Thursday 23 October 2014

S Rajaratnam Endowment launched

$100 million endowment to honour Rajaratnam
It will seek to deepen regional ties to keep alive the beliefs of founding leader
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2014

A $100 MILLION endowment has been set up by Temasek Holdings to honour the late Mr S. Rajaratnam, a founding father of Singapore who played a pioneering role in the country's foreign policy.

In striving to keep alive his beliefs, the S Rajaratnam Endowment will seek to deepen regional ties, a crucial backdrop to achieving economic cooperation and development in the region.

Such strong links will bring peace and stability to the region, said Mr Wong Kan Seng, chairman of the endowment, at its launch yesterday.

This is especially pertinent amid "a tumultuous era in world history with profound and momentous shifts of power and ideas under way", added the former deputy prime minister.

The United States, China, Japan and India are seeking a "new equilibrium" with one another, he said, while South Korea, Australia and Russia also have interests in the region.

"The next phase of Asia's growth will see more complex and greater challenges in geopolitics, changing demographics, income disparities and the competitive use of resources.

"It is thus important for all stakeholders to reinforce the foundations for sustainable growth in the region," he told an audience that included former president S R Nathan and former senior minister S. Jayakumar.

Mr Wong is special adviser for economic cooperation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and chairman of Temasek unit Singbridge Holdings, which develops and invests in large-scale integrated townships in China.

To help foster growth and cooperation in the region, the endowment will partner civil society groups, think-tanks and the private sector to implement domestic and regional programmes.

Its flagship programme will be the annual Singapore Forum, which will be launched next April with the theme: Asia And The World - New Growth, New Strategies.

Dr Teh Kok Peng, a founding director of the endowment board and chairman of business park developer Ascendas, said: "We hope to take a forward-looking and problem-solving approach in which (international) policymakers and business leaders can discuss the opportunities, issues and challenges facing the region and the policy responses required."

The endowment will also partner Singapore Polytechnic for the Youth Model ASEAN Conference to be held in December this year.

About 200 youth leaders from ASEAN countries will gather for four days to discuss matters including economic, security, social and cultural issues.

The endowment will also support programmes that recognise the work and contributions of Mr Rajaratnam, in areas such as social development, culture, literary arts and journalism.

Said Mr Wong: "Our basic approach is to be as broadly inclusive as possible, while holding firmly to our core values."

Man who 'dared to dream'
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2014

THE late Mr S. Rajaratnam dared to dream during a tumultuous time when Singapore was unexpectedly thrust into independence, said former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng yesterday.

He was also committed to his vision of "one united people" despite the racially charged atmosphere then, said Mr Wong, who chairs the newly launched $100 million S Rajaratnam Endowment.

Deeply committed to freedom and equality, Mr Rajaratnam rallied against colonial rule and communism, "fearlessly deploying his biting wit and fluent pen" in championing freedom and equality, added Mr Wong.

Mr Rajaratnam was a journalist who began his career at the Malayan Tribune, before joining The Straits Times. He left journalism in 1959 to enter politics.

Professor Chan Heng Chee, chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, said in a brief tribute yesterday: "Mr Rajaratnam was a man of ideas, a prophet before his time."

As Singapore's first foreign minister, he played a pivotal role in the country's admission to the United Nations on Sept 21, 1965 - one month after independence.

There, he spoke of the "interdependence of nations", an idea that was ahead of its time, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs policy adviser Bilahari Kausikan yesterday.

He was also one of ASEAN's founding fathers in 1967, and guided its philosophy of regional unity and non-interference.

He was a firm believer of the importance of unity in a multiracial society. He penned the Singapore Pledge in 1966, emphasising "regardless of race, language or religion" against the backdrop of racial riots just two years earlier.

He was senior minister in the Prime Minister's Office when he retired in 1988. He died of heart failure in 2006, three days shy of his 91st birthday.

Keeping Raja's zeal for regional links alive
Editorial, The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2014

IT IS both fitting and timely that Temasek Holdings has launched the $100 million S. Rajaratnam Endowment to deepen regional ties with the aspiration of bringing about peace and stability in the region.

It is an appropriate tribute to one of Singapore's founding fathers who, as the Republic's first foreign minister, was a key architect of its foreign policy. Mr Rajaratnam was also one of the founding ministers of Asean in 1967 who helped to shape its philosophy of regional unity and non-interference.

These foundational values cannot be taken for granted and have to be constantly reaffirmed, as historical events have demonstrated. Diplomatic squalls might arise out of the blue like the visit of then Israeli President Chaim Herzog to Singapore in 1986 and Indonesia's decision earlier this year to name a new warship after two Indonesian marines responsible for a 1965 bombing in Singapore. To withstand such turbulence, a deep reservoir of goodwill has to be jointly built and assiduously maintained, going beyond humanitarian responses to disasters that afflict member states from time to time.

The endowment recognises the state of flux that the world is in now and the geostrategic shifts in motion in the region. For example, a resurgent and assertive China is up against the United States' pivot to the region, leading to uncertainty and unease among regional states. Against this backdrop, preserving Asean solidarity assumes greater urgency - not just for the sake of upholding its well-established corporate identity but also for greater collaboration in tackling issues that affect all member states.

Investing in promoting regional cooperation and development is the natural impulse of a small state with an open economy which needs to stay engaged with its neighbours and others farther afield. Pioneer leaders like Mr Rajaratnam nurtured this instinct and laboured to institutionalise linkages. It was no accident that the first Commonwealth heads of state meeting outside Britain took place in Singapore in 1971.

The endowment serves to demonstrate that Singapore remains invested in the region's future and in sparking a collaborative spirit among Asean's young. The upcoming Youth Model Asean Conference supported by the fund, for example, will gather 400 Asean youth leaders to discuss wide-ranging topics relevant to the region. Other programmes similarly promoted relate to international relations, social development, culture, literary arts and journalism, all areas close to Mr Rajaratnam's heart. The hope is that his passion to keep neighbourly links strong will live on via the efforts of the endowment.

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