Kishore Mahbubani (Singapore)

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Asian Affairs Expert

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Named as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, former diplomat turned Professor of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore Kishore examines the relationship between the West and Asia and what each can learn from each other.


Kishore Mahbubani is Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He previously served for thirty-three years in Singapore's diplomatic service and is recognised as an expert on Asian and world affairs.

Starting his career in the Singaporean Foreign Service, Professor Mahbubani was posted all around the world, including two stints as Singapore’s Ambassador to the UN and as President of the UN Security Council. He was also Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Ministry. Latterly he has moved into academia whilst also serving on boards and councils of several institutions in Singapore, Europe and North America. These include the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Council, the Asia Society's International Council, and the Yale President's Council on International Activities.

Professor Mahbubani examines the relationship between the West and Asia, why the sudden expansion of China and the region has occurred, and what it means. He highlights that Asia’s economy has grown because it has emulated the West (in meritocracy, in entrepreneurship, in free trade) and conversely the West can now learn from it. He believes that Asia will not seek to replace the West as the dominant economic and cultural force in the world, but they will both change. Furthermore, that capitalism is not ideological, but a function; a pragmatic instrument to improve human welfare and should be viewed dispassionately as such.

Professor Mahbubani has been named one of the 'Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2011' by Foreign Policy magazine who went on to describe him as “the muse of the Asian Century”.

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