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Terence Wong, CFA

CEO and Executive Director
Azure Capital

Fact Is Stranger Than Fiction

May 28, 2024

Attended the launch of a book on Banyan Tree founder Ho Kwon Ping. “Behind the Banyan: Ho Kwon Ping on Building a Global Brand” was conceived and written by Aaron Low, an old friend whom I met during his time as deputy business editor of The Straits Times.

KP’s life story is nothing short of extraordinary, brimming with drama that surpasses most fictional characters. Few Singaporeans can boast such a diverse resume – from anti-Vietnam War activism in 1960s America to expulsion from Stanford University, followed by imprisonment in Singapore for controversial articles in the 1970s, and even proposing while behind bars, all before the age of 30.

Over the subsequent three decades, he and his wife, Claire Chiang, painstakingly built a globally renowned hospitality brand from scratch. What’s equally compelling is how someone with a ‘tarnished’ past (read: brushes with the government) rose to chairmanship positions at Mediacorp and Singapore Management University, two notably sensitive sectors.

Kudos to Aaron for his ‘gonzo’ journalism style, which injected even more intrigue into an already gripping tale.