Happy birthday to Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, who officially turns into senior citizen today.
The property tycoon celebrates his 65th birth anniversary with a luncheon for winners of the Hang Lung Mathematics Awards, a biennial mathematics research competition for high school students.
Also having his birthday is Henry Cheng Kar-shun, another real estate magnate, who turns 68 today.
Both men are Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s cheerleaders, but they are also getting international attention for their generous philanthropic activities.
For this year, Chan and his younger brother Gerald made a donation of US$350 million to Harvard University’s School of Public Health.
According to global wealth intelligence firm Wealth-X, the amount is one of the 10 biggest single charitable donations for 2014. The Chan brothers were also the only non-Americans on the list, which was topped by Warren Buffett, who donated US$2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Chans’ grant, which is more than one-tenth of their combined wealth of US$3 billion, according to Forbes estimates, highlights the fact that Hong Kong billionaires are among the top benefactors of education and public health causes. It also shows how much they are willing to spend to build their public image.
Why Harvard School of Public Health? Because Gerald is an alumnus, and their mother was a nurse.
The donation was made through their family trust The Morningside Foundation. The Chans had agreed to give away the family wealth left by their late father Chen Tseng-hsi in the mid-80s.
After the Harvard donation, Ronnie made another grant of US$20 million to his alma mater, the University of South California.
Earlier, another tycoon, Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung of Hopewell Holdings, gave away US$100 million to his alma mater Princeton.
Such magnanimous endowments have raised some eyebrows locally. Why is it that our tycoons are donating huge amounts to foreign schools instead of giving them to educational institutions in Hong Kong and mainland China?
In this light, Cheng is probably more politically correct. The New World chairman donated HK$124 million to various local charities.
His donation, though, was marginally lower than the HK$125 million donated by the Kwok brothers of Sun Hung Kai Properties last year, according to data compiled by Apple Daily.
The same data showed that Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa donated a combined HK$42 million, without accounting for the tycoon’s personal donations.
These people know the secret to wealth, which is, as the Bible says, the more you give, the more you will receive.
That’s our advice for Jack Ma, who says he’s not really happy becoming China’s richest man at US$30 billion following the record-breaking IPO of his Alibaba Group.
There’s nothing that makes a person happier than making other people happy, especially as you grow older and wiser.
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