Home / article / Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary – Tycoon lives by a moral compass

Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary – Tycoon lives by a moral compass


A biography on Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary sheds some light into the life and personality of the most-talked-about yet little-known corporate titan in Malaysia.

AN anecdote dating back to one of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary’s early forays in business offers a revealing insight into what drives Malaysia’s leading bumiputra corporate titan.


In 1971, Syed Mokhtar, who was then 20 years old and had dropped out of school because his parents were too poor to pay for his education, suddenly found success and was raking in tidy profits as a meat trader.

The impressionable young man got carried away. He developed a taste for the night life in Kuala Lumpur and bought a fuel-injected Volvo which he used for weekend joy rides to Penang and Thailand.


But things ground to a halt when Syed Mokhtar could not pay his car loan instalments, and he had an epiphany.

“I think it has to do with keinsafan or realisation of where you come from, and where you are going,” he says in his recently released biography, Syed Mokhtar Albukhary: A Biography.

“It was a difficult and painful period for both me and my family. But I found myself through the realisation of my religious values and family support,” he adds, describing the period as his “lost days”.

From a Malay perspective, the values that would anchor his life and business from that point onwards form a major theme of the book.

Granted, the biography mainly tells one side of Syed Mokhtar’s story, namely his. But it does come across as an earnest attempt by the reclusive tycoon to explain his motivation amid long-standing gossip and criticism over his extensive business holdings.

The book is timely, with the Malay entrepreneurial community who have benefited from the New Economic Policy (NEP) increasingly under the spotlight.

There is anger towards the irresponsible among them who betray the interests of the bumiputra typified by fat cats who win contracts due to their connections and who then sell out for quick profits, at the expense of other more qualified Malays.

Syed Mokhtar’s biography argues his case as someone who stands apart due to his core values.

Written by Premilla Mohanlall and published by pVm Communications Sdn Bhd, the book charts his rise from his humble beginnings and draws from interviews with Syed Mokhtar as well as his family, friends and peers.

Providing a rare glimpse into the life story of a little-known but much talked about personality, the book has already sold 20,000 copies and is going into a second printing of another 20,000 copies. A Bahasa Malaysia version will be available tomorrow.

The son of a cattle-trader, Syed Mokhtar was born in 1951 into the close-knit Bukhary family whose forebears assimilated into the Malay community after migrating from Central Asia.

Villagers in the ethnically-mixed Kampung Hutan Keriang in Alor Setar, Kedah, where he grew up, helped each other in times of need regardless of race or religion, teaching him the importance of helping the needy.

A grounding in traditional Islamic and Malay values such as humility and integrity is attributed to his mother Sharifah Rokiah Syed Mohamed Rahmat, who serves as Syed Mokhtar’s moral compass.

A six-year stint in Johor Baru, where he lived during his childhood with an uncle, left Syed Mokhtar with an admiration for the modern and progressive outlook of the Johor Malays.

Sense of responsibility

The values help to explain the person he is today, and one particular belief is often cited as guiding most of his business decisions a sense of responsibility.

“When I started my lorry business, I was a young man with little money. I could afford to buy only two lorries, but was issued four permits under the bumiputra quota.

“Immediately, Chinese towkays offered to buy the two extra licences. I refused. I did not want to be a broker,” says Syed Mokhtar. He is blunt about his dislike of those who abused the NEP.

“Many Malays are to blame, and so are many Chinese. Instead of retaining what was allocated to them as bumiputras, they cashed out, or became brokers.”

During the 1990s Initial Public Offering (IPO) boom, many took up the then mandatory bumiputra equity requirement for listings only to sell at the first sign of profit, while he stubbornly insisted on holding on.

The book gives many examples of where he received NEP aid, such as licences and loans, which helped to develop his transportation, rice trading, property development and shipping businesses in the 1970s and 1980s.

But Syed Mokhtar argues that it was no walk in the park for genuine Malay businessmen despite the leg up. All had to work hard to break into the new fields such as rice trading that the Government wanted them to enter.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with whom Syed Mokhtar developed a mentee-mentor relationship, explained why the fellow Kedahan impressed him.

“As Malays, we want Malays to catch up with other Malaysians. Syed Mokhtar feels he should not sell things he acquired as a bumiputra. He does not believe in cashing out. That is something I appreciate.

“He is one of the New Economic Policy’s success stories that include people such as (Tan Sri) Mustapha Kamal of Emkay, (Tan Sri) Shamusddin Kadir of Sapura, (Tan Sri) Azman Hashim of Ambank and a few others,” said Dr Mahathir.

Despite his many successes, Syed Mokhtar admits that he is sometimes hurt by Malay elites who looked down on him especially during his early years in business due to his disadvantaged background.

“Yes, I am a simple trader from Alor Setar who did not complete his Form Five education. Yes, I cannot draft a proper letter. I don’t go to the theatre or spend my leisure on yachting holidays.

“However, I draw confidence from my faith in Allah the Almighty who has given me the dignity and the mental, spiritual and emotional strength to deal with all kinds of situations, all kinds of people.”

A father of seven, Syed Mokhtar is married to Puan Sri Sharifah Zarah Albukhary, daughter of Tan Sri Syed Kechik Syed Mohamed Albukhary, a famous lawyer who served as the special adviser to the Sabah Chief Minister and who later went on to set up his own investment conglomerate.

Family, apart from religion, is to Syed Mokhtar the source of the most important values that determine success.

Explaining what drives his extensive philanthropic work, including his Albukhary Foundation which provides aid such as scholarships and healthcare for the poor and disadvantaged, Syed Mokhtar goes back to a lesson learnt from his mother.

It is the motivation that has also driven the billionaire to fund numerous humanitarian projects worldwide including the establishment of an AIDS hospital in Uganda and aid to rebuild the lives of Afghan refugees, Pakistani earthquake survivors and Indonesian tsunami victims.

“My mother taught us nothing is yours until you have given it away with all your heart in the hope it will make someone’s life easier,” said Syed Mokhtar.

The reminder is apt, summing up the bigger responsibility that the Malay entrepreneurial community hold as caretakers of wealth which ultimately belongs to the bumiputra and the nation.

Check Also

These Malaysian fashionistas made it into Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 list

Neelofa was among the two Malaysian entrepreneurs featured in Forbes’ 2017 30 Under 30 Asia …


  1. If some one needs expert view regarding blogging
    and site-building afterward i recommend him/her to
    visit this website, Keep up the fastidious job.

    Feel free to surf to my web-site … essay – darknesstr.com,

  2. Keep up the fantastic work, I read few articles on this web site and
    I believe that your site is very interesting and holds lots of
    great info.

    Here is my web page :: coupon (Aaron)

  3. I was just seeking this information for some time.
    After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it
    in your site. I wonder what’s the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this kind of informative sites in top of the list.
    Usually the top sites are full of garbage.

    Visit my website :: coupon [freedomsponsors.org]

  4. Keep up the superb piece of work, I read few articles on this internet
    site and I believe that your website is really interesting and has got circles of fantastic info.

    Look at my homepage … promo [Belle]

  5. I got what you mean,saved to bookmarks, very decent site.

    My website – essay writing

  6. Terrific article! This is the kind of information that are supposed to be shared around the internet.
    Disgrace on the search engines for no longer positioning
    this post upper! Come on over and discuss with my site .
    Thank you =)

    Check out my blog post; essay structure (Wilburn)

  7. As I site possessor I believe the content matter here is rattling wonderful
    , appreciate it for your efforts. You should keep it up forever!
    Good Luck.

    Check out my webpage: essay writer free

  8. I was just searching for this info for some time.

    After six hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your website.
    I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this kind of informative web sites in top of the list.
    Usually the top web sites are full of garbage.

    Take a look at my website; promo (postheaven.net)

  9. Yay google is my world beater aided me to find this great website!

    my web site … promo (http://www.fanfiction.net)

  10. I like what you guys are up also. Such smart work and reporting!

    Carry on the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll.
    I think it will improve the value of my website :).

