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Friday, September 24, 2010
Kesian anak Bill Gates..: Beliau tak bercadang nak mewariskan hartanya berjumlah RM 164 ribu juta pada anak2nya...
FOR much of his adult life the unremarkable-looking bloke in slacks and sensible woollen jumper opposite me has been the richest man on earth.
Worth an estimatedRM164.87 (£34)billion, William Henry Gates III, as Microsoft founder Bill Gates was christened, could have settled for growing old in limitless luxury.
Now 54, he ranks alongside the Medicis, Romanovs, Rothschilds and Rockefellers as one of history's wealthiest individuals.
But Gates has no interest in using his billions to launch a dynasty. He is giving away his fortune.
The father-of-three has unleashed his planet-sized brain and the extraordinary dynamism that made Microsoft the all-conquering global software giant to defeat global poverty.
Chat ... Bill Gates and Sun man Oliver in Seattle
"I knew I didn't think it was a good idea to give the money to my kids," he says. "That wouldn't be good either for my kids or society. So the question was, 'Can I find something that had incredible impact?' I knew I wanted to do that."
What he did - alongside his equally driven wife - was to launch the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The couple who can have anything money can buy now travel to poverty and disease-blighted corners of the globe to help the world's needy.
So far they have given awayRM87.28 (£18)billion, which has helped deliver vaccines to more than 250million children in poor countries, preventing an estimated five million deaths.
Bill welcomed The Sun to his private office in Seattle, Washington state, to discuss the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) - a set of targets to reduce global poverty by 2015 - as a summit begins in New York today.
Sitting in a cream leather chair, Gates is keen to point out the successes. "In the 1960s over 20million children died a year," he says. "Now that number is down to somewhere between eight and nine million. Clearly that's incredible progress."
With a billion people going to bed hungry every night he admits, however, that "we're not going to get straight As on the MDG report card".
His own passion for the fight is evident. Melinda has said that some of the harrowing scenes they have witnessed have reduced her husband to tears.
Gates says: "There are gut-wrenching things, like meeting kids whose parents have died and are in a tough situation. And talking to women who, because of their economic situation, have had to become prostitutes and then they get Aids."
Pride of place in Bill's office are two haunting photographs of a Zambian woman with HIV he met three years ago.
Gaunt ... Zambian HIV victim Silvia before treatment
In the first Silvia Ng'andwe, then 28, is gaunt and haggard, her skin pulled tight on her cheekbones and looking close to death.
In the second - after 40 days' treatment with antiretroviral drugs - she is full-faced and with a beaming smile, a picture of health and vitality.
It is an obvious reminder of Bill's mantra that aid works.
There are reports that the billionaire has slept in a mud hut when he visited India. "I like to get to Africa and India at least once a year," he says.
"I really like having a hands-on experience. I'm not well known in these countries."
Bill calls the Foundation an "equal partnership" with 46-year-old Melinda. He says: "When I did my business work I always had a key partner.
"In the Foundation my equal partner is Melinda. We enjoy doing the trips in the developing world together so we always do at least one a year.
"We also do several alone then talk to each other about what we saw - she's been to Ethiopia twice and I've been to Nigeria three times.
"It's kinda neat that we can get around and learn. She and I enjoy figuring out what the priorities are."
Engineer's daughter Melinda - who says her husband has a "huge heart" - met Bill while working at Microsoft. They married on New Year's Day, 1994.
In 2008 Bill "retired" from the day-to-day running of Microsoft to concentrate on his charity work. As well as money by the wheelbarrow load, Gates brought in fresh ideas, the ability to influence governments, the risk-taking of the business world and a seemingly boundless optimism.
He originally set up the charity in honour of his late mother Mary, a teacher who encouraged her son to begin his philanthropic work. She died in 1994.
When Mary was dying of cancer she penned a letter to the couple, saying: "For those to whom much is given, much is expected."
The Foundation has funded mass vaccination programmes to eradicate diseases such as polio and TB and championed the search for the Holy Grails of health - vaccines for Aids and malaria.
Polio needs one last push to be eradicated for ever. In 2008 there were just 1,652 known polio sufferers across the globe - mostly in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. "It costs money but when you get rid of disease then you know it's never going to make kids sick again," says Gates.
"We are hopefully in the last days of polio elimination. After that I would be super disappointed if we hadn't eliminated malaria in my lifetime too."
Saved ... Silvia after 40 days treatment courtesy of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
He adds: "Vaccines have an unbelievable impact because families then have fewer children.
"Once you improve health then the population comes down because people have fewer children because the survival rates are better.
"When population comes down your ability to eat, to educate, to have jobs and to get countries to be self-sustaining is pretty phenomenal.
"Aid isn't something that will have to continue for ever."
The Gates' children are Jennifer, 14, Rory, 11, and eight-year-old Phoebe. As for their inheritance, Bill says: "I will give the kids some money but not a meaningful percentage.
"Setting the number so that they need to work but they feel reasonably taken care of is hard to figure out.
Despite his geeky image, he denies his house is full of gadgets. The kids have PCs and Skype is sometimes used instead of phone calls when mum and dad are travelling.
As for the future of technology, he reveals: "The computer will be able to see, it will recognise speech. This stuff is going to evolve dramatically."
Gates has become good friends with U2 frontman Bono and says: "I was completely blown away when we met. He talked about his time in Africa. He is so eloquent and knows his stuff."
The British Government have ring fenced aid in the looming cuts and promised to increase it to the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2013.
Gates says it's an investment in the future. "It's obviously a tough time and voters have to decide their priorities.
"What I can tell them is that I know this aid money has a huge impact. The image should be helping a child survive with a new vaccine. This money allows poor countries to become self-sufficient."
In 2006 investor Warren Buffett announced that he too would give a large proportion of his assets to the Foundation.
Since then - through their Giving Pledge - the pair have convinced 40 other of the super-rich - including CNN founder Ted Turner and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - to give up large chunks of their fortunes.
Gates gets as much buzz from working for the Foundation as he did in the cut and thrust of the corporate world.
He says. "If you create a good software product you see school kids learning from it. In the same way, when you see kids getting the malaria vaccine, which is still in trial, it feels great
From OLIVER HARVEY Chief Feature Writer, in Seattle, USA
Billions to give away
BILL GATES became a dollar BILLIONAIRE in 1987 at the height of Microsoft's collaboration with IBM. His fortune was estimated by Forbes magazine at 1.25billion dollars.
At the time that wasRM3,879.22 (£800)million - more thanRM10.67 (£2.2)billion in today's money. His biggest luxury is his home, a mansion overlooking Lake Washington near Seattle.
The property is worthRM387.92 (£80)million and has an annual propeRM3,054,888.89 (£630,000.)rty tax - similar to our council tax - of more than
Since 1993 Gates has regularly featured at the top of world rich lists, until he was passed this year by Mexican telecoms mogul Carlos Slim. In 1999 Gates's wealth briefly passedRM312.64 ($101)billion - more thanRM436.41 (£90)billion in today's money.
But it has since plunged to "only"RM164.87 (£34)billion due to Microsoft's share price falling after the dotcom bubble burst and his donations to his foundation.
The William H Gates Foundation, later renamed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has revolutionised charity.
Thanks to additional donations from legendary American investor Warren Buffett, the Foundation gives away at leastRM4.85 (£1)billion a year - and usually very much more.
Unlike many other charitable foundations, the Gates' Foundation is completely open about how it spends its money - and has won numerous awards for its work.
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