By Kishore Mahbubani
Contrary to the existing view within the West that the 500-year dominance of Western civilization issues to it being the one common civilization, Can Asians Think? argues that different civilizations may perhaps but make equivalent contributions to the improvement and progress of mankind. Hailed as “an Asian Toynbee” and “the Max Weber of the recent Confucian ethic”, Mahbubani maintains to light up his principal arguments with new essays during this fourth edition.
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Corruption exists in both the democratic and nondemocratic societies of Asia (and indeed in other parts of the world). Asia’s Lost Millennium 45 To successfully root it out, the rule of law has to be more ﬁrmly embedded in Asian societies. Corruption is a particularly pernicious problem because it is so difﬁcult to document, except in the most egregious cases such as that of Ferdinand Marcos. It thrives at all levels. And the costs are not purely economic. They are also social and spiritual. They breed cynicism and disenchantment, sustaining a vicious cycle that has held Asian societies down: When there is no hope for change, why try?
Some Asian minds, including those of key policymakers, still linger in the feudal era. They see international relations as a zero-sum game. They have yet to learn from the lesson Japan and Germany absorbed after World War II: power and prosperity can be acquired peacefully. The political dynamic of West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia would become more comfortable if their leaders realised that peace is an essential condition for growth and prosperity in the modern world. Wars drive out investment dollars and kill (literally) talent.
The only correlation that is clear so far is that between good governance and resilience in the ﬁnancial crisis. Good governance is not associated with any single political system or ideology. It is associated with the willingness and ability of the government to develop economic, social and administrative systems that are resilient enough to handle the challenges brought about in the new economic era we are moving into. China provides a good living example of this. Its leaders are not looking for the perfect political system in theory.