It Changed My Life: I always hire people who are better than me

It Changed My Life: I always hire people who are better than me, says Changi Airport …

I always hire people who are better than me, says Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong .In the background is a portrait of Singapore’s prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, painted by French artist Jean-Pierre. ST Photo Kevin Lim Top stories from The Straits Times on Sunday, Feb 3, Singapore News …

In 2007, Mr Liew Mun Leong – then CEO of CapitaLand – received a staggering $20.52 million bonus for helping the property developer achieve a record profit of $2.76 billion that year.

He is a wealthy man, but wealth, he says, means nothing to him.

Now the chairman of CAG, he says he is contented with his home (a landed property in Chancery Lane) and his BMW 7 series. “But I don’t want to work on my money. I want to work on my grey matter and if possible, grow it,” he says with a chuckle.

It explains why he still holds not one, but several jobs. Besides CAG, he is chairman of Surbana Jurong.

He sits on several boards. In many ways, he says his career has been a case of opportunity and chance. “How many engineers get the opportunity to build airports? After more than two decades in the public sector, he took up the offer to steer engg and construction firm L&M Investments….
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Interview with Changi Airport Group’s Liew Mun Leong: You’ve got mail – from the chairman

Mr Liew, who used to be the CEO of CapitaLand, started penning his "Sunday e-mails" back in 1998, initially for staff at the real estate giant and now at the two firms he chairs. A collection of these e-mails has been published over four volumes, wit
Mr Liew, who used to be the CEO of CapitaLand, started penning his “Sunday e-mails” back in  1998, initially for staff at the real estate giant and now at the two firms he chairs. A collection of these e-mails has been published over four volumes, with the most recent – Building People:  Sunday Emails From A Chairman – now out.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Staff of Changi Airport Group and Surbana
Jurong have much to glean from e-mails that their head honcho sends on Sundays to share his reflections

Getting a note from the boss every few weeks, extolling the virtue of pragmatism or sharing his observations on a Mount Fuji climb, is pretty rare for most employees but it has been a regular occurrence for two firms in Singapore.

Former CapitaLand chief executive Liew Mun Leong started penning his “Sunday e-mails” back in 1998, initially for staff at the real estate giant and now at the firms he chairs – Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong.

A collection of these e-mails has been published over four volumes, with the most  recent – Building People: Sunday Emails From A Chairman – now out.

Mr Liew, 70, told The Sunday Times: “I had embarked on a new hobby of writing e-mails as a means of reaching out to my colleagues and staff…

“It is a tool to influence their thinking, to curate their corporate values, their sense of responsibility to the company and to society.”

The communication goes both ways and staff are welcome to offer feedback.

Mr Liew, who left CapitaLand in 2012, believes successful leaders must be good  communicators, which is why he continues to send Sunday e-mails to staff at Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong.

These notes are written in his characteristically candid and casual style, containing anecdotes, personal reflection and a good handful of quotable quotes.

In an e-mail titled Pragmatism In Business, Mr Liew urged the management not to be emotionally attached to the buildings they have acquired or built. “ROE is returns on equity, not returns on emotion.”

He also shared the key ingredients of his career success – the 5Ps, which stand for paranoia, perseverance, perfectionism, passion and pragmatism.

“Being paranoid forces me to plan ahead to deal with even the most remotely possible adversity… the consequence of not doing so may be regretful and unforgiving,” Mr Liew, a trained engineer, wrote in another note.

He spends four to five hours on a Sunday afternoon crafting the e-mails, drawing inspiration from his travels, business dealings and observations.


Whether in his previous role as a chief executive or as a chairman now, Mr Liew takes a hands-on approach in overseeing the companies, be it in the hiring of senior staff or assessing an acquisition target.

“I am involved very much in interviewing senior people, for example, a vice-president or senior vice-president. I have the vetting right… I do turn down candidates who are recommended by management.”

The topic of talent development and having the right core values takes up an entire chapter in his new book.

Mr Liew emphasises the importance of “eyeballing” candidates and asking them questions about their personal and education background to determine their aptitudes, attitudes and interests. For senior appointments, he would even personally run reference checks on a candidate’s past performance by speaking to former employers.

Having the right troops is a key consideration in driving corporate growth but, beyond talent, being committed is also critical.

“They may have talent, but they can stay with you for two years and leave… I am a firm believer of building a lasting organisation. And an organisation can last only when people last,” he said.


As chairman of urban-planning consultancy Surbana Jurong, Mr Liew aims to build the firm into Asia’s consultancy powerhouse on the back of the region’s growing needs in infrastructure.

The firm announced last month that it had acquired Australian-based SMEC Holdings for $400 million, a move that takes the consultancy’s workforce to 10,000 staff members in 40 countries.

Surbana has also been appointed to draw up a masterplan to develop Chongqing into western China’s logistics hub. This is part of the third bilateral project – Chongqing Connectivity Initiative – between Singapore and China.

Apart from China, the company is involved in more than 40 projects in fast-emerging Myanmar, including masterplanning, project management and engineering design.

Mr Liew is bullish about urbanisation and infrastructure prospects in China, Africa and South-east Asia, and he is not overly concerned about whether the firm has the bandwidth to handle the increasing workload.

