S'porean prof makes 'significant' donation to LSE

S'porean prof makes 'significant' donation to LSE

A new academic centre will be launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) this year, thanks to a "significant" donation from one of its most prominent Singaporean graduates, Professor Saw Swee Hock.

The new Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre will bring together researchers from various disciplines to tackle research specific to South-east Asia.

The plans to launch the centre were announced at the LSE Asia Forum 2014 in Kuala Lumpur today. It will be officially launched in the university's new academic year starting in September.

When contacted, Prof Saw, a demographer and statistician, declined to comment or reveal the amount he donated.

While famously media-shy, the philanthropist has already donated millions of dollars to Singaporean and foreign universities.

In 2012, the well-known academic donated about $5.2 million to his alma mater to construct the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre in London. The building, which includes a broadcasting studio, prayer rooms and a nightclub, has since won much architectural acclaim.

Prof Saw, who is in his 80s, has previously said he has fond memories of the three years he spent at LSE for his doctorate in statistics, which he received in 1963.

Currently a professorial fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, he is also an active donor back home. In 2011, he gave $30 million to the National University of Singapore to establish the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

He has also contributed to the Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University.

The new academic centre will be led by Malaysia-born Danny Quah, professor of economics and international development at LSE. "The rise of Asia is perhaps the singular developmental and political story of our era, attracting praise and criticism, wonder and scepticism," said Prof Quah, a leading expert on the rise of Eastern economies.

"Using LSE's distinctive interdisciplinary expertise in the social sciences, the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre can bring a global perspective to the policy and research questions specific to the region."

jantai@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 3 in The Straits Times.

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