Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary This man here prefers to stay in the background, shying away from public eyes. With the title of “reclusive tycoon”, he has only partially surfaced but has equity in at least 13 publicly traded company. His flagship company being MMC Corp Bhd, is an investment holding company dealing with transport & logistics, energy & utilities and engineering & construction. (Current Wealth: 4.180 billion) he is the eight person who is Malaysian richest people and the first malay people richest in Malaysia.
STARTING A BUSINESS
In the mid 1970s, his father’s cattle business ran into trouble following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The outbreak spread throughout southern Thailand, Kedah and Perlis. As a result, nearly all their livestock perished.
However, this downturn in event actually had a silver lining. Since then, Syed Mokhtar took over his father’s business and decided never again to become involved in the cattle business. Instead, he decided to go into the business of selling meat.
As a start, at the age of 19, Syed Mokhtar scoured markets around Alor Setar to buy unsold meat from the vendors there. The meat would then be re-sold to bumiputera traders in the surrounding area.
Although these were unsold meat, they were packaged carefully and nicely, and kept on ice to maintain freshness. Thus, using his experience in handling good quality products, Syed Mokhtar’s business received encouraging response from the public. This success made him even more driven to expand the business.
Soon after, Syed Mokhtar moved on to the transportation business. After successfully acquiring a license for four Class A lorries in 1972, Syed Mokhtar secured a loan in the amount of RM110,000 from the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) to buy two Mercedes Benz lorries.
At first, he wanted to buy four lorries, but the plan did not come to light because of technical problems, leaving him with two remaining permits. A Chinese trader approached him to buy those permits, but Syed Mokhtar refused the offer and decided to return the permits to MARA.
He then established a transportation company named Syarikat Pengangkutan Sentosa, and appointed a Chinese clerk to be the manager. Interestingly, the company still exists until today.
From a small business that offered transport service to haul rice, it now owns more than 40 lorries for various transport purposes.
After establishing Syarikat Shah, he created Syarikat Bukhary, which is involved in the rice and sugar business. And just like Syarikat Pengangkutan Sentosa, Bukhary still exists and has expanded until now, with an annual revenue of around RM250 million!
The company then expanded into Bukhary (KL) Sdn. Bhd. in 1977. The company won many government contracts which were offered to bumiputera entrepreneurs at the time, and based its operations in a four-storey shop lot on Jalan Pahang.
Because the business was expanding so fast, he renovated the office on the ground floor and turned it into a packaging area for chocolates, flour and tea supplied to the government. He then created Susu Mas Sdn. Bhd (Susu Mas) in 1979 to facilitate his business of supplying to the government.
Like Bukhary, Susu mas was also a joint-venture company, this time with New Zealand Milk Products. He held 51 percent share in the company. The Susu Mas product was marketed under the brand Fernleaf. However, following the economic crisis which hit the country at the end of 1980’s, he decided to sell his business interest in that company.
CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS MUSLIM EDUCATION IN MALAYSIA
Although he enjoys his success as the nation’s number one bumiputera conglomerate figure, he has not forgotten his responsibility to help his Muslim brethrens. For this purpose, the Yayasan al_Bukhary was established in March 1996 to help the poor, particularly in the area of education.
Until today, Yayasan al-Bukhary has spent more than RM300 million for religious, cultural and educational activities. The foundation not only provides aid to people of this country, but also countries that are members in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Among the biggest projects ever conducted was the construction of the Kompleks al-Bukhary costing RM400 million in Kedah. The complex is a centre complete with facilities including a mosque, medical centre, community centre, housing for orphans, a special academy of the elderly and an institution of higher education.
This foundation also created the International Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur, at a cost of RM100 million. This four-storey building is the first museum in Asia Pacific that showcases Islamic works of art. Yayasan al-Bukhary also built 16 mosques all over the world.
The most recent project was the construction of the Al-Bukhary Mosque, located in a strategic spot near Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. The location of the mosque, which was built at a cost of RM12.2 million, also makes it convenient for Muslims, especially those around Jalan Hang Tuah, Jalan Pudu and Bukit Bintang area to pray.
Prior to 2000, Yayasan Al-Bukhary donated about RM7.75 million to Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, a world-renowned centre of Islamic studies. And starting from November 2007, Yayasan Al-Bukhary will sponsor 28 more students to study at the International Islamic University Malaysia.
Yayaan Al-Bukhary is also involved with the Al-Bukhary International University’s construction project in Kedah, which costs RM500 million. It will cater to 3,000 students of whom 70 percent are foreign students fully sponsored by the foundation by 2009.
Last 6 September, Yayasan Al-Bukhary donated AS$1 million to the Lebanese Humanitarian Fund in order to lessen the burden suffered by people of that country, who are victims of Israel’s atrocity.
Actually, this foundation also helps non-Islamic based organisations.
For example, around RM1 million was donated by the foundation for the Langkawi Project, an effort spearheaded by the MCA, in the area of education, particularly in providing scholarships to financially needy students from rural areas.
Indeed, the success enjoyed by Syed Mokhtar today was not gained through easy shortcuts. Hard work, self confidence, and faith that everything comes from Allah, has made him a bumiputera conglomerate icon for everyone to aspire to.