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Mass movements and change • Diplomacy • Leadership • Healthcare in Asia

Issue 11 · July-Sept 2011

Column · Dean’s Provocations 4 Diplomacy: sunrise or sunset profession

Managing Editor Claire Leow, Editor Benjamin Tan,

Designer James Lee Cover Illustrator Paul Lachine Illustrators Paul Lachine and James Lee Editorial Advisory Board Suzaina Abdul Kadir, Eduardo Araral, Preeti Dawra, Darryl Jarvis, Astrid S. Tuminez and Stavros Yiannouka

The Hydra of Terror 10

Spectrum 7 Mobile activism in Asia: a catalyst for political change 10 Terror threats in the Post- Osama World 12 When the people lead: lessons from the 25th anniversary of the Philippines’ People Power revolution 14 Climate change and the media in Asia and Europe 16 The end of the railroad in Singapore: a photo essay Focus 21 WikiLeaks and the future of diplomacy 23 A British diplomat in Moscow 26 Diplomacy in the New Middle Ages 29 China-India: a new diplomacy for Asia’s giants 32 Public policy leadership and modern media 34 The problem that has been named 37 A holistic approach to formulating development policies

Editorial Office Research Support Unit (RSU) Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy 469C Oei Tiong Ham Building, Singapore 259772 +65 6516 5828 To offer feedback on, or contribute an article to Globalis-Asian, please email Global-is-Asian is available free online at No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Managing Editor © 2011, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS. Global-is-Asian is published quarterly.

In-depth 40 A (global) public policy primer

The views and opinions expressed in this publication reflect the authors’ point of view only and not necessarily those of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS. ISSN 1793-8902

A railroad comes to an end 16

Spotlight 43 Healthcare financing in Asia revisited 46 The Right to Health: access to primary healthcare - maternal and child health in Southeast Asia 49 China’s ailing healthcare system 51 Workshop on the Lancet Series on Health in Southeast Asia: what next? Executive Education 53 Bridging the leadership gap: DARE programme 55 Auditing in government

Diplomacy British-style 23 Holism versus Reductionism 37 The treacherous path of leadership 64

Alma Mater 57 Lee Kuan Yew and George Yeo join the School 58 Fostering diversity 60 Winning ways 61 Emulating lessons learnt at the LKY School Regular 62 Scholars without borders 66 Accolades Column 64 Six factors of leadership derailment

A new medieval diplomacy? 26

Diplomacy: sunrise or sunset profession Text • Kishore Mahbubani


iplomacy is the world’s second-oldest profession. We know that the world’s oldest profession will carry on until the end of history. By contrast, there are serious questions being asked about the future of diplomacy. Is it becoming a sunset profession?

Kishore Mahbubani is the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

There are many reasons for questioning the future of diplomacy. Firstly, relations among countries have become very complex and intertwined. In the past, countries only communicated with each other through their diplomats in their respective foreign ministries. Today, most government ministries meet their counterparts without going through their foreign ministries. The finance ministers meet annually at the International Monetary Fund meetings and elsewhere. The health ministers meet at World Health Organisation assemblies. And so on. Secondly, face-to-face meetings between among leaders have grown exponentially. Diplomacy was created in a time and era when leaders rarely, if ever, met. When the British diplomat Lord George Macartney called on the Chinese Emperor Qianlong in 1792, there was zero prospect of King George III meeting the Emperor of China. Even in more recent times, during the Cold War, for example, it was rare for the leaders of the two superpowers to meet in person. Between 1960 and 1980, there were only eight face-to-face meetings between the American President and his Soviet counterpart. By contrast, between 1990 and 2010, despite all the ups and downs, there were almost 40 face-to-face meetings between the American

President and his Chinese counterpart. Why have diplomats if leaders can meet face-to-face? Thirdly, in the past, ambassadors provided the main source of information to their own countries about the countries they were accredited to. Now they have to compete with modern media, which has generated an explosion of information. In his latest book, The Future of Power, Joseph Nye observes: “Information creates power, and today a much larger part of the world’s population has access to that power. The technological advances have led to a dramatic reduction in the cost of processing and transmitting information.” Indeed, when I served as Ambassador to the United Nations, I never tried to compete with news channels in providing information on breaking developments. In short, given all these developments, it might appear to be time for diplomats to consider closing shop and moving on to new professions. My forecast is that this will not happen anytime soon. There is a profound reason why diplomacy has survived as the world’s second-oldest profession. Diplomats continue to add value in many ways. Indeed they can now channel their resources more productively. Firstly, the explosion of information has paradoxically enhanced the value of diplomats. As Tony Brenton points out in his astute essay in this volume: “The press are often partial, sensationalist and herd-like”. Diplomats are still needed to provide their governments with balanced and nuanced analysis of major

Image: James Lee

developments. After making his observations above on the explosion of information, Nye adds: “Cue-givers become more in demand, and this is a source of power for those who can tell us where to focus our attention.” Diplomats make excellent cue-givers. Those who have any doubt about this should read the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. As Fareed Zakaria observed: “The cables also show an American diplomatic establishment that is pretty good at analysis.” The British scholar Timothy Garton Ash concurs: “My personal opinion of the (U.S.) State Department has gone up several notches. [W]hat we find here is often first-rate.” Secondly, with technology shrinking our world, we are denizens of a global village. Communities separated by vast geographical distances now essentially live increasingly interconnected lives. In the Great Recession of 2008, rural communities and town halls as far afield as Australia discovered they too had been exposed to the sub-prime bonds in the U.S. that threatened their financial health. However, it’s still easier to bridge geographical distances than cultural and psychological distances. There continues to be massive misunderstanding, for example, between the Islamic and Western world. Curiously both regard themselves as victims in their bilateral relationship. The Muslims point to centuries of Western colonisation, followed by decades of moral insensitivity to the loss of innocent Muslim civilian lives in Palestine and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. By contrast, after the 9/11 attacks in New York, the Western world, especially Americans, sees itself as a victim of terrorist attacks. And, as the essay by Graham Allison in this volume points out, many in the West fear bigger attacks waged in a war of ideology. Given this massive misunderstanding, the need for sensitive and sophisticated diplomats – Muslim, Western, or otherwise - who can build bridges across this chasm has never been greater. Thirdly, in this shrinking global village, the demand for global village governance has never become greater. Where the fate of the world once hung on a thread between two red phones

located in the White House and Kremlin in the days of the Cold War and the threat of mutual assured nuclear annihilation, that fate now lies enmeshed in a complicated web of trade, finance and regulation in an era of multi-lateral trade and cross-border lending in multiple currencies governed by governments, central banks and powerful financial institutions, subject to vagaries as diverse as freak weather and ‘flash trades’. Witness the chaos of 2008, when unseasonal climate change destroyed crops, raised food inflation, sparked export bans and induced barter trade. Or how a technological phenomenon called high-frequency trading wiped out 9 per cent of the U.S. stock market in minutes on 6 May 2010, with repercussions for a world with fragile financial accounts. At the same time, diplomats are not mere reporters. They are advocates. They also negotiate and conclude agreements, both bilaterally and multilaterally. Bilaterally, the single most important relationship is the U.S.-China relationship. The world would suffer if American and Chinese diplomats failed to do a good job of promoting understanding. Multilaterally, we need stronger institutions of global governance, in the UN, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, IMF and World Trade Organisation. All these organisations succeed or fail on the basis of many factors. However, from personal experience, I can confirm that the quality of diplomats makes a huge difference to the success or failure of negotiating treaties or conventions. Most countries send their best diplomats to work in the UN Security Council. The relationships they build are the lubricant that keeps the global multilateral organisations running, no matter how flawed the vehicles. In short, diplomacy is far from being a sunset enterprise, even though it is facing an unprecedented challenge that redefines its relevance. It is for a new generation of diplomats, including those of you in the Lee Kuan Yew School who choose this path, to write the new source code for the future. · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 5

Mobile activism in Asia: a catalyst for political change · Terror threats in the PostOsama World · When the people lead: lessons from the 25th anniversary of the Philippines’ People Power revolution · Climate change and the media in Asia and Europe · The end of the railroad in Singapore: a photo essay

Mobile activism in Asia: a catalyst for political change Technology has shaped the course of modern history, often in more ways than envisaged. Madanmohan Rao examines how governments and non-state actors alike have harnessed the power of ICT to achieve political ends.


rom the days of the telegram to the advent of mobile phones and the social media, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have had significant political impact on society. The telegram sent by British General Charles Napier in 1843 to his superiors after the colonial conquest of Sindh province in the Indian subcontinent had just one word: “Peccavi,” - Latin for “I have sinned” and a clever pun on the word Sindh. This was probably one of the first clever uses of coded language for political purposes, hinting that the general had exceeded his mandate to quell a rebellion by subjugating the whole province. In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini used cassette tapes to spread his revolutionary messages in Iran while in exile. The US-led Gulf War of 1990-1991 against Iraq marked the rise of another new media technology, cable television, most notably Cable News Network (CNN), to cover real-time breaking news. In 1989, Chinese student protesters, repressed by the government in the weeks prior to the Tiananmen Massacre, leaked developments to other provinces as well as the world via faxes, and in return, received encouragement by fax, after the government clamped down on the mass media for its coverage of the escalating tensions. The movement broadened and intellectuals and professionals joined the protest, to deadly effect and consequences. The use of the Short Message Service, or SMS, in 2001 to rally protesters in the Philippines to one meeting point to paralyse the capital and broaden the base of supporters ultimately forced thenpresident Joseph Estrada to capitulate. It drew attention to the power of humble text messaging as a mass mobilisation tool. The SMS had come of age in less than a decade of existence.

During the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003, activists worldwide embraced the Internet to mobilise opinion against the war effort. The threat of chemical warfare and ethical arguments against embedding journalists with troops limited the number of journalists at the frontline, paving the way for the rise of “citizen journalists” who blogged about developments to the world. By 2006, CNN devised iReports to encourage ordinary viewers to file eyewitness reports with photos and live videos, an acknowledgement of the reach and power of new ICTs. During the November 2008 siege of Mumbai, terrorists attacked multiple targets in the commercial heart of India, including two hotels, a railway station, a café, a Jewish centre and a hospital, underscoring the pervasive use of ICTs. The terrorists had found their way to their targets using GoogleEarth mapping technology available on the Internet and global-positioning satelite systems, keeping in touch with each other and their Pakistan-based handlers using Internet telephones to make the tracing of their calls harder. Amid the chaos of the synchronised attacks, micro-blogging service Twitter came to the fore as a source of information as well as misinformation, demonstrating the potency of the social media. Live telecasts of the police response and Twitter feeds, aided by Flickr photos posted online, helped the terrorists as much, if not more than, the powers-that-be and the public. ICTs emboldened the terrorists as they received constant feedback on the terror they had inflicted on Mumbai. The world came to grips with the attacks by watching cable television, checking SMSes and following live tweets. During the second Mumbai attack in July 2011, Twitter users played an important role in sending messages with links to a Google spreadsheet that featured a list of people from Mumbai and outside offering help. The spreadsheet was primarily passed around Twitter and Facebook to disseminate information. Earlier this year, mobile phones and the social media were instrumental in helping mass movements topple unpopular heads of state in Tunisia and Egypt in what has become known as “The · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 7

Mobile phones were instrumental in bringing about political change during the Arab Spring

Arab Spring”, unleashing similar demands among the populace of Jordan, Syria, Libya and Bahrain. There has been much speculation as to which governments might potentially be at risk of being toppled as a result of the heady mix of urban youthcentric movements, disaffection with their government, the high level of penetration of social media and mobile phones and their adeptness at harnessing them as sociopolitical tools. This development also provides a new take on the Youth Bulge Theory, a phenomenon coined by German social scientist Gunnar Heinsohn, which contends that societies with rapidly growing young populations often end up with rampant unemployment and large pools of disaffected youths who are more susceptible to recruitment into rebel or terrorist groups. “Countries with weak political institutions are most vulnerable to youth bulge-related violence and social unrest,’’ wrote Lionel Beehner for the Council of Foreign Relations in April 2007. ICTs are one modern tool of recruitment. Substitute ICTs for weapons and what you may get is a civil revolt of no less significant consequence.

Protestors gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the revolution of February 2011 that led to the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of search engine giant Google, observes: “What’s most important about the future (of new media) is that it is for the masses, not the elite.” Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, concurs, “Twitter is more than micro-blogging; it reduces the gap between awareness and engagement”, thus amplifying the course of events in real-time, both physically and virtually. And it is the interaction of online and mobile social networks with the power of television that creates the catalytic effect of change, according to historian Timothy Garton Ash. A number of advocacy movements already deploy new media as tools of socio-political change in areas, such as consumer empowerment, counselling for victims of substance abuse and violence, neighbourhood safety watches and citizen journalism. Research shows that while consumer and citizen participation in the social and mobile media is very active in Asia, the response of Asian companies and governments is more tepid, even conservative. Activists harness social media and mobile technologies differently. At a basic level,

users may circulate, forward and relay information. More sophisticated uses “mesh up” existing content, create new content, and collaboratively co-create content. The combination of online communication and offline “meet-ups”, where time and place can be coordinated in real-time by mobile phones, has been powerfully demonstrated by the “smart swarms” in the streets of Cairo. Governments often fail to keep up with the dexterity of such mass movements, often at their own peril. In the May 2011 Singapore General Elections, ICTs were deployed in the biggest way to date in any Singapore election and exploited by the opposition and wider citizenry to take advantage of the limited time window available for campaigning. The ruling party was deemed to be less nimble in harnessing the social media, despite its dominance of the traditional newspaper and broadcast media. This dichotomy emboldened a young electorate - an estimated 25 per cent of voters aged between 21 and 35, according to The New Paper, and a significant proportion of whom are technology-savvy, first-time voters - to air their views on a whole range of political

In remembrance of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death during the 2009 Iranian election protests was captured on video by bystanders and broadcast over the Internet. The video became a rallying point for the opposition and drew international attention.

“There has been much speculation as to which governments might potentially be at risk of being toppled as a result of the heady mix of urban youth-centric movements, disaffection with their government, the high level of penetration of social media and mobile phones and their adeptness at harnessing them as socio-political tools.” issues in cyber-space. More than 70 percent of Singapore’s mobile phone users have smartphones that allow them to access and disseminate web-based content quickly, according to the top three local service providers. Only Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have a higher smartphone penetration level. Though it is debatable how large a role the social media played in the ruling People’s Action Party’s reduced vote majority, it was a certainly a force that helped younger voters become more engaged with the political process.

The theoretical challenge in fully understanding and predicting mobile activism in Asia lies in the fact that there are five converging “families” of theories in mobile media. Mass media theories explain facts like cultivation effects and mainstream gatekeepers; telecom theories address the exponential power of networks; political communication theories address notions of propaganda, power and legitimacy; social media theories explain the new era of “mass selfcommunication” and accelerator/amplifier effects; and information science theories address multimedia aspects of information management and communication.

Image: Steve Rhodes

The challenge – and opportunity – for activists is to go beyond the use of mobiles and social media for swarming behaviour, create sustainable social movements and build long-term stable civil society organisations on top of them. The challenge for governments is to employ ICTs for overall national development while staying accountable and transparent to a new generation of digital natives who are inspired and empowered by mobile media. This will help governments stay relevant to their electorate. Change, though sometimes revolutionary in nature, need not always be tumultuous. Madanmohan Rao is the editor of “The Asia-Pacific Internet Handbook” and research project director of Mobile Monday, a global community of mobile industry innovators and professionals. He has spoken in over 75 countries around the world, and shuttles between Bangalore and Singapore. He can be reached at

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Terror threats in the

Post-Osama World Text • Graham Allison

The death of Osama bin Laden does not close the chapter on the era of mega-terror. Terror continues to have many faces, not all of which are Islamist in nature. Home-grown terrorists abound, with multiple targets outside the U.S.


he demise of Osama bin Laden marks a major milestone in the war against the deadliest terrorist group in history. It does not, however, mean an end to the new “era of mega-terror” initiated a decade ago by al Qaeda’s assault on 11 September 2001 that killed 3,000 people. Today, and for as far into the future as the eye can see, civilised people will live in a world in which super-empowered small groups can kill on a scale which was previously the exclusive domain of national governments.

While bin Laden is dead, his deputy and successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been al Qaeda’s advocate-in-chief of nuclear jihad. In a 300-page treatise entitled Exoneration published in 2008, Zawahiri argues that the death of millions of men, women, and children in a nuclear attack on the United States is a justifiable means to its ultimate end of establishing a global Islamic caliphate. Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative and head of the U.S. Department of Energy’s weapons of mass destruction and terrorism unit, argued in Islam and the Bomb, a report of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, that “Zawahiri’s fatwa in 2008 may have started the clock ticking for al Qaeda’s next largescale strike on America.” His ambitions have surely been amplified, not diminished, by the death of bin Laden. Unquestionably, al Qaeda’s core has been significantly degraded by a decade of war and focused attacks conducted by the U.S. and its allies around the world. During the same decade, however, the concept of jihad attacks by homegrown terrorists has taken root. Faisal Shahzad (the “Times Square Bomber”) is a good case in point. He lived in America for 13 years, earned an MBA, bought a home in a comfortable Connecticut suburb and owned a Mercedes, and became a U.S. citizen. Then one afternoon in May 2010, he packed his car with explosives, parked it in the middle of New York’s Times Square, and attempted to detonate a bomb. As Shahzad stated at his trial last June: “Until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking the U.S.” Fortunately, his plot to murder hundreds of innocents failed because of a technical glitch. But the question remains: what if the next Shahzad succeeds, this time with a nuclear bomb hidden in the rear of his car? The discovery in February this year of a plot by Saudi national Khalid Aldawsari, a college student in Texas, to attack U.S. nuclear

“Today, and for as far into the future as the eye can see, civilised people will live in a world in which super-empowered small groups can kill on a scale which was previously the exclusive domain of national governments.”

power plants serves as a vivid reminder that self-radicalised individuals’ aspirations are not limited just to car bombs. Last month’s attack in Norway by rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik is the latest reminder that ambitious individuals and small groups can conduct terrorist attacks that claim mass casualties. Breivik used fertiliser from his own farm to create a bomb that he detonated in downtown Oslo, killing eight people, then ferried to an island retreat where he killed 69 more with an automatic machine gun. The U.S. is not terrorists’ only target. Consider Bali (2002), Madrid (2004), London (2005), and Mumbai (2008). January’s suicide bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, coupled with last year’s discovery that two men had tried to sell 120 grams of highly enriched uranium to an operative posing as an Islamic extremist in Georgia, show Russia’s vulnerability to its own mega-terrorism threat. If a 20-year-old suicide bomber could kill nearly 40 people and injure 180 more at a bustling airport, and two men could smuggle fissile material across a border in a cigarette case, it requires little imagination to envision a nuclear attack that kills thousands. As the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism stated in 2008: “If one maps terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, all roads intersect in Pakistan.” Since then, the risk has escalated. Terrorist attacks in Pakistan claimed more than 2,500 victims in 2010, up 160 per cent from 2008.

