Lee Yock Suan


Lee Yock Suan (b. 30 September 1946, Singapore–) is a former cabinet minister and member of parliament (MP). He served as MP for the Cheng San single-member constituency (SMC) from 1980 to 1988 followed by Cheng San group representation constituency (GRC) from 1988 to 2001 and East Coast GRC from 2001 to 2006.1 During this period, Lee also helmed several ministries at various points.2 Lee left the cabinet in 2004 before retiring from politics in 2006.3

Education
Lee received his early education at Queenstown Secondary Technical School (1960–63) and subsequently enrolled in Raffles Institution (1964–65).4 He became one of the first recipients of the President’s Scholarship and entered Imperial College, London (1966–69), attaining a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering with first-class honours and winning several academic awards in university.5 In 1974, Lee got a diploma in business administration from the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore), and five years later, took the Stanford-Insead Advanced Management Program in France.6


Career
Lee joined the Economic Development Board in 1969 and was the divisional director of projects before he left in 1980 to contest in the 1980 general election, and also became the deputy managing director of the Petroleum Corporation of Singapore Pte Ltd from January to September 1981.7

Lee was successfully elected as a People's Action Party MP for the Cheng San SMC during the 1980 election.8 He continued to serve as MP for Cheng San GRC when it was formed in 1988 before moving to East Coast GRC in 2001 where he remained until his retirement in 2006.9

During this period, Lee was also a cabinet minister in the Singapore government, helming several ministries from 1981 to 2004.10 In addition, he served as deputy chairman of the People’s Association from August 1984 to December 1991 and chairman of the Singapore Labour Foundation from January 1997 to December 2001.11

Accomplishments
Lee left his mark on the policies adopted by the various ministries that he headed. He is especially noted for his contributions to education.12 Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong praised Lee for his achievements in education, including revamping teachers’ salaries, upgrading the quality of teachers and introducing the autonomous-schools scheme.13 He also persuaded the government to install computers in every school.14 In 1993, the education ministry implemented the Edusave scheme to help students, particularly those from lower-income families.15 The scheme was later extended to help average students who did well, through the Good Progress Awards.16 Lee was also the minister for education when Singapore students topped an international evaluation of students in mathematics and science.17


As the minister for information and the arts, he was entrusted with the mission to turn Singapore into a world-class city with a vibrant arts and cultural scene. In 2000, during his term, the the then Ministry of Information and the Arts launched the Renaissance City Project, aimed at establishing Singapore as global arts centre and one of the top cities in the world in which live, work and play.18

Major appointments
21 Sep 1981– 23 Oct 1983: Minister of state (national development)19

24 Oct 1983–1 Jan 1985: Minister of state (finance)20
6 Aug 1984–31 Dec 1991: Deputy chairman, People’s Association21
2 Jan 1985–31 Dec 1986: Acting minister for labour and senior minister of state (labour)22
1 Jan 1987–1 Jan 1992: Minister for labour (appointed concurrently as second minister for education from 7 September 1991 to 1 January 1992)23
2 Jan 1992–24 Jan 1997: Minister for education24
25 Jan 1997–2 June 1999: Minister for trade and industry and second minister for finance (Lee later relinquished the latter post in March 1998)25
Jan 1997–Dec 2001: Chairman, Singapore Labour Foundation26
3 Jun 1999–22 Nov 2001: Minister for information and the arts and minister for the environment (Lee would relinquish the latter post in October 2000)27
23 Nov 2001–Aug 2004: Minister, Prime Minister’s Office; second minister for foreign affairs28

Family
Wife: Oh Choon Neo.29

Children: One son and one daughter.30 His son Desmond Lee Ti-Seng is currently the MP of Jurong GRC, senior minister of state (home affairs and national development) and deputy leader of the House.31



