The Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) was founded in 1961 by a group of like-minded friends, who were interested in international affairs. Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large, was one of the founding members. As the Honorary Secretary of the Institute, he corresponded with the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), to seek their guidance and advice.
The President of the SIIA was a Scottish colonial official, Mr G.G. Thomson, who was the Director of the Political Studies Centre, established to educate civil servants on the political trends and developments of the region and the political agenda of the government.
When Singapore became a sovereign country in 1965, the Kingdom of Cambodia, headed by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, was one of the first countries to recognise Singapore’s independence. A few months later, the government of Cambodia invited the government of Singapore to send a goodwill delegation to visit Cambodia. As the newly established Ministry of Foreign Affairs was still finding its feet, the Singapore government turned to the SIIA to organise such a delegation.
Since then, the SIIA has been forging close partnerships between countries for growth and stability in the region, through research and dialogue.