrance fee charged to visitors to the museum, which may also feature a cafe run by students participating in the BEDB grant scheme.
The centre is also likely to create spin-off business in the form of logistics (tow trucks) and technical expertise, such as workshops.
"The work that would be given to local Brunei businesses would be the complete painting of the cars, supply of upholstery, tyres, carpet materials, car batteries and all other spares available locally," he said.
He also added that it could give Royal Brunei Airlines a business opportunity to tap into, where for car components can be sent to the airline for chrome plating.
"It must be a proper centre, otherwise it will defeat the purpose and we will not set it up," he said.
Balasingam stressed that he aims to have the centre reach it's maximum capacity in all aspects as a training ground for youths, restoring cars at a professional level, generating opportunities for local businesses and apportioning profits to charity.
There are also plans to sell the cars on the international market, which Balasingam said will "put Brunei on the world map as a place where such restoration is done by having auctions of the classic cars done in Bandar Seri Begawan".
"This isn't a one-year project where we will start the project and then leave," said Balasingam, adding that he has a five to 10 year plan for the centre.
After which, Balasingam said he will hand the business over to "someone who can run it".
"It should continue on a long term basis," he said.
Balasingam said he has been contemplating with several other ideas including summer programmes for international schools, where students abroad would be flown to Brunei to learn about nature and car restoration. He is planning to work with the Brunei Tourism Board to bring students from the international schools in the region to the country for hands-on workshops during summer breaks, after which they can be taken on a tour of Brunei, thus "bringing business to Royal Brunei Airlines as well as the hotel and tour sector".
"Brunei has a lot of things, and firstly it is virtually crime free, there are no drugs or alcohol, and if you tell parents that children are coming to Brunei to learn about nature and classic car restoration, kids would love it and parents will feel comfortable sending their children here," he said.