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My new love: South-east Asia

14 Apr 2017

I am in love again.

Yes, I have found a new love. When I was young and dreamt of travels overseas, I had no doubt in my mind where I wanted to go if I could ever afford it. I would take off to London and Paris, New York and San Francisco. All four cities were great beacons beckoning me. Looking back at my early life, it is not surprising that I was in love with these Western cities.

I spent the first 15 years of my life, from 1948 to 1963, in a British colony. Like many in my generation, we were both politically and mentally colonised. None of us questioned this deeply ingrained assumption: The West was best. I will never forget a conversation with a primary school classmate, Morgan. I asked him where he would like to go when he grew up. He replied: “London.” I asked: “Why London?” He replied: “Because in London, the streets are paved with gold.”


Kishore Mahbubani is the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. This article was first published on The Straits Times on 15th April 2017.

Kishore Mahbubani

Kishore Mahbubani

Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore