Thursday January 26, 2012
Enter the ‘Emperor of Indonesia’
By PHILIP GOLINGAI
A Tanjung Malim-born Dutch citizen claims he is a descendent of the Emperor of China and that his bloodline is linked to royal families in India, Java and Siam.
IT is not every day that you get to meet a trillionaire. So when I was invited to interview Kamal Ashnawi, a person I've never heard of, I said yes.
On Saturday morning, at a Kuala Lumpur hotel coffee house together with two of Kamal's aides, I waited for the so-called trillionaire.
Wearing a baseball cap, long-sleeved shirt and jeans, he sauntered over to our table. The two aides bowed, pressed their palms together to their forehead as if greeting royalty and kissed his hands.
“We call him Tuanku as he is a sultan from Indonesia,” one of the aides whispered to me.
According to Kamal, he is a Dutch citizen born in Tanjung Malim, Perak, on Jan 1, 1964.
“I'm a descendent of the Emperor of China and in a history that went haywire, my family fled from China to Kedah. I traced my bloodline to the royal families of China, India, Java and Siam,” claimed the man who is also known as Raden Mas Prabhu Gusti Agung Ki Asmoro Wijoyo.
“I grew up in Tanjung Malim and my family here is very simple and ordinary. Nobody in my family talks about our royal blood and wealth. But my grandmother once told me: “You are special and, when the time comes, you will know.”
It was in Holland in the late 1980s that Kamal “found out who he really was”. A member of an Indonesian royal family, kicked out of the country by president Sukarno, told him he was of royal blood.
In London in the early 1990s, a lawyer told Kamal about his royal family's massive wealth. Unconvinced, he told the lawyer to prove his claims.
He and the lawyer flew from London to Hong Kong to meet the “keeper of the royal treasure”. From there, Kamal and the keeper travelled to Kunming in China.
They hiked up a mountain for four hours and reached a cave guarded by an old couple who, Kamal says, are immortals.
“If you tried to pass them without their blessing, you would cough blood and die,” he said.
Inside the three-metre-high cave, Kamal saw gold bars stacked like a pagoda, US$15mil (RM46mil) in jade and US$10mil (RM31mil) in diamonds and stacks of US dollars.
“I took a gold bar and knocked it on a rock. It was really gold. The treasure is the wealth of the dynasties that ruled China. Their wealth was also kept in other mountains and in vaults all over the world,” he said.
About three years ago, when Kamal watched Nicholas Cage's movie National Treasure, he laughed.
“The treasure in the movie was small compared to the wealth I saw in the mountain,” he said.
Next, Kamal told of his meeting two years ago in Kuala Lumpur with Dr Wong Eng Po, a royal physician from China.
Dr Wong placed his hand on Kamal's bald head, then immediately bowed in front of Kamal and ordered his five followers to do the same.
“He said I was the reincarnation of Emperor Nurhaci (1661-1626) of China. He felt an energy on my head which was superhuman because an emperor, unlike an ordinary human, has to think more.
“I'm the reincarnation of two emperors of China,” Kamal added.
He elaborated that a few years ago, the royal family decided he would be the sole administrator of the royal wealth kept in secret accounts in about 1,000 banks worldwide.
“This means that 86.7% of the world's money belongs to me,” he said.
Taking out several folders, Kamal said: “You're lucky, I brought documents.”
He produced an A4-sized paper with the photographs of the national treasure, the immortal couple and several “official-looking” letters allegedly from HSBC certifying he has an account of five trillion euros (RM20tril).
“That is a small amount. I have more money in other banks and institutions,” he added.
I wondered why his name has not appeared in the Forbes' list of world's richest people. And a suspicion lingered about his claims.
However, I could not authenticate his documents since the bank was closed for Chinese New Year.
Kamal has not made any withdrawal from the account as “it is not money that you can move just like that”.
“The money is under the control of Indonesia, Germany, Britain, the US and the Euro Central Bank and I've got to go smooth with them,” he said.
“I can't use the money directly but I will invest in certain projects. Like three trillion euros (RM12tril) to green a desert in China.”
Curious, I asked what was the difference between a billionaire and a trillionaire.
He replied: “A billionaire needs to show he has the money. But for me, I don't need to show that I got money. I can travel in a bus. I can wear slippers.”
Born in the year of the dragon, Kamal believes 2012 is his year. In March, he says he will negotiate with institutions such as the IMF to be recognised as the Emperor of Indonesia.
He says he's rich. But his story could just be as rich.
Let's hope he is not another Elie Youssef Najem, the so-called Lebanese billionaire who made headlines for all the wrong reasons.