George Yeo
杨荣文
George Yeo by Michael Wuertenberg.jpg
Yeo at the World Economic Forum in 2010
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
12 August 2004 – 20 May 2011
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byShunmugam Jayakumar
Succeeded byK. Shanmugam
Minister for Trade and Industry
In office
3 June 1999 – 12 August 2004
Prime MinisterGoh Chok Tong
Preceded byYeo Cheow Tong
Succeeded byLim Hng Kiang
Minister for Health
In office
2 January 1994 – 25 January 1997
Prime MinisterGoh Chok Tong
Preceded byYeo Cheow Tong
Succeeded byYeo Cheow Tong
Minister for Information and the Arts
In office
1 July 1991 – 2 June 1999
Acting: 28 November 1990 – 30 June 1991
Prime MinisterGoh Chok Tong
Preceded byYeo Ning Hong
Succeeded byLee Yock Suan
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for Aljunied GRC
(Bedok Reservoir–Punggol)
In office
3 September 1988 – 7 May 2011
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byLow Thia Khiang (WP)
Majority16,225 (12.2%)
Personal details
Born
George Yeo Yong-Boon

(1954-09-13) 13 September 1954 (age 68)
Colony of Singapore
Political partyPeople's Action Party (1988–2011)
SpouseJennifer Leong Lai Peng
Children4
RelativesGwendoline Yeo (niece)
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge
Harvard Business School
Military service
Branch/serviceSingapore Army
Republic of Singapore Air Force
Years of service1976–1988
RankBrigadier-General

George Yeo Yong-Boon (Chinese: 杨荣文; pinyin: Yáng Róngwén; born 13 September 1954) is a Singaporean former politician and brigadier-general who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs between 2004 and 2011.

A former member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP), he was the Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Bedok Reservoir–Punggol ward of Aljunied GRC between 1988 and 2011.

Yeo also served as Minister for Information and the Arts between 1990 and 1999, Minister for Health between 1994 and 1997, Minister for Trade and Industry between 1999 and 2004 and Minister for Foreign Affairs between 2004 and 2011.

Prior to entering politics, Yeo served in the Singapore Army and later Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) between 1976 and 1988 and attained the rank Brigadier-General. He also served as Chief of Staff – Air Staff between 1985 and 1986, and Director of Joint Operations and Planning at the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) between 1986 and 1988.

On 10 May 2011, Yeo announced that he would be retiring from politics and had declined to participate in the 2011 presidential election.

V3 Group announced on 23 August 2020 that Yeo will join as a senior advisor. Yeo is an independent board director of Hong Kong-listed AIA and Nasdaq-listed e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, the largest agriculture platform in China.[1][2]

Education

Yeo was educated at St. Stephen's School,[3] St. Patrick's School—where he topped in his class for his O-Level and St. Joseph's Institution before graduating from Christ's College at the University of Cambridge in 1976, majoring in engineering, under the President's Scholarship and Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship.[4]

He subsequently went on to complete a Master in Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1985 as a Baker Scholar.[4]

Military career

Upon returning from the United Kingdom, Yeo served as a commissioned officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). He served as a signals officer in the Singapore Army, before transferring to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).

When Yeo returned to Singapore, he served as Chief of Staff – Air Staff between 1985 and 1986, and Director of Joint Operations and Planning at the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) between 1986 and 1988.[4] He also led the team which conceptualised the SAFTI Military Institute.[5]

Yeo left the SAF in 1988 and attained the rank Brigadier-General, before entering politics.[4]

Political career

Yeo made his political debut in the 1988 general election as part of a three-member PAP team contesting in the newly-created Aljunied GRC and won.

Following his election into Parliament, Yeo served in various ministries, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, he liberalised the use of dialects in the local film industry, which paved the way for a generation of local film directors and producers.[citation needed] He also oversaw the design and construction of the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay and the new National Library.[citation needed]

In the 1990s, Yeo pushed for widespread adoption of internet infrastructure in Singapore, stating that it was important for Singapore to retain its role as a regional hub. Its geographical advantage would matter less, and its infrastructural advantage in the exchange of information and ideas would matter more. In 1995, he defended government censorship of the Internet even as it proved technologically challenging to do so: "Censorship can no longer be 100% effective, but even if it is only 20% effective, we should not stop censoring." In what he described as an "anti-pollution measure in cyberspace", Yeo transferred censorship authority from the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) to the Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA), which was to "concentrate on areas which may undermine public morals, political stability or religious harmony in Singapore". Yeo said the government would focus on monitoring internet communications that broadcast material to millions of users rather than the "narrowcasting" of private communications between individuals.[6]

