Author Topic: ROBERT KUOK  (Read 2049 times)

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ROBERT KUOK
« on: November 25, 2017, 05:01:59 PM »




TOPICROBERT KUOK
MY MOTHER AND MAO, SINGAPORE TAXES AND THE RISE OF HONG KONG PROPERTY: THE ROBERT KUOK MEMOIRS
In the debut instalment of six extracts from the first-ever memoir of Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, reproduced exclusively here, he recalls how mother shaped his views of China, and why he left Singapore and Malaysia for Hong Kong

BY ROBERT KUOK
24 NOV 2017 / UPDATED ON 25 NOV 2017
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Robert Kuok’s mother, Tang Kak Ji, c 1917. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir
Robert Kuok’s mother, Tang Kak Ji, c 1917. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir
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 The Kerry Centre in Quarry Bay is part of Kerry Properties, a developer majority-owned by the Kerry Group. Photo: May Tse
Kuok says with right heir his empire can last 'four generations’
Malaysian-born billionaire Robert Kuok has just published his memoirs – due out at bookshops this weekend – but they are by no means a tell-all. For starters he reveals few clues on the decades-old question of who will succeed him at the helm of the corporate empire he built from scratch in the post-war years. Still, the 376 pages offer a rare glimpse into the private life of a magnate, 94, who despite once owning the South China Morning Post is well known for having avoided the media limelight throughout his enigmatic rise from a small-time sugar merchant to becoming one of Asia’s richest and most influential people.

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Kuok is among the handful of Asian magnates born in the early 20th century who, having steeled themselves from the horrors of war and the injustice of colonial rule, forged businesses that grew with the newly independent countries that replaced the vast Western empires.

Kuok, who was raised in Johor Bahru and emigrated to Hong Kong in the 1970s, gained ready access to the highest levels of power in these fledgling nations, from Singapore to Malaysia, Indonesia and China. But the book reveals how his heart still beats for Malaysia and his involvement in its early, post-independence politics.

China’s rise during Deng Xiaoping’s tenure as leader, and the country’s current transformation under President Xi Jinping are discussed at length by the tycoon, who built the World Trade Centre in Beijing and at one point helped China avert a sugar crisis.

Robert Kuok.
Robert Kuok.

Kuok proudly declares he “belongs” in Southeast Asia, but adds that he felt duty bound to help China, the birthplace of his parents, “wake up and join the modern world”.

The book begins with a chapter on the lasting influence of his Fuzhou-born mother whom he calls the “true founder” of the Kuok empire and ends on the contemplative question of “What is wealth for?”. Kuok, the youngest of three brothers, details how his mother, Tang Kak Ji, shaped his views on everything from his love life to watershed boardroom decisions. The fiercely private father of eight for the first time also details the turmoil in his marital life.

He reserves special mention for overseas Chinese entrepreneurs like himself, lauding their grit and contributions to the growth of post-colonial Southeast Asia.

The book ends off with deep introspection from Kuok. He advises today’s youth to “distinguish between the real and the fanciful …[and] learn to live simply”. “Learn to be humble. Genuine humility must be inner humility, guided by compassion towards your fellow beings,” Kuok writes in the last page of the book. “I have found that if a person is truly humble, most people will do anything for him; but if he is a cocky person, out of 20 ‘friends’, barely two will help him.”

BY ROBERT KUOK

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2017, 05:09:20 PM »




MOTIVATION, NOT MONEY

Tim Dumas, one of the senior partners in ED&F Man, once asked me, “Why do you want to go on battling the odds in the business world, Robert? You’ve made your pile. Why don’t you retire?”

My answer may have sounded strange to him: “Tim, can’t you see we come from two different worlds? The British Empire spanned the world; wherever the sun rose, there was a Union flag fluttering in the breeze. You had colonies for over 200 years. Even today, Britain punches above its weight because of that history. I belong to a developing Southeast Asia. And now there is China, the land of my parents and ancestors. As long as I can still contribute, I cannot rest.”

I BELONG TO A DEVELOPING SOUTHEAST ASIA. AND NOW THERE IS CHINA, THE LAND OF MY PARENTS AND ANCESTORS. AS LONG AS I CAN STILL CONTRIBUTE, I CANNOT REST
My 1958 sugar barter deal with India and Mitsui almost led to disaster after the Chinese entered the market as a seller of sugar at the exact same time. However, in the end, it was a blessing in disguise. Through this deal, I got to know the Chinese trading companies based in Hong Kong. They decided that they would rather work with me than against me, and Kuok Brothers gradually built up a strong trading relationship with Chinese-affiliated trading firms in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Business is about one individual getting to know another individual and then another, and so on. We did sugar, we did rice, and then we went sideways into miscellaneous small things like photographic film and dyestuffs. From 1965, I began travelling to the mainland itself. My first trip took me to the Canton Trade Fair, with a side trip with several busloads of overseas Chinese to a commune outside the provincial capital. We had a good lunch of simple village-style food at a village community hall. In my early visits, I sensed that the people in China were highly moral and decent. I never felt like a stranger.

Robert Kuok’s mother (second from right) and her family in China, c 1924. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir
Robert Kuok’s mother (second from right) and her family in China, c 1924. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir

MOTHER, MAO AND DENG XIAOPING

China went into a self-imposed period of isolation during the Cultural Revolution, and the China that I returned to in the mid-1970s was a very different place. There was a lot of red tape laced with a high degree of suspicion. Many cadres did not have experience of business, and they feared that every capitalist was coming to try to rob the nation of its national treasures. The cadres didn’t know how to develop a business; but neither were they prepared to let you develop it. Mother warned me against investing in China: “You are going in too soon, my son, too soon. You will meet brick walls. Why bang your head on a brick wall? Your head will only bleed, and you won’t achieve anything. Worse still, if you achieve something, then they will take it away from you and you will be back at zero.”

Mother knew the Chinese make-up and the mindset of her generation. However, I saw that China was pitifully backward. I felt that the country must wake up and join the modern world. It was much poorer than the Malaya into which I was born. I felt that I wanted to help China and, if possible, push the country to develop faster.

Thank God there were good people, and standing above them all was Deng Xiaoping. I have Mother to thank for my lifelong interest in the birthplace of my parents. Mother always retained a strong and deep emotional tie to her homeland. Yet, she was very objective and critical of all the Chinese faults, including the foibles of successive governments and leaders. She was travelling regularly between Malaya and China in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She welcomed the victory of Mao Zedong and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

THANK GOD THERE WERE GOOD PEOPLE [IN CHINA], AND STANDING ABOVE THEM ALL WAS DENG XIAOPING
Mother always stood up for the poor. In 1951, on one of her trips back to China, she collected all the title deeds for her properties in Shandong province and went north with an assistant. They identified each tenant farmer and made a gift of the land to those who had tilled and maintained it. Until her death, she said Mao’s pluses far outweighed his minuses. But, from early on, she knew that mistakes were being made. She saw the harm that the Great Leap Forward did to the rural areas.

I think that, today, we would say Mao didn’t really understand how to run an economy. During the war years you needed heroic acts. The tales of daring during the Long March and the call to fight the Japanese resonated with the people. But once all the battles are won, you have to focus on building up the economy and bringing up the standard of living of the people.

The prayer room in the house of Robert Kuok’s mother in Johor Bahru. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir
The prayer room in the house of Robert Kuok’s mother in Johor Bahru. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir

Mother was a strong critic of the bad and bullying behaviour of local bureaucrats towards their fellow Chinese. This was particularly so during the Cultural Revolution, which she saw as the dark period in China’s history. In the early 1970s, she made a trip to Fuzhou after many years away. She was required to deposit her passport with the Public Security Bureau of Fuzhou. After staying for a few months and feeling unhappy at what she saw around her, she decided it was time to go back to Malaysia. She went many times to retrieve her passport, but the Public Security Bureau always gave her some kind of stupid answer and wouldn’t return it to her. One day, she got really angry. She went to the bureau, pounded on the desk, and said, “I am an overseas Chinese citizen of Malaysia. The Chinese Government told us to go overseas and become worthy citizens of the countries of our adoption. Why do you keep my passport? What have I done wrong? Why are you treating me like this? I shall go to Beijing to lodge a strong complaint.”

