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Kishore Mahbubani shares insights at Davos

03 February 2012

Mr Rachman interviewing Prof Mahbubani at the session, "An Insight, An Idea with Kishore Mahbubani"

Prof Mahbubani sharing his views on the future of American power in the 21st century

Photos: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012
Prof Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS, was among 21 world-renowned thought leaders selected to share their insights on the single most important transformation that will occur in the 21st century at the recent World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. One-on-one high-impact sessions featuring each of these leaders ran throughout the five-day event. "An Insight, An Idea with Kishore Mahbubani" was held on 26 January, the second day.

On his key proposition, Prof Mahbubani said: "The main idea I put across was that even though power was shifting to Asia, the West should not be alarmed by this shift of power. The Asian states want to work with the Western states to create a stable and prosperous global order that would benefit both the East and West."

He noted that many Asians are not aware of the rising level of anxiety in the West, both among the policymakers and the general population, over the shift of power to Asia. Confidence in the future that both the Europeans and Americans used to have is disappearing; and there is a real danger of protectionism emerging in the West. In view of this, he said: "The time has therefore come for Asians to stop being passive and to start providing more global leadership."

He was interviewed by Associate Editor and Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator of Financial Times Mr Gideon Rachman at the one-on-one session. During the Annual Meeting, Prof Mahbubani also moderated two interactive sessions, "ASEAN: Collaboration through Connectivity" and "The Future of American Power in the 21st Century", and spoke at the session "Pundits, Professors and their Predictions".

Citing some personal thoughts on the meeting, he said: "This year, three themes stood out for me. Firstly, there is continuing concern in the West about rising inequality. Secondly, while there was initial pessimism for the Eurozone in the first few days of Davos, this pessimism dissipated somewhat by the last day. Thirdly, there was also concern about the role that the US would play in the world."

A well-respected diplomat who was named among the world's top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine in 2010 and 2011, Prof Mahbubani has been attending the Annual Meeting for over 10 years now. To him, "The Davos forum is probably the most influential non-governmental meeting in the international arena. Two or three thousand of the most influential people in the world descend upon Davos for four days. Hence, the discussions are meaningful. Equally importantly, the networking is also phenomenal. Sometimes, when I return from Davos, I feel that I have done six months of work in four days."

More on NUS' participation in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012 ...
- View videos of Prof Mahbubani's sessions
- Read articles: NUS leads discussion at Davos on new healthcare models and NUS President at World Economic Forum 2012