Coronavirus: Indonesian tycoon donates $500,000 to underprivileged households here

Indonesian billionaire and philanthropist Dr Tahir speaks to reporters from Singapore Press Holdings in a Zoom interview on April 6, 2020.
Indonesian billionaire and philanthropist Dr Tahir speaks to reporters from Singapore Press Holdings in a Zoom interview on April 6, 2020.ST PHOTO: JOLENE ANG

SINGAPORE - An Indonesian tycoon and philanthropist, Dr Tahir, has donated $500,000 to help needy individuals and families who are affected by Covid-19 in Singapore.

The monies have been given to Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group, which will work with community development councils here to identify recipients and disburse funds.

Dr Tahir, 68, who goes by a single name and is a permanent resident here, is the founder of the Mayapada Group, one of Indonesia's biggest conglomerates with businesses in financial services, healthcare and real estate.

In a Zoom interview with reporters on Monday (April 6), he said he has been reading print Chinese newspapers Lianhe Zaobao, Wanbao and Shin Min every day since serving a 14-day quarantine at his house in Sentosa Cove.

He had gone back to Indonesia last month to attend a wake, and his quarantine ends on Thursday.

"Newspapers are the most important food for me, which have inspired me. In Singapore, the weaker groups need help. And I thought, since I'm doing okay, why not use this opportunity to contribute a little bit?

"The Singapore Government has done well, and done so much. But I've had a strange observation - I don't see Singaporean businessmen or tycoons responding, at least not yet.

"So I hope that a small donation from a Singapore PR will encourage them to also participate.

"(Fighting the coronavirus) is a combined government and public job. Everyone has an obligation and responsibility to participate."

He said he has also made similar donations in Indonesia and China, and will be monitoring the situation and giving more accordingly.

In Indonesia, he has been helping taxi drivers and mosques, with a first round of funds amounting to US$3.2 million (S$4.6 million), while in China, he has sent some equipment to cities in Fujian province, as well as Beijing.

 
 

"This morning, I also told my daughter, in all our buildings in Jakarta, we will offer 1,000 free meal boxes every day from Monday to Friday for three months. Anybody can take it. We are also giving business to micro-businesses as well, to provide the meal boxes.

"But this is not a time where you calculate how much money you donate. The fight with the coronavirus is like another world war. You fight, but you can't see where the enemy is.

"This is the time for us to give back, even if it's just a little bit."