Liem Sioe Liongs Salim Group: The Business Pillar of Suhartos Indonesia By Richard Borsuk

    Incredibly boring and long-winded. Richard Borsuk Buku bisnis yang hebat dalam menjabarkan sepak terjang Grup Salim.

    Di beberapa bagian terkesan panjang dan terpaksa dilewati. Detail-detail kejadian semuanya diungkap oleh kedua penulis.

    Terjemahannya pun bagus. Terima kasih Kompas sudah menerbitkan buku bagus ini. Richard Borsuk A masterpiece of investigative journalism. It's worth all the money. Richard Borsuk A fantastic read if you’d like to distill Indonesia’s sphere of influences during the new order. This book does not only tell the Salim story but many other players through the Asian new tigers years of the country. Thoroughly written. Richard Borsuk A great book with insight not only to the Salim Group but also Indonesia as a whole in the New Order (Suharto)'s era. Richard Borsuk


    Richard Borsuk ☆ 7 READ

    After Suharto gained power in Indonesia in the mid-1960s, he stayed as the country's president for more than three decades, helped by the powerful military, hefty foreign aid and support from a coterie of cronies. A pivotal business backer for his New Order government was Liem Sioe Liong, a migrant from China, who arrived in Java in 1938. A combination of the Suharto connection, serendipity and personal charm propelled him to become the wealthiest tycoon in Southeast Asia. This is the story of how Liem built the Salim Group, a conglomerate that in its heyday controlled Indonesia's largest non-state bank, the country's dominant cement producer and flour mill, as well as the world's biggest maker of instant noodles. The book features exclusive input from Liem, who died in 2012, and his youngest son, Anthony Salim. It traces the founder's life and the group's symbiosis with Suharto, his generals and family. After the tumultuous 1997-98 Asian financial crisis sparked Suharto's fall and a backlash against the strongman's cronies, Anthony staved off the crushing of the debt-laden group. Told in a journalistic style, the story of the Salim Group provides insights into Suharto's New Order. For business executives, students and anyone with an interest in Southeast Asia's largest economy, the volume makes a valuable contribution towards understanding the country's modern history. Liem Sioe Liongs Salim Group: The Business Pillar of Suhartos Indonesia

    This is a thoroughly engaging, insider's view of a phenomenal Asian business success story. Impeccably researched and deftly written, this book tracks the growth of Liem Sioe Liang's Salim conglomerate from the subject's youth in South China through his migration to Indonesia and alignment with the Soeharto regime. The conventional wisdom is that the Salim Group leveraged its political connections to garner economic rents in Indonesia; however, this book convincingly dispatches this notion. Liem is presented as a dynamic, principled visionary and philanthropist. While his ties to Soeharto certainly boosted his business fortunes, Liem is portrayed as a simple, humble man of integrity. He stands in stark contrast to some of the more nefarious cronies who lacked his business acumen but sought his (and Soeharto's patronage). Richard Borsuk is widely regarded as a leading authority on Indonesian business from his multi-decade stints in Jakarta and Singapore. Together with his wife and co-author Nancy Chng, they have composed a masterpiece full of familiar names, anecdotes and legends. Having lived in Asia for more than 30 years and done business in Indonesia since 1984, I thought I understood the power structures in Indonesian politics and business. This book humbled me, filled in many blanks and resurrected some enduring memories. The best business book I have read in the past decade. Richard Borsuk This was such a tough (almost boring) read. Its interesting if you care specifically about the Salim family but really wouldn't recommend it other wise. That said, I learnt a lot about Indonesia's recent history and got a lot more colour on the role of large families in their economy. Richard Borsuk Mie dan roti, dua makanan yang bukan asli Indonesia, tetapi kini memenuhi gerai makan dan bayangan seluruh warga Indonesia. Keduanya besar akibat usaha Liem, seorang konglomerat Tionghoa. Merantau dari tanah miskin di Fujian, Liem secara perlahan membangun bisnisnya. Koneksinya dengan Soeharto merupakan fondasi besar atas kekuatan kelompok bisnisnya, lewat proteksi monopoli di Bogasari, Liem perlahan menguasai bisnis-bisnis lain: semen, bank, telekomunikasi, sawit, dan lain-lain.