“I have one business philosophy and that is ‘I am not worried about not enough people, I am worried about not enough business’.

“You get me the business, I will find the people to do it,” he said.

There is potential for more mergers and acquisitions ahead as Surbana Jurong seeks  to grow its capabilities in underground development and environmental engineering. Mr Liew noted that these are areas in which European companies have an edge.


It is apt to say that Mr Liew’s work at Changi Airport Group has come full circle. He was appointed to the board in June 2009 but his involvement with the world-class air hub had begun much earlier.

More than 40 years ago, he had requested a transfer to the Public Works Department to learn to be an airport engineer – a move that had him involved in the construction of Changi Airport in 1975.

Today, it is one of the world’s busiest international airports, handling more than 55.4 million passenger movements last year and serving 100 airlines flying to more than 320 cities.

“Aviation is always competitive, that is the order of the game… But I think we have  performed well… we have won over 500 awards,” Mr Liew noted.

With increasing competition from Middle Eastern airlines and airports for the  uropean market, he said Changi Airport can focus its strategies on capturing a larger share of the pie in Asia.

“We are positive that the Asian aviation business is going to be very big. Look at China, for instance… Its outbound this year is already 140 million people. It was looking at 100 million outbound in the year 2020. But now in 2016, it has already outgrown that number.”

Mr Liew’s enthusiasm about growing Surbana Jurong and Changi Airport Group is unlikely to wane with age. When asked if he would retire at some point, he quipped: “I don’t retire, I die!”

He added: “Society has invested so much in you in terms of the experience that you have and to say just because you reach a certain age, you fall off the cliff into nothingness – I think that is a silly thing.”


Jack Ma career advice: You don’t have to be smart to be successful

Jack Ma: I always try to find people smarter than I am

Stupid people get together easily but smart people can’t, so my job is to manage and ensure them get to work together

 I made money in real estate in my 20s. Not rich, but my retirement is more or less secured. I own a small business and the property that i operate out of. Preparing to move to a small town and live off of rental income, and probably open another small business there. I didn’t do anything fancy or amazing in my life, but i am very happy with how things turned out for me




The price we pay to axe East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)

KUALA LUMPUR: Loss of jobs, harm to diplomatic ties with China, damage to the economy plus a RM20bil compensation are awaiting Malaysia if the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is cancelled.

The billion ringgit 688km long track linking Selangor, Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan is already 20% completed, says MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong on the trail of potential damage if the project set for completion in 2024 is axed now.

The Ayer Hitam Member of Parliament who issued an open letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Cabinet Ministers on the matter, said he earnestly hoped the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing the project.

The ECRL project whose construction contract was awarded to China Communications, Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and financed by China is a hot topic in the past few days, and its fate is expected to be made known officia­lly this week.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will be “impoverished” if the government proceeds with the ECRL project.

While not confirming that the project has been scrapped, Dr Mahathir said paying compensation is cheaper than bearing the cost of the project.

Below is Dr Wee’s letter in full:

An open letter to YAB Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers

The cancellation of the ECRL project and the bickering between two Cabinet ministers over the issue has become the talk of the town. I foresee this issue to be a hot topic in the Cabinet meeting this Wednesday (Jan 30).

Whether the cancellation of ECRL was discussed in previous Cabinet meetings or not, I earnestly hope the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing this project.

Take a moment to consider factors such as the friendship between the people of both countries, jobs and economy, diplomatic ties and the reputation of Malaysia.

On the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, I can safely say that putting a stop to the ECRL project will harm the diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.

If we put ourselves in China’s shoes, we will surely respond negatively as well if our overseas investment is treated as such.

A nightmare looms should China take any retaliatory action, such as reduce or even halt the import of commodities (palm oil in particular) from us.

If that happens, Felda, Sime Darby and other big corporations will be the first to feel the heat.

The livelihood of some 650,000 smallholders and their families will be directly affected.

From the economic perspective, the ECRL project is likely to boost the GDP growth of three east coast states by 1.5%.

It will also spur the development of the east coast, enhance connectivity between the east and west coast, and close the economic divide between the two coasts.

Through bridging the rural-urban divide, the overall development of Malaysia will be more balanced and comprehensive.

The rail link is 20% completed, with several tens of billions paid to the contractor.

On top of that, Malaysia will be penalised for cancelling the RM30bil loan from the EXIM Bank of China.

We will have to repay the loan and compensation within a short period of time.

From my experience in administering engineering projects, any breach of contract will result in a hefty penalty. The compensation for cancelling ECRL could reach RM20bil.

Financial losses aside, scrapping the ECRL will also bring a negative impact to Malaysia’s reputation in the international arena and erode Malaysia’s trustworthiness.

Judging from my past experience dealing with China and its officials, as well as the friendly gestures displayed by China so far, I can conclude that China is willing to achieve a win-win solution instead of situation where both sides lose out.

The Malaysian government can consider restructuring the project timeline or reducing the project scale, which are alternatives that work in Malaysia’s favour while maintaining the amicable ties between Malaysia and China.

The government should also keep the small and medium enterprises in mind.

Business owners in 150 related industries, including tens of thousands of contractors who have taken a loan to purchase equipment, will suffer greatly should ECRL be cancelled.

