Asia Society's co-chairs 'to build a shared future'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am


The Asia Society's president has defended the appointment of Hang Lung chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung as its co-chair, the first time the body has appointed an Asian to the position, to be shared with a former US government official.

The Hong Kong property tycoon (pictured) will serve as co-chair with Henrietta Holsman Fore.

Fore - a former administrator of the US Agency for International Development - and Chan will take up their posts on June 10, when the incumbent, Charles Kaye, steps down.

Their appointments have drawn complaints that the arrangement undermines the status of Asians in the international organisation.

'Within the American context and the Asian context ... to have a co-chair on each side of the Pacific is unprecedented,' said Vishakha Desai, the president and chief executive officer of the New York-based body.

'Asia Society's mission, especially now, is to strengthen partnerships among Asians and Americans to build a shared future. In other words, we really do think of partnerships and relationship on both sides of the Pacific as crucial. It's not just about Asia. It's very much about Asia and America,' she said.

Desai, an Indian-American art expert, became the organisation's first Asian president in 2004. She was in Hong Kong on a business visit.

Chan has been vice-chairman of the society's board since 1998 and is chairman of its Hong Kong centre.

Meanwhile, the society's centre in Admiralty is expected to be open in the first quarter of next year, about four years behind schedule.

Edith Chan, the centre's executive director, said the delay was due to the complexity of the project and the desire to preserve the former Explosives Magazine military buildings.

'We recognise the significance of this heritage conservation responsibility.

'This explains the care and dedication at each and every step we make,' she said.

She added that the centre would be open to the public.


The year the society was founded by John D Rockerfeller III. It is also present in Melbourne, Mumbai, Manila, Seoul and Shanghai