Monday, August 31, 2009

Palin traveling to Asia next month for Financial Forum

From the Wall Street Journal blog, China Journal:

What’s Sarah Palin Doing Next Month? Addressing A Financial Forum In Hong Kong, Of Course
August 31, 2009, 7:01 AM ET

Quick: what do Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have in common?

Quite possibly nothing right now. But come Sept. 23, if all goes according to plan, all three of them will have been keynote speakers at the annual CLSA Investors’ Forum in Hong Kong.

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, a Hong Kong-based brokerage, announced Monday that the former Republican candidate for the U.S. vice presidency and, until she resigned last month, governor of Alaska, will address the Sept. 21-25 event in what a press release called “her first international speaking engagement outside North America.”

Palin – who’s never been to East Asia and isn’t exactly famous for her mastery of public speaking or her expertise in finance and international affairs – might seem an unusual choice for an event that, according to CLSA, is “Asia’s premier investment conference providing unrivaled corporate access to 1,300 global fund managers from 32 countries, representing more than $10 trillion in funds under management.” CLSA spokeswoman Simone Wheeler says that orators at the forum often come from outside the securities industry. “Our keynote speakers are always notable luminaries, and they usually address subjects that go beyond finance, such as geopolitics,” she says. “Our goal is to provide investors a diversity of views.”

Indeed, while the forum has hosted its share of finance bigwigs – Alan Greenspan addressed it in 2006, the same year Clinton and Al Gore also spoke, and Michael Milken and Marc Faber have both attended multiple times – it has had a fairly eclectic mix of others, too: Bob Geldof, the rocker turned anti-poverty activist, spoke in 2007, along with Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from South Africa. CLSA has also hired Sir Elton John, Macy Gray, and Tom Jones in years past as entertainment.

“As the first female governor of Alaska and the youngest person ever elected governor of that state, Palin has broken new ground in U.S. politics and we are delighted that she will make her first visit to Asia to present at the CLSA Investors’ Forum,” CLSA Chairman and CEO Jonathan Slone said in the press release Monday.

Wheeler declines to say whether CLSA is paying Palin for her address. It won’t be open to the media, she says.

–Jason Dean

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