UNDER attack from Umno leaders and accused of disloyalty to Malaysia, the country’s richest tycoon, Robert Kuok, once gave large donations to the ruling Malay party, as well as MCA.
In his memoirs released in Malaysia last December, Kuok said the money he gave to Barisan Nasional parties after independence had been substantial.
“I was often asked to give substantial donations to the ruling parties, Umno and MCA, after independence in 1957. I gave willingly, happily and freely.”
The 94-year-old Hong Kong-based businessman also had close ties with Umno leaders, such as second deputy prime minister Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.
Kuok, over the last few days, has come under attack from Umno leaders following articles in blog Malaysia Today accusing him of funding opposition party DAP and wanting to set up a Chinese-led government.
The harshest words came from Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, who called Kuok a “pondan” and dared him to return to Malaysia to contest in the 14th general election.
Kuok, dubbed the “Sugar King” with a global empire of diversified businesses, in his memoirs talked about how he had given funds to BN parties “especially when it comes to election time”.
He said former MCA president and then finance minister Tan Siew Sin had approached him for political donations on behalf of MCA and BN.
He detailed the episode when the MCA leadership asked him to post bail for then president Tan Koon Swan, who had been charged with criminal breach of trust in Singapore in connection with the Pan-El crisis that rocked the stock markets in Malaysia and Singapore.
Kuok paid the S$20 million (now RM59 million) bail. Koon Swan was later convicted and jailed.
In the late 1980s, Kuok’s help was again sought to rescue MCA-controlled Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd, whose businesses included gaming, property development and plantations.
MCA yesterday defended Kuok, with party secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan saying the remarks by Umno leaders were “regrettable”, and party publicity spokesman Ti Lian Ker saying Kuok had the right to support any party he wanted and there were laws to deal with attempts to undermine the government.
Kuok’s office issued a statement last night, vehemently denying the allegations against him and reserving the right to take legal action against Malaysia Today blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin for accusing him of trying to overthrow Najib’s government.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT