Robert Kuok

SINGAPORE: Malaysia’s slowing economy, now getting hit by Covid-19 outbreak, has taken a toll on its tycoons, according to Forbes Asia in releasing it’s 2020 Forbes Malaysia Rich List today.

Forbes Asia said the wealth of the country’s 50 richest fell for a second straight year due to a weaker ringgit and a nearly 10 per cent decline in the country’s benchmark stock index.

Their collective net worth of $79 billion is down 7.0 per cent from a year ago, it said.

Nonagenarian business legend Tan Sri Robert Kuok takes the top spot again with a net worth of $11.5 billion, a position he has held for over two decades.

Kuok is among four listees whose wealth shrank by more than $1 billion in the past year.

Retaining his spot on the No.2 list is Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan of Hong Leong group, who added $300 million to his fortune of $9.7 billion.

Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan of Maxis takes the third spot with a net worth of $5.9 billion, down $300 million from the year before.

The hardest-hit in dollar terms was banking tycoon Tan Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow (No. 5, $4.85 billion).

The founder of Public Bank saw his fortune buffeted by headwinds in Malaysia’s banking industry, slipping two spots from No. 3 last year.

Teh saw $1.85 billion shaved off his wealth since the last list as shares in Public Bank, the country’s second-largest bank by market value, declined roughly 30 per cent.

In addition to Kuok and Teh, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay (No. 7, $3.2 billion) and Hap Seng’s Lau Cho Kun (No. 10, $2.3 billion) also saw their wealth slid by more than $1 billion as their fortunes fell by $1.2 billion and $1.1 billion respectively.

AirAsia’s Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes (No. 41) and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun (No. 43) saw more than a third of their fortunes dropped to $335 million and $315 million respectively.

In all, 22 listees suffered a slide in their net worth from a year ago, but an equal number were modestly better off.

Among the latter group was casino mogul Tan Sri Dr Chen Lip Keong, who moved into the top five for the first time at No. 4.

Booming growth at Chen’s NagaWorld casino complex in Cambodia, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, helped push his net worth up 6.0 per cent to $5.3 billion.

Another notable gainer was Kuan Kam Hon (No. 9), who controls Hartalega Holdings, the world’s largest maker of nitrile gloves.

His net worth grew $400 million to $2.8 billion, from $2.4 billion a year ago.

There are five newcomers on the list, the richest of whom are a pair of inheritors.

Debuting at No. 6 are brothers Datuk Lee Yeow Chor and Lee Yeow Seng, who share a combined $4.8 billion legacy left by their father Tan Sri Dr Lee Shin Cheng, the architect of the IOI palm oil and property empire, who passed away last June.

Other new listees include two tech entrepreneurs: Chu Jenn Weng (No. 47, $280 million), founder of electronics maker ViTrox; and former Hewlett-Packard engineer Oh Kuang Eng (No. 50, $255 million), whose Mi Technovation makes semiconductor equipment. – Bernama