As Minister for Trade and Industry, Yeo led his team to successfully negotiate the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, Japan, Australia and other countries.[citation needed] Yeo proposed the idea of having Integrated Resorts (IRs) in Singapore, which would include casinos, which was intensely debated for a year.[7] This paved the way for the 2 IRs in Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands at the Marina Promenade. (He later shared with a group of university students during a dialogue that his late father had a problem with gambling and the decision to push for the gaming resorts was personally a very difficult one. He said that policy making often involved a choice between 'evils'.)[citation needed]

Yeo represented the Eurasian community in the Cabinet at their request.[citation needed] Yeo was the chairman of the PAP's youth wing from 1991 to 2000,[8] which saw a renaming to Young PAP (YPAP) in 1993. As an enticement for joining the YPAP, he said people joining the YPAP could take positions different from central party leadership.[9]

Yeo and his Aljunied GRC team first faced a team of Singapore Democratic Party (then the largest opposition party led by Chiam See Tong) in 1988 (which led by Ashleigh Seow (the son of Workers' Party candidate for Eunos Group Representation Constituency Francis Seow)) and 1997. In 2006, the party faced WP (led by the party's chair Sylvia Lim) and won with the election's narrowest margin, with 56.1% to 43.9%. However, in the 2011 general election (held 7 May), the WP team (which now led by then secretary-general Low Thia Khiang) won the election 54.7% to 45.3%, resulting in his election defeat as well as the loss of his ministerial appointment.[10] Yeo, along with a co-anchor minister Lim Hwee Hua, were the first two cabinet ministers in post-independence Singapore, and after the 1963 election, to be defeated in the election and consequently losing their parliamentary seats to the opposition.[11][12]

On 5 October 2011, Yeo stepped down from the PAP's Central Executive Committee (the party's governing body).[13] During his announcement, Yeo stated that he declined running for presidency later that year, cited that he was a "free spirit" and he was not "temperamentally suited for such a job", despite being popular in online and have "a flood of support" on post-election.[14] He although stated on his Facebook page that he was "thinking hard" about the possibility of becoming a candidate on 1 June,[15][16][17] but however, on 15 June, Yeo confirmed that he declined standing for presidency.[18][19]

Post-political career

Yeo joined the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy as a visiting scholar from August 2011. His appointment will last for a three-year term.[20]

Yeo was involved in reviving the ancient Buddhist university, Nalanda University, in Bihar, India. He was chancellor of Nalanda University[21] and member of the University Governing Board,[22] and the governing board's International Advisory Panel. In November 2016, he resigned as the chancellor of Nalanda University accusing the Indian government of failing to maintain the university's autonomy.[23]

Yeo has moved to the private sector in Hong Kong since leaving politics in 2011.[24] Yeo joined the Kuok Group as Senior Advisor, and vice chairman of its subsidiary Kerry Group (HK) Pte Ltd in January 2012.[25]

In August 2012, he became chairman and executive director of Kerry Logistics Network.[26] He is also a director of Kerry Holdings and non-executive director of Wilmar International.[27] Yeo also serves as the non-executive director of AIA Group since November 2012.[27]

In 2013, Yeo was recently appointed as a non-official member of the newly established Hong Kong Economic Development Commission.[28]

Yeo is currently a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, the Nicolas Berggruen Institute's 21st Century Council and the International Advisory Board of IESE Business School(IAB).[29]

He also takes the following advisory roles in Singapore:

V3 Group announced on 23 August 2020 that George Yeo will join as Senior Advisor. He acts as an independent board director of Hong Kong-listed AIA and Nasdaq-listed e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, the largest agriculture platform in China.[30][31]

Awards and recognition

In 2012, Yeo was awarded the Padma Bhushan, by India,[32] the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross), by the Philippines,[33] and the Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia, by Australia.[34]

Personal life

A Roman Catholic, Yeo married lawyer Jennifer Leong Lai Peng in 1984. The couple have three sons and a daughter. Yeo also has a niece named Gwendoline Yeo, who was an actress and musician.[4]

In 2004, their youngest son, who has struggled with childhood leukemia since age three, received a bone marrow transplant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Recognising the difficulties faced by families in such situations, Leong founded the Viva Foundation to help children with cancer to improve the survival rate and cure of children with cancer, especially childhood leukemia, in Singapore and Southeast Asia. In May 2006, a memorandum of understanding was signed between St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, National University of Singapore (NUS), National University Hospital (NUH) in Singapore, and the VIVA Foundation for Children with Cancer (VIVA).[35]

Yeo is an avid jogger and has participated in the Singapore Marathon 10 km run. He is a student of Taiji, an internal Chinese martial art, and describes himself as "a bit of a Taoist".[36]

