Mahbubani at the World Economic Forum
annual meeting, 2011
|Alma mater||National University of Singapore|
|Known for||President of the United Nations Security Council |
Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations
(1984 – 1989, then 1998 – 2004)
|Honours||Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019)|
Kishore Mahbubani (born 24 October 1948) is a Singaporean civil servant, a career diplomat and an academic. During his stint at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1971 to 2004, he served as Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and held the position of President of the United Nations Security Council between January 2001 and May 2002. Between 2004 and 2017, he served as Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore.
After stepping down, he served as a Senior Advisor at NUS during a nine-month sabbatical at various universities, including Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute. In 2019, Mahbubani was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Early life and education
Mahbubani, a Singaporean of Indian ancestry, was born in Singapore to a Sindhi-speaking Hindu family who settled in Singapore after being displaced from the province of Sindh in the erstwhile British India during the Partition of India. In his early years, he attended Tanjong Katong Technical School and completed his pre-university studies at St. Andrew's School. He was awarded the President's Scholarship in 1967 and graduated with a B.A. (first class honours) in philosophy from the University of Singapore in 1971. He received a M.A. in philosophy in 1976 and an honorary Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in 1995.
After his graduation in 1971, Mahbubani joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as a foreign service officer. His earlier postings included Cambodia, Malaysia and the United States. From 1993 to 1998, he held the position of Permanent Secretary at MFA. Later, he served as Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In that role, he served as President of the United Nations Security Council in January 2001 and May 2002.
Mahbubani's academic career began when he was appointed as the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He is also a Professor in the Practice of Public Policy. In addition, he was a fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University in 1991–92. He currently also serves on the board of the International Advisory Council at Bocconi.
Mahbubani is best known outside Singapore for his books Can Asians Think?, Beyond The Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World, and The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East. His articles have appeared in newspapers such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Washington Quarterly, Survival, American Interest, the National Interest, Time, Newsweek, the Financial Times and the New York Times. His latest book, Has China Won?, was published in 2020.
In The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, Mahbubani describes how the world has seen more positive change in the past 30 years than the past 300 years. By prescribing pragmatic solutions for improving the global order – including a 7-7-7 formula that may finally break the logjam in the United Nations Security Council – Mahbubani maps a road away from the geopolitical contours of the nineteenth century. The book was reviewed, including in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The Great Convergence was selected as one of the Financial Times' books of 2013 and longlisted for the 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize.
Mahbubani also writes regularly for Singapore's The Straits Times. In the lead up to Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence, he began a series on "big ideas" that he hoped would help Singapore succeed in the following half-century.
Board memberships and honours
Mahbubani continues to serve in boards and councils of several institutions in Singapore, Europe and North America, including the Yale President's Council on International Activities, Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, Indian Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council, Bocconi University's International Advisory Committee, World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on China, and Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize's nominating committee.
Mahbubani was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Gold) by the Singapore government in 1998. The Foreign Policy Association Medal was awarded to him in New York in June 2004 with the following opening words in the citation: "A gifted diplomat, a student of history and philosophy, a provocative writer and an intuitive thinker". Mahbubani was also listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines in September 2005, and included in the March 2009 Financial Times list of Top 50 individuals who would shape the debate on the future of capitalism. Mahbubani was selected as one of Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010 and 2011 and one of Prospects top 50 world thinkers in 2014.
Mahbubani also spoke as part of Asian Institute of Finance's Distinguished Speaker Series in 2015 with the title "Can ASEAN re-invent itself?" to over hundreds of financial institution practitioners in Kuala Lumpur.
Mahbubani first married Gretchen Liu, a journalist and author. After they divorced, he married Anne King Markey. When Mahbubani first met his current wife, Anne, she was part of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and he was serving as the deputy chief of the Singaporean mission in Washington, D.C.. The couple married and they have two sons and one daughter.
Mahbubani said in an interview that he enjoys jogging as a way of relaxing and easing his mind. He also has a habit of writing while listening to the music of Mohammed Rafi which his mother often put on the radio when he was a child.
In April 2016, Mahbubani suffered severe chest pains while jogging. He later underwent a double heart bypass operation.
- Can Asians Think? Understanding the Divide Between East and West., Steerforth, 2001, ISBN 978-1-58642-033-8; Times Editions; 3rd edition, 2004, ISBN 978-981-232-789-5
- Beyond the Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust Between America and the World, Perseus Books Group, 2005, ISBN 978-1-58648-268-8
- The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East, PublicAffairs, 2008, ISBN 978-1-58648-466-8
- The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, PublicAffairs, 2013, ISBN 978-1610390330
- Can Singapore Survive?, Straits Times Books, 2015, ISBN 978-9814342971
- The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace, Ridge Books, 2017, ISBN 978-9814722490
- Has the West Lost It? A Provocation, Penguin Books, 2018, ISBN 978-0241312865
- Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy, PublicAffairs, 2020, ISBN 978-1541768130
- "Kishore Mahbubani, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy, MA, Dalhousie University". spp.nus.edu.sg. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Kishore Mahbubani to retire as dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy".
- "Kishore Mahbubani joins Harvard University as visiting scholar".
- "Distinguished Fellow". ari.nus.edu.sg. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
- "Rupture in South Asia" (PDF). UNHCR. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
An estimated 14 million people were displaced at the time,...
- Mahbubani, Kishore (12 April 2014). "Three stories to strengthen the Singapore spirit". The Straits Times. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
My parents were Hindu Sindhis who grew up in Hyderabad, which is now part of Pakistan.
- "Kishore Mahbubani, Mr International". Archived from the original on 28 July 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "International Advisory Council". Archived from the original on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
- "How (and why) should United States should help to build ASEAN economic community" (PDF). theglobalist.com. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "How America Can Cope with the Rise of Asia". UCLA. 22 February 2008. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "East-West Dialogue, How (and Why) the United States Should Help to Build the ASEAN Economic Community". Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Mahbubani.net". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
- "The rule of more". Financial Times. (Subscription required.)
- "Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013". The Wall Street Journal.
- Mann, James (22 February 2013). "Washington Post, February 22, 2013". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013.
- "Books of the Year". Financial Times. (Subscription required.)
- "The 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize Longlist: Important Global Works for a World of Readers" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
- "Straits Times, 13 June 2014". Kishore Mahbubani's Big Ideas.
- "Intellectuals". Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
- "Future of Capitalism: 50 people who will frame the debate - FT.com".
- "Top 100 Global thinkers". Archived from the original on 31 December 2013.
- "Kishore Mahbubani in Top 50 List of World Thinkers". NUS News.
- "Foundation Trustees". Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- "Asian Institute Of Finance". www.aif.org.my.
- "Prestigious honour for Kishore Mahbubani". National University of Singapore. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
- "Gretchen Liu | Infopedia". eresources.nlb.gov.sg.
- "Mahbubani undergoes double heart bypass". 3 April 2016.
- Kishore Mahbubani's Official Website – (in English)
- Kishore Mahbubani's Official Website – (in Chinese)
- Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
- Podcast of Kishore Mahbubani discussing “the Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East” at the Shanghai International Literary Festival
- Transcript of interview on VPRO's Tegenlicht (Dutch Television)