I'm sure that everyone knows about him. His meteoric rise to the pinnacle of ultimate world-glory is the stuff that legends are made of. Even the Chinese community that is generally known for hard work is in awe of this marvelous man, Lim Goh Tong, who built Genting Highlands.
The story of how single-handedly Lim Goh Tong set himself a goal to built a world-class resort, Genting Highlands atop 1800-metre mountain is punctuated with all the ingredients that is the stuff of motivation. The perseverance to achieve the goals against all odds, risk taking, fearlessness, the art of conversation and a tendency never ever to give up, are all part of this remarkable man affectionately called Lim. Now, his name has become synonymous with Genting and there is hardly a tourist in Asia who has not visited this tourist attraction.
One of the Asian billionaires, and the proprietor of Genting Berhad, Resort World Berhad and Asiatic Development Berhad, this incredible person came to then Malaya like millions of other immigrants. But what distinguished him from the rest was that he had a dream and a determination to work hard against all odds.
It all started 50 years ago. In 1964, Lim was working as a sub-contractor for part of the Cameron Hydro-electric dam project in Cameron Highlands. On a fateful night, Lim had dinner with general manager and chief engineer if the German company. After several rounds of drinks, he went out of the stuffy room for some cool air. The night at Cameron highlands with its myriad of twinkling lights under the night sky, a sudden flash of idea went through his mind and the idea of Genting Highlands shape in his mind.
"That night I could not sleep. I was thinking about and planning my new project. I was so excited with the idea that I wanted to start work right away," He said later as quoted in The Genting website. The first hurdle to be surpassed was to the top. It was such a gigantic job then and the government estimated it would take about 15 years to build the road. But Lim was undaunted. It was not just cutting the road through the jungle. Lim's whole dream on Genting in fact hinged on the road's successful completion.
Lim was always in the forefront, sometimes oblivious to his own safety. He encountered no fewer than six dangerous incidents that nearly cost him his life! At the work site, Lim was the laborer, project manager and engineer all rolled into one. Let us take a look a one such incident.
One of these incidents took place at the old helipad in Genting Highlands. It was about 7 pm. It was dark, work was in progress and Lim, along with six workers, was standing by the side of ground where the bulldozer. Due to the monsoon rains earlier, the ground where the bulldozer was operating suddenly caved in. Lim felt the place where he was standing was beginning to wobble, sink and give way! Always an alert person, Lim jumped to the safety. It was such a close shave! Or, he would have been swept some 27 meters down the ravine and buried alive under tons of mud. And Malaysian tourism history would have to be rewritten!
Later that night, he jokingly told his wife that he went to hell but was turned back in order to continue his work! Such was the courage of the man. History tells us that as many as 20,000 people were accidentally killed during the construction of India's Taj Mahal. But none but one was killed during the erection of Genting Highlands atop the mountain.
Genting Highland was to be constructed on a land area of which 4,940 hectares fell under the Pahang government's jurisdiction and the rest of 1,100 hectares under the Selangor state. With the recommendation of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Pahang immediately granted the land. But Lim said he encountered some problems with Selangor government with the then Menteri Besar Datuk Harun Idris being prepared to give the land only on a 99-year lease. This totally upset his plan.
Lim said," I then decided to appeal to Datuk Harun personally and explained to him my predicament. I told him that Genting Sampah was a remote jungle area and it would take 30 to 40 years and huge investments to build roads, hotels, staff quarters, and to install water and electricity supplies and other amenities.
If the Selangor government would only issue 99-year lease, we would have to surrender the and to the government almost as soon as the development was completed." He emphasized that if Selangor did not accede to his request for a freehold title, he would have no choice but to develop only the land located on Pahang side of the border thereby resulting in Pahang having yet another hill resort. He pointed out that there were already many holiday resorts such as Cameron Highlands, Fraser's Hill and many beaches facing the south China Sea. Selangor, on the other hand, could only boast of the muddy beach in Morib. Once Genting Highlands was added to the list of resort Pahang, Selangor would lagging far behind in terms of tourist attractions.
Needless to say, Datuk Harun was eventually convinced by Lim's explanation and recommended to the State government to grant freehold status to the land where today Genting Highlands proudly stands. Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong said," once the goals have been clearly defined with the greatest amount of determination and hard work, one can conclusively realize one's goal."
Through he was alive he is nonagenarian, he still comes around and looks for avenues to develop the area further. Though his sons and daughters manage the world famous resort well enough, it is generally believed that killer instinct that Lim exhibited can seldom emulated. His meteoric rise to the pinnacle of ultimate world-glory is the stuff the legends are made of. Even the Chinese community that is known for hard work is in awe of his marvelous man. For his success, Lim still leads a simple life and is involved in philanthropic activities. If one were to point at an inspiring personality, then it is, no doubt, Lim. So long as there is the mountain his name will be indelibly etched in human memory. And the wafting breeze will always sing his glory. Yes, his fame will remain as old as the rocks!