Wilmar, its chairman giving $7m to ST pocket money fund

Sum, to be donated over next 3 years, is biggest contribution fund has received

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund beneficiaries at a charity night in celebration of Perennial Real Estate Holdings' 10th anniversary and The Capitol Kempinski Hotel's first anniversary on Dec 6 last year. About 10,000 students from low-inco
The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund beneficiaries at a charity night in celebration of Perennial Real Estate Holdings' 10th anniversary and The Capitol Kempinski Hotel's first anniversary on Dec 6 last year. About 10,000 students from low-income families receive school pocket money yearly from the fund. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES SCHOOL POCKET MONEY FUND

Agribusiness group Wilmar International and its chairman and chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong will be donating a total of $7 million to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) over the next three years.

The company, which is donating $4 million, will put up $2 million this year and $1 million each for the next two years, while Mr Kuok, who is donating $3 million in total, will contribute $1 million a year.

The combined $7 million, over three years, is the biggest contribution that STSPMF has received.

The donation will go towards providing school pocket money for primary, secondary and post-secondary students from low-income families. About 10,000 students receive such help yearly.

Wilmar's business activities include oil palm cultivation, oilseed crushing, edible oils refining, sugar milling and refining and manufacturing of consumer products.

The Singapore company has more than 500 manufacturing plants and an extensive distribution network covering China, India, Indonesia and about 50 other countries and regions.

A senior management member at Wilmar said the company and Mr Kuok, 71, have been actively supporting children and education in China through donations to universities and the building of orphanages and schools.

"Children are the future pillars of society and education is the best way to help them break the poverty cycle," he said.

Mr Warren Fernandez, chairman of STSPMF and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said: "We are most grateful to Mr Kuok and Wilmar for this extremely generous donation, so crucial at this very difficult time for everyone."

Mr Fernandez, who is also editor of The Straits Times, added: "The commitment to contribute over the next three years will enable us to keep up our efforts to help the children and their families, and also allow us to see how else we can do so.

"It is very heartening to see our business leaders and companies stepping forward to help at this critical time, and I hope many others will consider doing so, to support the work of many groups which are doing their part to keep our society together through this crisis."

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund beneficiaries at a charity night in celebration of Perennial Real Estate Holdings' 10th anniversary and The Capitol Kempinski Hotel's first anniversary on Dec 6 last year. About 10,000 students from low-inco
Mr Kuok Khoon Hong, chairman and chief executive of agribusiness group Wilmar International, is donating $3 million while his company is giving $4 million. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

STSPMF, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, has helped more than 170,000 children and disbursed about $70 million of school pocket money since 2000.

In view of the Covid-19 situation, it also recently gave all beneficiaries an additional $50 each on top of their usual school pocket money.

In addition, STSPMF partnered with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to pledge to continue to provide meal subsidies for more than 47,000 primary and secondary school students from low-income families over the month-long school break that began on May 5.

The fund committed up to $2 million, with MOE matching every dollar distributed, to ensure the students continue to receive financial support for meals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2020, with the headline 'Wilmar, its chairman giving $7m to ST pocket money fund'. Subscribe