Eka Tjipta Widjaja

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Eka Tjipta Widjaja
(Oei Ek-Tjhong)
Native name
Born(1921-02-27)February 27, 1921[2] or (1922-10-01)October 1, 1922[3] or (1923-10-03)October 3, 1923[4] or (1923-10-29)October 29, 1923[5]
DiedJanuary 26, 2019(2019-01-26) (aged 97)[2]
Jakarta, Indonesia
Net worthUS$8.6 Billion (2018)[6]
  • Trinidewi Lasuki
    (died 2017)
  • Mellie Pirieh Widjaja
    (died 2009)
  • others
Children40+, including Oei Hong Leong
RelativesFuganto Widjaja (grandson)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Hanyu PinyinHuáng Yìcōng

Eka Tjipta Widjaja (Indonesian pronunciation: [ˈeka ˈtʃipta wiˈdʒaja]; ca. 1921[a]–2019, born in Quanzhou, China as Oei Ėk-Tjhong (Chinese: ; pinyin: Huáng Yìcōng),[1] was a Chinese-Indonesian business magnate who founded the Sinar Mas Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia. Immigrated to Indonesia with his family when he was a child, he traded copra in mid 1950s, moved into palm oil industry soon after, started a paper factory in the 1970s, and then entered financial services in the 1980s. At the time of his death, Sinar Mas has interests in paper, real estate, financial services, agribusiness, and telecom with holdings primarily in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and China, while Widjaja was listed by Forbes as the third richest person in Indonesia with a net worth of approximately US$8.6 Billion.

Early life[edit]

Widjaja was born Oei Ek Tjhong in Quanzhou, Fujian, Republic of China.[1] He was the son of a Sulawesi (Celebes)-based trader.[9] In around 1930, he and his mother moved to Indonesia (then was Dutch East Indies) to join his father who had already settled in Makassar, and he started helping his father to run a small shop.[1][10] He was educated in a local Chinese school, but left at the age of fifteen to work as a hawker.[5] As a teenager, he sold biscuits and candy from his bicycle.[6]


In his early career, Widjaja did various business, including trading cooking oil and agricultural products, coffee shop, pig rearing, bakery, and grave construction.[5][11][12] During Japanese occupation, price controls devastated his cooking oil business. When Indonesia's war for independence against the Dutch crushed his commodity-trading business in 1949, he sold family jewelry to repay creditors and traded in his car for a bicycle.[13]

In 1950s, when Indonesian military sent troops to Makassar to fight Andi Aziz and later Abdul Kahar Muzakkar, Widjaja sold food and other supplies to the troops, forging ties between him and the military. He used the military ship to trade copra—the raw material to make coconut oil—from Manado to Makassar. And thus, his copra business started, later reaching Jakarta and Surabaya. However, the Permesta rebellion happened in Sulawesi and Widjaja decided to move to Surabaya.[12]

In 1962, CV Sinar Mas was first registered in Surabaya, and soon it opened a branch office in Jakarta. This company exported natural products and imported textiles.[14]

In 1968, Widjaja opened a cooking oil factory PT Bitung Manado Oil in Manado, followed by PT Kunci Mas in Surabaya. The Manado-based factory later produced cooking oil under the brand Bimoli, which catered to up to 50 percent of the demand in the Indonesian cooking oil market. In 1990, Widjaja lost this brand to Salim Group after their joint ventures in cooking oil business split.[5][14]

In 1972, together with Taiwanese investors, Widjaja acquired caustic soda producer Tjiwi Kimia, which he transformed into the Sinar Mas Group's first pulp and paper manufacturer.[15] In the same year, he started Duta Pertiwi, a property developer and real estate business.[10] In the 1970s, he already acquired logging concessions.[9]

In 1980, Sinar Mas changed all its cooking oil refinery machines to be able to produce palm oil. In the same year, Widjaja already possessed extensive oil palm fields in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua. In 1982, he acquired a 10.000 hectare field in North Sumatra.[16][17]

Also in 1982, Widjaja acquired Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII)[18] and founded PT Internas Artha Leasing Company.[17] BII became the second largest private bank in Indonesia,[19] but due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it failed in April 1998 with a debt of US$4.6 billion (the largest foreign debt owed by an Indonesian corporation at that time) and was nationalized in April 1999.[18] Widjaja moved back into banking by acquiring PT Bank Shinta Indonesia in 2005 and later renamed it as PT Bank Sinarmas.[20]

In 1990, Widjaja received an honorary doctorate in economics by Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, United States, citing him as the "ultimate entrepreneur".[21]

