On 4-5 May the Director of CARUM and Executive Director of AEI, Professor Azirah Hashim, engaged in a series of meetings in Singapore. The meetings were concerned to discuss planning for the Asia Europe Conference - scheduled to be held at AEI on 3 - 4 August 2017 - and also the general development of CARUM and AEI. Professor Azirah was joined by Visiting Professor Milner - who was formerly Raffles Visiting Professor in the History Department at the National University of Singapore.
Professor Azirah and Professor Milner met with Professor Wang Gungwu and his wife, Margaret; Professor Kishore Mahbubani (Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore), Dr Yeo Lay Hwee (Director of the European Union Centre in Singapore), and Professor Huang Jing (Lee Foundation Professor on US-China Relations and Director of Centre on Asia and Globalisation (CAG) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy). Professor Azirah and Professor Milner also met briefly with Dr. TANG Siew Mun (Head of the ASEAN Studies Centre at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies).
Professor Mahbubani and co-author Jeffery Sng have just published (with NUS Press) an exciting new book on ASEAN - which argues that ASEAN presents "a thriving counter-example of civilizational coexistance". The book will also soon be published in Malaysia.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a miracle. Why?
In an era of growing cultural pessimism, many thoughtful individuals believe that different civilizations – especially Islam and the West – cannot live together in peace. The ten countries of ASEAN provide a thriving counter-example of civilizational coexistence. Here 625m people live together in peace. This miracle was delivered by ASEAN.
In an era of growing economic pessimism, where many young people believe that their lives will get worse in coming decades, Southeast Asia bubbles with optimism. In an era where many thinkers predict rising geopolitical competition and tension, ASEAN regularly brings together all the world’s great powers.
Stories of peace are told less frequently than stories of conflict and war. ASEAN’s imperfections make better headlines than its achievements. But in the hands of Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng, the good news story is also a provocation and a challenge to the rest of the world.