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Two Philanthropists Awarded with NTHU Honorary Alumni
Ms. Chen Shu-chu and Mr. Lee Kim Yew, one from Kaohsiung, Taiwan and the other from Malaysia were presented with the NTHU Honorary Alumni Award last June in two separate ceremonies to commemorate their respective philanthropic efforts that best exemplify NTHU’s motto, ie. “Self discipline and social commitment.”
 
On the evening of June 16, NTHU conferred an Honorary Alumni Award to Ms. Chen Shu-chu, widely acclaimed as a model of philanthropy. The conferral ceremony was held in Kaohsiung in conjunction with a meeting of NTHU alumni in southern Taiwan. The event was attended by over 150 members of the NTHU community who welcomed Chen with a standing ovation.
 
Chen was nominated by Professor Yang Rur-bin of the Department of Chinese Literature and Professor Tzeng Chyng-shyan of the Department of Life Science. The honorary alumni certificate was presented by President Hocheng Hong, and a lifetime alumni card was presented to Chen by Vice President and Chief of Staff Lyu Ping-chiang. Chen is the fourth person to receive this distinction.
 
Chen said that she only graduated from elementary school and was quite surprised to learn that NTHU would award an honorary alumni status to a simple vegetable seller like her. When Chen learned that there are more than 10,000 students at NTHU, she urged all of them to put aside NT$10 or 20 a day for future donation to a worthy cause. She also pointed out that you don't have to have lots of money to be a philanthropist and that helping people brings a special kind of inner happiness that encourages you to do even more. Chen also said that she is grateful for all the guidance she has received from her elementary school teachers.
 
President Hocheng said that Chen fully embodies NTHU’s school motto, “Self-discipline and social commitment,” and that her virtues are beyond mere words. He lauded her as “a person of character,” who has devoted herself to philanthropy for decades. He also said that what most people think of as great achievements are insignificant relative to her selfless generosity, adding that "I feel small in front of her." President Hocheng also pointed out that what Chen advocates is simple and clear, but not every one can do it, especially consistently over time, like Ms. Chen has.
 
Prof. Yang pointed out that of all the touching stories in the world, none quite matches that of Chen’s, whose simplicity and generosity have become legendary. He said that the key to her success has been to concentrate on a single undertaking, just like Mei Yi-chi did when he established NTHU in Taiwan; although their undertakings differed, their approach was the same. Yang also said that in addition to academic and economic success, NTHU should encourage the cultivation of character and wholesome values, an ideal shared by the leading educators in the East and West, and that Taiwan is very fortunate to have such a paragon of virtue as Ms. Chen.
 
Ms. Chen Shu-chu, a native of Taitung, Taiwan, was born in 1950. Upon completing elementary school at the age of 13 she started selling vegetables at a market in Taitung in order to support her family and to help her younger brother continue his education. For many decades she has been working six days a week, 18 hours a day, with utmost sincerity, integrity, and diligence, and no matter how much money she earns, she spends very little on herself, and donates most of her earnings to charity. Over the years she has donated more than NT$10 million to orphanages, schools, hospitals, and is planning to set up a charitable foundation. Her good deeds have received much attention at home and abroad.
 
When the Taiwanese film director Ang Lee heard about Chen he was so deeply touched that he recommended her to Time magazine for inclusion in its issue on the 100 most influential people in the world. In his nomination he states, “What's so wonderful about Chen's achievement is not its extraordinariness but that it is so simple and matter of fact in its generosity … of all she has given away, her greatest gift is her example.”
 
In 2010 she was selected by Forbes Asia as one of its 48 Heroes of Philanthropy, Time magazine ranked her as one of the top 100 influential individuals in the world, Reader’s Digest named her the fourth recipient of its Asian of the Year award, and the Ministry of Education awarded her its Education and Culture Medal. In 2012 she was awarded the Magsaysay Award. Despite all the acclaim, Chen maintains a simple lifestyle and a humble attitude. She said that her only reason for accepting an award is to inspire others to emulate her example.
 
On June 30th, NTHU awarded honorary alumnus status to Mr. Lee Kim Yew, a leader of the overseas Chinese community in Malaysia, for his outstanding philanthropic activities, including assisting Malaysian students to study at NTHU. The event was attended by Lee’s friend Ma Ying-jeou, the former President of the Republic of China.
 
Before attending the ceremony, Lee visited the Mei Memorial Garden on campus to pay his respects at the sepulcher of Mei Yi-chi, the first President of NTHU in Taiwan. He said that he is greatly honored to become an honorary alumnus of NTHU, and that if his mother were still alive, she would also be most pleased.
 
Lee believes that Chinese culture is founded on filial piety and fraternal love. Several years ago he established a scholarship at NTHU in honor of his mother, and now that he is an honorary alumnus he is hoping to do even more.
 
During the ceremony Lee announced that together with a number of other entrepreneurs he is planning to raise RM10 million (NT$75 million) to set up a student loan fund to help Malaysian students study at NTHU, with repayment terms based on a sliding scale. He is also planning to help NTHU promote preschool education, since early childhood education is the optimal period for cultivating a wholesome character.
 
