KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian businessman Lim Wee Chai is certainly the man of the hour. He is going places no other Malaysian tycoons have gone.
The boss of Top Glove Corporation, the world’s largest glove manufacturer, has found his company placed as the third-largest in market capitalisation on Bursa Malaysia.
Last Thursday, Top Glove was in second spot, but slipped to third when Bursa closed the next day, with Public Bank taking over.
At pole position is still Maybank, which had a market capitalisation of RM88.244 billion (S$28.8 billion), compared with Top Glove’s at RM70.466 billion last Thursday.
Maybank’s share price closed at RM7.85 last Friday against Top Glove’s RM25.44.
Top Glove was at No. 9 on the Singapore Exchange last Thursday, outranking bigger names such as Singapore Airlines and CapitaLand.
Top Glove is expected to create Malaysian history soon by announcing the biggest jump in quarterly profit for a listed company.
Malaysians are closely watching the surge in Top Glove’s share price and Tan Sri Lim’s wealth, which has been growing by the millions in recent weeks.
The real-time world billionaire ranking now has him at No. 443 in a list of 2,095 of the world’s richest people, with wealth of at least US$5.2 billion (S$7.2 billion) as of last Thursday.
The 62-year-old, a physics graduate from the University of Malaya, is ranked Malaysia’s 14th-richest person this year.
By now, many foreigners would have sat up and taken note of Mr Lim and his incredible showing on the stock market due to the demand for his rubber products amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Lim Wee Chai’s ranking on a list of 2,095 of the world’s richest people, with wealth of at least US$5.2 billion (S$7.2 billion) as of last Thursday.
Unlike most tycoons, who are either reclusive, eccentric, heavily guarded or flamboyant, Mr Lim leads a modest lifestyle.
Like fellow tycoon Vincent Tan, he is a strong supporter of Tzu Chi, a Buddhist charitable organisation headquartered in Taiwan.
Sharing his experience of serving Tzu Chi, he said he could raise only RM36 in donations after walking the streets for two hours on his first outing. “Nobody knew me and few donated. But that frustration did not dampen my enthusiasm to carry out good and meaningful work,” he said in an interview with The Star.
Mr Lim often reminds people – especially those meeting him for the first time – to take care of their health. “Rule No. 1, stay fit and healthy!” was his opening line at a talk given to entrepreneurs.
“When you are sick, you don’t earn anything, and you continue to have to spend money on fixed expenses on top of medical costs. But when you’re healthy, you can add value every day.”
Mr Lim also has a peculiar induction for new employees – everyone receives a toothbrush, toothpaste, tongue cleaner and dental floss, and all staff are required to brush their teeth three times a day.
In an interview, Mr Lim said his goal was to stay healthy and live until 100. He attributed his wealth to his prioritisation of mental and physical well-being.
He exercises four days a week and practises what he calls “five quality wells”: clean well, eat well, work well, exercise well and sleep well.
His company monitors the body mass index of its staff and has a policy of not hiring smokers. Its cafeteria menu is designed by nutritionists.
Mr Lim said failure was not an option when he and his wife started the company in 1991 with their entire savings of just RM180,000, and without a backup plan.
Fortunately, as his parents owned a small rubber plantation, he was exposed to the rubber trade from an early age in the small town of Titi in Negeri Sembilan.
Today, Top Glove controls 26 per cent of the world’s rubber glove market, with 43 factories worldwide and an annual production capacity of over 70.5 billion gloves.
Almost everyone, especially in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong, is holding their breath to see how Top Glove performs next, and whether its shares will surpass the RM30 mark and set a new record for being on top.
This is not exactly a rags-to-riches tale, but certainly a fantastic story of a small-town man becoming one of the richest people in the world dealing with a commodity Malaysia knows best – rubber.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK