News Release

Brookings Establishes the Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies

October 25, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Brookings President Strobe Talbott today announced the establishment of the Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies at Brookings. The Chair is made possible by endowment gifts and operating support from a consortium of donors in the United States and Southeast Asia.

“Lee Kuan Yew is widely acknowledged as a major figure over the past half century,” said Talbott today at a ceremony at The Fullerton Hotel. “He was the founding leader of Singapore, a country with which the United States has a close relationship. He has also been a driving force in the development of Southeast Asia, a region of growing importance,” Talbott said. “The establishment of this Chair recognizes those accomplishments as well as Mr. Lee’s distinction as a statesmen and thought-leader on a global scale.”

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 have made generous contributions to the Lee Kuan Yew Chair endowment. Blackstone, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and State Street have provided critical operating support.

The Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies has been established to enable in-depth policy research on Southeast Asia at Brookings. Holders of the Chair will conduct high-quality, independent research and will develop practical solutions to policy challenges facing Southeast Asia and the United States. The Chair’s scholarship and activities will also enhance mutual understanding between Southeast Asia and the United States.

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). He served subsequently as senior minister (1990-2004) and minister mentor (2005-2011), and remains a member of the Parliament of Singapore.

The Lee Kuan Yew Chair will be housed in the expanded Center for East Asia Policy Studies (CEAP), formerly known as the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. Ted Piccone, acting vice president and director of Foreign Policy at Brookings, noted that the establishment of the Chair marks an important expansion of Brookings’s engagement with Asia.

“Southeast Asia has emerged as a vital region for U.S. security and economic interests and is playing an increasing role in broader global affairs,” Piccone said. “Better understanding of the challenges facing Southeast Asia and the United States is critical. I am pleased that Foreign Policy at Brookings has this opportunity to expand its portfolio to include policy research on the region.”

CEAP was founded in 1998 as the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies to promote research and analysis of policy issues facing Northeast Asia and the United States. Recently, it launched the Phillip Knight Chair in Japan Studies and the Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies. With the establishment of the Lee Kuan Yew Chair it 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.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.