Asian business leaders honored at 37th annual ABA banquet

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LA tycoon Dr. Soon-Shiong vows to fight ‘medical apartheid’

LOS ANGELES – Asian business leaders were honored for their work in giving back to the community at the recently-concluded Asian Business Association (ABA) 37th Annual Awards Banquet in Los Angeles.

The ABA gala, held on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Westin Bonaventure hotel in Downtown LA, drew in many of the movers and shakers in the business community, the public service sector, as well as officials from other groups in the Asian community.

In one of his rare public appearances, noted business tycoon and pre-eminent scientific personality Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong delivered the keynote address at the banquet, emphasizing on the value of persistence and perseverance in order to become a successful Asian entrepreneur in the US.

Dr. Shiong, regarded by many as the most financially successful biotech entrepreneur, discussed his work with the medical field and how his companies’ significant breakthroughs in cancer research.

He also elaborated on an “information superhighway” infrastructure project that his companies are developing to help medical facilities and doctors access patient information from across the country.

This would let medical facilities easily share patient information with one another, regardless of the distance.

But the highlight of Dr. Shiong’s speech was when he vowed to fight against “medical apartheid” in America.

“We still have a big challenge because we have, what I believe, third world health care in a very, very wealthy nation,” Dr. Shiong said.

“We should not have medical apartheid in this country,” he added.

To illustrate, Dr. Shiong raised the case of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, one of the largest populations of Native Americans in the country.

“Here we have the largest [rate of] overpopulation of the Native American population; and completely the highest instances of cancer, diabetes, suicide.

“I think we have an obligation. This is how the Asian community can all gather together to actually [use] our resources to help not only these people, but ourselves,” he said.

Dr. Shiong, who has already made over $200 million in donations and pledges to LA-area hospitals, joins Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and other billionaires who promised to donate half of his wealth to charity.

ABA Executive Director and CEO Dennis Huang said in a statement that Dr. Shiong’s involvement with ABA is special because he exemplifies leadership as one of the most prominent Asian Americans in the nation.

Ronald W. Wong of Imprenta Communications Group and Co-chair for the ABA banquet said that having a man of Dr. Shiong’s caliber at the ABA signifies the importance of Asian businesses.

Immigrant Asian American families are known to be the entrepreneurial types because many of them establish their lives in America by building their family-owned businesses.

Organizations like the ABA are important for Asian American “business families,” Wong said.

The wealth of resources and knowledge about entrepreneurship that they can access through the ABA can teach these Asian families how to do business in America, how expand their reach thru networking, and how to raise capital.

“We’re proud that we can help businesses. That’s really our function and our mission,” Wong said.

The theme for the banquet was “Changes in the Workplace – Are you ready?” At the gala and through their honorees, The ABA sought to bring attention to leaders like Dr. Shiong who are making an impact in health care, insurance, the economy, and technology.

Dr. Shiong was also among the nights honorees. He was given the Lifetime Award for his lifelong achievements in the medical field and philanthropy.

California Insurance Commissioner David Jones was given the Diversity Award for prioritizing the establishment of the Insurance Diversity Program and Insurance Diversity Task Force under the California Department of Insurance (CDI). The Program and the Task Force focus on ensuring the diversification of the insurance industry.

Commissioner Jones said that it was special to be honored by the ABA at the banquet.

“The insurance industry collects $125 billion in premiums in California alone. And what I’m trying to do is to encourage them to spend some of that money here, and spend it with California’s Asian American and Pacific Islander and other minoritied (sic) women and veteran-owned businesses.” Jones said.

AEG was given the Corporate of the Year Award for its dedication to creating an inclusive environment for its employees, guests, businesses partners, suppliers, and community neighbors across all AEG operations worldwide. In 2013, the company launched its inaugural AEG 1FORCE: Diversity & Inclusion Report, which comprehensively records AEG’s accomplishments in diversity and inclusion.

Advocate of the Year Awardee David Lin of AT&T said that the Asian American community has an obligation to give back to the community, in light of their entrepreneurial successes.

Lin is AT&T’s Executive Director for External Affairs. He is responsible for building and nurturing AT&T’s relationships with Asian American community-based organizations, rural groups, and institutions, with a focus on providing telemedicine services.

(LA Weekend September 28 – October 1, 2013 Sec A pg.7)

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