China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009, with bilateral trade figures reaching US$100bil. Business linkages and people-to-people exchanges have also flourished over the years.

Products such as palm oil, bird’s nest, Musang King, white coffee, etc, are exported to China, while people from both countries visit each other for vacations and academic exchanges, benefitting Malaysians of all races.

All these have contributed to the income of various communities and brought in foreign exchange earnings for the country.

It takes years to build a bilateral relationship, and only seconds to destroy it.

The Malaysian government should appreciate our friendship with China and try its best to achieve mutual benefits and common prosperity with China.

Prioritise the economy and the livelihood of the people, and put an end to the political game to discredit your opponents.

For the sake of the people in the east coast as well as the whole of Malaysia, the government should not cancel the ECRL project.- The Star

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Penang Lang: Feeling increasingly displaced in Penang, sad the demise of colourful language

槟城人(Penang Lang) – Home | Facebook

Feeling increasingly displaced in Penang, too

DATUK Seri Wong Chun Wai’s article expressed my sentiments exactly (“Feeling lost in Penang”, On The Beat, Focus, Sunday Star, Jan 27; online at /A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future).

I attended primary and secondary school at Convent Green Lane, and later went on to do my Sixth Form at St Xavier’s. Needless to say, I do not speak any Mandarin either. I, too, feel increasingly displaced in Penang, and am so sad to see Hokkien perceptibly fading away.

In preparing for my sociolinguistics class with undergraduates, I came across an interesting website by the Persatuan Bahasa Hokkien Pulau Pinang, Others are concerned too.

(By the way, my class was studying concepts of language loss and language death, and I picked Penang Hokkien as a case to highlight the issue. In my demo, I spoke some and we all had a great big laugh – my personality inexplicably transforms when I speak Hokkien!)

One of the last bastions of Penang Hokkien could possibly be the Sg Ara market. During a visit sometime last year, I could still hear quite a bit of this beautiful dialect being spoken, to my great delight.

Thank you for highlighting the issue from a heartfelt personal perspective. I will include it in the reading list to help my students understand that language loss is not some abstract theoretical construct but is real and happening in our own backyard in Penang.

(By the way, wah ah boey khi bank gia ang pow long. Wah boh eng! Ah bo wah khi pasak bey kah ho :-)) (I haven’t gone to the bank to get ang pow packets. I am not free! Maybe it’s better that I go buy them in the market.)

JOY QUAH Kuala Lumpur The Star

Sad to see the demise of a colourful language

FIRSTLY, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai’s article, “Feeling lost in Penang /A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future ”.

I was sent a link to the article by an old Auckland University friend who now lives in Singapore.

I’m a “banana” still living in Auckland after 40 years. And like Wong, I get pretty lost in Penang whenever I return.

Being ex-Penang Free School, I never learnt Mandarin. I worked in Shanghai for a year-and-a-half and my colleagues there used to tease me, “You can’t read Mandarin? You can’t write Mandarin? You can’t speak Mandarin? You must be illiterate!”

Penang is now starting to feel like China.

I find it’s more common nowfor Chinese youngsters to converse in Mandarin than in Hokkien. I speak Hokkien to the hawkers and get told that I must be from overseas! The Penang sing-song Hokkien will soon disappear. It’s a shame.

Like Wong, I too avoid Penang during Chinese New Year – it’s just too hectic. My wife and I visit mid-year when there are no events, celebrations or festivals. This year, it’s May/June. Wonder if there’s durian around then!

Have a Happy New Year, Keong Hee Huat Chai!

MICHAEL ONG Auckland, New Zealand The Star

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Huawei unveils server chipset as China cuts reliance on imports

New chip: A Kunpeng 920 chip is displayed during an unveiling ceremony in Shenzhen. Huawei is seeking growth avenues in cloud computing and enterprise services. — AP

HONG KONG: Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has launched a new chipset for use in servers, at a time when China is pushing to enhance its chip-making capabilities and reduce its heavy reliance on imports, especially from the United States.

Huawei, which gets the bulk of its revenue from the sale of telecommunications equipment and smartphones, is seeking growth avenues in cloud computing and enterprise services as its equipment business comes under increased scrutiny in the West amid worries about Chinese government influence over the firm.

Huawei has repeatedly denied any such influence.

Chinese firms are also seeking to minimise the impact of a trade dispute that has seen China and the United States slap tariffs on each other’s technology imports.

For Huawei, the launch of the chipset – called the Kunpeng 920 and designed by subsidiary HiSilicon – boosts its credentials as a semiconductor designer, although the company said it had no intention of becoming solely a chip firm.

“It is part of our system solution and cloud servicing for clients. We will never make our chipset business a standalone business,” said Ai Wei, who is in charge of strategic planning for Huawei’s chipsets and hardware technology.

The Shenzhen-based company already makes the Kirin series of smartphone chips used in its high-end phones, and the Ascend series of chipsets for artificial intelligence computing launched in October.

It said its latest seven nanometre, 64-core central processing unit (CPU) would provide much higher computing performance for data centres and slash power consumption.

It is based on the architecture of British chip design firm ARM – owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp – which is seeking to challenge the dominance in server CPUs of US maker Intel Corp.

Huawei aims to drive the development of the ARM ecosystem, said chief marketing officer William Xu. He said the chip has “unique advantages in performance and power consumption”.

Xu also said Huawei would continue its “long-term strategic partnership” with Intel.

Huawei’s new ARM-based CPU is not a competitor to the US company’s x86 CPUs and servers, but complementary, Xu added. Redfox Qiu, president of the intelligent computing business department at Huawei, said the company shipped 900,000 units of servers in 2018, versus 77,000 in 2012 when it started.

Huawei was seeing “good momentum for the server business in Europe and Asia Pacific” and expects the contribution from its international business to continue to rise, Qiu added.

Huawei also released its TaiShan series of servers powered by the new chipset, built for big data, distributed storage and ARM native applications.

The firm founded chip designer HiSilicon in 2004 to help reduce its reliance on imports.

In modem chips, Huawei internally sources 54% of those in its own devices, with 22% coming from Qualcomm Inc and the remainder from elsewhere, evidence presented at an antitrust trial for Qualcomm showed. — Reuters


Huawei’s revenue growth rebounds despite `storm-tossed’ 2018

Hike in daycare & childcare centre fees in 2019

MONTHLY fees at majority of daycare centres in Perak are expected to increase between 15% and 20% in 2019.

Fees between RM300 and RM350 for a child could be increased to RM400.

Perak Daycare Association president Noor Shalina Sahari said the increase was due to the implementation of the minimum wage policy for workers set by the Government.

The minimum wage will be streamlined at RM1,100 nationwide starting Jan 1.

Noor Shalina said the increase at the respective daycare centres would differ from one another, depending on the number of employees and the locality.

“The ratio at a daycare centre is three employees to one child.

“The centre would require five staff to handle children aged one to three while 10 workers are needed for those aged three and above,” she said during a grant presentation ceremony at the Urban Transformation Centre in Ipoh.

“To be honest, the rate in Perak is still considered low.

“Currently, our rates are between RM300 and RM350. Next year, it could be between RM350 and RM400,” she added.

Noor Shalina said the increase would also be based on the respective areas.

“If the daycare is located in an area where majority of its residents are from the low income group, the increase would be minimal.

“It would also depend on the respective daycare operators,” she said, adding that the association has 120 members.

“There will be no drastic increase, it will not benefit us also as we are also competing with those that are home-based and not registered with the Government,” she added.

Source: The Star by Ivan Loh

Childcare centres to hike fees in 2019 – Rates to rise by 10% to 30% to cover costs 

‘Childcare providers are now required to have at least a diploma in early education’. – Norsheila Abdullah

PETALING JAYA: Taska (childcare centres) are expected to charge between 10% and 30% more next year to keep up with the minimum wage and to cover costs.

Association of Registered Childcare Pro­viders Malaysia president Norsheila Abdullah said this is unavoidable as the minimum wage for childcare providers has been fixed at RM1,100 and that they are increasingly becoming more qualified.

She expects the fee hike to affect all states as the minimum wage has been streamlined to RM1,100 nationwide starting Jan 1.

“I think the price increase is appropriate because they are receiving very low salary, between RM800 and RM900, and they deserve the minimum wage.

“Besides the minimum wage, other reasons for the increase include hidden costs such as childcare providers’ qualifications and overhead costs such as rental, electricity and water bills.

“Childcare providers are now required to have at least a diploma in early education and to be certified with the Permata Early Childhood Education Programme (KAP), a government-run course that costs RM900, and first aid training,” she said.

Currently in Kuala Lumpur, the fee per child in taska is typically no less than RM450 per month, said Norsheila.

The increase of taska fees would however vary according to the operating costs in the particular location, said Norsheila.

It is likely that only centres charging lower fees will increase them by 30%.

“How much the increase will be depends on the taska. If they are charging between RM200 and RM250, then maybe they will increase by 30% because they need to keep up,” she said.

Norsheila suggests that parents sending children to registered centres be given rebates by the government and taska which adhere to all the regulations be allowed tax exemption.

Selangor Taska Association president Mahanom Basri said taska operators should not haphazardly increase fees without matching it with quality service.

“We don’t actually want to increase the price without any reason. Most of the childcare providers have either a diploma or a degree and sometimes work more than 10 hours per day but they are lowly paid. So we hope the parents will understand and not be angry with us.

“If childcare providers are paid accordingly, they will take care of the children well and both parties will be satisfied,” she said.

While there are over 1,500 taska in Selangor, Mahanom gave assurance that there would be no standardisation of fees among the operators because they are still bound by the Competition Act 2010.

She said the Selangor state government has been assisting parents in need via incentives such as the Sikembar programme, whereby they subsidise RM100 for every child sent to a taska registered under the Community Welfare Department.

Mahanom added that there are also alternatives to the fee increase.

“Currently, I know of some taska operators who don’t want to charge the parents too much so they work out a compromise whereby the parents, as partners in education, would contribute items like rice and vegetables monthly to the taska so that it takes away a
a bit of the operating cost burden,” she said.
The  Star by fatimah zainal

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Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei survived a famine, but can he weather President Trump?

