Ho Kwon Ping



Ho Kwon Ping (b. 24 August 1952, Hong Kong–) is a prominent businessman in Singapore.1 He is the chairman of Wah Chang Group and Thai Wah Public Company Limited, which owns a portfolio of public and private companies engaged in hotel development and management, property development, agribusiness and food products mainly in the Asia-Pacific region.2 Ho is also chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings Limited, a regional hotel chain that operates luxury hotels, resorts and health spas as well as residential developments with resort-style amenities.3 Ho has been credited for the continuing success of Singapore Management University as well as contributing to the growth in Singapore’s business, education and civil society.4

Early life
Born in Hong Kong, Ho spent his childhood years in Thailand where his father, Ho Rih Hwa, was a businessman and diplomat.5


A student activist in his teens and early 20s, Ho admits to being a rebellious youth.6 In the late 1960s, he was a student at the International School of Bangkok. At the time, he was inspired by student movements in Europe and the U.S. Wanting to “change the world”, he ran for the school’s student council presidency and won.7

Ho subsequently studied at Tunghai University in Taiwan. Although a short stint, the exposure to Chinese culture left a deep impact on him.8 After spending a year in Taiwan, Ho went to the U.S. to further his studies at Stanford University. There, he was exposed to the ideals of Marxism and revolution in the Third World. For his involvement in student demonstrations, Ho was suspended for a year from Stanford. He then transferred to Cornell University but, feeling displaced, he left.9

Ho returned to Singapore for national service, where he served as a combat engineer. After completing his national service, he enrolled at the University of Singapore.10 In 1977, while moonlighting as a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, Ho was detained under the Internal Security Act and put into solitary confinement for two months for writing incendiary pro-communist articles in the publication.11 He continued his studies at the University of Singapore after his release and graduated in economics, history and political science in 1978.12

Career
Ho joined his father’s business – the Wah Chang group of companies – when his father suffered a stroke in 1981.13 At the time, Ho was about to take up a job at INSEAD, a business school in Fontainbleau, France. However, as the eldest son, he felt it was his duty to take over the reins of his family business.14

Upon joining Wah Chang, Ho made a business decision that almost reduced the company to bankruptcy.15 His father, however, did not allow him to resign but urged him to stay on to recoup the losses. From that first big mistake, Ho went on to become a successful businessman.16 In 1990, he appeared on the cover of Fortune International magazine accompanied by the headline “Singapore’s Kwon Ping runs more than 30 companies”.17

In 1995, Ho opened the first Banyan Tree resort hotel in Phuket. In the same year, another resort was opened in the Maldives, followed by another in Bintan, Indonesia. Within a few years, the business expanded into a chain of hotels, resorts, spas and golf courses across the continents.18

Other contributions
Also actively involved in civil society, Ho has been serving on the boards of various international and Singapore organisations as chairman, director or member.19 His wife, Claire Chiang, once described him as “a capitalist in his pocket and a socialist in his heart”.20

Ho values integrity most, likening it to loyalty, grace, courage and honesty to oneself.21 He sees himself as a humanist and believes that everyone is capable of making a difference in life.22 A sought-after speaker, Ho admits that his skeptical curiosity ofexploring “why” often takes him full circle. However this not only reinforces his fundamental convictions but has also led him to discover innovative insights.23

Career highlights
1970s: TV news producer, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.24
1970s–1981: Correspondent, journalist, and economics editor for Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong.25
1981: Appointed president, Wah Chang Group/Thai Wah.26 
1993–1995: Chairman, Practice Performing Arts Ltd.27
1994–1995: Deputy chairman, Public Utilities Board.28
1994–2000: Chairman, Singapore Power.29
1995: Appointed chairman, Banyan Tree Holdings.30
1995–2002:
Governor, Singapore International Foundation.31

1995: Governor, Civil Service College.32
1995–1997: Chairman, National Council on the Environment, Singapore Environment Council.33
2000–2007: Board Director, Singapore Airlines.34
2000: Chairman, Singapore Management University.35
2004–2010: Director, MediaCorp.36

2004–2004: Board Member, Singapore Tourism Board.37

Other appointments
Director, Standard Chartered Bank.38
Conference Chairman, Singapore Summit.39
Chairman, Singapore Institute of Management.40
Chairman, Speak Mandarin Campaign.41
Co-chairman, Thailand-Singapore Business Council.42
Member, Singapore-US Business Council.43
Member, Asia Pacific Council.44
Member, The Nature Conservancy Asia Pacific Council.45
Member, Regional Advisory Board of London Business School.46
Member, International Council of Asia Society.47

Awards
2009: Meritorious Service Medal.48
2017: Distinguished Service Order.49

Family
Father: Ho Rih Hwa.50
Mother: Li Lienfung.51
Sister: Ho Minfong.52
Brother: Ho Kwon Cjan.53
Wife: Claire Chiang.54
Children: Ren Hua, Ren Yung and Ren Chun.55
Grandson: Kang Peng.56 



