'Sugar King' Robert Kuok pens memoir

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 25 Nov 2017

Robert Kuok

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok (pic) has released his memoir where he spoke candidly of his relations with Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn.

Describing the first Prime Minister as someone who had "tremendous rhythm", he wrote:

"If you talk of brains, Tunku was brilliant, and very shrewd. His mother was Thai, and he had that touch of Thai shrewdness, an ability to smell and spot whether a man was to be trusted or not."

"He had a good number two in Tun Razak," he noted, saying:

"Tunku was like a strategist who saw the big picture. He knew where to move his troops, but actually going to battle and plotting the detailed campaign – that was not Tunku. He'd say, 'Razak, you take over. You handle it now.' In that sense, they worked very well together."

As for Hussein Onn, he wrote that both of them were in the same class in school in Johor Baru in 1932.

"My father would often spend weekends with Dato Onn. Two or three years later, Hussein returned to Johor Baru and we were classmates again at English College from 1935 to 1939."

The Hong Kong-based businessman, also known as the sugar king, shared his views on race relations and affirmative actions, which favours bumiputras, reported the South China Morning Post based on extracts from Robert Kuok's memoir.

He recalled his conversation he had once with Hussein.

Kuok told Hussein that "the best brains will come, in all shades and colours, all religions, all faiths. They may be the whitest of the white, the brownest of the brown or the blackest of the black. I am sure it doesn't matter. But Hussein, the foreigners must never settle in the driving seats. The days of colonialism are over. They were in the driving seats and they drove our country helter-skelter. We Malaysians must remain in the driving seats and the foreign experts will sit next to us."

Kuok said that he implored to Hussein to "use the best brains, the people with their hearts in the right place, Malaysians of total integrity and strong ability, hard-working and persevering people."

"Use them regardless of race, colour or creed."

Hussein, Kuok recalled, spelt out to him that it was going to be Malay rule.

"He was saying that he could not sell my formula to his people. The meeting ended on a very cordial note and I left him. I felt disappointed, but there was nothing more that I could do. Hussein was an honest man of very high integrity. Before going to see him, I had weighed his strength of character, his shrewdness and skill. We had been in the same class, sharing the same teachers. I knew Hussein was going to be the Malaysian Prime Minister whom I was closest to in my lifetime. I think Hussein understood my message, but he knew that the process had gone too far."


> "Robert Kuok, A Memoir" is set for release in Malaysia on Dec 1.

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