Tycoon Lui Che-woo launches HK$60 million prize for contributors to ‘world civilisation’ with heavyweight council
Property and casino mogul announces annual prizes, among the world's richest, to reward outstanding contributions to 'world civilisation'
Hong Kong property tycoon and casino owner Lui Che-woo yesterday launched a HK$60 million annual award, named after himself, to honour people who contribute to "world civilisation".
A cash award of HK$20 million - one of the world's richest - awaits the laureate in each of three categories, which will change focus each year, in the Lui Che Woo Prize. They will also receive a certificate and a trophy.
The prize money is much higher than that of the Nobel Prize and the Shaw Prize, set up by the late entertainment mogul Run Run Shaw in 2002.
Lui's prize was launched on the same day as the Shaw Prize announced its awardees this year. One of Hong Kong's richest men, Lui has raised the bar for tycoons leaving this kind of legacy.
The K Wah Group chairman, who has been expanding his Macau casino empire Galaxy Entertainment Group, seeks to recognise outstanding international individuals or organisations, with HK$2 billion set aside for the prize's operation.
"I believe besides technology, we should emphasise the eco-system, the civilisation and the respect of others," said Lui, 86. "I hope the [younger] generation can gradually understand how to [set aside] differences and enjoy the world."
He did not comment on whether the prize came as a response to the pro-democracy Occupy movement, which many pro-establishment figures have criticised as dividing and damaging Hong Kong. Instead, Lui said the prize would not take sides.
The first winners will be picked next year.
The focus in the category of sustainable development of the world will be on safety and security in the global food supply.
In the betterment of the welfare of mankind category, the focus will be on the treatment and control of epidemics, infectious diseases or chronic illnesses.
The last category - promotion of a positive life attitude and positive energy - will focus on "individuals or organisations whose … achievements inspire and give hope to others".
Along with Lui, the prize council which will choose the awardees includes former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, former United States secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, former World Bank president James Wolfensohn and British Anglican bishop and poet Rowan Williams.
A list of nominees will be compiled by a recommendation committee, which also includes prominent members such as former Chinese University vice-chancellor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, former University of Oxford vice-chancellor Colin Lucas and Nobel literature prize laureate Mo Yan.
"Anyone, from a professor who delivers lectures passionately to a person who has achieved nothing else but to turn a remote barren mountain green through plantation work, can be considered as the prize's awardee," said Mo Yan in a video for the prize.
Professor Victor Zheng, co-director of the Centre for Social and Political Development Studies at Chinese University's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, noted a long tradition for rich people to set up funds, foundations and prizes in both Western and Asian cultures.
The Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which holds the HK$83 billion estate of late tycoon Nina Wang, is obliged under the terms of her will to create a Chinese equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Zheng said the prizes would be a way to encourage talent in their respective fields, but added Lui's three categories were quite vague, which could affect the selection process.