Media Release: “Professor Wang Gungwu stepping down as ISEAS Chair; to be succeeded by Ambassador Chan Heng Chee”


Professor Wang Gungwu stepping down as ISEAS Chair; to be succeeded by Ambassador Chan Heng Chee

30 October 2019, Wednesday, Singapore:  Professor Wang Gungwu will be retiring as Chairman, Board of Trustees of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) on 31 October 2019, a position he has held since 1 November 2002. During his tenure, Professor Wang played a key role in strengthening ISEAS, shaping its direction and mission, as well as fostering a strong culture of research excellence. Throughout his tenure, he was also deeply involved in the Institute’s development and activities. Professor Wang helped ISEAS to expand its research capabilities through the establishment of the ASEAN Studies Centre in 2008, the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre in 2009, the Archaeology Unit in 2010 and most recently, the Temasek History Research Centre in August 2019.

He will be succeeded by Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Chan, an academic and veteran diplomat, had served as Director of ISEAS from 1 March 1993 to 30 June 1996.

Also stepping down from the board on 31 October 2019 are Mr Lim Kok Eng (Senior Manager, Regional Rubber Trading Co Pte Ltd), Associate Professor Noor Aisha Bte Abdul Rahman (Head of Malay Studies Department, National University of Singapore), and Professor Tan Tai Yong (President, Yale-NUS College).

New appointments

Mr M Rajaram, Chairman and Partner, K&L Gates Straits Law LLC Advocates and Solicitors, a board member since 2011, will be appointed as Deputy Chairman.

Four new members will also be joining the board:

  • Mr Daniel Koh, Managing Director, Global Head of Treasury Markets at Standard Chartered Bank;
  • Professor Joseph Liow, Dean of College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University;
  • Ms Julia Leong, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore; and
  • Professor Brenda Yeoh, Director of Humanities & Social Science Research at NUS.

All new appointments will be effective from 1 November 2019.

On the changes to the ISEAS Board, Minister for Education Mr Ong Ye Kung said: “I would like to thank Professor 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. Professor Wang’s successor, Ambassador Chan, is no stranger to ISEAS, being a former Director. We warmly welcome her back. I am confident that she will continue to build on the good work of Professor Wang to lead ISEAS to even greater heights.”

Commenting on the appointment, Ambassador Chan shared: “ISEAS has a special place in my heart. Very early on, I spent a year at ISEAS conducting research for my Ph.D thesis with an ISEAS grant. Later, I was involved in its development as Director of ISEAS from 1993 to 1996.  As Chairman, Prof Wang has provided wise guidance and nurtured a strong institution for me to build on. I look forward to working with the current Director and ISEAS staff to deepen the understanding of Southeast Asia among our stakeholders.”

Acknowledging Professor Wang and the outgoing members’ contributions, Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Director of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute said: “We are deeply grateful for the invaluable contributions of Professor Wang Gungwu and the outgoing members of the Board of Trustees for their years of invaluable service in guiding ISEAS, as it strives to fulfil its mission to be a leading research centre on Southeast Asia. Under their steady stewardship, ISEAS was ranked #14 out of 108 think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in the 2018 Global Go To Think Tank Index by the University of Pennsylvania.

On behalf of all ISEAS staff, I extend a warm welcome to Ambassador Chan, Mr Rajaram and the new members as they assume their new roles on our board. We look forward to working closely with them as we continue our work to help our stakeholders better understand our neighbours, as well as their position in the region and the world”.


About ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS)
The ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, established by the Government in 1968, is a statutory board under the Ministry of Education and a regional research centre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security and economic trends and developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. The Institute aims to stimulate research and debate within scholarly circles, enhance awareness of the region, and facilitate the search for viable solutions to the varied problems confronting the region. It also strives to nurture a community of scholars interested in the study of the region.

The Institute is governed by a Board of Trustees. They are drawn from the universities, the Government, the business community and leading professionals in Singapore.

Media contact
Teo Hwee Leng (Ms)
Public Affairs Manager, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
T: 6870 4531
F: 6775 6264


  1. Straits Times, 31 October 2019 – Chan Heng Chee to take over as ISEAS chairman
  2. Lianhe Zaobao, 31 October 2019 – 陈庆珠接任王赓武 成为东南亚研究院信托委员会主席
  3. Straits Times, 30 October 2019 – Wang Gungwu to hand over ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute chair to Chan Heng Chee
  4. Lianhe Zaobao, 30 October 2019 – 王赓武教授卸任东南亚研究院主席