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Robert Kuok is one of the most highly respected businessmen in Asia. But this legendary Overseas Chinese entrepreneur, commodities trader, hotelier and property mogul has maintained a low profile and seldom shed light in public on his business empire or personal life. That is, until now. In these memoirs, the 94-year-old Kuok tells the remarkable story of how, starting in Robert Kuok is one of the most highly respected businessmen in Asia. But this legendary Overseas Chinese entrepreneur, commodities trader, hotelier and property mogul has maintained a low profile and seldom shed light in public on his business empire or personal life. That is, until now. In these memoirs, the 94-year-old Kuok tells the remarkable story of how, starting in British Colonial Malaya, he built a multi-industry, multinational business group. In reflecting back on 75 years of conducting business, he offers management insights, discusses strategies and lessons learned, and relates his principles, philosophy, and moral code. Kuok has lived through fascinating and often tumultuous times in Asia - from British colonialism to Japanese military occupation to post-colonial Southeast Asia and the dramatic rise of Asian economies, including, more recently, China. From his front-row seat and as an active participant, this keen, multi-cultural observer tells nearly a century of Asian history through his life and times. Readers interested in business, management, history, politics, culture and sociology will all enjoy Robert Kuok's unique and remarkable story.


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Robert Kuok is one of the most highly respected businessmen in Asia. But this legendary Overseas Chinese entrepreneur, commodities trader, hotelier and property mogul has maintained a low profile and seldom shed light in public on his business empire or personal life. That is, until now. In these memoirs, the 94-year-old Kuok tells the remarkable story of how, starting in Robert Kuok is one of the most highly respected businessmen in Asia. But this legendary Overseas Chinese entrepreneur, commodities trader, hotelier and property mogul has maintained a low profile and seldom shed light in public on his business empire or personal life. That is, until now. In these memoirs, the 94-year-old Kuok tells the remarkable story of how, starting in British Colonial Malaya, he built a multi-industry, multinational business group. In reflecting back on 75 years of conducting business, he offers management insights, discusses strategies and lessons learned, and relates his principles, philosophy, and moral code. Kuok has lived through fascinating and often tumultuous times in Asia - from British colonialism to Japanese military occupation to post-colonial Southeast Asia and the dramatic rise of Asian economies, including, more recently, China. From his front-row seat and as an active participant, this keen, multi-cultural observer tells nearly a century of Asian history through his life and times. Readers interested in business, management, history, politics, culture and sociology will all enjoy Robert Kuok's unique and remarkable story.

30 review for Robert Kuok: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zak

    The problem with autobiographies and memoirs is one can never be sure precisely, or even approximately, how much is fact and how much is fiction. With some, one might, however, attempt to gauge the general degree of faithfulness to truth by way of comparison to known facts or published articles or even by its consistency with history. On this score, I get the feeling that Kuok has been more than a little disingenuous. To be sure, there are more than a few nuggets of solid life advice here but ag The problem with autobiographies and memoirs is one can never be sure precisely, or even approximately, how much is fact and how much is fiction. With some, one might, however, attempt to gauge the general degree of faithfulness to truth by way of comparison to known facts or published articles or even by its consistency with history. On this score, I get the feeling that Kuok has been more than a little disingenuous. To be sure, there are more than a few nuggets of solid life advice here but again I could extract the same things from say, the analects of Confucius or the Dao De Jing. The question is, did he really live by them? Where it really gets to me is how he constantly expounds on the importance of morality and ethics in business but rather conveniently ignores the fact that his biggest early successes were based on securing exclusive monopoly licences for basic necessities like rice, sugar and flour in developing countries (Malaysia and Indonesia) and (somehow, I won't say how) convincing their fledgling governments to ban the import of alternatives. I also got the distinct impression that here is a man who will not balk at heaping praise (no matter how undeserved) on parties which have been good to him financially. For instance, his assertion that a former President of Indonesia, who was a well-known kleptocrat and dictator and was later overthrown by popular revolt, was "a nice and warm man, and highly dedicated to serving his nation" was vomit inducing. Ditto his statement that Mao and his communist cohorts were the only ones who put up any resistance against the invading Japanese forces during WWII, while Chiang Kai Shek and his Nationalists did next to nothing, which flies in the face of known historical fact (a fact which the Communist Party of China itself has lately, to its credit, begun to recognise and correct). There are other inconsistencies in his expressed stances as well, such as how he despised the Japanese who invaded Malaya and how the big Japanese zaibatsus were the culprits responsible for financing and promoting Japanese colonialism in order to secure the necessary raw materials for expansion. But then, not longer after the invasion, he started working for the Mitsubishi conglomerate and even ended up heading one of its trading units in Malaya. All that led me to naturally and irreparably doubt the integrity of this memoir. I once met the wife of someone who had also written and published a different memoir and, in a moment of confidence which I shall maintain by not naming names, she told me that 70% of what her husband had written was bullsh-t. I fear that this one too is like that. No doubt, Kuok is a hugely wealthy and successful businessman, but as to how he got there, perhaps this "memoir" does not really give us the full story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    FT Liu

