Celebrate 'champion' companies of Singapore

I read with interest Tuesday's report ("A developer's keen eye for the lie of the land").

During the Pan-Electric crisis in 1985, when the Stock Exchange of Singapore was closed for three days and all the banks were panicking over major defaults across their entire stock and property portfolios, I was summoned to Hong Leong Group founder Kwek Hong Png's office for an urgent meeting.

He wanted to buy Orchard Hotel at a distressed mortgagee sale from an international bank. He did not have the cash but he was prepared to issue City Developments (CDL) shares to fund the acquisition.

He needed a stock brokerage to place out the shares and I was a somewhat brave stockbroker then.

Entrepreneurship in times of crisis is probably one of the greatest strengths of any entrepreneur. But perhaps even more important is the legacy and culture that these great entrepreneurs pass on to their successors and future generations.

I am heartened that family-controlled companies such as CDL and Hong Leong Group have come such a long way since their founding some 50 years ago.

There are many other similarly founded pioneer companies in our midst that have done exceptionally well, both locally and internationally.

For our nation's 50th birthday next year, let us celebrate these "champion" companies of Singapore and hope they continue to do well and stay Singaporean for a long time to come.

Letter from Chong Huai Seng

This article was published on April 24 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.