Monday, December 20, 2010

Fairy-tale rise of Perak's princess in Malaysia's corporate world

Little is known about her as she is elusive and rarely grants interviews to the press. She is a businesswoman, a lawyer and a princess and her credentials and curriculum vitae are impressive. She is Raja Eleena binti Sultan Azlan Shah and recently, Malaysia’s Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak appointed her company as the joint venture partner for the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) project which is worth RM 36 billion.

Raja Eleena is the fourth child of the current ruler of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah. She was born on April 3, 1960 and obtained her Law degree from the University of London.

Upon returning to Malaysia, she joined Messrs Skrine & Co and was called to the Malaysian Bar in 1986. Her impressive performance in the legal world meant that by 1987, she was able to set-up her own legal practice Messrs Raja Eleena, Siew Ang & Associates in 1987 of which she is currently a senior partner.

Her royal pedigree is just as impressive, and her common touch is endearing to all. Her mother is from Penang and was the first commoner to be installed as Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia. Her paternal grandmother, Toh Puan Dewangsa Khadijah binti Ahmad, was the commoner wife (later divorced) of Sultan Yusuff Issuddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil Nasruddin Makhtaram Shah who reigned from 1948 – 1963. Her grandmother had the bright insight to raise her son, Azlan Shah outside of the royal circle, to increase his exposure and experience of life.

A few years after her return to Malaysia, Raja Eleena’s sharp legal mind and her enterprising professionalism, meant that the corporate world would soon come knocking on her door.

On 1 June 1992, Raja Eleena was appointed to the Board of Gamuda, the country’s largest construction and engineering conglomerate, with interests in construction, water, toll and property development.

On hand to advise her on the intricacies of the engineering world, was her uncle, Kamarul Zaman bin Mohd Ali, an Executive Director of Gamuda Bhd. He too was admitted to the board, on 1 June, 1992.

Kamarul has been actively involved in overseeing Gamuda Bhd's quarry operations and related business requirements. He also serves as an Executive Director of G.B. Kuari Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Gamuda Berhad.

Raja Eleena’s broad spectrum of knowledge meant that other companies also expressed interest in utilising her wealth of experience. She is also a Director and major shareholder of Generasi Setia (M) Sdn Bhd, another major shareholder of Gamuda. Her other directorships are in public companies KAF-Seagroatt & Campbell Holdings Berhad and Danau Permai Resort Berhad.

Raja Eleena does not just have the common touch, but she also possesses the Midas touch.

In 2008, Raja Eleena was named as 2008 Forbes 40 Richest Malaysians 25th richest in the country with assets worth over US$228 million (RM 773 million). She was the list’s second richest woman in Malaysia after Chong Chook Yew who occupies the 18th place, with US$320 million (RM 1.085 billion). Her wealth comes from her being the largest individual shareholder in construction firm Gamuda.

At one of the Institut Teknologi Perak’s convocation ceremony in Ipoh, Raja Eleena told the graduates that they had to be dynamic and realistic to compete in a world without borders.

She said that competition no longer came from one’s own colleagues or neighbours but from others globally.

“In such a race, there are no compromises for those who are distracted and careless. You must compete with responsibility, without having to sacrifice your honour (maruah) and self worth.”

“Hold fast to your values in everything you do. Don’t waste your learning and knowledge by allowing your pride, values and self-worth to be traded away,” she said.

But that was another era, in May 2008, when she officiated at the college’s ceremony in her capacity as Chairman. Also in attendance then, was the Perak Mentri Besar, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin who presented the 274 graduates with their diplomas and certificates. - Mariam Mokhtar

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Chinese Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok made his money in sugar, palm oil, shipping and property. And he did share his point of view on how to make money during Kuok Group’s 60th Anniversary called “Robert Kuok Hock Nien notes on the past sixty years”, read it at: