About the Chairperson

Ho Kwon Ping is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings and Laguna Resorts and Hotels, and Executive Chairman of Thai Wah Public Company. All three family-owned companies are listed in Singapore and Thailand.   

He is also the founding and current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Singapore Management University. 

Among various awards, Mr Ho has received the London Business School Entrepreneurship Award; CEO of the Year at the Singapore Corporate Awards; CNBC Travel Business Leader Award; Distinguished Alumnus Award from the National University of Singapore; and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Creativity Association, China Hotel Investment Summit and Australia Hotel Investment Summit. Honoured for his contributions and accomplishments in the hotel industry in the Asia Pacific region and globally, Mr Ho is the only two-time recipient of Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific - HICAP’s Innovation Award (2003) and Lifetime Achievement Award (2019) in its 30-year establishment. 

For his services to the country, he has been decorated with the Meritorious Service Medal and Distinguished Service Order by the Singapore Government. Mr Ho has also been conferred honorary doctorates by Johnson & Wales University and from Hong Kong Poly University.


About The Lecture Series

The Ho Rih Hwa Leadership Lecture Series seeks to inspire students and the public with the views and valuable opinions of accomplished entrepreneurs, business and political leaders from within and beyond the Asia-Pacific region. The series was established at the Singapore Management University by philanthropist Mrs Ho Lien Fung, in memory of her late husband, former Singapore Ambassador and successful businessman Mr Ho Rih Hwa.

Focusing on leadership and business issues pertinent to our global landscape today, the lecture series serve as an enriching platform for the sharing of relevant knowledge and experience. The lectures are delivered by individuals who have demonstrated impeccable leadership with significant contributions to the society in their respective fields. It is a tremendous opportunity for audiences to draw on the foresight, knowledge and experiences of these distinguished speakers.

The logo of the Series, depicting a mortarboard and lectern, symbolises both the success of a vision and the goal of SMU. The mortarboard epitomises academic excellence and success, while the lectern, supported on a ‘pillar of learning’, represents the Lecture Series and is also a visual metaphor for leadership. The logo manifests the spirit of learning through which business, politics and entrepreneurship metamorphosise to meet the challenges of the new century.


About Mr Ho Rih Hwa

Born in Singapore on 30 March 1917 under humble conditions as the son of a boat builder, Ho Rih Hwa studied at Yang-Zheng primary school in Singapore before enrolling in Lingnan secondary school in Canton, China and studying for a few months in Japan. He furthered his studies at Lingnan University and later, Nanking University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours). Passing a special government examination and securing a Chinese government scholarship enabled Ho to further his studies at Cornell University in the United States and later, Harvard University.

In 1946, he married Li Lien Fung, who also studied at Cornell University. Li’s father, K.C.Li of Wah Chang Corporation, impressed with his son-in-law’s verve and intelligence, took him to company in 1948. Mr and Mrs Ho were sent to Bangkok and Rangoon, to trade in tungsten ore and various agricultural products like jute, tapioca and mung bean. The couple was equal partners in business, trading under the umbrella of the Thai Wah Company and later the Walcon Company. Ho, with the support of his wife, ventured further to set up many factories across Asia, revolutionising the process of producing starch from mung beans and tapioca products.

In 1967, Ho was asked to be involved in the establishment and operations of the Economic Development Board in Thailand and later took on the role of Ambassador of Singapore to Thailand, Belgium and Germany. As Ambassador, he was entitled to an annual salary but chose not to receive any payment for the role that he deemed as his patriotic service to his country.

The Ho’s have three children consisting of eldest daughter, author Ho Minfong; son, Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Singapore Management University and Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings Limited; and younger son, architect, Ho Kwoncjan, who was responsible for the unique architectural designs of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts.


About SMU

A premier university in Asia, the Singapore Management University (SMU) is internationally recognised for its world-class research and distinguished teaching. Established in 2000, SMU’s mission is to generate leading-edge research with global impact and to produce broad-based, creative, and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge-based economy. SMU’s education is known for its highly interactive, collaborative, and project-based approach to learning. 

Home to over 12,000 students across undergraduate, postgraduate professional and postgraduate research programmes, SMU comprises eight schools: School of Accountancy, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, School of Economics, School of Computing and Information Systems, Yong Pung How School of Law, School of Social Sciences, College of Integrative Studies and College of Graduate Research Studies. SMU offers a wide range of bachelors', masters', and PhD degree programmes in the disciplinary areas associated with its schools, as well as in multidisciplinary combinations of these areas.

SMU emphasises rigorous, high-impact, multi- and interdisciplinary research that addresses Asian issues of global relevance. SMU faculty members collaborate with leading international researchers and universities around the world, as well as with partners in the business community and public sector. SMU’s city campus is a modern facility located in the heart of downtown Singapore, fostering strategic linkages with business, government, and the wider community.