Issue 10 · Apr-Jun 2011 - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy



Issue 10 · Apr-Jun 2011 - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
Energy and sustainability • Democracy • Role of a public policy school
Issue 10 · Apr-Jun 2011
Column · Dean’s Provocations
The search for good governance
Asian parking policy surprises
10 Singapore’s demographic trends
12 Deconstructing domestic work: why it
Sung Lee, [email protected]
Alicia Wong
Elizabeth Ong,
Chris Koh,
14 Information technologies and the rise of
16 The media’s role in public policy
[email protected]
18 States and regions in East Asia and
Europe: histories matter
[email protected]
Cover Illustrator
Carolyn Ridsdale
As populations and affluence rise, countries across
the globe wrestle with parking issues. 8
Li Dan, Paul Lachine and Danny Snell
Editorial Advisory Board
Eduardo Araral, Preeti Dawra, Darryl Jarvis, Ora-orn
Poocharoen, Astrid S. Tuminez, Stavros Yiannouka
21 Wanted and needed: women leaders in
22 Europe’s importance in the global village
24 Predictable uncertainty: China’s rise and
U.S.–Korea security dilemmas
26 What do businesses think of ASEAN?
28 ASEAN: in pursuit of a dynamic
Editorial Office
Research Support Unit (RSU)
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
469C Oei Tiong Ham Building, Singapore 259772
+65 6516 4301
[email protected]
30 Book review
32 Breaking the sustainability barrier
34 The future of nuclear energy
No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in
part without written permission from the Editor-in-Chief
© 2011, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS. Globalis-Asian is published quarterly.
38 The business case against nuclear power
40 Oil: a risky beneficiary of Japan’s nuclear
crisis and Arab revolts
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.
42 Championing climate change in
Southeast Asia: a role for corporate
ISSN 1793-8902
Jan Peter Balkenende reminds Asia of the importance
of Europe in the global village. 22
44 Quo vadis, energy policy?
46 Institutions of relevance
50 Democracy and development
53 Preventing mass violence and genocide in
the 21st century
56 Street, stage, shrine, and square: protest
sites as contested terrain
Alma Mater
59 Education for development
61 Mongolia: fastest-growing economy in
the next decade
Executive Education
64 Nurturing collaboration among Central
Asian countries
Achieving sustainability 32
The future of nuclear energy 34
Back to oil? 40
66 The new year and a new vision for
Photo Essay
68 Do you live the change?
research Sojourn
72 Scholars without borders
74 An exercise in climate change evaluation
and letting go
Column · Shrink Wrap
77 Psychology of a dictator
Public policy schools find it difficult to attain the right balance between theory and practice. 46
The search for good
Text • Kishore Mahbubani
Kishore Mahbubani is the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew
School of Public Policy at the National University
of Singapore.
hou Enlai, the legendary Chinese leader, was once asked by a visiting
French minister, Andre Malraux, what he thought of the French revolution of 1789. Zhou Enlai famously replied, ‘It is too early to tell.’
If Zhou were alive today, he would probably give the same answer if he
were asked what he thought of the recent revolutions in North Africa. President Ben Ali of Tunisia fled on 15 January; President Mubarak of Egypt
resigned on 12 February; and the UN Security Council adopted its sanctions
on Moammar Gadhafi on 27 February. In addition, we have seen remarkable
demonstrations in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. So why did all these apparently stable societies suddenly explode? The simple answer is that nobody
knows (and certainly nobody predicted these surprising developments).
However, some alternative narratives are emerging.
The Western narrative is clear. Democracy is an unstoppable force. Hence,
just as democratic revolutions swept through the former Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe, and more recently, were rekindled in Georgia (2003) and
Ukraine (2004), it was only a matter of time before they crossed the Mediterranean to sweep into North Africa. Roger Cohen, an influential New York
Times columnist said these upheavals have shown that young Arabs ‘are
focused on issues like democracy, accountability, transparency and the rule
of law’. This Western narrative may well be true. If so, it is remarkable that
several Western countries did not leap with joy when long-serving dictators
were removed. The French foreign minister Michèle Alliot-Marie tried to
defend the rule of President Ben Ali and suggested sending French security
forces to help quell the uprising. The Obama Administration tried its best
to save Mubarak. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded with
officials in Washington to delay Mubarak’s departure from Egypt so that
Israel could have more time to prepare.
There is no comparable Asian narrative on the North African revolutions.
Most Asians believe that the lack of development is as important as the lack
of democracy in fomenting revolutions. The main reason why these revolutions broke out in North Africa and the Middle East rather than in Asia is that
many North African societies have remained socially and economically stagnant while Asian societies have focused on development. The lack of jobs
and economic growth also fuelled this unrest. Since many Europeans now
live in terror of the consequences of these North African revolutions, they
Image: Danny Snell
must be wishing they had stable neighbours like Brunei, Indonesia
and Malaysia rather than Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
The fundamental lesson may therefore be crystal clear. To
prevent instability, countries need to relentlessly promote good
governance. As long as the common man on the street feels that
with each passing year, his livelihood and the livelihood of his
children are improving, there will be relative political stability.
To understand the gap between the North African and East Asian
stories, it is good to remind ourselves that in the 1960s, Egypt had
roughly the same per capita income as South Korea. Today the gap
could not be more telling.
The recent North African revolutions should therefore accelerate the search for good governance. What makes this search extremely difficult is that we are not sure what we are searching for.
In the Western narrative, no good governance is possible without a
package of political freedoms. In East Asia, no good governance is
possible without social and economic growth and development. In
short, the emphasis varies in different societies. Yet it is clear that
we all have to come together to forge a global consensus on what
the essential requirements for good governance are.
The American economy is struggling to re-stabilise itself because it has neglected some fundamental principles of economic
discipline. The most fundamental economic principle is that no
country can live beyond its means forever. Unless America reduces its deficits, it could go the way of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, with horrendous consequences for itself and for the world.
America needs to pay more attention to economic fundamentals
to achieve good governance. By contrast, while the Chinese economic system is thriving, China’s political system has to adapt
and adjust to the aspirations of a rising and vocal Chinese middle
class. China has to pay more attention to political fundamentals to
achieve good governance.
One vital future role for the LKY School is to provide a forum for continuing debate and research on what constitutes good
governance. It helps when former Prime Ministers like Tony Blair
and Jan Peter Balkenende share their experiences at the School.
It also helps that the faculty has a dense research agenda on various aspects of good governance. Hence, in the global search for
good governance, one essential place to visit may well be the LKY
School. The time has come to develop a new global consensus on
what constitutes good governance. To achieve this consensus, we
will have to bring together the best of the East and the West. If we
succeed, we may be less surprised by revolutions in North Africa
and elsewhere.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 5
Asian parking policy surprises · Singapore’s demographic trends ·
Deconstructing domestic work: why it matters · Information technologies and the
rise of Asia · The media’s role in public policy · States and regions in East Asia and
Europe: histories matter · Wanted and needed: women leaders in Asia · Europe’s
importance in the global village · Predictable uncertainty: China’s rise and U.S.–
Korea security dilemmas · What do businesses think of ASEAN? ·
ASEAN: in pursuit of a dynamic equilibrium · Book review
Asian parking
policy surprises
As populations and affluence rise, countries across the globe wrestle
with parking issues. Paul Barter looks at how the West and the East
handle the demand and supply of parking spaces.
Image: ST Steve,
‘East Asian cities, along with Singapore, have parking policies that
avoid excessive promotion of automobile-dependence. Although these
cities have apparently conventional parking policies on paper and still
have minimum parking requirements, their parking standards tend to be
applied moderately and pragmatically.’
arking policy is a hot topic in many cities, usually because of
the conflict it provokes. Innovation in parking policy and technology is rapidly broadening the possibilities, but this area remains
a minefield for many jurisdictions. There is also an increasing
awareness of the importance of parking policy as a key influence
on transport patterns. However, there is very little parking policy
literature that provides any clear international comparative perspective or guidance for regions outside the North Atlantic.
Parking Policy in Asian Cities is a 90-page report that addresses this gap for the Asian region. It compares parking practice
and policy in 14 cities across South Asia, Southeast Asia and East
Asia with the help of assistants and generous collaborators in each
city. It was funded by the Sustainable Infrastructure Division of
the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The study reveals some
surprises about parking policy in the region and striking contrasts
among the cities that were studied.
