Give priority to local professionals who are as good as foreigners, says the Board of Architects Malaysia (LAM)
The influx of foreign architects in the property market has affected local practitioners and should be regulated, says Board of Architects Malaysia (LAM) president Ar. Zairul Azidin Badin.
“With increasing globalisation, professionals are working cross-border and those who are known internationally can get jobs here just by using their brand or name,” he adds, and suggests that the government and the board collaborate to resolve the issue and help locals participate in projects.
“Local architects and interior designers have not been given the same opportunities. We have put it clearly to the government to ‘buy Malaysian first’ before getting foreigners to do the same thing we do,” he says.
Zairul admits that although the Architects Act 1967 (Act 117) allows foreign professionals to operate in Malaysia as long as they adhere to some guidelines, they should be registered under LAM for better collaboration with locals.
“Priority should be given to local professionals to handle all the services, be they architects, interior designers, Inspector of Works (IOW) or building draughtsman. We know better what should be delivered when serving the people.
“We are submitting proposals for foreigners to register with LAM to enable them to practise and collaborate with us on any service,” he says, adding that the board should spearhead the move to protect the interests of locals.
“We need to partner with the authorities but we will lead the way. We are not pushing out the foreigners; they have to respect the local rules if they want to work here.”
It’s contained in the Act
Zairul says that it is important to uphold Act 117 because it will allow LAM to regulate registered individuals for consistency in the quality of workmanship covering five professions – architect interior designer, inspector of works, building draughtsman and architectural technologist.
“We regulate these professionals so that they provide their best performance and conduct when serving the nation,” he says, adding that LAM is empowered under Section 117 of the Architects Act.
“We guide and remind professionals about doing their best for the people. We are more concerned about protecting the people.
“We want to manage the architect to perform professionally. Professionals should be consistent and responsible when delivering their services.”
If the Act is enforced well, the end consumer will benefit from the products or services delivered by registered professionals, he adds.
“Most people think that the Act is there for the architect or professional, but it is meant for the people. We protect the people by spelling out the do’s and don’ts in the guidelines so that there is consistency in the delivery of services.”
Impostors may cause problems
An issue that has marred the reputation of professionals and the integrity of LAM is unregistered practitioners. Zairul says these individuals are mainly fresh graduates who are eager to serve the market. Worse, there are those who are not qualified but doing the work of professionals – which could result in serious repercussions in the future.
“We have been monitoring this problem of graduates who refuse to register with LAM. We have received several complaints.
Some of them merely register with Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) and set up business to ‘practice’ architecture or interior design. We are strengthening our cooperation with SSM to curb this problem.”
Zairul says the matter of unregistered professionals should be taken seriously because it concerns the safety of buildings and their occupants.
“LAM has received complaints from the Works Ministry and local authorities, so we are looking into the conduct of persons involved in development projects. If they are not professionals, they shouldn’t do the work because disasters in the building industry can easily result in death.
“We also want to ensure that innocent registered professionals are not unfairly blamed. If a building collapses in the future, we know that it is caused by those who impersonated the professionals. We want the public to have confidence in our registered professionals,” he says.
Apart from its regulatory role, LAM is actively involved in Accreditation of Architectural and Interior Design programmes at higher institutions of learning, ensuring that the syllabus meets Malaysian requirements. LAM also promotes Malaysian Architecture of National Identity in its role as the authority in architectural matters in the country.
Zairul proudly adds that LAM is involved in the Asean Architects and Apec Architects groupings by promoting cross-border recognition of registered professionals among member countries of both bodies.
Read on: Architect Ang Chee Cheong classifies the various forms of local architecture and highlights the common building styles in Malaysia.