Malaysia’s richest saw fortunes rise 14%

by AZREEN HANI / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

MALAYSIA’S richest saw their combined wealth increase to nearly US$90 billion (RM371.11 billion), up from US$79 billion a year ago — an increase of 14%, according to Forbes list.

This reversal of fortune was partly attributed to Malaysia’s dominant position as the medical glovemaker to the world..

“In a pandemic year with global demand for such protective gear increasing significantly, Malaysian exports of rubber gloves doubled, boosting the wealth of the nation’s largest producers,” Forbes said.

Five of them were listed among the 50 richest, with two ranked in the top ten — Kuan Kam Hon of Hartalega Holdings Bhd (No 7, US$3.8 billion) and Tan Sri Dr Lim Wee Chai of Top Glove Corp Bhd (No 8, US$3.5 billion).

Sugar king Tan Sri Robert Kuok (picture) remains the nation’s richest with a fortune of US$12.2 billion, according to the 2021 Forbes Malaysia Rich List. ‘At the age of 97, Kuok is also the oldest in the list.

Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, second-generation head of the privately-held Hong Leong Group, remains at No 2 with US$9.6 billion.

Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd CEO Tan Sri Koon Poh Keong, who shares a metals fortune with four siblings, is this year’s biggest dollar gainer.

Shares of Press Metal Aluminium were up as the metal’s prices recovered, adding US$3.4 billion to their wealth and propelling Koon and his brothers to third place with a net worth of US$6.4 billion.

Returning to the list are Tan Sri Lim Kuang Sia (No 14, US$1.4 billion), who controls Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd with his siblings, and Stanley Thai (No 20, US$1.1 billion) who co-founded and runs Supermax Corp Bhd with his wife, Cheryl Tan.

There were five newcomers on this year’s list. Among them are brothers Tan Yu Yeh and Tan Yu Wei of Mr DIY Group (M) Bhd, a listed home improvement chain. The Tan brothers are the richest newcomers at No 10 with a US$2.7 billion fortune.

Seven from last year’s list dropped out, notably the AirAsia duo, Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, as the ongoing pandemic dimmed hopes of a revival in travel. The minimum net worth to make the list this year was US$315 million, up from US$255 million last year.