Pakistani officials insist that the country’s nuclear arsenal is “200 per cent safe”, a dubious assertion given the Taliban raid on a Karachi naval base in May. If four Taliban fighters storm a facility located only 15 miles away from a nuclear-weapons storage site and hold off 100 commandos, rangers, and marines for 16 hours, what does that say about the country’s ability to secure its nuclear weapons? The biggest fear is that a Pakistani Bruce Ivins will acquire and use nuclear or biological material. Ivins was a U.S. government microbiologist who abused his access to dangerous materials to perpetrate the 2001 anthrax attacks, killing five people and endangering hundreds more. Pakistan has the world’s most rapidly expanding arsenal of nuclear weapons and stockpile of nuclear material. As an increasingly unstable country with growing numbers of Islamic extremists within its security ranks, the risk that the world’s deadliest weapon will end up in dangerous hands has escalated. On 11 September 2001, al Qaeda killed twice as many people as the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The terrorist threat shown by 9/11 did not die with bin Laden. The relentless advance of science and technology has inexorably placed the means of mass murder in the hands of more individuals. Mega-terror will remain a defining threat of the 21st century. Graham Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); founding dean of HKS; and a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense.

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When the people lead:

lessons from the 25th anniversary of the Philippines’ People Power revolution Text • Christopher Capozzola


n February 2011, the eyes of the world were peeled on the so-called “Arab Spring”, which brought millions of citizens to the streets as they challenged regimes across North Africa and the Middle East. Few paused to pay attention to headlines that same month in Manila, when Filipinos marked the 25th anniversary of the 1986 “People Power” revolution that dislodged the regime of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Such an oversight is a pity because the history of how U.S. officials responded to People Power offers valuable insights on how global leaders should — and should not — respond to grassroots movements abroad. Twenty-five years ago, the Philippines grabbed world attention. Ferdinand Marcos had been President of the Philippines since 1965 and earned a reputation among U.S. policymakers — Republicans and Democrats alike — as a reliable Cold War ally, despite the widespread corruption and political repression of his administration. Faced with social unrest and communist insurgency at home, Marcos declared martial law in September 1972. As the human rights movement emerged in Europe and the United States in the 1970s, Western activists publicised the criticisms levelled by Marcos’s political opponents. After Marcos’s leading political rival, Benigno Aquino, was gunned down at Manila International Airport in August 1983, popular unrest exploded. Labour unions, civil society groups and the Catholic church spoke out, armed insurgency gained strength in the countryside and capital flight precipitated an economic crisis of unparalleled proportions. For three years, the Philippines stood on the verge of revolution. Back in Washington, events soon outran the ability of American politicians to understand (let alone control) them, and the crisis exposed a rift over foreign policy within the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Two important lessons emerge: let the people challenge your worldview; and don’t apply the lessons of history too easily.

People Power Monument, Philippines

The Philippine Revolution showed that when people take to the streets, global leaders should listen to what the people are actually saying, even when that challenges their deeply held assumptions. Even as the Cold Warriors in the White House warned of Communist overthrow and pressed President Reagan to support his loyal Asian ally Marcos, dissenters

“Not only do we have to realise the limits of what we can actually accomplish in someone else’s country, we should also recognise that for any given outcome, it’s better that it happens through the actions of [people] themselves.” – Paul Wolfowitz

in Washington saw something else at work. Secretary of State George Shultz pressed the hardest, but behind him stood a chorus of neoconservative voices an ideological commitment to democracy and disdain for the Realpolitik of the previous generation. Their leader then was the 42-year-old Assistant Secretary of State for Asian Affairs, Paul Wolfowitz. Persuaded that Manila’s crowds represented widespread popular opposition rather than the provocations of a radical fringe, Wolfowitz impressed on Shultz the need to convince Reagan to stop supporting his friend and ally. Marcos’s obvious attempts to steal the 7 February 1986 election from leading opposition candidate Corazon Aquino, the widow of the slain Benigno Aquino, prompted the People Power uprisings and the key military defections that fatally undermined the regime. On 25 February, Marcos fled to exile in Hawaii. Reagan was bitter that Marcos had been “treated as shabbily as our country had treated another former ally, the Shah of Iran,” and probably felt Shultz and Wolfowitz were on the wrong side of history. But in the next few years, as a wave of democratisation swept over East Asia, Latin America, southern Africa, and Eastern Europe, it was clear that a new global politics — one that had formed in part on the streets of Manila — would rule the day. Reagan and his aides were not wrong to look to the past; policymakers should consider history as they respond to global events. But even as leaders sift through history for lessons, they should not expect the past to repeat itself. In 1986, critics complained that Reagan had an outdated sense of Cold War loyalty. But in 2003, few policy analysts asked whether Paul Wolfowitz — back in public service as Undersecretary of Defense

and one of the primary proponents of the War on Iraq — had relied too heavily or too readily on his memories of the Philippines’ popular uprising. By all accounts, including his own, Wolfowitz was mesmerized by People Power: by the sight of crowds on the streets; by Filipinos’ passionate commitment to electoral democracy; and by their peaceful overthrow of a hated dictator. The events of 1986 shaped his statecraft, with repercussions two decades later. People Power may have made Wolfowitz think that regime change would be easy, and that crowds would fill Firdos Square in Baghdad in the same way as they had gathered on Manila’s main superhighway. Saddam Hussein was at least as unpopular as Ferdinand Marcos, but this was a poor analogy. In Iraq, the institutions of civil society that might have laid the groundwork for U.S. intervention were not there: there was little in the way of critical press institutions, religious organisations, or civil society groups. Perhaps most importantly, Iraq lacked the long tradition of vigorously contested elections that are such a crucial part of Philippine political culture. Policy-makers bring a great deal of personal experience — and often a depth of historical knowledge — with them to their meeting rooms, but they rarely have time to analyse it critically. The second key lesson of People Power can be gleaned not in 1986, but in 2003. Global leaders who turn to historical comparisons in moments of crisis should pause to consider whether the analogies they make are truly applicable to the situation at hand. In 2011, mass movements for democratisation and regime change are

sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. Once again, events are moving faster than any policy-maker can understand, and again, the impulse is towards making historical analogies. But in all the comparisons made by the global press since January — the Arab Spring has been likened to the falling of the second Berlin Wall, the second Iran of 1978, another Tiananmen of 1989 — there has been no extended comparison to People Power in 1986. It is unfortunate these analyses have neglected the many linkages between People Power in 1986 and the events in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011. As in the Philippines, spontaneous mass movements in places as diverse as Syria, Egypt, and Libya are unified less by a shared vision of the future than by a unanimous antagonism towards an existing regime. In nations such as Egypt that maintained close ties with the United States, much of that opposition has been expressed in the language of anti-Americanism, a rhetoric that can just as easily be misread by jittery U.S. State Department officials who fear Islamic radicalism in 2011 in the same manner their predecessors had feared communism in 1986. Perhaps the most important message for global leaders is one that Paul Wolfowitz himself conveyed in a speech in late 1986, as the Philippines shifted from revolution to the slow and painful rebuilding of democratic institutions — a place where nations such as Libya and Egypt find themselves now. “One problem here is for Americans to exaggerate their role and to look for the biggest possible role they can play in … internal affairs,” he told an audience of public policy students at Tufts University. “Not only do we have to realise the limits of what we can actually accomplish in someone else’s country, we should also recognise that for any given outcome, it’s better that it happens through the actions of [people] themselves…” Humility, it seems, is the most crucial lesson for global leaders – and the hardest to learn. Christopher Capozzola is Associate Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently writing a history of Filipino soldiers in the U.S. armed forces in the 20th century.

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Climate change and the media in Asia and Europe Text • Tejas Ewing

Europe and North America have historically been responsible for the majority of global emissions but Asia’s rapid development puts it at the forefront of the debate on the factors affecting climate change and the challenges in tackling it. How can the media position itself in this debate?


limate change is an international threat with no geographical boundaries. Asia and Europe, home to 58 per cent of the world’s population, need to cooperate on climate change issues to reach a global and equitable solution to one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Recent negotiations have faltered largely because of disagreements over the relative responsibilities of developing and developed nations. The paradigm of common but differentiated responsibility has been much discussed. Still it has been difficult to reach a consensus on how to assign the roles. Europe and North America have historically been responsible for the majority of global emissions whereas Asia is potentially overtaking them as it lifts millions out of poverty through development. With this question in mind, more than 30 participants and energy experts representing key media in Asia and Europe gathered in Szentendre, Hungary, from 4 to 6 June for the 6th Asia-Europe Journalists’ Seminar. I was the moderator and rapporteur, and facilitated discussion of how the media can play a more effective role in increasing public awareness of the need to address the longterm challenge of climate change and formulate a global response. Participants represented leading media organisations in Asia and Europe, including the Times of India, China Daily, The Straits Times (Singapore), The Star (Malaysia), Kompass (Indonesia),

Radio Voice of Democracy (Cambodia), Chosun Ilbo (Korea), Nikkei (Japan), Vientiane Times (Laos), Irish Times, Lidove Noviny (Czech Republic), NRC Handeslblad (Netherlands), Kathimerini (Greece), De Standarrd (Belgium), Nepszabadsag (Hungary), Lyrtas (Lithuania) and Delo Slovenia. They took stock of recent trends in climate change negotiations and examined how the media can play a role in promoting a global response to the challenge. They acknowledged the complexity of international climate change negotiations and emphasised the importance of better public communication in the United Nations process. They examined the lessons learnt from international climate change negotiations, set out in Conferences of Parties (COP) discussions 15 and 16, and exchanged views on the implications of common but differentiated responsibilities for climate change. They also suggested ways to develop relevant coverage of climate change-related issues to resonate with local populations. Importantly, the journalists acknowledged the science of climate change as established by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, formed by the United Nations Environment Programme and World Meteorological Organization, and the Cancun Agreements signed on 11 December 2010. To foster improved local understanding of climate changerelated issues, the participants suggested ways that the media could work towards better communication of climate change and other related topics, including the need to look into the ideas of systemic transformation, existing and future plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the need to help developing nations protect themselves from the impact of climate change and build their own sustainable futures. Here are some ideas to improve media involvement and coverage:

• Climate change stories should be made relevant locally to include people, places and examples that help audiences understand their role in the challenge; • Climate change reporting should emphasise wider issues beyond the environment, by demonstrating cultural, social or economic consequences; • Journalists should aim to balance stories about the negative impacts and consequences of climate change with solutionsbased approaches and stories highlighting the opportunities presented by this global challenge; • The media can stimulate discussion on the ways in which climate change may spark the need for a systemic transformation of the global economy, including alternative models of economic growth and alternatives to the way global and local economies are measured, tracked and evaluated; • Journalists need access to better and localised information to reach the right audience, underlining the need for improved information sharing between the science community and the media; • The processes of climate change negotiations can be better explained to engage the public in what is often perceived as an obtuse process - the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has a responsibility to share this information with the media and the wider public;

“Recent negotiations have faltered largely because of disagreements over the relative responsibilities of developing and developed nations.” These recommendations represent the fruit of two days of in-depth discussions involving media specialists on climate change and environmental issues. Their active role may help them engage with the public in a way that improves understanding of climate change and how Asia and Europe can take different approaches, reflecting differing historical responsibilities and different current economic situations while still pursuing the same shared objective. Tejas Ewing is an expert on climate change, carbon trading and sustainable development. He consults with business, the third sector and government and has done extensive analysis on these topics. Some of his work can be seen at and he can be reached at

• Countries should fulfil agreed-upon Article 6 requirements to enhance their media outreach and help raise public awareness of climate change and international negotiations, meaning that member parties should actively help journalists publicise and disseminate information on these topics; • Journalists should work to avoid ‘false balance’ where the need for opposing voices in any given story gives excessive coverage to sceptics, who represent a minority, when covering climate change issues; at the same time, their reports should reflect any new developments in the science of climate change and the subsequent debate sparked by those developments; • Active participation from a wider and more diverse range of journalists must be encouraged, through proactive visa regimes and funding support for journalists from countries or organisations where costs are the prohibiting factor in effective coverage; • Media access at COP events should be improved, preferably with the press centre located at the same venue as the COP meeting, to facilitate media access to decision-makers who have an interest in explaining the significance of developments during protracted negotiations. Moreover, international media coverage of all COP events (including non-government organisations and side events) can be improved by hosting them at the same venue. · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 1 5

The end of the railroad in Singapore: a photo essay Text and images • Claire Leow


he end of the railway in Singapore came after 108 years of operation, the vestige of another era, harkening back to the height of the British Empire. The trains were charging first-class passengers 56 cents, according to the Straits Times (2 January 1903), to leave the original station on Tank Road to Kranji. The Tank Road station closed when the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station opened in 1932, the southernmost station of the railway line, after the agreement of the Railway Deviation of 1932. Governor Sir Cecil Clementi officiated at the opening of the station. The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, emblazoned with the acronym FMSR (Federated Malay States Railway), was meant to be the final point of a grand exclamation mark that was the British dream of an inter-continental transport network across Asian colonies. Located near the docks at New Harbour, today’s Keppel Harbour, it served as a gateway to the Pacific and Indian oceans and by extension, the far-flung colonies of the maritime empire. The architecture firm Swan & Maclaren was thought to have been inspired by Helsinski’s Central Station and Washington DC’s Union Station when it built the grand dame with its Art Deco and neo-classical elements, according to a guided tour by the Preservation of Monuments Board which now oversees the station’s development. An Italian sculptor from Florence passed through Singapore then, one Angelo Vannetti, and helped produce the four facades on the station, representing Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry to reflect the economy of the Federated Malay States. Yet

the green roof tiles of this western structure paid tribute to Chinese temples. One of the mainstays of the station was the comfort food and beverages provided by the Hasan brothers, Indian immigrants who provided Muslim fare. It is no wonder the station is now conserved as a national monument, a witness to history, the cultural crossroads of colonial Singapore and the narratives of the times. According to a 1918 Railway Transfer Ordinance, the operations transferred from FMSR to Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd., fondly known as KTM today. More than a century ago, the station even featured a telegraph office. By the time it closed on 30 June 2011, there were no longer pay phones in sight left given the prevalence of mobile handsets. The platform, measuring 1,200-feet long, was designed to accommodate mail trains, another throwback to a different age of communication. And in a nod to the class divisions of those times, third-class passengers boarded by a separate side door, the Straits Times reported. Many Malaysians who until recently held shuttle passes were able to come to work from Johor right into Singapore’s Central Business District from Malaysia’s southernmost state. We are the “lucky” ones who can miss the traffic jam on the Causeway, and can afford to get to Tanjong Pagar before getting to work. It will almost always be the same people who do this together. Some have been leading this lifestyle for 15-20 years. We are almost a community … We do what we do for a better life for our family and

ourselves. (“CC”, as seen on a blog, The Long and Winding Road, by Jerome Lim.) This is an important aside. The railway from Tanjong Pagar was always more than just a means of moving goods for an empire and to facilitate its efficient administration with a reliable mail service. It was a vital link between two peoples, once governed as a federation before Singapore became independent in 1965. It was almost as if the umbilical cord was finally severed on 30 June 2011, when both governments of Singapore and Malaysia agreed to a historic land swop. The loss was palpable to generations who commuted by train in the days when it was the cheapest means of transport, when the Malayan Peninsula was the idea of an overseas holiday destination, and those whose families bridged the Straits of Johor. Indeed, an entire generation who lived under the Japanese Occupation on both sides of the Straits had family, friends and allies along the railway stops. Segamat, Gemas, Kluang and Butterworth were not just train stops or Malaysian towns but a lifeline for many. For 79 years, Tanjong Pagar was the departure point from Singapore to Malaysia by rail, first powered by coal and then by diesel, with generations raised to understand that this was Malaysian land on Singapore sovereign domain, an alien concept to many. Singapore then moved the immigration and customs from the station to Woodlands in 1998 and insisted Malaysia do the same, to no avail. Between August 1998 and June 2011, it was a unique experience to buy a train ticket from the station, and “enter” Malaysia at Tanjong

Pagar at its southernmost point before “leaving” Singapore at the Woodlands checkpoint at its northernmost end. This very quirk alone, which confused scores of citizens, Malaysians and tourists alike, became the conversational ice-breaker between strangers and without fail, the state of a discourse on the history of these two neighbours and their shared legacy of British rule. Uniquely, the departure stamp would be on the immigration card, and not the passport. These, too, have become items for souvenir hunters. On its way, the trains would pass by the many icons of Singapore’s history – the early public housing blocks in Bukit Merah, Queenstown and Tanglin Halt, the industrial estates at Ayer Rajah, and the black-and-white houses of Wessex Estate and Jalan Hang Jebat that housed British personnel. It wended its way through lush wooded areas past the Alexandra Hospital, which was the British Military Hospital for the British Far East Command when the advancing Japanese army bayoneted 250 patients and staff in the infamous February 1942 massacre. The carriages then rolled through beautiful unspoilt nature to pause briefly at Bukit Timah Railway Station to allow trains to pass on the one-track line. Here too was a capsule in time – the only station where key tokens were still exchanged as a safety precaution to allow only one train on the track every time. “It’s very old this British system, but it works,” said Atan Ahmad, the last stationmaster of Bukit Timah, as he reminisced over the old ways and old days. “Sometimes, the simple things are

best.” As Singapore developed from the slums of the 1960s to the metropolis it is today, it was the charms of the railway that kept the trainspotting fans, especially the young with their own fan club, coming back. Bakelite switches, a slow whirring fan, an old safe that has outlived its time, a bicycle, and always, the Malaysian flag – these decorated the humble cottage that is the station and the huts along the way north to mark the railway crossings at Bukit Gombak, Choa Chu Kang, Stagmont Ring Road, Sungei Kadut and Kranji. The trains would pass another Singapore landmark on its way north – the Ford Motor Works factory. It was here that the British army surrendered Malaya to the Japanese, who renamed the island Syonan-To (“Southern Island of the Showa period”). The railway line ended at Woodlands, near what was once the British naval base for the Royal Navy, HMS Sembawang, and Royal Air Force Sembawang, both key to the British Far East forces. On June 5, the last Eastern & Oriental Express train from Singapore to Bangkok left, another milestone to mark the end of an era. It is perhaps ironic now that after the KTM and E&O trains have fallen silent and the land returned to Singapore, many fans who have walked the spine feel less connected to it than when the trains chugged along noisily and KTM staff – the men and women in blue – could be counted on for their warmth and hospitality. The fans have rallied and lobbied the government for a Green Corridor to preserve a unique natural link from south to north of the island, a way to entwine the various Park Connectors in Singapore.

