BUSINESS and industry leaders on Wednesday gave a strong thumbs up to the appointment of Peter Ong Boon Kwee, former head of Civil Service, as chairman-designate of Enterprise Singapore, the new one-stop agency to drive Singapore Inc's global push.
Enterprise Singapore's formation from the merger of two government entities, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and Spring Singapore, was announced last year. The formal union, which will involve a combined 960 or so employees, is expected to take effect in the second quarter of this year.
IE Singapore worked to help local firms venture overseas while Spring focused on helping small and medium-sized enterprises innovate and develop. The new Enterprise Singapore will comprehensively support local enterprises of all sizes to quickly innovate and internationalise in the face of a globalised digital economy.
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 release on Wednesday.
He will also concurrently be appointed senior economic advisor, MTI, with effect from Jan 15, it said.
In this capacity, he 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.
Said Loh Khum Yean, Permanent Secretary for MTI: "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 to guide Enterprise Singapore in providing greater support and assistance to Singapore companies. 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 has spent more than 30 years in the public sector where he headed several ministries as Permanent Secretary, including MTI, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of 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.
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."
Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), said Mr Ong brings formidable experience and seniority, coupled with a strong track record as chairman of Pro-Enterprise Panel, while Mr Png broke new ground and introduced many positive initiatives as former chief executive of Spring and JTC.
The combination of the two men at the helm of Enterprise Singapore, "brings us great confidence and high hopes of what is to come", he added.
Mr Ong himself said: "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."