Temasek launches S Rajaratnam Endowment to strengthen international ties

SINGAPORE - A new $100 million endowment set up by Temasek Holdings aims to deepen international friendships and promote regional cooperation at a time of flux in global politics.

The S Rajaratnam Endowment, named after Singapore's first foreign minister, will partner civil society organisations, think tanks and the private sector, to put in place projects that encourage development, peace and stability in the region.

Its objectives are aligned with the values that the late Mr Rajaratnam had stood for, said chairman Wong Kan Seng at the endowment's launch event on Tuesday at the National Library.

These include stronger international and regional ties, as well as a greater and common understanding of international rules, based on good governance and sustainability.

This is especially pertinent during "a tumultuous era in world history with profound and momentous shifts of power and ideas underway," said Mr Wong, who is also special advisor for economic cooperation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and chairman of Temasek Holdings unit Singbridge, a developer and investor of large-scale integrated townships in China.

"The international system is in a state of flux, precipitated by the rise of Asia and specifically China and India," Mr Wong said.

The former deputy prime minister added: "The next phase of Asia's growth will see more complex and greater challenges in geopolitics, changing demographics, income disparities and the competitive use of resources.

"It is thus important for all stakeholders to reinforce the foundations for sustainable growth in the region."

Mr Wong said that the endowment will also support programmes and partnerships that recognise the work and contributions that Mr Rajaratnam was known for, such as programmes that promote a better understanding of international relations and foreign affairs policies, as well as social development, culture, literary arts and journalism.

He said: "Our basic approach is to be as broadly inclusive as possible, while holding firmly to our core values."

The endowment's flagship programme is the inaugural Singapore Forum, titled "Asia and the World - New Growth, New Strategies", to be held on April 11, 2015. The invite-only event will provide a neutral platform for some 200 policymakers and business leaders to exchange views on strategies required to deepen regional cooperation.

The Forum's advisory board includes foreign leaders such as Mr Long Yongtu, former vice-minister of China's Ministry of Commerce and secretary-general of the G20 Research Office, and Mr Musa Hitam, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and chairman of the World Islamic Economic Forum.

Another project supported by the endowment, the Youth Model Asean Conference, will take place in December this year. Organised in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic, it will bring together 200 youth leaders from Asean countries to foster a greater understanding of the issues and challenges facing the 10-nation bloc.

The endowment's board comprises Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities; Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan, policy advisor with the Foreign Affairs Ministry; and Dr Teh Kok Peng, chairman of business park developer Ascendas.