    Born in the 60s and with a father who made his way from China to Malaysia to make his fortune, I lived through a big part of the events that Robert Kuok described. His insights have helped me understand the events better. These include the contribution of the Overseas Chinese to the economies of Southeast Asia and the political situation in Malaysia, Indonesia and China. It is easy to start a business but to get it to be phenomenally successful like Robert Kuok's takes courage, luck and resilienc Born in the 60s and with a father who made his way from China to Malaysia to make his fortune, I lived through a big part of the events that Robert Kuok described. His insights have helped me understand the events better. These include the contribution of the Overseas Chinese to the economies of Southeast Asia and the political situation in Malaysia, Indonesia and China. It is easy to start a business but to get it to be phenomenally successful like Robert Kuok's takes courage, luck and resilience. For the business deals that did not work out, I liked what Robert has to say, " When I'm cheated by people, I don't make a fuss; I just bear it in my heart. I have made a mistake; I have put my foot into a hole, twisted or fractured my ankle. So what! Let it heal and get on with it." and "You must look at life and assume everybody is going to be unreasonable." A great read for anyone who has yet to make it big in business...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    The memoirs by Asia's most reclusive tycoon with business interests around the world, traces his life throughout the 20th Century covering the depressin, WW2 and the dismantling of the British Empire up to the rise of China. This real forest gump's story is the stuff of legends Definitely a must read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nazri Awang

    I was looking for this book for quite a long time. Stumbled upon it at MPH yesterday. A little pricey at RM140, but it was all worth it. This is the only official memoir of Robert Kuok, the man who is known as the "Sugar King". From a humble beginning in Johor Bahru, he founded Kuok Brothers Malaysia. As the pond grew ever more suffocating, he moved to Singapore and created another venture in Singapore. Several decades later, he relocated yet again to Hong Kong, and founded Kerry Group. It was a I was looking for this book for quite a long time. Stumbled upon it at MPH yesterday. A little pricey at RM140, but it was all worth it. This is the only official memoir of Robert Kuok, the man who is known as the "Sugar King". From a humble beginning in Johor Bahru, he founded Kuok Brothers Malaysia. As the pond grew ever more suffocating, he moved to Singapore and created another venture in Singapore. Several decades later, he relocated yet again to Hong Kong, and founded Kerry Group. It was a revealing tale of a the richest Malaysian, a story of sheer perseverance amidst countless odds. Here was a man, who was hell-bent to prove it to the nay-sayers, the British who looks down upon Asians, the White bankers who discriminate against non-whites. Finished it all in four hours. A must read. without a doubt.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thian Low

