SINGAPORE – The presidential election was a hot topic this year, placing three potential candidates on Yahoo's most searched business leaders list in Singapore. Along with the hopefuls, Singapore's high-profile anti-graft probe in July sent netizens looking up all they could find on a billionaire hotelier embroiled in the case.
Not everything is about controversy though as the last profile is arguably the country's most famous tech entrepreneur who put Singapore on the global tech map.
Here are the top five most searched business leaders by Singapore users:
5. Sim Wong Hoo
Sim founded the company in 1981 and made history in 1991 as the first Singaporean company to list on Nasdaq. It delisted in 2007 but remains on SGX.
Creative's hero product is the Sound Blaster card which has sold 400 million units as of 2019. In 2000, the then 45-year-old Sim was the youngest billionaire in Singapore. He is also the first person to be named Businessman of the Year twice – first in 1992, then in 1997 – at the Singapore Business Awards.
There was buzz around Creative again in November when it released its first audio products since Sim's death.
4. Ong Beng Seng
Property tycoon Ong Beng Seng found himself in the spotlight following his notice of arrest by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, linking the usually low-profile billionaire to a high-profile graft probe involving Transport Minister S Iswaran, who is currently on a leave of absence.
Ong is the managing director of Hotel Properties Ltd which has 38 hotels under its portfolio including those operated under the brands of Four Seasons and InterContinental Hotels Group. He is famously known for bringing the Formula One night race to Singapore in 2008 and owns the rights to the Singapore Grand Prix. Ong and his wife have a net worth of S$1.7 billion, according to Forbes, and ranked 26th in the 2023 Forbes Singapore's 50 Richest list.
3. Tan Kin Lian
Tan Kin Lian, the former chief executive officer of NTUC Income of 30 years and a former branch secretary of the People’s Action Party, made headlines after his announcement to run for presidency – for the second time.
The 75-year-old faced criticism when his past social media posts came under scrutiny for hinting at racism and a poor portrayal of women. The Association of Women for Action and Research even released a statement questioning the PEC's decision to issue Tan a certificate of eligibility. In response, Tan brushed off the allegations citing that the people who felt uncomfortable were a small minority.
Tan's attempts at office in both the 2011 and 2023 presidential elections garnered the lowest number of votes at 4.9 per cent and 13.87 per cent respectively.
2. George Goh
Businessman George Goh is another presidential hopeful who caught the attention of netizens. The 63-year-old is most known for bringing Australian electronics store Harvey Norman to Asia, in a joint venture Harvey Norman Ossia.
He is also the co-founder and chairman of footwear, sports and fashion retailer Ossia International. Goh founded De'classici, a shoe-manufacturing company in 1982, which became Ossia Trading, which eventually transitioned into the SGX-listed investment company of today.
1. Ng Kok Song
The first on the list is Ng Kok Song, a finance veteran who made waves this year when he announced his intention to run for president. The 75-year-old has led an illustrious career, holding positions in the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and GIC.
He is currently serving as chairman in Avanda Investment Management, a company he co-founded with two former GIC colleagues in 2015.
During his presidential campaign and beyond, Ng went viral for several things: his rags-to-riches life story growing up poor in a fishing village; his fiance who is notably younger than him; how he taught the late Lee Kuan Yew the art of meditation; his pets, Cotton the dog and Max Lemon Ng the cat; and of course, his SHIELD health tips for staying mentally and physically fit.