Joseph Lau Luen-hung
One of the richest men in Asia, Joseph Lau Luen-hung is known for buying lavish assets such as yachts, jets and diamonds. Fortunately, he is also prepared to lavishly give some of his fortune to charitable causes.
Lau is a Hong Kong real estate investor who owns the majority stake in Chinese Estates Holdings. His fortune was estimated at $10.3 billion by Forbes at the end of 2015.
Lau, who was born in 1951, started the real estate business after attending the University of Windsor and Santa Clara University. He owns an Eaton Square home of £33 in the UK, he loves to sail into the sunset on his Sunseeker yacht and he flies in his own Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Furthermore, Lau loves to indulge in expensive art, such as Paul Gauguin’s “Te Poipoi” worth $39.2 million. He also boasts a red wine collection of 10,000 bottles and a large diamond collection, including two large and rare coloured diamonds he bought for $77 million in 2015.
The extravagant billionaire suffered a setback in 2014 when he was sentenced in Macau to five years in prison for bribery. He has however never set foot in jail, because Hong Kong doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Macau.
Instead, Lau is continuing to jetset around the world, while his philanthropic causes are continuing to benefit from his generous spirit through the Joseph Lau Luen-hung Charitable Trust.
In September 2011, the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) received a donation of HK$125 million (about $16.2 million) from the Joseph Lau Luen-hung Charitable Trust to set up student awards and bursaries for underprivileged students. A part of the money would also be used for strategic initiatives and other innovative projects. It was the largest donation ever to CityU.
The Hong Kong Institute of Education announced in 2010 that it will receive HK$20 million (about $2.5 million) from the Joseph Lau Luen-hung Charitable Trust in support of the institute’s strategic expansion in academic, research and student development. The institute said the donation will go to their Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change together with the establishment of an endowed chair in the field of educational leadership.
At the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) around 300 students have received a Joseph Lau Luen-hung Charitable Trust scholarship since its launch in 2003. The scholarships aim to attract outstanding students to enroll in the undergraduate programs of HKUST.
Lau’s son Ming-wai, who is now chairman of Chinese Estates Holdings, has the same philanthropic attitude as his father and is increasingly becoming the face of the Joseph Lau Luen-hung Charitable Trust.
Lau Ming-wai received an honorary doctorate from the Hong Kong Institute of Education in November 2014. The citation read “those who have met Mr. Lau cannot help but be impressed by not only his formidable intellect and leadership skills, but also by his unassuming personality and thoughtful presence. Once people become acquainted with him, and learn about his active involvement in philanthropic causes, they are struck by his charitable nature and humble dedication to the welfare of people from a broad spectrum of society”.
One of the most notable donations made by the Joseph Lau Luen-hung Charitable Trust through Lau Ming-wai, was the record amount of £6 million to King’s College London in 2012 to foster research into Chinese affairs. Lau Ming-way made the donation to fund the appointment of senior academic staff members at the China Institute, which was renamed the Lau China Institute.
The Laus were lauded for their firm commitment to the future of education, as well as their devotion to the welfare of young children, such as those left behind in rural areas of mainland China while their parents move to towns and cities in search of jobs. Lau Ming-way heard about the situation and donated RMB5million for the establishment of 250 homes for stay-behind-children to give them a safe environment and sufficient facilities to stay and learn in. Close to 100,000 children benefited from the program.
Following the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, Chinese Estates Holdings donated much-needed funds toward relief work. Lau Ming-way is however also prepared to give up some of his own valuable time for causes he believes in. An example is his passion for the Hong Kong Spirit Ambassador Program, of which he was a founding member in 2010. The program aims at promoting a culture of pro-activity and optimism in society, and affirming the positive aspects of Hong Kong’s identity.
Joseph Lau Luen-hung therefore seems to have made sure that his charitable trust is in good hands and will keep going long after he is gone.
Wu, Christina. (2011, September 23). HK$125 million gift from Joseph Lau Luen-hung Charitable Trust. Retrieved from http://wikisites.cityu.edu.hk/sites/newscentre/en/Pages/201109231900.aspx
Sito, Penny. (2015, November 13). Fugitive tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung sells Hong Kong office tower for record HK$12.5bn a day after buying US$48m diamond. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from http://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/1878427/fugitive-tycoon-joseph-lau-luen-hung-sells-hong-kong-office?page=all
HKIEd to Receive HK$20 Million Donation from The Joseph Lau Luen Hung Charitable Trust. (2010, March 29). Retrieved from https://www.ied.edu.hk/web/news.php?id=20100329b
Mr. Lau Ming Wai Visited HKUST to Meet with Recipients of The Joseph Lau Luen Hung Charitable Trust Scholarships. (2015, April 28). Retrieved from http://giving.ust.hk/en/news_details.php?id=85
Lau Ming-way doctorate citation. Retrieved from http://www.ied.edu.hk/reg/congregation/2013-14/en/doc/Citation_Lau_Eng.pdf
Tycoon’s son gives £6m to UK university. (2010, February 21). Retrieved from http://www.gnosis.com.sg/asia-philanthropy/china/tycoons-son-gives-6m-to-uk-university/