Proceeds from sales of the late George E. Bogaars’ biography to fund awards for top NUS History students

NUS Press and NUS Libraries have launched Not for Circulation: The George E. Bogaars Story, a biography of distinguished NUS alumni and top Pioneer Generation civil servant, Mr George E. Bogaars. Proceeds from the sales of the biography will go to an endowment fund to support awards for top-performing History students at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The late Mr Bogaars himself was a top performer, being one of the first two students to receive a Master of Arts degree from the University of Malaya, a predecessor institution of NUS. His Master’s thesis was presciently on the development of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, which evolved into Keppel Corporation, that he later helmed.

The biography is written by veteran journalist and blogger Bertha Henson, who is currently an Adjunct Professor with the NUS Department of Communications & New Media and a Fellow of Tembusu College at NUS. It was initiated by the Treasury Coffee Club (TCC), comprising Mr Bogaars’ former colleagues in the Treasury (i.e., Ministry of Finance), to mark his 95th birth anniversary on 25 October 2021. TCC members, with support from Keppel Corporation, through their Keppel Care Foundation, have sponsored the cost of producing the biography. Keppel Corporation’s support recognises his pivotal role as its former Chairman in setting the vision and strategic directions that have guided Keppel’s development over the years.

Associate Professor Joey Long, Head of the NUS Department of History, has expressed delight at the launch of the biography which he notes, “traces the colourful life and highlights the exceptional achievements and contributions to Singapore of one of our most outstanding and versatile alumni. Mr Bogaars was a “man for all seasons” who played an influential role in the political, diplomatic and economic development of the nation. He remains an exemplary role model for NUS students and alumni.”

Not for Circulation: The George E.Bogaars Story

Do civil servants really make a difference? Can they shape history? When John Drysdale published one of the first books to put together the political history of independent Singapore, in 1985, Mr Bogaars wrote to his daughter with typical understatement, “I feature in it a bit."

Mr Bogaars headed the Special Branch, now the Internal Security Department, at the time of Operation Cold Store. He reported directly to pioneer leaders such as Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Dr Goh Keng Swee, before they became political icons. He started the Singapore Armed Forces from scratch when he was Permanent Secretary of Interior and Defence (the precursor of the present-day Home Affairs and Defence ministries). He was the Head of the Civil Service, involved in a dozen or so Government-linked companies attempting to shore up the country’s infrastructure and expand its business portfolio. He held the country’s purse strings when he moved into the Finance ministry before his retirement on 31 October 1981 at age 55. His impressive resume belies a colourful, flamboyant character with a wicked sense of humour. 

Not for Circulation is now available at all leading bookshops or from nuspress.nus.edu.sg at $24.00 (before GST).