MOTHER ALWAYS RETAINED A STRONG AND DEEP EMOTIONAL TIE TO HER HOMELAND. YET SHE WAS VERY OBJECTIVE AND CRITICAL OF ALL THE CHINESE FAULTS

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2017, 05:19:11 PM »



MOTHER ALWAYS RETAINED A STRONG AND DEEP EMOTIONAL TIE TO HER HOMELAND. YET SHE WAS VERY OBJECTIVE AND CRITICAL OF ALL THE CHINESE FAULTS
Within a few days of that incident, an official brought the passport to her home, and she booked a flight and returned to Malaysia. Many poor Chinese from Fujian had left to seek a better life abroad, particularly in Southeast Asia, and when they went back to China to visit relatives and asked for assistance, they would often find the bureaucrats at the Overseas Chinese Bureau officious and unsympathetic. On her other trips home to Fuzhou, the bureau would send someone to greet her who would say, “Madame Kuok, I have come to welcome you. What can we do for you?” Her response would be: “I have come back to see relatives and to worship at the temples here. I do not need any help from you, but you could offer your help to the many returning overseas Chinese who are poor and illiterate and who really need your help.”

She assessed Deng Xiaoping quite correctly from the beginning. She told me, “Nien, China will go back to capitalism in your lifetime. It’s already moving in that direction. I can tell you, son, man can only be driven by the selfishness in his heart and the betterment of himself and his children’s well-being. Only that can propel him to achieve more things, to be more creative and productive. China will and must continue to be driven by this.”

But in her mind, the ultimate goal of society should be true socialism, where man truly works for all his fellow beings on a totally selfless basis. But that stage is a long way off. Before that, man must complete the long march to becoming truly civilised, and we have only travelled the first few of ten thousand miles.

‘Devils’ to friends – how China’s communists won over Malaysian PM Tunku; Hussein Onn clung to race-based politics: the Robert Kuok memoir


Hong Kong: attractive tax system. Photo: Reuters
Hong Kong: attractive tax system. Photo: Reuters

HONG KONG, A BIGGER (TAX-SAVVY) POND AND SINGAPORE’S FOUNDING FATHER

The principal reason that I elected to move to Hong Kong in the 1970s was taxation. At that time, it almost appeared as though the Singapore and Malaysian governments were competing with each other to see which could levy the highest taxes on those who were generating wealth for the nations. Both were taxing our profits at punitive rates. If you earned a dollar, you barely kept fifty cents. My main business at the time was in commodities. I was a substantial trader, taking large positions. Three thousand lots is the equivalent of 150,000 tons of sugar. A movement of one US cent a pound would bring huge profits or losses. If I went long and wrong, or short and wrong, margin calls could easily wipe me out. So it was imperative for me to build up my company’s cash reserves.

HONG KONG WAS A MUCH BIGGER POND THAN SINGAPORE – OR MALAYSIA
Because of Singapore’s steep tax rates, I was handicapped in my effort to build up cash reserves. And without deep reserves, I would be dangerously vulnerable to margin calls if our trading positions went sour. Although Singapore did not tax offshore trading profits, officials imposed extremely onerous conditions on you to prove that your profits were generated offshore. They essentially regarded you as guilty until proven innocent. A tax audit was a bit like the Spanish Inquisition. By comparison, Hong Kong’s tax environment encouraged business. You only paid 17 per cent corporate tax, so you were better off by 33 cents on every dollar of profit.

I SHALL STRESS THAT I HAD NOT – AND INDEED, HAVE NOT – LOST ONE IOTA OF MY AFFECTION FOR SINGAPORE
Since I was in the international sugar-trading business, with mobile operations it seemed almost irresponsible not to trade sugar from a low-tax base. Tax policy plays a very important role in encouraging or discouraging business. Hong Kong’s policy is very straightforward. Why would I want to hire an army of lawyers and accountants to avoid taxation? I should stress that I had not – and indeed, have not – lost one iota of my affection for Singapore. It is simply that it made more sense to base my operations in a low-tax jurisdiction like Hong Kong.

Robert Kuok with the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. Photo: The Straits Times
Robert Kuok with the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. Photo: The Straits Times

In fact, from about the mid-1970s, I often met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in a sitting room next to his office. His office would call my office at short notice when he had free time. In an early session, Kuan Yew explained that he wanted to have chats with me because I had a good feel for the scene in Malaysia. He had an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, but he wanted a different perspective. I was always very frank with him. If he asked questions for which I had no answer, I would tell him so.

We had many pleasant such sessions, sometimes over lunch. Unfortunately, these informal sessions ended when I moved to Hong Kong, as I could no longer pop around at a moment’s notice. Hong Kong was a much bigger pond than Singapore or Malaysia. I began to see very clearly that the CEOs of the top American, Japanese and European corporations were visiting Hong Kong, if not once a year, then once every two or three years. The senior VPs would go to Singapore and the VPs or departmental managers would visit Kuala Lumpur. That was the pecking order. Today, of course, CEOs are more likely to frequent Beijing and Shanghai. We had considered relocating part of our operations to Hong Kong from the 1960s. I finally made the plunge in 1974, deciding that I must form a Kuok Brothers Hong Kong.

I summoned several of our executives in Singapore: Richard Liu, Lee Yong Sun, James Lim, Kenny Yeo, and one or two others. I told everyone that we had to act quickly: “I have made up my mind that we will open a branch in Hong Kong. I ask for volunteers. Please give me your answer today. Two weeks from today, I want you to be in Hong Kong, ready to work. On the plus side,” I concluded, “anyone who follows me to Hong Kong will be well rewarded.”

THE MORE I HEARD PEOPLE CALL CHINA BACKWARD, THE MORE I FELT WE MUST SHOW THE REST OF THE WORLD, SOME DAY, THAT CHINA CAN BE ADVANCED

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2017, 05:24:28 PM »



THE MORE I HEARD PEOPLE CALL CHINA BACKWARD, THE MORE I FELT WE MUST SHOW THE REST OF THE WORLD, SOME DAY, THAT CHINA CAN BE ADVANCED
Lee Yong Sun, Kenny Yeo and James Lim all put up their hands. I asked Richard Liu to commute back and forth, like I was planning to do, to look after both sides of the business for at least a year. I spent about seven to ten days a month in Hong Kong from 1974, and then gradually it became 15 days a month, 21 days, until eventually I moved there in 1979.

Robert Kuok at his office in Hong Kong, c 2000. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir
Robert Kuok at his office in Hong Kong, c 2000. Photo: Robert Kuok, A Memoir

We started with about HK$10 million when I formed Kerry Holdings Ltd, the name that we chose for our Hong Kong operation. The executives who relocated to Hong Kong were allowed to apply for the first allotment of shares in the company. Trading, of course, migrated with me; that was unavoidable, as I was the main trader. Within 20 years, Hong Kong has blossomed into by far the largest of our three group companies of Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Malaysia-Singapore Airlines – the Siamese twins set for separation: the Robert Kuok memoirs


THE RISE AND RISE OF HK PROPERTY

I saw great potential in China, but I can’t claim to have had a crystal ball on the momentous changes that would follow the death of Mao Zedong. Luckily or unluckily, I was born Chinese, and I have always remained very proud of being Chinese. The more I heard people call China backward, the more I felt we must show the rest of the world, some day, that China can be advanced. I felt that I had something to offer my fellow Chinese: modern ways of thinking and management, and respect for the value that both sides brought to a business relationship.

However, our focus was most certainly not on China during the first few years after we moved to Hong Kong. Kerry Holdings focused on supplying sugar and rice to Indonesia. That was when Yani Haryanto had his magic arrangement with President Suharto, under which all that vast land’s sugar and rice imports passed through Yani’s hands. My first major investment in Hong Kong came in November 1977, when I bought a piece of land in Kowloon at auction and built the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel. It is still a very important jewel in the Group’s hotel crown more than 40 years later.

The Kowloon Shangri-La in Tsim Sha Tsui. File photo
The Kowloon Shangri-La in Tsim Sha Tsui. File photo

After that, I plunged into the Hong Kong property market, then into warehousing and local stock-market investing.

