Ho Kwon Ping

Singapore Infopedia


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

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
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

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

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 


Nureza Ahmad

1. Low Kar Tiang, Who’s Who in Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., 2006), 181–82 (Call no. RSING 920.05957 WHO); Wong Kim Hoh, “Who Says I Sold Out? Straits Times, 11 January 2004, 42. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “The Eldest Has to Sacrifice for Younger Siblings,” Straits Times, 9 March 1997, 3; Wong, “Who Says I Sold Out?”; Chuang Peck Ming, “Wah Chang Group Expands in Thailand,” Business Times, 24 August 1988, 15 (From NewspaperSG); “Board of Directors,” Thai Wah Public Company Limited, accessed 5 June 2018.
3. Jane A. Peterson, “A Chat With Banyan Tree Founder and Chairman Ho Kwon Ping, 14 November 2017; Forbes Asia; First Banyan Tree Residences in Middle East goes on sale, eGlobal Travel Media (22–24 February 2018) (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); Wong, “Who Says I Sold Out?
4. Chia Yan Min, “Another Feather in the Cap for SMU Chairman,” Straits Times, 9 August 2017, 6; Ho Kwon Ping, “Disruptive Change and the Singapore Dilemma,” Straits Times, 26 March 2017, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
5. H. L. Lim, “Midweek,” New Nation, 27 April 1977, 10–11; Yeoh En-Lai, Businessman and Ex-Envoy Ho Rih Hwa, 82, Dies,” Straits Times, 30 August 1999, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “The Journey Home to Myself,” Straits Times, 16 October 1999, 55; Wong, “Who Says I Sold Out?
7. “Journey Home to Myself.”
8. “Journey Home to Myself.”
9. “Kwon Ping: From Political Detainee to Captain of Industry,” Straits Times, 27 April 1995, 2; “Journey Home to Myself.”
10. “Journey Home to Myself.”
11. “Political Detainee to Captain of Industry”; “Journey Home to Myself.”
12. “Journey Home to Myself”; “Kwon Ping Passes His University Exams,” Straits Times, 3 July 1977, 5 (From NewspaperSG); Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
13. “Eldest Has to Sacrifice.”
14. “The Ties That Bind,” Business Times, 20 June 1992, 21. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Journey Home to Myself”; “Ties That Bind.”
16. “Ties That Bind”; “Wah Chang Seeks Listing for Resorts Business,” Straits Times, 19 August 1995, 47. (From NewspaperSG)
17. “Ho Kwon Ping Makes It on Fortune Cover,” New Paper, 20 September 1990, 11; “Political Detainee to Captain of Industry.”
18. Tommy Wee, “Branching Out,” Straits Times, 18 April 2002, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Political Detainee to Captain of Industry”; Chuang Peck Ming, “Rendering Service to Govt in a Wide Range of Areas,” Business Times, 8 December 2000, 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. “A Romance with Hotels,” Business Times, 20 June 1992, 21. (From NewspaperSG)
21. “Eldest Has to Sacrifice.”
22. “Journey Home to Myself.”
23. Ho Kwon Ping, The Ocean in a Drop: Singapore: The Next Fifty Years (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., 2016), IPS. (Call no. RSING 320.6095957 HO)
24. “Journey Home to Myself.”
25. “Journey Home to Myself”; “Ties That Bind”; “Eldest Has to Sacrifice.”
26. “Ties That Bind”; “Eldest Has to Sacrifice.” 
27. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
28. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
29. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
30. Wee, “Branching Out.” 
31. Dominic Nathan, “Green Man Takes Up New Challenge,” Straits Times, 26 March 1995, 7 (From NewspaperSG); Singapore International Foundation, Annual Report 2002/2003 (Singapore: International Foundation, 2003), 2, 3. (Call no. RCLOS q327.17 SIFAR-[AR])
32. Nathan, “Green Man Takes Up New Challenge.”
33. Nathan, “Green Man Takes Up New Challenge”; “Green Award Winners: Individuals,” Straits Times, 3 November 1997, 29. (From NewspaperSG)
34. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82; Singapore Airlines, Annual Report 2007-08 (Singapore: Singapore Airlines, 2008). (Call no. RCLOS 387.706555957 SAAR-[AR])
35. Wee, “Branching Out”; “Journey Home to Myself.”
36. “New Chairman for MediaCorp,” Straits Times, 23 July 2004, 16; “Teo Ming Kian to Be MediaCorp Chairman,” Business Times, 12 May 2010, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
37. “5 New Board Members for STB,” Straits Times, 21 January 2004, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
38. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
39. Preeti Dawra, “Ho Kwon Ping: Navigating the Political Divide,” LiveMINT, 22 September 2017 (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); Patron and Conference Chairman,” Singapore Summit, accessed 6 June 2018.  
40. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
41. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
42. Nathan, “Green Man Takes Up New Challenge.”
43. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
44. “Cheng Wai Keung Joins Apec Council as S’pore Rep,” Business Times, 10 February 2000, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
45. Chuang, “Rendering Service to Govt in a Wide Range of Areas.”
46. Eugene Low, “SMU Appoints New President,” Business Times, 19 September 2001, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
47. Low, Who’s Who in Singapore, 181–82.
48. National Day Honours, Government Gazette Extraordinary. (G.N. 2315), 9 August 2009, 1. (Call no. RSING 959 57 SGG)
49. National Day Honours, Government Gazette Extraordinary. (G.N. 2533), 9 August 2017, 1. (Call no. RSING 959 57 SGG); Chia, “Another Feather in the Cap.” 
50. Yeoh, Businessman and Ex-Envoy Ho Rih Hwa, 82, Dies,”
51. “Eldest Has to Sacrifice.”
52. Yeoh, Businessman and Ex-Envoy Ho Rih Hwa, 82, Dies,”
53. Krist Boo, “Blazing a Trail of His Own in Hotel Industry,” Straits Times, 13 September 2001, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
54. Boo, “Blazing a Trail of His Own in Hotel Industry.”
55. Wee, “Branching Out”; “Ho Ren Yung,” Business Times, 16 March 2018. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
56. Li Xueying, “Banyan Tree Branches into Succession Planning,” Straits Times, 23 November 2015, 12. (From NewspaperSG)

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.


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