A Must Read Book: The ASEAN Miracle

April 6, 2017

Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery SngThe ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace

This just released book is, in my view, a must read for all who are keen to learn about ASEAN, its history, achievements and challenges.   Is ASEAN a miracle? We can debate this, but  let us first let find out what  Dean Prof. Kishore Mahubani of The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and his co-author and colleague, Jeffery Sng have to say. I am reading it now and find it a well written and documented and timely book. ASEAN will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary this August. The ASEAN Miracle has received very favorable reviews (below) –Din Merican

The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a miracle. Why?

Image result for Book The ASEAN Miracle

Congratulations to Dean Prof. Kishore Mahububani, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Jeffery Sng

In an era of growing cultural pessimism, many thoughtful individuals believe that different civilizations – especially Islam and the West – cannot live together in peace. The ten countries of ASEAN provide a thriving counter-example of civilizational coexistence. Here 625m people live together in peace. This miracle was delivered by ASEAN.

In an era of growing economic pessimism, where many young people believe that their lives will get worse in coming decades, Southeast Asia bubbles with optimism. In an era where many thinkers predict rising geopolitical competition and tension, ASEAN regularly brings together all the world’s great powers.

Stories of peace are told less frequently than stories of conflict and war. ASEAN’s imperfections make better headlines than its achievements. But in the hands of Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng, the good news story is also a provocation and a challenge to the rest of the world.

“This excellent book explains, in clear and simple terms, how and why ASEAN has become one of the most successful regional organizations in the world.”
George Yeo

Image result for Book The ASEAN MiracleThe ASEAN Miracle Men–Mr S. Rajaratnam (right), then Singapore’s Foreign Minister, at the historic 1967 Bangkok meeting, which saw the founding of ASEAN. With him are envoys (from left) Narciso Ramos from the Philippines, Adam Malik from Indonesia, Thanat Khoman from Thailand and Tun Abdul Razak from Malaysia.–ST FILE PHOTOS

“ASEAN was born in Bangkok. Thailand can take great pride in the fact that this Thai baby has emerged as a world success story. Indeed, many significant ASEAN initiatives were initiated by Thailand, including AFTA and ASEM. Kishore and Jeffery have done the world a huge favour in documenting this exceptional success story, and in making proposals to strengthen ASEAN further. This is a must-read for all who have interest in ASEAN affairs.”
Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand

“A powerful and passionate account of how, against all odds, ASEAN transformed the region and why Asia and the world need it even more today.”
Amitav Acharya

“Kishore and I have written that the world is coming together in a Fusion of Civilisations. This book documents beautifully how ASEAN has achieved this fusion. The ASEAN story is hugely instructive and this book tells it very well.”
Larry Summers

“This book on ASEAN explains well how the pragmatic Indonesian philosophy of musyawarah and mufakat has been critical for ASEAN’s success. Indonesian leadership has led to the creation and development of one of the world’s most successful regional organizations, which has fundamentally transformed he geopolitics and geo-economics of Southeast Asia. As ASEAN begins a new, possibly perilous, journey into the next fifty years, we should read this book as an indispensable guide to ASEAN’s future. We cannot take our success for granted. We have to work even harder to strengthen and, if necessary, reinvent ASEAN. This book explains how.”
Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – Sixth President of Indonesia

“Over the years, Kishore Mahbubani has been as eloquent and visionary as he has tireless in championing Asia’s growing role in world affairs. In this impressive volume, Mahbubani tells the story of Southeast Asia’s ascent and the often underappreciated role of ASEAN as a regional provider of peace and stability. As the book makes clear, it is an unfinished story – ASEAN is uniquely situated to work with regional and global great powers in the search for common ground, but ASEAN is also vulnerable to neglect and decline. In the end, Mahbubani offers a powerful argument for a new era of ASEAN leadership.”

G. John Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University

Kishore Mahbubani is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and author of The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East.

Jeffery Sng is a writer and former diplomat based in Bangkok, and co-author of A History of the Thai-Chinese.

