Success Story of Lim Goh Tong

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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.

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