    Here is my web blog coupon (Angeline)

  11. As I web site possessor I believe the content matter
    here is rattling magnificent , appreciate it for your
    efforts. You should keep it up forever! Best of luck.

    Visit my web site promo [blogfreely.net]

  12. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article plus the rest
    of the site is also very good.

    Here is my site :: promo; pastebin.pl,

  13. Everything published made a lot of sense. However, think on this, suppose you added a little information? I ain’t suggesting
    your information is not good, however what if you added something that
    grabbed people’s attention? I mean Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary – Tycoon lives by a moral compass – BizSiswa Portal is kinda
    vanilla. You ought to glance at Yahoo’s front
    page and see how they create post titles to get people interested.
    You might add a related video or a pic or two
    to get readers interested about what you’ve written. Just
    my opinion, it could bring your posts a little livelier.

    my website: ebook (telegra.ph)

  14. I got what you mean,bookmarked, very nice internet

    Feel free to surf to my homepage – ebook (Leora)

  15. If some one desires expert view concerning running a blog then i propose him/her to pay a visit this website, Keep up the good job.

    Also visit my website; test; http://www.weddingbee.com,

  16. I precisely wanted to thank you very much again. I’m not
    certain what I might have handled without the type of secrets shown by you over
    such a theme. It actually was a very daunting condition for me,
    however , taking a look at this well-written mode you processed it made me to
    weep with gladness. Now i’m happy for your information and as well ,
    pray you realize what a powerful job you happen to be undertaking training the rest through a
    blog. I know that you have never got to know any
    of us.

    My webpage: mcse jobs

  17. continuously i used to read smaller posts that also
    clear their motive, and that is also happening with this paragraph which I
    am reading at this time.

    My web blog; pmp certification; Temeka,

  18. I’m just writing to make you understand of the awesome experience my friend’s child developed studying yuor web blog.
    She learned too many things, including what it is like to possess a great coaching mindset to make men and women really easily fully grasp
    chosen problematic things. You actually surpassed her expected results.

    Many thanks for coming up with such practical, safe, edifying and also cool tips
    on that topic to Tanya.

    my blog post … pmp exam simulator (Jame)

  19. continuously i used to read smaller content which also clear their motive, and that is
    also happening with this piece of writing which
    I am reading at this time.

    My website answer cpc exam

  20. Hi my friend! I want to say that this article is awesome, great written and come with almost all significant infos.
    I’d like to peer extra posts like this.

    Also visit my web page; pmp certification questions (Ophelia)

  21. I happen to be writing to make you know what a amazing discovery my friend’s daughter developed using your web site.
    She discovered such a lot of things, which include what it is like to have an ideal coaching mindset to make many others
    quite simply master specified complex topics. You really did more than her expected results.

    Thanks for coming up with those beneficial, dependable, revealing as well as easy tips on this topic
    to Ethel.

    Also visit my web-site: networking exams (Liliana)

  22. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is really informative.

    I am going to watch out for brussels. I?ll appreciate if you
    continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from
    your writing. Cheers!

    Feel free to surf to my web site; cna certification test

  23. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and the rest of the site is
    very good.

    Check out my site – download; Barry,

  24. If some one needs expert view regarding blogging afterward i suggest
    him/her to pay a visit this web site, Keep up the pleasant

    Have a look at my web page; download (register.scotland.gov.uk)

  25. Keep up the fantastic piece of work, I read few blog
    posts on this web site and I conceive that your web
    site is really interesting and has circles of superb info.

    My homepage … exam [Mark]

  26. I pay a quick visit each day some blogs and sites to read posts, but this webpage presents
    quality based articles.

    My website: pmi pmp certification (Maura)

  27. First of all I want to say terrific blog! I
    had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head
    before writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be
    lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
    Many thanks!

    My web blog mcse career [Tamie]

  28. hello!,I like your writing so a lot! share we keep in touch more about your post
    on AOL? I need a specialist on this space to solve my problem.
    Maybe that’s you! Having a look forward to see you.

