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The Shaw Foundation, Singapore

"We make money from the public, we want to give the money back to the public. What is the best way to give money back to the public? So we think out the idea about Shaw Foundation."
- Tan Sri Runme Shaw, Pioneers of Singapore, Oral History

The Shaw Foundation in Singapore was set up in 1957 by the Shaw brothers with the overriding principle that wealth contributed by society should be returned and in generous measures. It is one of the largest philanthropic organisations in the world.

Funding comes from investments as well as various prime properties donated by the Shaws to the foundation. This includes the prime land housing Shaw Centre. All revenue collected from the 25 storey luxury office block have been given away to various charities since the late 70s.

Since its establishment the foundation has distributed over US$150 million to education, welfare, medicine, arts and heritage, including its latest donations to the National Kidney Foundation, the National University of Singapore and Singapore Repertory Theatre.

   
Shaw Foundation annual distribution of hong baos to the aged in the 60s and 90s

In 1948, Sir Run Run Shaw and Tan Sri Runme Shaw started the tradition of giving parcels and cash personally to the aged at Chinese New Year. Since then, the Shaw family members continue this tradition faithfully each year. Old folks in Malacca, KL, Ipoh and Penang would all be given bags of gifts at the same time as Singapore. The 'gift bag' would consist of 3kg of rice, 2 tins of milk, 1.2 kg of sugar, a towel and a red packet (which increased from $2 in 1960 to $50 in 1985 and then $100 in 2005).

   
Preparation of rice and towels as gifts for the aged

In Singapore, thousands of the aged would gather at New World Park for this event. In KL, a similar situation would occur at the Rex. Today, representatives from each of the old folks' homes would be hosted by the Shaws. The rest would be given their gifts by 'electronic crediting' into individual bank accounts. This action continues to benefit over 10 000 aged people annually.

In 1999, the Shaw Foundation set aside 17.7 million for its annual donation - the largest amount ever, since its inception in 1957.

The largest share went to the National Kidney Foundation, followed by the Community Chest and the NUS Endowment Fund. Next up were schools and colleges who benefited from the foundation for upgrading teaching facilities and buildings, while the Academy of Medicine and various hospitals and clinics benefited for medical equipment and research.

The Shaw Foundation, Hong Kong

"A person must satisfy himself. To make money - one satisfaction. To give money, another satisfaction. And whatever one can do to help."
- Sir Run Run Shaw, Choice Lifestyle, March 1990

The Hongkong Shaw Foundation was instituted in 1973 and up to date over US$390 million has been given to organisations around the world, including hospitals, educational institutions, academic scholarships, teacher training programmes, Save the Children Fund, food aid agencies, and homes for the elderly (including the Lady Shaw Home for the Elderly in San Francisco named after Sir Run Run's late Malaysian wife, Lily Shaw who died in 1987).

In 1984, Sir Run Run Shaw established the Blood Transfusion Centre under the charge of the Hong Kong Red Cross. The HKRC's Blood Transfusion Service continues to be the only institution for the collection, storage and delivery of blood in Hong Kong.

Over 50 universities in China including Inner Mongolia and Tibet have benefited directly from donations by the Hongkong Shaw Foundation. The Sir Run Run Shaw Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies has enabled hundreds of Chinese and Asian students to continue post graduate studies in American and British universities including Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge.

In 1994, the Institute for Chinese Studies was founded at Oxford University in the UK, following a 3 million benefaction from the foundation. The Institute serves as a focus for instruction, research and intellectual contact amongst all those with interests in China.

In September 1999, The Hong Kong Shaw Foundation sent relief funds of HK $25 million to help earthquake victims of Taiwan.

In Nov 2002, an international prize was established to honour scientists, regardless of race, nationality and religious belief, who have achieved significant breakthrough in academic and scientific research or application, and whose work has resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind. Managed and administered by The Shaw Foundation.

The Shaw Prize consists of three annual prizes: Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences, each prize bearing a monetary award of one million US dollars.


Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang, China

On Sept 7 2004, the first prizes were awarded to Professor P. James E. Peebles of Princeton University for his contribution to cosmology; Professor Stanley N. Cohen of Stanford University and Professor Herbert W. Boyer of University of California, San Francisco for their joint discoveries on DNA cloning; Professor Yuet-wai Kan, also of University of California, San Francisco, for his discoveries on DNA polymorphism and its influence on human genetics; Sir Richard Doll for his contribution to modern cancer epidemiology; and Professor Shiing-shen Chern of Nankai University for his initiation of the field of global differential geometry and his contribution to the development of mathematics in the last 60 years.

In order to praise for his charitable contribution, San Francisco of U.S. has named 8th September each year as the “Sir Run Run Shaw Day”.

 

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