    Personal memoirs of the man, the myth, the legend, Malaysia's greatest businessman ever, one who succeeded in multiple industries, is a master of multiple skills, and is a survivor of many turbulent periods and events in his era. Most Malaysians of my age group and many of my South East Asian, Hong Kong and Chinese contemporaries have heard the name Robert Kuok. They know of his industries - sugar, cooking oil, flour, rice. Some of his greatest business achievements are visible for all - the many Personal memoirs of the man, the myth, the legend, Malaysia's greatest businessman ever, one who succeeded in multiple industries, is a master of multiple skills, and is a survivor of many turbulent periods and events in his era. Most Malaysians of my age group and many of my South East Asian, Hong Kong and Chinese contemporaries have heard the name Robert Kuok. They know of his industries - sugar, cooking oil, flour, rice. Some of his greatest business achievements are visible for all - the many Shangri-La hotels and resorts doting the cities of the world, the giant Kerry centers, his biggest sugar and palm fields. Growing up, he was an ubiquitous presence around us - many of our basic household goods and foodstuffs have his imprint on them. Yet, while we all knew he was (and still is) Malaysia's richest man, with a portfolio of dominating companies under his umbrella, we never knew much about the man himself, his background, the life he led, how he rose up and forged his business empire, his thoughts about Malaysia, the world and the future, his life principles, etc. We all knew he was media shy and avoided publicity (compared to some of our country's and South East Asia's more glamorous and outspoken tycoons). We could only glean little nuggets and titbits from rumours or second-hand stories. Many of us from all ages and walks of life would have loved to be given the opportunity to know the man and his times better. And that opportunity has now been given. And grabbed greedily in a bear hug with both arms. When the news suddenly came out that Robert Kuok was going to be publishing his memoir, there was a flurry of phone-calls in my household. "Mum, Dad, have you read these articles in the SCMP?!?!" "Sis, were you able to reserve any copies of the books in Hong Kong?" "Brother, will you be making free time at the end of this year to read his stuff?" As can be seen above, the one who got the first copies (yes, two) of his book for our household was my sister. Knowing that one copy will be kept in Malaysia, for my parents and brother are equally... curious (if not, fans) of the man, she knew that she had to keep the other copy in Hong Kong or her eldest brother (legit hardcore fan) would riot with extreme prejudice. Naturally, after she informed me that she had already completed the book, I swiftly appropriated it off of her with no hesitation whatsoever. I started reading the book in the middle of December. I just completed it today, on the day of my mother's birthday. For a book of this caliber and level, I normally would have, in my younger, more commitment-free days, finished it within two or three days. That I took one and a half months to go through it is due to the fact that the commitments of middle age, the numerous daily fire-fighting that has to be done, all the various responsibilities that need to be discharged for work, for family and for personal health, have applied tremendous friction to my reading schedules. But more importantly, it is actually a testament to the many things I have learned and gleaned from it - I was extremely slow in finishing the book because I often paused from page to page, from chapter to chapter, to ponder all the things he was saying, all the life events he went through, all the challenges that he had faced and overcome. I slowly plodded through the big man's book because he forced me to think, to ponder and to consider. To try putting myself into his shoes and wondering if I could ever pull off any of the things he has accomplished throughout his life. OK, it seems I have gone off on a massive tangent and have spoken nothing about the book yet. Let's get to it. This book is, in my heartfelt opinion and thoughts, a bona fide, easy, obvious five stars. So many adjectives, but they rightfully and precisely need to appear, for I have enjoyed this book tremendously, have learned a lot from it, and am reevaluating my life because of it. In 376 pages, the book delivers not only the life of a true-blue, self-made tycoon, one with a tremendous sense of ethics and morals, but of the times between 1923 and today, a period of time that has seen great turmoil and upheaval in the world, and great changes and transformations too. One is gifted with a front row seat to history in the making. Yet, one also gets a seat on the roller-coaster that is Robert Kuok's business life, and accompanies him as he navigates his way through multiple waters and obstacles, with and against multiple friends, accomplices and foes, in multiple fields, cities, countries and industries, using all the creativeness, resourcefulness and determination at his fingertips and in the fiber of his soul, to build the Kuok Group to what it was today. I read about how the myth was created, how the legend was born. I read that the myth has a very realistic basis, that the legend is much deserved, but the man is a human too, an extremely capable, resilient and upright one at that. I read that almost nothing came easy to Robert Kuok - he had to fight for his achievements, to build the Group, and to create this enormous economic tree for his family. And, through reading the book, I was able to accompany him on his journey against the odds and upstream, to pull off something that only very few people in history are capable of doing. There is a reason why biographies and memoirs are one of my favourite genres to read. I get to step into the shoes of great men and women, even if only in my imaginations and mind, and accompany them in their life journey of accomplishment, triumph and regret. My own life may turn out very differently, with different times, events and conditions and a different ending compared to these men and women, but gosh, does it feel good to read about and "experience" another's path once in a while. This is one of the books that I have put on my "must read again at the end of this year list", including The Art Of Learning, 7 Habits and Richest Man In Babylon. It is REALLY good. And I REALLY enjoyed it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carol Pang

    It’s a must-read for any Malaysian who’s interested in the nation’s history. It’s written in an easy-to-read style. Anyone interested in the region’s history (Malaysia, Singapore, China), British colonial history in the region, sugar trading, doing business, or simply the life of the Sugar King - should read this book. It’s one personal version of history but what a rich and vivid history it was, especially of events in the 60s and 70s.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Ooi

