4 S'poreans lauded by Forbes for philanthropy

SINGAPORE - A former stockbroker turned Valencia football club owner, a property tycoon who is an active Chinese community leader, an eminent statistician, and a billionaire who made his fortune in paint.


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Here is the media statement from Forbes Asia:

FORBES ASIA'S HEROES OF PHILANTHROPY LIST HIGHLIGHTS EFFORTS OF 48 GIVERS

SINGAPORE - Forbes Asia today announced its latest annual Heroes of Philanthropy list, highlighting 48 of the Asia-Pacific region's notable philanthropists. The honorees ranged from billionaires with expansive visions of how best to help society to less well-known business people whose generosity is also leaving a huge mark. The list pays tribute to these leading givers, four each from 12 markets across the Asia-Pacific region. The full list can be found in the July issue of Forbes Asia as well as at www.forbes.com/altruists.

In Australia, billionaires Andrew Forrest and James Packer are channeling their wealth into good causes. Mining magnate Forrest donated US$62 million to Western Australia's five universities last October to fund scholarships and a residential college. The 46-year old casino operator James Packer established the $56 million Sydney Arts Fund in November following government approval for his $2 billion casino resort at the Sydney Harbour. Half the funding will go to arts group in Sydney's poor, western suburbs.

HNA Group's Chen Feng and Ningxi Baofeng Energy Group's Dang Yanbao of China are focused on helping youth. Feng donated $1.6 million last year to the UN World Food Programme to feed girls attending school in Ghana. Yanbao pledged $186 million last year to help university-bound students in his native Ningxia region of northwestern China. In Hong Kong, 65-year old Nellie Fong, the founder of Lifeline Express and former Chairman for China at PricewaterhouseCoopers, started an eye hospital on a train in 1997.

Her project has grown beyond conducting cataract operations in rural China to doctor training and building a network of clinics. Robert W. Miller, co-founder of Duty Free Shopping, pledged $13 million this May to the Asia Society Hong Kong Center to promote the arts.

Rohini Nilekani from India has given roughly US$40 million over the years. She set up Arghyam, which supports projects to protect groundwater and improve sanitation in India. She has also donated funds raised from the sale of her Infosys shares to causes such as improving the quality of India's laws and preserving biodiversity. Ajay Piramal, Chairman of Piramal Enterprises, has also set up a foundation that operates water-filtration plants and vending machines for selling clean water in bulk at a low cost.

Healthcare and education remained the focus of some other honorees. In Indonesia, 62-year old Tahir, Chairman of Mayapada Group, persuaded eight other local tycoons to each give $5 million to the Indonesia Health Fund, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The aim is to raise $100 million to fight tuberculosis and expand familyplanning programs.

Triputra Group's Theodore Rachmat supports scholarship programs at 17 major colleges and universities in Indonesia through his family's A&A Rachmat Compassionate Service Foundation. He also funds 32 medical clinics that have provided affordable care to 698,000 patients around the country.

Japan's Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, plans to give away much of his $7.7 billion online retailing fortune to raise the standard of English in Japan. Another notable giver is Tetsuro Funai, who started the Red Sox US-Japan Youth Baseball Exchange with the Red Sox Foundation in 2008. Each year Japanese teenagers visit Boston or Boston youths visit Japan for 12 days and learn about a different culture via their love of baseball. Malaysia's Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary has donated $500 million to help those devastated by natural disasters in Asia and elsewhere. Beneficiaries have included refugees in Pakistan, orphanages in Guinea and rehabilitation programs for disaster victims in China, Indonesia and Iran. Meanwhile, Anthony Fernandes' AirAsia Foundation has raised more than $2 million for survivors of November's Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to rebuild housing and help people start convenience stores in their homes.

Doing his part in providing disaster relief is Enrique Razon Jr., Chairman and CEO of International Container Terminal Services in the Philippines, whose charity work includes rebuilding Tacloban's airport and moving relief supplies through the seaport. His companies have put up $5.7 million for a hospital building. His ICTSI Foundation is also repairing five day care centers in storm-wracked Samar Province. Singapore billionaire Peter Lim endowed the Peter Lim Professorship in Peace Studies with a $2.4 million donation, while Chua Thian Poh has donated at least $10 million towards college-level education in the city-state since 2008.

South Korean Olympic figure skater and celebrity, 23-year old Kim Yuna, is also making an impact. She started her philanthropy in 2007 when she first reached stardom and has given a total of $2.4 million to causes ranging from relief for victims of Typhoon Haiyan and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. After the Sewol ferry tragedy, she donated $100,000 to UNICEF to support survivors and victims' families. Meanwhile, Mirae Corp.'s Jeong Mun-Sul gave KAIST, formerly the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, $21 million to conduct brain science research and develop academic talent.

Taiwanese Samuel Yin, Chairman of Ruentex Group, donated $14.6 million last year to Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang-Ming University for developing medical talent, and $4 million to help the government promote Taiwanese culture abroad. He has also dedicated $100 million to establish the Tang Prizes, which recognise leaders in sustainable engineering, biotechnology and Han Chinese studies.

In Thailand, Tipaporn Chearavanont, daughter of Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, helped start the Buddharaksa Foundation, which refurbishes orphanages, provides children with scholarships and contributes to the maintenance and education of Buddhist clergy. Her Magnolia Quality property company sponsors environmental-protection activities and hands out the iCARE award to social enterprise projects that promote communal care and social awareness.

Boonchai Bencharongkul, on the other hand, built the $8.4 million, six-story Museum of Contemporary Art, Thailand's largest privately funded museum. It opened in 2012 and boasts the largest permanent display of contemporary Thai art.

More on the 48 philanthropists and other related stories can be found in the July issue of Forbes Asia, now on newsstands. For more information, visit www.forbes.com/altruists.