George Yeo

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George Yeo Yong-Boon
George Yeo by Michael Wuertenberg.jpg
George Yeo at the World Economic Forum in 2010
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
12 August 2004 – 21 May 2011
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Shanmugam Jayakumar
Succeeded by K. Shanmugam
Minister for Trade and Industry
In office
3 June 1999 – 12 August 2004
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
Succeeded by Lim Hng Kiang
Minister for Health
In office
2 January 1994 – 25 January 1997
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
Preceded by Yeo Cheow Tong
Succeeded by Yeo Cheow Tong
Minister for Information and the Arts
In office
28 November 1990 – 3 June 1999
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
Preceded by Yeo Ning Hong
Succeeded by Lee Yock Suan
Member of Parliament
for Aljunied GRC
In office
3 September 1988 – 7 May 2011
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Low Thia Khiang
Majority 16,225 (12.2%)
Personal details
Born (1954-09-13) 13 September 1954 (age 60)
Nationality Singaporean
Political party People's Action Party
Spouse(s) Jennifer Leong Lai Peng
Children 4
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Service/branch  Singapore Army
RSAF
Years of service 1976-1988
Rank Brigadier General
Commands Chief of Staff (Air Staff) (1985-86)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yeo.

George Yeo Yong-Boon (simplified Chinese: 杨荣文; traditional Chinese: 楊榮文; pinyin: Yáng Róngwén; born 13 September 1954) is a former Singaporean politician. A member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP), he served in the Cabinet from 1991 to 2011 as the Minister for Information and the Arts (1991–99), Minister for Health (1994–97), Minister for Trade and Industry (1999–2004) and Minister for Foreign Affairs (2004–11). However he lost his seat in Parliament at the 2011 general election when the PAP's team in the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency was defeated by the team from the Workers' Party, following which he announced that he was retiring from politics.

Prior to entering Parliament, Yeo was a Brigadier-General in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). He served as the Chief of Staff of the RSAF from 1985 to 1986, and as the Director of Joint Operations and Planning at the Ministry of Defence from 1986 to 1988.

Early life[edit]

Yeo received his primary school education at St. Stephen's School.[1] He studied at St. Patrick's School as well as St. Joseph's Institution and finished his GCE Ordinary Level at the top of the class in 1970. As a President's Scholar and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Scholar, he graduated from Christ's College, University of Cambridge with a degree in engineering in 1976.[2]

Military career[edit]

Upon returning from England, Yeo served as an 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), where he rose to the rank of Brigadier-General. He then attended Harvard Business School and earned a Master in Business Administration, graduating as a Baker Scholar in 1985.[2]

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

In 1988, Yeo resigned from the SAF in order to stand for Parliament.

Political career[edit]

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. He also oversaw the design and construction of the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay and the new National Library.

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.[3]

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.

Yeo proposed the idea of having Integrated Resorts (IRs) in Singapore, which would include casinos, which was intensely debated for a year.[4] 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'.)

He represented the Eurasian community in the Cabinet at their request.[citation needed]

He was the chairman of the PAP's youth wing from 1991 to 2000,[5] 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.[6]

2006 and 2011 general elections[edit]

Yeo represented the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) of Aljunied in Parliament from 1988 to 2011.

At the 2006 general election, Yeo led the PAP team in the constituency which defeated the team from the opposition Workers' Party (WP) with 56.1% of the votes to 43.9%. This was the PAP's narrowest margin of victory in the elections that year.

At the 2011 general election, on 7 May 2011, Yeo led the PAP team in Aljunied which was defeated by the WP team led by its Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang). The WP team won 54.7% of the votes to the PAP team's 45.3%. Yeo thus lost his seat in Parliament and his ministerial appointment.

Yeo announced that he was retiring from active politics on 10 May 2011. However on 1 June 2011, he stated on his Facebook page that he was "thinking hard" about the possibility of becoming a candidate in the 2011 Singapore presidential election.[7][8][9] However on 15 June, Yeo announced that he would not be standing for President.[10]

On 5 October 2011, Yeo stepped down from the PAP's Central Executive Committee (the party's governing body).[11]

Post political career[edit]

Yeo joined the Kuok Group as Senior Advisor, and vice chairman of its subsidiary Kerry Group (HK) Pte Ltd in January 2012.[12]

In August 2012, he became chairman of Kerry Logistics Network.[13] He has since been based in both Singapore and Hong Kong.

Other activities[edit]

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. He was recently appointed as a non-official member of the newly established Hong Kong Economic Development Commission.[14] Because he is a Catholic politician with expertise on economics and finance, he was named by Pope Francis to serve as one of the Lay Members of the newly established Council for Economic Affairs, which will oversee the work of the new Secretariat for the Economy, which will have financial regulatory authority over all departments of the Roman Curia.[15]

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.[16]

Yeo has taken an important role in reviving the ancient Buddhist university, Nalanda University, in Bihar, India. He is a member of the University Governing Board led by Prof Amartya Sen, and the governing board's International Advisory Panel.

He also takes the following advisory roles in Singapore:

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2012, Yeo was awarded the Padma Bhushan, by India,[17] the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross), by the Philippines,[18] and the Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia, by Australia.[19]

Personal life[edit]

A Roman Catholic, Yeo married lawyer Jennifer Leong Lai Peng in 1984. The couple have three sons and one daughter.[2]

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).[20]

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".[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ministry of Foreign Affairs Biographies". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
  2. ^ a b c "Life and Career of George Yeo". Yahoo Singapore: SingaporeScene. 10 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Rodan, Gary (1998). "The Internet and Political Control in Singapore". Political Science Quarterly 113 (1): 63–89. JSTOR 2657651. 
  4. ^ "Mega boost likely: George Yeo". The Straits Times. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "George Yeo". 
  6. ^ Rodan, Garry (1996). Political oppositions in industrialising Asia. Psychology Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-415-14865-8. 
  7. ^ "George Yeo may consider running for President". Asiaone. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  8. ^ "George Yeo for President?". TODAY. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ "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. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "George Yeo not running for Elected Presidency". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ http://newasiarepublic.com/?p=33792 Six resignations from PAP CEC
  12. ^ "George Yeo to join Kuok Group". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  13. ^ Kerry Logistics FOCUS (12). 2012 http://www.kerrylogistics.com/eng/OUR_COMPANY/Press/publications/klfocus/images/KL%20FOCUS-Issue12%20(Oct2012).pdf |url= missing title (help). 
  14. ^ "No conflict of interest in George Yeo's appointment to Hong Kong commission: Masagos". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  15. ^ http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/03/08/0171/00360.html
  16. ^ Saad, Imelda. "George Yeo to join LKY School of Public Policy". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  17. ^ http://www.pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=79881
  18. ^ http://www.pcoo.gov.ph/photos-jan2012/photo2-011812.htm
  19. ^ http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012G00342
  20. ^ "Who We Are". Viva Foundation. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "George Yeo not standing for elections in 5 years". Asiaone. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 

External links[edit]

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