Worldwide, the most common approach to parking policy requires every building to include on-site parking — enough to cater
to all the parking demand it generates. This approach originated
in the United States and it is in American suburban areas that this
conventional approach takes its extreme form, to the point that a
suburban office campus may be required to have more parking
space than actual office floor space.
However, this conventional parking policy — based on minimum parking requirements — is usually regarded to be ill-suited
to dense urban environments, such as those found in the older parts
of most cities. Therefore, in dense areas of Western cities, a different approach is usually taken, in which parking is intensively
managed by local governments as a shared resource for whole
neighbourhoods, with as much emphasis on managing demand
as on ensuring supply. This ‘parking management’ paradigm has
been the main alternative to the conventional approach so far. Recently, it has been joined by another alternative: the so far untested
market-oriented approach championed by Professor Donald Shoup
of UCLA and author of the book The High Cost of Free Parking.
As mentioned above, Parking Policy in Asian Cities reveals
some surprises. Most Asian cities have high urban densities,
relatively low car ownership and high use of public transport. So,
we might expect them to take a parking management approach
in their parking policies. Instead, all of the 14 cities studied apply minimum parking requirements. Surprisingly, they appear to
be following a conventional approach. In fact, most of the South
Asian and Southeast Asian cities in the study are adopting parking policies that promote parking supply in the same ways that
automobile-dependent suburban areas in the West do, albeit to a
lesser extent for now. Such policies are helping to fuel the growth
of car ownership and traffic.
On the other hand, the East Asian cities, along with Singapore, have parking policies that avoid excessive promotion of
automobile-dependence. Although these cities have apparently
conventional parking policies on paper and still have minimum
parking requirements, their parking standards tend to be applied
moderately and pragmatically. In some, such as Singapore, this
involves making an effort to ensure that parking requirements are
not excessive. In others, such as Tokyo and Taipei, it involves simply setting parking requirements at a surprisingly low level and
not worrying too much about the possibility of a spillover. This
may be because parking policy in East Asia generally assumes
a strong role for shared private sector and public sector parking.
Thus, the affluent cities in the East Asia region have been shifting
away from efforts to expand parking supply despite having parking
policies that give the impression that they are promoting automobile-dependence. Nevertheless, it is still surprising that these cities
are turning only slowly towards parking management, an approach
that would seem well-suited to their needs. Seoul is alone among
Asian cities in the study in explicitly using parking maximums as a
traffic demand management measure.
Paul Barter is an Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
[email protected]
Singapore’s total fertility rate
is falling. This is a phenomenon
shared by other developed
nations. Yap Mui Teng looks at
the figures and ponders what
should be done next.
Image: Li Dan
ingapore’s total fertility rate (TFR)
at the time of full independence in
1965 was about 4.7 births per woman.
Nearly 56,000 babies were born that year.
The TFR fell to the replacement level of
2.1 births per woman a decade later, in
1975, as the number of births fell to about
40,000. Singapore has experienced belowreplacement TFRs since 1977. After a
decade of below-replacement fertility, and
the TFR falling to a then unprecedented
low of 1.4 births per woman in 1986, the
government ended the anti-natalist policy
that it had adopted since independence and
replaced it with a selectively pro-natalist
one in 1987. The ‘Stop at two (children per
family)’ policy was replaced with ‘Have
three or more, if you can afford it’.
Both the TFR and the number of
births rose sharply following this change.
However, these could not be sustained
even though measures were also introduced to ease the financial costs of having children and the conflict between
women’s work and family roles. Measures previously put in place to discourage
large families were also removed. Since
the early 2000s, Singapore has ranked
among the countries with the lowest
TFRs in the world. The numerical target
on family size was removed in 2004 and
the policy has since been to provide a
supportive environment for Singaporeans to marry and have children. The latest available preliminary data show that
Singapore’s TFR has reached a new low,
at 1.16 births per woman, in 2010. There
were fewer than 38,000 babies born. The
downward slide has continued in spite of
the gamut of measures introduced and
enhanced over the years to support family formation.
