$500k gift for project to build collection of public policy papers

$500k gift for project to build collection of public policy papers
Prof Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

A $500,000 donation is helping to kick-start a project to build up a collection of public policy papers on the major challenges Singapore could face in the next 50 years.

The contribution from Indonesian businessman Stephen Riady, executive chairman of property firm OUE, will go into an endowment fund for the project by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy to produce these papers.

The school is aiming to set up a $10 million endowment fund before Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. The fund is expected to generate $400,000 a year to run the project.

No further details were immediately available.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, the school's dean, first raised the idea for the project last Saturday in a column in the Opinion section of The Straits Times.

He wrote that the collection can be a resource for Singaporeans to tap so they can make informed decisions should a policy debate break out.

"The best way to disarm a seductive populist politician is to show data and arguments that will demonstrate the folly of marching down the populist path," Prof Mahbubani wrote.

These papers could help educate people here and protect Singapore from populist policies and political crises that could surface in the future, he explained.

In the column, he urged the business community - which has benefited from decades of stability - to chip in to get the project off the ground.

"One of the wisest long-term investments that the business community in Singapore can make is to support the creation of this treasure trove of policy papers to jump-start a process of deep reflection," he wrote.

"An investment of 1 per cent of their annual profits would be a tiny cost, but it could result in massive dividends if it protects Singapore from political earthquakes."

Prof Mahbubani and Dr Riady were not available for additional comments yesterday.

This article was first published on Oct 16, 2014.
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