SMU to rename law school after Singapore’s second chief justice Yong Pung How

The new name will come into effect from April 11, 2021 which would have been Dr Yong Pung How's 95th birthday.
The new name will come into effect from April 11, 2021 which would have been Dr Yong Pung How's 95th birthday. PHOTO: SMU

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Management University's (SMU's) law school will be renamed the Yong Pung How School of Law from April 11 this year, the day on which Singapore's second chief justice and SMU's third chancellor would have turned 95.

Dr Yong was 93 when he died in January last year.

SMU said on Tuesday (March 9) that the school remained indebted to Dr Yong's vision and guidance, and that he played a critical role in the development of the School of Law and its curriculum.

"SMU has been privileged to have a long and deep association with Dr Yong Pung How," said SMU's Chairman Ho Kwon Ping.

"Dr Yong was a force of wisdom and his legacy will continue to positively shape the growth of our university and the School of Law. We are humbled and privileged to honour Dr Yong by naming our School of Law after him," he added.

Aside from his role as chancellor, Dr Yong also served as the university's pro-chancellor, was the founding chairman of the law school's advisory board, and was distinguished fellow of the school of law from 2006 to 2020.

Over his 16-year tenure as Singapore's chief judge, Dr Yong implemented sweeping changes to harness technology to revamp the efficiency of the court system.

Many people, including a number of political luminaries, paid tribute to him after he died last year.

Emeritus Senior Minister and former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said: "We have lost a great Singaporean... He was appointed a few months before I became Prime Minister. Mr Lee Kuan Yew consulted me as to his appointment, which I happily agreed to. He did a great job."

Speaking on SMU's decision to rename the law school in honour of her father, Dr Yong's daughter, Ms Yong Ying-I, said: "My family is deeply honoured and touched by the recognition that SMU and the Singapore Government have given my father. He was greatly committed to the education of the next generation and this honour will enable his legacy to be remembered and built upon."

The SMU School of Law took in its first cohort of 116 students in 2007. It offers various degrees from a full-time bachelor of laws programme, double degree programmes with other disciplines like accountancy as well as continuing legal education.

Dr Yong played a critical role in the development of the School of Law and its curriculum. PHOTO: BT FILE

6 schools named after influential figures at other universities

1. National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine 

The school bears the name of the Hong Kong-trained businessman and doctor who died in 1959. He was an uncle of Dr Yong Pung How. NUS received a $100 million donation from him, a sum which was matched dollar for dollar by the Singapore Government. 

2. NUS’ Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music

Named after the late Madam Yong Siew Toh, the daughter of Dr Yong Loo Lin. The conservatory offers a range of degrees in music. It was established with a donation of $25 million in 2003, and an additional donation of $25 million in 2008 from the Yong Loo Lin Trust. 

3. Nanyang Technological University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

Named after prominent businessman Lee Kong Chian, known as “South-east Asia’s Rubber and Pineapple King”. Mr Lee spent a large amount of his wealth supporting education, donating to many schools. Also named after Mr Lee, who died in 1967, is Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business.

4. NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information 

The journalism school was renamed after Singapore’s fourth president, a former journalist, in 2006, a year after he died. NTU said the renaming was guided by Dr Wee’s lifelong passion for journalism and the truth, his fighting spirit and the enduring values he lived by.

5. NTU’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies 

Named after Singapore’s first foreign minister, who died in 2006. Mr Rajaratnam was a former journalist and a founding member of the People’s Action Party. 

The graduate school and think-tank, inaugurated in 2007, now offers masters programmes in international relations and strategic studies, in keeping with the long diplomatic career of Mr Rajaratnam.

6. NUS’ Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health 

Named after Professor Saw Swee Hock, a statistician and philanthropist who donated $30 million to set up the school in 2011. The expert in statistics and demographics died last month. 

Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.