    Basis koneksi yang didapatnya lewat Soeharto dimanfaatkan oleh penuh dengan Liem, meski setelah memasuki waktu-waktu sulit setelah sang patron jatuh, kelompok bisnisnya tetap berkembang di bawah kendali anaknya, Anthony.

    Ini merupakan sebuah kisah tentang usaha, kegigihan, dan kemujuran. Buku yang sarat akan data dan informasi terkait kisah tumbuhnya sebuah imperium bisnis Tionghoa perantauan di Nusantara. Sebuah bacaan wajib untuk memahami laju gerak Indonesia hingga saat ini. Richard Borsuk I got a mixed feeling when reading this. In some part, I am very proud of what Liem and Suharto have done to accelerate the Indonesian economy. There are too many modern economic institutions in Indonesia is made by them, from Stock Exchange, Banking, Plantation, Property can be attributed to them, and to some degree maybe 80-90% Indonesian economy have a connection with those two men.

    Liem and Suharto might be destined to work together to shape Indonesia just like nowadays, but the end part is maybe something that they even could not imagine before and its happen very fast. The financial crisis of 1997 is meteoric forces that change everything in one night, that empire down.

    This is a very good book, every single chapter is beautifully written and can be composed into one single book. This is not a biography but a history of the Indonesian economy from 1949-2014. The day when Liem Sioe Liong meet Suharto for the first time. Liem born in 1916, married in China 1937, arrived in Java in 1938 (21), meet Suharto in 1949.

    This book is perfect, my only critics are on a technical aspect, which I know that it might be not appropriate critics due this is not an academic book, but some of my points are:

    1. Some part is too long and can be seen written by two people with two different writing style, and two different perspectives on Suharto. I just feel that it does not have consistency e.g for naming conventions between Liem or Salim.
    2. This book did not highlight some important financial industry e.g Banking, Stock Exchange, which heavily influenced by Liem, however, its highlight the end user Industry e.g Fluor or Cement. Is not a weakness, but a just different way of telling the story. Financial industry seems not a real sector, so maybe it is not too interesting to be explored in a single chapter.
    3. My main complaint is why the book is not written in sequence, instead its written topical by chapter, therefore some of the chapters start with 1974 or 1968.

    Overall, five-star book, highly recommends. Richard Borsuk This article is about people. Richard Borsuk and Nancy Chng’s Liem Sioe Liong’s Salim Group: The Business Pillar of Suharto’s Indonesia, is a detailed review of Indonesia’s business environment, economy and politics during Suharto’s 30-year rule. The book is people-centric and a virtual who’s-who in Indonesia.

    The first sentence of Chapter One, is as good a summary as it can be, “One hankered after power, the other after money, and when they paired up they made a potent team that kept them on top in Indonesian politics and business respectively for three decades”.

    For those who don’t know, Liem Sioe Liong, also known by his Indonesian name Sudono Salim, founded and built the Salim Group into the largest business group in pre-Asian Financial Crisis Indonesia. In my 1991 report on Indonesian business groups I calculated that the group’s turnover to have accounted for a massive 5% of Indonesia’s GDP (publication list is here).

    Put another way, companies associated with Liem had turnover equivalent to 1/20th of the world’s fourth largest country’s GDP. Only has Rinat Akhmetov’s SCM group accounted for an equally large concentration of economic control in a reasonably sized country (details here).

    I particularly enjoyed the book’s detailed work on Liem’s early years. He was born very poor in rural Fujian province. At 21 he arrived Indonesia with only the clothes on his back, his money having been stolen en route, and spent 3 days in a holding cell until his brother-in-law came to take him to his new home in Kudos, Central Java. He immediately went to work as a small trader peddling goods on his bicycle in the Javanese countryside. He learned early to take risks, invest and to not “think small”. He did well and within a few years he saved the equivalent of five new cars. He lost all his savings when the notes issued during Japanese Occupation became worthless after the war. He rebuilt his business and spent the next four years running provisions for Central Java-based Indonesian Republican soldiers during Indonesia's struggle for independence. It was during this time that Suharto and Liem first met. The two would meet again in Jakarta and spend more time together after Suharto came to power in 1966.

