PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay (pic), a prominent businessman and philanthropist, has passed away – to the surprise of his close friends.
In a statement, his family said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of the head of our family, Tan Sri Dato Seri (Dr) Yeoh Tiong Lay, but comforted that he has gone home to our Lord Jesus Christ. We have had the privilege of enjoying his presence for 88 years.”
Yeoh, who passed away yesterday morning, is the founder of the YTL Group of companies, which started from its humble beginning as a construction firm in Kuala Selangor in 1955.
With the help of his children, it was turned into a multinational corporation with operations in power generation, water and sewerage services, communications, construction, property development, cement manufacturing, hotel development and management.
His eldest son Tan Sri Francis Yeoh said: “Under my father’s illustrious leadership, the YTL Group expanded from its base in Malaysia to encompass operations and projects across the globe.”
YTL Corp, together with its listed entities in Malaysia, has a combined market capitalisation of RM27.6bil as at Sept 30, 2017.
It is one of the top 30 listed groups in Malaysia.
Yeoh had held top posts in trade organisations.
He was the founding chairman of Asean Constructors’ Federation and the past president of the International Federation of Asian and Western Pacific Contractors Association.
He was made Pro-Chancellor for Universiti Malaysia Sabah on July 1, 2005.
On Jan 19, 2008, he was conferred the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan in recognition of his contribution towards the economic cooperation between Japan and Malaysia.
President of the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap was shocked to learn the bad news.
“We met twice several days ago for dinner to bid farewell to the outgoing Chinese ambassador Dr Huang Huikang and we spent some time chatting.
“He was a mentor who gave me advice on good values in life. His death is not only a great loss to the nation but also a great personal loss for me,” Ter said.
ACCCIM adviser and Lion Group’s chairman Tan Sri William Cheng said: “He had made great contributions to the Chinese community and to Chinese education, including to Hin Hua High School in Klang and Kuen Cheng High School in KL.”
He said Yeoh’s biggest contribution was to the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (FCAM) Building Fund.
Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, chairman of Eco World Development Group Bhd, said Yeoh had left an indomitable mark and legacy in the YTL brand.
Mah Sing Group Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum said despite his tycoon status, Yeoh remained humble in his dealings with everyone.
Together with his wife Puan Sri Tan Kai Yong, Yeoh had helped in the development of Chinese primary schools.
He served as chairman on the board of governors of his alma mater, Hin Hua, donated over RM10mil to the school and spearheaded its transformation into one of the best Chinese high schools.
Among the Chinese associations, he is remembered for his huge contributions to the construction of Wisma Hua Zong.
Tan Sri Pheng Yin Hua, president of Hua Zong, recalled: “When I first started fundraising for Wisma Hua Zong, he came forward with RM5mil, later another RM1.5mil. I cannot forget his good deeds.”
Yeoh is survived by his wife, seven children, 27 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.