New Asia Society co-chair Ambassador Chan hopes to focus on Asean

Professor Chan Heng Chee will remain in Singapore but will travel to New York City for board meetings and other events.
Professor Chan Heng Chee will remain in Singapore but will travel to New York City for board meetings and other events.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

WASHINGTON - Professor Chan Heng Chee, the former long-serving Singapore envoy to the United States and now Ambassador-at-Large, has been named board co-chair in Asia of the Asia Society.

Chair of the Brookings Institution and former Goldman Sachs president John Thornton is the co-chair in the United States.

Ambassador Chan, 75, will remain in Singapore but will travel to New York City for board meetings and other events.

The New York-based Asia Society promotes understanding of Asia in a global context, working to strengthen partnerships among people, leaders and institutions across the arts, business, culture, education and policy.

In its first fund-raising in 20 years, it has raised more than US$75 million (S$102 million) which, among other things, will support the opening of new centres in Asia.

Prof Chan was the Singapore envoy in Washington from 1996 to 2012 but her involvement with the Asia Society dates back to 1991, when she joined its global council. She has been a trustee of the Asia Society since 2012 and vice-chair of the board since 2015.

She has been quoted as saying: "I look forward to helping Asia Society deepen its work in the Asean region. China, the Korean peninsula, India and the Middle East may dominate the headlines, but engagement in Asean is critical at the time when the region is going through profound economic, social and political transitions.

"Opportunities abound and a more comprehensive relationship between the US and the region would be greatly beneficial."

In a statement, Asia Society president and chief executive officer Josette Sheeran said the group's new leadership would "guide our critical work as we launch the campaign for US$135 million to fund new arts and culture initiatives, promote global education, and advance the Asia Society Policy Institute".