Business & Economy

Meet the leaders of Apec

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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) is the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum, with 21 members aiming to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region. From being a forum where trade and business issues are tackled, Apec through the years since its creation in 1989 has also covered social issues.

The 21 Apec governments and economic leaders attending this year’s Apec summit in the Philippines are:


Form of government: Federal parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Head of government: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Turnbull was elected the 29th Prime Minister of Australia on Sept. 15. He was elected to Federal Parliament as the Member for Wentworth in 2004.

Turnbull has held various parliamentary positions including Shadow Treasurer, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with responsibility for national water policy and Minister for Environment and Water Resources.

Most recently, Turnbull was Minister for Communications from Sept. 18, 2013 to Sept. 21, 2015. He also became Leader of the Opposition from September 2008 to December 2009 and was later Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband.

 Brunei Darussalam

Form of government: Constitutional sultanate

Head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah

As the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Bolkiah is the Supreme Executive Authority in Brunei.

He is also the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Finance and Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Bolkiah was installed as The Crown Prince in 1961 at the age of 15. Following the voluntary abdication of his late father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Bolkiah was proclaimed the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam on Oct. 5, 1967.

In 1978, Bolkiah led a Mission to London for discussions with Her Britannic Majesty’s Government on the change of status of Brunei to that of a sovereign, independent state. The outcome was the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Brunei and Great Britain under which the British Government relinquished its responsibilities for the conduct of Brunei’s Foreign Affairs and Defence in 1984.


Form of government: Constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federal state

Head of government: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Trudeau was sworn into office on Nov. 4, making him Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister. He appointed an equal number of men and women in Cabinet—a first in Canada’s history.

His passion for public service and vision for Canada are shaped by his experiences and influences - his father, Pierre, a former prime minister, and mother, Margaret.

Prior to entering politics, Trudeau was frequently invited to speak at conferences and various events on youth and environmental issues. He was the Chair of Katimavik, where he spoke to young people about the value of community service and volunteerism, and a board member of the Canadian Avalanche Foundation, where he promoted avalanche safety.

In 2007, Trudeau decided to serve Canadians by seeking the nomination in the Montreal riding of Papineau. He was elected in 2008, and then again in 2011 and 2015.

Trudeau was elected Leader of his party in April 2013. Propelled by hope and hard work, he focused his leadership on building the team and the plan to create growth that works for the middle class, and fair economic opportunity for everyone; on respect for and promotion of freedom and diversity; and on a more democratic government that represents all of Canada.


Form of government: Republic

Head of government: President Michelle Bachelet

Chile’s first woman president, Bachelet first served as Chilean President from 2006 to 2010, and was again elected in 2014.

A pediatrician by profession, Bachelet in the 1980s provided professional help to children of persons detained and victimized by the military regime of Augusto Pinochet. A victim of the Pinochet regime herself, Bachelet lost her father, a general loyal to then President Salvador Allende, during the regime. He was murdered in 1974. Bachelet and her mother were also exiled from Chile in 1975.

Returning to Chile in 1990 at the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship, Bachelet entered public service, working in various health organizations and becoming an advisor to the Ministry of Defense. She became health minister in March 2000 and Defense Minister in 2002, the first woman to hold the position in Chile and Latin America.

In March 2006, Bachelet became Chile’s first female president, a position she held until 2010. After her term, she became president of the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, a joint-initiative with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) that works to promote social policies that stimulate economic growth and social cohesion.

In September 2011, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named Bachelet the first Director of the recently created UN Women agency, an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights of women and girls internationally. She resigned from the organization two years later in March 2013 to return to Chile, and announce her decision to run again for the presidency. She was re-elected in 2014.


Form of government: Communist state

Chief of state: President Xi Jinping

China’s president and Communist Party chief, Xi heads the world’s second-largest economy. Elected President in March 2013, Xi is a “princeling” whose father was a revolutionary veteran and among the founding fathers of the Communist Party.

Xi served as a local party secretary in Hebei province before assuming more senior roles in Fujian and then Zhejiang provinces. In 2007, he was named party chief of Shanghai, replacing Chen Liangyu who was sacked because of corruption. Xi became vice president in 2008.

Xi is viewed as pro-business and anti-corruption. Assuming leadership of the Communist Party in November 2012, Xi has promised to crack down on corruption, although a 2012 Bloomberg investigative report reported on his extended family’s wealth and business interests in minerals and real estate, among others. No assets, however, were directly traced to Xi, his wife or daughter.

Xi is married to popular folk singer Peng Liyuan. They have a daughter, Xi Mingze, reportedly studying at Harvard University in the US.

 Hong Kong, China

Form of government: Limited democracy

Head of government: Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying

Elected to his fourth term as Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in March 2012, Leung was a member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong from 1997 to 2011 and was involved in preparatory work for the establishment of Hong Kong SAR from 1984 to 1997. He has also participated in land and housing reforms in mainland China since the late 1970s. Leung is a graduate of King’s College, Hong Kong Polytechnic and Bristol Polytechnic, and has received honorary doctorate degrees from universities in the United Kingdom and Shandong.


