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Meet World's 8th Most Powerful Woman

  • (Photo courtesy: The Straits Times)

Temasek Holdings' chief executive Ho Ching is the only woman in Asia to feature in the top 10 of Forbes magazine's fifth annual list of the world's most powerful women.

The low-profile Ho, who rarely gives media interviews, pipped several regional and global high-fliers to maintain a spot in the top 10, at No 8 this year, down from No 3 last year.

They include US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, No 35; Burma's Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, No 38; Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, No 41; and Laura Bush, wife of US President George W Bush, No 44.

Ho, 54, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has headed the Singapore investment company since 2002 and is credited with boosting its investment portfolio by investing in Indian and Chinese telecom companies, for instance.

Forbes said that Ho's achievements in the past year included "moving more of the city-state's money abroad", such as Temasek's move to take a 15 per cent stake in US financial giant Merrill Lynch for US$5 billion in December.

The Forbes top 100 list measures power as a composite of public profile based on press mentions and financial heft.

Temasek's assets rose 13 per cent to S$185 billion (US$130.64 billion) in the year ended March 31. Last month, it pumped an additional $900 million into Merrill Lynch.

Ho's drop from the No 3 spot last year to No 8 this year appears in part to be the result of the spike in interest last year over Temasek's take-over of Shin Corp, one of Thailand's biggest telecom firms. That sparked a wave of protests which eventually led to the overthrow of then Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Said Forbes: "Her moving down is more a factor of other women attaining greater power and pushing her farther down. That said, being on this global list is a celebration of her achievements and certainly not a statement that her power is diminished."

Ho's meteoric rise to No 3 last year--she was 36th in 2006--also came after Temasek's portfolio had crossed the S$100 billion (US$70.62 billion) mark for the first time.

Last year, she came in just behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who remains in top spot this year, and China's Vice-Premier Wu Yi, who has dropped off the list after retiring earlier this year.

This year's list comprises 23 who shape governments around the world, 54 business executives, and others who are high-profile media personalities and leaders of non-profit organisations.

Sheila Bair, head of Federal Deposit Insurance, the embattled US bank-deposit insurer, debuts in second place as she tries to stave off financial panic amid a worldwide credit crisis.

PepsiCo's chairman and chief executive Indra Nooyi, who was born in India, but is now a United States citizen, is No 3.

US senator Hillary Rodham Clinton garnered the most media attention at No 28, while media maven and global philanthropist Oprah Winfrey is No 36.

The women on this list control $26 trillion worldwide, said Forbes.

FORBES' 2008 list of the top 10 most powerful women in Asia:

1. Ho Ching, executive director and CEO, Temasek Holdings, Singapore (No 8 on main list)

2. Sonia Gandhi, president of National Congress Party, India (No 21)

3. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia (No 23)

4. Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace laureate, Burma (No 38)

5. Gloria Arroyo, President, the Philippines (No 41)

6. Zhang Xin, co-chief executive, Soho, China (No 68)

7. Yang Mian Mian, chairman, Haier, China (No 70)

8. Lee Myung Hee, chairman, Shinsegae, South Korea (No 80)

9. Eva Cheng, chief executive, Amway, Greater China and Southeast Asia (No 88)

10. Jing Ulrich, chairman, China Equities at JP Morgan Chase, China (No 95) (By MICHELLE TAY/ The Straits Times/ ANN)

MySinchew 2008.09.02


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