You Don’t Know What You Have Got Till It’s Gone!

Dato’ George Stewart LaBrooy With a career spanning over 40 years in the industrial space, Dato’ George Stewart LaBrooy, the Executive Chairman of the AREA Group of Companies speaks and writes on property and REITs on a regular basis.


When I am asked to write articles, I am invariably asked to write about the state of the property market. Everyone today is hungry for an opinion on the future of real estate not only here in Malaysia but globally as real estate investment has become a global phenomenon.
However, today I wish to dwell upon my observations as I trolled through articles in the news. The term “The New Normal” and “Coronavirus/Covid-19” seems to pop up incessantly; a relentless assault on our senses that we can’t seem to escape from.
The other popular headline is predictions of the next stock market crash. We seem to have two options left in life – either to die from the virus or die poor.
As we are told that the next spike in infections are coming in a third wave and the economy is tanking globally – the effects of these
rumours though have not manifested themselves yet. Nothing like the scenes from The Great Depression of the 1930s but those scenes will manifest when governments find out they can’t keep printing money to buy themselves out of today’s crisis. We are in the eye of the perfect storm and people are very afraid.

For years, we took our lives for granted. We lived in a world where job security saw a rapid rise in the standard of living; a world in which people could travel anywhere, see amazing places, share holidays with friends on the myriad of social network platforms, eat amazing food, watch movies and indulge in favourite sports activities with thousands of like-minded fans. The benefits of having amazing jobs, studying at universities, graduating at high profile and glitzy ceremonies and enjoying mobility at work that was unparalleled in our lifetimes was lived out in full. But at the same time, the destruction of the planet was taking place – with greed and excessive consumption coming into play.


However, in the space of about four months alone, all this evaporated. Now, everyone is finding it hard to adjust to the world as it has become. It would not be very far wrong to say that everyone misses the world we had before the pandemic with a great sense of loss.
In retrospect, the world will bounce back as it did after the Spanish Flu in 1918. Stretching from February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people — accounting for about a third of the world’s population at the time spanning four successive waves that killed 20 to 50 million people. Eventually, the flu dissipated in 1920 without any vaccine being discovered.
And with time, the global economies recovered and despite a market crash in 1929 and the devastation brought about by the Second World War, the global economies saw the greatest expansion of wealth as witnessed in human history.
Humankind is facing a new war now. And, it will take a decade or more for the world to return to a point where it previously was in January 2020. In adapting to the lockdowns and the economic Armageddon that will result from it, people’s habits are changing dramatically as seen in the need to reduce human contact and adapt to the pandemic
mandated standard operating procedures (SOPs). In doing so, we have learnt to do with less – from eating out to socialising, travelling and conspicuous consumption.

Despite the hardships due to this shift in behaviour, these adjustments may just save the planet. A key interesting point to note was how quickly the planet healed when the lockdowns were imposed across the globe. However, we are still grieving for what we have lost, not knowing if we will ever get it back.
We have all been thrust into fighting a global war with an invisible enemy. And, despite the incredible loss of previous lifestyles — there is still a need to stay alive, reimagine the collective future that remains and continue to strive to make the world a better place to live in.

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