Friday, April 06, 2007

The Death of Asia's Richest Woman

"Surely man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nought are they in turmoil;
man heaps up, and knows not who will gather?"

Psalms 39:6

Gong Ruxin aka Nina Wang, once recognised by Forbes magazine to be the richest woman in Asia, died of cancer in Hong Kong on Wednesday (4.4.2007). She was 70 yrs old, and left behind no children. It is estimated that her assets amounted to around 4.26 billion US dollars, which would probably be distributed among her younger siblings now that she is gone.

An oddball character but at the same time a legendary figure in HK, Gong and her husband Wang Dehui built up the business empire of the Hua Mao corporation together since the 1960s. However, their fame and fortune attracted unwanted attention. Wang was kidnapped by criminals in 1983 and only released when Gong paid them a ransom of 11 million USD. In 1990 Wang was kidnapped yet again. But this time before Gong could pay his ransom of 30 million, the kidnappers suddenly cancelled the deal and Wang went missing forever. Gong was traumatized by the ordeal and only recovered 4 yrs later. In 1994 she started to retake sole control of the Hua Mao corporation and all its assets. Concentrating all her energies on doing business, she single-handedly brought the corporation to new and greater heights.

In 1997 Gong's father-in-law started a lawsuit requesting the high court in HK to declare Wang Dehui legally dead, and also seeking to claim all the wealth that he had left behind based on a will made in 1968. Gong of course could not accept this and produced another more recent will made by her husband in 1990, one that stated her as the sole inheritor of the money. Thus began the 9 yr legal battle to determine who was the rightful owner of the billions. Victory finally came in 2005 and 2006, where she not only won over the sole ownership, but also the compensation of 280 million HKD worth in legal fees. But the ironic thing is after such a long struggle, she died half a year later, before she could enjoy any of this hard-earned wealth.

One of the judges that presided over Gong's series of disputes with her father-in-law, Ren Yijun, made a statement in his judgement quoting from the Psalms in the Bible (seen above). This meaningful verse pretty much sums up the life of Asia's richest woman, Madam Gong Ruxin. She and her husband heaped up so much money, more than any person can dream about, yet it did not bring them any real happiness. Now that they are dead, who is left to benefit from that mountain of wealth? Huge as the amount was, it could not prevent Wang Dehui from being kidnapped and killed by criminals. It also could not save Gong from the years of trauma and stress that resulted from her husband's disappearance, as well as the long tussle with her father-in-law for her husband's money. No, it even did not help to prevent Gong from contracting cancer and dying when her troubles finally came to an end. Indeed, what is the use of having so much money?

Rich and famous as these worldly beings are, they live in delusion and could not escape from the sufferings of this existence; what more for the next? If only they knew the true purpose of wealth, if only they have a chance to understand the Dhamma; then their lives would not have been in vain. The Adiya Sutta says:

"My wealth has been enjoyed,
my dependents supported,
protected from calamities by me.
I have given supreme offerings
and performed the five oblations.
I have provided for the virtuous,
the restrained, followers of the holy life.
For whatever aim a wise householder
would desire wealth, that aim I have attained.
I have done what will not lead to future distress.
When this is recollected by a mortal,
a person established in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones,
he is praised in this life and after death, rejoices in heaven."

To provide satisfaction for your family, your workers, your friends and associates, to wisely ward off calamities caused by natural disasters and greedy men, to make the right offerings to the poor and to respected people, to provide for the needs of the Noble Ones who have gone forth, to dedicate all good for one's own unbinding, and for the realization of Nibbana - these are the greatest benefits that can be obtained from wealth. May all beings have the wisdom to use their wealth in such ways, sadhu.


Q said...

Thank you for the Story of Madame Gong.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your nice article ,
It is really touched my soul .
but it is difficult to find the balance point of the "Worth Enough Point" --My email