Author

Nureza Ahmad



References
1. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO); Wong, K. H. (2004, January 11). Who says I sold out? The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. The eldest has to sacrifice for younger siblings. (1997, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 3; Wong, K. H. (2004, January 11). Who says I sold out? The Straits Times, p. 42.; Chuang, P. M. (1988, August 24). Wah Chang group expands in Thailand. The Business Times, p. 15.  Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Thai Wah Public Company Limited. (n.d.). Board of Directors. Retrieved on 2018, June 5 from Thai Wah Public Company Limted website: http://investor.thaiwah.com/directors.html
3. Peterson, J. A. (2017, November 14). A chat with Ho Kwon Ping. Forbes Asia; First Banyan Tree Residences in Middle East goes on sale. (2018, February 22–24.). eGlobal Travel Media. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg; Wong, K. H. (2004, January 11). Who says I sold out? The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Chia, Y. M. (2017, August 9). Another feather in the cap for SMU Chairman. The Straits Times; Ho, K. P. (2017, March 26). Disruptive change and the Singapore dilemma. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
5. Lim, H. L. (1977, April 27). Midweek. New Nation, pp. 10–11; Yeoh, E-L. (1999, August 30). Businessman and ex-envoy Ho Rih Hwa, 82, dies. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55; Wong, K. H. (2004, January 11). Who says I sold out? The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Kwon Ping: From political detainee to captain of industry. (1995, April 27). The Straits Times, p. 2; The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Kwon Ping: From political detainee to captain of industry. (1995, April 27). The Straits Times, p. 2; The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55.; Kwon Ping passes his university exams. (1977, July 3). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
13. The eldest has to sacrifice for younger siblings. (1997, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. The ties that bind. (1992, June 20). The Business Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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16. The ties that bind. (1992, June 20). The Business Times, p. 21; Wah Chang seeks listing for resorts business. (1995, August 19). The Straits Times, p. 47. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Ho Kwon Ping makes it on Fortune cover. (1990, September 20). The New Paper, p. 11, Kwon Ping: From political detainee to captain of industry. (1995, April 27). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Wee, T. (2002, April 18). Branching out. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Kwon Ping: From political detainee to captain of industry. (1995, April 27). The Straits Times, p. 2; Chuang, P. M. (2000, December 8). Rendering service to govt in a wide range of areas. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. A romance with hotels. (1992, June 20). The Business Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. The eldest has to sacrifice for younger siblings. (1997, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Ho, K. P. (2016). The ocean in a drop: Singapore: The next fifty years. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.: IPS. (Call no.: RSING 320.6095957 HO)
24. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55; The ties that bind. (1992, June 20). The Business Times, p. 21; The eldest has to sacrifice for younger siblings. (1997, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. The ties that bind. (1992, June 20). The Business Times, p. 21; The eldest has to sacrifice for younger siblings. (1997, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 3; Chuang, P. M. (1988, August 24).
27. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
28. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
29. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
30. Wee, T. (2002, April 18). Branching out. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Nathan, D. (1995, March 26). Green man takes up new challenge. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore International Foundation. (2003). Annual report 2002/2003. Singapore: The Foundation. pp. 2, 3. (Call no.: RCLOS q327.17 SIFAR-[AR])
32. Nathan, D. (1995, March 26). Green man takes up new challenge. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Nathan, D. (1995, March 26). Green man takes up new challenge. The Straits Times, p. 7; Green Award Winners: Individuals. (1997, November 3). The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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35. Wee, T. (2002, April 18). Branching out. The Straits Times, p. 4; The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. New chairman for MediaCorp. (2004, July 23). The Straits Times, p. 16; Teo Ming Kian to be MediaCorp chairman. (2010, May 12). The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. 5 new board members for STB. (2004, January 21). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
39. Dawra, P. (2017, September 22). Ho Kwon Ping: Navigating the political divide. LiveMINT. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg; Patron and Conference Chairman, Singapore Summit. Retrieved 2018, June 6 from Singapore Summit website: https://www.singaporesummit.sg/content.aspx?sid=27
40. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
41. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
42. Nathan, D. (1995, March 26). Green man takes up new challenge. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. Low, K. T. (2006). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 181–182. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
44. Cheng Wai Keung joins Apec council as S’pore rep. (2000, February 10). The Business Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
45. Chuang, P. M. (2000, December 8). Rendering service to govt in a wide range of areas. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
46. Low, E. (2001, September 19). SMU appoints new president. The Business Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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50. Yeoh, E-L. (1999, August 30). Businessman and ex-envoy Ho Rih Hwa, 82, dies. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
51. The eldest has to sacrifice for younger siblings. (1997, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
52. Yeoh, E-L. (1999, August 30). Businessman and ex-envoy Ho Rih Hwa, 82, dies. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
53. Blazing a trail of his own in hotel industry. (2001, September 13). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
54. Blazing a trail of his own in hotel industry. (2001, September 13). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
55. Wee, T. (2002, April 18). Branching out. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ho Ren Yung. (2018, March 16). The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
56. Banyan Tree branches into succession planning. (2015, November 23) The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg



The information in this article is valid as at 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Businessmen--Singapore--Biography
Personalities
Ho, Kwon Ping, 1952-
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Leisure and entertainment
Personalities>>Biographies
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Construction and real estate>>Real estate