Kishore Mahbubani

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Kishore Mahbubani
Mahbubani in 2012
President of the United Nations Security Council
In office
January 2001 – May 2002
Preceded bySergey Lavrov
Succeeded byHabib Ben Yahia
Singapore Permanent Representative to the United Nations
In office
PresidentOng Teng Cheong
S. R. Nathan
In office
PresidentDevan Nair
Wee Kim Wee
Personal details
Kishore Mahbubani

(1948-10-24) 24 October 1948 (age 74)
Colony of Singapore
Gretchen Gustafson
(m. 1975, divorced)

Anne King Markey
(m. 1985)
Alma materUniversity of Singapore (BA)
Dalhousie University (MA)
  • Diplomat
  • academic

Kishore Mahbubani PPA (born 24 October 1948) is a Singaporean diplomat and geopolitical consultant who served as Singapore Permanent Representative to the United Nations between 1984 and 1989, and again between 1998 and 2004, and President of the United Nations Security Council between 2001 and 2002.[1]

After stepping down, he remained serving as a senior advisor at the National University of Singapore while engaging in a nine-month sabbatical at various universities, including Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.[2] He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute.[3] In 2019, Mahbubani was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Between 2004 and 2017, he served as Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Mahbubani was born in Singapore to a Sindhi-speaking Hindu family who were displaced from Sindh province during the Partition of India.[5][6]

He attended Tanjong Katong Technical School and St. Andrew's School before he was awarded the President's Scholarship in 1967 to study at the University of Singapore (now the National University of Singapore), where he graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours degree in philosophy.

He subsequently went on to complete a Master of Arts degree in philosophy at Dalhousie University in 1976.

Mahbubani was conferred an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from Dalhousie University in 1995.[7]


Public service[edit]

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.

Academic career[edit]

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.[1] He currently also serves on the board of the International Advisory Council at Bocconi.[8]


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.[9][10][11] 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.[12] The book was reviewed, including in the Financial Times,[13] the Wall Street Journal[14] and the Washington Post.[15] The Great Convergence was selected as one of the Financial Times' books of 2013[16] and longlisted for the 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize.[17]

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.[18]

Board memberships[edit]

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 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.[19]

In 2019, Mahbubani was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[20]


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,[21] and included in the March 2009 Financial Times list of Top 50 individuals who would shape the debate on the future of capitalism.[22] Mahbubani was selected as one of Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010 and 2011[23] and one of Prospects top 50 world thinkers in 2014.[24]

The secondary school library of the Tampines campus of the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) is named after Mahbubani. He is also a former chair of the UWCSEA foundation.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Mahbubani was previously married to Gretchen Gustafson, a journalist and author on 21 June 1975.[26]

Mahbubani later married Anne King Markey on 30 March 1985. When Mahbubani first met 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 has 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.[7] He also has a Chinese name, being known as (Chinese: 马凯硕; pinyin: Mǎ Kǎishuò).

In April 2016, Mahbubani suffered severe chest pains while jogging. He later underwent a double heart bypass operation.[27]



  1. ^ a b "Kishore Mahbubani, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy, MA, Dalhousie University". Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Kishore Mahbubani joins Harvard University as visiting scholar".
  3. ^ "Distinguished Fellow". Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Kishore Mahbubani to retire as dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy". Archived from the original on 27 November 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Rupture in South Asia" (PDF). UNHCR. Retrieved 16 August 2014. An estimated 14 million people were displaced at the time,...
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b "Kishore Mahbubani, Mr International". Archived from the original on 28 July 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  8. ^ "International Advisory Council". Archived from the original on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  9. ^ "How (and why) should United States should help to build ASEAN economic community" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "East-West Dialogue, How (and Why) the United States Should Help to Build the ASEAN Economic Community". Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  12. ^ "". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
  13. ^ Stephens, Philip (15 February 2013). "The rule of more". Financial Times. (Subscription required.)
  14. ^ "Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013". The Wall Street Journal.
  15. ^ Mann, James (22 February 2013). "Washington Post, February 22, 2013". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013.
  16. ^ "Books of the Year". Financial Times. 29 November 2013. (Subscription required.)
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "Straits Times, 13 June 2014". Kishore Mahbubani's Big Ideas.
  19. ^ "Asian Institute Of Finance". 18 February 2023.
  20. ^ "Prestigious honour for Kishore Mahbubani". National University of Singapore. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Intellectuals". Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  22. ^ "Future of Capitalism: 50 people who will frame the debate -".
  23. ^ "Top 100 Global thinkers". Archived from the original on 31 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Kishore Mahbubani in Top 50 List of World Thinkers". NUS News.
  25. ^ "Foundation Trustees". Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Gretchen Liu | Infopedia".
  27. ^ "Mahbubani undergoes double heart bypass". The Straits Times. 3 April 2016.

External links[edit]