Kishore Mahbubani

Distinguished Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Kishore Mahbubani has dedicated five decades of his life to public service. In his 33 years as a Singapore diplomat, Kishore took on many challenging assignments, serving for example in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 1973/74 during the war. He also served two stints as Singapore’s Ambassador to the UN (1984-1989 and 1998-2004). He also held the position of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1998. He was also conferred the Public Administration Medal (Gold) by the Singaporean Government in 1998.

Kishore had an equally illustrious career in academia. He was appointed the Founding Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in August 2004. Despite his heavy administrative duties, Kishore proved to be a prolific author. He has published nine books, including Can Asians Think? and Has China Won?.

Kishore has received global recognition for his intellectual contributions, having been listed several times in the list of top global thinkers by Foreign Policy and Prospect Magazines. The citation for the US Foreign Policy Association Medal he received in June 2004 said: “a gifted diplomat, a student of history and philosophy, a provocative writer and an intuitive thinker.”

Kishore has held positions in several globally significant committees. He was the founding chairman of the nominating committee of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize (2009 to 2019). He has participated in the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos twenty times, serving also in several WEF committees. In April 2019, he was the second Singaporean to be elected as an honorary international member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which has honoured distinguished thinkers, including several of America’s Founding Fathers, since 1780.

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