    Everyone needs to read this book, regardless you’re young or old, Malay Chinese or Indian. Robert Kuok is truly a legend; a living example of the saying “success stems from hard work and persistence”. I’ve tagged a few pages of the book and one of them is about the story of Robert telling Tun Hussein Onn his views on Malays being too handicapped by the coalition government. It really made me wonder what would have happened to Malaysia if THO had listened to Robert. Perhaps, if not better, we cou Everyone needs to read this book, regardless you’re young or old, Malay Chinese or Indian. Robert Kuok is truly a legend; a living example of the saying “success stems from hard work and persistence”. I’ve tagged a few pages of the book and one of them is about the story of Robert telling Tun Hussein Onn his views on Malays being too handicapped by the coalition government. It really made me wonder what would have happened to Malaysia if THO had listened to Robert. Perhaps, if not better, we could at least be at the same level as Singapore. Robert is a capitalist and I’ve always admired people who is a believer of capitalism. I find myself agreeing to everything he said in the book (except for the part where he strayed in his marriage). Capitalism is the way forward of a country; the way to fully harnessed a nation’s power and capability. Robert Kuok is a doer. One thing I admire the most is, other than his believing in hard work, he is humble and he never brags. How often do you hear news about him or his children having bought expensive properties or sport cars or other things that will definitely put a stamp of wealth on his reputation? Close to none, I would say. I hope that I will have time to come up with a more detailed review because I’m writing this while I’m queuing to vote.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wen Jun Ong

    Finished reading this within 4 days. Robert shared his early life experience and subjective view on living through the Japan Occupation and Independence Era of the early Malaya. In my opinion, he painted a much more realistic overview than what was stated in our history textbook. This book is not about the richest man in Malaysia, you will not find much advices or insights of Robert's success in the book. This is more like a book of our pioneer generation, through sheer determination, helped to b Finished reading this within 4 days. Robert shared his early life experience and subjective view on living through the Japan Occupation and Independence Era of the early Malaya. In my opinion, he painted a much more realistic overview than what was stated in our history textbook. This book is not about the richest man in Malaysia, you will not find much advices or insights of Robert's success in the book. This is more like a book of our pioneer generation, through sheer determination, helped to build the foundation of economy in Malaysia. Kuok's conglomerate, like many other family business, formed the backbone of the economy in Malaysia.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cathreen Shiucheng

    I don't really read biographies as most of them are written for self-promoting purposes. This memoir however is a very grandfatherly-advice kinda book (which none of my grandfathers able to advice me on life, business, etc). There are couple of things that Robert Kuok keep emphasizing on--i.e. work hard, be humble. Nevertheless, from what I grasped from the book, it seemed like Indonesian Chinese tycoons cannot be trusted and rather than working hard, these tycoons relied on their ties with form I don't really read biographies as most of them are written for self-promoting purposes. This memoir however is a very grandfatherly-advice kinda book (which none of my grandfathers able to advice me on life, business, etc). There are couple of things that Robert Kuok keep emphasizing on--i.e. work hard, be humble. Nevertheless, from what I grasped from the book, it seemed like Indonesian Chinese tycoons cannot be trusted and rather than working hard, these tycoons relied on their ties with former President Suharto to obtain business contracts, licenses and etc. I didn't even know RObert Kuok was involved in the establishment of Indonesia's Bogasari (this make me want to read the biography on Liem Sioe Liong as to fact-check from Salim's side. i left the book unread on my bookshelf). I think Robert Kuok also highlighted on his unhappiness towards several of his family members (namely Hock Chin and his children) and also former local partners. There are also things which I didn't know exist--his relationship with MCA and he bailed the party's former President. This is a page-turning book and he should not be seen as a Chinese chauvinist by the public in Malaysia.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trung Nguyen Dang

    It's great to read a memoir from the most successful businessman in Malaysia so close to me (located in Singapore). Usually other great memoirs tend to be from great characters in US or Europe. The man is a straight-talker and his book shows. It's interesting to see how business was done in the old days, based on relationships, licenses, quotas ... which is hardly applicable now. It's nice to read about Robert Kuok's various business adventures. It's enlightening to read about his philosophy, bel It's great to read a memoir from the most successful businessman in Malaysia so close to me (located in Singapore). Usually other great memoirs tend to be from great characters in US or Europe. The man is a straight-talker and his book shows. It's interesting to see how business was done in the old days, based on relationships, licenses, quotas ... which is hardly applicable now. It's nice to read about Robert Kuok's various business adventures. It's enlightening to read about his philosophy, belief ... etc. One negative point is that the book focuses a lot on what he did, and a bit short on the thinking, the rationale ... behind, eg lack a bit of introspection. While the latter chapters cover his philosophy and belief, those were in general and did not tied to specific situation. It's a must read for people interested in businesses, in my view.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Haw Kuang Oh

