Malaysia lags region in millionaire stakes

By Lee Wei-Lian, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Malaysia does not appear on Merrill Lynch’s latest ranking of top millionaire-creating countries in the Asia-Pacific region but is lumped instead in the “others” category with other minor markets such as Pakistan and Myanmar.

Malaysia’s grouping in the “others” category of the Merrill Lynch Capgemini 2010 Asia Pacific Wealth Report on high net worth individuals (HNWI) released this week contrasts sharply with its strong position in terms of the number of billionaires that it boasts, suggesting that its system is skewed towards the super-rich rather than mass wealth.

Forbes magazine rankings show that Malaysia has nine billionaires, the eighth highest in Asia — including the world’s 33rd and 89th richest — Tan Sri Robert Kuok and T. Ananda Krishnan. In comparison Japan, which has by far the most number of millionaires in Asia, has only 22 billionaires.

The other countries that make up the “others” category of the Asia Pacific Wealth report include New Zealand, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

The “others” group (estimated population 480 million) collectively saw their number of US dollar millionaires grow 11.1 per cent to 154,000 in 2009 compared with a whopping 104.4 per cent in Hong Kong to 76,000, 32.7 per cent in Singapore to 82,000, 42.3 per cent in Taiwan to 83,000, 50.9 per cent in India to 127,000, 34.4 per cent in Australia to 174,000, 31 per cent in China to 477,000 and 20.8 per cent in Japan to 1.7 million.

As a group, the “others” saw their HNWI wealth grow 11.6 per cent to US$749 billion (RM2,322 billion) compared with 22. 4 per cent in Japan to US$3.9 trillion, 40.4 per cent in China to US$2.3 trillion, 36.7 per cent in Australia to US$519 billion, 53.8 per cent in India to US$477 billion, 108.9 per cent in Hong Kong to US$379 billion and 35.6 per cent in Singapore to US$369 billion.