President Hocheng Hong pointed out that, as a highly successful overseas Chinese businessman, Lee is in an excellent position for promoting traditional Chinese ethics. He said that Lee’s favorite maxim is "Without personal ethics, a business won’t succeed," and that its application has brought excellent results for Lee. As a result, in recent years Lee has been able to help lots of Malaysian students to expand their horizons by studying in Taiwan.
 
On Lee’s request, President Hocheng once gave a talk in Malaysia on the theme of NTHU’s motto, “Self-discipline and social commitment.” Lee said that if he had known about this motto earlier, he would have sent his son to study at NTHU rather than in England.
 
President Ma said that Lee has been crucial in promoting Chinese ethical culture overseas. He said that Lee once invited him to give a speech at Southern University College in Malaysia, and that Lee provided everyone who attended with a free copy of Wang Yangming's Record of Instructions. He said that he was very impressed, and expects that Lee’s becoming an honorary alumnus of NTHU will help to enhance Taiwan-Malaysia relations.
 
Lee is the founder and Chairman of the Country Heights Holdings Berhad group of companies. In order to recognize his outstanding contributions to society, the royal family of Malaysia has honored Lee with the title “Tan Sri,” the second most senior title at the federal level. Lee was only 41 years old when he received the title, making him the youngest Chinese-Malaysian to ever receive it.
 
In 2014 Lee donated NT$16 million to establish the Country Heights Filial Piety Scholarship, which supports outstanding students from Malaysia enrolled at NTHU. Every year the scholarship is awarded to ten students with excellent grades and exemplary character, and is open to students of any ethnicity, including Malays, Chinese, and Indians. The recipients receive NT$100,000 per year for up to 4 years, and so far the scholarship has benefited 31 students.
 
In November last year Lee visited our campus to meet with the current recipients of the scholarship. He received a standing ovation from the grateful Malaysian students, many of them said that without this scholarship they would have found it impossible to enroll at any college, let alone NTHU.
 
During the ceremony, Ong Huini, a second-year student of the Department of Chinese Literature, presented Lee with a bouquet of flowers to express her appreciation for the scholarship. She said that she first learned about the scholarship when she decided to apply to NTHU, and that after enrolling one of her seniors encouraged her to apply.
 
Ong said that she feels very fortunate to have been awarded the scholarship, thanks to which she can give full attention to her studies. She also said that Lee’s philanthropic spirit has made a strong impression on her and that she hopes to emulate his generosity after she graduates.
 
Lee was born in a poor rural family in 1955. After graduating from high school at the age of 17, he borrowed RM100 from his brother and went to Kuala Lumpur to make his way in the world. After stints in a printing company, an antique furniture store, and as a salesman, at the age of 20 he founded his own company, and by the age of 21 he had already earned his first million. Lee later made real estate the focus of his efforts, and eventually established a business empire in Malaysia.
 
Lee takes traditional Confucian ethics as his guide in life, and requires all of his employees to uphold the ethical principles laid out in the Confucian classic. He often says, “Seeing that filial piety is the foundation of virtue, if a person does not even respect his parents, how can you expect him to be loyal to the company?" For Lee, the essence of the Confucian tradition is encouraging goodness and rectifying evil, and that this is also the key to a happy life. This is why he named the scholarship the "Country Heights Filial Piety Scholarship."
 
NTHU conferred its Honorary Alumni Award to Ms. Chen Shu-chu.

NTHU conferred its Honorary Alumni Award to Ms. Chen Shu-chu.

NTHU President Hocheng Hong presenting the honorary alumni certificate to Ms. Chen.

NTHU President Hocheng Hong presenting the honorary alumni certificate to Ms. Chen.

Ms. Chen being escorted into the hall by Alumni Association President Hsieh Yong-Fen (left) and NTHU President Hocheng Hong (right).

Ms. Chen being escorted into the hall by Alumni Association President Hsieh Yong-Fen (left) and NTHU President Hocheng Hong (right).

Chen was nominated by Professor Yang Rur-bin (left) and Professor Tzeng Chyng-shyan.

Chen was nominated by Professor Yang Rur-bin (left) and Professor Tzeng Chyng-shyan.









Chen is the fourth person to receive Tsing Hua University’s Honorary Alumni Award.

Chen is the fourth person to receive Tsing Hua University’s Honorary Alumni Award.

Ms. Chen Shu-chu and NTHU President Hocheng Hong.

Ms. Chen Shu-chu and NTHU President Hocheng Hong.

Recipients of the Country Heights Filial Piety Scholarship offering Lee a bouquet of flowers as a token of appreciation.

Recipients of the Country Heights Filial Piety Scholarship offering Lee a bouquet of flowers as a token of appreciation.

NTHU President Hocheng (left) presenting Lee with the honorary alumnus certificate.

NTHU President Hocheng (left) presenting Lee with the honorary alumnus certificate.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou was on hand to congratulate Lee.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou was on hand to congratulate Lee.

Lee said that he is deeply honored to become an honorary alumnus of NTHU.

Lee said that he is deeply honored to become an honorary alumnus of NTHU.

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