The 10 richest billionaires on Asia’s Most Influential list are channelling their immense resources toward building a better world
The release of the Forbes Billionaire List is not just a ranking of net worth but also an opportunity to see how the world’s richest are using their unparalleled resources to build a better world. The 10 richest billionaires on Asia’s Most Influential 2021 list are establishing non-profit hospitals, supporting higher education, endowing prizes that honour mankind and investing in the one thing more important than wealth: people.
1. Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong, US$34.8 billion
No. 37 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing is the richest billionaire on Asia’s Most Influential list. His US$34.8-billion fortune traces its roots in plastic flowers and then grew into the diversified conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings, which has interests in ports services, retail, infrastructure, telecommunications and investments. Now retired, the 93-year-old has pledged to give away a third of his wealth. His Li Ka Shing Foundation has invested more than HK$20 billion (US$2.55 billion) in education and healthcare.
2. Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong, US$32.6 billion
No. 39 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Lee Shau Kee’s net worth of US$32.6 billion is derived mainly from Henderson Land Development. The 94-year-old real estate tycoon, who handed the reins of his company to his sons in 2019, supports education, donating HK$500 million (about US$63.8 million) to the University of Hong Kong, HK$400 million (US$51.04 million) to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and HK$50 million (US$6.38 million) to The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
3. Michael Hartono, Indonesia, US$22.3 billion
No. 69 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Michael Hartono, the second-richest person in Indonesia, grew his present wealth from two sources: Bank Central Asia, considered the largest private-owned bank in the country, and clove cigarette company Djarum. In Indonesia, the banking giant is surpassed only by his brother, R. Budi Hartono, who is five spots above him on the Forbes Billionaire List. The brothers are involved in the Djarum Foundation, which supports sports, environment, education, culture and social causes.
4. Li Xiting, Singapore, US$17.6 billion
No. 94 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Li Xiting, the richest person in Singapore, is the founder of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, which has been supplying medical devices, including ventilators, since the start of the pandemic. While the demand for medical equipment has seen his wealth rise in 2020, he has also donated US$4.6 million worth of medical devices to hospitals in Wuhan, China, northern Italy and other places hard hit by the pandemic.
5. Peter Woo, Hong Kong, US$17 billion
No. 100 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Peter Woo retired from Wheelock & Co., the property giant that also has interests in telecommunication, ports and retail, in 2015. The former chairman is involved with Project WeCan, his philanthropic initiative that provides underprivileged children with opportunities for higher studies and future careers.
6. Robert and Philip Ng, Singapore, US$13.7 billion
No. 133 on the Forbes Billionaire List
As leaders of the Far East Organization (FEO), Singapore's largest privately held landlord and property developer, brothers Robert and Philip Ng jointly hold the 133rd spot on the Forbes Billionaire List with a net worth of US$13.7 billion. Robert oversees the company’s operations in Hong Kong under Sino Group, while Philip heads interests in Singapore. In Singapore, FEO launched several community initiatives, including Bless Our City which supports organisations’ work with ex-offenders, people with mental health issues, those with special needs, migrant workers and vulnerable individuals and families.
7. Goh Cheng Liang, Singapore, US$12.1 billion
No. 154 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Goh Cheng Liang’s Wuthelam Holdings closed a US$12 billion deal with Nippon Paint Holdings, giving the industrialist a majority stake in the company, the fourth-largest paint manufacturer in the world and the largest in Asia. Apart from being an astute businessman, he is also a philanthropist who has donated SG$50 million (about US$36.68 million) to the National Cancer Centre Singapore for medical research.
8. Robert Kuok, Malaysia, US$11.7 billion
No. 163 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Tan Sri Robert Kuok, the richest person in Malaysia, founded the Kuok Group, which has operations across territories and in various sectors, including agriculture, real estate, freight and logistics and hospitality—he established Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in 1971. He provides scholarships and grants and promotes scientific research through his Kuok Foundation and established non-profit hospitals, rehabilitation centres and shelters. At 98 years old, he is the oldest billionaire on this list.
8. Zhang Congyuan, Taiwan, US$11.7 billion
No. 163 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Zhang Congyuan, the richest person in Taiwan, built his US$11.7-billion fortune producing shoes on a pig farm. The newcomer to the Three Comma Club is the founder of Huali Industrial Group Company Limited, the world’s second-largest sports shoe manufacturer. Producing over 180 million pairs of shoes a year, Huali supplies mega brands such as Nike, Converse, Vans, Puma and more. His company implements people-centric programmes, including teaching employees’ children English, football and other skills, promoting female health knowledge via the Her Project, and equipping water purification facilities for schools in remote areas.
10. Lui Che-woo, Hong Kong, US$11.6 billion
No. 166 on the Forbes Billionaire List
Lui Che-woo, the chairman of both property empire K Wah Group and top gaming operator Galaxy Entertainment Group, channels his wealth toward building a better world. In 2015, he launched the Lui Che Woo Prize for World Civilisation, the international prize that offers three cash awards of HK$20 million (about US$2.55 million) to groups and individuals who have made remarkable contributions in the categories of sustainability, welfare betterment and positive energy. He has also made donations to the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Discover the changemakers, industry titans and powerful individuals who are making a positive impact on the region in the Asia’s Most Influential list from Tatler.