The National University of Singapore (NUS) has received S$2.6 million in gifts from various donors, including friends and colleagues of the late Mr George E. Bogaars, to set up the George Bogaars Professorship in History.
The late Mr Bogaars was a leading civil servant credited with the crucial work of building the administrative service of the independent Republic of Singapore. He joined the then-Malayan civil service in 1952, right after graduating from the University of Malaya, a predecessor institution of NUS, with one of the earliest Master of Arts degrees awarded by the History Department. When Singapore achieved internal self-government in 1959, Mr Bogaars was entrusted with the mission to take over and reorganise the Special Branch. Mr Bogaars went on to serve in various pivotal appointments, including Head of Civil Service from 1968 to 1975. He was also Chairman of Keppel Shipyard Limited (forerunner of Keppel Corporation) from 1970 to 1984.
The Professorship, which will be established in the Department of History in the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, aims to strengthen and deepen the Department’s expertise in modern Asian history, especially in topics relating to the history of government, politics, and the state.
The Professorship will enable the Department to attract and appoint a leading historian who has demonstrated excellence and established international recognition in teaching and research in a relevant area of modern Asian history. This could cover such themes as the relationships between the state and society, the development of public administration, international relations, maritime trade, and political economy.
Fundraising for the Professorship is still ongoing and, to date, over 35 donors have made gifts. The fundraising for the new Professorship was spearheaded by Mr Lim Soo Peng, former Member of Parliament for Havelock; Mr Ang Kong Hua, Chairman of Sembcorp Industries Limited; and Ms Pang Cheng Lian, who worked for Mr Bogaars at the Ministry of the Interior and Defence. Through their efforts, strong support for the initiative was received from Keppel Corporation, NSL, Mr Ong Beng Seng and Temasek. The Treasury Coffee Club learnt of this initiative and garnered support from former friends and colleagues of Mr Bogaars. The Eurasian Association is also appealing to their members to support this worthy cause.
Mr Lim Soo Peng, an old friend of Mr Bogaars, said, “As Singapore celebrates her 50th anniversary, it is time to reflect on our nation’s accomplishments and the outstanding individuals who shaped her success story. Mr Bogaars was a dear friend and an inspiration to us all. He laid the foundations of a civil service that has been integral in charting the achievements of the last 50 years.” Mr Lim’s views were echoed by Mr Ang, who worked with Mr Bogaars in National Iron and Steel Mills. Mr Ang said, “Mr Bogaars was a terrific boss and mentor.”
NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said, “NUS is honoured to have the opportunity to recognise the achievements of Mr George E. Bogaars, an esteemed alumnus of our University and an outstanding leader of early Singapore. As we look back at NUS’ 110 years of history, we are very grateful for the strong philanthropic support from our alumni and friends, which has helped NUS establish itself as a leading global university. We are deeply appreciative of this latest gift, which will play a key role in helping the Department of History grow its global reputation and influence future thinking.”
Mr Michael Bogaars, a member of the family of Bogaars said, “We are happy that so many of our father’s friends and colleagues have shown such generosity and selflessness in coming forward and honouring him. We have always been extremely proud of our late father’s accomplishments and it is wonderful to see that he was admired and appreciated by so many. It is our hope that this new Professorship will inspire future generations of change makers who will go on to leave a lasting impression on society as my father did.”
Mr Loh Chin Hua, CEO, Keppel Corporation, added, “Mr Bogaars was one of Keppel’s pioneering leaders who encouraged the geographical and business diversification of the Group and laid the foundation for Keppel’s expansion and growth in more than 30 countries today. We hope this Professorship to honour his visionary spirit will continue to inspire future generations of Singaporeans.”
NSL Executive Director, Mr Oo Soon Hee said, “We have benefited much from the leadership of the late Mr Bogaars who was the Chairman and Director of NSL in the 1980s, then known as National Iron and Steel Mills. We are honoured to join in to contribute to the George Bogaars Professorship in History.”