The magnate and his many roles in Malaysia

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 04 Mar 2018

Richest man: Based on listed companies, Kuok is the richest man in Malaysia, worth almost RM50bil as at the end of last year.

He believes in meritocracy and helping the needy, and upholds integrity in his personal and business dealings.

• Served as unofficial adviser to Malaysian leaders in the early economic development of the country after Independence.

• Played a role in normalising relations with China and the easing of racial tensions after the May 13 riots.

• In the 1980s, acted as intermediary between Malaysia and China. This led to the end of the 30-year communist insurgency in Malaysia.

• Donated funds to Umno and MCA during general elections.

• In the 1980s, he was asked to help when MCA was facing financial ruin.

• In 1986, he posted RM20mil bail for MCA president Tan Koon Swan, who was charged with criminal breach of trust in Singapore linked to the Pan-El crisis.

• In the late 1980s, Kuok headed a team to rescue MCA’s Multi-Purpose Holdings, turning its businesses around.

• Set up Malaysia International Shipping Corporation, now controlled by the Government, to reduce costs in import and export of commodities.

• Called in to help clean up three major government-linked corporations.

• Kuok Foundation helped students from poor families.

• In the early 1970s, Kuok helped China to secure 300,000 tonnes of cheap sugar at low prices via a complex scheme of depressing sugar prices in the futures market. China was facing a sugar shortage amid a rising market.

In the three-month operation, he made £2.5mil (RM13.5mil).

He delivered sugar within China’s price range and the profit in futures market to Beijing.

• Kuok was one of the early investors in mainland China to help boost its economic development.

• He has played an important role in deepening Malaysia-China relations. He gave RM100mil to Xiamen University Malaysia for its development fund.

• He is the only Malaysian citizen invited to have private meetings with top Chinese leaders from Deng Xiaoping to current President Xi Jinping.

Source: Robert Kuok: A Memoir

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