    Read the Chinese version of this book but the translation was not quite perfect. I believe the English version would be better as it's the original. The book was an inspiring read of the rags to riches. And with the current political climate in Malaysia, it's definitely good to read about Robert Kuok's insights, as he has been rubbing shoulders with the Prime Ministers in Malaysia....kind of also made me wonder what would have happened to Malaysia today, if Tun Hussien Onn had listened to Kuok's Read the Chinese version of this book but the translation was not quite perfect. I believe the English version would be better as it's the original. The book was an inspiring read of the rags to riches. And with the current political climate in Malaysia, it's definitely good to read about Robert Kuok's insights, as he has been rubbing shoulders with the Prime Ministers in Malaysia....kind of also made me wonder what would have happened to Malaysia today, if Tun Hussien Onn had listened to Kuok's advise then. I definitely have a new level of respect for Robert Kuok and his companies after reading this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    This book is a very frank and tell all recollection of the author's life. A very good read. Would prefer to have more details on how he actually made it, like the sugar futures trading he was involved...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Faye Ng

    Surprisingly enjoyed this book through its insights on SE Asia through its founding and developing years. A frank and candid telling of this larger than life character from his perspective.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    Phew! Finally finished the book after a long period of time. A good lesson on being successful in business ( he is the richest man in Malaysia) and also contributing to the country. His direct style of writing and commenting on the past and current state of Malaysia's economy definitely ruffled some feathers but such brutal honesty is needed in these challenging times.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Tang

    I always had prejudice for this man, assuming he is just another typical corrupt, unpatriotic, uneducated businessman who rose through nepotism. I'm glad I picked up this book and got a glimpse into the journey of his thoughts and actions, and man was I wrong about him.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kee Alicia

    A mixture of business, politics, relationships and opportunities.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alvin

    Highly Recommended!!! I had so much fun while reading. I'm very fascinated by his story from young to now be the Richest man in Asia.It contained Business,management, history,politics,culture & sociology which is it the subjects I loved so much.When reading it,it just like riding a time macchine and go back to Malaya when British'colonial ,Japanese occupation, May 13 riot & etc. But we much knew that the whole story can't be 100%true,coz the winner control the history.But I can say by my instinct Highly Recommended!!! I had so much fun while reading. I'm very fascinated by his story from young to now be the Richest man in Asia.It contained Business,management, history,politics,culture & sociology which is it the subjects I loved so much.When reading it,it just like riding a time macchine and go back to Malaya when British'colonial ,Japanese occupation, May 13 riot & etc. But we much knew that the whole story can't be 100%true,coz the winner control the history.But I can say by my instinct that most of it can be believed. He is a truly humble man,he must not write this memoir to get profits,coz he already old (currently 97age),he is willing to share his principles, philosophy &moral code to public.This book also write bout some of his failure & and his bad behaviours like have a temper .I also respect him,he don't afraid to speak about politics,history, even the communism stuff!!(even though ,it's somethig that very sensitive .He got guts)Some of the story is boring,but most of it had catched my attention like when he talk about his thought about China,ways to improve a nation,equality of races& etc.The most scene that very agreed is when he discussing with Tun Hussein Onn bout the unfairness in races ,that shouldn't take care & ignore other ppl,it can spoil the race & the nation will be in a big troubles (and it's true,now MY biggest obstacle.) Here some the lesson that followed by Mr.Kuok himself (some of it mix with my own conclusion) : 1 Education by home is very Important(parents need to teach rightful ways of thinking,morals &life 2 Only the powerful person can decided a things either "right" or "wrong" 3 Until u get on the top ledge,u're always in danger of drowing (Always on Top 4 Company don't need Nepotism(偏心),all of them's relative.But discipline matters. Whoever can produce profits,get the reward.Simple. 5 use the sad & disappointed feeling as motivation to move forward 6 young ppl don't waste time at something useless,work hard at right place 7 Always be teamwork in society,if we cut each other throats, the others dogs get the bone. 8 Must be super-quick in driving towards ur goal, also resilience (弹力)&able to bounce back after the inevitable(不可避免)reserves(储备) 9 can learn by ownself, but need learn the right way 10 wake up,focus on what u really want in Life. 11 u've to be 2 or 3 jumps ahead, 1 jump May not enough (Do opposite with the flow, they buy,u don't,they don't sell,u wait) 12 Network very IMPORTANT.(but choose the right person to befriend) (U need to expand ur partners & friends 13 Success in futures depends on ur feel for the market, Ur instinct & rhythm 14 Don't even try to fool ur partner, everybody can smell it. 15 Keep Everything simple.Stupid 16 Shouldn't be fishing in ocean where x current &x fish around. 17 Chat with a person that cleverer & offer a joint-venture(合营企业)deal(when u in doubt) 18 Life isn't Reasonable. Must look life &assume everybody is going to be unreasonable 19 Timing is everything 20 use talented ppl,lets them freely work but needs to control them properly,later they crooked 21 Always stick ur Principles 22 don't squander all the wealth all by urself 23 it's better to observe the falling leaves than reading(Learn from reserve mirror) 24 Always be humble 25 Don't be too greed 26 1 of important ingredient to become success is life is Humility(谦虚) 27 The I. is unity in group:Teamwork,hard work &0 treachery(背叛) 28 Don't worry bout problems,it didn't solved.Try ur best. U may not make it,but at least u've a chance 29 Stay focused,work hard,work intelligently 30 u've to be have an alligator skin if u wanna in in Business W. But there's always another door,another rood&away to forge on 31 Treat ppl with Respect &Dignity &they'll do same 32 Immoral ways'll only result in own character degnerating from good to bad to worse. 33 What make ppl unhappy is GREED 34 wealth 2 main purposes:a. To invest &re-invest in creating new &better opportunities. b.for the betterment of mankind 35 Mind happy,body happy (Simple living turned out to be strong foundation in health 36 (Adopt curb envy &jeoulsy,&curb greed 37 beyond a limit,greed becomes a danger(must find a balance 38 if ur children are like u,they don't need any inheritance (遗产)form u, If they aren't like u,of what use is ur inheritance to them?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shahrill Ramli