  • Ren Zhengfei leads Huawei Technologies, one of the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunication hardware and mobile phones.
  • Ren is the son of school teachers and grew up in a mountainous town in southern China’s Guizhou Province.
  • Ren held technician posts in China’s military and worked for Shenzhen SouthSea Oil before establishing Huawei with the equivalent of $3,000 in 1987.
  • Huawei today does business in more than 170 countries with 180,000 employees.














































Mr Ren Zhengfei survived Mao Zedong’s great famine and went on to build a telecom giant with US$92 billion in revenue that strikes fear among some policymakers in the West.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – At the sprawling Huawei Technologies campus in Shenzhen, the foodcourt’s walls are emblazoned with quotes from the company’s billionaire founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei.

Then there’s the research lab that resembles the White House in Washington. Perhaps the most curious thing, though, are three black swans paddling around a lake.

For Mr Ren, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier turned telecom tycoon, the elegant birds are meant as a reminder to avoid complacency and prepare for unexpected crisis. That pretty much sums up the state of affairs at Huawei, whose chief financial officer, Ms Meng Wanzhou, who’s also Mr Ren’s daughter, is in custody in Canada and faces extradition to the United States on charges of conspiracy to defraud banks and violate sanctions on Iran.

The arrest places Huawei in the cross-hairs of an escalating technology rivalry between China and the US, which views the company, a critical global supplier of mobile network equipment, as a potential national security risk.

Hardliners in President Donald Trump’s administration are especially keen to prevent Huawei from supplying wireless carriers as they upgrade to 5G, a next-generation technology expected to accelerate the shift to Internet-connected devices and self-driving cars.

Mr Ren is a legendary figure in the Chinese business world. He survived Mao Zedong’s great famine and went on to build a telecom giant with US$92 billion (S$126 billion) in revenue that strikes fear among some policymakers in the West. Huawei is the No. 1 smartphone maker in China, and this year eclipsed Apple to become second maker globally, according to research firm IDC.

Though it has a low profile compared with China’s Internet giants, Huawei’s revenue last year was more than Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings and and Baidu Inc combined. About half of its revenue now comes from abroad, led by Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The company’s high-speed global expansion has come under fire for years, starting with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US’ derailing of an acquisition in 2008. More recently, Australia, New Zealand and the US have blocked or limited the use of Huawei gear.

The arrest and prosecution of Ms Meng in US courts comes amid a far bigger US-China struggle for technology dominance in the decades ahead – and could have huge, and potentially severe, consequences for Huawei. Mr Ren declined an interview request from Bloomberg News.

“It gives Trump a bargaining chip,” said Mr George Magnus, an economist at Oxford University’s China Centre. “She’s the daughter of the CEO, Ren Zhengfei, himself a former PLA officer, and Huawei’s alleged dealings with Iran are just the latest in a string of concerns.”

An outright ban on buying American technology and components, should it come to that, would deal Huawei a crushing blow. Earlier this year, the Trump administration imposed just such a penalty on ZTE Corp, also a Chinese telecom, and threatened its very survival before backing down.

Both Huawei and ZTE are banned from most US government procurement work.

A full-blown, commercial ban in the US would not only apply to hardware components, but also cut off access to the software and patents of US companies, Mr Edison Lee and Mr Timothy Chau, analysts with Jefferies Securities, wrote in a report.

“If Huawei cannot license Android from Google, or Qualcomm’s patents in 4G and 5G radio access technology, it will not be able to build smartphones or 4G/5G base stations,” they note.

The company’s legal troubles in the US may also spill into other markets.

“Government telecommunication infrastructure requirements are essentially locking out the Chinese supplier in critical growth markets,” noted Morningstar Research equity analyst Mark Cash in an e-mail. “Additionally, telecom providers without government imposed restrictions may start limiting their usage of Huawei equipment for their 5G network build-outs.”

If there’s a Darth Vader in the minds of Chinese national security hawks in Washington worried about China’s rising tech power, it’s Mr Ren. In China, though, he’s feted as a national hero, who rose from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of wealth and status in Chinese society.

His grandfather was a master of curing ham in his village in Zhejiang province, which afforded Mr Ren’s father the chance to become the village’s first university student, according to a 2001 essay by Mr Ren about his upbringing, which was published on a website linked to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

His father, Mr Ren Moxun, was a Communist Youth League member, who later worked as a teacher and an accountant at a military factory, but who kept up his rebel fervour under the Kuomintang by selling revolutionary books.

After moving to rural Guizhou province, he met his wife Cheng Yuanzhao and gave birth to Mr Ren Zhengfei, the oldest of two sons and five daughters.

The family lived on modest teaching salaries. In one of Mr Ren’s speeches, he remembered how his mother read him the story of Hercules, but withheld the ending until he came home with a good report card.

Famine Years

During the Great Leap Forward campaign that started in the late 1950s, a famine came to his home town after Communist Party industrialisation and collectivisation policies went off the rails. Mr Ren recalled in his essay how his mother stuffed into his hand each morning a piece of corn pancake while asking about his homework. His good grades gained him entry to the Chongqing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture.

After graduation, he worked in the civil engineering industry until 1974, when he joined the PLA’s Engineering Corps as a soldier, and worked on a chemical fibre base in Liaoyang. Huawei says he rose to become deputy director, but did not hold military rank. He does, however, often pepper his speeches with military references.

