This story appears in the September 2015 issue of Forbes Asia.
This is FORBES ASIA’s ninth annual philanthropy issue, giving us another opportunity to single out the region’s most noteworthy givers. Our list of 40 people (and sometimes their spouses or siblings) features philanthropists who made news with their donations in the past year, but it also recognizes people who have compiled a long record of supporting worthy causes.
As with every year, some of our honorees are billionaires who have built wealthy foundations, launched big projects and are now coming to terms with their legacy. Others are less well-known business people who are also making a mark with their generosity. And some are celebrities–this time we have a basketball star and a boxer–who use their star power to promote their causes. This year a philanthropist from Nepal makes the list for the first time.
This isn’t a list of the biggest givers in Asia-Pacific–the figures would be impossible to collect. And we try to identify a new group each year, though a few people here are returning to the list because of an important contribution or project announced over the past year. The goal is to pick only true philanthropists–people who are giving their own money, not their company’s (unless they own most of the company), because donating shareholder funds isn’t exactly philanthropy. By calling attention to these charitable souls and their labors of love, we hope to encourage more giving.
Len Ainsworth, 92
FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY
Has donated $30 million to hospitals, universities and other causes over the past 3 years, including $4 million in February to Sydney’s St. Vincent’s Private Hospital redevelopment, $9 million last year to the University of NSW’s new engineering building and $5 million in 2013 to the Sydney Children’s Hospital. His wife, Margarete, has separately donated $10 million to mental health research. In 2012 the gambling-machine billionaire said he would bequeath more than half his fortune to charity.
Michael Buxton, 70
COFOUNDER, MAB CORP.
Last December donated his $8.5 million contemporary art collection to the University of Melbourne, plus $13.5 million to build a gallery to house it. Collected over 20 years, the more than 300 works include pieces by most of Australia’s top contemporary artists. The prominent Melbourne property developer started MAB 20 years ago with brother Andrew; previously helped found Becton, one of Melbourne’s biggest developers in the 1980s.
Barry Lambert, 68
CHAIRMAN, COUNTPLUS AND CLASS SUPER
Donated $26 million to the University of Sydney in June to fund medicinal cannabis research to treat conditions such as cancer, chronic pain, childhood epilepsy and dementia. Granddaughter Katelyn has Dravet syndrome and suffered hundreds of seizures a day until cannabis oil dramatically improved her condition. Ex-banker founded financial-planning group Count Financial in 1980; sold it in 2011 for $380 million. Now chairs listed professional-services group CountPlus and financial software company Class Super.
Jack Ma, 50
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, ALIBABA
Donated $2.9 billion in share options last year to social welfare causes and education. One recipient: Hangzhou Teachers University, where he’s an alumnus. Also established the Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation. Another $2.4 billion has gone into a charitable trust, according to the official China Daily newspaper.
Pan Shiyi, 51
Zhang Xin, 50
COFOUNDERS, SOHO CHINA
The husband-and-wife real estate billionaires announced last year they will give $100 million through their SOHO China Foundation to fund overseas study by undergraduate Chinese at the world’s top universities. Some $15 million of that will go to Harvard University to fund SOHO China Scholarships.
Ren Yuanlin, 62
CHAIRMAN, YANGZIJIANG SHIPBUILDING
Started the Yuan Lin Charity Fund in 2012 to help support the growing elderly population in his province of Jiangsu and provide disaster relief. Donates roughly $16 million of the dividends he receives each year from his Singapore-listed company. Together with other gifts, the foundation expects to raise $160 million in 5 years.
Yao Ming, 34
FORMER NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION STAR
His Yao Foundation works with Marriott International and other companies to build schools and teach sports. It says these partnerships reached more than 150,000 Chinese young people in the last 3 years.
