Mr. Robert Kuok and CWI’s International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital

Malaysian industrialist Mr Robert Kuok financially supports the China Welfare Institute to build new obstetrics, gynecology and neonatology building. The photo taken at the inauguration ceremony at the lobby of the new obstetrics and neonatology building, with Mr. Kuok (second from right), Mr. Li Chuwen, CWI Vice Chairman (first from right), Ms. Xie Lijuan, Former Vice Mayor of Shanghai Municipality, and Vice Chairman of the SSCLF (third from right).



In the bustling Xujiahui, Shanghai stand the two medical buildings of the International Peace Maternal and Child Health Hospital of the China Welfare Institute (CWI), one of which is a pediatrics, and the other is the outpatient and inpatient building, which is a 17 storey building. Looking at these two buildings, I cannot help but think of the famous Malaysia industrialist Mr. Robert Kuok who has made generous contributions to International Peace Maternal and Child Health Hospital.


I remembered one day morning in August, 1994, CWI Secretary General Ms. Xu Dexin received a call from CWI Vice Chairman Mr. Li Chuwen, saying that "Malaysia industrialist Mr. Robert Kuok is currently staying in Shanghai, I invite him to visit the Children’s Palace of CWI at 4 o’clock this afternoon, please arrange the reception."


At that time, I was director of the Liaison Office of CWI and director of the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation (SSCLF) Administration Office, Ms. Xu Dexin immediately called Ms. Chen Baihua, director of CWI’s Children's Palace and me to her office to arrange the reception tasks. At four o’clock in the afternoon, Mr. Robert Kuok and his wife and children, and some French friends came to the CWI’s Children's Palace. In the reception room, Secretary General Xu Dexin received them and made brief introduction to Mr. Kuok and his party on the China Welfare Institute founded by Mme. Soong Ching Ling as well as the nature and activities of the Children's Palace. Mr. Kuok listened carefully while he was translating them to his French friends. Subsequently, accompanied by Xu Dexin, Mr. Kuok and his party visited the activities of the dance group, chorus group, folk music performance group, painting and calligraphy group etc.


A few days later, Mr. Li Chuwen called Xu Dexin again and told her, "Mr. Kuok is very pleased with the reception, and he asked me what he could do for Soong Ching Ling's cause. Please write a report to me after your deliberation in order to give Mr. Kuok your reply."


After repeated thinking and research, CWI leaders considered it was a pressing matter of the moment for the hospital to rebuild obstetrics and pediatrics building because of being out of repair for long years and unable to meet the surging demands for maternal and pediatric patients. Although the government has some capital investment, but the gap is large. The CWI leaders decided to ask Mr. Robert Kuok for financial aid of RMB 10 million yuan. Soon, Mr. Kuok decided to donate 5 million yuan each from his mother Zheng Geru Fund and his ex-wife's Fund, a total of 10 million yuan. Before the completion of the new eleven - storey building, at hearing Mr. Kuok's mother, Ms. Zheng Geru sincerely believed in Buddhism when she was alive, CWI deputy secretary general Hong Shengzhi made a special trip to Beijing, asking Mr. Zhao Puchu, former member of the CWI Executive Committee, honorary president of the Buddhist Association of China, to inscribe four Chinese characters “GE RU DA LOU” for the Building.  In 1993, the inauguration ceremony of the new obstetrics and neonatology building was held in the lobby of the “GE RU DA LOU” building.


A few years later, the government approved the reconstruction of the International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital gynecology building. Due to the funding gaps, CWI once again requested Mr. Kuok for donation of 20 million yuan through Mr. Li Chuwen. Mr. Kuok readily agreed. 


Then, the preparatory construction of the hospital gynecology building was in full swing. Because the initial design scheme does not meet the gynecologic working concept and requirements, the hospital decided to make a fresh start and replace the design institute, thus dragging the entire project progress.


Late in September 1989, on the eve of the 50 anniversary of founding of the People’s Republic of China, I accompanied CWI’s vice chairperson Ms. Du Shuzhen travel to Beijing to visit CWI veterans. At the Shanghai Pudong International Airport terminal building, a familiar figure was slowly coming while pulling a suitcase, I took a closer look, and it is actually Mr. Robert Kuok. I hastened to greet him and asked him to take a seat. I introduced myself to him. He asked me about the progress of the new gynecologic building. I reported to him the original design scheme of the gynecology building was overthrown, and now hired another design institute to redesign, so that the whole project progress was affected.


After listening, Mr. Kuok said to me: "It is very important to find a good design institute to do a good job of design. Now the entire construction market is in downturn, the price of materials decreased a lot, and then find a good construction unit to build the International Peace Maternal and child health hospital gynecology building." Mr. Kuok has so much confidence in his donation project, which makes me very moved. All the time, he is very kind, deals with affairs very decisively, and enthusiastic about public welfare undertakings, leaving a deep impression on me.


In 1998, the China welfare Institute held its sixtieth anniversary celebration event in Hong Kong, I received a phone call from Mr. Kuok’s secretary saying that Mr. Kuok invited CWI Chairman Mr. Huang Hua and Adviser Mr. Epstein to lunch at the Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong, to renew friendship. Over the years, Mr. Robert Kuok has been enthusiastic about the public welfare cause for women and children cared by Mme. Soong Ching Ling, and has made great contributions to, but he never mentioned it.


(From SSCLF’s Quarterly “Change”, fourth issue in March 2017)