    It's no wonder that this memoir is a best-selling hotcake. People are dying to know the secret recipes to Kuok's success. Yes, he works his ass-off, able to tweak the circumstances into his side, possess the ability to predict the market and most of all, the shining stars are shining upon him - pretty much due to the filial piety he demonstrated towards his Mother. It is interesting to read how the influence of a matriarch soothes the ravaging flame of temperamental tycoon. Kuok learns modesty t It's no wonder that this memoir is a best-selling hotcake. People are dying to know the secret recipes to Kuok's success. Yes, he works his ass-off, able to tweak the circumstances into his side, possess the ability to predict the market and most of all, the shining stars are shining upon him - pretty much due to the filial piety he demonstrated towards his Mother. It is interesting to read how the influence of a matriarch soothes the ravaging flame of temperamental tycoon. Kuok learns modesty through the suffering of his mother (much owed to the ones inflicted by Kuok, Sr.). Undeniable that he is proud for being Chinese and the etiquette embedded in the Confucius-influenced culture but it is also interesting to know that Kuok also played pivotal role in cementing the bond between China-Malaysia and also his rapport with Malayan political honchos and forefathers. Despite being fascinated with Communism, Kuok played essential part in the truce between Chin Peng and also the Malaysian Government. Above all, interesting read but one must read it with open mind and cast away any pre-conceived notion.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Tan

    Robert kuok gained experience of business management from the father and also working with Japanese and British during colonisation. He displays a person who is very disciplined and observant. He is willing to work extra mile and very visionary. Although I am not 100% into his business expansion, but I able to learn bit and refresh memory on the history of Malaysia. It is a very well written book to expand general knowledge and guidance for daily life. Comparing myself during younger time with R Robert kuok gained experience of business management from the father and also working with Japanese and British during colonisation. He displays a person who is very disciplined and observant. He is willing to work extra mile and very visionary. Although I am not 100% into his business expansion, but I able to learn bit and refresh memory on the history of Malaysia. It is a very well written book to expand general knowledge and guidance for daily life. Comparing myself during younger time with Robert’s story, I can understand how he can be so successful in life. When I’m younger, I was reluctant and lazy to take up part time job as I felt is not related to the work that I wish to do in future. What can I learn from being a sales girl or a waiter which was my thinking in those days but if I am able to fully involve in the moment, I might be able to improve on my communication skill with people, observing the stocking method, noting how they price their food and etc. Thus, I feel I had missed out a lot of exposure and character building time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Kwok

    As a descendant of Overseas Chinese migrants myself arriving from China to South East Asia, Robert Kuok's memoir resonates with me with his personal reflections on his early upbringing, relationship with his parents and various family members and his early involvement in various businesses such as flour, sugar, oils during a volatile and transformative period spanning the birth, subsequent independence and economic growth of Malaya. Robert Kuok repeatedly espouses certain values which he holds d As a descendant of Overseas Chinese migrants myself arriving from China to South East Asia, Robert Kuok's memoir resonates with me with his personal reflections on his early upbringing, relationship with his parents and various family members and his early involvement in various businesses such as flour, sugar, oils during a volatile and transformative period spanning the birth, subsequent independence and economic growth of Malaya. Robert Kuok repeatedly espouses certain values which he holds dear to his heart such as humility, hard work, integrity and living a simple life. From his interactions with various successful and dubious businessmen, colleagues to world leaders and government officials, this book offers an interesting insight into the mind of one of the most successful Overseas Chinese migrant having made his fortune in Southeast and East Asia. Robert Kuok is not ashamed of expressing his enduring affection and love for both Malaysia, his birth country as well as for China, the country of his forefathers.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Teoh