To be fair, the first decade of the 21st century has been a particularly turbulent one for
the Singapore economy and for its people
who are used to steady growth at fairly high
rates. Economic shocks were few and far
between. Since the Asian financial crisis in
1997–98, however, Singapore has encountered several severe economic shocks due
mainly to it being a small and open economy
in a globalised and highly inter-connected
world (Figure 1). The country experienced
economic downturns in the early 2000s associated with events such as the September
11 attack on the US, the dot-com bust, and
the SARS epidemic which heavily affected
Singapore’s tourism industry. In 2008–09, it
experienced another episode of uncertainty
associated with the global economic crisis
following the crash of the property market in
the US. The predictions then had been dire,
with the crisis likened to the Great Depression. Unemployment rose to its highest level
in decades in 2003 and could have peaked
again in 2008–09 if not for the job-saving
programmes put in place.
In the event, Singapore and Asia survived the recent economic crisis relatively
unscathed. IPS’ Survey on the Marriage
and Parenthood Package 2008 carried out
in September 2009 showed that the childbearing decisions of 18 per cent of Singapore’s resident population of reproductive
ages 20–49 years had been affected by the
crisis. Among these, the majority were
postponing their births — 12 per cent
would have children when the economy
recovered. The remaining six per cent,
however, would not have any more children, either because they felt they were
too old to have children or because the
cost of living was too high.
Apart from the impact of short-term
shocks, Singaporeans’ marriage and
childbearing behaviour seem also to have
Figure 1: TFR and GDP growth rate, 1997–2010
Source: Department of Statistics. Population 2010, Key Annual Indicators and
Time Series on GDP at 2005 Market Prices and Real Economic Growth.
changed over the past three decades. Singaporeans are increasingly delaying marriage or not marrying at all. Those who are
married are also having fewer children.
The declines in marriage and family size
have remained in spite of declarations of
desire among singles to marry, and among
the married to have 2–3 children.
What more needs to be done? Marriage and childbearing are indeed matters
of personal choice. However, barriers to
achieving desired personal goals in turn
have national implications. The Marriage
and Parenthood packages had been put in
place specifically to help overcome barriers to achieving these desired outcomes.
IPS projections based on assumptions of
a constant TFR of 1.24 births per woman
from 2005 onwards, gradual rise in life
expectancy and zero net migration show
that population decline would set in from
2020. There will be a growing proportion of the old (defined as those 65 and
over) and declines in the proportions of
youth (aged 0–14 years) and the working
age population (aged 15–64 years). The
potential support ratio is projected to fall
from more than 8.6 persons of working
ages per elderly to 2.5 in 2030 and 1.7 in
2045–50 under these assumptions.
Immigration ameliorates the pace
of ageing and decline. However, massive immigration also brings its own set
of challenges. Apart from physical and
infrastructural constraints, there are also
issues of integration and social cohesion.
These are especially important in a small
and densely populated city-state like Singapore where differences are encountered
at close quarters.
Studies elsewhere suggest that globalisation and its attendant consequences
of increased uncertainty and competition
in the labour market are making it more
difficult for youths to attain traditional
adulthood markers, including getting married and becoming parents. The perceived
costs of having children, both financial and
time-wise, in view of perceptions of what
is needed to give children a leg-up on the
competition, make becoming parents a
daunting prospect.
Perhaps the young in Singapore, as
those elsewhere, need assistance to cope
with the challenges posed by globalisation
and greater competition. Greater flexibility
in education and employment require the
collaboration of all stakeholders, including
the government and employers. After all,
where will future employees and tax payers come from if the stork will not deliver
in the first place?
Yap Mui Teng is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School
of Public Policy. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 1 1
Deconstructing domestic
work: why it matters
Text • Nicola Pocock
Image: Neo Kae Yuan
Domestic workers contribute in many
ways to Singapore society and economy,
yet their status is still an issue here. Nicola
Pocock looks at the reasons why, and what
can be done.
omestic work is underpaid and undervalued in most countries, including Singapore, where foreign female domestic
workers (FDWs) plug a caring and domestic work gap. There are
250,000 live-in FDWs here, one in every six households, hailing
from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Legally, they are not entitled to a minimum wage or a mandatory
day off. Why is domestic work devalued and underpaid, and why
are foreign women hired to do it in Singapore?
