UOB veteran clinches Asean accolade

Banking and property tycoon Wee Cho Yaw is among nine leading entrepreneurs in South-east Asia to be chosen for the inaugural Legacy Awards, launched this year by the Asean Business Advisory Council to mark the bloc's 50th anniversary.
Banking and property tycoon Wee Cho Yaw is among nine leading entrepreneurs in South-east Asia to be chosen for the inaugural Legacy Awards, launched this year by the Asean Business Advisory Council to mark the bloc's 50th anniversary.PHOTO: UOB

Banking and property tycoon Wee Cho Yaw has received a major regional award in recognition of his business achievements.

He is one of nine South-east Asian industry veterans picked for the Asean Business Advisory Council's inaugural Legacy Award, a prize launched this year to mark the bloc's 50th birthday.

The awards were presented on Wednesday at the 10th Asean Business Awards ceremony, which was held in Manila.

Dr Wee, 88, is adviser and emeritus chairman of local lender United Overseas Bank (UOB), which was founded by his late father Wee Kheng Chiang in 1935.

While at the helm of the bank, whose board he joined in 1958, Dr Wee bought five banks here and another five in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. More than nine in 10 of the UOB Group's offices and branches can now be found within Asean.

Once described as "one of Singapore's shrewdest bankers and businessmen" by now Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Wee also became the first Singaporean president of the Asean Chambers of Commerce and Industry in 1979.

Other Legacy Award recipients include Mr Sudhamek, who is chairman of Indonesian food and beverage giant GarudaFood Group, and Mr John Gokongwei Jr, who led Philippine conglomerate JG Summit Holdings.

In all, 47 prizes were handed out to leaders of key sectors as well as promising small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Republic's other notables were Catalist-listed infocomm company DeClout - which took home the Priority Integration Sector Excellence Award for its contributions to "e-Asean" digitalisation - and multidisciplinary professional services firm Zico Holdings in the SME Excellence Awards category.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said: "As chair of Asean in its milestone 50th year, I consider it a privilege to usher in a new age in our regional economy - one that is motivated not by the desire for profit, but by the drive and the entrepreneurial spirit of our peoples."

With a nod to the various prize winners, he added: "I also call on other entrepreneurs in the region to follow their example, and become beacons of innovation and change towards poverty eradication and economic development in your respective countries."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'UOB veteran clinches Asean accolade'. Print Edition | Subscribe