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Kishore Mahbubani was appointed Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on 16 August 2004 after having served 33 years in the Singapore Foreign Service (with postings[…]

The East is overtaking the West by adapting Western methods, Mahbubani says.

Question: What is fueling Asia’s growth?

Kishore Mahbubani: Well, I think the several factors are fueling their growth. One is, of course, that Asians have finally figured out, the seven pillars of Western wisdom that enabled the West to succeed. My first book was called ‘Can Asians Think?’ question mark, and the reason I wrote the book of studying the Asians you are so smart, why did it take you so long to catch up with the West, but now the good news is that they finally caught up with the West and by implementing their pillars of Western wisdom, like free market economics, mastery of science and technology, rule of law, meritocracy, pragmatism, education, cultural peace, and clearly you can see the impact that is having on Asian societies and all you have to do is remember that Asians make up 55% of the world’s population and the West makes up only 12% of the world’s population. So, if the Asians only perform half as well as the West does, they are going to have the big world’s biggest economies.

Kishore Mahbubani: Is this mimcry?

Well, I would say that - I would call it creative copying, instead of mimicry. The Asians have pragmatically implemented what works in their own societies, and it is not easy to implement practices that come from other societies, you always have to adapt them to your own society. The fact that Asian societies have been able to do that shows that they have reached a certain degree of competence in how to handle their economy and how to manage their societies and that shows this is not just purely about copying.