It is well known that Hong Kong property has created quite a few billionaires. In the hindsight of history, it is not hard to see why. My first visit to Hong Kong was in 1947, when Joy and I were there on honeymoon. We drove with a friend, Eddie Cheung, past the old Peninsula hotel in Kowloon. When we were maybe a few hundred metres down Nathan Road from the Peninsula, Eddie said, “Robert, if you have spare money you should buy land here. I think you can buy empty land at about HK$5 a square foot.” Well, that is probably the greatest missed opportunity of my life!

I SAW GREAT POTENTIAL IN CHINA, BUT I CAN’T CLAIM TO HAVE HAD A CRYSTAL BALL ON THE MOMENTOUS CHANGES THAT WOULD FOLLOW THE DEATH OF MAO ZEDONG
Fast forward to the late 1970s, when we had been in Hong Kong for three or four years. We had established a small office, and we rented apartments so that those of us who periodically came over from Singapore would have a place to stay. When a two-year tenancy expired, the rent would always shoot up. The rising rents were creating a strong headwind for our business. So I called several of our executives into my office, and said, “If rents keep going up like this, we will never be able to gain a foothold here. We have to go into property investment.” So, we established Kerry Properties Limited, which is now a public company, and which has been our primary company for investment in Hong Kong and mainland China real estate since 1978. Even I did not see how important this decision would be. In the 1970s, despite the rising rents, the cost was not that steep. But, as China developed, it became very apparent that rents would continue to soar and soar. We decided not to stop at buying just one or two floors of office space or one or two apartments. We branched into development. We built entire buildings, and then major integrated commercial and residential complexes. We have never looked back.

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Robert Kuok, A Memoir will be available in Hong Kong exclusively at Bookazine and in Singapore at all major bookshops from November 25. It will be released in Malaysia on December 1 and in Indonesia on January 1, 2018

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2017, 05:28:56 PM »



TOPICROBERT KUOK
‘DEVILS’ TO FRIENDS – HOW CHINA’S COMMUNISTS WON OVER MALAYSIAN PM TUNKU; HUSSEIN ONN CLUNG TO RACE-BASED POLITICS: THE ROBERT KUOK MEMOIRS
In the second extract from Robert Kuok’s memoir, he recalls his access to Malaysian leaders: Tunku Abdul Rahman had a ‘bee in the bonnet’ over communism, Hussein Onn wouldn’t give up race-based politics

BY ROBERT KUOK
25 NOV 2017
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Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. File photo
Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. File photo
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 A general malaise has descended on Malaysia, fuelled by a mix of political scandal and economic lethargy
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COMMUNIST DEVILS? PLEASE, PRIME MINISTER

Malaysia has had six Prime Ministers since independence. I have known all six. The first, Tunku Abdul Rahman, had tremendous rhythm. He was a well-educated man, having graduated with a law degree from Cambridge. 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. Tunku was less mindful about administrative affairs. But he had a good number two in Tun Razak, who was extremely industrious, and Tunku left most of the paperwork to Razak.

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. In my meetings with Tunku, he demonstrated some blind spots. He had a bee in his bonnet about communism. One day, when we had become quite close, he said to me, “Communists! In Islam, we regard them as devils! And Communist China, you cannot deal with them, otherwise you are dealing with the devil!” And he went on and on about communists, communism and Communist China. I responded, “Tunku, China only became communist because of the immense suffering of the people as a result of oppression and invasion. I think it’s a passing phase.” He interjected, “Oh, don’t you believe it! The Chinese are consorting with the devil. Their people are finished! You don’t know how lucky you Chinese are to be in Malaysia.” I replied softly, “Tunku, as Prime Minister of Malaysia, you should make friends with them.”

TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN HAD A BEE IN HIS BONNET ABOUT COMMUNISM
Years later, when Tunku was out of office, he was invited to China. Zhao Ziyang, then Premier, entertained him in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Tunku travelled with a delegation of 15 Chinese businessmen who were good friends of his. On his way to China, Tunku stopped in Hong Kong and I gave them dinner. Then on his way out of China, he stopped in Hong Kong and we dined again. I asked him for his impressions. All of his old prejudices had vanished! He didn’t even want to refer to them. He just said the trip had been an eye-opener. “They are decent people, like you and me,” he said. “We could talk about anything.” From then onward, you never heard Tunku claim that the Chinese Communists were the devils incarnate.

Tun Razak. File photo
Tun Razak. File photo

FRIENDS, NOT CRONIES

One thing I will say for Tunku: he had friends. His friends sometimes helped him, or they sent him a case of champagne or slabs of specially imported steak. He loved to grill steaks on his lawn and open champagne, wine or spirits. His favourite cognac was Hennessy VSOP. Tunku would also do favours for his friends, but he never adopted cronies.

When Tun Tan Siew Sin was Finance Minister, Tunku sent him a letter about a Penang businessman who was one of Tunku’s poker-playing buddies. It seems the man had run into tax trouble and was being investigated by the tax department, and he had turned to Tunku for help. In his letter, Tunku wrote, “You know so-and-so is my friend. I am not asking any favour of you, Siew Sin, but I am sure you can see your way to forgiving him,” or something to that effect.

TUNKU WOULD DO FAVOURS FOR HIS FRIENDS, BUT HE NEVER ADOPTED CRONIES
Siew Sin was apoplectic. He stalked into Tun Dr Ismail’s office upstairs and threw the letter down. “See what our Prime Minister is doing to me!” Tun Dr Ismail read the letter and laughed. “Siew Sin,” he said, “there is a comic side to life”. Ismail took the letter, crumpled it into a ball and threw it into the waste-paper basket. He then said, “Siew Sin, Tunku has done his duty by his friend. Now, by ignoring Tunku, you will continue to do your duty properly.” That was as far as Tunku would go to help a friend. Cronyism is different. Cronies are lapdogs who polish a leader’s ego. In return, the leader hands out national favours to them. A nation’s assets, projects and businesses should never be for anyone to hand out, neither for a king nor a prime minister. A true leader is the chief trustee of a nation. If there is a lack of an established system to guide him, his fiduciary sense should set him on the proper course.

A leader who practices cronyism justifies his actions by saying he wants to bring up the nation quickly in his lifetime, so the end justifies the means. He abandons all the General Orders – the civil-service work manual that lays down tendering rules for state projects. Instead, he simply hands the projects to a Chinese or to a Malay crony. The arms of government-owned banks are twisted until they lend to the projects. Some of these cronies may even be fronting for crooked officials.

Tunku was unnerved by the riots of May 13. After the riots he was a different man. Razak managed to convince him and the cabinet to form the National Operations Council, a dictatorial organ of government, and Razak was appointed its director. Parliament went into deep freeze. By the time the NOC was disbanded, Razak had been installed as prime minister. Tunku felt bewildered. He had helped the country gain independence and had ruled as wisely as he could, yet the Malays turned against him for selling out to the Chinese. In fairness to Tunku, he had done nothing of the sort. He was a very fair man who loved the nation and its people. But he knew that, if you favour one group, you only spoil them. When the British ruled Malaya, they extended certain advantages to the Malays.

Malay Sultans along with then Malayan High Commissioner Donald MacGillivray sign an agreement creating an independent Malaysia on August 5, 1957 in the official residence of the British high commissioner of Malaya. File photo
Malay Sultans along with then Malayan High Commissioner Donald MacGillivray sign an agreement creating an independent Malaysia on August 5, 1957 in the official residence of the British high commissioner of Malaya. File photo

When the Malays took power following independence on 31 August 1957, more incentives were given to them. But there was certainly no showering of favours. All of that came later, after 1969. The riots of May 13, 1969, were a great shock to the system, but not a surprise. Extremist Malays attributed the poverty of many Malays to the plundering Chinese and Indians. Leaders like Tunku Abdul Rahman, who could see both sides, were no longer able to hold back the hotheads. The more thoughtful leaders were shunted aside and the extremists hijacked power. They chanted the same slogans as the hotheads – the Malays are underprivileged; the Malays are bullied – while themselves seeking to become super-rich. When these Malays became rich, not many of them did anything for the poor Malays; the Chinese and Indians who became rich created jobs, many of them filled by Malays.

