KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 ― Berjaya Corporation Bhd founder and executive chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan has announced that he will give half of his wealth to charity when he is no longer around, whilst appealing to more wealthy Malaysians who have passed 70 years old to do the same.

The billionaire said doing so would help the underprivileged to own affordable homes as housing is a basic need of human beings and essential for a person's sense of dignity, safety and inclusion.

“I think it is not wise to leave all your wealth to your family only when after all, our accumulated material wealth is made possible with the support from Malaysians and government's concessions and licences and other help by many people we encountered in our lifetime of wealth accumulation,” he told The Star in an exclusive interview published today.

“I am also pssionate about building affordable homes for Malaysians. Berjaya has successfully designed and built a 5-bedroom 4-bathroom/toilet unit of 900 sq ft and a 4-bedroom 3-bathroom/toilet unit of 750 sq ft. The private sector should be prepared to sell affordable houses with a price range of RM250,000 and RM300,000 for a 900 sq ft apartment in different cities and towns in Malaysia,” he said.

In the interview with The Star Adviser Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, Tan, said he did not become rich because of something he invented but was lucky to receive many opportunities such as getting the franchise for McDonald's and Starbucks, as well as to buy 7-Eleven for a good price from a Malaysian group.

“It is only right that I give half of my wealth back to the people and country. It is the right thing to do,” he added.

Tan said in doing so, he is a signatory of the Giving Pledge started by American billionaires Bill Gates and his wife Melinda and Warren Buffet.

The tycoon surprised corporate Malaysia with the recent appointment of Abdul Jalil Rasheed as the new chief executive officer of Berjaya Corp, saying this is his first step of taking a backseat.

Jalil, 38, a former CEO of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), is the first non-family member CEO of Berjaya.

“I am 69 years old now and by next year I will be 70. I think that's enough. I have been working since I was 17 years old when I first joined a bank as a clerk and I have been working non-stop for 52 years now,” he said.

Tan also disclosed that it was his wish that none of his children would be involved in the group's listed companies and to let professional managers to run them.

“My children can start their own business as they already have. We need to have a clear demarcation of listed and private entities,” he stressed.

On his charity work, Tan said he had been a big supporter of Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organisation, and would devote more time to its cause.

“The best best decision I have made in life is becoming a vegetarian after meeting (Tzu Chi) Master Cheng Yen. I feel physically healthier, mentally more alert and spiritually richer,” said Tan. ― Bernama