Malaysia tycoon donates $67m

A Washington Post report portrayed the philanthropic side of Mr Low Taek Jho, adding that the 33-year-old has donated several millions of dollars to causes like the United Nations' news service, a conservation fund, the National Geographic and the Ch
A Washington Post report portrayed the philanthropic side of Mr Low Taek Jho, adding that the 33-year-old has donated several millions of dollars to causes like the United Nations' news service, a conservation fund, the National Geographic and the Children's National Medical Centre.PHOTO: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Businessman linked to 1MDB case gives to US cancer project, saying it was made after health scare

Washington - Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho has donated US$50 million (S$67 million) to a United States project that is working to turn a supercomputer into a cancer expert able to analyse patients' questions about their condition.

The project is located at the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Centre, the tycoon told the Washington Post newspaper in an interview.

The 33-year-old, also known as Jho Low, said it was his biggest donation yet, and it was made because he had a cancer scare and his grandfather had died of leukaemia.

The report, which said Mr Low had given millions of dollars to causes in the last two years, projected the philanthropic and softer side of the businessman, known in Malaysia for his alleged links to debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Low, it said, has donated US$25 million to save the struggling United Nations' news service, US$20 million to a conservation fund, US$5 million to National Geographic and US$1 million to the Children's National Medical Centre.

"Low says he expects to announce another major donation some time in 2015, so stay tuned," the Post said.

The interview did not touch on any matters related to 1MDB, the controversial issue in Malaysia associated with Mr Low, despite his repeated denials of any official link to the fund.

Instead, he was asked about his family and philanthropic work.

He said he turned his attention to charity work and started the Jynwel Foundation in 2012, after a cancer scare during a medical check-up in Switzerland when he was 30.

"I remember going into this room and the doctor looking really concerned. The doctor told me I was likely to have stage-three lung cancer," he said.

"This was the first time I felt a sense of hopelessness. I don't smoke any cigarettes. I smoke maybe a cigar every month or less. My family doesn't have a history of smokers."

He then went to MD Anderson Cancer Centre and was told that he had an infection, not cancer.

"I felt this was a clear sign that the next phase of my life needed to be different, and I decided I was going to spend the same amount of effort and thought on building the Jynwel Foundation as I had in my investments," he told the Post.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Malaysia tycoon donates $67m'. Print Edition | Subscribe