HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
SULTAN NAZRIN MUIZZUDDIN SHAH
OPENING OF THE REMODERNISED WISMA TAIKO
AND LAUNCH OF
“LEE LOY SENG – THE TAIKO OF PLANTATIONS”
DATE: TUESDAY, 27 SEPTEMBER 2022; TIME: 11.00 AM
VENUE: WISMA TAIKO, IPOH.
Thank you, Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian for those wonderfully informative videos. They provide a good perspective of the long establishment of the company, and of your father’s legacy. They showcase Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad’s humble beginnings in Perak, and the company’s place in Malaysia’s history. Congratulations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- It is rare for a homegrown company that has expanded so significantly worldwide to maintain such a major presence locally. That KLK has remained here in Ipoh to this day is a testament of its loyalty to, and love for, our state of Perak. I very much commend KLK for this gesture. So, I am happy to be here today at the re-launch of this building, which was inaugurated as the headquarters of KLK some 37 years ago, back in 1985. The event then was officiated by my beloved father, HRH Sultan Azlan Shah.
- I am also delighted to be here today to launch the book, ‘Lee Loy Seng – ‘Taiko’ of Plantations’, which documents the inspiring life journey of Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng, the founder of KLK. What a very apt name it is, that has been given to both this building, and this book. Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng was indeed identified as an ‘older brother’ of the plantation industry in this country, especially during the challenging period following Independence.
- Some three decades after his passing, this book provides a most fitting tribute to Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng, setting out many interesting aspects of his life. And what a colourful life it was!…from the outstanding achievements he attained, to the remarkable legacy he left behind. Through his values, his discipline, and his dedication, Tan Sri Lee set a very strong example to us all of what constitutes a fulfilled life, and one of service to family, society and nation. His life story is truly an inspiration for generations of employees and households past, present and future.
- Tan Sri Lee’s family has taken this impressive legacy to even greater heights. The company he founded, KLK, is today one of Malaysia’s leading public listed companies. Still a plantation company at its core, KLK has also successfully diversified downstream into oleo-chemical manufacturing and other areas, perhaps even surpassing the vision of the late founder. KLK has a global presence, in Europe, China, and Indonesia, as well as Malaysia, with a total workforce of around 47,000. The company supports the livelihoods and dreams of many, while also contributing in terms of investment and economic growth in the various markets where it operates. Again, this includes Malaysia, and right here in Ipoh, where the company’s economic and social contributions are substantial, and are very much appreciated by the people of Perak.
- This flourishing business is almost like a living tribute to Tan Sri Lee’s outstanding character. The staying power of KLK, and the company’s steady but quite remarkable growth, reflect the core values of its founder. His integrity, his humility, his discipline, and his loyalty – to his family, colleagues, staff, and birthplace – have been carried forward most admirably by his children. These may be old fashioned values, but we would all do well to emulate Tan Sri Lee’s example, both for the benefit of our own lives, and for the wellbeing of our country.
- For as the book sets out very clearly, it was his strength of character that enabled Tan Sri Lee to succeed so resoundingly. This character, along with vision and determination, is what propelled him to put into place the strong foundations of what is today one of the finest companies in this country. A company that has grown through hard work and dedication, and above all else, honesty. As the book reveals, these values were passed on by Tan Sri Lee not only to his direct heirs, but to everyone involved in the company, from the highest to the lowest level. His view was that while knowledge and skills could be taught, integrity was the most fundamental quality he sought in his staff.
- The book illuminates other important aspects of Tan Sri Lee’s approach, with telling details that show his humility, as well as his informality. For instance, he wore shorts for the plantation visits he regularly made, simply because they were the most suitable attire for the purpose. The book also emphasizes just how hard he always worked, and how crucial this discipline was to his success. Not one to sit in the office, he was not afraid to be outside in our tropical weather. But he would then continue the day’s work until it was finished, not slacking off early even after a long day spent in the heat. His colleagues and employees had to keep up with the pace he set! Such stories highlight Tan Sri Lee’s utter dedication to the task at hand – of building what would become a world-class company, from its humble beginnings here in Ipoh.
- The book also provides some insight into how he achieved this feat. It tells us about his strategy of acquiring interests in companies with valuable landbanks, and of how he built up these stakeholdings. It shows us the courage involved in some of these decisions, such as when he brought the headquarters home to Malaysia from the UK following Independence. Or when he expanded into Sabah, or vertically into downstream production activities. Such decisions were underpinned by sound and effective business principles, from which we can well learn. And they have been very much carried on by his children. KLK’s CEO, Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian, together with his brothers, Dato’ Lee Hau Hian, and Dato’ Lee Soon Hian, have masterfully taken the company to even greater heights, building on the legacy of their father.
- Although the book emphasizes his dedication to work and family above all, Tan Sri Lee clearly also had the energy for many other pursuits. As well as friendships, partnerships and mentorships, he took on important public roles in society, both here in Ipoh and Perak and beyond. And as with all his endeavors, he played these roles not only outstandingly well but admirably, leaving a lasting impact on all the activities in which he was involved. His philanthropic contributions to schools, to hospitals and healthcare, and to the old people’s facilities around Ipoh in particular, have been greatly appreciated by the various communities who have benefitted from them. Many of these activities were most ably and generously continued by his wife, Puan Sri Wan Chin, following Tan Sri Lee’s demise.
- So even for those of you who are already familiar with the impressive life and works of Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng, I strongly recommend you to read this very well-written book. Read it for the interesting details it offers on Malaysian history, as well as for the insights it provides into Tan Sri Lee’s approach to business and to life. This approach has left a remarkable direct legacy in the form of his company and his family, as well as lasting impacts on all those whose lives he, and they, have touched. But even more, his philosophy can also serve as a useful guide for us all, showing us the impact that can be had when one takes as one’s creed, integrity and loyalty; hard work and discipline; and dedication to the betterment of one’s family and society.
- I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the immense contribution that has been made by the KLK Group to the people of Perak. I understand that the re-modernised Wisma Taiko is equipped with many new facilities, and will provide a much-improved working environment for the company’s employees and other stakeholders. KLK’s investment in this building, and in our city, over the decades, show what can be achieved with hard work, dedication and vision. I very much hope that this new building, standing even more grandly than its original 1985 version, will remain as one of Ipoh’s iconic landmarks for many years to come.
- I also hope that Wisma Taiko will provide inspiration, both to the immediate employees and to the wider stakeholders of KLK. I hope they will be more determined than ever to seize new opportunities in the evolving global landscape, to ensure a sustainable future and continued growth for the company. At the same time, it is my sincere hope that KLK will continue to serve and contribute to the people and State of Perak – in keeping with its humble beginnings here.