11/20/2020, 16.07
INDONESIA
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Catholic businessman combine business with compassion for the poorest

by Mathias Hariyadi

Pandji Wisaksana is 95, but for him age is but a number. COVID-19 prevents him from going to the gym, but he is still active in his daily chores with his 90-year-old wife and still handles his business affairs. His father went blind in a mine, inspiring him to help restore the eyesight of the poor. Since it was founded more than ten years ago, his charity has paid for at least 6,000 free cataract operations.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - At 95, Pandji Wisaksana is not following any particular diet; however, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, he would still be going to the gym at least twice a week.

For him, age is but a number. His memory is still clear and he does not need help with daily chores, including banking and business.

He never tires of saying that as an ethnic Chinese businessman and entrepreneur, he was nourished and supported by a deep faith in Jesus Christ.

From an early age, the Catholic businessman worked hard to start his own business. His first company dealt with natural resources; he then turned to rubber tires, and eventually plastic household items under the famous “Pioneer” brand, which has been present in Indonesian homes since 1960.

His success earned him the nickname of "Father of Indonesian plastic”. In 1975, he founded PT Prakarsa Pralon, a pioneer in manufacturing of PVC pipes.

On 27 June, Pandji Wisaksana celebrated 95 years with his family. In July, his wife Trijuni Pandji reached the milestone of 90 years.

The couple has three sons and two daughters, all professionally successful. One son, he youngest, died whilst studying in the United States.

“First of all, I want to stress my deep morality and Christian faith,” he told AsiaNews. “These are the ingredients that have allowed me to become what I am today, still physically healthy and 'free' from a financial point of view. All this,” he adds, “also thanks to the fact that I have no enemies and I do not bear any kind of grudge against others.”

“In business we decided to stick to the principle of corporate social responsibility, as a mandatory action envisaged in the framework of Indonesian law. However, I also believe in personal responsibility at a social level since it represents a fundamental moral issue, which each individual is called to implement.”

When he was very young, he believed in social commitment along with work, considering them an inseparable combination in his personal and family history. In fact, he saw his father, who had emigrated from mainland China to Bangka Island in the early 20th century, go blind from the hardships in mining, working without proper safety equipment.

His father's lost eyesight drove him to focus attention on charities and humanitarian initiatives in his area, to give hope to those who were no longer able to see or could do so with great difficulty.

His activism and social commitment led him to join the Lions Club in 1971, where he is still one of the longest-serving members.

In 2006 he sponsored an initiative called “Gerakan MataHati” (consciousness movement) together with other leading entrepreneurs in the country, to pay for cataract operations for the poorest and most destitute.

In a more than a decade, the movement has guaranteed at least 6,000 operations in the country because "giving sight is not only healing the vision-impaired, but it also transforming their lives,” Wisaksana said.

Healed patients “will become more independent, and able to do their jobs as well as take care of their families".

For the Catholic entrepreneur, humanity is not a "marketing gimmick" but a way for wealthy people to follow in his footsteps and work on behalf of others, the most unfortunate.

(Royani Lim contributed to this article)

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