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Keywords:

  • D10;
  • L26;
  • M13;
  • N85
  • China;
  • Chinese overseas;
  • dialect;
  • family;
  • Malaysia;
  • state

Chinese overseas family businesses generally lack longevity. In addition to difficulties in transiting towards professional management they are susceptible to state pressures. However, Robert Kuok, the richest man in Southeast Asia who heads a vast business empire, has been able to surmount both challenges. This study shows how Kuok successfully turned three important sources of identity into strengths: family, dialect, and the state. These three sources are set against his Johor Bahru background, the changing domestic political landscape, and shifting regional economic influence.