On the last train out, driven by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar of Johor to ferry his people home one last time, a woman in KTM blue leaned out of a carriage to scream “Goodbye, Singapore!” all the way from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands. When she turned back in from the open door, her face was lined with tears, one hand on her dishevelled scarf and the other clutching her passport tightly to her chest. “Singapore, my second home,’’ she said softly to no one in particular as the train slowed down towards the border one last time. “It has been a great journey.” I did not ask her name as she fell into my shoulders in tears. We were all of the same sentiment on the night of 30 June 2011. In the end, for all the history and grand devices of our former colonial master, the greatest legacy of the empire was perhaps to unite two peoples. Bilateral ties were frequently prickly but between the peoples, the ties bind. One railway, two countries, unbreakable bonds.

(overleaf, clockwise): Kranji, the last crossing before the Woodlands checkpoint (main picture); Bukit Timah stationmaster Atan Ahmad hands a key token to a passing train; two flags aloft at Bukit Timah Railway Station; Atan about to clear a southbound train for safe passage as the northbound waits its turn; the signals shed at Bukit Timah; the Singapore sign at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station; KTM staff Roslan reminisces; KTM staff and passengers of the last E&O train to leave Singapore.

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WikiLeaks and the future of diplomacy · A British diplomat in Moscow · Diplomacy in the New Middle Ages · China-India: a new diplomacy for Asia’s giants · Public policy leadership and modern media · The problem that has been named · A holistic approach to formulating development policies

WikiLeaks and the future of diplomacy WikiLeaks will lead to more secrecy, not less. Text • Simon Chesterman


s Voltaire famously observed, when a diplomat says ‘yes’, he means ‘perhaps’. When he says ‘perhaps’, he means ‘no’. If he says ‘no’, he is not a diplomat.

Such diplomatic niceties are dependent on the discretion and nuances that help improve cordial relations with host governments. To be useful to one’s home government, however, the diplomat must be candid. The line between these two discourses is a thin one but can be maintained through the security of confidential communications and an element of wilful blindness. For centuries, this was done through the inviolability of the diplomatic pouch. In a world of electronic communications, however, diplomatic cables must pass through many more virtual hands — and, if intercepted - can be shared instantly with the entire world. WikiLeaks is a symptom of structural changes in the management of information today. The guerrilla journalism website was created in 2006 and capitalised on the decentralised, anonymous, and user-driven nature of the Internet. Decentralisation makes it hard to shut down, while anonymity enables the protection of sources. The userdriven nature encourages those sources to come forward. These virtues of the Internet can also be its vices. Decentralisation undermines

“For centuries, confidential government communication was done through the inviolability of the diplomatic pouch.”

meaningful accountability. Anonymity enables the avoidance of responsibility. And being user-driven leaves quality control to the audience with limited means of moderation. Nevertheless, WikiLeaks was soon acknowledged as an important phenomenon, notably for exposing human rights abuses. It won Amnesty International’s New Media award in 2009 for the documents it published on extra-judicial killings in Kenya, while the London-based Index on Censorship organization gave WikiLeaks a ‘Freedom of Expression Award’. Wikileaks rose to international prominence in 2010 after it released a video entitled Collateral Murder which showed U.S. helicopters firing on Iraqi civilians in the ongoing war there. Detractors argued that the very title showed WikiLeaks’ bias in taking events out of context. WikiLeaks later released huge volumes of field reports

from the war fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and, in a nod to the continued relevance of traditional media, reached out to outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian and other major papers to release a trove of 250,000 State Department cables allegedly obtained by U.S. Private Bradley Manning. That information dump continues to offer fascinating insights into the workings of the U.S. State Department that will keep foreign policy wonks and conspiracy theorists busy for months. Much of what has been reported is not ‘news’ in the traditional sense but embarrassing gaffes – truths not meant to be shared, let alone broadcast. Who could have guessed that the Americans found Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi ‘vain’ or regarded Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe as a ‘crazy old man’? But underlying these various tidbits of information is the larger question of whether governments should be able to keep secrets. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange argues that the answer is no, and that greater transparency “creates a better society for all people”. This begs the question of why governments keep secrets at all, and whether those reasons are justified. The task of keeping those secrets frequently falls to intelligence services, · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 2 1

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

which tend to focus on the protection of three types of information. The first is to protect their sources and methods in order to remain effective. When The Washington Times reported in 1998 that the National Security Agency was able to monitor Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone, for example, the world’s most wanted terrorist leader stopped using it. Secondly, the identities and activities of a service’s operational staff should be withheld to ensure their safety and help them do their jobs. Following WikiLeaks’ release of tens of thousands of documents on the Afghan war in July 2010, a Taliban spokesman told British journalists that the group was “studying the report” with a view to identifying and punishing anyone found to have collaborated with U.S. forces. Thirdly, information provided in confidence by foreign governments or intelligence services must be closely held to avoid embarrassing the provider of the information and reducing the likelihood that information will be shared in future. A lasting consequence of the most recent leak will be circumspection when sharing intelligence with the United States. In reality, of course, governments and intelligence agencies have many more layers of secrecy. Avoiding embarrassment may at times not only uphold the national interest but also protect the careers of

politicians and bureaucrats. In other circumstances, it may be prudent to avoid revealing how much — or how little — is known about a given situation. WikiLeaks sees itself as part of the tradition of the media holding governments accountable for abuses. The role of the Fourth Estate was particularly important during the second Bush Administration. Revelations of torture, extraordinary rendition, and unwarranted electronic surveillance all depended on investigative journalism of a kind now threatened by budget cuts and the relentless ‘live’ nature of the new media cycle. Where investigative journalism depends on quality, WikiLeaks distinguishes itself by the sheer quantity of the data being dumped on the Internet, which makes it impossible for thorough analysis and examination of potentially damaging information. Assange’s response to criticism of Collateral Murder was to release unfiltered information on the assumption that this would deflect accusations of bias. The threshold for exposure is no longer wrongdoing of the scale that coined the term ‘Watergate’ and all the subsequent ‘-gates’. Instead, government officials are now on notice that every document may potentially be leaked and published worldwide, be it by a technical glitch or by a disgruntled co-worker.

The immediate consequence in the era of WikiLeaks, therefore, is not more transparency. Perversely, it will be greater secrecy. The message that is almost certainly going through every major power is: be careful what you commit to writing. In place of candid assessments and provocative analysis, many important decisions will now be made based on oral briefings and meetings that are not recorded in minutes. Decision-makers will be wary of openness even with their closest staff. Such self-censorship may lead to poorer decision-making and less accountability for the decisions being made. It seems a high price to pay for gossip. Candour has never been a diplomat’s strong suit, as Voltaire’s aphorism makes clear. Yet the difficulty of keeping secrets now means that diplomats will not only be evasive with their counterparts but also their colleagues – and, perhaps, even themselves. Simon Chesterman is Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore, and Global Professor and Director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Programme. His book, One Nation Under Surveillance: A New Social Contract, was published by Oxford University Press earlier this year.

A British diplomat in Moscow “There is nothing dramatic in the success of a diplomatist. His victories are made up of a series of microscopic advantages: of a judicious suggestion here, or an opportune civility there; of a wise concession at one moment, and a far-sighted persistence at another; of sleepless tact, immoveable calmness, and patience that no folly, no provocation, no blunder can shake.” - Lord Salisbury Text • Tony Brenton


ord Salisbury was British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary at the end of the 19th century, when perhaps the profession of diplomacy was at its peak. A handful of European great powers dominated global politics, eyeing each other’s every move in a constant struggle for power, prestige and prosperity at the height of the Industrial Revolution. The key intermediaries in this contest were the diplomats, whose task was to report, interpret and negotiate in a manner to ensure that the national interest was best served in this great global competition. In the climate of the times, an ambassadorial aside here or a diplomatically adjusted nuance there could alter the course of history. Since then, the reputation of diplomacy has taken something of a tumble. The world is no longer dominated by a handful of great powers. A host of other important international actors have emerged, from businesses to non-governmental organisations. With the advancement of technology and the advent of real-time news, governments need no longer depend on their embassies to glean what is going on outside their borders. Heads of Government now regularly speak to each other and negotiate directly, rather than communicating through their ambassadors. Such has been the fall

in status that a U.S. diplomat once lamented that members of his profession were no more than “cookie pushers in striped pants”. This is hyperbole. Ambassadors may no longer make war and peace, but they still have an important job to do. I was British Ambassador in Moscow from 2004 to 2008, a difficult time in British-Russian relations. Growing authoritarianism in Russia had alienated much of the British public and political elite. The UK became home to a number of prominent Russian exiles whom the Russians badly wanted to, but could not, extradite. A former Russian citizen, Alexander Litvinenko, was murdered in London in a way that raised strong suspicions of Russian intelligence agency involvement. And Russia was bringing pressure to bear on a number of major British investment projects deemed as having been granted unjustifiably favourable terms. My experience during this time shows the wide range of roles a modern ambassador still has to play. First, there is the basic role of a local reporter. The existence of a prolific international press is no substitute for well-informed diplomatic reporting. The press are often partial, sensationalist · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 2 3

Image: James Lee

“Such has been the fall in status that a U.S. diplomat once lamented that members of his profession were no more than ‘cookie pushers in striped pants.’ ”

and herd-like. Over the time I was in Moscow, they painted a comprehensively black and negative picture of events there. While their facts were usually right, their balance was wanting. I found myself having regularly to remind British business and British ministers of other sides to the story. Rapid Russian economic growth offered commercial opportunities that should not be overlooked. Much as we might disagree with Russia on some issues (such as the Litvinenko case), there were others (such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Islamic fundamentalism) where we should collaborate. And even on issues where we disagreed (such as Russian demands that our cultural arm, the British Council, close down most of its Russian offices), it was important for British ministers to understand that the vast majority of informed Russians were with us, and not their own government. One particular instance where accurate reporting was crucial was during the 2008 Georgian war, which the press instantly blamed on Russian aggression. My embassy worked diligently to persuade British ministers that this was not in fact the case. Secondly, my role was to communicate British views both to the Russian authorities and, occasionally, the Russian people. As relations got worse and other lines of communication fell silent, as was the case of direct talks between our Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers, I found more and more of this fell to me. Some of it was mutually constructive. Thus, in 2005, with the UK holding the EU Presidency, I was able to discuss with the Russians some amendments to their proposed NGO law to bring it in line with European norms. Some of it was more confrontational. In the run-up to Russia’s 2006 G8 Summit, the UK was determined to make it clear that our links with the Russian government in no way detracted from our support for Russian civil society. After I made my view known in a public speech, I was hounded by a Kremlinsponsored youth group for months after. Similarly, I had to take a firm public stand against Russian pressure on the British Council. And not all of this activity was political. When a major British company found its Russian operations subject to such intense Russian official pressure that it contemplated closing down, I was able to warn the Kremlin of the likely costs of their action and thus ease the way towards a solution.

Thirdly, ambassadors and embassies play an important symbolic role. They are most immediately in the line of fire when governments want to display disapproval of other governments’ actions. The pressure I was placed under after my civil society speech is a small example of this. A much more significant one is provided by our reaction to the Litvinenko murder. Having identified the likely murderer (a former KGB agent, living in Moscow), we pressed for his extradition, and were refused. We then imposed a range of sanctions on Russia’s intelligence and other agencies – the most eye-catching of which was to expel a number of diplomats from their London Embassy (which, as we had to expect, resulted in a number of “tit-for-tat” expulsions from my Embassy in Moscow). This brought home to the Russian authorities and public in the clearest possible way our anger at the murder, and our determination that such a thing should not be allowed to happen again. I do not want to overstate how dark my time in Moscow was. Despite the political difficulties, I made many close friends there and remain an enthusiast for a country whose culture and people are unique, and which only escaped from Communist autocracy 20 years ago. Undoubtedly UK-Russian relations have improved significantly since I left Moscow in late 2008. Once again our Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers are in regular direct contact, commercial links are in good order, and the British Council is expanding its activities. But even in these less confrontational times, I am sure that my successor is having to remind British ministers and business that the press picture of Russia is not complete, and she has to convey to Russian officialdom our views and concerns on diverse issues from enhanced economic cooperation to breaches of human rights, and be seen as “the face of Britain” in wider Russian society. She is no more a mere cookie pusher than I was. And one can be certain that she draws upon exactly the reserves of “persistence ... tact ... calmness ... and patience” that Lord Salisbury recommended. Sir Tony Brenton served as British Ambassador to Moscow from 2004 to 2008. He is now a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, and a regular press commentator on international affairs. He is currently writing a book on Russian history.

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Diplomacy in the New Middle Ages The art of diplomacy in the 21st century is oddly reminiscent of the Middle Ages, argues Stavros N. Yiannouka.


he world is entering a new Middle Age, an interregnum between two well-defined historical eras. In European history, the middle ages denote the 1,000 or so years between the fall of the Roman Empire in the West and the rise of the nation-states of modern Europe. Traditionally the era has been viewed in a negative light as a time of ignorance, religious fanaticism, widespread lawlessness and extreme violence. The historical events most often associated with the period include the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Black Death, the plague epidemic of the 14th Century that wiped out a third of Europe’s population. But above all the period is remembered for its socio-economic model, feudalism, a system that bonded the majority of people to the land as serfs, barely able to scratch out a living and always at the whim and mercy of their masters, the infamous original robber Barons. Although the negative stereotypes about the Middle Ages contain more than just an inkling of truth, in more recent times scholars have critically reexamined this period and presented it in a more nuanced fashion. The first aspect of this reexamination positions the Middle Ages in a wider, global context and dismisses the extreme Euro-centric views that informed earlier analyses. For example, John Julius Norwich argued that contrary to what generations of historians from Edward Gibbon onward believed, European civilisation did not end with the fall of the Roman Empire in the west in 476 A.D. Indeed, the Roman Empire in the east, with its capital at Constantinople (Istanbul) would remain an important centre of power in Europe for

centuries to come. And beyond the narrow confines of Europe and the Mediterranean, civilisation continued to flourish across Asia from Persia to China. For example, anthropologist Jack Weatherford has argued that the conquests of Genghis Khan and his successors in the 13th Century created the first true era of globalisation, where goods and people could flow securely across the Eurasian continent along the fabled Silk Road linking China to Europe. Indeed, so widespread was the reputation of Genghis Khan as a wise and just ruler, that the medieval ruler, Geoffrey Chaucer, has the Great Khan as the protagonist of one of his Canterbury tales: Heere bigynneth the Squieres Tale. At Sarray, in the land of Tartarye, Ther dwelte a kyng, that werreyed Russye, Thurgh which ther dyde many a doughty man. This noble kyng was cleped Cambynskan, Which in his tyme was of so greet renoun, That ther was nowher in no regioun So excellent a lord in alle thyng. The second aspect of the reexamination concerns the role of medieval, non-state institutions, such as the Roman Catholic Church and its monastic orders; the Free Cities and their merchant guilds; and even the much-maligned institution of feudalism itself. In The Origins of Political Order, Francis Fukuyama credits these institutions with providing effective checks and balances on the powers of Kings and thereby laying the foundations for the rule

Image: Paul Lachine

of law, arguably the most important governance innovation of all. In Fukuyama’s narrative, the institution of feudalism was, at least in theory, less a form of bondage, than a system of reciprocal obligations, social contracts if you will, as binding on the King as they were on the lowliest serf. Recent research backed by archaeological evidence suggests that the quality of life of Western European serfs was significantly better than previously thought. And according to Jeffrey Singman, although life was hard, there was still plenty of opportunity for leisure and even enterprise and social mobility. The third and final aspect of this reexamination directly challenges the popular notion that medieval societies were in all respects ‘backward’ when compared with the societies of Ancient Greece and Rome that preceded them. While it is true that more theoretical forms of knowledge and scientific enquiry were confined to the monasteries and the first few universities, medieval Europe spawned significant improvements in applied knowledge and technology. Not surprisingly, given the weakness of official state power, the technologies of war improved considerably with the adoption of the stirrup, the development of pattern-welded steel and of course the introduction and use of gunpowder. Interestingly enough, at least two of these technologies – the stirrup and gunpowder — are known to have originated in China, which opens up the intriguing possibility that knowledge and ideas flowed along the Silk Road just as freely as people and goods. However, progress was not confined to warfare alone. Agricultural productivity improved markedly with the introduction of the three crop rotation system: an innovation

that allowed Europe’s population to expand rapidly in the centuries before the Black Death. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the course of world history, technologies for navigating the Earth’s oceans improved dramatically, particularly after the introduction of the magnetic compass and its extensive adoption in Europe starting with the maritime Republic of Venice. Armed with this new technology and prompted by the collapse of the Mongol Empire – which resulted in the effective closure of the Silk Road — as well as the consolidation of Ottoman power in the Eastern Mediterranean, Western Europe’s monarchs and merchants began their search for alternative routes to India and China. Within 40 years of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias would round the Cape of Good Hope (1488) and open up a direct sea link between Western Europe, India and South East Asia. And perhaps most infamously, the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus, having been commissioned by the King and Queen of Spain to look for an alternative route to the Indies, would stumble upon the ‘New World’ in 1492. Once again, the compass was likely brought to Venice by the merchant explorer Marco Polo on his journey to and from the court of Kublai Khan. Now what does this potted tour of medieval history have to do with diplomacy in the 21st Century and why will this Century and those that follow resemble the Middle Ages? To begin with, as during the Middle Ages, the world will continue to globalise; and even though there may be temporary setbacks, the · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 2 7

“As during the Middle Ages, those actors that succeed will need to harness the powers of human ingenuity to innovate and adapt their societies and organisations. They will be open and outwardlooking, ready to learn, beg, steal or borrow new technologies as well as new approaches to governance and business organisation.”

story of European exploration recounted above demonstrates that societies will sooner or later find a way to reengage and do business with one another. Secondly, the world is about to undergo a significant transition away from the modern world dominated by the industrial nation-state. While many commentators have in the past greatly exaggerated the relative decline of the nation state, it is clear that it remains the preeminent actor on the national and international stages. That said, the nation-state will increasingly have to share the limelight with a multiplicity of non-state actors: from corporations and foundations, to universities and multi-lateral and nongovernmental organisations. In addition to sharing the stage with non-state actors, the size, organisation and form of nation-states will vary significantly just as they did in the Middle Ages. Large, strong states like China and the United States will coexist alongside regional agglomerations of smaller states such as the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Nations. And, the City State will again become a viable form of state organisation as the globalisation of trade and investment reduces the need for agricultural hinterlands. Finally, the twin forces of globalisation and transition will create considerable upheaval. Old threats like pandemics and new threats like climate change will pose challenges to both state and nonstate actors. Some will succeed in overcoming these challenges and some will fail. As during the Middle Ages, those actors that succeed will need to harness the powers of human ingenuity to innovate and adapt their societies and organisations. They will be open and outward-looking, ready to learn, beg, steal or borrow new technologies as well as new approaches to governance and business organisation. The New Middle Ages will therefore also be a period of opportunity that will position humanity for its next great leap forward. What then will the art and science of diplomacy look like in the New Middle Ages? Firstly, diplomacy will become multi-dimensional, covering a range of relationships. Traditional relations among states will

continue to be the principal focus of diplomacy but relations between states and non-state actors as well as those among nonstate actors will be important supplements. In this regard, therefore, the practitioners of diplomacy will multiply beyond the members of the official diplomatic corps, even though many of these individuals will not necessarily be aware that what they are actually doing is engaging in diplomacy. Secondly, the subject matter of diplomacy will by definition shift away from power politics towards a mixture of collaboration and competition across a range of activities from business to education. Power politics will of course not disappear and it will not be the principal focus of diplomacy for all but a select few representing the interests of the Great Powers of the day. Finally, the role of the professional diplomat will need to change. In addition to sharing the stage with a set of other ‘quasi-diplomats’, the professional diplomat will need to act less as the formal representative of his or her government in a given territory and more as the coordinator and facilitator for a range of interactions and exchanges. Moreover, the geographic focus of diplomacy may have to be supplemented by a functional focus – for example on trade, security, health, education, investment — that operates at a regional or global level. In this regard, Singapore has been something of a pioneer as its ‘diplomatic’ initiatives have long transcended the activities of the foreign ministry. Agencies such as the Economic Development Board have shown how a non-traditional approach to diplomacy can yield spectacular results. The move towards more diplomacy is a welcome development. As a general rule, the more interactions and exchanges there are among nations and people, the greater the potential for collaboration and the avoidance of conflict. Stavros N. Yiannouka is Executive Vice-Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

China-India: a new diplomacy for Asia’s giants Kanti Bajpai examines the strategic, diplomatic, economic and environmental aspects of ties between the two Asian behemoths.

Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China

Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

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hina and India account for 40 per cent of the world’s population and are growing faster than any of the other major economies. The future of these two countries is of global significance. Will the two Asian giants manage their relationship in an orderly fashion or will they compete fractiously to the detriment of the world at large? As things stand, the relationship is evenly poised but in need of sagacious long-term diplomacy.

China’s rise has been meteoric. It is now a global superpower, projected to surpass the United States by 2016 in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. India’s rise over two decades has positioned it to overtake Japan in PPP terms in another 10-20 years and catch up with the U.S. in less than 30 years. But their ascendency is not inevitable. They face a variety of social, demographic, technological, environmental and political constraints, as well as international impediments. For one, China and India fought a war in 1962 and have not solved their simmering border conflict. Their rise to power could lead to further contention if it is not managed astutely. Widening Spheres of Influence With the economic rise of China and India, four developments will follow that could adversely affect bilateral ties. First of all, as rising powers, both countries are investing more heavily in military power and will continue to do so. Going by the size of their defence budgets and imports of major weaponry, they are already on the path of militarisation. Over the past five years, they have exchanged leads as the largest arms importer. While added military capability is a legitimate means of deterrence, military ambitions also deepen suspicions about each other’s intentions. Secondly, with the rapid growth in economic and military power, both countries have become more ambitious internationally and are vying for influence in Asia and beyond, in the Gulf, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and even in Europe. The scope for them to compete and potentially collide is wider. Thirdly, their growing economies escalate demand for four strategic resources – food, water, energy, and minerals. As these commodities become scarce, India and China are poised to compete for key resources in various parts of the globe. Fourthly, higher production and consumption by these two giants also translate into greater pollution, be it of the atmosphere, soil, or

water. These are factors for each to ponder over as the byproducts of their long-term economic development that could complicate bilateral ties. China and India’s carbon emissions are an international concern. They could, additionally, become a bilateral worry if each accused the other of not doing enough to curb emissions. Soil damage will hurt domestic food production and could cause them to look elsewhere for food supplies, once again bringing them into contention. The two countries also share river waters. All of India’s great northern rivers, except the Indus system, originate in China. Chinese water pollution (as well as water diversion to the northern provinces) could become a danger for downstream India. Strategic Issues In addition to these four challenges, there are a number of strategic and diplomatic issues that divide them: China’s support for Pakistan; India’s tilt towards the United States; Chinese troop incursions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and its refusal to recognise the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of India; the Dalai Lama’s presence in India; and Beijing’s unwillingness to unequivocally back India’s claim to permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. There are aspects of the rapidly growing economic relationship that are also becoming fractious. India’s trade deficit with China amounted to US$20 billion in 2010, and China is upset that Chinese companies are kept out of certain sectors of the Indian economy, such as construction and infrastructure, with its workers denied visas. Finally, with great power comes great responsibility. China and India will increasingly be expected to take the lead on a number of global issues other than climate change – the world economy, nuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism, religious extremism, transnational crime, and humanitarian and natural disasters. How they step up to the plate will also add nuance to their bilateral ties and international standing. Revisiting Bilateral Ties Is conflict between China and India more or less inevitable? Have the two governments built a system of bilateral interaction that can deal with contention? China-India interactions are built around four major pillars, which have proved fairly resilient and provided stability.

“The China-India relationship is a crucial third pivot of a nascent world order, but it is strikingly underdeveloped.”

The first pillar is the border negotiations. Chinese and Indian negotiators have met more than 20 times since the early 1990s to resolve their differences. While progress has been painfully slow, the commitment to talks has been vital in limiting conflict. That the doors to dialogue remain open is a strategic plus. The second pillar is a series of confidence-building measures (CBMs) intended to reduce misunderstandings between the two militaries. These include notification of, and limitations on, military exercises, forces, and other defence activities along the border; meetings between local commanders; hotlines between border authorities; agreements on air intrusions; military-to-military talks; and interactions between strategic studies institutes. The two sides have also held a security and defence dialogue for several years, and, more recently, have organised joint military exercises. These steps are key to reducing misunderstanding and building mutual trust. The third pillar is an unprecedented level of bilateral meetings through summits. Since 1988, Chinese and Indian Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, and high officials in the foreign and defence ministries have met on a regular basis. There is therefore a growing level of personal contact between key decision makers. In addition, Indian and Chinese leaders and officials have met in multilateral and ‘mini-lateral’ settings – on the sidelines of larger multilateral gatherings, such as the UN and G-20, and in a range of smaller forums like the East Asian Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (where India is an observer), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (where China is an observer), the BRICS summit (Brazil-RussiaIndia-China-South Africa), and the India-China-Russia summit. These layers of contacts help hone relationships with each other and their standing among peers. Finally, the two countries have rapidly expanded their economic relationship primarily through freer trade policies. India-China trade has gone from US$200 million dollars in the early 1990s to US$60 billion in 2011, a 300-fold increase. While India is running a large deficit, and there have been complaints on the Indian side about Chinese ‘dumping’, the two sides regard the burgeoning twoway trade as an additional anchor to the relationship. The deficit could become a more serious problem eventually, but at this point the volume of trade, whatever its structure, is welcomed by both sides because it intermeshes them and gives them a reason to maintain stability.

Sticking Points Will the four pillars of border negotiations, CBMs, summitry, and trade prove sufficient for the challenges ahead? Clearly, the border negotiations and CBMs will help in preventing a military clash as the two sides modernise their land forces. Yet, there remains the problem of air, naval, and nuclear forces. Both air forces are ramping up and will have sophisticated long-range aircraft. China’s naval expansion and plans to enter the Indian Ocean area could precipitate incidents at sea. And the two countries have never discussed nuclear weapons, largely because Beijing is not inclined to do so. While Chinese and Indian leaders and policy makers meet more frequently, they have not yet focused on their growing involvement in East and Southeast Asia, the Gulf, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, where they are competing for food, energy, minerals, and markets. Nor have they had any kind of serious discussions on the long-term strategic implications of their growing demand for food, water, energy, and minerals. Though the two governments have coordinated in global climate change negotiations, they have done little beyond this on environmental and energy issues. They have fought shy of talking about the Pakistan-China-India and U.S.-China-India relationships and the future of Tibet after the Dalai, all of which are fairly monumental issues. Also, their record of coordination on global issues is not impressive. The four pillars of China-Indian diplomatic engagement are insufficient for the issues that now connect them. The two governments must look for institutional forms and diplomatic modes to increase the frequency and quality of their interactions. World order today rests principally on the nature of China-U.S. interactions. India-U.S. relations have deepened significantly over the past decade. The China-India relationship is a crucial third pivot of a nascent world order, but it is strikingly underdeveloped. The two biggest rising powers need their own “G-2” of sustained, institutionalised dialogue across the whole range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. Kanti Bajpai is Visiting Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. His current research focuses on Indian strategic thought and on China-India conflict and cooperation.

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Public policy leadership and modern media Text • Robert J. Herbold

In industry, the CEO has the authority and responsibility to make bold and courageous changes, and is held accountable for the results. If the results do not meet expectations, the CEO takes the fall as the head of the organisation. This is not always the case in the arena of public policy.


ackling tough problems requires courage. Gutsy leaders face up to the fact that once they select a path to follow, someone or some group will be disappointed. That’s the nature of a tough decision. This kind of leadership challenge occurs in industry as well as in the world of public policy. Let’s take a look at industry. Consider Fiat. The Italian automaker jettisoned four CEOs between 2000 and 2003 as it struggled to remain relevant, but by 2004 it faced bankruptcy. Tough decisions were simply not being made. In 2004, it hired an outsider, Sergio Marchionne, as CEO. He moved quickly, explaining the problems to the organisation and the need for action. He then replaced virtually all of his direct reports, cut staffing by 10 per cent, addressed the bloated cost structure and tackled the core problem – Fiat cars were ugly and of poor quality. His vision for a new Fiat and the ruthless restructuring and redesigning over three years lifted the share price from $7 to $30. For the first time in five years, Fiat paid dividends. It’s a great story of courageous leadership in the corporate world. In industry, the CEO has the authority and responsibility to make bold and courageous changes, and is held accountable for the results. Every move is documented, typically reported to stock exchanges and shareholders, industry association and sometimes ministries. Results are quantifiable. If the results do not meet expectations, the CEO takes the fall as the head of the organisation. This is not the case in the arena of public policy. Consider Greece. Like Fiat in 2003, it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. When the Prime Minister announced spending cuts and reduced benefit programmes, street riots broke out and the media covered it extensively on a global basis. Unfortunately, the media gave scant attention to the overspending and excessive benefits that needed to be reined in. Instead, most of the attention focused on the rioting

and on angry individuals who would be disadvantaged in some way from such cuts. This caused politicians to focus on lining up loans as temporary Band-Aids for the problems, making the fewest cuts they could get away with to put the issue behind them. The fact is that neither the Prime Minister nor any single politician in Greece had the authority, or would actually be held accountable, to provide an effective long-term solution. While they collectively represent a governing body that needed to deal with the problems, a serious complicating factor is that politicians often put themselves and their electability first. To ensure their future electability, they have to be very careful about how the media portrays them. The Greek economy was thus weakened by a poor policy response that most experts classify as a temporary fix. The Media and the Politicians A core problem is that the modern media that operate in the West are typically not objective when covering major issues and problems. Most of them are struggling to stay financially viable and need to publish news that helps sell newspapers, magazine, increase airtime, win readership, ‘eyeballs’ and the advertising dollar. While U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt used to quote the African proverb “speak softly and carry a big stick”, it appears the theme of the modern media is “speak loudly and carry a small victim”. Specifically, rather than help the public understand the causes of problems and the various alternatives, they personalise stories and focus on individuals, the “small victims” who may be disadvantaged in some way when problems are confronted. Showing how some particular individual is hurt by a new policy or belt-tightening measure has high news and sensationalism value, and thus can generate more viewers and readers. In trying to illustrate the individual impact of a policy and the limitations of any solution, the media stymies the process of finding a lasting solution. ‘Small Victims’ are Big Obstacles Let me give you an example. If Greece decides to reduce funding to schools, the media will pick out some sad-looking, six-year-old and claim she is going to a school that will be hit by the cut and

“Under today’s intense media scrutiny, political leaders typically shy away from tackling the tough problems they are facing.” that her future is in jeopardy (she is the small victim). Hence, any politician who votes for the cut will be characterised as hurting small victims. If politicians consider cutting the size of social security benefits, then some older person will be characterised as the small victim by the media, and any politician who considers voting for efficiencies in social security will be described in the media as hurting these older small victims. The small victim approach is all about political correctness and using it to attract an audience, causing all politicians to be punished for things like balancing the budget and cutting programmes. It is no wonder then that under today’s intense media scrutiny, political leaders typically shy away from tackling the tough problems

they are facing. They want to avoid being portrayed by the media as cruel and mean (and thus not re-electable). To temporarily get the problem out of the way, they make very modest improvements. They don’t want any media coverage that could hurt them politically. After all, individually they are not accountable, so why would they stick their neck out to advocate aggressive long-term solutions or vote for a policy that may generate so many “small victims” as to be politically unpalatable? The result of all of this is that modern media is making courageous leadership in the public policy area a very difficult thing to achieve in the democracies in the West. In this respect, it will be interesting to watch the evolution of governments in the East as the media become more of a factor and politicians become increasingly sensitive to how the “small victim”oriented media portrays them and impacts their constituents. Bob Herbold was the former Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft Corp. His most recent book is What’s Holding You Back? 10 Bold Steps that Define Gutsy Leaders. Bob’s blog on leadership can be found at

Image: Paul Lachine

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The problem that has been named Astrid S. Tuminez and Vishakha Desai introduce a research project that delves into why women in Asia remain underrepresented at the top of leadership hierarchies.


n her landmark book, The Feminine Mystique (1963), Betty Friedan described the widespread unhappiness of American housewives as “the problem that has no name”. This problem concerned women’s confinement to a separate and unequal domestic sphere. Friedan’s seminal work subsequently sparked a larger array of intellectual, political and practical activities to address the unequal treatment of women, biases at the workplace, and inadequate policies for advancing girls’ and women’s rights and opportunities. In the decades since 1963, women’s problems have been named and researched widely in the West. One of these, the problem of leadership — women’s under-representation in positions of power — continues to be an intractable problem. In Asia, the world’s fastest-growing region, the leadership problem among women is recognised but is only slowly being studied. Although the region has

produced more women leaders at the highest levels of political power than any other region in recent decades, this has primarily been the result of family connections. More generally, decades of training and development have enlarged the pool of Asian women with good education and the skills to lead — yet, as in the West, women in Asia remain grossly under-represented at the top levels of leadership hierarchies. To make matters worse — at least in the public perception — phenomena such as the recent launching of the “Obedient Wives’ Club” in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, and elsewhere, which aim to teach women how to better sexually satisfy their husbands in an attempt to solve social ills, connote that some constituents in Asia may still subscribe to beliefs and practices that diminish the rights, roles and potential contributions of women. Why haven’t more women in Asia risen to the top despite Asia’s tremendous strides in

economic development? Are Asian countries missing out on women’s contributions? Can Asia remain globally competitive and innovative without harnessing the education, skills and ambitions of its women? Studies of corporations in the West show that increased numbers of women in senior leadership positions correlate with enhanced profitability, competitiveness, governance and corporate ethics. These matters and others relevant to what women leaders do and contribute need to be understood and explained better in Asia. The diversity of Asian states and societies also underline the need for careful, systematic, and nuanced approaches to understanding key variables that help or hinder women’s pathways to leadership. Policies, practices, laws and values will have to be elucidated and compared carefully to assess their application and impact. Different sectors — including government, corporations, and non-profits and non-government organisations — need to be studied to see

where women succeed or fail in reaching leadership positions, and why. A Research Agenda for 21st Century Asia The project on Women’s Pathways to Leadership in Asia at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, in collaboration with Asia Society and scholars from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore, has initiated a study of the leadership problem. Though the research agenda is ambitious, its beginnings are modest and the project seeks longer-term support. Informed by the literature on leadership, gender studies and area studies, the project will initially survey the current landscape on women’s leadership, using the traditional definition of leadership as visible positions of power. Drawing on secondary literature and extant indices and rankings, the project will

compile an initial “Report Card” on how well women are doing on the leadership front in selected Asian countries. Delving deeper, the project will assess leadership styles and practices, and seek to deconstruct notions of “femaleness” or “femininity” to see how these may implicitly or explicitly impede Asian women from advancing to leadership positions. Research will also study how different Asian cultures and religions inform styles of leadership, and how these, in turn, influence the ways women arrive at, and exercise, leadership. If women are hypothetically the keepers of socio-religious traditions and other norms, do their leadership journeys then reflect styles and practices of leadership that may be characterised as uniquely “Asian”? Research will also tease out the differences between women’s pathways to leadership in the West and in Asia. Studies

from western contexts have richly examined socio-cultural, structural, psychological, legal and political inequalities that obstruct women’s ascent to leadership positions. To what extent do prejudices, stereotypes, formal and informal rules, and other challenges that inform women’s leadership experiences in the West also apply in Asia? How do women in Asia navigate obstacles within more patriarchal or more egalitarian societies? What strategies do they deploy, and with what results? On the positive side of the ledger, what policies and practices help to promote gender parity and equity, and how do Asian men and women negotiate the sharing of duties, responsibilities, and decision-making authority? In a region where domestic help tends to be plentiful and abundant, are women better able to strike the work-life balance that has proven to be so elusive in the West?

Matriarchs of Takpala village on Alor island, eastern Indonesia (Nusa Tenggara Tengah) link arms and dance in sync as they call upon their ancestors for help and guidance.

Image: Claire Leow

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“Phenomena such as the recent launching of the “Obedient Wives’ Club” in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore which aim to teach women how to better sexually satisfy their husbands in an attempt to solve social ills, connote that some constituents in Asia may still subscribe to beliefs and practices that diminish the rights, roles and potential contributions of women.”

