The presence of guest of honour Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made Corporate Malaysia’s most-anticipated annual awards ceremony a night to remember.

The tenth instalment of The Edge Billion Ringgit Club (BRC) Corporate Awards saw the country’s crème de la crème descend upon the grand ballroom of Sheraton Petaling Jaya on Sept 19.

Corporate Malaysia’s most well-known personalities were among the more than 400 guests, some of whom had arrived as early as 6pm, two hours ahead of the arrival of Dr Mahathir. Because the statesman could not make it on the original date of Sept 18, many of the guests had had to rearrange their schedules, some even deferring overseas trips to share the black-tie event with the nonagenarian.

The men looked dapper in their tuxedos and bespoke suits while the ladies were elegant in their evening gowns and jewellery. Relaxing tunes by musicians added to the warm ambiance as guests mingled and took photographs. They were also seen posing with the sleek and luxurious Mercedes-Benz S 560e that was on display in the middle of the foyer, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, which provided the official car for the event.

Aficionados of horology feasted their eyes on masterpieces showcased by Swiss luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre, supporting sponsor for the fifth year running.

The Edge Media Group chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong and group CEO and publisher Datuk Ho Kay Tat greeted guests alongside OCBC Bank (M) Bhd CEO Datuk Ong Eng Bin. OCBC Bank has been the main sponsor of the awards since it made its debut in 2010.

Ong noted how the awards has grown to be recognised as the gold standard for showcasing Corporate Malaysia’s quest to mesh outstanding business acumen with sustainability, inclusiveness and corporate responsibility. “It’s been a decade now since we first started honouring the best of the best, and the winners have always been worthy of the high honours bestowed on them. Our heartiest congratulations to this year’s winners for going the distance and improving significantly on all counts, including the important area of sustainability. We must all continue to ride the crest of the wave we are on in order to be both viable and meaningful for the future.”

After Mercedes-Benz Malaysia president and CEO Dr Claus Weidner and Jaeger-LeCoultre managing director of Southeast Asia & Oceania Iñigo Ohlsson joined CEOs in welcoming Dr Mahathir in the foyer of the ballroom, master of ceremonies Datuk Yasmin Yusoff announced the arrival of the good doctor just before 8.30pm.

Tong gave his welcome address while guests started on the sumptuous four-course meal. He said the BRC Awards is coveted by Corporate Malaysia because the methodology and criteria are transparent and independently audited — they cannot be bought. “To be recognised and to win awards, companies must grow their profits, be more efficient, invest in technologies and exhibit high returns to shareholders through dividends and stock price.”

The awards were presented thereafter, except for the three main awards, which were bestowed later in the night. Altogether, 60 awards were given out to 42 companies.

Dr Mahathir had reassuring words for leaders and representatives of the country’s biggest listed companies, which easily pay half of the country’s corporate tax and whose employees pay sizeable amounts of income tax. (His full speech is on Page 26.)

Flanked by Tong and Ho, the prime minister presented the night’s top three awards. Company of The Year was Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd, which was represented by group CEO Tan Sri Paul Koon Poh Keong. The Value Creator: Outstanding CEO of Malaysia award went to Dr Chia Song Kun, executive chairman of QL Resources Bhd, who was also presented with a Master Ultra Thin Réserve de Marche timepiece. Employees’ Provident Fund chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman accepted a special award on behalf of the fund for its contribution to nation building.

Dr Mahathir departed to a standing ovation and the song Setia being played in the background after receiving a token of appreciation from Tong and Ho.

As the night drew to a close, it was congratulations all round while many snapped photos to commemorate the momentous occasion.