My mother and Mao, Singapore taxes and the rise of Hong Kong property: the Robert Kuok memoirs


ON PRO-MALAY POLITICS

I vividly recall an incident that occurred within a few months after the May 1969 riots. I was waiting to see Tun Razak when a senior Malay civil servant whom I knew very well came along the corridor of Parliament House and buttonholed me. He asked, “What are you doing here, Robert?” I replied, “Oh, I’m seeing Tun.” He snarled, “Don’t be greedy! Leave something for us poor Malays! Don’t hog it all!” I could see that, after May 1969, the business playing field was changing. Business was no longer clean and open. Previously, the government announced open tenders to the Malaysian public and to the world. If we qualified, we would submit a tender. If we won the contract, we would work hard at it, and either fail or succeed. I think eight or nine times out of ten we succeeded.

DON’T BE GREEDY ROBERT. LEAVE SOMETHING FOR US POOR MALAYS!

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 05:30:20 PM »




DON’T BE GREEDY ROBERT. LEAVE SOMETHING FOR US POOR MALAYS!
A senior civil servant friend
But things were changing, veering more and more towards cronyism and favouritism. Hints of change were there even before the riots. I was hell-bent on helping to develop the nation: that’s why I went into shipping, into steel – anything they asked of me. Even among the Malays there were those who admitted their weaknesses and argued for harnessing the strength of the Chinese. Mind you, that may have created more problems. If they had harnessed the strength of the Chinese, the Chinese would ultimately have owned 90 or 95 per cent of the nation’s wealth. This might have been good for the Malaysian economy, but bad for the nation.

Overall, the Malay leaders have behaved reasonably in running the country. At times, they gave the Malays an advantage. Then, when they see that they have overdone it, they try to redress the problem. Their hearts are in the right place, but they just cannot see their way out of their problems. Since May 13, 1969, the Malay leadership has had one simple philosophy: the Malays need handicapping. Now, what amount of handicapping?

The 1969 riots were a pivotal moment in Malaysian history. File photo
The 1969 riots were a pivotal moment in Malaysian history. File photo

The Government laid down a simple structure, but the structure is full of loopholes. Imagine that a hard-working, non-Malay Malaysian establishes XYZ Corporation. The Ministry of Trade and Industry rules that 30 per cent of the company’s shares must be offered to Malays. The owner says, “Well, I have been operating for six years. My par value of 1 ringgit per share is today worth 8 ringgit.” Then the Ministry says, “Can you issue it at 2 ringgit or 2.50 ringgit to the Malays?” After a bit of haggling, the non-Malay gives way. So shares are issued to the Malays, who now own 30 per cent. But every day after that, the Malays sell off their shares for profit. A number of years pass and then one day the Malay community holds a Bumiputra Congress. They go and check on all the companies. Oh, this XYZ Corporation, the Malay shareholding ratio is now down to seven per cent. That won’t do. So the Malays argue that they’ve got to redo the shareholding again. Fortunately, the ministry usually acts as a fair umpire and throws out such unscrupulous claims.

THE MALAYS’ ZEAL TO BRIDGE ECONOMIC GAP WITH THE CHINESE BRED UGLY RACISM
It’s one thing if you change the rules once to achieve an objective agreed to by all for the sake of peace and order in the nation. But if you do it a second time, it’s robbery. Why is it not robbery just because the government commits it? And when people raise objections, it is called fomenting racial strife, punishable by three years in jail. As a Chinese who was born and grew up in Malaysia and went to school with the Malays, I was saddened to see the Malays being misled in this way. I felt that, in their haste to bridge the economic gap between the Chinese and the Malays, harmful short cuts were being taken. One of the side effects of their zeal to bridge the economic gap was that racism became increasingly ugly. I saw very clearly that the path being pursued by the new leaders after 1969 was dangerous. But hardly anyone was willing to listen to me. In most of Asia, where the societies are still quite hierarchical, very few people like to gainsay the man in charge. As in The Emperor’s New Clothes, if a ruler says, “Look at my clothes; aren’t they beautiful?” when he is in fact naked, everybody will answer, “Yes, yes sir, you are wearing the most beautiful clothes.”

THE EAR OF THE PRIME MINISTER

I made one – and only one – strong attempt to influence the course of history of Malaysia. This took place in September 1975 during the Muslim fasting month. Tun Razak, the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, was gravely ill with terminal leukaemia, for which he was receiving treatment in a London hospital. My dear friend Hussein Onn, son of Dato Onn bin Jafar, was Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and acting Prime Minister in Tun Razak’s absence. He was soon to become Malaysia’s third Prime Minister. I went to Kuala Lumpur and sent word that I wanted to have a heart-to-heart talk. On the phone Hussein said, “Why don’t you come in during lunch time. It is the fasting month. Come to my office at about half past one. There will be no one around and we can chat to our heart’s content.”

Hussein and I go back to 1932 when we were in the same class in school in Johor Bahru. Shortly afterwards, his father fell out with the then-Sultan of Johor and the family moved to the Siglap area of Singapore.

Malaysia’s third prime minister Hussein Onn. File photo
Malaysia’s third prime minister Hussein Onn. File photo

My father would often spend weekends with Dato Onn. Two or three years later, Hussein returned to Johor Bahru and we were classmates again at English College from 1935 to 1939. Hussein’s father, Dato Onn, did not have a tertiary education. But he read widely and was very well informed. He was a natural born politician, a gifted orator in Malay and in English. He was a very shrewd man with a tremendous air of fine breeding even though he was not from Malaysian royalty. When you were in his presence, you knew you were in the presence of someone great. Dato Onn would go on to found UMNO, the ruling party of Malaysia, and become one of the founders of the independent nation of Malaysia. He set a tone of racial harmony for the nation – and he practised it. Our families were close.

So, I went to call on his son, my old friend Hussein Onn in 1975. His office was in a magnificent old colonial building, part of the Selangor Secretariat Building. In front of it was the Kuala Lumpur padang, where, in the colonial days, the British used to play the gentlemen’s games of cricket and rugby. I climbed up a winding staircase and his aide showed me straight to his room. There was hardly another soul in that huge office complex. After greeting one another, I warmed up to my subject with Hussein very quickly. I said, “Hussein, I have come to discuss two things with you. One is Tun Razak’s health. The other is the future of our nation.” I said, “You know, Razak has been looking very poorly lately. We all know he has gone to London for treatment.” Hussein interrupted: “Tun doesn’t like anybody discussing his health. Do you mind if we pass on to the next subject?” I said, “Of course not.” I continued, “I had to raise the first subject because that leads to the next subject. Assuming Razak doesn’t have long to live – please don’t mind, but I have to say that – you are clearly going to become the new Prime Minister in a matter of months or weeks.”

“I’m listening,” he said. “Hussein, we go back a long way. Our fathers were the best of friends; our families have been the best of friends. In our young days, you and I always felt a strong passion for our country, which we both still feel. Whatever has happened these past years, let’s not go backwards and ask what has gone wrong and what has not been done right. Let’s look at the future. If there was damage done, we can repair it.”

Hussein listened patiently. I pressed on, “First, let me ask you a few questions, Hussein. What, in your mind, is the number of people required to run a society, a community, a nation with the land mass of Malaysia?” This was 1975, when the population was about 12.5 million. He didn’t reply. For the sake of time, I answered my own question. “Hussein, if I say 3,000, if I say 6,000, if I say 10,000, 20,000, whatever the figure, I don’t think it really matters. We are not talking in terms of hundreds of thousands or millions. To run a society or a nation requires, relatively speaking, a handful of people. So let us say six or seven or eight thousand, Hussein. And of course this covers two sectors. The public sector: government, civil service, governmental organisations, quasi-governmental bodies, executive arms, police, customs and military. The private sector: the economic engines; the engines of development, plantations, mines, industry.

Robert Kuok. File photo
Robert Kuok. File photo

“The leaders of these two sectors are the people I am referring to, Hussein. If we are talking of a few thousand, does it matter to the masses whether it becomes a case of racially proportionate representation, where we must have for every ten such leaders five or six Malays, three Chinese, and one or two Indians?” I continued, “Must it be so? My reasoning mind tells me that it is not important. What is important is the objective of building up a very strong, very modern nation. And for that we need talented leaders, great leadership from these thousands of people. If you share my view that racial representation is unimportant and unnecessary to the nation, then let’s look at defining the qualifications for those leaders.

