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November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

OCTOBER 29, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 43

Start Your Engines
The entrepreneurial ethic had never really caught on in Asia, where bigger was usually considered better. But those days may well be gone

Asiaweek Business Hall of Fame
Asiaweek salutes three business pioneers who helped make the Asia of today and stand as an example to those building the region's tomorrow
• Inaba Seiuemon: Through his computer-controlled devices, Inaba changed manufacturing
• Y.K. Pao: Hong Kong's first businessman of truly international stature
• Washington SyCip: From one-man auditor to management services multinational

Asiaweek Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame
The entrepreneurial ethic had never really caught on in Asia, where bigger was usually considered better. But those days may well be gone
• Adi Adiwoso: A maverick businessman looks to change Indonesia
• Liu Jing: China's get-rich ethic is changing private enterprise
• Daniel Ng: Are there riches in teaching companies about the internet?
• Park Soo Woong: Today's lesson: how to start a successful business

Past Laureates
Every year since 1994, Asiaweek has honored a selection of business people who have made a truly great impact on the region's commerce and industry

Asiaweek Hall of Fame 1998

Asiaweek Hall of Fame 1996

The 1997 economic crisis changed things. Before, entrepreneurialism was not valued highly in Asia. Lenders in South Korea were firmly focused on keeping the nation's chaebol fully stoked. The road to entrepreneurial success in Indonesia typically ran directly past the pockets of President Suharto and numerous lower-level functionaries. Risk-taking in Hong Kong always had more to do with horseracing (or property speculation) than starting a new business. And private enterprises in China were usually more a matter of necessity than choice.

But now risk-taking in the commercial sense, innovation and individual success are in ascendance. Throughout the region, governments are waking up to the job-creating power of start-up businesses. China, in particular, must figure out how it can close down myriad inefficient, loss-making state-owned enterprises without creating massive unemployment and the social upheaval that comes with it. So far, the Chinese leadership in Beijing has taken pains to stress that private enterprise is not the ultimate solution. But even in Communist China, the government has created a pool of money available to entrepreneurs with ideas and solid plans to make them work. In Indonesia, the vote for Abdurrahman Wahid can be seen in part as a rejection of the old power-by-association. Each day brings fresh evidence that the absolutism of the chaebol in South Korea is gone. And in Hong Kong, the past pre-eminence of property tycoons, while far from over, has at least been whittled down by a lingering slump in real estate prices.

The net impact of all this on entrepreneurs is not yet certain. It is hardly clear, for example, whether governments can play a substantial, pro-active role in the promotion of business start-ups. Indeed, the most entrepreneurial nation in the world, the United States, has had mixed success (at best) with initiatives like government-funded business incubators, which are fast multiplying in Asia. But the very fact that government officials and bureaucrats throughout the region are now acknowledging the value of risk-taking business people to their economic development is surely a positive step. In the long run, some of these entrepreneurs may even wind up in the Asiaweek Business Hall of Fame, which recognizes lifetime business success and impact in Asia. But first, as the following pages show, there is work to do.

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home


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