Historian Wang Gungwu retires as chair of think-tank, diplomat Chan Heng Chee to take over

Wang has also stepped down from his positions in two other academic institutions in recent years.

Kayla Wong | October 30, 2019, 05:39 PM

Esteemed historian Wang Gungwu will be retiring and stepping down from his position as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) on Thursday, Oct. 31.

He has held the position in the Singapore-based research institute for more than 16 years since Nov. 1, 2002.

Ambassador Chan to take over

According to a media release by ISEAS issued on Wednesday, Oct. 30, Wang will be succeeded by Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee.

Chan has served as the institute's Director from March 1993 to June 1996.

The appointment will be effective from Friday, Nov. 1.

Wang stepping down gradually in recent years

Wang, 89, has been stepping down from his chairmanship of various academic institutions in recent years.

For instance, he stepped down as the Governing Board Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on March 31, 2017, after being at the helm for 12 years.

He has also stepped down recently from his chairmanship at the East Asian Institute (EAI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), according to The Straits Times.

Strengthened ISEAS

Wang has played a key role in shaping ISEAS' direction and mission during his tenure, ISEAS said.

He has also fostered a "strong culture of research excellence".

Being deeply involved in the institute's development and activities, he has helped expand its research capabilities through the establishment of several research centres, including 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 2019.

Ong thanks Wang for 17 years of "dedicated service"

Commenting on the new appointment, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung thanked Wang for his "dedicated service as Chairman of the ISEAS Board for the last 17 years".

"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."

On Chan taking over Wang's position, Ong said they "warmly welcome her back" to ISEAS.

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

Other new appointments

Other than Wang, three other board members will also be stepping down from the board on Oct. 31.

They are:

  • Lim Kok Eng, Senior Manager of Regional Rubber Trading Co Pte Ltd;
  • Noor Aisha Bte Abdul Rahman, Head of Malay Studies Department at NUS; and
  • Professor Tan Tai Yong, President of Yale-NUS College.

Four new members will be joining the board:

  • Daniel Koh, Managing Director of the Global Head of Treasury Markets at Standard

    Chartered Bank;

  • Joseph Liow, Dean of College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University;
  • Julia Leong, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore; and
  • Brenda Yeoh, Director of Humanities & Social Science Research at NUS.

More on Wang:


Top image via ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute/YouTube