The real-life ‘Crazy Rich Asian’

Meet Christien New, the embodiment of a real-life ‘Crazy Rich Asian’, who has an appreciation for the finer things in life.

In 2018, the world fell in love with Hollywood rom-com “Crazy Rich Asians”, which revolved around the lifestyles of the uber-wealthy society in Singapore. In real life, there is one regional personality who embodies all of the extravagant qualities depicted in that movie (and the bestselling novel it was based on).

Meet Christien New, who was bestowed the very title of “Crazy Rich Asian” in April 2019 by an Indonesian politician. So, what caused this prestigious endorsement?

Christien, who is chairman and owner of Bintan Power Plant Group (PTBPP), is also a popular social media presence.

His Instagram account (@christiennew) is followed by numerous personalities from Southeast Asia all the way to Russia, including an Indonesian politician who took note of a post which featured Christien driving his flashy Lamborghini … and the rest, as they say, is social media history.

“I started posting on social media out of curiosity with just five followers and it grew over time,” recalled Christien, who is also behind NewX Pte Ltd (NewX Energy) which leverage technological innovation to broaden affordable energy access to consumers, helping drive economic progress in Southeast Asia.

Being the forward-thinking entrepreneur that he is, Christien has embraced the modern businesses of the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Artificial Intelligence Technology along with blockchain technology, so that he is not left behind by the digital transformation. He has already laid out plans, which have been in the works since 2017, to use these modern technologies for his energy empire.

PTBPP, which he founded in 2002, is a leading energy provider that generates electricity to power approximately 120 million people across Southeast Asia. 

Today, Christien’s Instagram account has over 96,000 followers, a noteworthy achievement for an entrepreneur who grew his following organically.

With followers from all over the region, Christien is constantly bombarded with messages.

“Followers began to ask for my advice on business, education, what car to buy, where to buy a nice suit right down to the career path they should choose. Lately, there are even questions regarding relationships! I like that the bond between my followers and me has become more personalised, not just about business.

“Very often, I get messages from them saying how my advice has changed their lives.” In inspiring his followers, Christien finds himself motivated by them; it is a win-win situation for both sides.

When it comes to social media, Christien is a big advocate in its reach and power. “You can keep track of your friends’ lives all over the world, you can go to their Instagram and see how they are doing; after all, a picture speaks a thousand words. So, I don’t understand people who don’t do social media, as I personally think it’s very important and very much associated to my personal brand.”

Born to an Indonesian father and a Hong Kong-Japanese mother (which explains his exotic mien), Christien presently has luxury homes in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and now Russia.

Thanks to his successful businesses and jet-setting lifestyle, he has been exposed to the finest fashion and lifestyle brands that money can buy.

“The least I could do is pamper myself with the finer things after all my hard work,” chuckled Christien, who recently acquired a custom-made Harley-Davidson during the quarantine in Kuala Lumpur.

“I am really lucky as I have created a business model whereby I am only required to work 20%-30%of the time, and I can dedicate the rest of my time to my hobbies.”

Away from work, Christien indulges in ultimate “Crazy Rich Asians”-styled hobbies such as supercars (such as Lamborghini and Ferrari), yacht, snow ski, the afore-mentioned custom-made motorcycle and golf.

He also enjoys horse riding along beaches, like a scenario out of a glitzy Hollywood blockbuster. Christien also has a private pilot’s licence, which means he can fly you at your whim to your preferred holiday destination.

When it comes to couture, Christien has his distinctive sense of style. His favourite brands are Lord’s Tailor (a Malaysian bespoke tailor) for formal, and Armani and Dolce & Gabbana for casual, while his chosen footwear is Christian Louboutin, complemented by limited-edition timepieces from Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet.

Asked about his biggest strength and weakness, Christien replied: “My best trait is I never give up. I never take no as an answer; in fact, I take no as a challenge.

“My weakness? I never take no as an answer, I keep coming back,” he added with a laugh. “Sometimes I should be a little more relaxed in chasing my goals but I want to excel and do my best in whatever I choose to pursue.”

Though Christien is a worldly jet-setter, he singles out Jakarta as one of his most favourite cities in the world. (And of course, Bali is his favourite beach vacation spot.)

“In some ways, Jakarta reminds me of New York. When you’ve lived in New York a long time, you’d have something negative to say, from its problematic plumbing to the subway system. But because of its quirks, it has its own character.

“Jakarta is over-populated and has very bad traffic jams, but it has its own uniqueness. One thing cool about Jakarta – and Indonesia – is its people; they are very sincere. There is something about them that is very genuine, which moves me.”

To show his admiration, Christien has ambitions to record a song in Indonesia (when it’s safe to travel from Kuala Lumpur, where he is currently based). He counts many Indonesian celebrities as his close friends, and Christien wants to pursue singing to prove a point, that anyone can make it as long as you have determination and passion.

Along with his new venture into music, Christien – who has done acting as the main actor in “Jarum Halus” and hosted and produced Malaysian TV talk show programme “Christien Lavin Celebrity Secrets” on NTV7 – now has aspirations to start his own YouTube channel. Details are under wraps at this point, but he promises a unique experience for viewers, bringing them into unchartered luxurious lifestyles.

What is left on Christien’s bucket list? “I want to buy a superyacht with its own helipad,” he concluded. With his gung-ho attitude and penchant for the finer things in life, it is only a matter of time before that dream becomes a reality.

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