Zhai Meiqing, 51
PRESIDENT, HEUNG KONG GROUP
Started the Heungkong Charitable Foundation with $6 million in 2005, and in 10 years it’s spent close to $20 million. It has set up 1,223 school libraries in the poorest regions of China, and a microfinancing project has enabled more than 400 single mothers to support their families with fishing or pig farming. It counts 2 million beneficiaries. She and her husband, Liu Zhiqiang, started and own the privately held Heung Kong Group, a Guangdong retailing-logistics conglomerate that has given more than $150 million to various causes since 1992.
For another Hero of Philanthropy from China, see here.
Ronnie Chan, 65
Gerald Chan, 63
CHAIRMAN/NONEXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HANG LUNG GROUP
The brothers’ $350 million donation to Harvard University last fall through the family’s Morningside Foundation is the largest the school has received in its 378-year history. The money goes to its School of Public Health, where Gerald did postdoctoral work in cancer and pathology, and should benefit Asia by helping fund research into problems caused by the region’s rapid development, such as air and water pollution. It will also help international students cover their tuition debt so they can return home earlier. Ronnie and his wife, Barbara, gave $20 million at the same time to the University of Southern California, his alma mater.
Lee Shau-Kee, 86
CHAIRMAN, HENDERSON LAND DEVELOPMENT
Donated a 63,000-square-foot plot in January to house the city’s largest youth hostel, with 1,250 units in a 25-story building in the New Territories to be finished by 2018. An earlier gift of a 100,000-square-foot plot, also in the New Territories, will become Asia’s largest nursing home for the elderly; it’s also scheduled for completion in 2018 and will offer 1,400 beds in a 9-story building. His real estate philanthropy works less well on the mainland, where a pledge made with Country Garden Chairman Yeung Kwok Keung to build 10,000 flats right across the border in Guangdong for Hong Kong elderly is on hold due to a lukewarm response.
Sunny Varkey, 58
FOUNDER, GEMS EDUCATION
Signed the Giving Pledge in June, promising to donate most of his wealth to charity and becoming the first education entrepreneur to do so. Built a $2.25 billion fortune operating 130 schools with nearly 150,000 students in the United Arab Emirates, India, China and elsewhere. Now his Varkey Foundation aims to change the lives of 10 million poor children with an ambitious program to train 250,000 teachers in the developing world. Already it has trained 12,000 teachers in Uganda.
Hendro Gondokusumo, 64
FOUNDER & OWNER, INTILAND DEVELOPMENT
One of the largest property developers in the country, late last year he launched Intiland Teduh, a program to give underprivileged people a chance to live in a decent home in Jakarta and East Java. It works with other philanthropic groups, such as Habitat International, to provide a full range of assistance.
Boedi Mranata, 64
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT DIRECTOR, ADIPURNA MRANATA JAYA
Made his money building the country’s largest bird’s-nest producer and then in 2007 cofounded Harapan Rainforest, a project to preserve nearly 100,000 hectares of rainforest in Sumatra. The forest is a home for the endangered Sumatran tiger and other threatened species. The project has received wide support; Prince Charles visited the area in 2008. Harapan means “hope” in Indonesian.
Sukowati Sosrodjojo, 42
PRESIDENT DIRECTOR, REKSO INTERNATIONAL
Revamped Jakarta’s National Monument Park. For full story, see here.
For a Hero of Philanthropy from Japan, see here.
Jeffrey Cheah, 70
CHAIRMAN, SUNWAY GROUP
Started the Sunway Education Trust Fund in 1997 and has since given $50 million to fund 20,000 scholarships for students at his Sunway Education Group and other educational assistance. The fund has evolved into the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, and in February it donated $1.6 million to set up the Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellowship Fund at the University of Cambridge. In 2013 it gave $6.2 million to Harvard University’s Southeast Asian Studies program.
Leonard Linggi Tun Jugah,75
FOUNDER, LIMAR GROUP
Launched Tun Jugah Foundation in 1985 to chronicle the history, culture and religious traditions of his forefathers, the Ibans, an ancient tribe in Borneo. Its Tun Jugah Museum attracts art historians, researchers and tourists to Sarawak. Awarding grants, sponsoring research fellows and holding conferences, it is one of the few private cultural-preservation projects in Malaysia. Among its recent projects are an ethnographic book of death chants and recordings of more than 700 hours of chants, prayers and folktales.
