Australia to Increase Support in Afghanistan
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed a long-term partnership that will increase Australia’s aid spending in Afghanistan from $165 million to $250 million per year by 2015-16, Sky News reported today.
The two leaders spoke after the NATO summit in Chicago today where the future of Afghanistan post-war was a primary discussion topic among more than 50 world leaders.
The agreement outlines how Australia will continue to support the nation by assisting with peacekeeping, controlling narcotics and people smuggling, and helping facilitate business and investment opportunities.
“The aid will help Afghanistan expand basic service delivery in health and education and improve governance and public financial management,” Ms Gillard said.
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The Australian PM met with several national leaders independently in order to discuss their support strategies, including new French President Francois Hollande who has pledged to withdraw French combat troops from the region by the end of the year. Other NATO nations are encouraged to follow suit, according to a statement issued by the Taliban.
"We call upon all the other NATO member countries to avoid working for the political interests of American officials and answer the call of your own people by immediately removing all your troops from Afghanistan,” the statement said.
Ms Gillard also met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss reopening the supply lines through Pakistan into Afghanistan. Until a supply line deal is finalised, US President Barack Obama is reportedly refusing to meet with the Pakistani President.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Obama said, “We're confident that we are on the right track, and what this NATO summit reflects is that the world is behind the strategy that we've laid out.”
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.