By the mid-1990s, Widjaja's best-known asset was a controlling stake in Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a Singapore-based company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the 10th-largest paper company in the world.[3][13] After the 1997 Asian financial crisis and a dip in the international wood pulp price in 2000, it was revealed that the company had a global US$13.9 billion debt.[9] In March 2001, two months after being threatened with delisting from the NYSE, APP stopped paying its debt, considered to be the largest debt default in the world's emerging markets.[22][23] APP has also been convicted of being involved in illegal logging in Cambodia,[24] Yunnan Province, China,[25] destroying ancient rainforest[26] and the illegal felling of over 50 thousand acres (200 km²) of forest in Bukit Tigapuluh national park.[27]

As of 2003, Widjaja lived primarily in Singapore and had turned over day-to-day control of his businesses to his extensive family.[13]

Personal life and family[edit]

Unlike many other Chinese-Indonesian tycoons, Widjaja was known to flaunt his wealth. He rode in fancy cars and wore a belt buckle encrusted with diamonds spelling out his name, "EKA".[28][9][29][13][30]

Widjaja had several wives and at least 40 children.[9][31][28] His first wife was Trinidewi (or Trini Dewi) Lasuki,[9] who died in 2017.[7] Eka reportedly treated the children of his first wife as his heirs while providing financial support to his other children to help start businesses.[28] Most of Eka's children by Trinidewi—six males and two females—are involved in the family businesses. The eldest daughter, Sukmawati Widjaja (Oei Siu Hoa), serves as Sinar Mas vice chairperson since 1988.[32] Sukmawati was previously married to her cousin, Rudy Maeloa, who was Eka's right hand who died in 1988.[14][28] Eka's eldest son, Teguh Ganda Widjaja (Oei Tjie Goan), heads the pulp and paper division of the group as the chairman of Asia Pulp & Paper.[33][34] Teguh's brothers are or were in charge of other divisions; Eka's third son, Indra Widjaja (Oei Pheng Lian or Oei Beng Nien[4]), of financial services; the fourth son, Muktar Widjaja (Oei Siong Lian), of property; and the youngest sixth son, Franky Oesman Widjaja (Oei Jong Nian), of agribusiness (he is the chairman of Golden Agri-Resources[35]).[33] Indra Widjaja's son, Fuganto Widjaja, is heading coal mining and trading company Golden Energy and Resources, Sinar Mas' Singapore-based subsidiary, and is considered as the group's new face, proclaimed to shift its focus to energy and infrastructure, telecoms, healthcare, and education.[36][37]

Some of Eka's other wives and their children have been given their own business groups to manage. His seven children by one wife—Mellie Pirieh, who died in 2009[8]—run the Duta Dharma Bhakti group of 26 companies.[31] A son from another marriage, Oei Hong Leong, is ranked by Forbes in 2018 as the 22nd richest person in Singapore, with a net worth of US$1.5 billion.[38]


