1. Malaysia is, relatively speaking, a small country. The population is only 28 million with a per capita income of USD8,000. But many Malaysians have done very well on the world stage. They are big and often they are the biggest in the world.
2. This is especially so in business. These people make their first million in the country. And they grew, prospering in the conducive business environment that Malaysia provides.
3. PETRONAS is a Government company. It is a national oil company like those found in most oil-producing countries. But PETRONAS did not confine itself to merely collecting royalty. PETRONAS went into all the different upstream and downstream areas of the petroleum industry. It went abroad, prospecting, producing, transporting, shipping, laying pipes and building ports and terminals. It is also into natural gas liquefaction and petrochemicals.
4. It is rare for a Government company to do well. But PETRONAS has done well and contributed much to Government revenue.
5. The private sector has not done badly either. Many have grown and expanded. Kuok Bros, building on its sugar and flour monopoly business, expanded into luxury hotels. The Shangri-La Hotel chains are all over East Asia and beyond. Palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia contributed billions to the corporation.
6. Lim Goh Tong came to Malaysia penniless. A casino license granted by the first Government of independent Malaysia contributed to the creation of one of the biggest corporations in the world. Resorts World operates casinos in Malaysia, Singapore, USA and UK, and elsewhere. Additionally, his Malaysian corporation owns huge palm oil estates and cruise ships.
7. The Genting group has more hotel rooms than any other hotel chain in the Far East.
8. Yeoh Tiong Lay (YTL) is another Malaysian company, which started as a construction company but now owns valuable properties in KL and other Malaysian towns. It owns a profitable power plant in Malaysia and a water supply utility in the UK.
9. Datuk Azman Shah owns a hotel chain, the Holiday Villa, largely in Malaysia but also in London, Sudan and other locations.
10. Vincent Tan has many businesses. He is also a big property owner in KL and in other parts of Malaysia. His most remarkable success in the Cosway chain of stores, with thousands operating in East Asian countries, in the USA and in Mexico.
11. Ananda Krishnan made his first million trading in oil. Coming home he started Astro and Maxis, telecommunication and paid television businesses. He is the owner of three satellites, which provide telecommunication service covering most of Southeast Asia. He owns and operates mobile phone services in many countries, including in India.
12. Eversendai is not a Japanese company. It is a Malaysian company, which has done very well in the Middle East especially. The main business is steel framework for building, including the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world. The owner is an Indian.
13. And there are many more companies, which had their head start in Malaysia but have grown and expanded to many parts of the world. They may not be as big as the ones I have listed but they have done quite well for themselves.
14. For a relatively small country, still not a developed country, Malaysia can be proud of the successes of its sons. I am sure that these successful people must also be proud of themselves and their achievements. I am also sure that they never forget their small beginnings in Malaysia, the kick-start that set them off to achieve great things.
15. There are many other kinds of successes that Malaysians can be proud of. We were once the biggest producer of tin and rubber in the world. Now we are the biggest producer of palm oil in the world.
16. Malaysians now bought and own brand name companies like Laura Ashley, Crabtree & Evelyn.
17. Yes, Malaysia is a small country but it has provided Malaysians of all races the opportunities to excel and succeed beyond the dreams of its founding fathers, perhaps beyond the dreams of the Malaysian tycoons themselves.