Dato’ Leong aims to turn Melaka into an international fashion city

Dato Leong (center)) at The Straits Gala 2023

Melaka – Dato’ Leong Sir Ley, the Chairman and Founder of Sheng Tai International Sdn Bhd (STI) has recently demonstrated a great vision that aims to elevate the historic state of Melaka by turning it into an international fashion city.

The charismatic property developer Dato’ Leong Sir Ley hosted and launched on 13 January the Straits Gala 2023  at The Sail Melaka, following the success of the Met Gala Malaysia fashion show which was held in 2021.

The Straits Gala 2023 fashion show was attended by approximately 1000 guests including international investors from over 15 countries such as Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, China, Dubai, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, the Middle East, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and more. 

“After three years of living under a worldwide pandemic, when the lockdown was lifted I recognized that there emerged a ‘new language’ that revolved around initiatives such as art and culture, wellness, fashion, and artificial intelligence (AI).”

It inspired me to gather international business owners from around the world, who through these initiatives, would come to The Sail and help us start new businesses, create job opportunities, facilitate the import of talent into the city and showcase Melaka on the international stage,” Dato’ Leong told the media at a press conference held at Ames Hotel at the same day prior to the event on 13 January 2023.

The Straits Gala 2023 saw a mutual coming together of global entrepreneurs at The Sail Melaka. There was keen interest from businesses in Japan in wellness and art and culture initiatives, with Russians interested in the AI space and others expressing their interest in the other initiatives, all underpinned by STI’s core strength of property tourism.

Growing business and bringing Malaysia’s fashion to the world

Both international and local guests were treated to a fashion parade headlining designer talent from the Straits Designers’ Gallery (SDG), featuring exciting designs by Bill Keith and an array of over 30 local and international labels (from Japan, Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia) and designers including Angelique, Auratier, Bill Keith, Carro, Diane & Norule, Erdan, Gillian Hung, Variante, Faramas and Myriad Grand Monde. The line-up also included promising new talent from fashion graduates at the University Technology Mara (UiTM) in an effort to nurture new talent.

The event was also an evaluation platform for Fashion TV Academy Malaysia’s trained models, with top graduates standing a chance to participate in international events held by FashionTV Paris. During the evening, guests also enjoyed spectacular percussion performances on a huge bespoke screen as well as performances by talented artists such as violinist virtuoso Megan Mei, and popular singers Jaclyn Victor and Kenny Low.

Dato’ Leong explained: “With Melaka once being a key cosmopolitan port in Southeast Asia during the golden era of trade in the 15th century, I felt that this is the right place to gather people from around the world and cultures across the world to enjoy Malaysian hospitality, food and culture, especially the unique diversity of Melaka – and enticing them to invest in The Sail.

Taking property tourism to a whole new level

In line with the travel-oriented theme of The Sail Melaka, STI is taking property tourism to a whole new level. By complementing the local property market, The Sail will bring in new business opportunities, boosting the economy and creating jobs, leading them to a higher living standard as prosperity flows into the area.

Dato Leong delivering a speech at the Straits Gala 2023

“We are laying the foundation for initiatives such as hub setups, a surge in tourism with fabulous hotels, F&B outlets, a showcase of small businesses, improved logistics in the area as well as encouraging business migration from overseas into the country. This will help boost the economy and bring Foreign Direct Investments and business to Melaka and the country on the whole. It’s a big vision but I believe in it,” says Dato’ Leong.

Dato’ Leong’s ambition includes helping to create job opportunities that will lead to a higher living standard as prosperity flows into the area, “starting with jobs related to the fashion and arts via our Straits Designers’ Gallery (SDG) and FashionTV Malaysia modeling academy.”

“What we have achieved thus far would not have been possible without the support of the Melaka State Government and the FashionTV franchise. In particular, the STI team looks forward to working closely with the State Government in rolling out our new initiatives in the future, which we hope will attract even more investors and visitors to this historic state,” Leong added.

“I am happy to support and encourage Dato’ Leong’s initiatives to not only develop existing business opportunities but also encourage new business migration. She is doing this by cleverly using the initiatives of art and culture, fashion, wellness, and artificial intelligence, combined with property development,” said TYT Tun Seri Setia (Dr) Hj. Mohd Ali Bin Mohd Rustam.


Graduate with a Master of Mass Communication. 10 years working experience in the media and broadcasting.

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