Professor Kishore Mahbubani–Asia Rising Again

January 12, 2016

Professor Kishore Mahbubani– The Return of Asia

This is intended for the benefit of my doctoral students at the Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations, The University of Cambodia.  I think it is useful to share the thoughts of this controversial and strategic thinker and Dean and Professor Kishore Mahbubani of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore with all of you.

I  also hope my fellow Malaysians can see why our nation is today’s laggard in Southeast Asia. The reason is very simple and that is we have mediocre  and corrupt leadership and  a culture that promotes mediocrity and dependency on a nanny state.–Din Merican

15 thoughts on “Professor Kishore Mahbubani–Asia Rising Again

  1. I don’t think too many people in USA are paying serious attention to this professor.
    That is the problem with America today; they don’t listen to voices from Asia expressing views that are critical their foreign policy. Because of that, they are going to destabilise Southeast Asia with Obama’s Balancing Asia policy, which is clearly to contain China. They have not learned the lessons of Vietnam. We are in the 21st century but American thinking on foreign policy is 18th century. –Din Merican

  2. Today’s USA is like Japan before: arrogance, hegemony and creating more enemies instead of friends that led to its defect in WW2.
    Right, Asia is rising again led by China, a superpower before. US has no history of sharing power with others.

  3. Asia RISING… and before that we had China (and India) emerging as SUPERPOWERS… Neither of the two will happen and thank God for that…

    If Asia can be left alone, I am certain we shall manage quite well… but it will mean no alliances, no joint agreements or treaties… it is a big”if”.

    Scholars like the Professor and our other friend, Tan Sri Munir, I feel ,suffer from a think tank syndrome…

  4. china is a super power?? yeah right… just another Nazi type of country waiting to unleash war in Asia… worse than USA….

    its a good thing chinese gambling in business n stock market bring about meltdown …

  5. Sooner or later, all Asian / South East Asian countries will have to chose, for better or worse.

    For mid-size powers, Japan, Korea, the choice has already being made, or made for them.

    The balancing power is Russia. Will political ideology be thicker, or will joining the most probable winning side be the wiser choice?

    The World is set for another inescapable round of recalibration.

  6. The problem with America is they are too focus on Arab region. They do not place enough resources to understand Asia countries as much as Arab countries. Furthermore, the top echelon leaders definitely had no clue about the importance of South East Asia. In addition, the majority of American still think their country is the center of the whole world.

  7. I always find it interesting that non-Americans love to expound on Americans’ supposed ignorance of the world, especially when it comes to their own (non-American) country. And then you find frequently that many of these commentators themselves don’t know much about US history, politics and society.

    For example, how many Malaysians can list the names of at least three of the top 4 cabinent members of the current US administration (State, Treasury, Defense & Justice) off their top of their heads? How many Malaysians can say which three states provide the largest Electoral College votes for the US presidential election? Which US president served the most terms, after whom the 22nd Amendment made it impossible to repeat his feat? How many Malaysians are even aware of the famous rivalry between the NY Yankees and Boston Red Sox, whom even an occasional follower of US baseball will be well aware of? Who won the last Super Bowl, arguably the most watched sporting event in North America?

    After living in several countries, I can confidently say that most people in any country are typically not very well informed (and frequently can’t be bothered) about the rest of the world. Most people’s attention are focused on local issues and local news.

  8. “… many Malaysians can list ….”

    I could.

    “I can confidently say that most people in any country are typically not very well informed (and frequently can’t be bothered) about the rest of the world. ”

    Most people don’t really know much about their own country but could probably tell you more about what they think they know of America because American culture is so pervasive.

    And that’s really the difference here. Most Non Americans have at least a perspective on America – compromised though it may be – but most Americans remain largely ignorant – wilfully so , some may argue – about the rest of the world.

  9. Actually, American themselves do not know their secretary of state, secretary of defence, etc. So, don’t expect non-American knows them.

  10. Again we are falling into the same trap- Asian Tiger Economies in the 90s. As it was then and as it is now when they talk about Asia they mean Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and yes PRC. The rest of us are just hitching a ride on the backs of our prosperous neighbours who have brought a kind of stability and respectability to the Asian Region.

    There are no magic bullets for success. Your push factors and pull factors must be in equilibrium held together with rule of law upheld by moral values that brings out the best of good governance which is latent in all of us. Simply put we all have to pay homage to upgrade Malaysia from good to better and let others ride on our backs.

  11. Veritas, it is not “supposed ignorance”; it is a fact. In general, Americans are more ignorant and parochial than, dare I say it, almost everyone else in the world. Just look at the number of Americans who have no passports and who have not left its shore. I do not blame Americans for their self-centredness and their US-centric world view. They can afford to be because the world as a whole needs America. The rest of the world knows more about America than Americans know about other countries because the rest of the world needs America more than America needs them. This real ignorance of most Americans is in fact a back-handed compliment – they can afford to be ignorant.

    I can name almost all of the US states off the top of my head, but can any American name all of the Malaysian states (much lower in number)? Does the typical American even know which province in China Singapore hails from?

  12. The: I don’t believe Obama can name all the Malaysian states without help, but at least he knows where Malaysia is. I have lived in the US close to half a century and have become a proud American for more than 40 years. I can testify most American strangers I have talked to did not know where Malaysia was. Veritas mentioned the Electoral College, which is very undemocratic in a democracy. May I ask him, from the top of his head, to tell me how and why it came into being? I must admit I always feel a little uneasy when a foreign national criticize America. But I gladly accept the criticisms if they are constructive ones. We are not a perfect nation.

  13. On the US Electoral College system, the US Constitution provides for the college, where each state has the number of electors equal to its total number of Congressmen and Senators. As I understand it, the college flowed from the principle of the United States as a federation of states.

    The Constitution actually leaves the decision on selecting the electors to the discretion of each state’s legislature. Originally, the person who received the most votes among the electors would become president, and the person who received the second most will become the VP. Only after the Civil War did it become the norm that the electors would be chosen by popular vote in each state. Before that many state legislatures would appoint the electors directly.

    Basically, the President (and VP) would be elected by state-chosen electors, and not a national electorate. The US system of government was crafted with many checks and balances. At one level the checks and balances were to check against the bigger states ganging up against the smaller ones, hence you have 2 Senators for each state no matter how big or small it is. At another level, the check was to prevent a demagogue/populist from capturing the Federal government, hence you have the Supreme Court and a President (and VP) chosen at state-level.

    The Federal nature of the original US Constitution is something that many people have forgotten, even in the US. At a conceptual level, the Civil War was fought precisely on the principle of the sovereignty of states against the central government. It is notable, for example, that specific mention of “United States citizenship” was inserted into the Constitution only after the Civil War. Citizenship was originally state-based.

    Now one can indeed say that maybe the Electoral College is anachronistic. But there is an abiding respect for the Constitution and its institutions in the US that I find appealing.

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