Vincent Tan, the Man intent on being in the Corridors of Power

By Ahmad Mustapha Hassan

Vincent Tan, Oh! Sorry! Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the man who played me out in the Sports Toto deal, after having deviously become a corporate figure ,was bent in getting into the good books of the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He would be unhappy if anyone informed Dr. Mahathir of any of his unethical business practices. He wanted to be portrayed as a cultured and intelligent corporate man.

He believed he could easily gain Dr. Mahathir’s confidence as he had seen how others of lesser stature than him could easily become confidants of the man in office. If they could, he definitely could easily do that and be better at it. He did not need to be a genius to do that. All he needed to do was to impress the man with his ability to do what Dr. Mahathir wanted or what he felt Dr. Mahathir fancied.

He first met Dr. Mahathir in Rome in 1984 when I introduced him to the then Prime Minister who was on an investment tour to Rome. He wanted to get Dr. Mahathir’s blessings and approval in the privatisation of Sports Toto. He also met in Rome Mohamad Abdullah Ang, who was the chief executive of Malaysia’s Sogososha, (Multinational Company) Malaysian Overseas Investment Corporation, MOIC for short, and a confidant of Dr. Mahathir. This man was not that known until he became Dr. Mahathir’s close friend.

Dr. Mahathir was a native of Kedah, a state in the north of the peninsula. He naturally appreciated northern types of dishes. What better chance than to start a restaurant specialising in northern cuisine! Thus Restoran Rasa Utara was born.

Dr. Mahathir liked riding horses. Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort would definitely impress the man. It did not matter that the Club did not make money. It was important that Dr. Mahathir graciously approved of this venture. He knew that now being a corporate figure banks would always come to his aid.

He managed to develop a resort on the hill at Bukit Tinggi with all the various amenities that would appeal to Dr. Mahathir. And Dr. Mahathir would spend time at this resort to write his speeches. After all Vincent had already become Dr. Mahathir’s buddy.

In the case of Tun Razak, he would spend time at Government bungalows either at Cameron Highlands or Fraser’s Hill so that he would not be seen to patronise any businessman with luxurious facilities.

Dr. Mahathir was ‘a simple man’ and he would not mind patronising such places like the resorts at Bukit Tinggi. After all the resorts have many attractions and one of them being the Japanese Restaurant. Dr. Mahathir, I was told, liked Japanese cuisine.

Vincent did a good study of the man in power then. He knew the likes and dislikes of the man. Once confidence had been built, it would be easy to talk and discuss various topics with this man who held the destiny of the country. It would also be nice to impress other notable people if he could show that the man in power was a close chum of his. He could slap the man’s back in public if he wanted to.

Once, when Vincent was still trying to gain the confidence of Dr. Mahathir, he became very angry with me for blemishing his image with Dr. Mahathir. Anyway Dr. Mahathir would not listen and believe anything I told him of any black marks about all these “successful” businessmen. He thought I mentioned all these out of jealousy. That was always his favourite remark.

Vincent, after having gained the confidence of the man holding the destiny of the nation, was now a man in the corridors of power. He was able to strut around and discuss matters of national importance. It would also be possible to influence Mahathir’s decisions on such matters.

When his name was mentioned in the Lingam tape scandal, it was never a surprise to me. The man had made it into the corridors of power.


Thanks, Ahmad, for allowing me to post your piece on my blog. Most of the tycoons around Tun Dr. Mahathir knew how to please him and would be bend backwards to accommodate the needs of this very powerful man. Once the Tun trusted them, they could get away with blue murder (figuratively speaking). Some of them have deserted him and are now hanging around Badawi; but not Tan Sri Vincent Tan, who would play both sides. —Din Merican

6 thoughts on “Vincent Tan, the Man intent on being in the Corridors of Power

  1. Dear Dato Ahmad M,

    A friend told me that Dr. Mahathir created value for the Vincent types using gaming licenses. The Malays who were close to him were not able to expand their empires as fast as Vincent could because the gaming cash machine is denied them on religious grounds. It is “haram jadi tauke judi” except for Tun Haniff Omar who became Chairman and shareholder in Genting Berhad.

    What happened to NEP under Mahathir? Well only his cronies— not all of them are Bumiputras— benefited. Maybe in your next article you could show our readers how the former Prime Minister played the political economy game.

    You mentioned Mohamad Abdullah Ang of Malaysian Overseas Investment Corporation (MOIC). Ang used is special links to Mahathir to obtain unsecured overdraft facilities on an unsecured basis and term loans from Malaysian banks and Chase Manhattan Bank. I had the unfortunate task of having to put MOIC into voluntary liquidation. As representative of Pernas-Sime Darby which had a 10 percent stake in MOIC, I was asked to face creditors since the MOIC Chairman, Tan Sri Rashdan of Guthries, was overseas on urgent business.

    It is so easy to get close to Mahathir, but we could never get near him. Maybe, we did not study him enough to exploit his weaknesses. But it is more likely that we admired him (he is from Kedah) so much that we overlooked the obvious. Bodek would have gotten us far with him. Salams, Din Merican.

  2. “Some of them have deserted him and are now hanging around Badawi; but not Tan Sri Vincent Tan, who would play both sides. —Din Merican”

    How right you are about this man. Now with the elections looming it is time to curry favour with the AAB government by using his money to acquire full control and to stamp-out that “thorn-in- the-flesh” that is the SUN newspaper. Good-bye Nades, hello another “Kalimullah”.

    Fred, see what power and money in the wrong hands can do. Worse still, if it in the hands of a weak leader and an ambitious businessman. Nades will have no problem getting another job. I admire Nades for his courage and integrity. Din Merican

  3. I thought AAB/BN was about to stop ‘printing permit’ for Sun at the rate it was going ie, telling and reporting news that should be, not like the rest – Star, NST etc with their daily spins. So now they sneekily get Vincent Tan to do the ‘dirty’ job he’s good at.

    Shame on you Vincent Tan! Like Mahathir, many will want to pee on your grave!

  4. Dear Din,
    Vincent will always look for insurance. At one time he cultivated Ghazi as he believed Ghazi was close to Anwar. Now he allowed Khairy to make full use of his Kiara Equestrian Centre and also let Hj. Fadzil to be involved in equestrian activities there. That is Vincent. ahmad mustapha hassan

  5. vincent tan is the most honorable man i know. many out there would be starving if it wasnt for him. he provides us employment, and he is the best employer i’ve had. he is named man of the year 2005 malaysia. it is an utmost respectable title.

  6. A doctor and her team of five were the appointed negotiators by Berjayacity Sdn.Bhd to sell bukit tagar ,sg. minyak and sg.tinggi oil palm estates of 12,140 acres . They worked for the deal for the past one and a half years and finally got Prosper Group to purchase the property for RM 768 million. Once the buyer
    ( Prosper group )met the seller ( Berjaya city sdn.Bhd ) , the director of Berjayacity sdn bhd, dato’ Francis Ng Sooi Lin of berjayacity Sdn.Bhd played foul and did not pay the team their 2 % commission. Tan Sri Vincent Tan has ignored all the doctor’s emails asking him to pay the commission as promised. Can somebody give them an idea to collect their dues from the billionaire who claims to have pledged his wealth to charity BUT IS IGNORING THE REAL PEOPLE WHO WORKED FOR HIM. thank you. Tan Sri Rahim Nor

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