Malaysia Dateline

Can Robert Kuok take Ministry of Agriculture into China?

For the record, Tan Sri Robert Kuok deserves a Tunship. Going by his biography, which is now in its fourth reprint in February 2018, where he was involved in companies like Malayawata Steel, MISC Shipping, even Malaysia and Singapore Airline Agency, his finger prints seem everywhere in the early formation of Malaysia.

As a member of the Council of Eminent Persons, Kuok is once again a pivotal figure in the transition of Malaysia, albeit from the safe distance of Hong Kong.

Leafing through his book, one cannot help but admire his love for his late mother, and his brother William and late wife Joyce, and his latest business partner Kuok Khoon Hoong of Wimar International.

In fact, if one goes through page 328 to 330 of his Biography*, the Kuok Group seems to have found a synergy with Wilmar International, of which Tan Sri Robert Kuok owns one third of the shares.

Wilmar International is a global agri-food production business listed in Singapore with Archer-Daniels-Midlands Company, the largest American agribusiness as a shareholder.

As part of the merger, Wilmar International and Kuok Group now jointly have assets in palm oil, palm oil mills in Indonesia and Malaysia, edible oil refineries in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Indeed, Wimar International is in 50 countries. It runs a few shipping fleets, has 500 manufacturing plants, and 90,000 employees. The strategic partnership of Wilmar International and Kuok Group cannot be under-estimated.

It is by far the leading Asia agricubusiness group. It also has leading sugar producer brands in Australia aside from leading Coconut oil too.

As Robert Kuok affirmed: “It is edible oils operations stretch from Europe (where it is the largest refiner in Ukraine) to East Africa.” The plaudits go on and on.

In light of the remarkable achievement of Kuok abroad, one wonder if Kuok can lend a helping hand to the Ministry of Agriculture in Malaysia to break into the Chinese market?

The answer is yes but it would be subject to the condition of Wilmar International too. The real force of Robert Kuok is now Kuok Khoon Hoong and Martua Sitorus. They were the ones who successfully sold the “Arowana” edible oil in the massive market of China.

Should the Ministry of Agriculture wish to break into China or other parts of the market, the connections of Robert Kuok and Kuok Khoon Hoong are paramount, as is India, Indonesia and East Africa. Felda, FGV Global and Wilmar musf work find a way to obtain absolute synergy.

Barring which Tan Sri Robert Kuok’s inclusion in the Council of Eminent Persons would be another wasted opportunity to help Malaysia a serious agricultural break through.