11 Jan 2018

The Straits Times

By ANN WILLIAMS

Business and industry leaders yesterday gave a strong thumbs-up to the appointment of former Civil Service head Peter Ong as chairman-designate of Enterprise Singapore.

Two government entities, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and Spring Singapore, will be merged to form Enterprise Singapore, the new one-stop agency to drive Singapore Inc's global push.

The formal union, which will involve about 960 employees in total, is expected to take effect in the second quarter of this year.

Mr Ong's appointment follows the first reading of the Enterprise Singapore Board Bill in Parliament on Monday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement yesterday.

He will concurrently be appointed senior economic adviser, MTI, with effect from Jan 15.

In this capacity, Mr Ong will provide strategic advice on economic strategies and policies, as well as champion efforts to enable robust enterprise growth through strong enterprise capabilities, deep and wide internationalisation networks, and strong partnerships with key stakeholders, said MTI.

Mr Loh Khum Yean, Permanent Secretary for MTI, said: "I look forward to working closely with him to strengthen economic growth and create good jobs for Singaporeans."

MTI added that over the next few months, other board members will be identified. MTI's second permanent secretary Png Cheong Boon, who used to head Spring and JTC Corporation, was named Enterprise Singapore's first chief executive last year.

Mr Ong spent more than 30 years in the public sector where he was permanent secretary for several ministries, including Trade and Industry, Finance, Transport and Defence. He was also a permanent secretary in the Prime Minister's Office.

His extensive background and wealth of experience will be instrumental in steering Enterprise Singapore's efforts to grow stronger Singapore enterprises, said MTI.

Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the Singapore Business Federation, said: "As former head of the Civil Service and chairman of the Pro-Enterprise Panel, Peter Ong was a staunch supporter of pro-enterprise efforts and championed the causes of the private sector. As a member of the panel, I deeply appreciated how he used his office to bring a whole-of-Government approach to review rules and regulations that impacted businesses. He won the admiration of the private sector representatives on the PEP."

Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, noted Mr Ong's formidable experience and seniority, as well as strong track record as PEP chairman. As for Mr Png, he broke new ground and introduced many positive initiatives as former chief executive of Spring and JTC.

Said Mr Ong: "As a new statutory board, Enterprise Singapore will have to find ways to facilitate enterprises that are prepared to restructure and grow capabilities to compete aggressively. I am confident that the staff and management are excited and capable to meet this challenge."

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission