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interview with Kishore Mahbubani

Listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines, Kishore Mahbubani has been an influential force in shaping the global perception of Asian identity, and in addressing the changing face of global politics. He is the author of two thought-provoking and deeply insightful books: "Can Asians Think?" a collection of essays expounding on the struggle of Asian societies to thrive in the modern world while maintaining their cultural heritage, and of "Beyond the Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World."

During his 33 years in the Singapore Foreign Service, Professor Mahbubani served twice as Ambassador to the United Nations, taking up the post of President of the UN Security Council in January 2001 and May 2002. During that time, he was a tireless champion of the United Nationís role in maintaining world peace and security.

According to Mahbubani, the case for a stronger United Nations is simple. American technology has changed the world. Distance has disappeared. The world has shrunk to a global village. Every village needs a village council. In his words, "the United Nations represents the only real village council we have. There is no other."


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Interview with Kishore Mahbubani,
Yuli Ismartono [time 29:20]

28th November, 2006

Welcome to another edition of THE LEADERS. I am Yuli Ismartono of Asiaviews, and we are here in Singapore, to have a dialogue with Kishore Mahbubani.

Kishore Mahbubani is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

He began his career as a diplomat, joining the Singapore Foreign Service in 1971 ending up as Singapore's Ambassador to the United Nations in 2002, in which he served as president of the United Nations Security Council. In between, he was posted to Cambodia and Malaysia. Mr. Mahbubani is the author of two books, "Can Asians Think?" - and the just published "Beyond The Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust Between America and the World." Mr. Mahbubani received a Masters degree in Philosophy in 1976 from Dalhousie University, Canada and an honorary doctorate in 1995. He has attended many lectures and seminar and received a number of awards.

Professor Mahbubani, thank you for being with us today.

Yuli Ismartono: What was the motivation behind your well-know, must-read but provocative book 'Can Asians Think?'

Mahbubani: The motivation was very simple. Asians like to believe they are now successful but they need to think harder about their future prospects because if we look back at what Asia has accomplished in the last 1000 years, it hasn't been a great story. So the question that Asians need to ask themselves in a profound fashion is how we lost so many centuries of development. Why is it when the West began to take off in the 17th, 18th century and even the 19th century, Asian countries did not copy the best practices of the West. It took the second half of the 20th century -- in fact, only the last two decades -- have we seen the Asian countries emerging and taking off.
      I'm optimistic about Asia's future, but I think we have better grounds for optimism if Asians do some hard and very tough-minded reflection on what went wrong in these past few centuries. Because if you do not figure out all the causes of what went wrong, the danger is that it might happen again. That's why I wrote the book 'Can Asians Think?' To force Asians to reflect very hard on their condition, what they did wrong and how they can make it right this time.

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Personal Plofile
Kishore Mahbubani Kishore Mahbubani,
Kishore Mahbubani is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He began his career as a diplomat, joining the Singapore Foreign Service in 1971 ending up as Singapore's Ambassador to the United Nations in 2002, in which he served as president of the United Nations Security Council. In between, he was posted to Cambodia and Malaysia. Mr. Mahbubani is the author of two books, "Can Asians Think?" - and the just published "Beyond The Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust Between America and the World." Mr. Mahbubani received a Masters degree in Philosophy in 1976 from Dalhousie University, Canada and an honorary doctorate in 1995. He has attended many lectures and seminar and received a number of awards.
Yuli Ismartono Yuli Ismartono, [Interviewer]
Yuli Ismartono is an executive editor at Tempo, Indonesia's foremost weekly news magazine. Ms. Ismartono, who holds degrees in political science and journalism, has been with Tempo for 15 years, mostly assigned to covering events around the Asia region and interviewing national leaders - such as former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung,Cambodia's King Sihanouk and prime minister Hun Sen, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other newsmakers. She is currently in charge of Tempo's English language edition and managing editor of AsiaViews, an online and hardcopy magazine featuring news and commentaries from the Asia region, of which Tempo is a member and coordinator of the media group that publishes it.
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