“Our managers and experts need to act like generals, carefully examining maps and meticulously studying problems,” Mr Ren said in a speech posted on a website for Huawei employees.

Mr Ren’s Communist Party credentials aren’t as deep as his father’s. He attended the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party in 1982, and once cited the party’s dogma of “a struggle that never ends” when defending the company’s tough work hours.

But Mr Ren was a bookworm as a child and was denied acceptance into the Communist Youth League, according to the book Huawei: Leadership, Culture And Connectivity, a book co-authored by David De Cremer, Tian Tao and Wu Chunbo.

He didn’t become a Communist Party member in the PLA until late in his military career. However, a 2012 House permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report on Huawei asked why a private company had a Communist Party Committee, which has become common among China’s Internet giants.

Mr Ren retired from the army in 1983, and joined his first wife to work at a Shenzhen company involved in the city’s special economic zone. It was around then that he had to sell off everything to pay a debt related to a business partner, and lost his job at Shenzhen Nanyou Group, as well as his first marriage, according to Ren Zhengfei And Huawei by author Li Hongwen.

Comeback Play

After a period of sleepless nights while living with family members, Mr Ren saw an opportunity. When China began its economic opening under Deng Xiaoping, the telephone penetration rate was lower than the average rate in Africa, or 120th in the world. He founded Huawei with four partners in 1987 with 21,000 yuan in initial working capital, just above the minimum threshold required under Shenzhen rules.

Huawei started out as a trader of telecom equipment, but the company’s technicians studied up on switchboards and were soon making their own. Workers put in long hours in Shenzhen’s swampy heat with only ceiling fans. Mr Ren kept up morale with subtle gestures, like offering pigtail soup to workers putting in overtime.

The company became known for its “mattress culture” in which workers would pass out on office mattresses from exhaustion. In 2006, a 25-year-old worker Hu Xinyu, who had made a habit of working into the wee hours and then sleeping at the office, died of viral encephalitis. Some Huawei employees subsequently committed suicide.

The deaths triggered a revision of the company policy on overtime, and the creation of a chief health and safety officer role.

It wasn’t the only move Mr Ren made to stabilise morale. He used to pay his workers only half their salaries on payday, but eventually decided to convert the other half of employee salaries and bonuses into shares. The company’s 2017 report shows that he has a 1.4 per cent stake, giving him a net worth of US$2 billion.

Wolf Culture

Huawei struggled for market share, with foreign companies using so-called “wolf culture” of aggressive salesmanship, which sometimes materialised in the form of Huawei employees flooding sales events with several times more salespeople than competitors.

The company ventured into international markets in the 2000s, with telecom equipment that was more affordable than products of competitors such as Cisco Systems. Huawei later admitted to copying a small portion of router code from Cisco and agreed to remove the tainted code in a settlement.

Mr Ren since stepped up the company’s research and development. Of its 180,000 employees, about 80,000 are now involved in R&D, according to the company’s 2017 report, and the company has been known to recruit some of China’s top talent out of universities.

The company recently refocused on existing markets after the US government called Huawei a national security threat, and cited concerns over its possible control of 5G technologies. Mr Trump signed a Bill banning government use of Chinese tech including Huawei’s, and has even contacted allies to get them to avoid using Huawei equipment.

Collectively owned by its employees, the company is known for a culture of discipline, in which no one, Mr Ren included, has their own driver or flies first class on the company dime. Lately, Mr Ren has been warning employees against using fake numbers or profit to enhance performance. The company set up a data verification team in 2014 within the finance department, which was overseen by Mr Ren’s daughter.

In a recent speech posted on the Huawei employee network, however, he called for patience with critics, but rejected foreign intervention. “We will never give in or yield to pressure from outside,” he said.

That maxim is going to be soon put to the test by the US Department of Justice.

Source: Bloomberg

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Huawei Surprise goldfish in a bowl

Uncertain future: In this courtroom sketch, Meng sits beside a translator during a bail hearing in Vancouver. She
faces extradition to the US on charges of trying to evade US sanctions on Iran. – AP 
The arrest of Huawei ‘heiress’ has thrown a rare spotlight on the family of the reclusive smartphone giant founder, Ren Zhengfei.

WHEN Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou appeared on Wednesday in a Vancouver courtroom, clad in an unbranded green tracksuit, the moment was witnessed by a single reporter from the local Vancouver Sun newspaper who happened to notice her name on the hearings list that morning.

By the end of the day, Meng’s arrest in Canada at the request of Washington was the biggest story in the world.

And when her bail hearing resumed on Friday, Meng entered court to see about 100 reporters, craning to look at her through two layers of bulletproof glass.

Meng who faces extradition to the United States, was charged for helping Huawei allegedly cover up violations of US sanctions on Iran.

Like many top Chinese executives, Meng is a mysterious figure even in her home country, but the 46-year-old chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies had been widely tipped to one day take the helm of the tech giant her father founded.

That was until her shock arrest, a move that has entangled her in the protracted diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Crucially, Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei – one of China’s leading businessmen, an ex-People’s Liberation Army officer and an elected member of the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

In other words, Meng is part of China’s elite.