For a Hero of Philanthropy from Nepal, see here.
Diosdado Banatao, 69
FOUNDER & MANAGING PARTNER, TALLWOOD VENTURE CAPITAL
The technology entrepreneur and son of a farmer set up his Philippine Development Foundation in 2010 and has given it more than $1.5 million to reduce poverty through education, innovation and entrepreneurship. The family-run Salvador & Rosita Banatao Foundation, named for his parents, assists students in his hometown of Iguig in the northern Philippines; it helped build a science and computer center at his elementary school and provides financial aid and scholarships to high school and university students with potential in science.
P.J. Lhuillier 70
CHAIRMAN, P.J. LHUILLIER GROUP
Started what is now the Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation in 2000. It offers 300 college scholarships to impoverished students nationwide and has enabled thousands of school dropouts to restart their education through 19 Alternative Learning Centers that it’s started in public schools; 48 more will open next year. Aiming to inspire millions of people, he also launched the “Search for the Happiest Pinoy” campaign. Every other year starting in 2009 it has awarded $20,000 to an individual who have risen above life’s challenges and whose positive outlook has improved the lives of others. (See also p. 63.)
Manny Pacquiao, 36
BOXING CHAMPION & PHILIPPINE CONGRESSMAN
His Emmanuel & Jinkee’s Heart Foundation (Jinkee is his wife) started last year and has awarded more than 200 scholarships and extended more than $400,000 in medical assistance to needy people. Outside the foundation he spends $400,000 a year on college costs for 1,000 students and has helped fund the construction of hundreds of houses–mostly in the southern end of the country, where he is from–with Habitat for Humanity Philippines. He has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief funds after devastating typhoons in the last 3 years.
Mohamed Abdul Jaleel, 56
FOUNDER & CEO, MES GROUP
Over the past couple of years has given $1.1 million to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which helps students from low-income Singapore families with pocket money and meals for school. Set up a foundation in 2011 that aims to donate S$1 million ($710,000) every year to help with the education of needy children. Runs his construction logistics company today but had to drop out of school at 16 to help his family make ends meet.
Kwek Leng Joo, 62
DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, CITY DEVELOPMENTS
Over the past 2 years he has donated $4 million to various projects at Nanyang Technological University, including a student community service fund. An avid photographer since his teens, he has raised $1.8 million for charity and environmental causes through the sale of his photos and art books. Recently donated $50,000 to set up 2 multimedia reading rooms and libraries for primary schools in the city of Xiamen, his father’s hometown in China.
Ruth Yeoh, 32
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, YTL SINGAPORE
Granddaughter of billionaire Yeoh Tiong Lay and daughter of Francis Yeoh, she’s pursued an environmental agenda at the family-run conglomerate for the past 12 years. That includes setting up coral reef nurseries in Malaysia; assisting rural villages in Yunnan Province, China to reduce pressure for deforestation; and protecting the habitat of rare birds in the U.K. But it also means–as head of an in-house, 40-member sustainability unit–prodding YTL companies to cut carbon emissions, recycle waste, use resources sparingly and take other such measures as part of their business strategy.
Cho Chang-Gul, 76
Pledged in March to donate half of his then $800 million stake in the country’s largest furniture maker to his Hanssem Design Beyond East & West. Started in 2012 and essentially a think tank, it aims to nurture the next generation of global leaders by focusing on 4 main tasks: cultivating a better world by merging the values of East and West, improving the environment, honing the use of digital technology and studying China in depth.
Chung Mong-Gyu, 53
CHAIRMAN, HYUNDAI INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT
Donated 200,000 shares–worth $11.2 million–to the Pony Welfare Foundation in April. The gift commemorated the 10th anniversary of the death of his father, Chung Se-Young, a pioneer of the Korean auto industry nicknamed “Pony” after the first Hyundai Motor car, the Pony. Mong-Gyu started the foundation after his father died. It has funded scholarships for 280 students in South Korea and 440 in Vietnam. It also hands out an annual Pony Chung Innovation Award, which carries a prize of 100 million won ($84,000).
