SINGAPORE - Singapore's intellectual property chief has been appointed head of the global intellectual property office, becoming the first Singaporean to helm a United Nations agency.
Mr Daren Tang, 47, was made director-general of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) on Friday (May 8). The organisation is responsible for shaping global rules for intellectual property and oversees trademarks, designs and patents.
He will begin his six-year term on Oct 1 and will relinquish his role as chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos).
During a final round of voting by the body earlier in March, Mr Tang garnered 55 votes against China's candidate, lawyer Wang Binying, who received 28 votes.
He had been selected by the agency's 83-member coordination committee from a slate of 10 candidates prior to the vote.
Mr Tang's appointment was approved on Friday at an extraordinary session of the Wipo General Assembly (GA). This makes him the fifth director-general of Wipo, succeeding Australian Francis Gurry - who held the post for 12 years - and the first Singaporean to helm a UN agency. He is also Wipo's first Asian head.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Tang said that unilateralism and parochialism are threatening to undermine multilateral institutions and urged members to work together in a common global effort.
Laying out his plans for the agency, he stressed the need to build an inclusive, balanced, vibrant and forward-looking global intellectual property (IP) ecosystem.
This would include giving more support to less developed countries, leveraging Wipo's IP data for policy insights, using IP to connect innovators and artists to markets and communities and partnering international organisations seeking solutions to global challenges, such as climate change and public health.
Calling Mr Tang's appointment "a momentous occasion for Singapore", Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong said that during Mr Tang's term as Ipos' chief executive, Singapore had risen through the ranks to become second-best globally and the top performing country in Asia in terms of IP protection, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report.
"I wish Daren all the best in leading (Wipo) towards building a more vibrant IP community internationally," he said.
Ipos board chairman Stanley Lai said: "Having worked with him for several years, the board is certain that the global IP community will be served by a director general who is exceptionally attuned to the interests of countries, economies, and also equipped with a deep understanding of IP and its forceful impact on innovation and global development, especially during these challenging times.
"These qualities will serve Wipo, her member states and the larger IP community well."