‘It’s about making society better’

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 17 Nov 2016

MALACCA: Philanthropy is about making society better.

It is not just about giving money and time to the less privileged, but also about mobilising resources in a society for a great cause and even having the courage to close down a business that does more harm than good to the community.

Such were the observations made by the speakers during a panel on “Asian Family Business and Corporate Philanthropy” at the two-day World Chinese Economic Summit (WCES) here.

Sharing the story of her grandfather, BarterXchange (S) Pte Ltd chairman Dr Lee Oi Kum (pic left) said philanthropy back then was to send money back to their clansmen in mainland China.

Her grandfather also decided to end his profitable gambling den when he saw how families suffered.

“There were weeping women, suicide cases and families left with no food because the major money earners were gambling away.

“The realisation hit him and he closed down the gambling den. To me, by not doing something that you believe is not right is a great philanthropic act without putting money in,” Dr Lee said.

Asian Australian Foundation chair and founder Cheri Ong said an important part of philanthropy is using the resources within a society to give back to the community.

“In Australia, there are 54,000 registered charities contributing 8% to the GDP.

“For businesses, it is a terrific platform to connect with the community, build their brand and make a change,” she said.

On engaging the millennials in philanthropy work, Ong said the younger generation has a desire to give back and is not impressed by money and title.

“If you are running a business, philanthropy can be the platform for building leadership and performance with purpose,” she said.

Datuk Jannie Chan, senior adviser and co-founder of The Hour Glass Ltd and moderator of the panel, said the millennials give their time and not money.

“If you want to give, there are many areas of giving,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tungling Group chairman Tan Sri Tan Koon Swan (pic right) observed that philanthropy has evolved from just giving to the poor to educating people for them to have the skills for a better life, and to establishing social enterprises to raise the standard of living of all.

“We all cherish a peaceful world, but as much as we want it, the real world today is still full of inequality. Our country is still divided by race, religion and inequality.

“While we cannot solve the world problem, we can begin with ourselves. I challenge the young businessmen here today to always think that you can make this world a better place,” he said.

The WCES, now in its eighth edition, is organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) and co-organised by the Centre for China and Globalisation and the Centre for Law and Globalisation of Renmin University.

The summit, themed “China-Asean: Realising Opportunities, Strengthening Partnerships” this year, aimed to promote global and regional dialogue on the emergence of China as the world’s largest economy, to capitalise on China’s Belt and Road initiative, and to connect the global Chinese diaspora.

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