“Number one, for every man or woman, the first qualification is integrity. The person must be so clean, upright and honest that there must never be a whiff of corruption or scandal. People do stray, and, when that happens, they must be eliminated, but on the day of selection they must be people of the highest integrity. Second, there must be ability; and with it comes capability. He or she must be a very able and capable person. The third criterion is that they must be hard-working men or women, people who are willing to work long hours every day, week after week, month after month, year after year. That is the only way you can build up a nation.”

I went on, “I can’t think of any other important qualifications. So your job as prime minister, Hussein – I am now assuming you will become the prime minister – your job will then be from time to time to remove the square pegs from the round holes, and to look for square holes for square pegs and round holes for round pegs. Even candidates who fulfil those three qualifications can be slotted into the wrong jobs. So you’ve got to pull them out and re-slot them until the nation is humming beautifully.”

THE BEST BRAINS COME IN ALL SHADES AND COLOURS, ALL RELIGIONS, ALL FAITHS.
“We do not have all the expertise required to build up the nation,” I ad

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2017, 05:31:34 PM »




THE BEST BRAINS COME IN ALL SHADES AND COLOURS, ALL RELIGIONS, ALL FAITHS.
“We do not have all the expertise required to build up the nation,” I added. “But with hard work and a goal of developing the nation, we can afford to employ the best people in the world. 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. If they say, ‘Sir, Madame, I think we should turn right at the next turning,’ it’s up to us to heed their advice, or to do something else. We are running the show, but we need expertise.

YOU’RE GOING TO BE THE LEADER OF A NATION, AND YOU HAVE THREE SONS, HUSSEIN … YOUR ELDEST SON WILL GROW UP VERY SPOILED
“You’re going to be the leader of a nation, and you have three sons, Hussein. The first-born is Malay, the second-born is Chinese, the third-born is Indian. What we have been witnessing is that the first-born is more favoured than the second or third. Hussein, if you do that in a family, your eldest son will grow up very spoiled. As soon as he attains manhood, he will be in the nightclubs every night because Papa is doting on him. The second and third sons, feeling the discrimination, will grow up hard as nails. Year by year, they will become harder and harder, like steel, so that in the end they are going to succeed even more and the eldest will fail even more.”

Malaysia-Singapore Airlines – the Siamese twins set for separation: the Robert Kuok memoirs


I implored him, “Please, Hussein, 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. The other way, Hussein, the way your people are going – excessive handicapping of bumiputras, showering love on your first son – your first born is going to grow up with an attitude of entitlement.” I concluded, “That is my simple formula for the future of our country. Hussein, can you please adopt it and try?” Hussein had listened very intently to me, hardly interrupting. He may have coughed once or twice. I remember we were seated deep in a quiet room, two metres apart, so my voice came across well. He heard every word, sound and nuance. He sat quietly for a few minutes. Then he spoke, “No, Robert. I cannot do it. The Malays are now in a state of mind such that they will not accept it.”
He clearly spelt out to me that, even with his very broad-minded views, 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. I had seen a picture developing all along of a train moving in the wrong direction. During Hussein’s administration, he was only partially successful in stemming the tide. The train of the nation had been put on the wrong track. Hussein wasn’t strong enough to lift up the train and set it down on the right track.

THE TRAIN OF THE NATION HAD BEEN PUT ON THE WRONG TRACK
The capitalist world is a very hostile world. When I was building up the Kuok Group, I felt as if I was almost growing scales, talons and sharp fangs. I felt I was capable of taking on any adversary. Capitalism is a ruthless animal. For every successful businessman, there are at least 10,000 bleached skeletons of those who have failed. It’s a very sad commentary on capitalism, but that is capitalism and real capitalism, not crony capitalism. Yet, I’ve always believed that the rules of capitalism, if properly observed, are the way forward in life. I know that, having been successful, I will be accused of having an ‘alright Jack’ mentality. But I am just stating facts: capitalism is a wonderful creature – just don’t abuse its principles and unwritten laws. ■

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 MSA flight attendants. Photo: Pinterest
Malaysia-Singapore Airlines – the Siamese twins set for separation: the Robert Kuok memoirs
 In the debut instalment of six extracts from the first-ever memoir of Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, reproduced exclusively here, he recalls how mother shaped his views of China, and why he left Singapore and Malaysia for Hong Kong
My mother and Mao, Singapore taxes and the rise of Hong Kong property: the Robert Kuok memoirs
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Malaysia-Singapore Airlines – the Siamese twins set for separation: the Robert Kuok memoirs
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Robert Kuok, A Memoir will be available in Hong Kong exclusively at Bookazine and in Singapore at all major bookshops from November 25. It will be released in Malaysia on December 1 and in Indonesia on January 1, 2018

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2017, 06:24:14 AM »



November 25, 2017
Kuok: M’sia-S’pore Airlines split like separating Siamese twins
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PETALING JAYA: Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, in his new autobiography, reveals that the move to dismantle and separate Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA) was like performing surgery on Siamese twins, as it took them a long time to carry out the operation.

The South China Morning Post has published excerpts from his book, “Robert Kuok, A Memoir”, which hit the shelves in Hong Kong and Singapore today. The Malaysian release is set for Dec 1.

“Serving as chairman of MSA was a thankless task and I was working like a slave, virtually day and night,” Kuok said of the role he took up reluctantly in 1969 at the prompting of the Singapore government who preferred him over the candidate proposed by the Malaysian government.

“The Malaysian government had proposed MCA’s Dr Lim Swee Aun, the former minister of commerce and industry, who had failed to get re-elected in the elections of May 1969.

“But Singapore said they ‘did not like him’,” writes the 94-year-old billionaire in his book.

Kuok says he decided to quit his role as chairman of MSA almost two years later as he could see that the assurance given to him that the airline would be maintained as one to “preserve ties” between the two counties, was not going to be fulfilled.

“I had been under the impression that the link between the two countries would be preserved. Now that the decision to split was imminent, I decided to resign,” he said.

Kuok, who said he was already involved in the sugar business at the time, said he knew the split would be even more difficult having already faced much resistance from the two countries’ representatives on the MSA board since he became chairman.

“The board of 15 directors comprised one chairman, four directors nominated by the Malaysian government, another four by the Singapore government, one director from Straits Steamship (then a British shipping company controlled by Blue Funnel Group), two directors each from British Airways and Qantas Airways and the managing director, who was on loan from British Airways,” Kuok said.

“There were six white men, eight Malaysians and Singaporeans, and myself, a Malaysian. You couldn’t have had worse bickering than between the Singapore and Malaysian government-nominated directors.

“If one side raised a point and asked for a resolution to be passed, the other side would object. Each side tried to peel off the skin to see what hidden agenda existed under that resolution,” he said of the airline which was established in 1966, one year after Singapore left the federation of Malaysia.

Looking into the future

Kuok also praised the Singapore members of the board and management, whom he said were efficient and also understood the economics of the airline industry.

“They began to realise that the Malaysian domestic routes were profit-making, but looking into the future, they could not see such air travel as big-scale business,” he said.

He said with Singapore’s international airport, the government there could see the growing international traffic was the jewel in the crown of the airline industry in the region.

“So, the Singapore government felt it would be useful to break Malaysia-Singapore Airlines into two and let each country go its own way,” Kuok said, adding that board meetings had already been acrimonious as it was.

“I was acting as referee, but I was seeing the poor Malaysian directors slaughtered at every meeting because the Singapore directors had minds as sharp as razors.”

Kuok had particular praise for Singapore board member Joe YM Pillay, whom he said had “tremendous intellect that had no superior in the Singapore/Malaysia region”.

Kuok, who is Malaysia’s richest man according to Forbes, said following his resignation, the two governments agreed to having two co-chairmen, one from each country.

“They could not have asked for a more classic mongoose and cobra arrangement.

“The Malaysian government chose Ismail Ali, then Bank Negara governor, while the Singapore side picked Pillay,” he said.

Kuok said what the two co-chairmen presided over eventually, was like a funeral, as MSA reached the end of the road with the split into two separate airlines – Malaysian Airlines System (MAS) and Singapore Airlines (SIA).

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2017, 06:29:28 AM »



No country for honest men, just MO1
The Malaysian Insight
The Malaysian Insight
Updated 20 hours ago · Published on 26 Nov 2017 10:00AM · 2 comments
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No country for honest men, just MO1
Back in the day, the cabinet dared to stand up to the leader if he dared to propose the doing of dubious deeds. – AFP pic, November 26, 2017.

