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Institute renamed after first President as tribute to Yusof Ishak

SINGAPORE — From Aug 12, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) will be renamed ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute to honour the contributions of Singapore’s first President in the nation’s early years.

The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Photo: Robin Choo/TODAY

The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Photo: Robin Choo/TODAY

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SINGAPORE — From Aug 12, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) will be renamed ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute to honour the contributions of Singapore’s first President in the nation’s early years.

First announced at last year’s National Day Rally, the Bill to change the institute’s name was passed in Parliament today (July 14). The date will mark the day Mr Yusof was born 105 years ago.

Speaking in Parliament today, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said the first President’s “convictions and life’s work resonate strongly with ISEAS’s foundational tenets”. He cited Mr Yusof’s belief in racial unity and his role as a “living personification” of the promise of a “Singaporean Singapore”.

The late Mr Yusof, who was President from 1965 to 1970, “helped restore trust and confidence among Singaporeans” during Singapore’s early years and “assured our pioneer generation of Malays that they have a place in Singapore”, said the minister. 

His contributions “were critical to the success of our then fledgling nation state and continue to be a source of pride for our Malay community and our nation today”, added Mr Heng.

Among Members of Parliament who spoke in support of the Bill, Mr Zaqy Mohamad described Mr Yusof as a role model for younger Singaporeans in a society where race and religion continue to be “potential pressure points”.

ISEAS, which was established by the Government in 1968 to study sociopolitical, security and economic developments in South-east Asia, has deepened Singapore’s understanding of “our politically volatile region”, said Mr Heng. As the region’s geopolitical realities grow more complex, ISEAS’ study of Singapore’s place in the region’s economic, cultural and political context  “remains crucial to our continued relevance”, he added.

“As we celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday and honour the outstanding men and women who have shaped our nation and wrought our successes, it is fitting and timely to pay tribute to Encik Yusof through the renaming of ISEAS in his honour,” said Mr Heng.

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