Singapore — Madam Ho Ching, who recently retired as CEO of Temasek Holdings after 17 years with the sovereign wealth fund, has slid down the Forbes’ Most Powerful Women list for the third year in a row.

The wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is now ranked 33rd on Forbes’ list published on Tuesday.

In 2018, she was ranked 17th, her highest placing on the Forbes list since she was first listed in 2004. She has made the list every single year since.

She stepped down from being CEO of Temasek Holdings on Oct 1, and the same day, Temasek Trust announced that she had been appointed to its board of directors. On  April 1, 2022, she is to succeed the current chairperson, a former senior cabinet minister Mr S Dhanabalan.

Her biography on the Forbes list reads, “Ho Ching was the CEO of Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek from 2004 to 2021, and helped its portfolio grow to more than $313 billion…Temasek was one of the main investors in a $14 billion dollar fundraising round by Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba.”

She has been on Forbes’ list for 17 of the 18 years since it was first published. Here are her rankings in the past five years:

  • 2017—28th
  • 2018—17th
  • 2019—23rd
  • 2020—30th
  • 2021—33rd

Forbes noted that this is “only the third time in the 18 years we’ve compiled this ranking, German chancellor Angela Merkel is not No 1.” Taking pole position this year is Mackenzie Scott, a writer and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who pledged in 2019 that she would give away at least half of her fortune.

Ms Scott gave away US$5.8 billion (S$7.9 billion) in 2020 to around 500 non-profit organizations, and in 2021, donated US$2.76 billion (S$ 3.77 billion) to another 286 groups.

In second place is United States Vice President Kamala Harris, the country’s first female, Black and South-Asian American, a heartbeat away from the most powerful position in the world.

In third place is European Central Bank Head Christine Lagarde, who previously helmed the IMF (2011-2019). Rounding out the top five are General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra and philanthropist Melinda French Gates, who, with her former husband Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has done much to promote women’s and girls’ rights.

The highest any Asian woman (aside from Ms Harris) placed this year is ninth. Tsai Ing-wen, the first woman to lead Taiwan, has been lauded globally for her leadership amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms Tsai was ranked 37th on last year’s Forbes list.

Singaporean Jenny Lee, who ranked 87th in 2018, dropped off the list in 2020. She is a managing partner at GGV Capital and is one of the most respected venture capital investors in China. However, she is still on Forbes’ Midas List of Top Tech Investors for 2021, where she is ranked 33rd. /TISG

Read also: Ho Ching appointed to Temasek Trust Board of Directors, to be chair from Apr 1, 2022