  29. At this time it looks like BlogEngine is the best blogging platform out there right
    now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

    Feel free to visit my web site: promo (http://www.marijuanamilitia.com)

  30. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest
    of the site is extremely good.

    Here is my website … coupon (postheaven.net)

  31. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s hard to get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and appearance.
    I must say you have done a excellent job with this. Also,
    the blog loads very fast for me on Safari. Excellent Blog!

  32. With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over
    the internet without my permission. Do you know any
    techniques to help stop content from being ripped off?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  33. I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting!
    Carry on the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll.
    I think it will improve the value of my website :).

    Have a look at my web page :: code (https://www.blackplanet.com)

  34. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled
    upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account
    your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement
    you access consistently quickly.

  35. I enjoy what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the good works guys I’ve added you guys to blogroll.

    Feel free to surf to my site … code (http://squashart35.nation2.com/shop-online-save-more)

  36. I don’t usually comment but I gotta tell appreciate
    it for the post on this amazing one :D.

    Here is my page: promo (http://rainboway.info)

  37. Hello to all, how is all, I think every one is getting more
    from this site, and your views are good in favor of new viewers.

  1. Pingback: ed pills online

  2. Pingback: Cialis 40 mg uk

  3. Pingback: tadalafil 10 mg prices

  4. Pingback: how to purchase levitra 40 mg

  5. Pingback: where to buy lasix 100mg

  6. Pingback: furosemide 40 mg price

  7. Pingback: propecia 1 mg nz

  8. Pingback: lexapro 20 mg without a prescription

  9. Pingback: abilify 15 mg online

  10. Pingback: actos 30mg united kingdom

  11. Pingback: cost of aldactone 100mg

  12. Pingback: cost of allegra 180 mg

  13. Pingback: allopurinol 300 mg australia

  14. Pingback: amaryl 4mg pharmacy

  15. Pingback: amoxicillin 250mg purchase

  16. Pingback: where to buy ampicillin 250mg

  17. Pingback: buy cialis

  18. Pingback: antabuse 250 mg cost

  19. Pingback: antivert 25mg generic

  20. Pingback: arava 10mg pills

  21. Pingback: strattera 40 mg uk

  22. Pingback: aricept 5 mg australia

  23. Pingback: order arimidex 1 mg

  24. Pingback: tamoxifen 10 mg no prescription

  25. Pingback: ashwagandha 60caps prices

  26. Pingback: atarax 10 mg medication

  27. Pingback: augmentin 750/250mg over the counter

  28. Pingback: avapro 150 mg united kingdom

  29. Pingback: avodart 0,5 mg purchase

  30. Pingback: bactrim 400/80mg without prescription

  31. Pingback: where can i buy benicar 10 mg

  32. Pingback: Premarin 0,625mg cheap

  33. Pingback: buspar 10mg canada

  34. Pingback: cardizem united kingdom

  35. Pingback: how to buy casodex

  36. Pingback: catapres pills

  37. Pingback: ceclor without a doctor prescription

  38. Pingback: ceftin over the counter

  39. Pingback: celexa 20 mg usa

  40. Pingback: cephalexin 500 mg price

  41. Pingback: cipro without a prescription

  42. Pingback: where can i buy claritin

  43. Pingback: slots online

  44. Pingback: casino moons online casino

  45. Pingback: online casino

  46. Pingback: slot games online

  47. Pingback: casino game

  48. Pingback: online casino usa

  49. Pingback: real casino online

  50. Pingback: best slots to play online

  51. Pingback: real casino

  52. Pingback: vegas casino online

  53. Pingback: geico car insurance quotes official site