Her father Ren moves in the highest government circles in China and founded Huawei in 1988, after he retired from the Chinese armed forces. Born into a rural family in a remote mountainous town in the southwestern province of Guizhou, Ren rose to the equivalent rank of a deputy regimental chief in the PLA and served until 1983, according to his official Huawei biography.

Officials in some governments, particularly the United States, have voiced concern that his company is close to the Chinese military and government. Huawei has repeatedly insisted Beijing has no influence over it.

Ren is one of the most watched entrepreneurs in China and was on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2005 and again in 2013.

But like his elder daughter, Ren has largely kept a low profile.

Ren has married three times. His first wife was Meng Jun, daughter of a former senior official in Sichuan province, Meng Dongbuo; she bore Ren two children: Sabrina Meng Wanzhou and a son, Meng Ping.

Meng’s current wife is Yao Ling, who gave him a younger daughter, Annabel Yao, 20. In a rare move, the three posed last month for a family photoshoot for French lifestyle magazine Paris Match. Annabel, a Harvard computer science student, became a sensation at last month’s Le Bal des Debutantes (or Crillon Ball) in Paris.

Ren’s third wife is Su Wei who, according to Chinese media reports, is a millennial who was formerly his secretary.

Interestingly, all his children opted not to take on their father’s surname – Meng adopted her mother’s surname after her parents divorced. According to Chinese news websites, Meng’s brother Ping, who also works for Huawei, followed her in taking their mother’s surname to “avoid unnecessary attention” – though the son was also known as Ren Ping in the past.

(This practice is not uncommon among the families of China’s elite. The co-founder of Chinese auction house China Guardian, Wang Yannan, opted not to take her father’s surname – she is the daughter of late Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang.)

Born in 1972, Meng joined the company in 1993, obtained a master’s degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 1998, and rose up the ranks over the years, mostly holding financial roles.

In her first media appearance before the Chinese press in 2013, Meng said she had first joined the company as a secretary“whose job was just to take calls”.

In the interview with China’s 21st Century Business Herald, Meng said she began her first job at China Construction Bank after graduating with her first degree in 1992.

Arrested Meng: Like her father, the Huawei CFO had led a quiet life, out of the spotlight. – Reuters

Arrested Meng: Like her father, the Huawei CFO had led a quiet life, out of the spotlight. – Reuters

“I joined Huawei one year later because a branch closed its operations due to the business integration [of CCB],” said Meng, describing her early jobs in Huawei as “very trivial”.

Meng has served in various roles at the company since, until her latest role as the Hong Kong-based CFO of Huawei.

In 2003, Meng established Huawei’s globally unified finance organisation, with standardised structures, financial processes, financial systems, and IT platforms.

Since 2005, Meng has led the founding of five shared service centers around the world, and she was also the driver behind completion of a global payment center in Shenzhen, China. These centres have boosted Huawei’s accounting efficiency and monitoring quality, providing accounting services to sustain the company’s rapid overseas expansion.

Meng has also been in charge of the integrated financial services (IFS) transformation program, an eight-year partnership between Huawei and IBM since 2007. This has helped Huawei develop its data systems and rules for resource allocation, and improve operating efficiency and internal controls.

In recent years, Meng has focused on advancing detailed financial management at Huawei, working to align these efforts with the company’s long-term development plans.

Meng’s importance at Huawei became apparent in 2011, when she was first named as a board member. Company insiders describe her as capable and hardworking. Earlier this year, Huawei promoted Meng, to vice-chairwoman as part of a broader reshuffle. Meng is one of four executives who hold the vice-chair role, while retaining her CFO position. Despite assertions by Ren that none of his family members would succeed him in the top job, it is widely speculated that she was being groomed to take over the reins of the company eventually.

Married with a son and a daughter, Meng’s revelation that her husband did not work in the industry, dispelled the speculation she was married to a senior Huawei executive.

Meng did not conduct public interviews before 2013 and has seldom mentioned her personal life until recently, when she used her son to illustrate the importance of persistence.

“My son did not want to go swimming one day and he almost knelt on the ground and begged my husband so that he would not have to go. But he was rejected,” Meng said in a speech at Chongqing international school in 2016. “Now my son is proud to represent his school in swimming competitions.”

Meng recently made a speech at a Singapore academic conference in 2018, in which she talked of Huawei’s future role in technology development.

“Without universities, the world would be left in darkness. Without industry, science would be left in the ivory tower,” said Meng. “The fourth industrial revolution is on the horizon and artificial intelligence is one of its core enabling technologies. Huawei is lucky to be part of it.”

While her brother, Meng Ping, as well as her father’s younger brother and his current wife all work at Huawei and related companies, none has held such senior management roles.

“The other family members are in the back office, Sabrina is CFO and sits on the board,” a Huawei source said. “So she is viewed as the boss’s most likely successor.”

But her fate now is uncertain.

She faces up to 30 years’ jail for the alleged crime. Her lawyer in Canada, David Martin, had told the court that Meng posed no flight risk and should be granted bail. To flee would shame her in front of her father and all of China, said Martin.

“Her father would not recognise her. Her colleagues would hold her in contempt. She would be a pariah,” he said.

Meng leaned forward in her seat and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.