READING Robert Kuok’s account of Malaysian leaders of a bygone era, one anecdote stood out.

The anecdote shows how far our current leaders have fallen in integrity, accountability, honesty and sense of responsibility for the country.

In his memoir, Kuok recalls an incident of former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman writing to then finance minister Tan Siew Sin to tell the tax department to go easy on a poker buddy.

Tan was so upset at being asked to intervene and bend the rules that he marched into the office of Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.


Dr Ismail's advice was brilliant. He told his cabinet colleague that Tunku Abdul Rahman had done his friend a favour by writing the letter. Now Siew Sin had to do the country a favour by doing his job.

And yes, Dr Ismail also crumpled up the letter and threw it into the waste bin.

These men were the nation’s true trustees.

There wouldn't have been the BMF and Perwaja  Steel scandals, and most certainly, the biggest act of kleptocracy in the world would never have been allowed to happen.

And there would be no Jho Low or MO1.

If the PM or Umno chieftains of the day had tried to propose a shady deal, they would have spoken up against it.

What a contrast to the crop of today.

Cronyism. Nepotism. Every "ism" that the leaders of the bygone era fought against has infected the leadership of the country, from top to bottom.

But even sadder is that unlike the towering giants of the past, we now are surrounded by champions of mediocrity.

Not for them the integrity and honesty of their predecessors. They prefer to attend to the more immediate need of short-term electoral gains to stay in power at any cost.

Cronies and acolytes are a must, in the interests of development and to ensure the race and religion remain supreme.

That it is lip service is of no concern to those who preach that the end justifies the means. People may remain poor decades after Merdeka but they are fed hope while cronies scoop up the contracts and concessions.

Will anyone in government stand up to such blatant abuse of their mandate? Will any blow the whistle on those who abuse their power?

The long answer is, no way for sure. The short answer, d'uh. It will never happen and the few who dared to say yes have been sacked and punished.

The simple fact is, Kuok is talking of a time in Malaysia that is long gone. And will never return again. – November 25, 2017

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2017, 02:15:51 PM »




I built MISC from scratch only to be told to sell by Tun Razak, says Kuok
Updated 2 hours ago · Published on 27 Nov 2017 11:31AM · 3 comments
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I built MISC from scratch only to be told to sell by Tun Razak, says Kuok
Malaysia's richest man Robert Kuok (centre) receives a souvenir from a Chinese official (R) during his visit as president of the Kuok clan in Malaysia to Fuzhou, in southeastern China's Fujian province, in April 2005. The tycoon’s empire includes the Shangri-La hotel chain, the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong and real estate group Kerry Properties. – AFP pic, November 27, 2017.

MALAYSIAN tycoon Robert Kuok said he built Malaysia’s first national shipping line, the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC), out of a sense of patriotism, but later relegated himself to be a minority shareholder at the repeated request of former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

In an extract of Kuok's autobiography, Robert Kuok, A Memoir” published on the South China Morning Post today, the man dubbed the “Sugar King” tells of how he was driven to launch the country's national shipping line after he learnt that the largest British shipping conglomerate Blue Funnel Group was coming to set up in post-independent Malaysia.

"My interest was partly patriotism – a desire to help Malaysia to launch its own independent shipping line and not be tied to the apron strings of the ex-colonial government of Britain through Blue Funnel,” he said.

The MISC quickly grew successful under the management of his company, Kuok Brothers and his Hong Kong partner, International Maritime Carriers chairman Frank WK Tsao.


Kuok said MISC had a paid-up capital of RM10 million, with the Kuok Brothers leading the show with 20%, and Tsao, 15% of their share. MCA and several Chinese organisations held 20% to 30% of shares.

Then a year into their operations, Kuok said he received a call from then-prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein, who wanted Kuok to give up a percentage of the company’s shares for Malay ownership.

"Within a year of our launching MISC, Tun Razak, who by then was prime minister, sent for me,” said Kuok in his book.

“Razak said, 'I want you to make a fresh issue of 20% of new shares. I’m under pressure because there is not a high enough Malay percentage of shareholding.' 

"I said, 'Tun, are you quite serious about this request?' He answered, 'Yes, Robert.' So I replied that I would do it.

“I went back and, with a little bit of arm-twisting, persuaded the board to pass a resolution waiving the rights of existing shareholders to a rights issue (MISC was not yet a public company).

"Razak allocated all the new shares to government agencies. So, I was diluted to 20 upon 120 – the enlarged base – and Frank became 15 upon 120," Kuok said.

A year or two later, Kuok said Razak went to him again to squeeze for more share issuance, saying he was "under a lot of pressure at cabinet meetings”.

Kuok said Razak told him: "You know, Robert, it’s just the price of your success. MISC is doing well, people are getting envious."

Razak then told him to issue another 20%, to give 5% each to the four port cities in Malaysia.

"This entailed enlarging the capital base to 140 from the original 100, making the Malaysian Government the largest single shareholder and relegating Kuok Brothers to second position. And he again wanted the shares issued at par – the original issue price," Kuok said.

Kuok said he agreed to issue the shares at par, but asked Razak to “promise” that it would be the last time.

“He smiled and very gently signified his agreement, without saying the words,” Kuok wrote.

Early beginnings

Kuok, now 94 and the 54th richest man in the world, admitted that despite his interest in setting up MISC back then, he "knew nothing about shipping" and could not even submit a decent memo for the application, leading him to look for a partner.

"I had become interested in shipping from about 1964, due to our large-scale buying of sugar for our refinery, wheat for our flourmill and our international commodities-trading activities," he wrote.

It was then he decided to contact Tsao – a shipping man he met through a Malay civil servant friend – and proposed a partnership which Tsao agreed to.

When his friend Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's second deputy prime minister, resigned from the government due to cancer in 1968 around the time MISC was formed, Kuok invited him to be the first chairman of the company.

Kuok took over when Dr Ismail returned to the cabinet after the May 13, 1969 riots.

He wrote of how MISC's first two ships came from the Japanese as "blood debt ships" or "goodwill ships" to compensate for the Japanese massacre of innocent Chinese in Malaya. The demand for compensation had come from MCA, and was supported by former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.

"MISC started with these two cargo ships and paid for them on a monthly bare-boat, hire-charter basis. Tsao’s ship architects and engineers in Hong Kong supervised the design and construction in Japan.

"Tunku Abdul Rahman made some very cogent suggestions about the design of the flag for this new national flag carrier."

For the MISC’s success, Kuok paid credit to Tsao, the MISC deputy chairman, who recommended capable managers like Eddie Shih, a Shanghainese who ran the show with Tony Goh, a Singaporean shipping expert; who in turn brought in MISC's managing director Leslie Eu, a Burmese Chinese.

Kuok also said before MISC went public in 1987, he made a radical move to sell 15% of the company's shares to deserving directors, staff and ship captains who had contributed to the shipping line's success.

"Quite a number of people benefited from this move. I have always believed in some degree of socialism when you have made money. You know very well that you alone didn’t make it; it was a joint effort.”

He said his move was “inspired” by the legendary Mongolian warrior Genghis Khan, who usually turned over the spoils of war to his generals and soldiers.

“He was not selfish, and that is why he became the greatest general the world has ever seen," wrote Kuok.

Robert Kuok, A Memoir is available at Bookazine in Hong Kong and at major bookshops in Singapore. It will be released in Malaysia on December 1 and in Indonesia on January 1. – November 27, 2017.

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2017, 03:45:49 PM »



We were never on the right track pre-1969, so let’s choose the right one now
Updated about 43 minutes ago · Published on 27 Nov 2017 2:47PM · 0 comments
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I READ with interest the news reports based on excerpts from Robert Kuok’s new memoir. He made fine observations on the surge of ethno-nationalism in the late 1960s and its lasting consequences. It is also heartwarming to know a time when public officials can reject carrying out a favour for their superior without having to face any consequences. There are two things that need to be pointed out, however, lest we drown in a nostalgia that never was.
 

The Tunku administration, class, and inequality

It should come as no surprise that a businessman lavished praise on the first prime minister. The Tunku administration (1957-1970) was a liberal government, which was happy to let the capitalists run the economy. Distribution was not a major concern, which is surprising for a newly independent state. As a result, by the late 1960s, inequality rose among all ethnic groups.

The higher the gini coefficient, the more unequal the group is. – Source: Roslan (2001) p9, based on Perumal (1989) and Snodgrass (1980)
The higher the gini coefficient, the more unequal the group is. – Source: Roslan (2001) p9, based on Perumal (1989) and Snodgrass (1980)
Shockingly, 10 years after the independence proclamation, the median household income not only didn’t improve. It dropped from RM156 to RM154.


The mean income improved (from RM215 to RM240), but the median income dropped. This suggests that while there has been a growth in wealth, there is an uneven distribution of wealth. This is collaborated by the distribution of household income.

The top 20% held 48.6% of the household income share in 1957/58, which rose to 51.3% and 55.9% in 1967/68 and 1970, respectively. In the same period, the middle 40% saw their share decline from 35.5% to 34.4% and 32.5%, respectively. Worse still, the bottom 40% saw their share fall from 15.9% to 14.3% and finally, a mere 11.6%.

The upper class was getting more prosperous while the remaining 80% of the population saw their fortunes stagnate and their share of the nation’s wealth getting smaller. Only the upper class would have been surprised when the rest of the population repudiated the status quo in 1969.

Tunku’s administration didn’t deliver enough and in time. The liberal governance model was satisfying to the capitalists who have access and resources to seize the opportunities, but for those without capital, it didn’t lift them up.

Taxation and paying your fair share

Kuok said, “I was hell-bent on helping to develop the nation: that’s why I went into shipping, into steel – anything they asked of me”.

He also mentioned that he decided to move to Hong Kong because of their low taxes. He stressed that, “Why would I want to hire an army of lawyers and accountants to avoid taxation? I should stress that I had not – and indeed, have not – lost one iota of my affection for Singapore. It is simply that it made more sense to base my operations in a low-tax jurisdiction like Hong Kong”.

In essence, the rich didn't want to pay their share.

Bloomberg puts Kuok’s net worth at US$18.6 billion (RM76.51 billion). For someone that has so much, it is hard to believe that he is “hell-bent on helping to develop the nation” and simultaneously relocated elsewhere to avoid paying some taxes to the Malaysian state to distribute wealth and public goods. Of course, there is a problem of trust with what the state does with our money, but is that good enough reason to avoid paying for public expenditure altogether? It seems commonsensical to one individual to avoid paying tax whenever he or she can, but that is predicated upon the fact that other people do not all do the same.

One individual doesn’t pay tax and the whole public delivery system still survives because others do pay taxes. What if everyone had the capacity of the rich to avoid paying taxes? Will schools still be funded, our teachers paid well and on time, our roads maintained? At some point or another, everyone benefits from investment in public goods and public infrastructure – even the ones that are rich and avoid paying taxes. Paying your fair share is a responsible thing to do, but capitalism does not encourage this.

Another reason given by the rich against paying tax is the need to build up cash reserves to cope with margin calls if trading turns bad. But do the rich happily pay taxes when trading is good, or continue to devise ways to reduce or avoid paying their share?

Kuok mentioned that capitalism is “the way forward in life” and “a wonderful creature”. But his story demonstrates precisely what is wrong with capitalism. This doesn’t imply anything negative on the part of his character. Far from it, the finger is pointing at the structure he praised: unrestrained capitalism and the liberal governance model.

Capitalism is not just “very hostile” and “ruthless”. It is structurally problematic and doesn’t always provide the incentives to do what’s good for society. Even more so, sometimes it provides perverse incentives to do what’s bad for the society in return for what’s good for the individuals.

In the contemporary period, there is clearly a problem with this country’s fixation on the pursuit of social justice through an ethnic-based approach, which has become more of an ethno-supremacy than an affirmative action. But capitalism is not the solution.

Going back to the laissez-faire model, and seeing no problem with rising inequality and the capture of wealth by the upper class, isn’t going to solve our problems. A liberal governance model that gives unobstructed leeway to capitalists, who emphasise profit over distribution and growth over equity, will widen the inequality within and between groups segmented by class, ethnicity and, increasingly, religion. History tells us this will not end well for everyone.

We may be on the wrong track post-1969. But it doesn't mean we were on the right track pre-1969. The task for our time is not first and foremost to lift the train and put it back on reverse or some track we assumed to have had universal consensus. It’s to think about where we want to go as a nation, and ask “So, which track?” – November 27, 2017.

* Ooi Kok Hin is an analyst at Penang Institute.

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2017, 03:13:29 PM »



Kuok saved MCA many times, including bailing out ex-chairman
Updated 22 minutes ago · Published on 28 Nov 2017 2:30PM · 1 comments
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Kuok saved MCA many times, including bailing out ex-chairman
Robert Kuok says he contributed funds to Barisan Nasional and MCA 'especially when it comes to election time'. – Forbes pic, November 28, 2017.

MALAYSIAN tycoon Robert Kuok has bailed out ruling Chinese party MCA several times, once posting a RM20 million bail for one of its leaders and rescuing business projects that were doomed to fail.

In his memoir, Kuok said he "kept getting dragged into Malaysian politics" even after he relocated to Hong Kong in the 1980s.

In 1986, Kuok said, he was approached by the MCA leadership to post bail for its chairman, Tan Koon Swan, who had been charged with criminal breach of trust in Singapore.

The Singapore judge set bail at RM20 million, an amount unheard of at the time.


"I was in Kuala Lumpur. My car phone didn't stop ringing," said Kuok.

"The MCA leadership pleaded with me. 'You are the only man who can save our face. We are not judging Singapore's actions, but we cannot bear to see our president go to remand prison. We just want him out on bail. Please, can you stand bail?  ’”

Kuok asked his mother for advice, and she told him that he should “stand bail for political reasons".

"So, I went forward. I asked for special treatment from the Singapore government, allowing me to enter court through a side door because there was a media mob on the front steps," said Kuok.

After several months of being freed on bail, Koon Swan was convicted and later jailed.

"When he was released, his first act was to proceed to Johor Baru to thank Mother,” said Kuok.

He said he was also "called in" when MCA was facing financial collapse several years later.

He was usually approached by the late MCA leader Tan Siew Sin, the son of party found Tan Cheng Lock.

Siew Sin approached Kuok for political donations, in the former's capacity as MCA president and Barisan Nasional treasurer.

"I got to know Siew Sin when he was serving in the government. He was the minister who erected roadblocks when I applied for the licence for Malayan Sugar Manufacturing."

Kuok said he contributed funds to BN and MCA "especially when it comes to election time".

He added that in the late 1980s, former MCA leader Ling Liong Sik came to see him in Hong Kong, seeking help to rescue Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd, which included half a dozen firms, such as Magnum Corp, a legal gambling syndicate; Bandar Raya, a large property development company; and, Dunlop Estate.

"I took (over the) chairmanship and, with the help of my Kuok Group colleagues Oh Bak Kim and Ong Ie Chong, we managed to turn it around."

Kuok said in his lifetime, he had been given the job of "cleaning up" three highly controversial projects: Malayawata, the Japanese-invested integrated steel mill; the short-lived Malaysia-Singapore Airlines; and, Multi-Purpose Holdings.

Robert Kuok, A Memoir was first released in Hong Kong exclusively at Bookazine, and in Singapore at all major bookstores on Saturday. It will be released in Malaysia on Friday and in Indonesia on January 1. – November 28, 2017.

