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Tommy Koh: Serving Singapore and the World


This book aims to celebrate the many contributions of Professor Tommy Koh as a Singaporean diplomat, public intellectual and social changemaker.

It is an account of the ideas and ideals of an extraordinary Singaporean public servant who was not only born with the talent and ability to traverse many areas of society, but one who, when given the opportunity, had the drive and ambition to make the most of it to create a better world for Singaporeans and the global community.

Experts in the various fields of endeavour and people who have worked with him examine his significant contributions in essays that are organised in four main sections: Diplomacy and International Relations; Arts, Culture and Heritage; Progressive Society; International Law; and a fifth section that features tributes contributed by his colleagues and former classmates.

Set in the context of Singapore — a nation known for its socio-economic progress, its ability to punch above its own weight in international relations, as well as its increasing appreciation for heritage, the arts, and sustainable development — this book illustrates the power of the individual and sense of agency that can create the systems and structures to achieve all those things. The story of Professor Tommy Koh as captured in this book should energise other change agents to go out and create the progressive, inclusive and sustainable world they want.

An inspirational collection for general readers, this book reflects the spirit of Singapore’s pioneer generation whose determination and tenacity turned the nation into the modern-day miracle that Singapore is today.

About the Author

Lay Hwee Yeo
Dr Yeo Lay Hwee is Director of the European Union Centre in Singapore since 2009. She is also Council Secretary and Senior Research Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), and Adjunct Fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). She also sits on several Academic & International Advisory Boards — Centre for European Studies at the Australian National University (ANUCES), the KU Leuven’s Master in European Studies (MAES) Programme, and the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies, Tallinn University of Technology, and Leiden Asia Centre, Leiden University.
Lay Hwee began her research into ASEAN–EU relations in 1995 working as a Research Associate at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) where Tommy Koh was then the Director. Since then her research interest has expanded to regionalism, principles of multilateralism and governance networks, and the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) process. Peggy Kek
Peggy Kek is Director of Development and Partnerships at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. She first met Tommy Koh in 1997 when he hired her as the founding Director of Public Affairs at the Asia–Europe Foundation. After completing her postgraduate degree, she joined Tommy at the Institute of Policy Studies. Peggy then went on to work at the World Bank in Washington DC. Upon her return, she held positions at the Singapore International Foundation and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Peggy also worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund in the 1990s and early 2000s and is the co-author of Singapore and UNICEF: Working for Children (2016).

Gillian Koh
Dr Gillian Koh is Deputy Director (Research) at the Institute of Policy Studies, whose research interests lie in the discipline of political sociology and in the specific areas of electoral politics, the development of civil society, state-society relations, and Singapore’s national identity.
She has published articles on civil society and political development in Singapore, co-edited Civil Society and the State in Singapore (World Scientific Publishing Europe Ltd, 2017) Migration and Integration in Singapore: Policies and Practice (Routledge, 2015) State-Society Relations in Singapore (IPS & Oxford University Press, 2000) and co-authored Civil Society, which is part of the IPS Singapore Chronicles Series (Straits Times Press, 2016). Gillian gained her PhD in Sociological Studies from the University of Sheffield (UK) in 1995 and has been at IPS since.

Li Lin Chang
Chang Li Lin is a civil servant. She was Deputy Director for Public Affairs at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), NUS. As a Research Associate at IPS, she worked with Professor Tommy Koh in the area of international relations and international law. Li Lin has degrees in International Relations and Sociology. She has also written and co-edited publications on Singapore and its foreign relations.