Only German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi are
ahead of Ms Ho in Forbes's 2007 list of 100 Most Powerful Women.
Ms Ho's No 3 placing this year is a big jump from her 36th rank last
year. It comes after Time magazine named her one of the world's 100 most
influential people this year.
On Ms Ho's increasing clout in the business arena, Forbes said: 'Ho Ching
has been credited with converting Temasek from a Singapore-focused firm to a
leading investor in Asia, making investments in Indian and Chinese
companies, primarily in the telecoms and banking sectors.
'Thanks to Ho Ching's deal-making, the net value of Temasek's portfolio
grew 27 per cent to $108 billion from $80 billion the previous year.'
Forbes also cited Temasek's recently announced plan to invest in Barclays
to support the British bank's attempted takeover of ABN Amro, the
Netherlands' largest bank.
It called Temasek's takeover of Thailand's Shin Corp just a blip on its
German leader Angela Merkel retained top spot on the list of powerful
women this year. Forbes said that she was 'growing increasingly comfortable
with using her clout'.
Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi moved up one place for her role in 'overseeing
an economy set to displace Germany as the third-largest, while staring down
US trade protectionists'.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dropped two places to No 4, thanks
to her position 'at the centre of the negative reaction worldwide to the
Bush administration's policies', Forbes said.
Business executives dominate the latest list of powerful women. Sixty-six
personalities from the corporate arena made the top 100, versus 29 from
politics and just five from non-profit and media empires.
Eleven Asian women made the list. Most are from China, such as People's
Bank of China deputy governor Wu Xiaoling at No 18 and the World Health
Organisation's director-general, Margaret Chan, at No 37.
Other powerful Asian women on the list include Indian political leader
Sonia Gandhi at No 6, Philippine president Gloria Arroyo at No 51 and Nobel
peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar at No 71.
Forbes noted the increased presence of Middle Eastern women on the list -
such as Maha Al-Ghunaim, chairman of Kuwait's Global Investment House at No
72 and Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of the Economy in the United Arab Emirates,
at No 99.
There are 16 newcomers to the list this year. The highest-ranking new
entrant is Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll, at No 7.
Among media personalities, TV host Oprah Winfrey continues to dominate.
She was placed 21st this year, down seven spots from her 2006 ranking.
Forbes said that it ranked the women based on a combination of their
visibility - measured by press citations - and economic impact. Economic
impact includes career achievements and titles, size of the economic sphere
over which they hold sway and a multiplier that aims to make different
financial yardsticks comparable.
The full list of Forbes's 100 Most Powerful Women of 2007 can be found at
BUSINESS TIMES 2007 September 1
Publicity-shy wife will have to get
used to the spotlight
The wife of Singapore's new prime minister is a
powerful but publicity-shy business executive who controls a
multibillion-dollar global investment portfolio.
But Ho Ching, 51, the executive director and chief
executive officer of Singapore's hugely profitable state investment arm
Temasek Holdings, will now have to get used to the international limelight.
She was ranked 18th this month in Fortune magazine's
list of Asia's 25 most powerful businesspeople, whose number included Li
Ka-shing, Sony's Noboyuki Idei and Fujio Cho of Toyota Motors.
Established in 1974, Temasek manages a diversified
portfolio, including investments in India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia
and the United States. Temasek-linked entities include Singapore Airlines,
Singapore Telecommunications, DBS Bank, Neptune Orient Lines and Keppel
Corp. Even Singapore Zoo is owned by Temasek.
Eyebrows were raised when Ms Ho was appointed to
Temasek in May 2002 because her husband was - and will remain - finance
minister, which puts him in a supervisory role over Temasek.
But the mother of four has dismissed suggestions
of potential conflicts of interest.
"The issue of conflict does not arise because
there are no vested interests. Our goal is to do what makes sense for
Singapore," she said in a rare interview with The Straits
Times after her appointment.
"As finance minister, he does not make
decisions unilaterally, and he is part of a team," Ms Ho said. "I
don't always agree with him and he doesn't always agree with me. We have a
Ms Ho, who shuns corporate power-dressing, was an
elite government scholar and US-trained electrical engineer who rose up the
ranks of the civil service.
She married Mr Lee in 1985 when she was with the
Ministry of Defence and he had just left the armed forces with the rank of
brigadier-general to enter politics. - AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE 2004 August 13
"We need to
change from driving a Volkswagen to a Formula 1 racing car to compete with
the best in the world."
- Ms Ho Ching, newly appointed executive director of Temasek Holdings,
on her plans to give a shot in the investment-holding arm of the Government
As executive director of Temasek Holdings
and wife of Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching is seen by many
as the most influential woman in Singapore.
But at home, Ms Ho, 49, grapples with the
same issues faced by most mothers and home-makers. The chief one is managing
her four children who are on the cusp of young adulthood.
'That's the ultimate challenge in terms
of customer service,' was how she put it.
