First a teacher in physics and electrical engineering for six years at his alma mater in 1968, HE Lee Hiong Tan Wee had the idea to begin selling seaweed; later on, the family company also branched out to real estate with the development of Bonifacio Global City (BGC) among many other skyscrapers built over the last 10 years. Now, having been an active and successful businessman for more than 50 years in the seaweed business, the company has been handed over to his six children who are adding a garment-purchasing line from Solo to help supply uniforms to teachers and military members in the Philippines.
HE Wee himself, however, was offered the post of the Filipino Ambassador to Indonesia by President Rodrigo Duterte, and he embraced it with the same focus and passion he had applied to his business. “It was the right time to do something for my country,” he explained. “I’m not a trained diplomat but a businessman, which is why I will focus on the bilateral business between the Philippines and Indonesia.”
These backgrounds allow HE Wee to see things with a unique perspective and led him to focus on making an effective difference. He believes that: “Being an economic diplomat is the highest form of diplomacy in the Foreign Service because you can make things happen both in industry and in business and create employment for the people.” The new role as an ambassador has also allowed him to travel extensively across Indonesia to connect with different sides of society, with the first result being a new connection between North Sulawesi and the southern Philippines.
This story appears in the January 2019 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstand, or subscribe here.