Finally, what is the impact of female leaders? This is a relatively novel field for research in Asia. Arguments supporting women’s leadership require evidence with regard to the positive results of such leadership. What dimensions and indicators may be used to study systematically the impact of women’s leadership in the public, private and non-profit sectors? These might include ethics and governance; profitability; economic development; collaborative change; structural and other changes in the workplace; and the enhancement of basic rights of girls and women. Because women have not traditionally dominated visible positions of leadership, it would be useful to explore the benefits that accrue to family and society in less formal settings where women are able to gain and exercise leadership, for example, in caregiving within communities, preservation of indigenous cultures, informal education, and others. Change without a Battle (of the Sexes) In some Asian countries, policy-makers and practitioners (male and female) sometimes react negatively to the issue of “women’s leadership”. They argue that, in Asia, meritocracy guides practice and, therefore, gender should be largely irrelevant. In addition, they worry that pursuing women’s leadership would mean a war between the sexes, unnecessarily pitting

one group against another and threatening the family, which is the cornerstone of society. Yet others say that women should simply be content to lead from behind — to promote change in quiet, unobtrusive ways and let the men do the more obvious and visible duties of leadership. To address these concerns, the issue of meritocracy must be unbundled and the experience of women in Asia researched in order to show whether or not practices are indeed gender-blind. In the West, evidence indicates otherwise. For example, unconscious biases that influence recruitment, retention, performance and strategic decision-making within organisations have been shown to be negative towards women. The leadership paths of women also tend to be distinctive from those of men, involving, for example: diffidence and an inability to negotiate pay packages; being judged more harshly by peers; weaker patronage and promotion networks; and struggling with the balance between work and family. Are these factors relevant to Asia? Finally, the advancement of women need not mean a battle with men. The game is not zero-sum. In formal and informal interactions with Asia’s women leaders, including at leadership summits, the message that resonates is that they desire not only a seat at the table, but also want

an active role in defining a new table that is shared equally by men and women to bring about sustainable, holistic, profitable and non-violent solutions to Asia’s myriad challenges. Asian women who are at the heart of nurturing and preserving family, social networks, and traditions may in fact be the key agents to new forms of leadership that differ from Western, maledominated, mind-over-heart models. Our research project hypothesises that a more balanced, nuanced, and relational approach to consensus-building and problemsolving, deriving from Asian cultures and from women in particular, could be the region’s unique contribution to the theory and practice of leadership. Asia’s two billion women and their potential should not be ignored. The region’s incredibly dynamic growth and many challenges, both traditional and non-traditional, provide a compelling reason to assess systematically women’s pathways to leadership, how women leaders have contributed to the common good, and how they may continue enhancing Asia’s trajectory of growth, innovation and inclusion. Astrid S. Tuminez is Vice-Dean (Research) of the Lee Kuan Yew School and Vishakha Desai is the President of Asia Society, a non-profit organisation that focuses on educating the world about Asia.

A holistic approach to formulating development policies Incremental policy formulation within a restricted framework is no longer viable. To meet ever-rising expectations, innovative and holistic approaches to policy formulation are in order. Text • Asit K. Biswas Image: Paul Lachine ¡ J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 ¡ p 3 7

an energy policy that explicitly considers water

other unanticipated outcomes, and the sum total of these side-effects was sometimes equal to the problem that they were expected to solve, and on a few occasions even exceeded the original problem! Three decades on, her observations have become even more important.

requirements for its implementation, or a water policy

Energy-water-food linkages

“Despite these close water-energy inter-relationships, there is not a single country in the world which has

that considers its energy requirements. Both assume somehow that the other resource would be available to meet its future production requirements.�


olicy makers are faced with the problem of providing enough food, energy, water, and other necessities to the nearly 7 billion people globally, as well as how to sustain these resources as the world population swells to more than 9 billion people by 2050. At the same time, economic growth, technological innovation, better education, rising income levels, and the information and communications revolution are contributing to more pressure on governments to think out of the box to satisfy their people. Anecdotal evidence suggests that past development policies are not working as well as envisaged, creating more pressure on governments to deliver sustained results. Past approaches to development, which are based on incremental policy formulation within rather restricted frameworks, are no longer tenable in the modern age if the ever increasing expectations of humankind are to be met. In their place, broader and more innovative approaches to public policy are needed. Past development policy has failed because of the complexity in forecasting and understanding the implications of future changes in policy. The parameters determining the policies often change dramatically and differ widely from those initially assumed. Danger of reductionism During the past three centuries, science and institutions have mostly worked on the

basis of a rugged reductionism. If a problem or issue was too big or complex, it was broken down further to aid understanding and analysis. For example, in the 16th century, all science was considered to be natural philosophy. As knowledge advanced, physics became a separate branch, to be followed by chemistry and biology. And when physics became too large a field of inquiry, it was subdivided into several different branches. Mirroring science, governmental institutions have also suffered from such reductionism. When bureaucracies became too big and cumbersome, they were split into different smaller institutions or departments. Though such reductionism may have worked well over the past three centuries, the interconnectedness and complexity of issues affecting them in the modern era has made it difficult in practice to reduce a problem to its distinct parts and find an appropriate solution. In human development, the cross-cutting linkages and competing demands of energy, water, food, health and the environment has made policy making much more complicated than ever before in history. This brings to mind a private discussion I once had with Indira Gandhi, the former Indian Prime Minister, in the early 1980s. I had asked her why India, after 35 years of independence, made limited progress in poverty alleviation and human development. After some reflection, she said that policy responses to solve one problem often created

Currently, no form of energy can be produced without water. Equally, water cannot be used or produced without using a substantial amount of energy, and no food can be produced, transported and used without water and energy. One issue affects the other and is in turn affected by the others. Globally, nearly 70 per cent of the world’s water is used for agricultural purposes. In percentage terms, global agricultural water use is declining, even though in absolute terms, it is increasing. In countries such as the United States and France, the biggest user of water is thermonuclear energy for cooling purposes. While there is no doubt that water requirements for energy production have been steadily increasing in recent decades, there is regrettably at present no reliable data on what percentage of water is used by the energy sector for the world as a whole, primarily because waterenergy interactions have been a neglected subject for decades and water for energy production has been basically free. In the United States, where such data is available, water withdrawals for the thermonuclear energy sector increased from 492 billion litres per day in 1995 to 553 billion litres per day in 2005, the latest year for which such data is available. Given that thermoelectric generating capacity in the United States is expected to increase by 18 per cent between 2005 and 2030, water withdrawals for energy generation purposes are likely to be in the range of 425 billion to 523 billion litres per day, depending on advances made in technology and management practices that may be used. Thus, over the next three decades, there will be increasing competition for water among the domestic, industrial, energy and agriculture sectors, as well as for the water requirements of the ecosystem for nearly all countries of the world.

The International Energy Agency estimates that the primary energy demands of the world are likely to increase by more than half between 2005 and 2030, and developing countries will account for the lion’s share of this increase. India and China will be responsible for 45 per cent of this increase. Despite these close water-energy interrelationships, there is not a single country in the world which has an energy policy that explicitly considers water requirements for its implementation, or a water policy that considers its energy requirements. Both assume somehow that the other resource would be available to meet its future production requirements. Whereas both China and India have clear energy production plans for the next two decades to sustain their economic development, neither country has a good idea where cooling water for energy generation will come from, or even if this quantum of water will be available, especially as competition for water requirements from other sectors is intensifying. The problem becomes even more difficult where energy-water-food interrelationships are concerned. The role of biofuels and their impact on water, food and energy well illustrate the dilemmas faced by policy makers. Biofuels conflict with other policies In the era of high and volatile oil prices, biofuels are an attractive option to countries sourcing for alternative sources of energy. Fossil fuels are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Thus, there has been a strong push to find new forms of clean and low-carbon energy, especially for the transportation sector. Biofuels are deemed to satisfy these requirements, in addition to contributing to energy security. There are also secondary reasons for promoting biofuels, such as the creation of new markets for sugar, cereal, and oilseeds, which in turn could boost farm incomes and contribute to rural development. Superficially speaking, biofuels appear to tick all the right boxes. Not surprisingly, many governments have taken a leap of faith to promote biofuel

production heavily, without first assessing their beneficial and negative effects. Heavy subsidies are provided for biofuel production to meet the energy requirements of the transportation sector. For instance, Brazil, the European Union, Japan and Indonesia hope to raise biofuel production by 10 per cent and China by 5 per cent by 2020, respectively, while the United States aims to raise biofuel output by 30 per cent by 2030. Since energy prices are significantly higher than food prices, the promotion of biofuels has led to many unwarranted results. For example, in the United States, ethanol, a biofuel, accounted for only 8 per cent of transportation fuel output but consumed nearly 40 per cent of its maize crop. A report prepared by 10 international institutions, including the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, for a G-20 meeting of agricultural ministers in June 2011, estimated that between 2000 and 2009, global ethanol production increased four-fold and biodiesel rose 10fold. Biofuels now account for 20 per cent of the world’s sugar cane production, 9 per cent of oilseeds and coarse grains and 4 per cent of sugar beet. If the current trend continues, the report estimated that the price of coarse grains could increase on an average by as much as 13 per cent per year between 2013 and 2017. Oilseed prices would increase by 7 per cent and vegetable oils by 35 per cent annually during the same period. The World Bank has estimated that rises in food prices alone pushed 44 million extra poor people into hunger in the second half of 2010. If food prices escalate further, the world hunger situation will be exacerbated. If all current national biofuel targets are to be met, it is estimated that nearly 10 per cent of the global cereal production would have to be used. Alternatively, if food crop availability is to be maintained, huge amounts of extra land would have to be cultivated, which would require enormous amounts of additional water. There would also be a serious impact on water quality because of the additional use of agricultural chemicals which would leach into water bodies. Since such huge quantities of land

and water are not available at present, present policies are likely to lead to a diversion of food crops for biofuel production. This would increase food prices by 15-40 per cent, which would have dire consequences for the world’s poor. If all American corn used for ethanol production were to be used for food, it is estimated that global edible maize supply would increase by a mere 14%. The report recommended that governments should “remove provisions of current national policies that subsidise (or mandate) biofuel production.” However, Brazil, United States and other biofuel-promoting countries opposed the agreement to cut support for biofuels. The G-20 Agricultural Ministers finally agreed to study the relationships between biofuel production and food price escalation, ensuring that the status quo will continue indefinitely. Though biofuels have been touted as the policy “silver bullet” which could enhance energy security by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions, they have in reality distorted markets, compounded world hunger, accelerated environmental degradation, increased water and land use, and encouraged food price inflation – far outweighing the purported benefits. If anything, the case of biofuels amply demonstrates why development policies should not be formulated in a narrow manner. Where pressing issues of human development are concerned, policy makers need to show a sensitive appreciation of the myriad variables that could be affected by their policies and which could in turn impact them. The challenge for modern institutions is to maintain a healthy scepticism of the latest fads while adopting a holistic yet forensic approach to problem solving and policy making. Asit Biswas is President of the Third World Centre for Water Management in Mexico and Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

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A (global) public policy primer Global public policy education: fact, aspiration or branding exercise? Text • Scott Fritzen


he Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, nestled in the foothills of the Alps, has a storied past. It was here that the Green Revolution and the Global Aids Vaccine initiatives were conceptualised. In June this year, the Center opened its doors to 20 representatives from policy schools around the world over four days – including Dean Kishore Mahbubani, Professor Kanti Bajpai and myself from the LKY School – to discuss the ‘future of global public policy education’. Delegates grappled with the question: does our increasingly globalised world demand a fundamentally new kind of public policy education? Many would say yes, and point to three problems with mainstream policy education. One is the primarily domestic policy focus of the traditional policy curriculum. Sizeable numbers of students now target international careers, and virtually all policy problems have global dimensions. Given this, what should we make of the absence of international relations, for instance, in the traditional core curriculum of a policy school? What’s worse, the ‘domestic’ policy focus in question is typically that of the U.S., the U.K., or Canada, in other words, the few countries that in the past formed the bulk of the market for policy education. Quite a few public administration textbooks, for instance, literally have pictures of the U.S. Capitol Building on their cover. The fact that some of these very same

textbooks are being translated to serve hundreds of newly launched Master in Public Administration programmes in countries such as China makes a compelling enough case for change. Another alleged shortcoming of the traditional curriculum is the way it down plays the private sector and civil society. Jeffrey Straussman, a visiting professor at the LKY School, once reviewed the syllabi for core public administration courses in the U.S., and concluded that a Martian observer reading these syllabi would infer that the private sector has virtually no role in or influence on public administration here on planet Earth. The issue is not whether one can find courses and topics in the curriculum that reflect private and civil society roles in governance; there are many. But how prominently do the core, required courses – where much of the heavy lifting in a policy curriculum is done – feature these sectors? A third and more subtle critique concerns an alleged bias in the traditional policy curriculum towards technocratic analysis – the ability to produce, using statistical and econometric models, ‘the cost-benefit analysis’ to inform ‘the decision’ for ‘the policy-maker’, or ‘Policy Analysis Version 1.0’ as the LKY School’s Li Kashing Professor Robert Klitgaard labels it. The problem with this model, Klitgaard suggests, is that there are remarkably few

examples of this type of analysis actually making a direct contribution to the policymaking process. The skills associated with Version 1.0 may still be important, even vital, but they need to be supplemented by an appreciation of the real-world contexts in which evidence engages with politics, often in non-linear and unpredictable ways. For these critics and to varying degrees, a global public policy curriculum is an aspiration. It reflects the desire to see a curriculum that is more comparative, drawing on cases and examples from varied countries and levels ranging from community to international, and aiming to tease out answers to the question of what works to produce better governance outcomes. An updated ‘global’ curriculum should ideally feature private-public-people sector collaborations prominently and attempt to build leadership and negotiation skills that will help aspiring ‘change agents’ to make a difference in multiple ways that go beyond (but certainly also include) the production of analytical reports. And it would include more explicit and systematic consideration of specifically global and cross-border problems, from ‘common pool’ issues such as climate change to the evolution of global governance institutions. A different viewpoint holds that ‘global’ public policy education is not new, that policy analysts have long addressed

“Does our increasingly globalised world demand a fundamentally new kind of public policy education?”

problems of cross-national significance. Many policy schools have long offered concentrations in international relations or development to those targeting such careers. Leadership and soft skills are increasingly popular offerings. Just walk into any random classroom at the LKY School: you’re likely to find 30 students from 15 countries in attendance. The course is probably co-taught by two professors, say a Thai and an American. And it’s more than likely that the topic du jour would feature examples from multiple countries and/or address issues of global significance, from international economics to anti-corruption policymaking. From this view, global policy education describes what is already

happening in a select number of schools, often located in world cities such as New York, London or Singapore. Indeed, in this case, highlighting the ‘global’ element in public policy education may be more a branding exercise than a self-evident proposition on curriculum reform – a way for these schools to signal their market niche. After all, there are still any number of schools which continue to have as their exclusive aim, in contrast, the production of students to staff national and local government agencies. Global policy education may be a brand, and it certainly captures an important element

of the student experience at schools such as the LKY School. But it is also undeniably a challenge. Academic curricula change far more slowly than the world around us. At the Bellagio workshop and in continuing discussions at the LKY School, faculty continues to thrash out practical ideas for refining and, where necessary, restructuring our core curriculum. The fact that similar questions are being posed across a range of policy schools makes the global policy curriculum an interesting space to watch moving forward. Scott Fritzen is Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

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Healthcare financing in Asia revisited · The Right to Health: Access to primary healthcare - maternal and child health in Southeast Asia · China’s ailing healthcare system · Workshop on the Lancet Series on Health in Southeast Asia: what next?

Healthcare financing in Asia revisited The level of healthcare expenditure is not the only factor affecting the well-being of a population. The allocation and use of resources are also vital to good health practices, argues Phua Kai Hong.


he 2010 World Health Organization Report focused on healthcare financing and gave evidence to support the view that countries can improve their coverage of healthcare and financial risk protection by addressing the core functions of financing systems – mobilising adequate funds, pooling these funds to cover financial risks and spending prudently. Another book published recently by the World Bank, Healthcare Financing Revisited, comprehensively reviewed state-of-the-art concepts and issues regarding the perennial problem that is plaguing countries all over the world. Surprising though was the absence in the publications of any mention of the Singapore healthcare system, in particular, the 3M methods of healthcare financing combining the mix of Medisave (savings), Medishield (insurance) and Medifund (endowment from taxes). Perhaps the authors were not well informed enough or these international agencies had not kept abreast of the many innovations in the Singaporean system. My experience of participating in many conferences and contributing to expert debates on the ‘medical savings accounts’ approach to healthcare financing suggests otherwise. The real reason, I surmise, is that the conventional wisdom of experts has still not accepted the transferability of medical savings schemes to countries beyond its original birthplace. Why so? Firstly, it would be politically unacceptable for many countries with ageing populations to enforce mandatory savings after decades of generous social insurance and subsidies, just as it would be difficult for poor populations to save, let alone contribute to the revenue pool. Secondly, savings schemes would require a high degree of efficiency and integrity in fund collection, management and payment, which many countries would not have the capacity to undertake. Thirdly, many countries have large rural

and informal sectors that would make the administration of medical savings problematic and costlier than other collective mechanisms such as tax-financed public health services. Why then is Singapore the oddity in terms of healthcare financing, when the rest of the world appears to be following the general trend towards universal coverage through pay-as-you-go social insurance or tax-based schemes? Moreover, ageing populations and the proliferation of expensive hi-tech medical technology make the latter systems financially and politically unsustainable in the long term. Health Expenditure in Singapore and Asia In 1981, WHO member states determined that each state needed to invest at least 5 per cent of its Gross National Product (GNP) on health to meet a target of the global health-for-all (HFA) indicators. Despite the variety of financing resources and mechanisms, the level of national spending on health among many countries in Asia is still relatively low and varied. Currently, countries in the region are spending between 3 per cent and 9 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health. Developed economies, such as Australia, Japan and New Zealand, spend between 8 per cent and 9 per cent, while the newly industrialising economies of South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong allocate more than 5 per cent of GDP to health spending. This suggests that although there are variations in healthcare financing systems, overall expenditures can be expected to increase with general economic development. But comparative analysis of country data indicates that the level of health expenditure is not the only contributing factor to the health of a population. The allocation · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 4 3


and use of resources also affect health. Depending on the mix of chosen health inputs and use of resources, the same level of health can be achieved at considerably different costs or coverage of the population by basic health services. Rising Health Costs The high cost of medical services is a major public concern in many countries of the region, especially transitional economies such as China and Vietnam. There are anecdotal accounts of households that have been plunged into poverty due to the high cost of care, with some families foregoing treatment and cutting back on medicines. Even in countries which purportedly provide free health services, patients pay informal charges for medical personnel, drugs and other services that are not available in public health facilities. There is a general concern that while health costs are increasing rapidly, resources are not being used efficiently and effectively. Increased health expenditure in some cases does not result in an

equivalent increase in health improvements. Excessive use of hightech medical services is one of the leading factors contributing to the healthcare cost increase in many countries. At the same, basic healthcare is becoming inaccessible and unaffordable to the poor with the increase of user fees and out-of-pocket payments. Poor management of facilities and services can also raise the cost of health services unnecessarily. There are some indications of supplier-induced demand in the utilisation of medical services and products such as minor surgery, hi-tech diagnostic services and pharmaceuticals, which have become the main sources of hospital revenue in Cambodia, China, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam. The increase in chronic and non-communicable diseases is also a major concern for ageing populations throughout the region. Due to the long-term nature and severity of complications, these are costly not only for individuals and households but also for countries as a whole.

