Wee Kim Wee Centre Celebrates 20 Years of Making Meaningful Impact

The Wee Kim Wee Centre is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the opening of the new Wee Kim Wee Room housed at Singapore Management University and the launch of the Wee Kim Wee Heritage Fund

Singapore, 4 November 2022 (Friday) – Commemorating its 20th anniversary, the Wee Kim Wee Centre (WKWC) is unveiling the new Wee Kim Wee Room at Singapore Management University (SMU), which houses some of the original belongings of former President Wee Kim Wee and Mrs Wee, and formally launching the Wee Kim Wee Heritage Fund. The WKWC, housed in SMU’s College of Integrative Studies, aims to advance learning and dialogue about major cross-cultural issues.

“It is a privilege for this Centre to be associated with the late Dr Wee Kim Wee, who believed passionately in practising and fostering communication, understanding, and goodwill in a complex world,” said Professor Lily Kong, SMU President.

“2022 marks the Wee Kim Wee Centre’s 20th anniversary. I would like to thank the amazing team at the Centre, whose steadfast diligence and adaptability allowed the Centre to reinvent itself through the years. We also thank the Wee family and our partners, whose invaluable support and generosity makes it possible for us sustain the work of the Centre and declare today that the torch is still blazing,” said Professor Elvin Lim, Director of Wee Kim Wee Centre and Dean, SMU College of Integrative Studies.

The 20th anniversary event of the WKWC, held at SMU on 4 November 2022, was officiated by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development & Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration. More than 50 donors, supporters, and close friends and family of the late Dr Wee attended the event. They paid tribute to the former President through speeches, interviews, videos and the unveiling of a new Wee Kim Wee Room at SMU Administration Building.

Breathing life into history with the new Wee Kim Wee Room

The premise of the Wee Kim Wee Room is to bring life to the story of Dr Wee Kim Wee, who is best remembered as a “People’s President” of a multi-cultural country. Dr Wee was also a journalist, a newspaper man, a Diplomat to Malaysia, Japan and South Korea, a Peranakan family man and an embodiment of cross-cultural sensitivity in his personal and professional life. His experiences, values and beliefs have been mindfully distilled into the immersive space within the Wee Kim Wee Room.

“When I first broached the idea of setting up the Wee Kim Wee Room, I was delighted that Professor Kong immediately understood what it meant to put up a “living gallery”. This was not to be a dry, lifeless museum, but a meaningful, living heritage. We hope you will enjoy reminiscing the past with the present in mind, as well as the many human stories embedded in each and every item within this room,” said Ms Wee Eng Hwa, daughter of Dr Wee Kim Wee.

With the unveiling of the new Wee Kim Wee Room, Professor Lim said, “We invite you to join us in exploring our very own Wee Kim Wee Room at SMU. Within this time capsule, the treasured belongings, furniture and paintings that have been generously entrusted by the Wee family to SMU, will inspire visitors to learn about and remember the values of Dr Wee and Mrs Wee, a couple who was much loved and respected by citizens.”

The Wee Kim Wee Room will be made accessible to the public via scheduled tours, starting from early 2023.

Launch of the Wee Kim Wee Heritage Fund

SMU formally launched the Wee Kim Wee Heritage Fund at the event. The Heritage Fund will help to preserve the heritage and memory of Dr Wee and Mrs Wee in three ways. It will allow for the continuing upkeep of the Wee Kim Wee Room; support educational activities that embody the values that Dr Wee held fast to, and support students with financial need.

“Wee Kim Wee did not have money to go through secondary school. I know for a fact that he would have been very pleased with every dollar that goes to supporting this fund,” said Ms Wee.

Dr Wee Hong Neo, daughter of Dr Wee, kickstarted the Fund with $200,000 in 2021, while Ms Wee has committed all the nett proceeds from the sale of the third edition of her best-selling volume, Cooking for the President, to the Heritage Fund.  The third edition will be made available at The SMU Shop, with more details to be released soon.

Interdisciplinary education and intercultural engagement

The CIS and the WKWC stand united in the view that the boundaries between the classroom, boardroom and public square are fluid and porous, and that the academic mission of the university is enhanced and best championed when informed by sustained and critical public engagement. Combining the intercultural and the interdisciplinary aspects, the CIS and the WKWC are envisioned to be institutions that will stand Singapore in good stead for the future.

“The 20th anniversary of the Wee Kim Wee Centre is focused on forging a “cultural consciousness” and commitment to lifelong learning, which are values that the new College of Integrative Studies embraces. As we look ahead into the Wee Kim Wee Centre’s next 20 years, we will carry on Dr Wee’s spirit of cultivating social and cultural diversity. By combining the intercultural and the interdisciplinary aspects, we will deliver transformative education that nurtures graduates with the skills and compassion to make meaningful impact to society,” said Professor Lim.