Jonathan Choi Koon Shum
Jonathan Choi widely acknowledged for outstanding philanthropy
As chairman of the Hong-Kong based Sunwah Group, Jonathan Choi Koon-shum is a successful and respected business leader who is also deeply committed to philanthropy, particularly in the fields of education and technological development.
Under Choi’s leadership the Sunwah Group grew from humble beginnings in seafood processing to a multinational corporation with investments in real estate, financial services, technology, media and infrastructure.
Born in Macau, Choi moved to Hong Kong with his family when he was three years old. After school he went to Japan to study the humanities, but was called back by his father to assist in managing the growing seafood business.
Although Choi started from the lowest echelon of the family business, he worked himself up quickly until he was instrumental in the diversification of the Sunwah Group. It now has more than 100 subsidiaries spread all over the world.
Despite dealing with the challenges of a growing business, Choi made time to contribute to the business community by serving within key economic institutions and committees in China. He also kept close ties with the community at large. As a result, the charitable Sunwah Foundation was established to direct many philanthropic donations in the areas of education, technology and the arts. So far, the foundation has donated around $25 million to charitable causes.
Not long after their business success started in the 1970s, the Choi family went back to their hometowns of Zhongshan and Macau to provide financial support for the establishment of kindergartens, primary schools and colleges.
Over the years, Sunwah expanded its education funding, providing support such as scholarships to financially less privileged students in mainland China and elsewhere. Choi, who is the recipient of various honorary doctorates, helped establish educational foundations to acknowledge great teachers and students at various universities in Hong Kong and mainland China.
Academic institutions benefiting from Sunwah donations, include the Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School (HK$17.8 million), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Development Fund (HK$15 million), St Paul’s Co-educational College (HK$1.25 million), Guangdong Sun Wah Education Institute (RMB10 million), and the Xin Hua Secondary College and Evening College in Macau (HK$14 million).
With Chinese art and culture entering the spotlight with the rise of the Mainland economy and the globalization of Chinese business, Sunwah made key donations to universities to establish art galleries, museums and seminar halls. These include the Choi Koon Shum Art Museum at Nanjing University and the Choi Koon Shum Centre for International Art Distance Exchange at Shanghai University.
But not only mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong have benefited from Choi’s generous spirit. Over the years, the Sunwah Foundation made donations to various charities and launched a series of projects in education, arts and culture as well as international exchanges in Vietnam.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary of doing business in Vietnam, Sunwah sponsored two important art exhibitions in conjunction with two prominent national museums. In 2011 the foundation set up the Sunwah-ULIS Chinese Language Centre with the University of Languages and International Studies within the Hanoi National University. The center aims to encourage more Vietnamese students to study Chinese and to improve the curriculum and facilities of teaching the Chinese language.
On the cultural front, Sunwah played an instrumental role in the establishment of a permanent site for the Hong Kong Shaolin Wushu Culture Centre, which educates and trains young people in the art of Shaoling kungfu and its philosophy, thereby helping to build a healthy body and mind. Choi donated more than HK$4 million to the development as well as facilitating donations from other donors.
In 2006, the University of Macau named a campus building after Choi in recognition of his longstanding support, including a donation of HK$5 million for its further development. The Choi Kai Yau Building houses lecture halls, science laboratories and computer rooms.
For his exemplary public and community service over the years, Choi has been awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star, the Bronze Bauhinia Star and Justice of the Peace by the Hong Kong government.
Professor Wong Yiu-chung from the Lingnan University maybe summed Choi’s contribution up best in his citation for the philanthropist’s honorary doctorate:
“For more than three decades, Dr Choi has played an important triple role of entrepreneur, philanthropist and non-official ambassador for Hong Kong and mainland China. It is this triple role that marks out Dr Choi’s remarkable career. He gauges the situation well, evolves with the times, and seizes the moment whenever opportunities arise for him to make contributions.”