“Asian governments need to review how organisational and institutional arrangements can be reformed in order to generate as well as re-allocate financial resources for healthcare. These must be achieved without raising the burden on the poor.”

Improved Revenue Sources and Public Allocation The most obvious route to increased financing of healthcare is through raising the level of public taxation or social health insurance. Although these have to be balanced with other considerations such as cost-containment and wage competitiveness, there are many valid reasons for Asian countries to increase their investments in healthcare. The case for increasing public allocation to the health sector is compelling in economies where unbalanced private spending has created inequities that need to be corrected by more efficient allocation. With the rapid growth of the private sector, the potential for more revenue increases. Since the revenues of Asian governments have been rising steadily over the years, annual growth rates of the public health budget could be aligned with economic growth or inflation. Other new sources of revenue could be derived from additional taxation in the form of “sin taxes” imposed on unhealthy goods and services such as cigarettes, liquor and gambling. Such a tax is justifiable on the grounds that it is imposed on goods that contribute to disease and hence place a larger burden on healthcare services. Indeed many countries such as Australia and Thailand devote a proportion of their sin taxes to healthcare and disease prevention. Similarly, stiffer penalties for public health offences and higher fees imposed on regulatory activities such as licenses could be channelled to health promotion work. Good Governance in Healthcare Financing Healthcare financing is one of the key areas for improving the performance of health systems, as is appropriate stewardship or governance of health systems. All three areas of health financing functions – revenue collection, pooling resources and purchasing or payment – are essential to improve performance. How well these financing functions are harmonised would depend on the governance and organisational fine-tuning of the health system. Asian governments need to review how organisational and institutional arrangements can be reformed in order to generate as well as reallocate financial resources for healthcare. These must be achieved without raising the burden on the poor. In all health systems, there is a need to have a higher level of fairly distributed

prepayment schemes with appropriate purchasing and payment methods. Out-of-pocket payment, the major mode of financing in most countries in the region, tends to be regressive and often impedes access to healthcare. Evidence from many health systems around the world shows that prepayment through risk-pooling schemes protects people from the consequences of catastrophic spending and leads to greater fairness in financing. The challenge in financing is how to expand prepayment mechanisms in order to distribute the benefits efficiently and equitably within affordable limits and the respective socioeconomic conditions of a country’s health system. In the case of expansion for risk-pooling, it is critical to create as wide a pool to cover health and financial risks as possible. Greater fairness in financing can be achieved through increasing risk-pooling. At the same time coverage should also be improved with better targeting of the benefits through means-tested and needs-based programmes. All over Asia, gaps are being addressed through improvements in healthcare financing and delivery systems. In addition, there are more new initiatives to develop cost-effective and integrated services for the management of chronic diseases and long-term care for ageing populations. In Singapore, we have all the right ingredients in the 3M system to finance the growing health needs of an urban society in future. All it takes is regular fine-tuning to balance supply and demand factors through the functions of fund collection, riskpooling and resource allocation in a fair and sustainable manner. Constant monitoring of rates in savings, contributions and payments to providers are essential. Cost considerations should be balanced with the social goals of improving access and quality, while further expenditures must be channelled more towards sustainable investment in health rather than mere consumption of healthcare. The challenges are manifold in other societies, with disparities between urban and rural populations and diversities across health systems at different stages of socio-economic development, but one thing is certain: Asian countries must keep an eye on health financing reforms as a priority in the public policy arena. Phua Kai Hong is Associate Professor of Health Policy & Management at the LKY School. He has consulted for many international organisations and governments throughout Asia, and can contacted at

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The Right to Health:

Access to primary healthcare maternal and child health in Southeast Asia The first stage of guaranteeing the right to health is access to primary healthcare for all categories of the population. In Asia, women and children are most at risk. What are the challenges? Text •Marie Lamy

Image: Claire Leow

Understanding our Right to Health International Legal instruments codifying


WHO Constitution “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without the distinction of race, religion, and political belief, economic or social condition”

Right to Health

Covenant on ECOSOC Rights (Article 12) Specific steps to the realisation of the highest attainable standard of health

1. Obligation on states

2. Freedoms and entitlements

3. Social determinants of health

Governments have a responsibility to: • Respect • Protect • Fulfill (i.e. legislative implementation)

Freedoms: • freedom to control one’s own health • Freedom from interferences (domestic violence, torture)

Human Right to • food • housing • work • education, • human dignity • life

Legend: ASEAN- Association of South East Asian Nations MDG - Millennium Development Goals WHO - World Health Organization

Entitlements: • Access to a quality health protection system • Right to enjoy a variety of health facilities, goods and services • Right to general conditions necessary to the realisation of the ‘highest attainable standard of health’

• non-discrimination • equality • privacy • prohibition of torture • information

CRC - Convention on the Rights of the Child CEDAW - Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women CAD - Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ECOSOC – Economic and Social Council (UN


hat is our Right to Health? Under International Law, the right to health may be defined as an obligation on states, as freedoms and entitlements, and include the social determinants of health (see Table I). Good health encompasses entitlements and responsibilities on both the states and individuals. While the legal definition is broad, we can narrow our understanding of how this right may be applied effectively at the state and regional levels by defining it as guaranteeing access to primary healthcare for all. Access to primary healthcare is of concern in less developed countries struggling with gross inequality, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the population. Mothers and children are most vulnerable and should be addressed as a target group as they represent the future workers and consumers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Regional challenges to access In Southeast Asia, structural and social obstacles place additional challenges on mothers and children when it comes to access to

primary healthcare. The first lies in the large economic disparity between and within ASEAN nations that leads to inequalities of health coverage. Within countries, urban and rural communities have unequal access. Laos and Cambodia count among seven countries worldwide with the highest maternal mortality outside of sub-Saharan Africa, as documented by Cecilia S Acuin and other authors in ‘Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health in Southeast Asia’, (Lancet, 2011), while Cambodia and Myanmar have high child mortality rates. National health plans in the least developed countries lack political commitment and effective implementation because of limited or mis-allocated resources and a lack of expertise. Despite the best of plans and reforms, poor execution leads to unequal access, inconsistent quality and unequal utilisation of health services for the poorest. Social, physical and financial barriers are other impediments. Human trafficking, particularly in the “Golden Triangle” bordering Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, also affect victims’ access to healthcare resources.

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“The Right to Health is different from the right to be healthy, although both are mutually dependent. The Right to Health … will also depend on the access to adequate food, to essential information, the right to life, or to non-discrimination.”

Another challenge is the limited capacity for data collection, making it difficult, for example, to report on the number of unsafe abortions. Gender inequality remains prevalent, accounting for the uneven access to family planning services. In Malaysia, for example, adolescents and unmarried women have restricted access to family planning services. Similarly, migrant workers working in the informal sector have limited health benefits or access to healthcare, and have limited means for recourse. Improving access What basic services are needed to guarantee the availability, accessibility and affordability of primary healthcare for women and children? Ideally, women and children would have access to a universal package of guaranteed benefits, including familyplanning information and services, antenatal, newborn and postnatal care, emergency obstetric and newborn care, skilled care during childbirth at appropriate facilities, safe abortion services (when it is not prohibited by law), and the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Since 2000 and the enumeration of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on the reduction of child and maternal mortality, ASEAN has shown substantial commitment to this cause. The 5th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting in April 2000 recognised promoting health as an essential element in furthering social development and reducing inequity. Improving access to basic health services for mothers and children has been one of ASEAN’s priorities since the Health ASEAN 2020 work plan (a vision adopted in 2000 at the 5th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting). The Vientiane Declaration of March 2002 prioritised women’s and children’s health, communicable disease control, healthy ageing and tobacco control. Since the 14th ASEAN summit and the birth of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint in March 2009, ASEAN has agreed to focus on narrowing the development gaps between Southeast Asian nations by 2015, notably in healthcare. ASEAN implicitly recognises that improving access to healthcare for vulnerable groups not only aids economic growth but also contributes to sustainable, equitable, and fair development in the region. In achieving this work plan by 2015 (An ASEAN community) and 2020 (Healthy ASEAN), ASEAN works closely with the World

Health Organization. It can also build on programmes already in place. For instance, the World Bank has assisted the Philippines in running the 2nd Women’s Health & Safe Motherhood Programme (2005) by demonstrating a cost-effective model of health service delivery to mothers in rural areas, to be replicated across the country. Vietnam, with the help of the UN Population Fund (2006), established an Ethnic Minority Midwives Project which recruits local ethic women from specific communities and trains them to become birth attendants and village health workers, making health service more accessible and affordable by reducing the language, distance and financial barriers. ASEAN points out that healthy ‘ASEAN 2020’ is a shared responsibility between the state and the individuals. Hence, ASEAN empowers people by encouraging participation in communities and institutions to improve access to adequate healthcare. Reducing maternal mortality, for example, may be achieved by educating women on the options available for planned pregnancy and safe motherhood as well as safe abortion methods. ASEAN’s role in guaranteeing access ASEAN has an important regional role to play as an intermediary bridging the gap between international legal recommendations and national implementation programmes. It has the capacity to identify best practices and coordinate effective interventions. ASEAN may also be useful in stimulating and channelling regional/international financial aid to support maternal and child health programmes. Above all, increased political commitment for regional cooperation on maternal and child health would encourage less developed ASEAN members to focus on maternal and child health as a development priority. To reduce child mortality, deaths caused by infectious diseases can be reduced by improving access to clean water, sanitation and vaccination. A multi-sector approach should therefore take into account all social determinants. Evaluating ASEAN’s role from a global governance perspective helps us understand how ASEAN is positioned to gird political will and push for practical and coordinated regional initiatives aimed at reducing inequity in health access. Dr. Phua Kai Hong and I are working on a regional research project to study how ASEAN fits in the international spectrum of actors in health, namely the WHO, national governments, and other civil society organisations at the internal, regional or national levels. As mentioned in the Vientiane Declaration 2002, there is a need for more research on ASEAN institutions to strengthen the region’s capacity for policy development, implementation and monitoring. The next question is, therefore, how can ASEAN states cooperate most effectively (cost, efficiency and outcome-wise) in improving health and access to healthcare? Marie Lamy is a Research Associate at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, specialising in health governance. She can be reached at

Image: Claire Leow

China’s ailing healthcare system “Physician, Heal Thyself” may well apply to how China needs to address the inherent flaws in its healthcare system, argues Alex He Jingwei.


verybody talks about China’s rise as a global power but few appreciate the fragility of its social welfare system, especially in the area of healthcare provision. An average Chinese household reputedly saves as much as 30 per cent of its total income, an incredulous amount by Western standards. What’s often overlooked is the underlying weakness of China’s safety net for its 1.3 billion people, which necessitates the high savings for the proverbial rainy day.

Since 1989, the phenomenal rise of China as an economic superpower has eclipsed the lack of advance, and in fact deterioration of its healthcare system. It was not until the spring of 2003, when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) brought China’s poorly equipped hospitals and dislocated reporting systems to the brink of collapse, that international attention fell on the country’s broken healthcare system. China’s southern region was virtually turned into a Ground Zero following the SARS epidemic. These events were instrumental in my transition from being a student of broad public policy to one with a keen interest in health policy. Being a Chinese national, I wanted to study my country’s healthcare reforms - one of the largest healthcare

policy interventions anywhere necessitated by China’s rise as a global power and precipitated by its inadequate response to a global health crisis. My doctoral thesis focused on how a healthcare system that thrived under Mao Zedong’s reign would swiftly decline in the space of 20 years to one ranked as one of the least equitable by the World Health Organization in its 2000 report. As a doctor’s son, I was not only born but also raised in a Chinese hospital and therefore bore witness to the changes of the past three decades. I was privy to how Chinese doctors departed from Mao’s precept of “jiu si fu shang” (“heal the wounded and rescue the dying”) and instead chased quick profits, and how the “hongbao” culture (bribery) · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 4 9

“China’s southern region was virtually turned into a Ground Zero following the SARS epidemic.”

became pervasive in public hospitals. Chinese hospital managers competed to out-spend each other to acquire state-ofthe-art medical equipment while denying a dying patient admission on the grounds that his family could not afford treatment. The transition from a communist model to a market economy, as observed in Eastern European countries, depleted state revenues. China was no exception. Most former communist countries decentralised healthcare provision from central governments to local governments, which then shouldered the task of funding public hospitals. While it followed a similar trajectory, the ‘decentralisation’ of the Chinese reformers was essentially nothing more than ‘load-shedding’. Neither the central government nor local governments were willing to provide sufficient financial support for a meaningful transition. While most former communist countries, especially those in Eastern Europe, have established social health-insurance schemes to replace a traditional welfare system, China has fallen short. Though it has started major insurance schemes and secured a rapid rate of coverage, Chinese healthcare is largely unchanged because of inadequate coverage and self-serving profits from unnecessary drug sales. Central to the problem of China’s healthcare system is the tendency for local governments to measure success in terms of gains in gross domestic product. The most popular rhetoric in the 1980s and 1990s was “bu gei qian, gei zhengce” (we don’t give you money, we give you “policies”). These policies have been loosely interpreted and open to exploitation. Local government in China subsidises 6 per cent of the recurrent

costs of public hospitals. By contrast, governments in comparable countries shoulder between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of costs. Public hospitals are expected to make up the shortfall in funding by generating income from user fees and drug sales, a task they are ill-equipped for, resulting in defective pricing. Furthermore, an interlocking array of incentives in China’s healthcare system helps doctors boost drug sales and their income, to the detriment of patients. A conservative estimate by domestic experts is that some 80,000 Chinese die from the misuse of antibiotics every year. More alarmingly, in 2003, two-thirds of the rural Chinese population had to forgo seeking medical care for financial reasons, according to the China National Health Service Survey. Before it came into power, the Chinese Communist Party often used the metaphor of the “three big mountains” -- imperialism, feudalism and capitalism -- to refer to the “class enemies” of the working class. Today’s “three mountains” of societal divisions lie in housing, education and healthcare. These contribute to the high savings for rainy days, depleting disposable incomes that could otherwise be harnessed for the next phase of China’s economic advance. In 2009, China introduced a healthcare reform blueprint with the aim of providing a universalised healthcare system by 2020. A financial stimulus of more than US$120 billion would be available for healthcare reforms between 2009 and 2011, with top priority going to enhancing public health capacities, providing insurance subsidies and investing in primary care facilities. However, as I argued in an article entitled “China’s Ongoing Healthcare Reform: Reversing the Perverse Incentive Scheme”, published in East Asian Policy this year, the reforms are likely to fail unless the fundamental causes of systemic failure are tackled, starting with the dismantling of financial incentives to doctors to supplement their income through drug sales. Today, the most visible driving force in the healthcare industry is the supplierinduced demand system that breeds

powerful interest groups of doctors and pharmaceutical companies. The American Medical Association (AMA) is one of the most powerful lobbies in the U.S. while South Korean doctors possess the power to strike in protest against health policies that do not favour the profession. Likewise, in China, the healthcare bureaucracy, doctors and drug companies have formed what Harvard Professor William C. Hsiao would describe as the “medical axis of power” to defend their vested interests. This is not an insurmountable problem. In my recent publication entitled “Combating Healthcare Cost Inflation with Concerted Administrative Actions in a Chinese Province”, published in Public Administration & Development, I examined the case of a health bureau in Fujian Province that took the initiative to curb rampant cost inflation. When poor performance imperils its standing, the health bureaucracy demonstrated it was able to align itself with public interests. Singapore’s healthcare reform offers China valuable and relevant lessons. My findings and views can be read in the paper, “Policy Learning and Policy Instruments in Healthcare Reform: China’s Public Hospital Reform and the Singapore Experience” (Southeast Academic Research, 2009, in Chinese). This paper was reprinted by a journal (Institutional Reform, 2009) as a reference for Chinese policy-makers. I categorically maintain that differences in size and socio-political systems should not hinder sound policy learning. In fact, China drew inspiration for its Basic Medical Insurance scheme (BMI) from Singapore’s Medisave model, one of the three tiers of health coverage here. Though health reform takes time and needs to be adjusted to local needs, there is much scope for China to learn lessons from Singapore’s experience in constraining providers’ demand-inducing behaviour and improving public hospitals. Alex He Jingwei recently completed his Ph.D. at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He is Secretary-General of the Asian Society for Institutional Analysis and a lecturer at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. He can be contacted at

Workshop on the Lancet Series on Health in Southeast Asia: what next? Text • Marie Lamy, Nicola Pocock and Phua Kai Hong

What is the point of infectious disease surveillance systems? How do chronic diseases affect disadvantaged groups? How do researchers and policymakers work together with health ministries to leverage limited resources defined by need? These questions were discussed at the Lancet series on Southeast Asia workshop and public forum held on June 20.


ponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the China Medical Board, key authors from a 2011 series of papers on health in Southeast Asia published in the Lancet, a medical journal, convened for a research workshop and public forum to publicise the findings to a Singapore audience and promote future research on identified health challenges. Countries at various stages of economic development are struggling to provide affordable and accessible health services to their populations. Demographic and epidemiological transitions present significant challenges, namely an ageing regional population and a shifting disease burden from infectious diseases (malaria, dengue fever and HIV/Aids) to chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancers and heart disease. Southeast Asia is a hotspot for emerging infectious diseases such as the NIPA virus and H5N1, partly induced by close human-to-animal proximity. Disease spread could also be exacerbated by climate change. Southeast Asia faces multiple health challenges and the difficulty for each country is to identify priority areas and distribute resources equitably.