Image result for Book The ASEAN Miracle

Publication Year: 2017
286 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-981-4722-49-0 Casebound


5 thoughts on “A Must Read Book: The ASEAN Miracle

  1. Yes, ASEAN “bubbles with optimism”…and does so with good reason…it is and, hopefully, will remain an informal club… and not be tempted to go after turning into a bloc of any kind…be it economic, trading, financial or political…nor should it fall victim to the urging of numerous ‘specialists” who continuously urge it to find new direction…
    Ours is a region of peace and relative stability… lots of imperfections to be sure, but peaceful… that is a big,big plus…

    • “Ours is a region of peace and relative stability… that is a big,big plus” – Isa

      So true.

      The Brexiteers lost sight of the big, big plus that the European Union created. That is, a region of peace that had endured in Europe for all these years after WW2.

      I hope it does not come back to haunt them.

  2. ASEAN was established by five visionary leaders thinking of how to maintain stability of the region, contain the spread of communism as well as to cooperate economically with the like minded countries in the region. So ASEAN is not a miracle, but an organization created and managed by people.

    In the case of China supporting Cambodia, the writer seemed to ignore the historical facts that Cambodia and China has established diplomatic relations and trade link since the 12th century, ways before Singapore was even born. The diplomatic relations and trade links between the two countries has been maintained due to the strategic location of Cambodia in the region, not because of ASEAN miracle. And when Cambodia gained her independence in 1953, it was China who provided supports and recognized Cambodia in 1954. Cambodia was an island of peace in the Indochina war in the early 60s and even provided supports to Singapore during the campaigns for her statehood in 1965. If Cambodia joined the SEATO at that time, we would be perished by the war between our two big neighbours. So our policy is to maintain political balance as it is and maintain ourselves as an island of peace, and heaven for business and trade. Cambodia has seen the worse during the dark era of the Khmer Rouge, to which ASEAN, then support the KR, not the victims of it. But at the end of the day, ASEAN could not work with the KR. It has to work with the present Cambodia, the victims of the KR!
    – Keo Chhea –

  3. After 50 years of highs and lows, ASEAN has emerged as the most successful example of regional cooperation. Today’s ASEAN, while basking in the glory of success, is marching forward with the times by turning crisis into a driving force.

    The writer is changing our traditional perception of who has power. People often believe major powers control world affairs while minor nations hold little diplomatic sway. This mindset has prevented people from noticing minor countries’ quest for power. The regional alliance’s balanced strategy with major powers was set in motion when we still believed East and West Asia were key arenas of struggle for power among big nations. The US and Japan became so jealous of China’s rising influence in East Asia that they rushed to offer more “carrots” to ASEAN members. Major powers have to meet specific conditions set down by ASEAN if they want to join the regional group’s cooperation network and avoid being marginalized amid fierce competition.

    In the past, it was always the major powers that forced small countries to sign peace treaties, but today the latter have turned the table around as the major powers joined TAC on their own initiative to offer safeguards for small countries’ security. This is why ASEAN has been looking hard for the center of balance between the nation, the region and the world.

  4. Any pact or association to be formed by countries in this region has to get the tacit or explicit support of the US and Europe failing which it will probably be doomed to failure or be a non-starter. This, at least, has been the story until China emerged as a power to be reckoned with. Is ASEAN also a talk shop? Politically it has not achieved much on its own as a pact negotiator. If it all it did, it seems, it was on being pushed or persuaded by leading powers to act for specific outcomes. Its success is more confined to the domain of economics – trade and commerce.

    The article itself amplifies this. Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand says “ASEAN was born in Bangkok. Thailand can take great pride in the fact that this Thai baby”. And Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – Sixth President of Indonesia contrdicts him by saying “Indonesian leadership has led to the creation and development of one of the world’s most successful regional organizations”.
    What about Phillipines, Malaysia and Singapore? They had no clue and were just piggy backing?

    I would not be surprised if the idea for this pact came from the Singapore end. It had just separated from Malaysia and probably wanted it more than others to assuage its sense of insecurity and provide stability in the region for its economic growth and development.

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