Tan Sri Robert Kuok, the Kuok Group patriarch, remains Malaysia's richest with a net worth of US$9 billion, down from US$10 billion a year ago, according to the 2009 Forbes Asia Malaysia Rich List.
In a statement here today, Forbes said Kuok has held the top spot every year since Forbes Asia began ranking the 40 richest Malaysians in 2006.
Businessman Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan held on to his second place with a net worth of US$7 billion,just down from US$7.2 billion last year.
He has also maintained the same ranking every year since 2006.
Together, Kouk and Ananda account for 44% of the top 40's wealth.
They are also the two richest people in Southeast Asia.
The third richest is Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, head of IOI Group, one of the world's leading operators of palm oil plantations.
He is worth US$3.2bil, down from US$5.5 bil last year but keeps his position in the top three.
Malaysia's 40 richest people are worth a combined US$36bil, down from US$46bil a year ago.
It said the 22% loss in wealth is largely in line with the 21% drop in the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) and is not too bad, considering the fact that the Malaysian ringgit has lost 10% against the US dollar, the currency by which the net worths are measured.
Malaysia has nine billionaires who are collectively worth US$30bil or 84% of the total wealth amassed by the country's top 40.
This is the biggest wealth disparity among Forbes Asia's rich list.
Tan Sri Vincent Tan (ranked 10, US$750mil) of Berjaya Corporation Bhd is the only Malaysian to drop out of the billionaire ranks in the past 12 months as share prices in his companies have declined.
Three making their debut are IOI Board member Chan Fong Ann (ranked 18, US$209mil), gaming tycoon Tan Sri Chen Lip Keong (ranked 21, US$195mil) and software executive Goh Peng Ooi (ranked 34, US$112mil).
Four people have returned to the rankings after an absence of a year or more.
Among them are Tan Sri Syed Mohd Yusof Tun Syed Nasir (ranked 37, US$100mil) and Tan Sri Tan Teong Hean (ranked 39, US$95mil), who cashed out of Southern Bank several years ago and is now making new investments.
The latest issue of Forbes Asia also features Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, head of conglomerate YTL (ranked seven,US$1.8 billion).
The full list of Malaysia's richest and the story on Francis Yeoh can be found in the June 8 issue of Forbes Asia, which is now available on newsstands. - BERNAMA