Life Inspired talks to a Christian business leader on how his Christmas journey is a lifelong quest. Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh is well known not only as head of one of Malaysia’s most successful family businesses, but also for his uncompromising stand on his Christian values in every aspect. Yeoh had decided to become a Christian when he was 16. He was the first in his family to do so, eventually leading the rest of the family too.
“The Christian markers along our journeys are important but to summarize them takes away the countless little things from the whole tapestry,” he says.
“When we walk with Christ, it’s a long journey. There are a trillion miracles in our lives. It’s difficult to place one marker over the other, as each has led me nearer to God. And that doesn’t mean I am more holy, but being more aware of my sins and being humble and less judgmental of others. God is so glorious I am more conscious of my own inadequacies.
In that way, I am able to bear the nine fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When I love God with all my heart and soul the only is it possible for me to love my neighbours.
“Yes, I do have more of such fruits than I did at 16 but I am not perfect and I never stop repenting. My journey is a combination of countless tests and failures and getting up again. I am but a pencil that God uses.”...
Francis Yeoh, managing director of YTL Corp, said: "The regulatory framework is not there to welcome investors into the infrastructure sector. The infrastructure, today in ASEAN, and Asia, substantially, is subsidised. They are lulled like a boiled frog into thinking they don't have to pay for water and electricity at competitive prices. As a result, they get very bad services. They get water (that is) turning brown, the leakage of water is 50 per cent, and they don't know how to solve that."...
As the head of YTL Corporation and the driving force behind one of Asia’s most successful businesses, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh has become an icon on the Malaysian economic front. From changing Kuala Lumpur’s retail landscape, particularly the famed Bukit Bintang area, building significant landmarks, notching several firsts in various sectors to bringing Malaysia to the world through YTL’s major investments abroad, he is acknowledged as one of Malaysia’s most influential corporate figures.
Guided by Faith It is a known fact that Yeoh holds true to his faith and it is probably the reason that YTL has grown a reputation as being a corporation with integrity and which sticks to its principles. “To make anything work in this life, for so-called success, it takes a trillion probabilities. It is impossible to put it together and claim that you did it or that you planned it. Everything is called God’s tapestry and he embroiders people, time and probabilities together. People always ask me what my secret of success is and I give back the truth humbly and truthfully; my secret is the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Yeoh sums up his thoughts on happiness, “What do we know about beauty in our lives? Those who chase the wrong end of the stick, who chase after material things will end up being disappointed. Humans like to chase after happiness, not God, but if you chase after happiness you end up being very sad Happiness is a by-product of chasing God.“...
Francis Yeoh's broad perspectives are the takeaways from his insatiable intellectual appetite.With such a weighty portfolio on his back, those who aren't well-acquainted with Yeoh might not have guessed the aggressive reader that he is, nor how he makes time for the hobby.
His penchant for reading is telling of his wiring and ideologies. The man is an intellectual, with the uncanny ability to make random scientific points appealing.
"Did you know that people used plants to tell time' before it was invented the way we know it?"
"Have you ever wondered why waves are humbled on the beach?"
He actually knows the answers.
Yeoh's study at home, where this conversation takes place, is lined with tall wooden shelves that house his precious books. Neat stacks of books sit on his desk and the coffee table, the majority of them not contemporary. Most are great literary works of the 1700s to 1900s; Charles Spurgeon, CS Lewis, Charles Wesley, John Stott, you name it, Yeoh is well acquainted with their work. "These are great minds who have spent their lives talking to scientists, trying to find answers to the great mysteries of science, and finding God in the answers," he says.
Some of these books were bid at auctions, and from the look of some of them very, very archaic Yeoh has spent a fortune on the collection. They have been a worthwhile purchase for him, food for his voracious appetite for knowledge and a deeper understanding of his spiritual journey. "Which book can you read a thousand times over and still find fascinating?" he says in reference to the Christian Bible.
And he is highly selective, only reading books of authors whose lives he deems worthy of his attention. The discerning reader enjoys the work of Chicago award-winning Lee Strobel, a cynical attorney-turned-journalist who wrote two powerful books debunking the concept of evolution and explaining the Big Bang Theory after interviewing Christian scientists around the world. Yeoh read fiction in his youth but finds that those authors are unable to sustain his intellectual curiosity. "It can't complete me," he says. "When there is so much wonder in this world, so much to take in, I'm sorry, I don't have the time for anything less."...
Yeoh reveals that the UK, Singapore and Australia are still the YTL group's favourite markets to do business, given their transparent and investor-friendly regulatory frameworks. "We want transparent regulatory comfort. I think the rule of law is a premium that people tend to underestimate," Yeoh argues, emphasising that transparency and openness are keys to driving private sector growth....
Group managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh says: "We are clear about this. We see ourselves as merely stewards of the company, with the responsibility to manage our daily business affairs in a manner that will bring glory to God." A proclamation uttered almost 10 years ago at the London Business School when he was addressing senior executives at a Creative Leadership programme "It is God who writes the script and I am just a little willing pencil." is still fresh in the memory of many....
A civil engineer, Mr Francis Yeoh took over the running of YTL in 1978 and grew it into a global conglomerate comprising six listed companies, which will soon be down to five as it is in the midst of privatising YTL Cement through a share swap. They have a combined market capitalisation of more than RM34 billion.
A decade ago, the group was completely reliant on its Malaysian business. Today, it derives more than 75 per cent of its revenue from abroad. The plan to hedge the group's business took place steadily and with calculation over a decade.
Mr Yeoh's penchant for scooping up valuable assets in distressed times and turning them into gems in the cash-plump stable is widely known.
Ruth and Joshua are only two of a batch of 27 of the YTL bloodline (YTL stands for Yeoh Tiong Lay - founder of the group and the elder Mr Yeoh's father) pottering about in the many units that represent the smorgasbord of businesses held under the sprawling YTL umbrella which spans Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Australia and Britain.
'They belong to the generation that tasted some wealth yet competed for the best universities on their own strength. That's the first test of meritocracy. All 27 of them have not been mollycoddled. That's my greatest joy,' says Mr Yeoh.
The delegation of key tasks is very much a work in progress. In November last year, Ms Kemmy Tan, who joined YTL Group's Singapore property development arm in 2008, was appointed chief executive officer of YTL Land & Development.
In 2009, YTL Communications appointed Wing K. Lee as CEO to oversee the launch of the group's first step into telecommunications: its 4G mobile Internet services with a catchy 'Yes' ring to it....