Author

Ainon Binte Ismail



References
1. Ex-minister happy to step down. (2006, April 10). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Lee, R. (2004, August 12). Veteran bows out after helming several ministries. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Lee, R. (2004, August 12). Veteran bows out after helming several ministries. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ex-minister happy to step down. (2006, April 10). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. International Business Publications, USA. (2008). Singapore: Recent economic and political developments handbook. Washington, DC: International Business Publications, USA, p. 88. Call no.: RSING 959.57 SREPDH
5. EDB man and bank exec are picked. (1980, November 2). New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. International Business Publications, USA. (2008). Singapore: Recent economic and political developments handbook. Washington, DC: International Business Publications, USA, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SREPDH)
7. International Business Publications, USA. (2008). Singapore: Recent economic and political developments handbook. Washington, DC: International Business Publications, USA, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SREPDH); Four MPs quit jobs to avoid conflict of interest. (1981, January 10). The Straits Times, p. 14; 2 new MPs tipped to be ministers of state. (1981, September 17). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ex-minister happy to step down. (2006, April 10). The Straits Times, p. 5; 75-0: It’s another clean sweep. (1980, December 24). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Ex-minister happy to step down. (2006, April 10). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Lee, R. (2004, August 12). Veteran bows out after helming several ministries. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. No. 1 problem faced by PA: Shortage of staff. (1984, July 28). The Straits Times, p. 18; Kan Seng is new PA Deputy Chairman. (1992, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 3; NTUC honours Lee Yock Suan. (2002, May 1). Today, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Lee, R. (2004, August 12). Veteran bows out after helming several ministries. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Lee, R. (2004, August 12). Veteran bows out after helming several ministries. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. A modest man who has done much. (1996, December 27). The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Edusave scholarships to be given out from next year. (1992, May 30). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. New award will motivate the kids. (1997, January 18). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Singapore students top maths and science survey. (1996, November 21). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Lim, L. (2000, March 10). $50m boost for the arts. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Ministry of Culture. (1981, September 18). Statement from the Prime Minister’s Office [Press release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1981, September 25). (G.N. 83, N.N. 3935). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 5407. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1983, October 28). (G.N. 62, N.N. 3784). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 6419. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG)
20. Ministry of Culture. (1983, October 24). Statement from the Prime Minister’s Office [Press release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1983, October 28). (G.N. 62, N.N. 3784). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 6419. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Chok Tong is First DPM. (1985, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1985, January 18). (G.N. 3, N.N. 155). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 260. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG)
21. No. 1 problem faced by PA: Shortage of staff. (1984, July 28). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1984, August 10). (G.N. 51, N.N. 2828). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 4934. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Kan Seng is new PA Deputy Chairman. (1992, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1992, January 3). (G.N. 1, N.N. 30). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 52. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG)
22. Chok Tong is First DPM. (1985, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. (1985, January 18). Government gazette. (G.N. 3, N.N. 155). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 260. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1987, January 16). (G.N. 4, N.N. 145). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 317. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG)
23. Cabinet reshuffled. (1986, December 30). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1987, January 16). (G.N. 4, N.N. 145). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 317. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Yock Suan says he will refine, not disrupt education here. (1991, September 8). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1991, September 20). (G.N. 50, N.N. 4018). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 7465. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1992, January 10). (G.N. 2, N.N. 105). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 168. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG)
24. Boon Yang to be new labour minister. (1991, December 29). The Straits Times, p. 1; Ministerial moves. (1997, January 26). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1992, January 10). (G.N. 2, N.N. 105). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 168. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1997, January 31). (G.N. 7, N.N. 355). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 564. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG)
25. PM Goh’s new cabinet. (1997, January 19). The Straits Times, p. 19; Changes in the cabinet. (1998, March 29). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1997, January 31). (G.N. 7, N.N. 355). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 564. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1999, June 4). (G.N. 22, N.N. 1502). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 3173. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG)
26. NTUC honours Lee Yock Suan. (2002, May 1). Today, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. The cabinet changes. (1999, May 14). The Straits Times, p. 1; Lim Swee Say named acting minister for environment. (2000, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. (1999, June 4). Government gazette. (G.N. 22, N.N. 1502). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 3173. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Republic of Singapore. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement. (2001, December 14). Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Responsibility of the Minister, Prime Minister’s Office) (S 627/2001). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 2428. (Call no.: RSING 348.5957 SGGSLS)
28. PM gives 7 newcomers top jobs. (2001, November 18). The Straits Times, p. 1; Lee, R. (2004, August 12). Veteran bows out after helming several ministries. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. (1999, June 4). (G.N. 22, N.N. 1502). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 3173. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. Subsidiary legislation supplement. (2001, December 14). Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Responsibility of the Minister, Prime Minister’s Office) (S 627/2001). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 2428. (Call no.: RSING 348.5957 SGGSLS)
29. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p, 275. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
30. International Business Publications, USA. (2008). Singapore, recent economic and political developments handbook. Washington, DC: International Business Publications, USA, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SREPDH-[HIS])
31. Yes to evolution, no to revolution. (2011, March 24). My Paper. Retrieved 2016, March 28 from AsiaOne website: http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110324-269753.html; Parliament of Singapore. (n.d.). Mr Desmond Lee. Retrieved 2016, March 28 from Parliament of Singapore website: http://www.parliament.gov.sg/mp/desmond-lee



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Politics and Government
Politicians
Personalities
Politics and Government>>Education
Education>>Public policy issues in education
Personalities>>Biographies>>Political Leaders
Politicians--Singapore--Biography
Education
Law and government>>Political process>>Leadership
Lee, Yock Suan, 1946-

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