    This memoir of sir Robert Kwok is fascinating. I was captured from the very beginning with first hand recounts of the old Malaya, the impact of Western imperialism and the inequalities that came with it, the brutal Japanese occupation, and the post independence era. I was curious to know what kind of person is capable of such amazing feat in a lifetime. From wheat and rice, to sugar trading, to hotels, to edible oils, to shipping and many more. He’s an extrovert, a frank and super hardworking bus This memoir of sir Robert Kwok is fascinating. I was captured from the very beginning with first hand recounts of the old Malaya, the impact of Western imperialism and the inequalities that came with it, the brutal Japanese occupation, and the post independence era. I was curious to know what kind of person is capable of such amazing feat in a lifetime. From wheat and rice, to sugar trading, to hotels, to edible oils, to shipping and many more. He’s an extrovert, a frank and super hardworking businessman, a go-getter, an opportunist, and a person with great moral values, to my delight. In his companies, he puts his people first, customers second, and shareholders third, in that order. When hiring, he looks for great integrity, a hard worker, and brilliance, in that order. His mother who is a strong influencer, drilled into him great values such as humility and not to be greedy. Great read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clement Ting

    I did not felt highly inspired to start a business after reading the book (it is not a motivational book after all). However, I have friends that felt otherwise. Mine was more "oh wow" and "that is a really interesting story" type of experience. A 5 star nevertheless. The book first touches upon Kuok's childhood days, during the war times in Malaya and how he eventually ventured into commodities, challenging the more established competitors and eventually emerging victorious. It then slowly branc I did not felt highly inspired to start a business after reading the book (it is not a motivational book after all). However, I have friends that felt otherwise. Mine was more "oh wow" and "that is a really interesting story" type of experience. A 5 star nevertheless. The book first touches upon Kuok's childhood days, during the war times in Malaya and how he eventually ventured into commodities, challenging the more established competitors and eventually emerging victorious. It then slowly branches off into morality, philosophy, family, colleagues and achievement. The chronology of the book went back and forth between the 1940s, 50s and 60s, but not in a confusing way. Both Kuok and Tanzer definitely deserves credit in structuring the flow to be simple, pleasant and easy for my reading consumption.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leong Yi Juan

    I read both this autobio at the same time with Steve Jobs'. SJ book is addressed as third person, this book is completely written with first-person perspective/narrative, which is of course hugely biased in terms of Robert's character description. Steve Jobs autobiographer interviewed most of the people who had worked for/with him, and shaped him at times a zealous entrepreneur while another a control freak/irresponsible father. Mr Kuok can write whatever he wants of course, because this book is I read both this autobio at the same time with Steve Jobs'. SJ book is addressed as third person, this book is completely written with first-person perspective/narrative, which is of course hugely biased in terms of Robert's character description. Steve Jobs autobiographer interviewed most of the people who had worked for/with him, and shaped him at times a zealous entrepreneur while another a control freak/irresponsible father. Mr Kuok can write whatever he wants of course, because this book is about him but it would be better if he can be courageous enough to face the life choices he made (ie the period of him working for Japanese colonialist / abandoning his long time wife for a younger lover). Facing your demons is what makes you a better person and earns respect from your readers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    The story of Asia's Sugar King is absorbing, and I found it difficult to put this book full of interesting anecdotes from his life and business down. Like all autobiographies, it should be taken with a pinch of salt as the author seems to have no qualms heaping praise on those who have benefitted his business, whom history has otherwise found to be morally tainted - while ironically at the same time attempting to convey ethical business practice. That aside, Robert Kuok is undoubtedly one of Asi The story of Asia's Sugar King is absorbing, and I found it difficult to put this book full of interesting anecdotes from his life and business down. Like all autobiographies, it should be taken with a pinch of salt as the author seems to have no qualms heaping praise on those who have benefitted his business, whom history has otherwise found to be morally tainted - while ironically at the same time attempting to convey ethical business practice. That aside, Robert Kuok is undoubtedly one of Asia's most successful and philanthropic businessmen, and his interesting life story is highly worth a read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nasih Saifullah

    Memoir has always bore a sense of uncertainty in the truth of the storytelling. I bought this book because I've been long wanting to know how he started off; how he established his foot in the monopoly of rice and flour and how he expanded his empire throughout China and Indonesia. As skeptical as one can be of him, one must accept the fact that he was at the correct place at the correct time. And he knew how to position himself in the correct society at the correct place, and established good co Memoir has always bore a sense of uncertainty in the truth of the storytelling. I bought this book because I've been long wanting to know how he started off; how he established his foot in the monopoly of rice and flour and how he expanded his empire throughout China and Indonesia. As skeptical as one can be of him, one must accept the fact that he was at the correct place at the correct time. And he knew how to position himself in the correct society at the correct place, and established good connection with the right people. I can surely pluck out a number of traits of a successful businessman out of this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ric Poh Peng Wang

