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Past Event

Pragmatism and practice: Presenting “The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew”

Past Event

Pragmatism and practice: Presenting The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father and great statesman, passed away on Sunday, March 22, 2015. He had been a major figure in the development of Southeast Asia and in global international relations for over half a century. From 1959 until 2011, he served consecutively as prime minister, senior minister, and minister mentor of Singapore. He led Singapore’s rise from a new post-colonial state to global prominence, was a driving force behind the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and has been an important interlocutor for generations of world leaders. In recognition of his many contributions, in 2013 Brookings established the Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies in its Center for East Asia Policy Studies.

On February 25, 2015, to honor Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings hosted presentations on his ideas on governance and his approach to foreign policy by two of Singapore’s most distinguished diplomats, both of whom had worked closely with him. Chan Heng Chee, Singapore’s former long-serving ambassador to Washington, and Bilahari Kausikan, former permanent secretary of Singapore’s Foreign Ministry, made presentations at the Brookings symposium based on contributions they made to the new book The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew (Straits Times Press, 2014). Among many attempts to describe and analyze Lee’s career, The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew is unique in that all its authors worked closely with him in diplomacy, politics, governance, and law, and provide first-hand observations from their experiences. The book illustrates Lee’s emphasis on pragmatism over ideology, and practice over theory.

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Heng Chee Chan

Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities - Singapore University of Technology and Design


Shashi Jayakumar

Senior Fellow and Deputy Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security - S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University


Bilahari Kausikan

Senior Fellow, School of Social Sciences - Singapore Management University


Joseph Chinyong Liow

Dean and Professor of Comparative and International Politics - S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

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