Genting Highlands: Uncle Lim’s Mountain Dream

January 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

“Uncle Lim was kind enough to give me an ang pow when I visited him this time around,” quipped my friend, as he paid for our night out at a cybercafe. I smiled at his little joke, understanding fully well who exactly Uncle Lim was, and how my friend had gotten the money that he was spending so generously that night so many years ago. My friend was in between jobs, and was resourceful enough to seek an alternate if not risky, source of income. He had, in his own words, gone to gamble with Uncle Lim on his mountain and won a modest two thousand. Uncle Lim, of course, refers to the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, who built Malaysia’s premier highlands resort and only legal gambling casino, Genting Highlands.

Genting Highlands - Malaysia's premier highland resort

The Man
Even though Lim Goh Tong passed away on 23rd October 2007, his name is often evoked in light banter and jokes among Malaysians, especially gamblers, whenever they refer to Gentings and gambling. So closely is he associated to gambling in Malaysia that he might as well be mistaken as a Malaysian version of the Chinese God of Prosperity. His rise from humble beginnings to the founder of a world renowned casino is documented in his 2004 autobiography entitled My Story – Lim Goh Tong.

His Dream
The story of how Genting Highlands came to be is quite well known. Lim had an inspiration while vacationing at Cameron Highlands, which was a favourite highland destination since the British era. His idea was to provide an alternative to Cameron Highlands that would be much closer to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur in order to capitalise on the demand for a mountain resort he anticipated would grow as the country developed.

His belief in his idea was so great that the Gentings project become his dream, taking priority over all his other business ventures. Such a project was unheard of in Malaysia, and no one had previously undertaken such an endeavour. There were naturally a lot of doubts concerning the viability and whether the resort could actually be built successfully. These doubts were laid to rest in 1971, when Genting Highlands open its doors to visitors.

A view of the theme park at Genting Highlands

The Mountain
The resort that is Genting Highlands has grown since its early days in 1971. It is now a sprawling network of buildings sitting on top of a mountain, with five hotels, two theme parks, and three international standard casinos. There is even an elaborate Chinese temple by a cliff just below the mountain top known as Chin Swee Cave Temple. The casinos are its main draw and the resort offers accommodation at some of its hotels at budget prices to bring in the crowds. Not that it needs to do much, being the only licensed casino in the entire country. The recent opening of Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore might affect Genting’s business, but both resorts are owned by the same group of companies.

The resort also hosts many concerts, bringing in world renowned musical acts and celebrities like Black Eyed Peas, as well as from the Asian region. These are usually highly publicised events that are highly anticipated, especially if it is a well known international artiste. The resort’s standing as the country’s main entertainment centre remains unchallenged, mainly due to its casino license, close proximity to the capital city, and its savvy promotions.

Chin Swee Cave Temple at Genting Highlands

A Winning Hand
Genting Highlands turned out to be Lim’s biggest gamble in the game of life. He faced naysayers and skepticism and had to channel most of his funds into it at one point. But he won the gamble, and was able to achieve his dream. The rewards he reaped made him one of the richest men in Asia and lasted him a lifetime.

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2 Responses

  1. [...] Read about Lim Goh Tong’s dream of Genting Highlands [...]

  2. Chandra Pars says:

    Genting theme park at Malaysia. One person’s dream, many generations’ joy!

    Thank you,
    Chandra
    (India/Singapore).

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