If you are impressed with Rotary International’s Arch Klumph Society members who donate a whopping quarter million dollars to seek a place in this distinguished gallery, listen to what RI Director from Zone 10 B, Hsiu-Ming (Fredrick) Lin has suggested to the TRF: Why aim only at AKS members donating just $250,000?
“I am suggesting to the Finance people that as the TRF gets ready to celebrate its Centennial, why not we aim for a category where the person donates $1 million instead of just $250,000.”
To my surprised look, he hastily explains, “No, no, not at one shot, my suggestion is that they should be allowed to reach this figure in five years, so every year they can donate a part of this amount. Maybe the Centennial would be the best time for us to launch the ‘Million- dollar Campaign.’ Anyway, this is only my suggestion.”
Over seven years we’ve given half a million dollars for computers in Nepal’s schools. As the earthquake has ruined everything, we’ll start helping all over again.
It is not difficult to see where Lin’s confidence comes from. He explains that each year RI celebrates an AKS Day when AKS members are hosted a reception at the RI headquarters in Evanston. There I interviewed last October Lin as well as RI President K R Ravindran. As I was talking to the latter, he was due for a short presence at one such AKS Reception being held in the building and he invited me to peep in. Of course this was scheduled to be followed by a gala dinner. Says Lin, “We all know that TRF has AKS members, but when you have more than five such members, they call the Induction Day Taiwan Day, or India Day or whatever. Do you know that we’ve had seven consecutive Taiwan Days? This year too it was Taiwan Day,” he smiles.
And Lin, a Rotarian since 1988, has reason for a broader smile. This year, Taiwan already has in its AKS bag, five AKS members. And this we’ve managed in four months of the Rotary year. “A week ago, (October 2015), when RIPE John Germ was in Taiwan, we gave him a surprise by inducting two AKS members. He was invited to the stage to pin those two AKS members.”
As for the $1 million club, Lin has an ace up his sleeve; “I have some four or five people in mind for this; if they agree with the idea, in 2017 I will bring them on the stage in a special ceremony at the TRF Convention in Atlanta!”
With such generosity, small wonder that a tiny country like Taiwan, with barely 33,000 Rotarians, was No 5 in the world on the TRF giving list. “Last year we donated $9.2 million, but that was a good year because a single Rotarian had donated $1 million. Of course this cannot happen every year,” says Lin.
On his priorities as Director during his two years (2015–17), Lin, who is the Managing Director of Continental Worldwise Ent Co, a firm specialising in system design and integration for satellite communications, says that when Gary Huang, who hails from Taiwan, was the RI President (2014–15), his goal was to take the membership up to the 40,000 mark. “So I will concentrate on membership. That way our districts can increase; right now we have only half a zone and seven districts.” More members and an expanding region will also help “bring in our language into RI,” he adds.
By 2017–18, he hopes these districts will split into 12. “Our districts are getting too big; for instance my District (3520) has 6,500 members. That is too large and a district governor cannot handle so many members.”
In first four months of this Rotary year Taiwan already had in its bag five AKS members.
His Zone (10 B) includes Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Mongolia and a part of China — Shanghai and Beijing.
Rotary and China are always an interesting topic. So how many clubs does China have? “Well, now it is ten, it used to have only two during Gary’s year (2014–15), but he was successful in adding another eight clubs. But these clubs have only foreigners or expats as members.” Shanghai has two clubs, again, only with ex-pat members.
On the projects in Taiwan, the RI Director says that they do “some rather big projects … of half-a-million dollars through global grants.” The biggest one is screening for hepatitis B which is a problem in the area. Then there are smaller water projects, such as supplying water to the “Aborigines in the mountain areas. We too have poor people, like in every country,” he says.
The Taiwanese Rotarians are also working “big time in education, and giving scholarships. My Club (RC Taipei Tungteh) alone is giving scholarships worth $300,000 dollars. We’ve also given computers and school desks for schools in Nepal.”
Lin explains that during the last seven years, they have given over half a million dollars for computers in a cluster of schools in Nepal. “Unfortunately the earthquake has ruined everything but we will start with helping them all over again.”
He adds that his District has also been active in India for ten years, particularly in the Gift of Life programme for heart surgery. “When there is need we’ve given money, sometimes $50,000, sometimes $100,000. We give over 45 per cent of our District Designated Funds abroad.”
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat