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Asian book examines convergence of East and West

03 April 2013



Prof Mahbubani (left) presenting Guest-of-Honour Prof Wang a copy of The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World


Prof Mahbubani signing the book for guests at the launch

The documentation of "an unprecedented upliftment in the global civilisation" in the recently launched The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, turns the spotlight on global governance, said author Professor Kishore Mahbubani. The Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School) at NUS shared that the book, his fourth, continues the assessment of the international power reversals underway.

Prof Mahbubani emphasised this turning point in history as a remarkable period driven by the Asian economic growth, in which unprecedented numbers of the world's population are being lifted out of poverty and into the middle class.

At the launch held in Singapore, Guest-of-Honour Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman of the Governing Board of the LKY School, kicked off the session with a brief introduction of the Dean's previous books. He equated reading the works with an "education in the world of geopolitics". In particular, Can Asians Think? (2001) and The New Asian (2008) boldly asked a question never posed before, and the latest book maintains the contrarian stance. Prof Wang noted the economic growth and middle class boom of the East, coupled by a world less disposed to war, present strong counterbalances to the global sense of doom and gloom. He also highlighted the "7-7-7 formula" proposed for reforming the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

Prof Mahbubani underscored that the UN will meet and exceed at least one of its Millennium Development Goals established in 2000. Extreme worldwide poverty has already been halved in the past two decades, with estimates that the poverty levels could be eliminated by 2030. The Asian middle class is expected to swell from 500 million (out of a population of 3.5 billion) to 1.75 billion.

The issue of reforming institutions such as the UN Security Council was a recurring theme in the question-and-answer segment that ensued. Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law School, wondered why the author appeared "too soft" on the East; others felt his assertions are too harsh on the US, and overly optimistic on Asia.

Prof Mahbubani believed that "The West will not lose power, (but) will have to share power." He expected a slow reform over time, instead of a dramatic crisis. At the same time, he stressed the need for a level global playing field, and believed that the existing resistance merely marks the initial phase of change.

By Ms Melanie Chua, Editor for Global-is-Asian, a flagship magazine of the LKY School


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