Once known as the “Cement Magnate” and “Property Magnate”, Indonesian tycoon Liem Sioe Liong, also known by his Indonesian name Sudono Salim, passed away in Singapore on the afternoon of 10 June 2012 at the age of 96.
Mr Liem was born in 1916 in Fuqing, Fujian, China as the son of a farmer. He left Fujian in 1938 to join his brother in Medan, North Sumatra. Starting with the selling of a 50g packet of coffee, Mr Liem spent the next 50 years accomplishing the miraculous transformation of a coffee trader who became the most successful businessman in the region. Salim Group, the conglomerate he established, has interests spanning over 70 industries which includes finance, property, mining, electronics, shipping, etc. and is one of Indonesia's biggest and most influential conglomerates. Mr Liem is considered the richest Chinese man in Southeast Asia and the sixth richest man in the world.
His third son, Anthony Salim, who now helms the Salim Group, had a special affinity with Tzu Chi in the early 2000s.
At the beginning of 2002, Jakarta had heavy periods of rainfall which led to the flooding of its Angke River, notoriously known as the Black Heart of Jakarta. Together with the staff of Tzu Chi Indonesia, the founder of Sinar Mas Group, 80-year-old Chinese tycoon Oei Ek Tjong (Indonesian name Eka Tjipta Widjaja), went to Taiwan to visit Master Cheng Yen to discuss the tackling measures.
In view of the serious situation and the plight of the squatters, the founder of Tzu Chi immediately suggested that the Indonesian volunteers team up with the local government to implement a five-part plan: pumping out floodwaters, cleaning up the debris, disinfecting the area, holding a free clinic and finding land to build the Great Love Estate to relocate the flood victims.
When Mr Oei returned to Indonesia, he began gathering fellow Chinese tycoons, including Mr Anthony Salim to help carry out the restoration plan. Together with hundreds of volunteers, entrepreneurs, corporate staff and the army, they finally managed to turn the polluted Angke River into a clear river after four years of hard work. They also successfully relocated almost 2000 families who used to stay beside the river to the newly built estate with fully furnished facilities.
In October 2005, a devastating earthquake struck Pakistan. Thanks to the introduction of Mr Anthony, Pakistani entrepreneur Magid began to provide ample support for Tzu Chi’s relief and medical aid in the quake-hit areas. Jordan-based Tzu Chi volunteer Chen Chiou Hwa and Turkey-based volunteer Hu Kuang-chung were also dispatched to the country to distribute zinc plates for victims to reconstruct their homes. Through the constant contact then, Tzu Chi’s culture of treating beneficiaries with gratitude, respect and love left a deep impression on the local people and the good rapport lasted till the recent 2011 Pakistani flood relief.
Upon learning of the passing of Mr Anthony’s father, Tzu Chi Singapore CEO Low Swee Seh and his deputy CEOs led a team of 46 volunteers to the wake of Mr Liem at Mount Vernon Parlour on 13 June morning to pray for Mr Liem to go well. On 18 June, a total of 56 Tzu Chi volunteers turned up to pay their last respects to Mr Liem and to see him off for his final journey.