Kuala Lumpur: Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China, announced that Malaysian billionaire philanthropist Robert Kuok had agreed to donate RM100 million to the Malaysian campus of Xiamen University for the development of its library building.
Tan Sri Ong, who is instrumental in helping Xiamen University to set up a campus in Putrajaya, the first for any Chinese university to do so, made the announcement at a grand welcome luncheon for Chinese President Xi Jinping on Oct 4.
In expressing his gratitude to Mr Kuok who flew in from Hong Kong to attend the luncheon, Tan Sri Ong recalled that some 92 years ago, philanthropist Tan Kah Kee who built a business empire in Malaya and Singapore, touched the Chinese community deeply when he used his entire fortune to set up Xiamen University which is today one of the top 20 in China.
“Mr Tan Kah Kee’s spirit and our sentiments with Xiamen University remain strong even today. And I am happy to say that Mr Kuok, a well respected Malaysian billionaire philanthropist, has rekindled the torch and kept it burning.
“I am also grateful to President Xi and the Chinese Government for making Malaysia their first choice to locate their first overseas university campus.”
He said the ancestors of most Malaysian Chinese came from the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan Island and contributed immensely in making multi-racial Malaysia what it is today through sheer hard work and perseverance.
“The Malaysian Chinese pay strong attention to tertiary education. We have nurtured many tri-lingual professionals who are playing key roles in our global economic system,” he said, adding that the setting up of Xiamen University campus not only meets education needs but is also an important milestone in bilateral relationship.
President Xi Jinping said he was happy to note that the Malaysian Chinese, while pursuing their own business interests, have contributed greatly to build a progressive and harmonious Malaysia in partnership with other races in this country.
He appealed to the Malaysian Chinese to promote greater co-operation between Malaysia and China in economy, science and technology, and culture and other fields, noting that without the contribution of the Chinese community, the excellent Malaysia-China relationship would not be what it is today.
Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, speaking at the Malaysia-China Economic Summit later, said he was particularly pleased that Malaysia was given the privilege of hosting the first Chinese university outside China as Malaysia positions itself as an international education hub.
He was thankful that a local company, Sunsuria, supported the project from the beginning, including facilitating the purchase of the land. “I wish to reassure them of our unwavering support in facilitating the approvals required for the university’s construction,” he added.
“With an investment of RM1.2 billion, the 150-acre Xiamen University campus will accommodate 10,000 students and mark another milestone in our bilateral co-operation in education.
“We can expect to attract more international students from China and the wider region, leveraging our strategic position – not just as a host of several branch campuses of other international and world class universities, but also within ASEAN.”
The welcome luncheon was jointly organized by Malaysia-China Business Council, Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia, The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia, Malaysia-China Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Malaysia-China Friendship Association, Malaysia’s Seven Major Clans Association and Malaysia’s Association Supporting One-China Policy. Tan Sri Ong who is the Organising Chairman of the event, is also the Chairman of Malaysia-China Business Council.
by Hoo Ban Khee