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ TAN, CK. "China's Pinduoduo turns to smart farming for post-COVID growth". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Digital Ag Series: Pinduoduo (PDD), a Digital e-commerce Platform in China – Connecting Millions of Farmers to Markets in Times of COVID-19 | World Bank Group". olc.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Ministry of Foreign Affairs Biographies". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 30 September 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Life and Career of George Yeo". Yahoo Singapore: SingaporeScene. 10 May 2011. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  5. ^ "George Yeo". www.facebook.com. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022.
  6. ^ Rodan, Gary (1998). "The Internet and Political Control in Singapore". Political Science Quarterly. 113 (1): 63–89. doi:10.2307/2657651. JSTOR 2657651.
  7. ^ "Mega boost likely: George Yeo". The Straits Times. 15 April 2005. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  8. ^ "George Yeo". Archived from the original on 6 September 2011.
  9. ^ Rodan, Garry (1996). Political oppositions in industrialising Asia. Psychology Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-415-14865-8.
  10. ^ "YEO, george". Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  11. ^ "A Singaporean minister again in a hot seat". Straits Times. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  12. ^ Rajaram, Chitra (8 May 2011). "GE "We hear all your voices", says PM Lee – General Election 2011". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Goh Chok Tong, George Yeo & LKY step down from PAP CEC". Archived from the original on 20 October 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  14. ^ Ong, Dai Lin (11 May 2011). "I'm disappointed, but this is politics, says George Yeo". Today (Singapore newspaper). Archived from the original on 8 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  15. ^ "George Yeo may consider running for President". Asiaone. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
  16. ^ "George Yeo for President?". TODAY. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
  17. ^ "楊榮文正認真考慮競選總統 (Translation: George Yeo is Considering to Run for President)". My Paper. 2 June 2011. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  18. ^ "George Yeo not running for Elected Presidency". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  19. ^ "'I don't see myself returning to politics': George Yeo". Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  20. ^ Saad, Imelda. "George Yeo to join LKY School of Public Policy". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  21. ^ New Chancellor, Nalanda University. "George Yeo". Nalanda University. Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  22. ^ Governing, Board. "Members". Nalanda University. Archived from the original on 2 September 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Too much politics: Singapore's George Yeo walks out of India's Nalanda University as chancellor". Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  24. ^ Singh, Malminderjit. "George Yeo joins Wilmar board". The Business Times. Archived from the original on 16 September 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  25. ^ "George Yeo to join Kuok Group". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  26. ^ "Focus" (PDF). Kerry Logistics FOCUS (12). 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  27. ^ a b "George Yong-Boon Yeo". www.wilmar-international.com. Archived from the original on 16 September 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  28. ^ "No conflict of interest in George Yeo's appointment to Hong Kong commission: Masagos". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  29. ^ Members of IESE's International Advisory Board, iese.edu
  30. ^ Masterson, Victoria. "Here's what happened when AI and humans met in a strawberry-growing contest". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  31. ^ Xue, Yujie (22 April 2020). "Pinduoduo pushes US$7.1 billion e-commerce campaign in rural China". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  32. ^ "Padma Awards Announced". Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  33. ^ "Photo". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Honorary Appointments within the General Division of the Order of Australia – 30 November 2012". Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  35. ^ "Who We Are". Viva Foundation. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  36. ^ "George Yeo not standing for elections in 5 years". Asiaone. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011.

Sources

George Yeo, George Yeo on Bonsai, Banyan and the Tao, edited by Asad-ul Iqbal Latif and Lee Huay Leng, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2015, 686 pages.

Justin Corfield, Historical Dictionary of Singapore, Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2011, pp. 297–298.

Justin Corfield and Robin Corfield, Encyclopedia of Singapore, Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2006, pp. 247–248.

Low Kar Tiang (editor), Who's Who in Singapore, Singapore, 2003, p. 467.

Political offices Preceded by? Minister of State for Finance 13 September 1988-28 November 1990 Succeeded by? Preceded by? Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 13 September 1988-28 November 1990 Succeeded by? Preceded by? Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 28 November 1990-1 July 1991 Succeeded by? Preceded by? Second Minister for Foreign Affairs 1 July 1991-2 January 1994 Succeeded by? Preceded byYeo Ning Hong Minister for Information and the Arts 28 November 1990 - 1 July 1991 (acting) 1991 - 1999 Succeeded byLee Yock Suan Preceded byYeo Cheow Tong Minister for Health 2 January 1994-25 January 1997 Succeeded byYeo Cheow Tong Preceded by? Minister for Trade and Industry 3 June 1999 - 12 August 2004 Succeeded byLim Hng Kiang Preceded byShunmugam Jayakumar Minister for Foreign Affairs 12 August 2004-7 May 2011 Succeeded byK Shanmugam