Ho Kwon Ping

Ho Kwon Ping (b. 24 August 1952, Hong Kong - ) is one of Singapore's most prominent businessmen. He is the chairman of Wah Chang International Corporation, which comprises both public-listed and private companies engaged in hotel development and management, property development, agribusiness and food products in the Asia-Pacific region. He is also chairman of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, a regional hotel chain which operates exclusive luxury hotels, resorts and health spas.

Early life
Ho was born in Hong Kong and spent his childhood years in Thailand where his father, Ho Rih Hwa, was a businessman and diplomat. He was educated in Thailand, Taiwan, USA and Singapore.

To his own admission, he was a rebellious youth. He was a student activist in his teens and early twenties. In the late 1960s, as a student in the International School of Bangkok, he was inspired by student movements in Europe and USA. Wanting to 'change the world', he ran for presidency of the school's student council and won. After graduating from the school, he studied at Tunghai University in Taiwan. Although it was a short stint, the exposure to Chinese culture left a deep impact on him.

After spending a year in Taiwan, Ho went to the United States and studied at Stanford University, where he was exposed to the ideals of Marxism and revolution in the Third World. For his involvement in student demonstrations, he was suspended for a year from Stanford. He then went on to Cornell as a transfer student but feeling displaced, he left.

He returned to Singapore for his national service, becoming a combat engineer in the army. After completing national service, he enrolled at the University of Singapore. In 1977, while working as a journalist for the Far Eastern Economic Review, he was detained under the Internal Security Act for writing incendiary pro-Communist articles in the Far Eastern Economic Review and put into solitary confinement for two months. After his release, he continued his studies at the University of Singapore and graduated in economics and history in 1978.

In 1981, he joined his father's business, Wah Chang Group when the latter suffered a stroke. Tired of being a journalist, he was about to take up a job in Insead, the business school in Fontainbleau, France, when his father had the stroke. As the eldest son, Kwon Ping felt it his duty to take up the reins of his family business.

When he first joined Wah Chang, he made a bad business decision in his first project, which nearly bankrupted the company. His father did not allow him to resign, urging him to stay on to recoup the losses. However, from that first big mistake in business, he went on to become a successful businessman. In 1990, Ho made the cover of Fortune International magazine, with the caption: "Singapore's Kwon Ping runs more than 30 companies". In 1995, Ho opened the first Banyan Tree resort hotel in Phuket. He quickly opened another resort in Maldives, followed by another in Bintan, Indonesia. Within a few years, the business expanded into a large hotel and resort chain which owns and operates hotels, resorts, spas and golf-courses across the continents.

Ho is also actively involved in civil society, currently holding chairmanship, directorship positions and membership on the boards of various international and Singapore organisations. His wife Claire Chiang once described him as "a capitalist in his pocket and a socialist in his heart." Some values he lives by are sincerity, integrity and self-confidence. He sees himself as a humanist and believes that everyone is capable of making a difference in life.

Career highlights
197? : TV news producer, SBC.
197? : Financial correspondent and Economics Editor for Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong.
1981 : President, Wah Chang/Thai Wah Group.
1993 - 1995 : Chairman, Practice Performing Arts Ltd.
1994 - 1995 : Deputy Chairman, Public Utilities Board.
1994 - 2000 : Chairman, Singapore Power.
1995 : President Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.
1995 : Governor, Singapore International Foundation.
1995 : Governor, Civil Service College
1995 : Chairman, National Council on the Environment.
2000 : Director, Singapore Airlines.
2000 : Chairman, Singapore Management University.
2004 : Director, MediaCorp.
2004 : Director, Singapore Tourism Board.

Other appointments
Director, Standard Chartered Bank.
Chairman, Singapore Institute of Management.
Chairman, Speak Mandarin Campaign.
Chairman, SP Telecommunications.
Co-Chairman, Thailand-Singapore Business Council.
Member, Singapore-US Business Council.
Member, Asia Pacific Council.
Member, the Nature Conservancy.
Member, Regional Advisory Board of the London Business School.
Member, International Council of Asia Society.
Member, INSEAD International Council.

Father: The late Ho Rih Hwa, businessman and diplomat.
Mother: The late Li Lienfung, writer and columnist for The Straits Times.
Sister: Ho Minfong, writer.
Brother: Ho Kwon Cjan, architect.
Wife: Claire Chiang, former Nominated Member of Parliament.
Children: Ho Ren Hua, Ho Ren Yung and Ho Ren Chun.

Nureza Ahmad

Long, S. (1997, March 9).
The eldest has to sacrifice for younger siblings. The Straits Times, Sunday Plus, p. 3.

Nathan, D. (1995, March 26).
Green man takes up new challenge. The Straits Times, p. 7

Rohainiah Saini (1995, April 27).
Kwon Ping- from political detainee to captain of industry. The Straits Times, Life, p. 1.

Thomas, M. (1992, June 20). Straight-talking man. The Business Times, Executive Lifestyle, p. 3.

Wee, T. (2002, April 18).
Branching out. The Straits Times.

Wong, K.H. (2004, January 11).
Who says I sold out? The Straits Times.

5 new board members for STB. (2004, January 21). The Straits Times

Blazing a trail of his own in hotel industry. (2001, September 13). The Straits Times, Home, p. H2.

The journey home to myself. (1999, October 16). The Straits Times, p. 55.

MediaCorp News. (2004, May 31). Ho Kwon Ping and Soo Kok Leng join MediaCorp's Board of Directors. Retrieved June 9, 2004 from

Further Readings
Singapore International Foundation. (2004). SIF International Student Symposium 2004. Retrieved June 9, 2004, from

Singapore Tourism Board. (2004, January 19). STB announces new board members. Retrieved June 9, 2004, from app.stb.com.sg/asp/new/new03a.asp?id=623

The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we can 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.

Ho, Kwon Ping, 1952-
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Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Construction and real estate>>Real estate

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