Teh Hong Piow 101: Malaysia's Financial Visionary
Zatrun Published at February 10, 2024

Teh Hong Piow, known for his remarkable contributions to Malaysia’s banking sector, was a distinguished banker and businessman. His legacy is intertwined with the success of Public Bank Berhad, one of Malaysia’s most prominent financial institutions. In this in-depth exploration by, we delve into the life, career, and enduring influence of this iconic figure.

Teh Hong Piow: Early Years and Personal Life

Teh Hong Piow was born in Singapore on March 14, 1930, marking the beginning of a life dedicated to shaping Malaysia’s financial landscape. His educational journey commenced at the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore, laying the foundation for his future endeavors. In 1956, he embarked on a lifelong partnership with Puan Sri Tay Sock Noy.

This union bore four children, including three daughters, Lilian Teh Li Ming, Lillyn Teh Li Hua, Diona Teh Li Shian, and a son, William Teh Lee Pang. On December 12, 2022, Teh Hong Piow, at the age of 92, departed from the world, leaving behind a profound impact on Malaysia’s banking and business sectors.

A Visionary Banking Career

Teh’s illustrious career in banking began in 1950 when he assumed the role of a Bank Clerk at Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd. In a mere five years, he ascended to the position of an officer. His commitment and prowess led him to join Malayan Banking Berhad as a Manager in 1960. By 1964, Teh had already earned the title of General Manager at the young age of 34. It was in 1965 that he took a historic step by founding Public Bank Berhad, and the institution began its operations in 1966.

Under Teh Hong Piow’s visionary leadership, Public Bank Berhad evolved into a modern, integrated financial institution with a vast network comprising 259 domestic branches and two international branches. His impact on the banking landscape of Malaysia is immeasurable, with Public Bank becoming a cornerstone of the nation’s financial stability.

Renowned for his business acumen, Teh pursued further education, obtaining three degrees from the unaccredited Pacific Western University and two PhDs from Clayton University (also unaccredited) and University Malaya. His wealth was estimated at approximately US$4.7 billion, securing him the 223rd position among the world’s richest individuals and making him the fifth wealthiest person in Malaysia, according to Forbes.

A Storied Legacy in Leadership

Teh Hong Piow held the prestigious position of Chairman at Public Bank Group and played key roles in various other organizations, including the Public Foundation in Malaysia and LPI Capital Berhad, Malaysia (Group).

Although he retired as Chairman on January 1, 2019, he continued to serve as an adviser, providing invaluable guidance and support for the continued growth of Public Bank and the Public Bank group. Additionally, Teh held non-executive chairman positions for units like Public Islamic Bank Bhd (PIBB) and Public Investment Bank Bhd (PIVB) and continued as a non-executive director even after retiring as chairman on January 1, 2018.

Throughout his career, Teh Hong Piow received numerous awards and accolades, totaling around 45 distinctions. Notably, he was honored with the title of the ‘Greatest Malaysian Banker of All Time’ by the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation.

Teh Hong Piow’s journey is a testament to his unwavering dedication to the financial sector and his significant role in shaping Malaysia’s economic landscape. His legacy endures, leaving an indelible mark on the world of banking and business.

Teh Hong Piow’s life was a remarkable odyssey from Singapore to the pinnacle of Malaysia’s banking sector. His visionary leadership and unyielding commitment transformed Public Bank Berhad into a cornerstone of Malaysia’s financial stability.

With countless accolades and awards, including the title of the ‘Greatest Malaysian Banker of All Time,’ Teh Hong Piow’s legacy remains indomitable. As he peacefully left this world on December 12, 2022, at the age of 92, his enduring impact continues to shape the nation’s economic landscape, ensuring that his contributions will be celebrated for generations to come.

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