One area discussed centred on the inadequate data and data collection systems in Southeast Asia. The authors noted that there was a dearth of reliable data on the cause of death and disease prevalence. Professor Phua Kai Hong of the LKY School presented an overview of rapid health transitions in a diverse region characterised by growing disparities and outlined the challenges for health systems response. Dr Cecilia Acuin highlighted the unfinished agenda of improving maternal and child health. Richard Coker, a Professor at London School of Hygiene Tropical Medicine, questioned the heavy investments into surveillance systems when basic data collection and quality of data were not in place. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations could streamline surveillance systems and data collection mechanisms to strengthen health system response across the region, he said. Dr Nawi Ng from the Umei University of Sweden and Gadja Madah University of Indonesia mentioned that many people died of “old age” in rural areas, when in most cases underlying chronic conditions caused fatalities. Dr Piya Hangvoravongchai of Chulalongkorn University, and Professor Ali Ghufron, medical dean of Gadja Madah University, discussed the challenges to health from the perspectives of human resources and financing universal coverage for healthcare. The forum also discussed the interaction between the physical and geological environment and health. The region’s disaster preparedness and post-disaster management is still inadequate, as shown when Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in May 2008. The · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 5 1

Audience listening to the Opening Address by Prof Seetharam, of the Global Asia Institute

government’s slow response and refusal to accept help from international aid agencies exacerbated the disaster and led to higher death tolls. The resurgence of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and dengue fever, could also be explored under this research theme. It is clear that the ASEAN holds great potential to facilitate the improvement of health systems in the region. As an inter-governmental body, ASEAN can harness political will and commitment from individual governments while overcoming the duality between the two technical offices of the World Health Organisation, namely the Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) and the South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO). According to Dr Acuin, governments often over-emphasise infectious diseases and allocate insufficient resources to the most disadvantaged sectors of society. This is especially evident in the area of maternal and child health. As an intergovernmental organisation, ASEAN could spearhead a regional initiative to promote the de-criminalisation of abortion as a first step towards preventing unsafe abortions, a primary cause of maternal deaths in the region. Similarly, ASEAN could implement guidelines for tobacco legislation and unhealthy diets to fight the rise of chronic diseases. The twin problems of malnutrition and obesity are complex health policy challenges that would benefit from a regional push for cooperation involving the trade and agriculture sectors as well as ministries of education and health. In addition to ASEAN’s role in the health sector, the authors called for a global perspective on public policy in medical and public health. Professor Retneswari Masilamani of the Department of Social and

“Southeast Asia is a hotspot for emerging infectious diseases such as the NIPA virus and H5N1, partly induced by close human-toanimal proximity.” Preventive Medicine at the University Malaya proposed that future health officials and doctors be educated about international legal instruments on global health and the governance structure on health policy. By extension, curricula in medical and public health schools would also have to be reviewed and harmonised. The workshop highlighted the importance of a cross-sector approach to health policy reform in the region. Moderated by Professor Chia Kee Seng, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the National University of Singapore, the one-day workshop threw up many interesting questions and solutions. The free flow of ideas and debate will eventually be fodder for future research projects supported by the NUS Initiative for Improving Health in Asia (NIHA) and collaborators throughout the region. Marie Lamy, Nicola Pocock and Phua Kai Hong are part of a team studying Health and Social Policy at the School. They can be reached at:, and, respectively.

Bridging the leadership gap: DARE programme Local governments face seemingly intractable issues that demand diverse skills from them as problem-solvers. The school has pioneered the Decisions, Action, Results (DARE) Programme to help leaders achieve concrete results. Text • Denni Cawley


ore than half of the world’s population, about 3.3 billion people, live in urban areas – a trend that is developing with rapid urban growth concentrated in Asia and Africa. By 2030, the number of urban residents will swell to 5 billion, according to World Bank and United Nations Population Fund statistics. This poses immense leadership challenges spanning water management, health, poverty alleviation, environmental and social issues. How can leaders build political and financial capital to push forward with critical infrastructure projects? How can they upgrade essential services that would improve the lives of people? Can leaders ensure that the fruits of growth are equitably shared by their constituents? These are common issues faced by politicians and civil servants worldwide that demand diverse skills from them as problem-solvers. The leadership gap can be bridged by management and leadership frameworks made accessible through shared media and brought to life in opportunities for shared learning. One such opportunity for shared learning towards specific outcomes is the Leadership in Local Government: Decision, Action, Results Programme, or DARE Programme. The LKY School of Public Policy and the World Bank Institute (WBI) conducted two successful runs of the programme between 28 June and 8 July 2010, and between 22 May and 2 June 2011 with the support of Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The DARE programme is aimed at local government leaders in developing countries. A total of 10 local government teams from five countries (the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Cambodia) participated, each led by a mayor, vice-mayor or governor. Prior to the programme, the teams prepared a proposal for a project or the improvement of a current project that would benefit the lives of their constituents. These were further honed during the course after intense discussions and feedback from scholars and practitioners from the LKY School and the World Bank.

“Can leaders ensure that the positive fruits of growth are equitably felt by their constituents?” For both programme runs, participants engaged in sessions addressing Adaptive Leadership, Reframing the Vision in Leadership, the Change Space Model, the Rapid Results Approach and Enhancing Communication and Presentation Skills. In 2011, there was a focus on riverfront development, ranging from the economics of such development, cost-benefit analysis, rehabilitation, resettlement, and the building of multi-stakeholder coalitions for riverfront development. Professor Liu Thai Ker, LKY School Adjunct Faculty and former Chief Executive Officer and Chief Planner of Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, led a technical discussion on ‘Riverfront Development and its Economics’, citing concrete examples from his own work in Singapore, China, and elsewhere. A key objective of the DARE Programme is to help participating teams achieve results. After the programme concluded, the faculty followed up on the progress of their projects. The Naga City team from the Philippines, led by Mayor John Bongat and considered the group that made the best progress from the 2010 class, was invited back in 2011 to share their experience in riverfront reclamation and development. The Vice-Mayor of Ulaanbatar also returned to speak on his team’s progress in improving the informal settlements or “ger” areas in his city. In the Naga City case study, the Vice-Mayor of Naga City, Gabriel Bordado, Jr. and City Planning Coordinator, Wilfredo Prilles, Jr. highlighted how the Change Space session helped them · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 5 3

The Ho Chi Minh City Team with their project on ‘Implementation of the New Master Plan of West Bank of Saigon River’

to analyse the ‘authority’, ‘acceptance’ and ‘ability’ needed to bring forward a riverfront project. This framework helped garner stakeholder support and led to a resolution declaring the Naga River Revitalisation Project a top priority project of the city (authority). Subsequently, they were able sign a partnership agreement with nine project partners, including the Catholic Church, whose support was critical to the success of the programme (acceptance). Finally, they finalised the features of the rehabilitation project by conducting a best conceptual design contest (ability). The video-conference organised at the end of the DARE programme with other teams working on riverfront programmes also made them realise that there are other leaders struggling with the same issues and that the political considerations of a city cannot be used as an excuse for not succeeding. The DARE programme also sparked a new approach for the LKY School in conducting executive programmes. This constant review and renewal of executive education is important especially since further education plays a key role in bridging leadership gaps. Dr. Astrid Tuminez, Vice-Dean (Research) of the LKY School and DARE Programme lead faculty member, attests to the lessons drawn from DARE: “Often, participants get bored in training programmes. DARE has been different. The modules were directed towards concrete problems faced by local government leaders. We consistently focused on the ‘how to’ question. Initial feedback suggests that this kind of training can make a practical difference and may incrementally improve leaders’ ability to serve their people’s needs.” Denni Cawley is Associate Director and Head of Executive Education at the LKY School. For Executive Education programmes, please contact

Image: World Bank Institute

2011 Teams and Projects TEAMS


Hai Phong (Vietnam)

Economic City as an Ecological City (Eco2)

Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)

Implementation of the New Master Plan of West Bank of Saigon River

Makassar (Indonesia)

Integrated Waterfront Development

Manila (Philippines)

Rehabilitation and Development of Estero De San Miguel in Manila

2010 Teams and Projects TEAMS


Da Nang (Vietnam)

Urban Transport Infrastructure

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)

Sustainability of ‘ger’ areas in Ulanbaatar

Naga City (Philippines)

Revitalising the Naga River

Palembang (Indonesia)

Green, Blue, and Clean City

Phnom Penh (Cambodia)

City Development Strategy

Quezon City (Philippines)

Anti-Poverty Profiling and Monitoring Programme

Auditing in government The Management Development Programme is focused on bringing economic reasoning and public policy process skills into public financial management, enabling the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India to transform competence in transactional integrity into knowledgebased auditing. The CAG participants undertook financial case studies of selected public and private organisations in India. They also made site visits to the AuditorGeneral’s Office, Acccountant-General’s Department and NEWater. Text • Narendra Singh


emocracies of the East were founded on settled agriculture, with community life and local self-government as their basic strengths. Imperial dynasties, which ruled them, while politically parasitic, played only a marginal role in the life of the economy. This was rudely interrupted by European colonisation driven by the Industrial Revolution. Even as recently as 60 years ago, Asian destinies were decided in Europe. Struggles of peasants across Asia for freedom from oppressive landlords under land tenures dictated by their colonial masters, moneylenders and police grew into national movements for independence celebrated every year in each of the countries of this region. The modernising influence of colonial rule, evident in improved transport and communications, the commercialisation of agriculture, as well as the setting up of the modern rational-legal state, premised in theory on equality before the law, should not be under-estimated. Nationalist movements were significantly influenced by Western thought and after gaining independence national leaders set up modern institutions of democracy based on equality and human rights. This change in the nature of the state

CAG officers attending the executive programme went through a comprehensive line-up of modules that included public policy and management, emerging trends in the IT sector, the Global Financial Crisis, sustainability and environmental management, goal-setting and performance measurement, leadership, and corporate governance. Image: LCMS Consulting

provided Asian countries with the fairly long spells of political stability essential to growth and development.

for accountability of all professionals, within and outside government – all these are changing.

Africa’s experience, as compared to-that of Asian countries, with a few exceptions, would highlight the importance of political stability to economic growth and development. The spurt in growth of the East Asian economies, some of them dubbed the ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1980s, heralded the arrival of the Asian Century. Having survived the global economic crisis of September 2008, China and India are recognised world-wide as the fastest growing economies.

The social transformation of the public sphere is evident in all countries, and especially so in Asia. It is essential for government auditors to keep themselves abreast of the changes in the notion of public policy and the new modalities for crafting it, taking advantage of global best practices and imaginatively applying them in specific contexts.

The world around us is changing – a world of global movements of capital and labour, new technologies, an emergent new world order, the climate itself. But we should not lose sight of the fact that we ourselves are changing. The social framework, the political context, the laws and regulatory mechanisms countries are enacting and re-enacting, consumer preferences, technologies affecting our daily lives, the information and communication we base our everyday decisions on and the demands for professional growth and the framework

When the famous Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal wrote his celebrated book in the 1950s, titled Asian Drama: An Inquiry Into The Poverty of Nations and The Challenge of World Poverty, he identified three obstacles to growth and development in the social framework in Asian countries. Firstly, people did not seem to want higher incomes; they appeared to be contented with survival. Secondly, attitudes were not geared to individual advancement but tied more to enriching life in community and lastly, institutions like caste and nefarious traditions stood in the way of growth. If we look at Asian countries today, all three obstacles · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 5 5

“The government budget is no longer merely a statement of revenues and expenditure classified under different heads. It is a macroeconomic intervention in the ever-expanding, ever-growing ambit of the circulation of goods, services, money, new technologies, and above all, of public opinion related to the economy.” seem to have vanished. The desire for higher incomes is so great that some would say we are suffering from greed. Individual advancement of nuclear households is pursued with such vigour that it seems to be the basic engine of growth. Old social institutions, nefarious or otherwise, have mostly collapsed. Mobility of labour and urbanisation are the order of the day. Alongside this change in social framework, the structure of our economies has been transformed. India, until the economic reforms of 1991, used to live under a regime of fixed exchange rates, fixed interest rates and administered prices, with physical planning dominating annual budget formulation by the government. Ever since the liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991, the government has formulated macroeconomic budgets, taking volatility in global money and capital markets into account, as well as keeping in mind the linkages between monetary and fiscal policy and prices. The government budget is no longer merely a statement of revenues and expenditure classified under different heads. It is a macroeconomic intervention in the ever-expanding, ever-growing ambit of the circulation of goods, services, money, new technologies, and above all, of public opinion related to the economy. The budget process begins in November each year with the Finance Minister seeking opinions from captains of industry and the editors of economic journals. It goes on to media debates on probable tax proposals and priorities in expenditure needed for different sectors and then moves on to the issues highlighted in the economic survey published on the eve of the budget documents being tabled in Parliament.

This is followed by a general debate on the budget proposals in the Houses of Parliament. Apart from the statements of estimated revenues and expenditure, the budget documents include the Finance Minister’s speech, statements of the government of the day on macroeconomic policy, fiscal and budget management, gender budgeting, etc. The general debate is meant for focusing on issues of public policy. After an interregnum of about 10 working days for the Departmental-related committees of Parliament to submit reports on their demands for grants of different Ministries, the second phase of debate on demand for grants of different Ministries begins and on its completion, the budget is put to a vote. I am saying all this because people not familiar with the scope and functions of SAIs (Supreme Audit Institutions) in many countries sometimes wonder why the Comptroller & Auditor General worries about public policy and not simply ‘accounts’ and ‘audit’. The CAG and his officers are responsible for overseeing the management of the budget by line and finance ministries, from the time it is voted on until the annual accounts are reported to legislatures. Since the vote is on what is presented in the comprehensive set of documents called the budget and the results of debate and deliberations in the legislatures, it should be amply clear that both in the acts of certification of accounts as well as audit scrutiny and reporting, the CAG and his officers have to bear the intention and purposes of the legislature relating to public policy clearly in mind. Ever since the economic reforms in our country and the sea change in budgetary allocations from huge government investments in infrastructure

sector to massive investments in the social sector – health, education, employment and environment -- we have refined our techniques and standards of performance audit. We have successfully undertaken the audit of privatisation and public-private partnership projects (PPPs) initiated by the government, participated in the audit of a vastly changed tax regime and established international training centres such as iCISA (International Centre for Information Systems and Audit) to enhance our capability to audit through computers. We are lending support to sustainable development by establishing an international centre for environment audit. The management of common property resources is as important as, if not more than, the management of private resources. A massive project called GASAB, undertaken by CAG, to introduce greater transparency of government accounts, is underway. The system of accrual accounting will allow better cost price calculations, record capital use properly, distinguish between current and capital expenditure, present a complete picture of debt and other liabilities and focus policy attention on the financial position as shown in the whole balance sheet of the government and not just on cash flows. This will offer improved management information and will facilitate better planning and control of public expenditure besides sustainability of fiscal policies. Narendra Singh is Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General of India. This is a speech he made at the School on June 27, at the start of a two-week Management Development Programme customised for 18 participants. The CAG has held such courses since 1992.

Lee Kuan Yew and George Yeo join the School F

ormer Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was appointed a Distinguished Fellow at the graduate school which bears his name on July 1. Prior to this, he served as Minister Mentor. As a Distinguished Fellow, he will give lectures on his experiences in local and international governance, and these will be held several times in the course of a semester. Outlining the value that Mr Lee will bring to students, faculty members and researchers, Dean Kishore Mahbubani pointed to the 87-year-old Mr Lee’s rare success in transforming Singapore ‘from Third World to First’. “Students learn a lot from meeting distinguished practitioners, and it is hard to find a more distinguished practitioner than Mr Lee Kuan Yew,” the Dean said, adding that Mr Lee’s presence and 52 years of experience in governance will boost the School’s global standing and increase its attractiveness to students.

appointed a visiting scholar for three years starting from August 1. The School said: “His experience in government and politics will be invaluable to the current and aspiring leaders and policymakers who make up the student body of our school, and also to our faculty members who are conducting research on political leadership and policymaking.” Mr Yeo will not be teaching full course modules in his new, unpaid role. Instead, he will hold dialogues with students from time to time. The School said that dialogues are the “best way” for him to share his insight with students, and are a common practice for visiting scholars in other public policy programmes around the world.

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee had been in Cabinet since 1959, when he was prime minister of selfgoverning Singapore. He stepped down in 1990 but stayed in government, first as senior minister, then as minister mentor. An MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, he is senior adviser to the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. Also joining the School is former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, who was

Dean Kishore Mahbubani with Mr George Yeo

Image: Michael Culme-Seymour

· J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 5 7

Fostering diversity The School’s second student with disability shares his experience of overcoming the odds to study for an MPA. Text • Alexander Pforte


he Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy strives for diversity in its student body. Recently, Muhammad Joni Yulianto, a blind student from the village of Sirau, in Central Java, Indonesia completed his Master in Public Administration at the School.

out: “If the school is willing to develop a standard procedure for accommodating students with disabilities, I am sure the LKY School will become the best school for the disabled among the ASEAN countries.”

At 31, Joni has overcome more challenges and obstacles than most of his peers. He credits his perseverance to a supportive family, particularly a father who clearly delineated the choices for him early in life. He urged Joni when he was eight to consider leaving home to study at a special school or be simply left at home. “It was not easy since I had to live isolated from my peers and be separated from brothers and parents,” Joni recalls, adding that it was the best decision of his life. “That was a very important phase in my life when I really learned what the life of being a disabled child, a child with visual impairment, was,” he said.

Joni’s sponsoring organisation, the Nippon Foundation, introduced him to the School and its programme. The foundation also sponsors the ASEAN Institute on Disability and Public Policy, or IDPP, which was established in 2010. IDPP relies on several academic institutions (including the LKY School) to provide masters degrees, executive education and certificate programmes, outreach and capacity building, as well as collaborative research to people with disabilities. Although the LKY School’s role in the IDPP is primarily to offer executive education and collaborative research, it wants to offer masters degrees to the disabled.

Joni was inspired to pursue a second graduate degree after he realised the importance of sound policy making in his fight for the rights of the disabled. Being only the second disabled person to date to study at the School, Joni said his earnest hope was that by sharing his experience with Global-is-Asian, “hundreds more (people with disability) will come in the future”.

All said, Joni enjoyed the diversity of the student body and was grateful for the strong networks he forged in the time he spent here. He intends to continue working in the field of disability but with an added focus on public policy, either in collaboration with an NGO or the government in his native Indonesia.

