ASEAN Business and Investment Summit: Trump, migrant workers and North Korea
The 31st ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, organised by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, took place in the Philippines this week.
The three-day conference closed on Tuesday and brought business issues, investment opportunities and growth across south east Asia to the fore.
Panels at the conference included “ASEAN Build, Build, Build – Building for the Future” which discussed infrastructure development, “Unleashing Women – Economic Power and Human Capital Development” and “Right Money Open Markets = Prosperity for All.”
The conference also included keynote addresses from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Key issues discussed at the conference included migrant rights, North Korean relations, Chinese relations, US relations and counter-terrorism measures.
Progress was made on protecting migrant workers as the “ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers” was signed. This promotes the fair treatment of migrant workers and covers visitation rights by family members, prohibition of passport confiscation, protection against violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, and the rights of migrant workers to join trade unions and associations.
On relations with North Korea, the Chairman’s notes concluded that: “we expressed grave concerns over the recent provocative and threatening actions” and that the ASEAN nations “reiterated our support for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and called for the exercise of self-restraint and the resumption of dialogue in order to de-escalate tension and create conditions conducive to peace and stability.”
Leaders also agreed to enter talks with China on a Code of Conduct relating to the South China Sea, also to ensure peace and stability.
Following President Trump’s recent Asian visit, during which he visited the Philippines to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the ASEAN leaders released a joint statement which expressed their commitment to economic growth and engagement between their nations and the US.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.