    As explained in the book, all the top generals during Suharto’s leadership partnered with at least one smart ethnic Chinese businessman. The businessmen provided funds and in return the generals provided protection and privileges. Liem was Suharto’s cukong, as they are known (cukong definition here).

    The relationship was successful with both becoming the most powerful and richest Indonesians of their generation. Salim worked with his own partners and various combinations of the Suharto family, friends and Yayasans (“foundations”) to build some of the largest businesses in Indonesia and South East Asia. This includes Indonesia’s biggest cement manufacturer (Indocement), bank (BCA), food group (Indofood) and a myriad of other businesses. Suharto was one of the world's' longest sitting presidents ruling Indonesia for 31-years. The relationship is the typical cukong/politician with Liem providing capital and business acumen and Suharto protection and privilege.

    The book interestingly notes that Liem and Suharto were not that different. Both came from humble backgrounds. Both believed in mysticism and fate, and trusted their instinct when making decisions. Both had fond memories of their poor, but simple childhoods. They were very typical of their birthplaces. Suharto was a typical Javanese (reserved, polite, indirect), and Liem a typical Fujianese (lives and breathes business).

    There is a lot more in the book than Liem Sioe Liong, the Salim group, Suharto and their relationship. The book includes details of all the major news stories and key people that made up Suharto’s Indonesia. The Berkeley Mafia, Ex-President Habibie’s expensive attempts to leap frog development, Tommy Suharto’s ‘national car’ and his attempt to monopolize clove trading, Bulog, Ibnu Sutowo’s Pertamina, Suharto’s downfall and the 1998 Jakarta Riots.

    The book also contains solid backgrounds of virtually all prominent groups. The Soeryadjaya’s Astra International, the Riady’s Lippo, Bob Hasan’s Apkindo, Ciputra’s real estate group, Eka Tjipta Widjaja’s Sinar Mas group, Sukanto Tanoto’s Raja Garuda Mas, Prajogo Pangestu, and all the Suharto family’s business groups – Bimantara, Humpass, etc.

    The last third of the book is about the Salim group leading into and through the financial crisis and Suharto’s downfall. It’s fascinating to read how Anthony Salim, son of the founder and current group head, retained key assets in a chaotic environment when the Salim group was viewed as corporate enemy number one. The group was stripped of its largest asset, Bank Central Asia, within a week of Suharto’s resignation.

    The book was written by the husband-wife journalism dream team of Richard Borsuk and Nancy Chng. They are the Jay-Z and Beyonce of South-East Asian journalism (or Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott for jazz aficionados).

    All books should be this good. Wonderfully detailed, well-organized, and heavy on the facts. As per the authors’ other works this book is incredibly well-researched with extensive notes, index and bibliography.

    I’m biased. Richard Borsuk’s superbly-researched, detailed and wonderfully long articles in the Asian Wall Street Journal helped my own research on Indonesian business groups in the early 1990s. In fact he edited an early version of one of my reports and provided additional insight. While I'm not as aware of Nancy Chng’s work, she is a co-founder of Select Books, the best source globally for information on South East Asian politics and economics. (link here)

    It is also notable that both Liem Sioe Liong and his son Anthony Salim spent time with the authors. The senior Liem rarely gave interviews and was often criticized by the Indonesian and foreign press as a result. Hats off to both for opening-up.

    If there is any criticism it’s that there are several instances of repetition. But this may be a good thing as each chapter and section can stand on its own. This repetition provides good context for each chapter.

    In summary, this book should be on every Asian investor’s books shelf. It will appeal to anybody doing business or having an interest in Indonesia and South-East Asia. Scholars of overseas Chinese history will find this a tremendous resource, as will scholars of economic and financial history. Richard Borsuk