(Nov 20): On Thursday, Nov 2, US President Donald Trump unveiled his signature tax reform plan in the Oval Office at the White House. He was flanked by Penang-born Tan Hock Eng, 65, CEO of Singapore-based, San Jose-run, communications chip firm Broadcom, which has a market capitalisation of US$106 billion ($143.7 billion). Broadcom, Tan told Trump and the White House audience, was ready to “make America home again” as it relocates from Singapore to Delaware.
“My mother could never have imagined that one day her son would be here in the Oval Office standing beside the president of the United States,” Tan said in a voice choked with emotion. Trump moved forward, put his arms around Tan and said: “And my mother too,” to roars of laughter. Tan and Trump were being chummy as they patted each other on the back. Each needed the other. Trump needed a CEO who was willing to say his tax reform proposals would do what they are supposed to and Tan needed the White House’s seal of approval for the next leg of his acquisition spree.
Tan who? And Broadcom? Most Malaysians and Singaporeans may not have heard of him until recently but Tan, who briefly ran midsized, Kuala Lumpur-based, construction materials firm Hume Industries in the mid-1980s, is CEO of one of the largest, fastest-growing and — because of its acquisitive ways — increasingly the most-feared technology companies in the world. Measured by market capitalisation, Broadcom is the largest Singapore company, though it is listed on Nasdaq. Tan was a long-time Singapore permanent resident and ran a venture capital firm here between 1988 and 1992 before he relocated to the US.