    An insightful read about the old days of British rule in Singapore and Malaysia and how the systems they put in place actually built a pipeline of people who are willing to take up education and become people who can make changes in the society. I am impressed by his tenacity to make "family" a cornerstone as his personal life. Despite the world being everchanging around him, his concept of "family" helped to shape the companies he build and make sure everyone in the "family" is protected, taken An insightful read about the old days of British rule in Singapore and Malaysia and how the systems they put in place actually built a pipeline of people who are willing to take up education and become people who can make changes in the society. I am impressed by his tenacity to make "family" a cornerstone as his personal life. Despite the world being everchanging around him, his concept of "family" helped to shape the companies he build and make sure everyone in the "family" is protected, taken care of. A good read for a South-East Asian to understand the complicated history of our peninsula and small island.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Truly inspiring! What I liked most is he speaks of hard knocks in life and how he gets on with it. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and the values he live by, hard work, integrity, be humble and leaving the world a better place than you found it. Forgive and learn, very powerful indeed. As “an overseas” Chinese of my generation (2nd generation in South East Asia) I can relate to his accounts on how we’re taught values at home, not from any text books but passed down from generations fr Truly inspiring! What I liked most is he speaks of hard knocks in life and how he gets on with it. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and the values he live by, hard work, integrity, be humble and leaving the world a better place than you found it. Forgive and learn, very powerful indeed. As “an overseas” Chinese of my generation (2nd generation in South East Asia) I can relate to his accounts on how we’re taught values at home, not from any text books but passed down from generations from mother/father to child. Seeing the world through his lens, his perspectives, what a gem read. Totally recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kian.ting

    Most of the memoirs are narration of world events through a western perspective. I love reading this book it is a narration of world events through a south East Asian’s perspective. Being a Malaysia it feels like I have travel back in time to see how live was during the British Colonia era and during the 2nd world war. It pains to to learn of the difficult life circumstances back then. I have learned a lot life skills from Mr. Kwok’s memoir being a Fu Chow myself I feel really close to cultures Most of the memoirs are narration of world events through a western perspective. I love reading this book it is a narration of world events through a south East Asian’s perspective. Being a Malaysia it feels like I have travel back in time to see how live was during the British Colonia era and during the 2nd world war. It pains to to learn of the difficult life circumstances back then. I have learned a lot life skills from Mr. Kwok’s memoir being a Fu Chow myself I feel really close to cultures and places mentioned in the book. Thank you for writing your memoir, I didn’t have a chance to talk to my Grand father when he was alive reading this book is like peering into his world back then.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Liew

    Was this book anywhere near what I expected it to be? Yes, and more. I did expect a long recap of his business life, and wasn't expecting him to have been as revealing about his personal life. On most days, it felt like I was listening to an uncle tell me about his conquests at work, proselytizing certain traits and damning others because he had lived long enough to be able to tell the difference of who's a con and who's the real deal. Perhaps my mind was also coloured by this image I have of hi Was this book anywhere near what I expected it to be? Yes, and more. I did expect a long recap of his business life, and wasn't expecting him to have been as revealing about his personal life. On most days, it felt like I was listening to an uncle tell me about his conquests at work, proselytizing certain traits and damning others because he had lived long enough to be able to tell the difference of who's a con and who's the real deal. Perhaps my mind was also coloured by this image I have of him in the mid 2000s when he attended a meeting for the then very new idea of Iskandar Malaysia. What does he care? I thought. I would safely say I've found all the answers in this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    D

    Robert Kuok's love for his motherland is very consistent and respectable. It's interesting to see two completely opposite characters coming out of Raffles Institution, the elite English speaking Singaporean school. While he cares so much for his Chinese motherland, Lee Kuan Yew on the other hand told Southeast Asian Chinese to get real, stop being loyal to the faraway homeland in the North and focus on domestic affairs here in the South. Southeast Asian Chinese is a very complex identity, often Robert Kuok's love for his motherland is very consistent and respectable. It's interesting to see two completely opposite characters coming out of Raffles Institution, the elite English speaking Singaporean school. While he cares so much for his Chinese motherland, Lee Kuan Yew on the other hand told Southeast Asian Chinese to get real, stop being loyal to the faraway homeland in the North and focus on domestic affairs here in the South. Southeast Asian Chinese is a very complex identity, often facing the problem of dual loyalties.

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