Success Story of Lim Goh Tong

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Date added: 17-09-26

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Tan Sri Dato Seri (Dr. ) Lim Goh Tong was a prominent wealthy Malaysian Chinese businessman. He was renowned for his vision and courage in transforming Genting Highlands from an unexplored hilltop into one of the world's most successful casino resorts. He was once the richest man in Malaysia, Asia with net worth US$4. 2billion. He was born in 1918 in Anxi, a mountainous county in South Eastern Fujian province China, Lim Goh Tong was the fifth child in his family. His father was Lim Shi Quan and his mother Goh Ban. He has an elder brother, three elder sisters, a younger sister and a younger brother. Lim was born into a rustic environment in a village, during that time, China was in a period of turmoil and unrest after the Xinhai Revolution, but life was relatively sheltered for Lim in the village. He grew up peacefully and had the opportunity of studying in school. However, disaster struck and his father died when he was 16. Lim was forced to leave school and him and his elder brother had to take over the heavy burden of feeding his family. As China's situation was becoming worse, Lim Goh Tong decided to take the plunge in venturing out to Malaysia or known as Malaya at that time following his cousin, Lim Kheng Chong's footstep. He left China through Xiamen in early February 1937 at the age of 19. He worked for his uncle as a carpenter in the first two years, learning the Malay language in the meantime. After gaining experience he went on to become a building sub-contractor and complete his first job of building a two-storey school. He returned to Anxi in 1940, but went back to Malaya the next year amidst a deteriorating war environment. The Japanese invaded Malaya in 1942 and caused Lim to have a few near-death experiences. During the early Japanese Occupation, he earned a living as a vegetable farmer, but decided to switch to petty trading for a better living. Later on Lim ventured into scrap-metal and hardware trading. When the Japanese Occupation ended, there was an urgent demand for heavy machinery for resumed operations in mines and rubber plantations, Lim seized the opportunity and engaged in second-hand machinery trading, making his first fortune. While dealing in heavy machinery, Lim accumulated a wide range of reconditioned machines as well as a substantial amount of cash to move into construction and related industries. In the name of his family construction company, Kien Huat Private Limited, Lim began taking on several contracting jobs with help and guidance from his uncles. Kien Huat won accolades and became recognized as one of the leading construction companies after successfully completing many major projects. Among the biggest projects completed was the Ayer Itam Dam, the first time a local contractor had been given a construction job of such magnitude. Lim faced the brink of bankruptcy when construction work was facing problems in the Kemubu Irrigation Scheme, but managed to overcome the obstacles and completed the project. Genting Group's involvement in the property sector can be traced from the initial primary objective of holding land-based assets for long term appreciation and development potential to the current strategic move to develop and market the Group's landed properties mainly held in the plantation subsidiary, by Asiatic Land Development Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Asiatic Development Berhad which is 54. % owned by Genting Berhad. The idea of building a hilltop resort was first conceived when Lim Goh Tong was having a dinner in the Cameron Highlands. As he was enjoying the soothing cool breeze of the Cameron Highlands, an idea struck him that as the standard of living rose steadily in Malaysia, more and more people would visit mountain resorts for relaxation and recreation, but Cameron Highlands was too far away from the capital city Kuala Lumpur, therefore building a mountain resort nearer to Kuala Lumpur would have great business potential. After doing some research, Lim found Gunung Ulu Kali at a place called Genting Sempah to be an ideal location for his plan. He formed an expedition and explored the place, collecting a wealth of data on the topography, drainage, soil conditions and other relevant aspects of the region, this proved to be very useful in drawing up plans for developing the resort. Upon conceiving this idea, many naysayers were skeptical of Lim turning a wilderness into a tourist resort. Most thought it was really risky and reckoned Lim who was financially comfortable to be foolish to invest heavily in money and time to develop Genting, but Lim brushed off all these negativities and went ahead firmly with his plan. After getting approvals from the Federal and State governments, Lim began the project in the face of a colossal task. Among the problems were building the access road towards the hilltop, water and electricity supplies, sewerage system and fire safety. Lim managed to build the access road towards the summit in three years when it was estimated to take fifteen years. Several sources of water in the mountain were identified water supply was secured by building water-collection stations and water filtration plants with treated water stored in reservoirs. Electricity is supplied through a central electricity generation system with 12 big generators. During the construction, Lim survived six close brushes with death. Meanwhile, Lim had to administer another major project in Kelantan, the Kemubu Irrigation Scheme at the same time. This stretched his physical endurance to the limits as he had to shuttle between Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan and he worked seven days a week. During the Genting project, Lim spent all he had without earning any income. He sold an 810-hectare rubber estate to raise RM2. 5 million. In addition, he invested all the money he had made from iron mining, sub-contracting and hardware businesses. The project was a heavy drain on Lim's finances. When asked to invest in this project, Lim's friends turned him down and counselled him to drop the entire scheme instead. Genting was granted the only casino licence after Tunku Abdul Rahman, the prime minister of Malaysia then, visited Genting Highlands and commended Lim's effort to develop a resort contributing to Malaysia's tourism industry without government help. Lim managed to obtain a pioneer status for Genting Highlands and tax incentives despite its resort development not qualifying for it. He did so by convincing the government that tax incentives in the early stage of development of Genting Highlands were not only vital for them but also profitable to the government later on. The whole Genting project was completed in January 1971, but prior to officially commencing business, Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas were hit by the worst rainstorms in a century, the road to Genting was closed by landslides at 180 locations, and the damaged sections took four months to repair. Genting opened its door for business on 8 May 1971. In the next 30 years, Lim continued to develop and expand Genting Highlands beyond its original idea of a hotel with basic tourist facilities. Among the projects were the construction of more hotels, indoor and outdoor theme parks, and a convention centre. A new road was built to shorten the journey to Genting from the northern states, and RM920 million was invested to widen a 10 km stretch of the access road to reduce congestion. Another RM928 million was spent on constructing a cable car system to provide visitors with an alternative mode of transportation. In 1993, at the suggestion of Tun Mahathir, the prime minister of Malaysia then, a township was developed on an 81-hectare piece of land around the site of the Genting Skyway cable car tation. It was named Gohtong Jaya after Lim as a token of remembrance for his efforts in the development of Genting Highlands. As of now, Genting Highlands is one of the most successful Casino resorts in the world and is one of the primary tourist attractions in Malaysia. Lim Goh Tong company which is Genting Group operates Genting Highlands and has diversified into many other industries such as plantations, property, paper, power generation, oil gas exploration and cruise boat industries. In the process new company brands were created that have become distinctive names in their respective fields, namely Asiatic, Genting Sanyen and Star Cruises. On 31 December 2003, Lim handed his chairmanship of Genting Group over to his son, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. Lim Goh Tong was married to Lee Kim Hua, together they had six children and nineteen grandchildren. The six children are Lim Siew Lay, Siew Lian, Siew Kim, Tee Keong, Kok Thay and Chee Wah. Throughout his life Lim has had a few medical crises among them were a malignant tumor and cardiovascular problems, which he pulled through after several surgeries. Lim wrote his autobiography "My Story - Lim Goh Tong" and it was published in 2004. In the book he wrote about his early life, how he started off with nothing to building a world-class casino resort through hard work and perseverance confounding skeptics, and the people he acknowledges. "Once the goals have been clearly defined, with the greatest amount of determination and hard work, one can conclusively realize one's goals. " - Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, Founder
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