'Trying to be fair to them is such a
difficult task. They're already not wanting to go on holidays with you,' she
told journalists at a lunch yesterday.
Reflecting on her marriage into the Lee
family - she married Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew's eldest son in 1985 - Ms
Ho said: 'I didn't feel like I was marrying into an exceptional family. You
take them as they are. When you talk about exceptional families, there are
many, many exceptional families.'
The Lees were recently described by Prime
Minister Goh Chok Tong as an 'exceptional family'.
Leadership qualities aside, the Lee
family at play are like most other families. 'The rowdiest generation is the
youngest generation and the grandparents will go 'Errm . .',' Ms Ho said.
What's Mr Lee, Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister for Finance, like outside the office?
'He's humorous. He's very kind. I think
he shares a passion for Singapore. He's also my computer systems manager at
Ms Ho also had warm words for her
father-in-law. 'He's very good. He's perceptive. I think he's one person
who, amidst his responsibilities, still cares for his family. Not in a
domineering way, but just as a parent and as a friend,' she said.
Asked why she turned down an offer PM Goh
once made to her - before she married Mr Lee - to run as Member of
Parliament, she said she initially felt she was not ready. 'Later, when you
get married, you say: Okay, one politician in your family is enough,' she
Asked about the future, Ms Ho said she
has nursed ambitions to take on three issues in her career - education,
economics and defence.
Her stint in defence was fulfilled as a
Ministry of Defence military engineer, while her role in economics is still
being played out at Temasek and the various boards she serves on.
That leaves education. If she had her
way, she would 'turn the education system topsy-turvy' as the current school
system doesn't recognise the multi-faceted dimension of a child's talents.
Ms Ho mused that she might one day run a
private school but declined to say more. All she would say was that it would
be 'something that can be interesting for the mind in retirement'. -
By David Boey
27 June 2002
The new 'Temasek Charter' of the
government's investment holding company may call for some parts of its
diverse stable to be rationalised or culled, while others are encouraged to
Disclosing this yesterday, Ho Ching, the
newly-appointed executive director of Temasek Holdings, said the charter -
its newly minted corporate philosophy - will urge its people to think about
'over-the-horizon' issues and build a future of successful enterprises.
Speaking to journalists at a media lunch, she said the charter should be
released in about two weeks.
'We're definitely moving from being a
passive shareholder to where we can add and create value,' she said. But
being less passive doesn't mean Temasek will dabble with the day-to-day
issues in its companies. 'We see ourselves as a catalyst. That's why we
don't use words like 'hands on' because it gives a totally wrong image.'
The Singapore Technologies stalwart was
made Temasek's executive director on May 1. Quizzed about what changes she
has in mind, Ms Ho said: 'In any place, particularly in a time like this
where there are enormous changes, you have to change. The issue is what do
you want to change.'
She added: 'There's an old Chinese saying
that the reputation of a general rests on the bones of 10,000 men. Unless
you are conscious of that price, you may get into foolish battles.' She made
clear that her role is not to get involved in day-to-day operations -
'whether they should buy this machine or that'.
'I get involved in talking about trends
and where you want to go. It's not me providing the answers but teasing the
answers from them,' she said. 'It's this juicing up of the grey cells we are
interested in doing.'
This soul-searching process should allow
its managers to steer through rough patches in their business cycles, said
Ms Ho. 'You should begin to turn the ship now, rather than when you are
about to hit a rock.'
Brainstorming sessions will be augmented
by inputs from foreign-based advisers. Building on a practice at the
Singapore Technologies group, where she served for many years, about 20 per
cent of board members of Temasek companies can be expected to be
foreign-based, with the remainder drawn from Singapore's private sector.
Ms Ho said Temasek's people will have to
think about issues 10 to 20 years from now. The aim is to build future
streams of business for future generations. And this requires thinking ahead
- 'What can go wrong, what can go right? What's coming up on the edge of the
radar screen that could have some impact later?' Ms Ho also fielded
questions on how her marriage to Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister for Finance, could affect her work at Temasek. 'I like to think
that what I do is delinked from what he does,' she said. For the moment, Ms
Ho feels sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure conflicts of personal
interests do not crop up. 'Your goal is to do what makes sense for
Singapore. Then the issue of conflict of interest does not arise.' Ms Ho
said there could be '20 people watching a person' but if that person's
integrity is flawed, then 'no system in the world can stop a guy from doing
Another safeguard: Ms Ho and Mr Lee don't
decide on issues unilaterally as there is a committee to oversee Temasek. 'I
don't always agree with him. He doesn't always agree with me,' she said.
Asked about the lacklustre
performance of some blue-chip Temasek companies, like Singapore Telecom
whose shares hit record lows recently, Ms Ho said GLCs must have their eye
on long-term issues. 'I think if we start managing with an eye on short-term
share price gyrations, it will lead to a situation where we are not building
the business on a sustainable basis. We have to manage the business for a
sustainable future.' - By David Boey
Straits Times 27 June 2002