SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore's Faculty of Law has renamed its Centre for Law and Business after Singapore's first and longest serving Law Minister EW Barker.
The EW Barker Centre for Law and Business was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the NUS Bukit Timah Campus on Monday evening (May 29).
In his speech, Mr Lee highlighted Mr Barker's pivotal role during separation, where he drafted the Separation Agreement, the Amendment Bill for the Constitution of Malaysia and the Proclamation of Singapore, on founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's instructions.
"Fifty years later, none of the provisions in the documents have ever been disputed or challenged, not even fundamental provisions such as the guarantee of the Water Agreements. Singaporeans owe a profound debt of gratitude to the draughtsman for their independence," said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee added that Mr Barker and his colleagues placed great importance on the rule of law, and recognised it "as the cornerstone of development".
He also stressed that the centre has an important role to play in Singapore's legal ecosystem.
"It is critical to keep our laws and lawyers up to date and maintain our competitive edge. This is where the centre can help us. You have a role to play, through research, symposia and teaching," Mr Lee said.
Professor Simon Chesterman, who is Dean of NUS' Faculty of Law, explained that the idea of renaming the Centre for Law and Business first emerged when writer Susan Sim was in the process of writing Mr Barker's biography.
"We provided some modest research assistance, but in the process I wondered if there wasn't more we could do - to ensure that not only would Mr Barker's story be told and his name remembered, but that his legacy would carry on in future," said Prof Chesterman.
After the centre received funding from the Ministry of Law, Prof Chesterman said he then approached Mr Barker's wife, Mrs Gloria, for her permission to rename the law research centre with her husband's name.
STUDENT BURSARY LAUNCHED
Speaking to around 100 people in attendance, Mr Barker's daughter Deborah said: "My family and I are grateful that NUS has made the decision to honour my father's legacy by renaming this centre the EW Barker Centre for Law and Business."
"I think my father would have been very happy to have his achievements recognised by the naming of the centre after him," said Ms Barker, who is managing partner at law firm Withers KhattarWong.
A total of S$21 million was raised by 11 donors and a matching government grant to support the centre's efforts in expanding its manpower and scope of activities.
The EW Barker Centre for Law and Business plans to hire new faculty, through recruitment of leading scholars from around the world and cultivating the next generation of Singapore scholars.
NUS Law also launched a student bursary in his honour - the EW Barker Bursary - where two bursaries of S$6,000 each are expected to be awarded each year. The bursaries will be awarded to financially needy undergraduate students at NUS Law starting from the Academic Year 2017/18.
The money is drawn from an endowment fund of more than S$300,000, which consist of contributions from members of the legal fraternity and the Singapore Government.