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Thursday October 25, 2007

89, 90 or 93? Expert sheds light on tycoon’s age

PETALING JAYA: The different ages of Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong used by family members and newspapers have generated curiosity and interest among the public but a Chinese culture expert has an answer for that.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Assoc Prof Dr Lim Chooi Kwa said 89 was the biological age of the founder of the Genting Group and one of the world’s richest men.

“The Chinese consider themselves one year old when they are born as they count the period in the womb as well.

“That is why Goh Tong celebrated his 90th birthday early this year. That is his traditional Chinese age,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Family members have asked newspapers to use 90 as his age, said to be a more auspicious for a senior citizen. Goh Tong’s age was reported in various newspapers as either 89 or 90, and in the obituary advertisements states his age as 93.

Chooi Kwa said the Chinese would hold a big birthday celebration when someone turned 70, 80 or 90 because the zero denoted completion.

“In Goh Tong’s obituary, the age stated is 93 because the Chinese add three years to the age – each comes from tian (heaven), di (earth) and ren (people) – when someone dies.

“The community believes that good people have a long life. So by adding three years after the death, the life of the deceased seems longer that it was,” he said.

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