Asians donate money for tsunami victims
HONG KONG: A king, a tycoon, movie stars, sports champs, pensioners and prisoners — Asians from all walks of life are chipping in to help the millions left homeless and hungry by last weekend’s deadly tsunamis..
From Japan to Australia, newspapers have launched appeals, sports bodies are planning auctions, and communities are delving into their savings to help survivors of the giant waves that killed nearly 125,000 people on Sunday.
One of the first to pledge money was Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej whose 21-year-old grandson was among over 4,500 killed in the country, his body found not far from where he had been jet skiing. The king has donated nearly $770,000 to one of several foundations in Thailand that have already raised millions of dollars, including from 15 companies.
One of Asia’s richest men, Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, has come forward with one of the single biggest donations — $3.1 million to be made through his company Hutchison Whampoa and a charitable trust. Hong Kong movie greats, including Jackie Chan and Andy Lau, have pledged $200,000. On the other end of the wealth scale, staff members of Malaysian company Gerbang Perdana donated 10 percent of their December salary. Sports stars and associations have been among the most generous. The cricket board in India has donated $222,000, while the Indian cricket team promised a day’s match fees, about $4,000 for each player.
Organisers of next week’s tennis Indian Open in Madras — the capital of badly hit Tamil Nadu state — planned to auction items including caps and shirts signed by leading players like Maria Sharpova, Venus Williams and Bjorn Borg.g. One player, Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden, said he and his doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi would donate their earnings from the event.
In Australia, which has 10 people confirmed dead, the cricket Test team donated its $13,100 bonus after it beat Pakistan this week and the cricket authority proposed an international match to raise more money.
Next month’s Australian Open and its seven lead-up tennis tournaments would also hold events to raise funds, Tennis Australia said on Friday. Aid agencies in Australia said the public had inundated disaster funds with the most generous appeal response in the country’s history, exceeding the total raised in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombing in which 88 Australians died.
Donations were around $19 million by late on Thursday, they said. Even hardened criminals were chipping in. Inmates and staff at the Goulburn Jail in New South Wales state, which holds some of Australia’s most dangerous criminals, pledged over $4,500 to a relief fund, a senior warden said.
In Malaysia, which was relatively less affected, with 66 fatalities, all major newspapers and television stations launched funds to raise money, collecting millions of dollars in days. Donors included an association of wives of government ministers, a major casino operator, airlines and even pensioners. The country’s low-cost carrier AirAsia offered 150 seats for relief and rescue workers intending to travel to some of the swathes of coastline ruined by the tsunamis.
In China, a committee organising the 2008 Olympic Games set up donation sites throughout Beijing, collecting $2,900 in 30 minutes, state media said. And in tremor-prone Japan, survivors of a killer quake last year said they would repay the kindness strangers had shown them in the past by raising money. Residents of Niigata prefecture’s Tamugiyama district, where 40 people lost their lives in Japan’s deadliest earthquake in a decade in October, would tap into the district’s savings and personal pockets to raise money. afp