Wang Gungwu to hand over ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute chair to Chan Heng Chee

Veteran diplomat Chan Heng Chee (left) will be taking over from Professor Wang Gungwu, who will be retiring as chairman of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute board of trustees on Oct 31, 2019.
Veteran diplomat Chan Heng Chee (left) will be taking over from Professor Wang Gungwu, who will be retiring as chairman of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute board of trustees on Oct 31, 2019. PHOTOS: ST FILE, LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) has named veteran diplomat Chan Heng Chee as its new chairman.

She will be taking over from Professor Wang Gungwu, who will be retiring as chairman of  ISEAS' board of trustees on Oct 31, the institute said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 30).

Professor Wang, 89, has been the institute's chairman since November 2002.

He helped ISEAS to expand its research capabilities by establishing the Asean Studies Centre in 2008, the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre in 2009, the Archaeology Unit in 2010 and the Temasek History Research Centre in August this year.

Professor Chan, 77, had served as ISEAS' director from March 1993 to June 1996.

The Ambassador-at-Large also currently chairs the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Prof Chan said: "As chairman, Prof Wang has provided wise guidance and nurtured a strong institution for me to build on. I look forward to working with the current director and ISEAS staff to deepen the understanding of South-east Asia among our stakeholders."

Besides Prof Wang, three board members will also step down on Oct 31. They are Mr Lim Kok Eng, senior manager at Regional Rubber Trading, Associate Professor Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman, who heads the Malay Studies Department at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Professor Tan Tai Yong, president of Yale-NUS College.

Mr M. Rajaram, chairman and partner at K&L Gates Straits Law, will be appointed deputy chairman. He has been a board member since 2011.

Meanwhile, the board will also see four new members. They are Mr Daniel Koh, managing director, global head of treasury markets at Standard Chartered Bank, Professor Joseph Liow, dean of College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University, Ms Julia Leong, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore, and Professor Brenda Yeoh, director of humanities and social science research at NUS.

The new appointments will take place on Friday.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung paid tribute to Prof Wang in a written statement: "His contributions to ISEAS have created a solid foundation for the institute to produce excellent and timely research and provided policymakers with insights and analysis to better inform policy thinking and formulation."

He also welcomed Prof Chan back to the institute.

"I am confident that she will continue to build on the good work of Prof Wang to lead ISEAS to even greater heights."