Book review: Robert Kuok a Memoir

A story of a hardworking businessman born in the right time.

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I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do a book review on this, mainly because while reading his story, I was quite sure he was just born in the right time at the right place, in the right family and environment. I must also say that his hardworking yielded most of the successes. I am conflicted within myself, was it really his hard work which made him triumphed or was he lucky to be born in the right time where businesses are easier to build, or was it just me being jealous? I overcame myself, wrote this piece for the sake of improving my writing skills, as well as reminding myself to keep the right mindset. Please read this with an open heart as I do not mean any ill intentions.

Robert Kuok, the wealthiest person in Malaysia, 48th in the world (as retrieved at the time of writing), born in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, narrated the book Robert Kuok a Memoir.

The book starts with his childhood story, growing up in Johor Bahru of the state Johore (or Johor in Malay), which is very near to Singapore. Robert loves his mother very much, as he recalls his memories with her many times, portrayed her as a gentle and wise woman. It is her teachings that groomed Robert to this day. Having studied in Raffles College, Robert met many of the to-be influential persons which helped him to get close to politics then to monopoly some of the industries, namely sugar refining. This is where I started to think that he was born in the right time. Judge me not, Robert himself said something in the line of that.

The book then continued detailing about how Malaya (before Malaysia is Malaysia) was colonized by the Japanese and British armies. Having lived through the tough life of being colonized and massacre everywhere, Robert found the opportunity to collaborate with the Japanese in the rice trading department, which started to amass funds for his future trading endeavour. Later in the chapters, together with his family, they formed the Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd, and started the sugar refineries.

This is where I started to lose some interests when Robert started to talk about how he succeed in some trading wars, how political intervening helped him and failed him, and how he pulled out from harmful partners. True to that last point, don’t dwell too long with someone that don’t make improvement in your life. By the way, the memoir generally don’t follow a timeline, but rather sorted by the type of the stories. Therefore, don’t expect to read it like how you’d normally do with a fiction. Besides trading commodities such as rice and sugar, Robert also built the renowned Shangri-La Hotel and Coca-Cola bottling factories.

In the closing chapters, Robert discussed about his family, the businesses and about how capitalism is the way to forward in the world we’re living now. He also talked about how we as a human being should behave to be successful.

Below are the key takeaways that I believe will benefit in my future endeavour, and to sculp myself as a better person.

  • Be humble.
  • Be generous, if you had the capabilities.
  • Be an opportunist, make informed decisions.
  • Be willing to take risks.
  • Be hardworking.
  • Be disciplined.