  54. Pingback: autoowners insurance

  55. Pingback: car insurance quotes companies ireland

  56. Pingback: accc car insurance

  57. Pingback: geico car insurance

  58. Pingback: allstate car insurance quotes

  59. Pingback: cheap full coverage car insurance quotes

  60. Pingback: car insurance quotes companies in texas

  61. Pingback: progressive insurance quote

  62. Pingback: good2go car insurance quotes

  63. Pingback: personal loans utah

  64. Pingback: payday loans san antonio

  65. Pingback: online payday loans for bad credit

  66. Pingback: direct lender installment loans

  67. Pingback: online quick loans no credit check

  68. Pingback: bad credit loans in ga

  69. Pingback: payday loans in shreveport

  70. Pingback: bad credit personal loans

  71. Pingback: what is the difference between hemp oil & cbd

  72. Pingback: cbd oil for pain - cbd pure

  73. Pingback: reputable cbd oil companies

  74. Pingback: does walmart sell cbd oil

  75. Pingback: cbd cannabis oil online

  76. Pingback: how to make cbd oil

  77. Pingback: cbd oil side effects stomach pain gas

  78. Pingback: buy cbd oil for cancer treatment

  79. Pingback: garden of life cbd oil

  80. Pingback: federalist papers writers

  81. Pingback: writers essay

  82. Pingback: paper writer

  83. Pingback: buy an essay paper

  84. Pingback: custom essay writers

  85. Pingback: writing my essay

  86. Pingback: homework assignments

  87. Pingback: mba essay writing services

  88. Pingback: buy essay papers online

  89. Pingback: order cleocin

  90. Pingback: clomid nz

  91. Pingback: order clonidine 0,1mg

  92. Pingback: clozaril without a prescription

  93. Pingback: colchicine 0,5 mg online pharmacy

  94. Pingback: where to buy symbicort inhaler 160/4,5mcg

  95. Pingback: combivent 50/20mcg without prescription

  96. Pingback: cost of coreg 12,5 mg

  97. Pingback: compazine 5 mg online pharmacy

  98. Pingback: how to buy coumadin 2 mg

  99. Pingback: cozaar otc

  100. Pingback: crestor 20mg cheap

  101. Pingback: cymbalta 40 mg without prescription

  102. Pingback: cheapest dapsone 1000caps

  103. Pingback: ddavp pills

  104. Pingback: depakote 500mg pharmacy

  105. Pingback: how to buy differin

  106. Pingback: diltiazem 120mg online pharmacy

  107. Pingback: how to buy doxycycline 100 mg

  108. Pingback: dramamine without a doctor prescription

  109. Pingback: elavil 25mg pills

  110. Pingback: cheap erythromycin

  111. Pingback: etodolac united states

  112. Pingback: how to purchase flomax

  113. Pingback: flonase nasal spray 50 mcg tablet

  114. Pingback: garcinia cambogia caps without a doctor prescription

  115. Pingback: where can i buy geodon

  116. Pingback: hyzaar 12,5mg coupon

  117. Pingback: where to buy imdur

  118. Pingback: imitrex tablets

  119. Pingback: order imodium

  120. Pingback: sites

  121. Pingback: where to buy imuran

  122. Pingback: indocin prices

  123. Pingback: where can i buy lamisil

  124. Pingback: levaquin generic

  125. Pingback: lopid 300mg united states

  126. Pingback: cheapest lopressor 100mg

  127. Pingback: where to buy luvox 50mg

  128. Pingback: order macrobid 100 mg

  129. Pingback: meclizine 25 mg united kingdom

  130. Pingback: how to buy mestinon

  131. Pingback: cheap micardis 20mg

  132. Pingback: mobic 7,5mg canada

  133. Pingback: motrin united kingdom

  134. Pingback: cost of nortriptyline 25mg

  135. Pingback: periactin 4mg otc

  136. Pingback: phenergan united states

  137. Pingback: cheapest plaquenil 400mg

  138. Pingback: prednisolone tablets

  139. Pingback: how to buy prevacid

  140. Pingback: prilosec prices

  141. Pingback: cheapest proair inhaler

  142. Pingback: procardia pharmacy

  143. Pingback: proscar cost

  144. Pingback: protonix 20mg australia

  145. Pingback: pulmicort 200 mcg united states

  146. Pingback: celecoxib uk

  147. Pingback: citalopram canada

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

4 × two =