Jack Ma honors long-standing Australian friendship with $20M donation

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Jack Ma honors long-standing Australian friendship with $2M donation

Alibaba founder Jack Ma says a unique friendship he forged with an Australian family 30 years ago has had a profound influence on his life.

CGTN’s Greg Navarro reports.
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Jack Ma honors long-standing Australian friendship with donation

Jack Ma honors long-standing Australian friendship with donation

Alibaba founder Jack Ma donated $20 million to the University of Newcastle in New South Wales this month, to establish a scholarship program, and honor a longtime friendship. CGTN's Greg Navarro reports.

Ma donated $20 million to the University of Newcastle in New South Wales this month, to establish a scholarship program, and honor that friendship.

The friendship between Jack Ma and David Morley began in 1980, through a chance encounter during a family trip to China.

“We were staying in a hotel when I went out in a park by the west lakes to explore and there was Jack practicing speaking English with foreigners,” Morley said.

But the bond that would have a lasting impact on the teenager was with David’s father Ken Morley who, over the years, became a teacher and mentor on how to see the world in a different light.

That bond brought Jack Ma to Newcastle for his first overseas trip in 1985 – an experience which he says changed his view of the world at the time. The pair remained close until Ken Morley’s death in 2004.

“I hope that I can be a person one day like Ken Morley to be giving help and support to those young people that he never even knew, just we met on the street,” Ma said.

The e-commerce tycoon came back to Newcastle where he donated $20 million to the University of Newcastle to establish the Ma Morley scholarship program.

The scholarship program will benefit hundreds of bright, promising young people, including indigenous and financially disadvantaged students.

“It will change their lives, they will be working with some of the brightest and the best Ma Morley scholars, when they move in through their programs they will have mentorships, they will have professionals coming from across the world they we will bring in to talk about what made a difference to that leader’s career,” Professor Caroline McMillen the Vice Chancellor & President of the University of Newcastle said.

Most gifts and donations to universities and higher learning institutions come from people who at one time attended those universities and high learning institutions – which makes this gift even more remarkable.

“Ken Morley, he had never been educated at University but he always talked about Newcastle University,” Ma said.

It was through those conversations the Chinese billionaire said, that he decided if he ever became successful this was the best way to honor such an important friend.