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2017, 02:16:15 PM »



论 / 群英会 最后更新 2017年11月28日 22时34分 • 评论: 侯显佳
郭鹤年的故事 国家的悲哀

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近期出版的《郭鹤年回忆录》,揭露了大马首富郭鹤年与政府的「恩怨情仇」,他在回忆录中批评了朋党主义及实行多年的新经济政策,分享了政府一再要求让土著介入,促使他放弃国际船务公司,如何在马新航空(马航前身)当夹心人等故事。

郭鹤年是带有一丝丝悲情色彩的企业家,这种悲情不是来自于他个人,而是政策环境所造成,早在回忆录之前,提到关于他的事跡时,最常被大马人掛在嘴边的就是多次在危机之时帮助政府,最终被逼离开国家,通过海外市场建立商业王国的事跡。

还有一例子,就是绿盛世集团主席丹斯里刘启盛,当他创办的实达集团成为大马建筑和房地產龙头老大时,被国民投资公司收购,隨后他离开实达,以绿盛世东山再起。

在钦佩郭鹤年等企业家取得成功的同时,也不免让国人有唏嘘之感。从他们身上也让人联想到政策偏差、种族课题、薪金待遇、施展自由度所造成的大马人才严重外流。

继续阅读,请往下滑


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媒体时有报导关于大马人在国际上取得骄人成就的消息,涵盖科研、工程、金融、医疗、影视、时尚艺术等各种领域,当中有个共同点均是在「外国」平台大展拳脚,先闻名于「海外」而非国內。

根据世界银行于2015年报告,生活中经济合作与发展组织(OECD)国家的大马人数目,从1990年的12万1000人增至2010年的31万1000人,而超过一半是具有大学或以上学歷的高技能人才,大马人才主要外流至新加坡、澳洲、英国、美国等。

试想这些人才將会给国家发展带来如何巨大的推动,而另一矛盾的假设,是当他们留在大马还能否取得如今的成就,大马是否有肥沃的土壤和广阔的舞台,来让专才们施展一身才华,就如长期旅居台湾的大马籍国际知名导演蔡明亮,返国拍摄电影《黑眼圈》因揭露大马黑暗面被当局禁止上映,缺乏包容和自由度如何留著人才。

人才外流,对个体发展而言几乎没什么损失,郭鹤年依然是富豪,四处投资具有潜力的国家;专才们在发达国家过著优渥生活,而损失最大的则是国家。

执政者总以多元、具有包容性来形容马来西亚,那么就请海纳各种不同人才,勿让郭鹤年等人的唏嘘,成为一个国家发展道路上的悲哀。

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2017, 02:17:09 PM »



评论 / 龙门阵 最后更新 2017年11月29日 20时12分 • 评论: 廖明安 • 子弹乱飞
回忆录是另类解密

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无论是李光耀还是马哈迪的回忆录,肯定都不及糖王郭鹤年的回忆录来得真实、精彩,有高度及歷史价值。

李光耀与马哈迪的回忆录,多是为本身的政治斗爭自我歌功颂德,合理化一切当权时代不合理的政策与决策。尤其马哈迪《医生当家》这本回忆录,被学者奚落「最大败笔是他对马来西亚的理解和詮释停留在过去的时代,只在重复他多年的看法,以及对新仇旧恨的辩解。」

而郭鹤年的回忆录,虽然在我国还没上架,一些转载的篇章,已经激起广泛討论。而有者更认为这本回忆录將影响第14届大选华社的投票意愿。书中揭露许多不为人知的政坛疮疤,政治人物的道德问题以及不平等的种族政策。

从书中章节,我们可以看到郭老对国父东姑阿都拉曼为国为民的敬仰及钦佩,对敦拉萨种族政策贪得无厌的厌恶,对胡先翁把国家列车开错方向的无奈与无力感。当然,郭老的回忆录更是毫不保留的把政党不断要求金钱援助的孬事娓娓道来。郭老的回忆录,也可说是马来西亚版的「维基解密」。

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郭鹤年的回忆,虽然是几十年前的往事,但读起来毫无时代的隔阂感,因为无论是腐败,种族政策还是金钱政治,从未在我国发展路上停止过,我们亦很熟悉,也感同身受。

多次出手拯救马华

郭老在书中揭露敦拉萨以「內阁压力」为由,二度要求郭氏创设的大马国际船务公司增加马来股权,虽然当时郭老勉为其难,但两次都答应敦拉萨,以致政府成了该公司主要持股者。从这段歷史看来,我国种族政策的始作俑者,敦拉萨莫属。

郭老虽然给人印象性情温和,但书里难掩这数十年来的对国家政策不满的火气与不满。而他对马华的回忆,更让已经失去华社支持的马华雪上加霜。郭老毫无保留的道出当年马华领导求助缴付2000万保释金,救出在新加坡因失信案被扣押的马华总会长陈群川。马华出现財政危机,陈修信再度要求他帮忙马华渡过难关,以及林良实要求他救济万能企业等公司。

郭老承认,他多次金钱援助国阵与马华。倘若我们用官商勾结来形容郭老与国阵的关係,对这样一位高风亮节的首富,似乎不恰当。我们可以瞭解,当时的政治局势,郭老不得不出手帮助国阵或者马华渡过难关。

郭老后来「走出祖国」,除了其企业考量,最大因素或许就是马来西亚在东姑以后,走向更为极端的种族政策,以及贪得无厌的朋党主义。他在书中这样写道「朋党是塑造领袖威望的哈巴狗,作为回报,领袖交出了国家好处给他们。」由此可见,一而再再而三被国家领袖当「金矿」压搾,郭老不愿意成为这些领袖的哈巴狗,最终选择了出走。

郭鹤年的回忆录,没有想像力或者矫情做作,有的是对官僚的满腔愤慨,对国家的忧虑及对民族的期许,是一本比较真诚的回忆录,启示国人。12月1日在我国上架,確实是国人期待的一本好书

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Re: ROBERT KUOK
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2017, 01:11:31 PM »



Bung Moktar slams Kuok for saying Malaysia ‘on the wrong track’
Updated one day ago · Published on 30 Nov 2017 10:33AM · 7 comments
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Bung Moktar slams Kuok for saying Malaysia ‘on the wrong track’
Robert Kuok, in his memoir, says he has 'seen a picture developing all along of a train moving in the wrong direction', in reference to the country. – YouTube screen capture, November 30, 2017.

AN Umno leader has hit out at tycoon Robert Kuok for saying Malaysia is "on the wrong track", reported Malaysiakini.

Supreme Council member Bung Moktar Radin said it was “unfair” for the 54th richest man in the world, dubbed the "Sugar King", to criticise the country in which he found success.

Bung Moktar said the government had to take a race-based approach to help Malays, adding that "affirmative action" prevented animosity among the ethnic groups.

"We are on the right track. That's why Malaysia is sustaining until today,”  he was quoted as saying.


"We have seen how a country that is dominated by one race, but controlled by another ethnic minority, will ultimately head towards destruction. We do not want this to happen here.”

The Kinabatangan MP said non-Malays were not discriminated against in the process.

He said it was obvious that business in Malaysia was controlled by the Chinese, but Malays "were not envious" and just wanted to "share in the successes".

“I think it is unfair for someone (like Kuok) who found success in the country to make such a criticism.

"Anybody, not just Kuok, who finds success in Malaysia shouldn’t forget where they came from.”

He said successful Malaysian business leaders should be fair when voicing their opinions on the country and its leadership, as they could affect investor confidence and the economy.

Kuok, one of the most highly respected businessmen in Asia, recently released his book, Robert Kuok, A Memoir, in Singapore and Hong Kong, which tells of how he started his business in British-colonised Malaya and built his multi-industry and multinational empire.

The 94-year-old shares his thoughts on Malaysia, his relationship with its prime ministers and his observation that the country had been "put on the wrong track".

"Since May 13, 1969, the Malay leadership has had one simple philosophy: Malays need handicapping. 

"I have seen a picture developing all along of a train moving in the wrong direction. During (third prime minister) Hussein Onn’s administration, he was only partially successful in stemming the tide.

"The train of the nation had been put on the wrong track. Hussein wasn’t strong enough to lift up the train and set it down on the right track.”

He also offers insights into the workings of Malaysian politics, and how politicians from the ruling government took control over successful private enterprises, among others.

The autobiography will be released in Malaysia tomorrow and on January 1 in Indonesia.

Bung Moktar suggested that Kuok, who has moved his business overseas, return to Malaysia, as the latter had an “obligation” to help with the country’s development.

"I see Kuok as a successful leader. He started his business here and became a rich man, but what is worrying is that he moved his business overseas.

"He should invest more in Malaysia to provide opportunities to the various ethnic groups here who can share the wealth with him.

"He was once the 'Sugar King', the sole exporter and importer of sugar. He should return to the place where he first started.

"I am not accusing him of being unpatriotic. It’s just that I feel he has strayed in pursuit of opportunities out there.” – November 30, 2017.