PETALING JAYA • Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok has said he will take action against the news portal Malaysia Today after it published claims that he was funding opposition parties and a news site in a bid to overthrow the government.
In a media statement carried by The Star newspaper on Monday, the 94-year-old billionaire "refutes and emphatically denies the false allegations" made by Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin in three articles published last week.
The articles alleged that Mr Kuok had funded various political parties and the The Malaysian Insight news site in order to overthrow the government and install a new one led by the predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP).
DAP leader Lim Kit Siang on Sunday denied the opposition party had received funds from Mr Kuok.
"The false assertions made in these articles include that he was funding The Malaysian Insight and various political parties with the aim of overthrowing the present government of Malaysia; embarking on a campaign to manipulate the Malaysian political process and democratic system; being anti-government vis-a-vis the ruling Barisan Nasional in Malaysia; and being a racist and a 'Chinese chauvinist'," Mr Kuok's statement said.
The tycoon, who lives in Hong Kong, said any assertion that he had forgotten his roots were false.
"Mr Kuok would also like to place on record that he has a deep appreciation for the opportunities he has had and recognises the contributions made by Malaysians of all creeds, races and religions towards the development of Malaysia to date... Mr Kuok holds in the highest esteem the leaders of Malaysia who have throughout their lives done everything they can to contribute to the well-being of Malaysians," it added.
The tycoon's words were welcomed by Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday. In a statement, Datuk Seri Najib reiterated what he had said last Saturday, that despite their hard work, discipline and commitment, some of Malaysia's richest people owed their success to opportunities created by government policies.
Mr Kuok's response also comes after Umno leader Tajuddin Abdul Rahman told him not to forget his roots and how he emerged as Malaysia's richest man. Umno is the dominant Malay party in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz joined in the fray on Monday, calling Mr Kuok a "pondan" (effeminate man) and a coward.
Mr Kuok, dubbed Malaysia's "sugar king", had a government concession to trade sugar in the country. He also traded rice and flour, and his empire includes the Shangri-La hotel chain, Kerry Properties and commodities trader Wilmar.
The Star reported that the Malaysian Chinese Association, BN's Chinese component party, defended Mr Kuok on Monday, with party secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan saying the remarks by Umno leaders were "regrettable".
"Kuok has made tremendous contributions to the country. These comments are made to spread hatred and create disunity," Mr Ong said.