Joseph Chinyong Liow Named Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies at Brookings

Washington, D.C. – Brookings President Strobe Talbott announced today that Joseph Chinyong Liow has been named the inaugural holder of the Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies in the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings. The chair was established in October 2013 by endowment gifts and operating support from a consortium of donors in the United States and Southeast Asia.

Liow, currently professor of comparative and international politics and associate dean in the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, will be a full-time senior fellow at Brookings in Washington, D.C. from August 1, 2014 through July 31, 2016. 

“Joseph is one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent political scientists,” said Talbott. “I am delighted to welcome him to Brookings, and grateful to our donors for enabling us to establish this chair in honor of Lee Kuan Yew.” Lee Kuan Yew served as prime minister of Singapore from 1959 until 1990, and was a major driver behind the establishment and emergence of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Generous contributions to the Lee Kuan Yew Chair endowment have been made by Ray and Barbara Dalio, Chevron, Hotel Properties Limited, Keppel Group, Robert Ng and Philip Ng, Sembcorp Industries Ltd., Edwin Soeryadjaya, STEngineering, and The Starr Foundation. Blackstone, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and State Street have provided critical operating support.

Joseph Liow earned a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has authored and co-authored 11 books, including the single-authored Piety and Politics: Islamism in Contemporary Malaysia (Oxford University Press, New York, 2009) and Islam, Education, and Reform in Southern Thailand: Tradition and Transformation (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2009). A revised fourth edition of his Dictionary of Southeast Asian Politics will be published by Routledge (London) later this year. 

“Joseph will both broaden and deepen Brookings’s work on Southeast Asia,” said Martin Indyk, vice president and director of Foreign Policy at Brookings. “His expertise in the region’s politics, in particular the role of Islamist political parties, represents an important addition to our policy work at a time of increasing interest in Washington in Southeast Asia.” In addition to focusing on intra-Southeast Asian issues at Brookings, Dr. Liow plans a project exploring the sustainability of the U.S. rebalance to Asia.

The Lee Kuan Yew Chair will be housed in the expanded Center for East Asia Policy Studies (CEAP), founded in 1998 as the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies to promote research and analysis of policy issues facing East Asia and the United States. Recently, CEAP has launched the Phillip Knight Chair in Japan Studies, the Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies, and the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies. With the establishment of the Lee Kuan Yew Chair, the center now includes Southeast Asia in its mandate. Under the continued leadership of its director, Richard Bush, CEAP senior fellows and visiting fellows conduct research on the political, economic, and security issues facing East Asia, and sponsor an array of policy-oriented seminars, discussions, and publications, including the monthly “Brookings East Asia Commentary.”