Undeterred by his difficulties, Joni is single-minded about pursuing an education on an equal footing as his able-bodied counterparts. He said: “It is always clear in my mind that I can do what they could do. Therefore I will never give up because of my disability. And, my motivation is, since I cannot see with my eyes, I have to widely open my mind.” Though the School was not designed for his needs, it did try to cater to his requirements. Even then, Joni said he encountered stigma and prejudice from some schoolmates and staff, “all of which hurt students with disabilities”. He said some faculty members felt overwhelmed by the prospect of having to accommodate to the needs of a disabled person in their lectures. This, he says, reflected the need for faculty to go to greater lengths to make life more comfortable for the disabled at the campus. He astutely points

Joni feels there is room for society to be more inclusive, so that the disabled would not only have equal opportunities but also an equal footing to contribute to society. He observes: “Everyone is different. As humans with full dignity, however, we are equal and therefore it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure our equality. With better policy and better understanding of disability, I believe that in the future Asia will become an inclusive region for the disabled people.” Muhammad Joni Yulianto, from the village of Sirau, in Central Java, Indonesia graduated with an MA in Disability Studies from the University of Leeds, UK in 2008 and a Bachelor of Education (Special Education) from the State University of Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2003. He completed a Master in Public Administration at the LKY School in July 2011.

“It is the responsibility of everyone to ensure our equality.”

· J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 5 9

Winning ways A group of LKY School students were runners-up at an annual contest organised by the Harvard Business School. Juvy C. Danofrata shares her experience of being in the team.


he challenge was to compete for the right to enter an annual student contest organised by the Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness at the Harvard Business School. The LKY School had won the much-coveted first prize last year. The heat was on. I am from the Philippines and did a Master in Public Policy at the LKY School. I was privileged to be part of an eclectic team of students that included Shelby Port, an American dual degree student from Columbia University School for International and Public Affairs (SIPA) who did a Master in Economic Policy and Analysis; Arundhati Pandeya from India took a Master in Social Science at NUS at that time; and Aneliya Nazirova from Russia who did a Masters in Public Policy at the LKY School. Our dream was to submit the best group paper so that it would be chosen as the class entry for the contest. Professor Ashish Lall encouraged and steered us in that direction. The Professor’s Clusters class was one of my most challenging modules in the LKY School of Public Policy. It followed the unconventional format of using reallife cases from all over the world to understand how clusters promote economic development. The School is one of 90 universities worldwide offering a Clusters and National Competitiveness course, modelled on the one developed by Professor Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business School. One of the class requirements was for students to develop a team project utilising the course’s concepts and framework on the cluster of their choice.

Our topic dealt with the biomass industry in Washington state in the United States. We found this compelling given the increased global focus on the environment and the need to find alternative sources of energy. The topic was replete with policy issues and concerns that did not only apply to the local context but other countries as well. It helped, too, that U.S. data was quite complete and convenient to find. Our group started tying up the concepts with the information we needed that would establish the state of Washington as an ideal biomass industry hub. Our paper was divided into three parts: a country analysis, a state analysis and a cluster analysis from which we identified the strategic issues faced by the state and the industry. From these, we recommended possible policy solutions. Using Michael Porter’s diamond framework to establish the state of Washington’s competitive advantage in the biomass industry, we found that in all four aspects, Washington fared quite well, banking on its large forests and fertile lands, well-developed human resources and a favourable business environment. Capital funds were readily available, aiding a culture of entrepreneurship, strong environmental standards and regulatory policy, and an active and wide-ranging cluster-support policy. Such conditions had favoured the development of the biomass industry in Washington as far back as 1979. Further analysis specific to the cluster provided the following important determinants to its growth: the existence of supporting institutions like universities and laboratories; the presence of technology-

related services within the area; and the potential of the industry to develop its firm and market capabilities. Although a fairly young cluster, the biomass industry in Washington state showed much promise, given the state’s abundant biomass resource potential. However, there were several important issues that needed to be addressed to realise this, including inadequate production facilities, the lack of a biomass-specific energy policy, the continuing threat of substitutes, a decline in sources of capital, weakening demand and food security concerns. Our policy recommendations focused on these impediments, the most important of which were to provide a biomass-specific energy strategy for the state, continued investment in research, increased production capacities for biomass, co-location with existing facilities and a quantitative study on the possible impact of the activity on food security. Our efforts paid off. We were runners-up and each received a certificate signed by Professor Porter. The author graduated with a Master in Public Policy and has been working as a tax policy analyst at the Department of Finance in the Philippines. You may e-mail her at: or

Emulating lessons learnt at the LKY School Mario C. Villaverde, an alumnus from the Philippines, won the Presidential GAWAD CES, the highest honour given to outstanding career executive service officers in the Philippine government.

“I have always thought that my outstanding achievements as a leader and public servant in the Philippines would not have been possible without the training and exposure I had gained during my studies at the LKY School. I hope this award serves as an inspiration for other School alumni and scholars.”


r. Mario C. Villaverde received the Presidential GAWAD CES (Career Executive Service) Award for 2010 on January 11 from Philippine President Benigno Aquino. The Presidential GAWAD CES is the highest honour given to outstanding career executive service officers in the Philippine government and conferred annually to career officials who exemplify the ideals of excellence, service and integrity. Awardees undergo a rigid selection process that consists of a pre-screening process, an in-depth validation system, and a final selection by a seven-member Committee on Awards consisting of key figures from the private and public sectors who are top luminaries in their respective fields. Dr. Villaverde, one of this year’s four awardees, is an alumnus of the LKY School who completed his Master in Public Management in 2003 as a Lee Kuan Yew Fellow. He is recognised for his exemplary work as a health policy expert in the development of the Philippine Health Sector Reform Agenda and the formulation of its operational framework under three Secretaries of Health. These initiatives provided the structure for major sectoral and organisational reform strategies, policy changes and public investments needed to improve the way healthcare is delivered, regulated and financed. From the time he entered the government service in 1984, Dr. Villaverde did policy work for various top officials of the Department of Health. This prepared him to take on higher positions of leadership in the career executive service as the

Assistant Secretary of Health in 2005 and as the Undersecretary of Health in 2007. When conferring the award, President Aquino noted Dr. Villaverde’s other achievements. In 2009, as the taskforce manager for the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, he was responsible for formulating guidelines and coordinating the health sector’s response to contain the impact of the devastating new disease. Because of the decisive way in which the pandemic was handled, the Department of Health received the highest net satisfaction rating among government agencies in the Philippines at that time. The World Health Organization also commended the Department of Health for effectively responding to the health threat. On receiving the award, Dr. Villaverde said: “I have always thought that my outstanding achievements as a leader and public servant in the Philippines would not have been possible without the training and exposure I had gained during my studies at the LKY School. I hope this award serves as an inspiration for other School alumni and scholars.” Dr. Mario C. Villaverde did his Master in Public Management in 2003 as a Lee Kuan Yew Fellow. He is Associate Dean at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government. Concurrently the School’s Academic Programme Director, he is responsible for its Master in Public Management and executive education programmes.

· J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 6 1

Shreya Basu Chicago, USA 31 March- 3 April

Phua Kai Hong Associate Professor

Phua Kai Hong Associate Professor

ASTRID TUMINEZ Vice-Dean (Research)

Toronto, Canada 10-13 July

Cambridge, MA USA 27 May

Astana, Kazakstan 9-10 June

Attended the International Health Economics Association World Congress. Presented on Medical Tourism in Asia and its Impact on Health Systems.

Participated in an invited panel – Seminar on Global Health at Harvard University.

Taught Leadership course to Kazakhstan senior government officials.

Presented a paper abstract entitled “Explaining Anti-Corruption Policy Adoption and Implementation” at 69th Annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference.

Scott Fritzen Associate Professor Chicago, USA 31 March- 3 April

Presented a paper abstract entitled ‘Explaining Anti-Corruption Policy Adoption and Implementation’, at 69th Annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference .

Eduardo Araral Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Professor Stanford, CA USA June 16-18

Presented a paper at the 15th Meeting of the International Society for New Institutional Economics in Stanford University.

SCHOLARS WITHOUT BORDERS In the pursuit of disseminating expertise and accumulating knowledge, there are no borders for the faculty and researchers of the LKY School. Here are a few places they went to, from March to August.

Paul Barter Assistant Professor New Delhi, India August 17, 2011

Attended conference on ‘Parking Reforms for a Liveable City’.

Shreya Basu Singapore 27-29 April

Presented a paper abstract entitled “Three Uneasy Propositions about Corruption” at 8th Annual International Comparative Policy Analysis Forum.

Eduardo Araral Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Professor

Eduardo Araral Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Professor

Eduardo Araral Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Professor

Khuong Minh Vu Assistant Professor

Urumqi, Xinjiang, China and Ulaanbataar, Mongolia 27 June- 4 July

Ulaanbataar, Mongolia 30 June

Beijing, China 5 July

Attended The First Asia KLEMS Conference on Productivity Growth in Asia, jointly organised by the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) of Japan, Hitotsubashi University Hi-Stat Project, and the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) under the guidance of the Asia KLEMS Committee.

Gave a lecture to Chinese and Mongolian officials on "Public-privatePartnership for Infrastructure"

Gave a lecture at the National University of Mongolia, Ulanbataar on "Institutions for Economic Development".

Gave a lecture at Tsinghua University School of Public Policy on "Institutional Analysis and Development".

Tokyo, Japan 26-28 July

Eduardo Araral Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Professor Xiamen, China 1-4 June

Gave a lecture on "Methods for Institutional Analysis" at the ASIASIA workshop for young scholars at Xiamen University.

Phua Kai Hong Associate Professor Hanoi, Vietnam 27 May

Attended the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the Hanoi School of Public Health. Presented at the launch of the Lancet Series on Health in Southeast Asia (Vietnamese Edition).

Eduardo Araral Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Professor Hanoi, Vietnam 17 May

Presented draft report and recommendations to the advisers of the Prime Minister of Vietnam on its Socio Economic Strategy 2011-2020.

Eduardo Araral Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Professor Jakarta, Indonesia 9- 11 May

Attended Harvard Teaching Workshop.

Khuong Minh Vu Assistant Professor

Khuong Minh Vu Assistant Professor

Scott Fritzen Associate Professor

Phua Kai Hong Associate Professor

Singapore 29-30 June

Singapore 21-23 June

Singapore 27- 29 April

Jakarta, Indonesia 13-16 June

Attended SINCPEC Conference on “Growing APEC Economies: New Challenges and Approaches”.

Chaired Session 6 “Digital Inclusion For All: Lessons Learnt & Case Studies” at the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on “Digital Inclusion for All” by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), MCYS and IDA.

Presented a paper abstract entitled “Three Uneasy Propositions about Corruption” at 8th Annual International Comparative Policy Analysis Forum.

Attended the Asia-Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) World Initiative Public Health Workshop. Presented on 1) Global Health Teaching in Singapore; 2) Health in Southeast Asia – Diversities and Disparities · J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 6 3

Six factors of leadership derailment Text • Jonathan Marshall


ith so many leaders coming unstuck in recent times, it’s well worth wondering how you can avoid being the next. Rupert Murdoch, ranked the world’s 13th most powerful person by Forbes magazine, stands accused of ‘wilful ignorance’ in his management of one of the most widely distributed English language newspapers. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and hitherto a frontrunner in the French presidential race, was arraigned in New York on charges of sexual assault. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s fourth president, faces charges of corruption and abuse of power. The list for 2011 goes on and on, and by the time this article is published, I wonder how many more top-level leaders would have fallen from grace. When seeking advice from the estimated 50,000 leadership books out there, you are spoilt for choice. How does one choose between top titles, such as ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws’, ‘Six Steps to Transforming Performance’ and ‘Seven Key Principles of Effective Development’? Armed with those pointers, it’s hard not to think, “if only I could master those tips, I’d be really successful”.

Image: Paul Lachine

Successful leadership basically boils down to three key skills: task management, people management, and most significantly, personal management. Personal management is the cornerstone for the other two. Weaknesses in this area are responsible for the vast majority of all leadership derailment. It is so important that some of the oldest documents on human psychology systematically describe the key ways personal management fails. One of the clearest and most comprehensive of these comes from the 2,500-year-old teachings

“Successful leadership basically boils down to three key skills: task management, people management, and most significantly, personal management.”

found in Buddhism on The Five Hindrances. For application to modern management, I have described them here as six factors. By being sensitive to our tendencies to fail in these, we may be able to avoid joining the list of the dethroned. At the very least, we would be more self-aware. No one is immune to the dangers of success. The first two factors lie on the ‘desire’ continuum: greed (too much desire for something) and hatred (too much desire not to have something). Tabloids love to report on cases of greed derailing a leader. The coverage of U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner’s recent upload of photos of his bulging underwear on Twitter eventually forced him to resign. Given the many other recent scandals related to ‘greed’ for sexual attention, one might be forgiven for thinking it all ends there but hatred is also a cause of derailment. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was accused of having such antipathy for Iraq’s prime minister, ‘the monster’ Saddam Hussein, that he believed ‘beyond doubt’ that Iraq held weapons of mass destruction despite the lack of evidence behind his claim. He brought Britain into a war that was ultimately to lead to his resignation. The next two reasons are on a continuum of ‘energy’: sluggishness (too little energy) and agitation (too much energy). Burnout, exhaustion, and depression are classical examples of too little energy. Too much energy is equally damaging; the leader who is jumpy, restless, and worried drives people crazy. We now know moods can be physiologically more contagious than the common flu. The moods of leaders are particularly infectious because we all

tend to focus on our bosses more than on other people. That ‘exposure’ affects our minds and bodies. Leaders who are sluggish or agitated will neither be effective at their tasks nor appealing to the people who work with them. The final two reasons are on the continuum of ‘resolve’: insecurity (too little resolve) and dogmatism (too much resolve). Leaders without confidence in themselves or their direction do not inspire confidence. To maintain the confidence of their followers, successful leaders embody clarity of purpose and a willingness to adapt to new circumstances. A significant reason for Singapore’s success as a nation is related to Lee Kuan Yew’s skill in this area. He continually adjusted his response to changing circumstances while moving towards his goal of national prosperity. As one civil servant put it, ‘Lee Kuan Yew almost obsessively reassessed situations with a view to changing his course of action if needed.’ Too much resolve, however, can produce an inflexible over-confidence and the perception that new ideas are threatening and cause followers to stop contributing. An extreme example is violent fundamentalism. More subtle variants of dogmatism are much more dangerous. Leaders become unconsciously wedded to a plan of action and fail to respond to new information; their followers become a means to an end; and ultimately those followers turn away feeling used and disrespected. In the Buddhist texts, dogmatism is a manifestation of attachment (greed) to a direction. Given our culture, this understanding of greed may not be readily

apparent. Also, subtle dogmatism is without doubt the most important factor in leadership derailment; therefore, it may be valuable for managers to regard it as a separate factor. I experienced a classic example of this in modern governance while observing a senior civil servant of a neighboring nation. He felt his administration worked ‘well enough’ but had ‘a few issues’. They included losing bright young officers faster than any other service in the government, low morale, and a high incidence of stressrelated health problems among senior officers. He was confident that the current system ‘should’ work and he was afraid of ruffling the feathers of his colleagues by making changes. In the hopes of getting support for his non-action, he ordered a slew of different consultants’ reports. All pointed to the same dangers ahead. Nevertheless, he insisted on keeping the status quo and his inability to adapt caused his administration to continue to decline. One simple way to avoid these derailment factors is to resign now, join the Buddhist monks in seclusion and leave leadership behind. But a more plausible alternative would be to be more self-aware, to wrestle with the messiness of our human condition, to strive for the middle path between these six hindrances, and to forgive ourselves time and time again as we struggle to make progress. Jonathan Marshall is Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. A psychologist and executive coach, he heads the LKY School’s coaching project and maintains a consulting, coaching, and counselling practice. He can be contacted at

· J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 6 5

Interpret Sex Worker Health”, to appear in a forthcoming 2011 issue of the Journal of Infectious Disease

Faculty achievements Asit K Biswas Distinguished Visiting Professor Co-authored with Leong Ching, a doctoral candidate at the School, an op-ed entitled “Exporting River-Cleaning Expertise”, in The Business Times, 26 August 2011. Huang Jing Visiting Professor Was invited to be a keynote speaker at the 3rd Annual Forum of Overseas Talents on August 20-21 in Beijing. Astrid S. Tuminez Vice Dean (Research) A joint proposal on “Women’s Pathways to Leadership in Asia”, submitted by Astrid S. Tuminez and colleagues from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (NUS), received a $20,000 grant for a workshop to be held at the LKY School in late September 2011. Co-authored with Joseph D. Tucker “Reframing Conceptual Approaches to

Phua Kai Hong Associate Professor Was awarded a GAI-NIHA grant to do a collaborative study on the Impact of Public-Private Relationships and Interactions or PPPs on Health System Objectives Published an article entitled “Ask NUS Economists: Ensuring healthcare is affordable for all” in The Straits Times, 18 August 2011. Ashish Lall Associate Professor

Intellectual Property, Emerging Markets Economics and Antitrust Law & Policy. The article is due to appear in a forthcoming volume entitled Intellectual Property, Competition Law and Economics in Asia, edited by Ian McEwin, Professor at NUS Law School.

Student achievements Jan Seifert Doctoral candidate His working paper, entitled “Change and Stability in the EU budget”, was published by the EU Centre in Singapore. Savita Shankar

Co-authored an article entitled “A Critical Assessment of The Legal and Economic Framework of IP-Competition Interface in Singapore” with Daryl Lim, Assistant Professor at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. The article was one of the top 10 downloads in six SSRN categories, namely, Emerging Markets Economics: Industrial Policy & Regulation, Asian Law, Innovation,

Received a Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore.

New Publications

The Compendium of Research 20092010 features the work of the Lee

The Lee Kuan Yew School

Kuan Yew School

of Public Policy has

of Public Policy’s

launched its new Public

research centres,

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faculty and fellows

the policy briefs and

from August 2009

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to December 2010.

In the forthcoming Oct-Dec issue of Global-is-Asian, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be addressing the issue of faith and policy making in the 21st century.

Mr Blair speaks at the launch of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (

“The world is becoming more, not less, religious. At the same time, religious communities are deeply engaged in a wide array of programmes, initiatives and services. The resulting policy implications are both incredibly diverse and deeply important to explore. The intersection of religion and policy occurs in obvious areas such as conflict and reconciliation and in under-appreciated areas like development, migration, human rights, and even economics. When policy makers and politicians create policies, initiatives and laws that fail to take the role of religious communities into account, they risk creating redundant policy that does not take advantage

Image: Patrick McMullan

of resources already extant and functioning (often more effectively than government programmes themselves). So we need stronger ties between policy makers and university scholars who are themselves at the forefront of researching the multi-faceted influence of religion in the globalised world. Through university-led policy briefs, executive training and the like, I have no doubt that we can create more holistic, pragmatic and effective policy in national and international governing bodies.” - Tony Blair

· J uly- S e p t 2 0 1 1 · p 6 7

Global-is-Asian Issue 11  

A quarterly magazine of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Global-is-Asian Issue 11  

A quarterly magazine of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy