Sold-out memoir by billionaire Kuok only available here after Christmas

A letter displayed at a bookstore in Kuching stating that the second print of "Robert Kuok: A Memoir" is available only after Dec 22.

KUCHING, Dec 8: Sarawakians who are eagerly waiting to get a copy of ‘Robert Kuok: A Memoir’ have to wait until after Christmas.

To the disappointment of local readers, the 4,000-copy first print run of the memoir, released in Malaysia on Dec 1 is all sold out. None of the copies even reached Sarawak.

Bookstores here have had a long list reserving the second print, a total of 15,000 which is due on Dec 22, and expected to arrive in bookstores here about a week later!

Priced at RM139.90, online bookstores are also receiving pre-orders, and offering discounts and free delivery services.

The Chinese version of the book is priced at RM83 and is also all sold out. Pre-orders for the second print is now open.


Screengrab of pre-orders and deals for the book being offered by the website of the popular local bookstore chain.

The tell-all-tale of one of the richest men in Malaysia has begun to make waves as local media had published parts of the autobiography, which was originally published in the South China Morning Post last month.

Amongst other things, the 376-page memoir details the Malaysian tycoon’s relationship with the nation’s six prime ministers, and the growth of his business empire.

“Once in a while I get excited about a book… this is one of them. Just remember that you are reading from the viewpoint of someone who had direct access to the top office but who understood that to keep his status and influence, he had to be based outside Malaysia,” wrote political analyst Prof James Chin, on his Facebook page.

The cover for ‘Robert Kuok: A Memoir”.

The notoriously media-shy Kuok, 94, has kept his private life, and indeed the story of how he began amassing his US$14 billion (S$19 billion) fortune, under wraps for the best part of a century.

In the book, Kuok criticised implicitly the policy of preferential treatment for Bumiputeras in Malaysia, and said he made one “strong attempt to influence the course of history” of the country but failed.

Robert Kuok Hock Nien was born in 1923, the youngest of three sons in a Chinese family which he singled out as probably among the 1,000 richest in British Malaya.

He said he developed a deep antipathy towards colonialism and also outlined in the book, sometimes in chilling detail, the brutal Japanese occupation.

Kuok said he had to continue fighting against favouritism in business by the same two economic powers — Britain and Japan — after Malaya gained independence in 1957. However these handicaps were also part of what drove him to succeed.

Kuok also revealed how his father had a second family and abused his mother, often leaving her without enough money to feed her children especially as they suffered through the Great Depression that began in 1929. — DayakDaily

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