华商领袖郭鹤年 / Robert Kuok CCTV Interview

MALAYSIA’S richest man, Tan Sri Robert Kuok, is often referred to as the “Sugar King” but the man himself says he does not like the title and deems it a “fake fame”.

Kuok, whose empire includes the Shangri-La hotel chain, prefers the title “Hotel King” instead.

“I like hotel but the word king’ is just a fake one,” the 87-year-old billionaire said in an interview with China Central Television (CCTV) recently.

Major local Chinese newspapers have carried reports about the interview as the low-profile and media-shy tycoon rarely agrees to being interviewed.

Among the topics he talked about were his foray into the travel industry in China, the venture in the sugar refinery business and his mother.

Kuok said that when he first went into China’s travel industry, the tourist facilities there, especially toilets, were poor and the country was unable to attract international tourists.

But “I had a feeling that China would have the most prosperous travel industry as it has historical relics and sites”, said Kuok, who built the first Shangri-La Hotel in Hangzhou in the 1980s.

Today, there are 72 Shangri-La hotels throughout the world, and 34 of these are in China. There are 45 hotels under construction now, and 28 are in China.

Kuok said the hotel, as a service industry, depended on its employees, from the head manager to the menial worker, to serve their customers. Thus, it has been his principle ever since he first became involved in this industry to take care of the employees.

The biggest responsibility of the board of directors is to take care of its employees, he said.
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