Form of government: Republic

Head of government: President Joko Widodo (not attending)

Widodo, a former entrepreneur and governor of Jakarta, was elected as Indonesia’s president in July 2014.

Also known as Jokowi, his humble background stood in sharp contrast to the country’s previous prime ministers who hailed from the political and military elite.

Born in 1961 in Solo, a city in the center of Java, Widodo is the son of a wood-seller.

He began his political career with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) when he was elected mayor of Solo in 2005.

In 2012, Widodo ran for the position of Jakarta’s governor and won a resounding victory.

Representative: Vice President Jusuf Kalla

Jusuf Kalla was elected vice president in 2014. He previously served the position in 2004-2009.

Known to be decisive and unwavering, Mr. Kalla is also a good political networker. During his first term as vice president, he helped to drive through parliament some unpopular government polices.

Despite his outspoken nature, Kalla has a reputation for being affable and down-to-earth. He is knowledgeable about business affairs and has an extensive political network, having headed the Indonesian Council of Mosques. Outside of politics, Mr. Kalla has also served as the chair of the Indonesian Red Cross Society since 2009.

Born in South Sulawesi, Kalla came from a successful business family trading in silk and commodities in Makassar. He attended the University of Hasanuddin in Makassar and graduated in 1967 with an economics degree.


Form of government: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government

Head of government: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Abe became Japan’s prime minister in December 2012 after his Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) landslide election win. It is Abe’s second time to hold the top post after a brief term as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

Abe hails from a high-profile political family. His father, Shintaro Abe, was a former foreign minister and his grandfather was former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.

He won his first seat in parliament in 1993. Appointed to the Cabinet for the first time in October 2005, he was given the high-profile role of chief Cabinet secretary. In September 2012, he was elected leader of LDP again.

One of Abe’s notable campaign is to push for companies and the government to hire and promote more women. He has appointed five women to his 18-member Cabinet. The campaign had a lukewarm response but it did not deter his popularity as he was re-elected without opposition to another term as LDP president last September.

Abe is married to socialite and former radio DJ Akie Abe.


Form of government: Republic with powers shared between the president and the legislature

Chief of State: President Park Geun-hye

President Park made history by becoming the first female leader of heavily patriarchal South Korea. The daughter of a former president, she was elected on Dec. 19, 2012 and sworn in on Feb. 25, 2013.

Her father, Park Chung-hee, was one of the founders of modern Korea who took power after a coup d’etat and ruled as a dictator for almost two decades before being shot dead by his intelligence chief in 1979. She took up the role of acting First Lady at the age of 22 years old, after her mother was shot dead in 1974.

Park has apologized for human rights violations during her father’s rule but she faced criticisms for not doing enough to distancing herself from his legacy.

She was first elected to South Korea’s National Assembly in 1998. In 2007, Park sought the presidency, but her Saenuri, or New Frontier Party, instead nominated Lee Myung-bak, who went on to win.


Form of government: Federal parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch

Head of government: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak

Prime Minister Najib was appointed on April 3, 2009, making him the country’s sixth prime minister.

Najib started public service when he was elected member of parliament at the age of 23 in 1976, following the death of his father, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein. Najib has held many government positions since, including deputy minister of education, defense, culture, youth and sports, and energy, telecommunications and post. He continues to hold the minister of finance post.

The cornerstone of Najib’s premiership is his 1Malaysia initiative, which emphasizes national unity.

Born on July 23, 1953, Najib graduated from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom with a degree in industrial economics in 1974.


Form of government: Federal republic

Head of government: President Enrique Peña Nieto

Nieto assumed office in December 2012 and will serve his term until 2018.

Prior to being elected president, Nieto was governor of the state from 2005 to 2011. He has also served as secretary of administration from 2000 to 2002, and representative of the 13th district and coordinator of the parliamentary group of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, from 2003 to 2004.

Nieto’s administration focuses on ensuring “the rights that the Constitution confers on Mexicans move from paper into practice.”

Born on July 20, 1966, Nieto has a bachelor’s degree in law from Universidad Panamericana and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.

 New Zealand

Form of government: Parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Head of government: Prime Minister John Key

Key is the country’s 38th prime minister. He is currently serving his third term, having held the position since November 2008. He has been reported as saying that he would stand for a fourth term in 2017. There is no term limit for the prime minister in New Zealand.

Key is one of New Zealand’s few prime ministers without prior Cabinet experience. He first entered parliament in 2002, representing the Auckland electorate of Helensville, and has held the seat since. He has been the leader of the National Party since 2006, and currently also serves as Minister of Tourism.

Prior to his involvement in politics, Key had a long international career in investment banking since the mid-1980s. Born on Aug. 9, 1961, Key has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Canterbury.

 Papua New Guinea

Form of government: Constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Head of government: Prime Minister Paire O’Neill

O’Neill is elected the ninth Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea in 2012. He is the leader of the People’s National Congress and represents the constituency of Ialibu-Pangia.

He became the leader of Papua New Guinea’s opposition in 2004. He joined the government of then Prime Minister Michael Somare in 2007 as treasurer. During Somare’s absence due to illness he served as works minister under acting prime minister Sam Abal.

