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Chan Heng Chee (born 19 April 1942), Template:Post-nominals, is a Singaporean academic and diplomat. She was Singapore's Ambassador to the United States from July 1996 to July 2012.

During her tenure, bilateral relations between Singapore and the U.S. improved tremendously. In May 2003, Singapore and U.S. signed the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA), the first FTA that the U.S. entered into with a Southeast Asian country. Both countries also enhanced their ties in areas of defence and security.

Academic career[]

Chan graduated with a first-class honours degree in political science from the University of Singapore (now the National University of Singapore) in 1964, and went on to study for a M.A. degree from Cornell University in 1967. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Singapore in 1974. Her thesis has the title: The Dynamics of One-party Dominance: A Study of Five Singapore Constituencies.[1]

Chan was previously the Executive Director of the Singapore International Foundation and served as Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. She was also the founding Director of the Institute of Policy Studies.

Chan was a member of the International Advisory Board of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, a council member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, and a council member of the International Council of the Asia Society in New York.

Chan has received a number of awards, including honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from the University of Newcastle in 1994 and the University of Buckingham in 1998. She is also a political science professor on secondment at the National University of Singapore.

Diplomatic career[]

File:Lee Kuan Yew Cohen.jpg

Chan (first from left) and Lee Kuan Yew meeting William S. Cohen during Lee's visit to the United States in 2000.

Chan served as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1989 to 1991. During this time, she was concurrently accredited as the High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico. She became the Ambassador to the United States in 1996. At the time, she was the first woman ambassador from an East Asian country to be assigned to the United States. Chan expressed surprise at her appointment, noting "I'm antiestablishment and was a bit of a dissident before I was appointed ambassador. It came as something of a shock to me when I was offered the ambassadorship because I was highly critical of government in a society that is not used to being critiqued." [2]

Like Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ho Kwon Ping and other former political critics, Chan is part of a small group of well-educated dissidents who have subsequently been appointed into high profile positions in the People's Action Party (PAP)-dominated Singapore government, or who have otherwise become part of the establishment.

In 1998, Chan received the Inaugural International Woman of the Year Award from the Organization of Chinese American Women (OCAW), and Singapore's first "Woman of the Year" award in 1991. Chan received Singapore's Meritorious Service Medal in 2005 and the Distinguished Service Order, the highest National Day Award, in August 2011.

Chan left her post as Singapore's Ambassador to the U.S. on 23 July 2012, and was replaced by Ashok Kumar Mirpuri.[3]

During October 2012, in relation to a discussion on the choice Asian nations may have in terms of supporting China or the U.S., Chan was quoted as saying, "The United States should not ask Asian countries to choose. You may not like the results if you ask countries to choose."[4]


External links[]

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