Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sarawak businesses

It's amazing how business and politics are so intertwined in Malaysia, east or west.

Last week, a junior minister in Sarawak married the daughter of one of the richest men in the eastern Malaysian state.

The Star Sunday
October 15, 2006
Asst minister weds tycoon’s daughter

KUCHING: It was more than a marriage of a couple in love; it was a union of two of the most powerful families in Sarawak.

When Sarawak's youngest assistant minister Larry Sng Wei Shien, 27, married May Ting, 29, it was also a union of business and politics. Larry is the son of businessman-politician Sng Chee Hua while May is the eldest daughter of top Sarawak businessman Ting Pek Khiing.

The couple were at the Kuching Marriage Registry yesterday to register their marriage. Wedding receptions here and in Miri will be held later.

Larry, who studied at the London School of Economics, is the Parti Rakyat Sarawak state assemblyman for Pelagus (taking over from his father), assistant minister in the Chief Minister's Office, and Industrial Development and Economic Planning assistant minister. His wife has a Master's in commerce from an Australian university.

Of course, they are not the first well-connected couple in Sarawak, which is effectively the fiefdom of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in the last two decades.

It's a well-known fact that Sarawak's finance minister George Chan Hong Nam's daughter is married to one of Taib's sons.

With strong lobbying by the chief minister and his finance minister (also his in-law) back in 2001 and 2002, the chief minister's family managed to retain the family's smallish Utama Banking Group despite the wave of consolidation then.

So far, the powerful families in Sarawak have maintained a harmoniuos existence. But the situation may change overnight when Taib leaves the political and business scene.