Huh Chang-Soo, 66
CHAIRMAN, GS GROUP
Turned over 137,900 shares of GS Engineering & Construction to the Namchon Foundation last November. The gift was worth more than $3 million. He’s now given the foundation shares valued at $30 million since he started it in 2006 to honor his father, Huh Joon-Gu. It’s expanding its support for medical assistance, scholarships, cultural activities, welfare and academic research.
Shunyi Zhu, 63
CHAIRMAN, ZYXEL COMMUNICATIONS
Gave $500,000 last year to his alma mater, National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu, for new campus facilities. Four years ago created an endowment with his nearly $4 million stake in ZyXEL to finance the school’s advanced research and development in mobile communications. Also funds scholarships to the university and for other students at the region’s colleges, middle and elementary schools. Born into a family of 12 children in Hsinchu, he says education was his only ticket out of poverty, so he’s devoted his charity work to education causes.
I-Shou Lin, 73
FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, E UNITED GROUP
Set up a $2 million relief fund for victims of explosions in Kaohsiung last year. The blasts, caused by gas leaks, claimed 32 lives and injured more than 300 in 2 days. Previously donated $3 million to China after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and $350,000 to the rescue fund after the Morakot typhoon in 2009. Helped fund the Minimally Invasive Surgery Training Center at National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, which opened in 2007. After growing up in a poor farming family in Taichung, he and his elder brother started a fabric business. He later made a fortune from the island’s property boom before tapping into the steel industry in the 1980s.
Robert Tsai, 53
CHAIRMAN, SWANCOR IND. CO.
In June he made the first large donation to a relief fund ($330,000) after highly flammable corn starch powder–used to spray on partygoers–exploded during a party at a water park near Taipei. The fire killed 11 people and injured 500. To cover medical bills for the burn victims, who are mostly in their 20s, the private sector has contributed more than $33 million. He previously gave $330,000 for the construction of a new lab for his alma mater, National Tsing Hua University. Born into a poor farming family in central Taiwan, he built a leading manufacturer of specialty chemicals.
Philipp Graf von Hardenberg, 57
FOUNDER, CHILDREN’S WORLD ACADEMY
Helped establish a school serving orphans–the Yaowawit School–and a supporting foundation–the Children’s World Academy–after the Asian tsunami at the end of 2004. A decade later the school in Kapong continues to educate underprivileged children in southern Thailand. The German native worked for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation and now runs the Thanyapura sports facility in Phuket but continues to advocate for Thailand’s children; more than $5 million has been raised for the school.
Anchalika Kijkanakorn, 44
MANAGING DIRECTOR, AKARYN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT SERVICES
Formed the Pure Blue Foundation in 2010 to ground her hotel properties in environmental conservation and community service. Guests can support programs with a small daily contribution, and each resort raises money for local projects; in Phuket, Pure Blue has boosted turtle conservation, while in agricultural areas it supports farming initiatives.
Thanong Leeissaranukul, 55
PRESIDENT, SITTIPOL GROUP
A member of the group’s founding family, he’s spearheaded the “Spare Human Parts” campaign to change Thais’ ideas about organ donation. In the 7 years of the project, the number of people issued organ donor cards by the Thai Red Cross has more than tripled, to 700,000. At auto parts maker Sittipol 1919, where he’s managing director, 30% of the profits–at least $3.3 million a year–go to assist the physically and mentally disabled and teachers in the war-torn southern provinces, as well as the Spare Human Parts campaign and other causes. Any of the group’s 20,000 employees can apply for funding for books, equipment or other help for their hometown schools.
Shu-Ching Jean Chen
Sunshine Lichauco de Leon
Neerja Pawha Jetley
2015 © Forbes.com
August 26, 2015
Categories: Forbes Asia 5