Robert Kuok

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Robert Kuok Hock Nien (born 6 October 1923) is the richest man in Malaysia and the owner of Kuok Group, which has interests in hotels, real estate and commodities.


Robert Kuok: A Memoir (2018)[edit]

Cap 1 "Moulded by Mother"[edit]

  • But such meanness can incite you to achieve great things. I take insults - insults to my physical being, to my mental being, to my pride - very deeply. I can't shake them off! I bear these insults to my sense of fair play and justice to this day. It's almost an inextinguishable flame, which is why I make a very bad enemy. I just felt "I want to show you. I will show you." From early on, I developed this strong anger which, in many ways, propelled me forward in life.
  • He would start a business, lose money, close it and start another. That would make money for a while, and then the cycle would repeat.
  • Having all the cash suddenly siphoned out of a company is like draining all the blood from the body.
  • Father was almost always short of cash. He borrowed money to start new businesses, only to see them fail. The tide of the Depression was against him, but he didn't realize it. He did not have enough education to sense that the tide was coming to drown him, and that he should take evasive measures and run to high ground like some of the wealthier, better-educated businessmen of Singapore, Penang and Malacca.
  • "Please finish every grain of rice in your bowl. Do not forget that each grain represents one drop of farmer's blood."

Cap 2 "The Wuhan Songsters"[edit]

  • Near the northern boundary of Malaya, Japanese took a sudden interest in taking photos and setting up easels to paint. The same thing happened in Johor Bahru. A causeway crosses the Straits of Johor. If you're facing Singapore island, on the left side of the causeway was Seletar. The Japanese would set up easels and paint Seletar. All of them were spies.
  • I realized that true human values and human worth have almost zero connection with money.

Cap 3 "Under the Japanese Heel"[edit]

  • I must say, the Japanese soldiers were stupid. Many of their actions made no sense. They really believed, like Hitler's Nazis, that they were a superior race, and that it was their sacred duty to uplift the poor, colonized Asians and to liberate them!
  • You've got to be a very clever people to win a big war and to rule half the world -- but the Japanese didn't behave is clever people. In the first few weeks of conquering any town, they would hold marching exercises as part of their campaign to terrorize residents. They marched six to eight to twelve abreast, chanting Japanese martial songs and stamping on the ground in an exaggerated manner.
  • Several of my classmates from my Chinese school in 1940 were from a lovely Chaozhou family. They had three or four sisters, and their father was a kind and generous man. Other Chinese schoolmates told me that this family was rounded up and taken to a field outside Johor Bahru town. The women were raped and killed, the men butchered, and all were buried in shallow graves. Many other Chinese families were likewise massacred, slaughtered.
  • I saw what made the Japanese tick. I admired their discipline. That's what made Japan what it is today: discipline - not brilliance, but discipline. You obeyed orders, even if the orders were wrong.

Cap 14 "Malaysian Crossroads"[edit]

  • "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."
  • But I am just stating facts: capitalism is a wonderful creature - just don't abuse its principles and unwritten laws.

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