Hundreds bid farewell to Palm Oil King

TELUK INTAN: Hundreds of people, mainly employees of United Plantations Bhd, turned up to pay their last respects to the late Tan Sri Borge Bek-Nielsen yesterday. 

Some wept openly while others gathered to tell each other how Malaysia’s Palm Oil King had touched their lives. 

Since 8am, they have been streaming in for the private wake for employees and family friends held in Jenderata, about 125km from Ipoh. Among those who came was Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu. 

Bek-Nielsen, 79, who was life president of United Plantations, died on Friday in Kuala Lumpur after suffering a massive stroke. He leaves behind sons Carl, 32, and Martin, 30, both executive directors of United Plantations. 

A visibly-moved Tan Sri Dr Johari Mat, the chairman of United Plantations, described Bek-Nielsen as a nationalistic Malaysian – a great Dane who was a pioneer in Malaysia’s development. 

DEARLYMISSEDBY MANY:Bek-Nielsen’ssons Carl(right) andMartinreceivingguests whoshowed up forthe wake atthe familyresidence inJenderata inTeluk Intanyesterday.

A 53-year-old former employee said he would never forget the help Bek-Nielsen had given him and his family. 

“He was a remarkable man who will always have a place in my heart,” said the man, who declined to be named.  

Bek-Nielsen’s casket was taken around the estate, as was his wish, to show appreciation for the people who had worked hard for the company, said Martin. 

Later in the day, his remains were brought to the St Mary’s Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur for a memorial service. 

“He believed in integrity, compassion and honesty, always insisting that if one speaks the truth, he has nothing to fear,” said Carl in a moving tribute to his father during the service. 

Consul of Denmark John Madsen, who enjoyed a close friendship with Bek-Nielsen over the last 25 years, related his first encounter with him. 

“I first came to Malaysia when I was appointed MD of Carlsberg. Knowing that I was young and inexperienced, he came up to me and said: 'If there is anything you need, I am here.’ That was the sort of friend he was,” said Madsen. 

After the service, the casket was flown to Denmark, where Bek-Nielsen will be laid to rest in the family graveyard in Holstebro, North Jutland, beside his wife Gladys, who passed away in 1996.  

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