Kishore Mahbubani, an outspoken former diplomat (there's a contradiction for you) and current academic in Singapore, is a person whose views I usually find myself detesting, their generally being of the aggressively far-right variety, continentalistic (as an analogue to nationalistic, if I may be allowed to coin a neologism) and full of just plain preachy know-it-all-ness. Imagine therefore my surprise when I read an article by him in the FT yesterday, in which he comes across as quite reasonable and accurate. My favourite bit was:
Indeed, if the Thais and Indonesians did not come from inherently polite societies, they would say to the US and Europe: "The time has come for you to administer the same bitter medicine you prescribed to us: stop living beyond your means."
The article makes several other very good points, which I won't bother quoting here because then I might as well copy-past the entire article here.
The one thing I still disagree with him pretty strongly on is his notion of Asianness, something I consider quite nonsensical. As I've ranted before in a different context, there is no such thing as Asia. Or to be more specific, there is no one correct definition of Asia beyond the purely factual geographic one (and even that isn't clear -- is Turkey part of Asia? Is Australia? Eastern Russia?). So for someone to claim to speak for all of "Asia" is silly at the very least. For someone who happens to come from one of Asia's smallest countries to attempt to assume this mantle is just absurd.
Still, this article is very much worth a read.