Remembering the Past: From Zero to Hero

Remembering the Past: From Zero to Hero

The hardship of his past is what shapes Sukanto Tanoto today. His father is an immigrant from Putian city, Fujian province, mainland China. Born 65 years ago, young Sukanto was not able to finish his high school at the age of 17. It was because all local Chinese schools were shut down in the New Order Era by Suharto, due to his obscurity of hatred towards the Chinese ethnic people. He also was not able to continue his study to national school because his parents held Chinese citizenship. In this sense, he tried to learn Bahasa Indonesia and English independently, using the dictionary.

The Childhood of Sukanto Tanoto


Sukanto Tanoto claims that he inherits his mother’s harsh character. In his childhood, Sukanto often sneaked quietly to play on the beach, and her mother was not happy about that. His tough and bold character also plays important role in shaping his attitude in business. That is what takes him into his place right now.

Young Sukanto had a dream of becoming a doctor but he could not pursue his dream due to financial constraints. Instead of continuing his studies, Sukanto chose to continue the family business to sell oil, gasoline, and automobile equipments. By this experience, Sukanto learned business management and and problem solving skill. These contribute to his never-give-up attitude.

The Beginning of Success

In 1972, he started his own plywood company. He was the pioneer in producing plywood while at that time; Indonesia still imported plywood from other country. His ability to see the market’s potential turned into his first company, CV Karya Pelita, which is then changed its name into PT Raja Garuda Mas (RGM). Once he succeeded with his first business, Sukanto Tanoto established other business in various sectors; now, he owns more than 10 companies in Indonesia and abroad countries. His struggles against poverty; and hardship turns him from zero to hero.