Businesswomen and their (Potential) Prime Minister hushbands…

7 Jun


“I fully accept personal responsibility for any errors made by my company in handling the details of the employment arrangements for staff,” she said.

“I have also accepted full responsibility for rectifying any errors.”

Theresa Rein, accepting responsibility for her business.

Madam Ho Ching is a famous and powerful women. She is billed as one of the top 100 people who “shaped the world” by Time magazine in 2007 and by Forbes as the number 24th most powerful women in 2004. As the CEO of Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the Singapore government, she also happens to be the wife of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who is also the son of the Singapore’s elderstatesmen cum Minister Mentor, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

In the August 14th-20th 2004 edition of The Economist, the magazine published an article entitled, “Temasek, First Singapore, Next the World” which angered the Lees. Subsequently, the magazine issued an apology to the family for allegations that Ho Ching is appointed to the position “not on merit, but for corrupt nepotist motives for the advancement of the Lee family’s interests; and that Mr Lee Kuan Yew supported or condoned Mdm Ho’s appointment for like motives.” The magazine even agreed to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew 127,000 pounds by way of damages according to a blog from Mr Brown, a popular and satirist blogger who used to own a column in the Singapore paper, TODAY, until he got the boot himself last July for “overstepping the boundaries” when he wrote a column on the increasing cost of living.

Since becoming CEO, her critics have accused her of controversial acquisition decisions including the recent troubled $3.8 billion purchase of Shin Corp or the sinking of Micropolis which resulted in a lost of $630 million.

Compare this to Mrs Kevin Rudd, the wife of the labour party leader and potential Prime Minister of Australia, Therese Rein. She owns a job agency which acquired the company, WorkDirections Australia in 2006. It was discovered that this company owed 58 staff members $70,000 of pay due to , removing “workers’ penalty rates, overtime and allowances for an extra 45 cents an hour on a common law contract”. Rudd and Theresa has since said apologised, acknowledged it was a honest mistake and that efforts have been made to rectify the situation.

Theresa has also decided to sell off her Australian part of the business to prevent possible future “conflicts of interest”. This has sparked off a debate in Australia about working women and whether the wives of politicians should “sacrifice their business achievements” for the aspirations of their husbands.

As for Ho Ching, she has yet to apologise or comment on the disastrous business decisions that have been made. Different women, different paths (fate)?


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