When the hearing adjourned, she was led away with her head bowed, a goldfish in a bowl that is the biggest story in the world. – South China Morning Post

Younger Huawei daughter: ‘I’m just a normal girl’

Arresting Yao: ‘My daily life is actually pretty boring compared to this.’

JUST last month, the reclusive Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei made headlines by appearing in French lifestyle magazine Paris Match with his younger daughter and current wife.The daughter, Annabel Yao, 20, posed with a smile in front of a grand piano with her mother, identified by the magazine as Yao Ling, and Ren, who wore a blue shirt with his hand resting on her shoulder.

Suddenly, the whole family are making headlines again – even if for quite different reasons.

Few outsiders had previously heard of the younger daughter, a Harvard computer science student and ballerina. But Yao recently made a high-profile appearance at the exclusive Le Bal Debutante ball in Paris.

While Le Bal des Debutantes in Paris each year is a nod to the tradition of young society ladies entering the elite social scene of Europe, these days it courts modern debutantes, aged 16 to 21, who are chosen for their looks, brains and famous parents – prominent in business, entertainment and politics.

They parade in glamorous couture gowns, waltz with their cavaliers – young men who accompany the “debs” for the evening – and take part in photo shoots and interviews.

The schedule at the event, organised by Ophélie Renouard, is full of young women such as Baroness Ludmilla von Oppenheim, from Germany; Julia McCaw, daughter of AT&T founder Craig McCaw; and Yao – one of three debutantes chosen for the opening waltz this year.

“I definitely treated this as a debut to the world,” said Yao after the ball. “From now on, I’ll no longer be this girl living in her own world, I’ll be stepping into the adult world where I have to watch my own actions and have my actions be watched by others.”

Today’s Le Bal, is a diverse affair, a microcosm of the shifting tides of the global elite. Of the 19 debutantes of 2018, there were young ladies from India and America, Europeans from Portugal, France, Belgium and Germany, as well as Hong Kong’s Angel Lee, Kayla Uytengsu from the Philippines and China’s Yao.

Yao – who has lived in Britain, Hong Kong and Shanghai – was one of several Chinese debutantes in recent years. Hollywood offspring, such as the daughters of actors Forest Whitaker, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone, have also become Le Bal regulars.

“All the girls were down-to-earth, easygoing, helpful and outgoing. No one was pretentious,” said Yao.

“All of them attended top universities or high schools like Stanford, Brown and Columbia, so it’s a group of girls who are privileged, but also work really hard.”


Diverse affair: Today’s ‘Le Bal’ is a microcosm of the shifting tides of the global elite like Yao (far right, front row).


As they swapped their jeans for tiaras and couture gowns and trade teenage antics for waltzing, the girls got to play fairytale princesses for three days and make their grand debut in high society.

They all arrived in Paris two days before the ball to meet, socialise with other girls and their cavaliers (Yao’s cavalier was the young Count Gaspard de Limburg-Stirum), rehearse and take part in portrait sessions.

Girls are given questionnaires about the fashion styles they like, and then choose from a selection. Yao donned a champagne gold J Mendel gown.

“An American designer with a very French style I wanted something modern,” she said. “I’m not super girlie inside, so I prefer something more chic and not so princessy It’s very elegant, and I’m not a fan of very [strongly] pigmented hues. I also loved the tulle texture of the dress, as it reminds me of a ballerina.”

“I definitely feel very honoured to be included, as there are only 19 girls in the world this year,” Yao added. “It means I have to work harder, try to accomplish great things in my life and be a role model for other girls.”

She said: “As people who have more privilege than others, it’s more important for us to help those with less opportunity. I want to get involved in philanthropy and charity I still consider myself a normal girl; it’s important for me to work hard and better myself every day.

“My daily life is actually pretty boring compared to this. I usually live like a normal student.”

Computer science is a heavy subject with a high workload, so she studies a lot. Her spare time is often taken up at the Harvard Ballet company (she’s been dancing since childhood). “I try to dance as much as possible,” she said.

A quick glance at the Ivy League student’s social media shows her jetting around the world wearing Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent, but she’s quick to show her serious side. This summer, she did an internship at Microsoft “on a team focusing on machine learning and image recognition”.

However, she noted: “As much as I enjoy coding, I enjoy personal interactions a lot I have a passion for fashion, PR and entertainment.”

In the future, she sees herself working on the business side of technology. “I’ll try to integrate the tech knowledge I have,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be a software engineer but maybe I’ll be more on the management side. I enjoy building connections.” – South China Morning Post

Growing stronger, opening wider key to resolving Huawei crisis

Huawei is now facing its most severe test since it became the world-renowned innovative tech company.

With executive’s arrest, US wants to stifle Huawei

The Chinese government should seriously go behind the US tendency to abuse legal procedures to suppress China’s high-tech enterprises. It should increase interaction with the US and exert pressure when necessary. China has been exercising restraint, but the US cannot act recklessly. US President Donald Trump should rein in the hostile activities of some Americans who may imperil Sino-US relations.


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In custody: A profile of Meng is displayed on a computer at a Huawei store in Beijing. The Chinese government, speaking
through its embassy in Canada, strenuously objected to the arrest, and  demanded Meng’s immediate release.  
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