Lim Goh Tong, Malaysia's third-richest man who turned a forested hilltop into a thriving casino resort, died Oct. 23, leaving behind a diverse business empire worth $22 billion. He was 90. Mr. Lim was the founder of Genting Group of companies. His son, Lim Kok Thay, who took over from Mr. Lim as Genting's chief executive in 2004, did not give a cause of death in his statement. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi described Mr. Lim as a hardworking entrepreneur who had contributed to the country's economic development. "He is also a well-known philanthropist. I believe his death is a loss not only to the nation but also to the business and entrepreneurial community in the country," Abdullah said. Mr. Lim, a migrant from China, battled the odds to build Genting Highlands, a casino hotel that opened in 1971 and flourished into a Las Vegas-style resort. It is the country's only casino and includes five hotels and a theme park. Forbes magazine listed Mr. Lim among the world's top 250 billionaires in 2006 and the third-richest person in Malaysia, with a personal net worth of $4.3 billion. Born in Anxi in Fujian province, Mr. Lim was the fifth of seven children. He migrated to Malaya, as Malaysia was then known, in 1937 at age 19 with only a suitcase and $175 in his pocket. He made his first fortune by trading in secondhand heavy machinery after the end of Japanese occupation in the 1940s, and later ventured into mining. While working on a hydroelectric power project in 1964 in Cameron Highlands, a popular hill resort patronized mostly by British colonials at the time, Mr. Lim dreamed of building a similar hill resort nearer to the country's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, as a getaway for residents. He found the remote 5,900-foot Ulu Kali mountain, about an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur. In 1965, he set up the Genting Group to transform the dense virgin tropical jungle into one of Malaysia's top holiday destinations, which attracted 18.5 million visitors in 2006. The Genting Group has since diversified into plantations, properties, paper manufacturing, power generation, oil and gas. It comprises five listed companies with a combined total market capitalization of more than $22 billion, according to its Web site. Genting has also developed resorts and casinos in Australia and the Philippines.
MALAYSIAN Billionaire tycoon Lim Goh Tong has died at the age of 90, following a short illness, leaving an estimated US$4.3 billion (S$6.2 billion) fortune.
The tycoon handed over the running of an empire with interests in property, power generation, plantations, paper manufacturing and information technology.
Genting's Hong Kong-listed subsidiary, Star Cruises, is the third-largest cruise operator in the world, while the group also controls Britain's biggest casino operator Stanley Leisure.
But Tan Sri Lim, one of Malaysia's wealthiest businessmen, is best known for turning Genting Highlands, a hill outcrop just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, into one of the world's most profitable casino resorts.
And to his admirers, he was more than just a developer, personifying the clutch of overseas Chinese business entrepreneurs who fled hardship in their homeland to build the corporate empires that played a major role in South-east Asia's economic boom. "He is a model of success, starting from scratch, and his achievements came through hard work" said Tan Sri William Cheng, who controls Malaysia's diversified Lion Group of companies.
Tan Sri Lim, who hailed from China's Fujian province, was forced to leave school at the age of 16, after his father died, and began selling vegetable seeds to support his family.
In 1937, he left Fujian for what was then British-controlled Malaya, where he dabbled in a host of businesses ranging from selling machinery to building and tin mining. Tan Sri Lim, who did not speak English and conversed with Malaysia's political elite in colloquial...