Tan Sri Dato' Lee Shin Cheng,
Founder of IOI Group
“What you get from society, give it back to society.”
That’s the basis of this Foundation since it was established in 1985. Every year, the IOI Group sets aside a certain percentage of the Group’s annual earnings towards the funding and operating costs of the Foundation. This means that the more profit IOI Group makes, the more resources the Foundation has in order to carry out its mission in reaching out to society and perform its social responsibilities.
It has been very encouraging that the Foundation‘s funds have increased year after year, and the Foundation’s activities have been extended continuously with more comprehensive coverage. This has been made possible with the full support and efforts made by the staff of IOI Group through the years.
Education is the foundation of nation building and paves the way out of poverty. There is an old Chinese saying: “If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree. If you are thinking one hundred years ahead, educate the people.”
The Foundation has, in its early days, played its role in adhering to the spirit of this well-known saying by helping academically excellent students with poor family backgrounds to continue with their higher education. In recent years, this basic mission of the Foundation has been extended to assisting poor children from the rural areas to complete their primary and secondary education, to providing a better learning environment for those in need, as well as to lending a hand to help orphans, the elderly, mentally disabled and other vulnerable groups. In summary, the Foundation believes in the principle of “supporting and respecting thy elders, nurturing and nourishing thy juniors”, and do what we can to bring them joy, independence and fulfilment. I hope that more and more people will support the Foundation’s activities and carry on the torch of the Foundation for many more years to come.
Tribute to Tan Sri Dato’ Lee Shin Cheng (1939 – 2019)
Tan Sri Dato’ Lee Shin Cheng’s life has
become a favourite story in Malaysia’s
He was the Founder and Executive
Chairman of two public-listed
companies, IOI Corporation Berhad and
IOI Properties Group Berhad. Through
his vision, hard work and enterprising
spirit, the companies have grown to
become leading corporations in their
Tan Sri Dato’ Lee was born in Jeram,
Kuala Selangor, Malaysia in 1939. As a
child, he was raised in a rubber estate
where his father owned a sundry shop.
At the age of only 11, he had to stop
schooling and sell ice-cream full time
on his own bicycle in order to help
support his family. He did this for
three years before he went back to
school to complete his studies at
Middle High School.
Tan Sri Dato’ Lee started working at the
age of 17, as a supervisor in a rubber
estate. He diligently worked his way up
to become a full-fledged estate manager
before he turned 30 years old.
Tan Sri Dato’ Lee’s early years
experiences instilled the enterprising
spirit in him which later shaped his
life-long entrepreneurial journey.
In 1975, Tan Sri Dato’ Lee started
a private-limited property company
named Lam Soon Huat Development
Sdn Bhd (later renamed as IOI Properties
Berhad in 1994) and started his first
housing development project in Kajang
in the following year.
Subsequently in 1984, he acquired three
property development companies and
further expanded his property business.
In 1982, he secured a controlling stake in
Industrial Oxygen Incorporated (“IOI”)
and used it as a vehicle to venture into
oil palm plantation business starting from zero base. In the following year,
he acquired three plantation companies
in Pahang and later ventured into
greenfield oil palm planting in Sabah
through the acquisition of Morisem
Plantation (Sabah) Sdn Bhd.
In 1990, he demonstrated his vision and
foresight by acquiring Dunlop Estates,
a business much bigger than IOI at that
time. The acquisition marked the first
major breakthrough in his life, and
became one of the proudest moments
for him. There is an added irony in that
he applied for a job at Dunlop Estates
25 years earlier but was rejected due
to lack of education qualifications.
The RM500 million acquisition involved
13 palm oil estates (a total of 27,880
hectares), two palm oil mills, two rubber
factories and one Research Centre.
Tan Sri Dato’ Lee’s other significant
milestone involved the acquisition
of Pamol Plantation Sdn Bhd in 2003
from Unilever. Since then, the breeding
and seed production operation of
Pamol became integrated with
IOI Research Centre, which enables
IOI to produce very high-quality seeds
for its plantations.
Tan Sri Dato’ Lee’s vision and
management capability extend beyond
plantations and property. In 1997, he
acquired a controlling stake in Palmco
Holdings Berhad (later renamed as
IOI Oleochemical Industries Berhad),
a palm-based oleochemical company.
Within one year of acquiring the
struggling company, Tan Sri Dato’ Lee
turned it around into a highly profitable
business by expanding the market base
of its product globally. Nine years later,
he acquired Pan-Century Edible Oils
and Pan-Century Oleochemical, making
IOI the world’s largest vegetable-based
oleochemical producer at that time.
In 2002, Tan Sri Dato’ Lee further
diversified his businesses and extended
his reach globally by acquiring Loders
Croklaan, a specialty fats company
based in the Netherlands and with operations in the United States and
Canada, from Unilever. The acquisition
provided IOI access to the specialty oils
and fats markets in over 60 countries
and completed IOI’s palm oil value
chain, making it a leading global
integrated palm oil producer.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO SOCIETY
On the community and industry service
front, Tan Sri Dato’ Lee was the patron
and advisor of many community and
business associations in Malaysia.
Among his notable contributions were
leading the redevelopment of the
111-year old Kuen Cheng Secondary
School as the Chairman of its Board of
Directors and contributing to the entire
development of Shin Cheng (Harcroft)
Primary School in Puchong, Selangor
through the charity foundation
founded by him, Yayasan Tan Sri
Lee Shin Cheng, which is now known as the IOI Foundation.
Tan Sri Dato’ Lee was bestowed the
Honorary Doctorates in Agriculture
from University Putra Malaysia and
Honorary Doctorate in Science from
University of Malaya in 2002 and
2017 respectively, and received
many accolades for his outstanding
accomplishments and leadership in the
Above all, Tan Sri Dato’ Lee’s
tenacity and enterprising spirit were
unrivalled by many in the Malaysian
corporate circle, yet his humility and
down-to-earth demeanour have gained
the friendship and respect among
many whom he met.
We salute Tan Sri Dato’ Lee for his
many achievements. His life story
will serve as an inspiration to many
and his accomplishments will form
an important chapter in the
Malaysian corporate history.