O’Neill was elected the acting prime minister in a parliamentary vote in 2011.

From 2002 to 2010, he was appointed minister for Labour and Industrial Relations; Public Service; Commerce and Industry; Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology; and Finance and Treasury.

 Republic of Peru

Form of government: Constitutional republic

Head of government: President Ollanta Humala

Humala was elected president of the Republic of Peru in 2011 in a five-year term. He defeated four experienced politicians after promising to respect democracy and spread the benefits of a decade-long economic boom to the rural poor.

His approval rating has shown him to be the most popular Peruvian president in years, in large part because of his emphasis on social programs for the poor.

As an army captain in the 1990s, he commanded a counterinsurgency unit during the government’s fight against the revolutionary organization Shining Path(Sendero Luminoso).

Humala attended a military academy in Lima and has a master’s degree in political science from Lima’s Pontifical Catholic University. After serving as a military attaché at the Peruvian embassies in France and South Korea, he retired from the army in 2004 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

 Republic of the Philippines

Form of government: Republic

Head of government: President Benigno Simeon Aquino III

The 15th President of the Philippines, Aquino was elected in June 2010. He is the only son of democracy icons Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Aquino.

When his mother died in 2009, it stirred up the people’s yearning for a leadership that is honest and compassionate, and a nation that trusts and works with its government. People urged him to run for president in the 2010 elections to continue his parents’ work.

He served as representative of the 2nd district of Tarlac province from 1998 to 2007. In May 2007, he joined the Philippine Senate, wherein he worked to bring about legislative initiatives anchored on the protection of human rights and honest and responsible governance.

Aquino’s determination to lead the government and the nation toward the straight path has been the catalyst for unprecedented economic growth, which has trickled down to the margins of society through improved government services, reforms in the education system, and conditional cash transfers for the poor; an inspired campaign for good governance and justice as evidenced by the prosecution of corrupt and abusive government officials; and the empowerment of every citizen so that they may participate in building a nation of hope and opportunity.


Form of government: Federation

Head of government: President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (not attending)

Putin is on his third term that will end in 2018. He was first appointed in August 1999 as prime minister by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin. Four months later, Yeltsin stepped down from office and appointed Putin as acting President.

In March 2000, he was elected President and was re-elected to a second term on March 14, 2004. A fourth term is allowed under the Russian constitution.

Born on Oct. 7, 1952 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Putin studied law and economics.

Representative: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

Medvedev was appointed Prime Minister of the Russian Federation in 2012. He was the Russian president from 2008 to 2012.

Other government posts he held included first deputy prime minister, chief of staff of presidential executive office and chairman of the board of directors of Gazprom.

Medvedev, who has a doctorate degree in law, was an associate professor at St. Petersburg State University.


Form of government: Parliamentary Republic

Head of government: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Lee is the third Prime Minister of Singapore.

Before he took the top ministerial post in 2004, Lee was the deputy prime minister for 14 years and the chair of the Monetary Authority of Singapore for six years. He was a Brigadier-General in the Singapore Armed Forces until he became a member of the parliament in 1984.

Born on Feb. 10, 1952, he has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.

 Chinese Taipei

Form of government: Multiparty democracy

Representative: Former Vice President Vincent Siew

Siew was the 12th vice president of Taiwan from 2008 to 2012. After his vice presidential term, he refused calls to seek a reelection.

In his 40 years in politics, Siew became the economic affairs minister from 1990 to 1993 and the premier of Taiwan for three years until 2000.

Since his retirement, he has served as a representative to President Ma Ying-jeou in the 2013 and 2014 Apec summit.

Siew has a graduate degree from the Department of Diplomacy from the National Chengchi University in Taiwan.


Form of government: Constitutional monarchy

Head of government: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

Prayut was named the Prime Minister of Thailand in August 2014.

He was the Royal Thai Army chief who declared martial law in May 2014 due to political turmoil after the leadership of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted on nepotism charges. The martial law has since been lifted in April 2015.

Born on March 21, 1954, he finished his tertiary education at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy.

 United States of America

Form of government: Constitution-based federal republic

Head of government: President Barack Obama

Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is on his second consecutive term and is due to step down in January 2017.

Obama made history in 2009 when he became the first African-American President of the United States. In 2004, he was elected senator for Illinois.

He graduated from Harvard Law School and became the president of Harvard Law Review.

Obama was born to a Kenyan father and an American mother on Aug. 4, 1961 in Hawaii.


Form of government: Communist state

Chief of state: President Truong Tan Sang

Truong was named the State President of Vietam in July 2011 in a landslide victory.

Before he became president, he was permanent secretary of the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee in 2006 and then in 2011 again. He was also a member of the Politburo from the eighth congress to the 11th congress.

He was born on Jan. 21, 1949 in My Hanh commune, Duc Hoa district, Long An province and has a law degree.


Compiled by Inquirer Research. Sources:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, BBC, CNN, Brittanica, The Diplomat, Executive Yuan website, National Taipei University of Technology, Radio Taiwan International,, Inquirer Archives

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