There’s always a chapter in everyone’s life which makes an impact in a place which is foreign to us, challenging us to our core and get rewarded in a most surprising way. Literally, it takes more than just a piece of courage to complete all the obstacles. More than 25 years ago on the outskirts of Brisbane, Mr Maha Sinnathamby, who is a Malaysian immigrant in Australia, stood thoughtfully on top of a hill and set his vision across a large piece of land that was being sold.
None would have imagined what he was doing, or may even think he was just a day-dreamer. The piece of land he was looking at which spanned 2,860ha, was covered with dull-looking rocks and lush forest which was deemed hard to sell or would just be too mundane to go unnoticed. Anyone but Mr Maha would have brushed off this as another casual scene suitable for those who are slightly more adventurous and happened to stumble upon a new place while exploring Brisbane. But Mr Sinnathamby, on the other hand, was instantly convinced. Looking across the lush terrain, he had a vision that this stretch of empty bushland in southern Queensland could be transformed into a new city.
Fast forward two decades later, Mr Maha bought the land together with a business partner for A$8 million (S$8.3 million) and aptly turn the once uninhabited land into Australia’s first private city known as Greater Springfield. Located about 30km south-west from Brisbane’s city centre, the city holds a population of 32,000 people and could potentially reach 200,000 eventually. Now with the current investment value of more than A$12 billion, the area boasts of a university campus, 10 schools, 15 childcare centres, two train stations, a large shopping centre, a hospital and a golf course. A complete shift has been undertaken perfectly by Mr Maha, helped by the great vision and unrelenting perseverance.
So who is Mr Maha? His full name is Maha Sinnathamby, a Malaysian Australian businessman and property developer. After years of endeavour and hard work, he is the entrepreneur behind the Greater Springfield Development in Queensland, the largest master-planned community in Australia. Now a father of four, Mr Maha has come a long way since his childhood in the Malaysian town of Rantau and further his tertiary studies as civil engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney before returning to work in Malaysia. Then he married his wife Yoga and the real challenges start from there on.
The family migrated to Australia for a better prospect and he began to involve himself in property development in Perth, where he had initial success but later lost everything in a failed attempt to publicly list his company. However, nothing could have brought this unwavering soul down and the race against time continued before he finally prevailed at the later stage. Now worth an estimated A$943 million, Mr Sinnathamby is about to embark on the next plan for the development. His subsequent vision is to create a Silicon Valley-style precinct called Idea City, which will link up to health and education zones, spanning about 42 ha. The idea is great yet straight to the point where he foresee the creation of more than 19,000 jobs and attracts global technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
Working together with his children in Springfield Land Corporation, Mr Maha says set his vision to forge ahead building a completely planned, sustainable city, putting in a mix of education and employment opportunities. Things become better when the development has largely been welcomed by the local and state authorities. Today, Springfield continues to attract newcomers while keeping unemployment at about 3.4 percent, well below the state average of 5.9 percent, a great achievement none would have denied. Indeed, Mr Maha has really been the outstanding Malaysian, showcasing wisdom, experience, passion and flair for all to see.