Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and his friend

A friend of mine sent me an email this afternoon. It is a news clip titled: Genting founder dies. And so, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong (林梧桐) is now dead. He passed away this morning at Subang Jaya Medical Center.

It is not easy to build a business like Genting, because you need a lot of hard work and a lot of luck.

There is no doubt that Lim fulfilled the first criterion. To understand how dedicated Lim was, you can read his autobiography "My Story - Lim Goh Tong" or you can visit the history section of Genting website.

The second criterion, the luck element, is rarely mentioned. And it is my intention to highlight a little bit in this article.

At the time when Lim was 32, he was introduced to a Muarian named Mohammad Noah Omar (1898 - 1991). And the friendship and business partnership between Lim and Noah turned out to be very fruitful and beneficial to both parties.

In 1948, the youngest daughter of Noah, Suhaila, was married to Hussein Onn. Four years later, Suhaila's sister, Rahah, was married to Abdul Razak. So, Lim is indeed extremely fortunate to have a good friend who is also the father-in-law of the second and third prime minister of Malaysia.

In 27 April 1965, Lim and Noah established a company, in which Lim was the managing director while Noah was the chairman. Together, they managed to persuade the government to let them construct a resort on a hill top bordering Selangor and Pahang.

Four year later, Lim and Noah submitted their application to operate a casino in the hotel they were building. Tunku brought their case to the cabinet meeting for discussion on 28 April 1969. That afternoon, the approval letter for the first and only casino operation in Malaysia was signed.

Amazingly, it took only six hours to approve the casino license of Lim and Noah after they submitted their application to Tunku. And to explain this, we can either say that the government must be very efficient back in 1969, or there were some guanxi factors involved. I choose to believe the latter.

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