Ciputra, center, was a trailblazing property pioneer in Indonesia in the last 50 years. (SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

Trailblazing Property Pioneer Ciputra Has Passed Away at 88


NOVEMBER 27, 2019

Jakarta. Ciputra, the founder of some of Indonesia's largest property companies, has passed away at the age of 88 in Singapore, leaving behind a rich legacy and many life lessons for local developers and young entrepreneurs.

During his illustrious career, Ciputra, known as Pak Cip ("Mr. Cip") by his colleagues, established Pembangunan Jaya, Metropolitan Development and the family business that still bears his name, Ciputra Development. 

"Mr. Cip's death brings sadness not just to the family, but also to our country. He is a legend who has left a rich legacy, not least making young people believe that they can be like Mr. Cip, even surpass him," Iwan Sunito, the Indonesian-born co-founder of Australian luxury property developer Crown Holdings, said on Wednesday.

Ciputra was well known among local and foreign developers not only for being good at finding opportunities but also for always integrating a sophisticated taste in the arts in every property project he was involved in, Iwan said. These were the qualities that Iwan always tries to imitate in Crown's properties.

Ciputra was also highly respected for his enthusiasm and steadfast commitment to nurturing local entrepreneurs. 

"Mr. Cip was a humble, down to earth and nurturing figure. Hopefully, there will be more people like Mr. Cip in Indonesian property in the future. In his old age, Mr. Cip still had great enthusiasm, he was willing to teach everyone and was friendly to everybody, even to people he was not entirely familiar with," said Ishak Chandra, the president and chief executive of Triniti Land.

"He always offered input and encouragement for anyone who wanted to become an entrepreneur. His hard work was accompanied by real humility. He genuinely respected us for who we were. That was a trait that he transmitted to all of his extended families," said Ali Tranghanda, the chief executive of think tank Indonesia's Property Watch. 

Theresia Rustandi, the deputy chairwoman for foreign property affairs at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said Ciputra laid the foundation for solid business ethics in the Indonesian property industry while pioneering modern urban planning among local developers.

"Goodbye, Mr. Cip. We will carry on your legacy," she said.

Trailblazing Path

Ciputra was born Tjie Tjin Hoan in Parigi, Central Sulawesi, on Aug. 24, 1931. During the Japanese occupation in 1944, his father was accused of being a spy and arrested. Ciputra never saw his father again since. 

He went on to study engineering at the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology and graduated in 1960. A year later he helped establish Pembangunan Jaya, a company controlled by the Jakarta provincial government that later was responsible for turning the mosquito-infested swamps in North Jakarta into Indonesia's first theme park, Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Ancol Dreamland).

A decade later, Ciputra joined forces with Soedono Salim, Budi Brasali, Soedwikatmono and Ibrahim Risjad to establish Metropolitan Development, which built the luxury housing complex Pondok Indah and the Jakarta satellite city of Bumi Serpong Damai.

Ciputra decided to make a family business of his own in 1981. The flagship Ciputra Development went on to develop residential and commercial businesses in more than 40 cities across Indonesia.

The business almost went bankrupt during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, but Ciputra stepped in, liquidating most of his personal assets to bail out the company.

Ciputra thrived again, embarking on overseas expansions to Cambodia, China and Vietnam through his Singapore-based International City Development.

Ciputra Group, the group of companies owned by the family, now comprises property agent Century21, health services Ciputra Hospital and Ciputra Medical Center, insurer Ciputra Life and Ciputra University, a high education institution that focuses on entrepreneurship.

Globe Asia Magazine named Ciputra as the 28th richest people in Indonesia with a total wealth of $1.45 billion.