Evergreen Group (長榮集團) founder Chang Yung-fa (張榮發) said yesterday he would bequeath all the assets listed in his name to charities, and not his children, as a way of giving back to society and having his money perform good deeds long after his death.
The 84-year-old Chang, whose assets were valued at NT$47.4 billion (US$1.6 billion) by Forbes magazine last year, said that although he was not leaving his estate to his children, he still expected them to continue doing good deeds and extending a helping hand to the less fortunate.
During a tea party with reporters, Chang defined true wealth as being able to help people and give back to society.
“Money is something that should be circulated around the world and not enjoyed exclusively by one individual,” he said. “A lot of people think that earning a lot of money constitutes wealth. For me, working hard to earn a lot of money is certainly not a bad thing, but the happiness from earning a lot of money is fleeting because of the pain you feel when you lose it.”
“But if that money is used for good deeds, it’s wonderful to see people get back on their feet because of the help you’ve given. The happiness gained from doing a good deed always remains in your heart,” the tycoon said.
Chang also said that young people should depend less on their parents. They should fight for their future themselves and learn to shoulder responsibility.
Chang set up a foundation in 1985 with a focus on philanthropic efforts. Its assets are currently valued at about NT$13 billion and it spends about NT$400 million a month on charities and the free distribution of its Morals Monthly Digest.
Chang founded the magazine, which is distributed free of charge, in January 2008 in response to what he felt was the moral decline of Taiwanese society. The foundation originally planned for a circulation of 20,000 copies a month, but the monthly now boasts a circulation of 340,000 copies to readers in 31 countries.
When told that the publication’s circulation was outpacing its budget, Chang said he was not worried.
“It didn’t matter. So long as one or two out of the tens of thousands of people who read it had their lives changed, it was well worth it,” he said.
Numerous prison inmates have written articles for the digest and 28 prisons now receive more than 1,000 copies of the magazine, the Evergreen Group chairman said.
Chang plans to visit the 47 prisons nationwide in an effort to promote the magazine, according to the foundation. He will also have his Evergreen Symphony Orchestra tour the prisons to soothe the souls of the inmates. The foundation said the symphony orchestra plans to arrange six performances at prisons this year.
Chang, a devout follower of I-Kuan Tao (一貫道), a religious movement that incorporates elements from Confucianism, Taoism and Chinese Buddhism, as well as recognizing the validity of non-Chinese religious traditions such as Christianity and Islam, has one daughter and four sons.