Ting, born in small town Bintagor near Sibu, was once Mahathir’s blue-eyed boy. Mahathir had seen a show home built opposite the Sarawak chief minister’s residence and he invited Ting to quickly build a hotel in Langkawi. The small-time contractor completed the Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort in a record 100 days.
His Ekran Bhd was then awarded the construction contract for the Bakun Dam in 1994. But a massive dam is a different proposition from a hotel.
The tycoon even resorted to building a shrine at the Bakun Dam site after its cofferdam collapsed more than 20 times, The Edge revealed some time ago. He brought in a priest from Taiwan to conduct prayers, and six animals were slaughtered.
Photo credit: Abdul Ghani Ismail/The Edge
That couldn’t stop Ekran from running into financial difficulties during the East Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. Unable to complete the job, it was nonetheless reportedly compensated a staggering RM950m.
The dam was only completed three years ago, after a new contractor took over.
More troubles have plagued Ting. His Plaza Rakyat project, next to the Pudu Raya bus terminal, took a hit. The firm responsible for the construction was Plaza Rakyat Sdn Bhd, whose sole shareholder was Wembley Industries Holdings Bhd.
Ting’s Ekran owned 33 per cent of Wembley. But Ekran was suffering after the financial crisis; Wembley felt the pain while PRSB was saddled with debt. The Plaza Rakyat project stalled in 1998 and was abandoned.
Ekran and Wembley were both delisted and ended up in receivership.
The KL High Court declared Ting a bankrupt in 2010. All his assets were vested with the Director-General of Insolvency.
In April 2013, disaster struck at Ting’s Global Upline’s construction site office along Jalan Lapangan Terbang in Kuching. A blaze razed the office to the ground. (Ting had completed the airport project in 15 months.)
Knowing how these fellas operate, we can assume Ting isn’t exactly penniless now. But how the mighty have fallen from the adulation of the corporate world.
Call it the curse of Bakun.
- Malaysian Tatler
- The Edge weekly, 27 May – 2 June 2013
- The Star