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July 22, 2017

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Evergreen founder to donate entire fortune

Philanthropist Chang Yung-fa (張榮發), the founder and chairman of the Evergreen Group (長榮集團), pledged yesterday to give away all his wealth, approximately NT$50 billion (over US$1.69 billion), primarily via the Chang Yung-fa Foundation.

A 2011 Forbes estimate put his net worth at NT$50 billion.

Evergreen's billionaire founder, 84, told local media that he is worried about the increasing poverty in Taiwan, and encouraged everyone to chip in for charity. A life punctuated with charitable endeavors and good works can be sublime, Chang said.

"I will give the total amount of my money to charitable causes. My children have shares in stock holdings to sustain themselves, and if they want more they have to earn it through hard work," Chang said.

In a new oral autobiography, Chang chronicles his firm dedication to philanthropy and view that corporation responsibility should give back to the society.

The Chang Yung-fa Foundation, established in 1985, has set up a charity network through which each year more than 1,000 donations, totaling tens of millions of New Taiwan dollars, are given for medical aid, emergency relief, funeral subsidies and other charitable purposes.

Firm Believer of Karma

Chang said he is a firm believer in karma and that money comes around and goes around, so fortune is not something that will stay.

"My charitable endeavors are the fountain of my joy. It allows me to sleep better at night knowing that I have made a positive impact," Chang said. "And my career successes this life are the legacy of the good I sowed last life, so I need to humbly assume more responsibilities."

Chang touched on a mix of causes that include education, and his recent support for the so-called "1992 Consensus." Chang stressed the difference between charity a quick solution; and philanthropy, a systemic change to long-term problems.

"I will quietly do what I believe is right under the radar. My foundation will carry on the charitable work even after my death."

The self-made billionaire who built his empire from the ground up encouraged youth to follow his success story, and continuously reflect and refine on their life. And most importantly, "always do good, or at the minimum don't do any harm."

Wealth Gap Widens in Taiwan

As the wealth gap widens in Taiwan, more and more entrepreneurs, such as tycoon Terry Gou (郭台銘), who leads Hon Hai Precision and Wowprime Chairman Steve Day (戴勝益), have vowed to do more for charity. Their efforts should not only be viewed as an providing entitlements for the underprivileged, but rather as a movement to jump-start the motion of good will, and for society to follow suit.

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