Kishore Mahbubani

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Kishore Mahbubani
Kishore Mahbubani - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011.jpg
Mahbubani at the World Economic Forum
annual meeting, 2011
Born (1948-10-24) 24 October 1948 (age 70)
EducationBA (Philosophy)
MA (Philosophy)
Alma materNational University of Singapore
Dalhousie University
Saint Andrew's Junior College
Tanjong Katong Secondary School
OccupationAcademic, diplomat
Known forPresident of the United Nations Security Council
Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations
(1984 – 1989, then 1998 – 2004)

Kishore Mahbubani (Sindhi: किशोर महबूबानी(Devanagari); born 24 October 1948) is a Singaporean academic and former diplomat. He is currently a senior adviser and professor who has been on a nine-month sabbatical at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.[1]

From 1971 to 2004 he served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was 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.[2]

On 6 November 2017, Mahbubani announced that he would retire from the position as Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School at the end of 2017.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Singapore to a Singaporean Indian family of Sindhi descent, Mahbubani's parents were Hindus who settled in Singapore after being displaced from their native Hyderabad, Sindh, during the partition of India.[4][5] Mahbubani attended Tanjong Katong Technical School and completed his pre-university studies at St. Andrew's School (now St. Andrew's Junior College). He was awarded the President's Scholarship in 1967 and graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy from the University of Singapore (now the National University of Singapore) in 1971. He received a master's degree in Philosophy in 1976 and an honorary doctorate in 1995 from Dalhousie University in Canada.[6]


Public service[edit]

After his graduation in 1971 he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, and his earlier postings included Cambodia (where he served during the war in 1973–74), Malaysia and Washington, DC. He was appointed the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Ministry from 1993 to 1998. Later, he became 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]

His academic career began when he was appointed as the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the 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.[2] He currently also serves on the board of the International Advisory Council at Bocconi.[7]


Mahbubani is best known outside Singapore for his books Can Asians Think? (published and translated in Singapore, Canada, US, Mexico, India, China Myanmar, Turkey and Malaysia), Beyond The Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World (published and translated in the US and China), and The New Asian Hemisphere: the irresistible shift of global power to the East (published and translated in the US, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Egypt, China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Italy, Taiwan, Vietnam and Cambodia).[8][9][10] His articles have appeared in newspapers outside of Singapore, such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Washington Quarterly, Survival, American Interest, the National Interest, Time, Newsweek, the Financial Times and International New York Times.

His latest book is entitled Can Singapore Survive? launched on 16 March 2015. In The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World (Public Affairs), he 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 UN Security Council – Mahbubani maps a road away from the geopolitical contours of the nineteenth century.[11] The book was reviewed, including in the Financial Times,[12] the Wall Street Journal[13] and the Washington Post.[14] The Great Convergence was selected as one of the Financial Times' books of 2013[15] and longlisted for the 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize.[16]

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.[17]

The New Hemisphere[edit]

As a former member of the United Nations security council, and the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew's Public Policy department, Mahbubani has been an observer of the changing tide in Asian and Western politics. The book New Asian Hemisphere: the irresistible shift of global power shows some of his main ideas and opinions about such observations. It is basically criticising the West and insisting that their practice of the value they are pressing on to the rest of the world such as democracy, the rule of law and social justice is corrupted in many ways. He states in his book that the system of global politics and international institutions such as the United Nations and IMF are created to benefit the West. He believes that these institutions should make rule for rising Asian powers and claims that though the West may be fearful of Asia's rise, it should accept them and co-operate. Furthermore, he is largely supportive of China and their method of globalisation and implies that they are doing everything right to become an even more powerful nation.[18]

Boards and honours[edit]

He 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 (PCIA), Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, Indian Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council, University of Bocconi International Advisory Committee, World Economic Forum – Global Agenda Council on China and Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Nominating Committee.

He 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". Prof Mahbubani was also listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines in September 2005,[19] and included in the March 2009 Financial Times list of Top 50 individuals who would shape the debate on the future of capitalism.[20] Mahbubani was selected as one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010 and 2011 [21] and one of Prospect's top 50 world thinkers in 2014.[22]

The secondary school library of the Tampines campus of UWCSEA is named after him, He is also a former chair of the UWCSEA foundation[23]

Kishore 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, Malaysia.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Mahbubani first married Gretchen Liu,[25] 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 commodities Future Trading Commission and he was serving as the deputy chief of the Singaporean mission in Washington. The couple married and they now 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.[6]

In April 2016, Mahbubani suffered severe chest pains while jogging. He later underwent a double heart bypass operation.[26]


  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kishore Mahbubani joins Harvard University as visiting scholar".
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Kishore Mahbubani to retire as dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy".
  4. ^ "Rupture in South Asia" (PDF). UNHCR. Retrieved 2014-08-16. An estimated 14 million people were displaced at the time,...
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Jonas Patrick "Kashore Mabhubani, Mr. International", Asiaone
  7. ^ "International Advisory Council". Archived from the original on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  8. ^ "How (and why) should United States should help to build ASEAN economic community" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "East-West Dialogue, How (and Why) the United States Should Help to Build the ASEAN Economic Community". Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  11. ^ "". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. (Subscription required.)
  13. ^ "Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013". The Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Mann, James (22 February 2013). "Washington Post, February 22, 2013". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013.
  15. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. (Subscription required.)
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "Straits Times, 13 June 2014". Kishore Mahbubani's Big Ideas.
  18. ^ "Kishore Mahbubani, The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2011.
  19. ^ "Intellectuals". Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  20. ^ "Future of Capitalism: 50 people who will frame the debate -".
  21. ^ Top 100 Global thinkers Archived 31 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Kishore Mahbubani in Top 50 List of World Thinkers". NUS News.
  23. ^ "Foundation Trustees". Archived from the original on 31 August 2013.
  24. ^ "Asian Institute Of Finance".
  25. ^ "Gretchen Liu".
  26. ^ "Mahbubani undergoes double heart bypass". 3 April 2016.

External links[edit]