Singapore 5 on list of young global leaders

Christopher de Souza, Eunice Olsen in group picked for Davos meet
Robin Chan, Straits Times 28 Feb 09;

FIVE talented young people from Singapore who are determined to make a difference have just been given their ticket to climb onto the world stage.

The five - a lawyer, violinist, Nominated Member of Parliament, entrepreneur and bank executive - are high-fliers in their own fields here.

They have now been invited by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) to join other young leaders aged 40 and under from across the globe to tackle the world's pressing problems.

The WEF is a non-profit foundation devoted to social and economic issues and is best known for its annual Davos summit.

The Singapore five will rub shoulders with golf sensation Tiger Woods, Formula One legend Michael Schumacher and Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi - just some of the global stars on this year's list.

American whiz-kids Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social networking site Facebook, and Chad Hurley of YouTube fame will also be joining them.

The Singapore group includes MP and litigator Christopher de Souza, 33, and Nominated MP Eunice Olsen, 31, a well-known TV host and former beauty queen.

They follow in the footsteps of past nominees, MPs Teo Ser Luck, who is chairman of the Young PAP, and Penny Low, as politically active figures who have caught the eye of the WEF's 31-member panel led by Queen Rania of Jordan.

But it is not only in the political arena that the rising stars have made a name for themselves.

This year, adding colour to the field is entrepreneur Calvin Cheng, 33, who founded fashion and media company Looque International, and Singapore's prodigious violinist Lee Huei Min, 26.

Ms Karen Bell, 40, the Australia- born, Singapore-based managing director at Deutsche Bank, was also selected out of Singapore. She has lived here for two years.

Singapore's group of five will be invited to a series of regional forums leading up to the Davos summit next year.

They are well aware of the serious challenges facing the world and Ms Olsen said that the network and exchange of ideas between so many young leaders will certainly be key.

Mr De Souza is determined to urge other members to fight trade protectionism in these trying economic times.

'Without a doubt, the key challenge facing all generations for at least the next two years will be the global economy,' he said.

Mr Cheng said that climate change and the growing income gap between the rich and the poor will also need addressing.

This year, 230 people in total were selected worldwide. This includes 54 from East Asia, the most from any region. They now join the group of 480 past nominees.

Additional reporting by Joanna Seow

Going to the World Economic Forum

MS LEE HUEI MIN, 26, concert violinist

Also known as Min Lee, she is a gifted violinist who has raised over $5million for charity. Since her first public performance at the age of five, she has performed with top orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic and the Prague Chamber, and has released two albums on Universal Music.

MR CALVIN CHENG, 33, director of Lumina-Looque International

He co-founded Looque International, a firm that operates modelling agencies, lifestyle event firms, and media houses, but his key interest is in youth - education in particular. He is on the steering committee of the Red Cross Humanitarian Network. He was featured in the 2005 National Day commemorative video as one of '40 outstanding Singaporeans under 40'.

MS KAREN BELL, 40, managing director, head of group technology and operations for Asia-Pacific, Deutsche Bank

Since joining Deutsche Bank in 1995, she has held various management roles within the company in Australia, Singapore and Britain. She is particularly interested in the environment and the widening rich-poor gap.

MR CHRISTOPHER DE SOUZA, 33, vice-chairman of Young PAP, partner at Lee and Lee, and an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC

The youngest MP and the vice-chairman of the Young PAP since last year, he has led dialogues for young people in his ward as a way to give voice to their concerns.

He began his career as a lawyer in the government but joined Lee and Lee in 2006. He is an avid sportsman, and played in the Singapore national men's hockey team in 1997 and 2005.

MS EUNICE OLSEN, 31, Nominated Member of Parliament

A recipient of the Asean Youth Award 2008, she has used her reach as a Nominated Member of Parliament and winner of Miss Singapore Universe 2000 to promote volunteerism, a cause in which she actively participates.

She is known for her work as a television and event host, an actress, and an accomplished pianist. She is a goodwill ambassador for World Vision International - Singapore.