Widjaja died on January 26, 2019 at his home in Menteng, Jakarta due to "old age".[39][40] He was buried on February 2, 2019 in the family cemetery in Karawang, West Java.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Several sources disagree on his exact birthdate or birthyear.[2][4][3][1][9][5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "缅怀黄奕聪先生 (Remembering Mr. Huang Yicong)". yicongfound.org. Retrieved 15 July 2019. Born in 1922 in Houxi Village, Luoxi Town, Quanzhou, Fujian Province, Mr. Huang Yicong, who left his hometown with his mother at the age of 8 and went to Indonesia to reunite with his father ....
  2. ^ a b c "Founder of Sinar Mas Group, Eka Tjipta Widjaja, Passes Away at 97". Tempo.co. 27 January 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Ben Otto (7 February 2019). "His Business Empire Survived Two Wars and a $14 Billion Default". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Setyautama, Sam (2008). Tokoh-tokoh Etnis Tionghoa di Indonesia (in Indonesian). Jakarta: KPG (Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia). pp. 261–262. ISBN 978-979-91-0125-9. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Suryadinata, Leo (1995). Prominent Indonesian Chinese: Biographical Sketches. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 222. ISBN 9813055030. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Eka Tjipta Widjaja & family". Forbes. Forbes.com LLC. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b Vina A. Muliana (7 February 2017). "Istri Miliarder Eka Tjipta Widjaja Meninggal Dunia". Liputan6.com. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b Nurwahid-Satibi (17 December 2009). "Sakit Parah pun, Besarkan Hati Sesama Penderita Kanker". jpnn.com. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Studwell, Joe (2008). Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Grove/Atlantic, Inc. pp. 164–167, 255–256. ISBN 0-87113-968-5.
  10. ^ a b Muhamad Al Azhari (27 January 2019). "Sinar Mas Founder Eka Tjipta Widjaja Passes Away; Here's the Story of His Path to Fortune". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  11. ^ Petrik Matanasi (25 November 2017). "Karena Bimoli, Eka Tjipta jadi Raja Minyak Goreng Indonesia". tirto.id (in Indonesian). Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b Dahlan Iskan (28 January 2019). "Eka Tjipta". DI's Way: Catatan Harian Dahlan Iskan (in Indonesian). Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d Timothy Mapes (15 August 2003). "Asian Paper Giant Survives Debt Saga as Creditors Fume". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Borsuk, Richard; Chng, Nancy (2014). Liem Sioe Liong's Salim Group: The Business Pillar of Suharto's Indonesia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Publishing. pp. 298–301. ISBN 9814459577.
  15. ^ Borsuk, Richard; Webb, Sara (5 March 2001). "The Rise and Plummet Of APP's Widjaja Family". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  16. ^ "80 Tahun Perjalanan Sinarmas #TumbuhBersama Indonesia". Asuransi Simasnet (in Indonesian). 10 October 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  17. ^ a b Romys Binekasri (27 January 2019). "Pendiri Sinar Mas Group Tutup Usia, Apa Saja Bisnisnya?". JawaPos.com. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  18. ^ a b Rajeswary Ampalavanar Brown (2006). The Rise of the Corporate Economy in Southeast Asia. London and New York: Routledge. p. 67. ISBN 1134157541. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  19. ^ Yasuyuki Matsumoto (2007). Financial Fragility and Instability in Indonesia. London and New York: Routledge. p. 144. ISBN 1134150407. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  20. ^ Harry Suhartono & Fathiya Dahrul (26 January 2019). "Indonesia Palm Oil Tycoon Who Built $9 Billion Empire Dies". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  21. ^ Richard Borsuk (5 March 2001). "Controversial Widjaja Patriarch Affects All Sinar Mas Decisions". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  22. ^ "US$14b default forgotten as Indonesia billionaire Widjaja sells debt". South China Morning Post. 30 April 2015.
  23. ^ "Worst Asian default forgiven as Indonesia billionaire sells debt". Strait Times. 28 April 2015.
  24. ^ A forest falls in Cambodia, Keith Andrew Bettinger, Asia Times Online Jan. 23, 2013
  25. ^ Forestry authorities charges Singaporean paper giant with illegal logging People's Daily Online 08:26, March 31, 2005. Source: Singapore paper giant charged with illegal logging in Yunnan Archived 2012-03-09 at the Wayback Machine chinaview.cn 2005-03-30 20:54:19
  26. ^ "Investigative Report on APP's Forest Destruction in Yunnan" (PDF). Green Peace. November 2004.
  27. ^ Staples Ends Contracts With Asia Pulp on Environment (Update1) Heather Burke - Bloomberg L.P. February 7, 2008 21:52 EST
  28. ^ a b c d Paul Blustein (11 September 1994). "Indonesia's Eka Tjipta Widjaja". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  29. ^ Pearce, Fred (2012). The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over who Owns the Earth. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 168. ISBN 0807003247.
  30. ^ Sara Webb (10 August 2010). "Widjajas' Indonesia empire spans resources, finance". Reuters. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  31. ^ a b Michael Backman (15 June 1999). "Too Many Wives Are Bad for Business". The Asian Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  32. ^ "Board of Directors". Top Global Limited. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  33. ^ a b Sato, Yuri (2003). "Corporate Governance in Indonesia: A Study on Governance of Business Groups". In Shimomura, Yasutani (ed.). Asian Development Experience Vol. 2: The Role of Governance in Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 104–107. ISBN 9789812302007.
  34. ^ S&P Global Market Intelligence. "Teguh Ganda Wijaya Executive Profile". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Board of Directors". Golden Agri-Resources. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  36. ^ Henny Sender (30 August 2015). "Fuganto Widjaja, Sinar Mas: a new start in Indonesia". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  37. ^ Yanto Soegiarto (June 2016). "The Rise of the Third Generation". GlobeAsia. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  38. ^ "Oei Hong Leong". Forbes. Forbes.com LLC. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  39. ^ Jatmiko, Bambang Priyo (27 January 2019). Sumardi, Edi (ed.). "Penyebab Eka Tjipta Widjaja Bos Sinar Mas Group Meninggal Dunia" (in Indonesian). Tribun News. Retrieved 27 January 2019. Pengusaha Eka Tjipta Widjaja meninggal dunia karena faktor usia.
  40. ^ "Jenazah Eka Tjipta Widjaja Disemayamkan Di Rumah Duka Gatot Subroto, Malam ini Pukul 23.00". Bisnis.com. 26 January 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2019.