Every visit of Ow Chio Kiat to New Zealand is an event of significance.
The sharp and jovial Executive Chairman of Stamford Land Corporation Limited, which owns Stamford Plaza Auckland (and several other companies) carries on his able shoulders the responsibility of an ever-expanding business empire, and yet shows no strain.
But woe betides the person who takes him for granted.
He selects the right persons for the right jobs, assigns them targets and standards and monitors and rewards their performance.
He meets the right people, asks the right questions and issues the right directives, which is how and why he transformed Hai Sun Hup, a modest cargo handling and port services company into a multinational shipping and marketing group.
Following its listing on the Singapore Stock Exchange, the Company was renamed Stamford Land Corporation Limited in 2001, the same year in which he established Singapore Shipping Corporation Limited.
Five years later, he formed Cougar Logistics Corporation Limited.
Mr Ow is used to accolades but is seldom affected by them.
He takes them in his stride, just as he did ten days ago, when Queen Elizabeth II appointed him as Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia, one of the highest civilian honours in Commonwealth Australia.
Among the other past recipients of the Honour in Singapore are former Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and former Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore Dough Chester said the Honour was in recognition of Mr Ow’s service to the development of commercial relations and for identifying business opportunities between Australia and Singapore.
“Mr Ow has made valuable contributions to both Australian and Singaporean business communities and has played a key role in strengthening our bilateral ties. He is a great friend of Australia, and we congratulate him warmly on this occasion,” he said.
As well as being associated with several Singapore and Australian business groups, including the Singapore Australia Business Alliance Forum, Mr Ow was closely involved in the negotiations between the two governments for a Free Trade Agreement.
According to Mr Chester, Mr Ow’s connections with the Singaporean Government and preeminent business people contributed to the growth of Singapore’s business and investment links with Australia.
A qualified Chartered Shipbroker, Mr Ow is an icon in shipping business. He is Singapore’s Representative to the Free Trade Area (and Closer Economic Relations Council) of the Association of South East Asian Nations, the Bremen Business International and a Member of the National Arts Council of Singapore.
He was the Honorary Consul-General of the Slovak Republic to Singapore from 2001 to 2007 and is currently Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to Argentina.
The Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen recently honoured him with an Award for his outstanding service over 20 years to the Bremen Business Council.
Among the other Awards that he has received are Businessman of the Year 2008 (Singapore Business Awards); Slovak Republic Foreign Affairs Ministry Gold Medal (2007); Order of Bernardo O’Higgins (with the rank of “Gran Oficial”) by the President of Chile (2000); and President’s Medal by the Singapore Australian Business Council (1999).
The IMCA and University of Action Learning conferred on him Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) honoris causa in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2002.