Misconceptions and common views
Some people claim that as FDWs perform ‘unskilled’ work,
they need not be remunerated well, nor be affected by wage control laws. Yet, FDWs perform skilled work that includes cooking
meals, childcare and eldercare. Further reasons cited in support
of low wages include the following: that migration as an FDW
is an individual choice, and that the salary FDWs receive is high
compared to what they would be paid back home. This effectively
negates debates about a minimum wage. But arguably, migration
is not an individual choice if one considers the structural conditions in source countries (chronic un- and under-employment)
that prompt migration. In addition, people are not rewarded in
the labour market according to the value they create in society
(otherwise, investment bankers would be penalised for wreaking
havoc in financial markets, and hospital cleaners and childcare
workers would be better paid). Furthermore, wages are politically
determined via immigration laws, rather than via a free market that
rewards workers according to their productivity or value creation.
Part of the reason why FDWs do not enjoy the labour rights
that other workers benefit from is that employers do not consider
them to be like other types of workers. Raka Ray, a sociology
professor at Berkeley, has eloquently put forward two possible
reasons for this: First, the nature of an FDW’s work — caring
for loved ones — means that employers expect FDWs to provide
care beyond what any job description can specify. Most organisations rely on their employees to go beyond the scope of activities
defined in their contracts, and in the household, this is magnified
because it is seen as a private domain, and thus not subject to
regulation. Secondly, hiring foreign women of a different class
and ethnicity separates employers from their FDWs, making it
psychologically easier to treat them differently. UN Women
estimates that 84,967 FDWs here, ie. 34 per cent of the total,
currently do not enjoy a day off. When UN Women launched a
Maid Day Off campaign in 2008, it received practically no public
support and little media coverage. Employers, without state intervention, are clearly unwilling to step up.
Foreign women address the lack of care resources in Singapore — a societal problem
FDWs provide care services and housework that facilitate the
labour market entry of Singaporean and expatriate women, enabling families to go about their daily lives with ease. At its core,
employing FDWs is a private solution to a public problem. Hiring
an FDW enables couples to avoid difficult conversations about
who should do what at home, entrenching gendered divisions of
labour between men and women. Angelique Chan and her colleagues in NUS recently conducted a survey on the role of FDWs
in eldercare in Singapore. They found that FDWs assisted with 46
per cent of seniors’ activities of daily living. Given the vital role
that FDWs play in addressing the lack of care resources in Singapore, the government should raise the status of FDWs by professionalising their work and the employment relationship. This
could be achieved by legislating a day off and a minimum wage,
professionalising their training and distinguishing between care
workers and domestic workers. Of course, this means that lowcost ‘all-in-one’ labour would no longer be an option, something
that is unpalatable to both the government and families. That is
because the government places the responsibility of caring for the
elderly and children on families, with minimal support except for
occasional cash handouts. As a result, it is cheaper to hire a roundthe-clock FDW than to use nursing homes or childcare centres.
‘Singapore lags behind other
countries with similar living standards
and national income in the way they
treat FDWs. In Hong Kong, FDWs
have one day off per week and a
minimum allowable wage (MAW)
that is adjusted annually according to
2. Hong Kong SAR Labour Department: Practical Guide For Employment of foreign domestic helpers – What
foreign domestic helpers and their employers should know.
As NTU sociology professor Teo You Yenn asserts, ‘this is not a
sustainable or desirable solution to a long-term problem’.1
Singapore lags behind other countries with similar living standards and national income in the way they treat FDWs. In Hong
Kong, FDWs have one day off per week and a minimum allowable wage (MAW) that is adjusted annually according to inflation
(The MAW was HK$3,580 in 2010.). Employers found breaching
the MAW are liable to a maximum fine of HK$350,000 and three
years’ imprisonment.2 Taiwan has similar differential minimum
wage requirements for FDWs — NT$15,840, compared to the
minimum basic wage of NT$17,280. Whilst differential wage
laws for FDWs are obviously limited, it is a better deal than what
Singapore-based FDWs get. Consider nannies and home cleaners
in Western countries — they are revered and relatively financially
well-rewarded in their labour markets.
If the government sent a strong message that domestic and
caring work mattered, employers’ attitudes would change faster
and abuse cases would decline.3 Employers are unlikely to grant
their FDWs a day-off, or pay them more, even if the compulsory
levy were abolished. I am not saying that this would never happen. But it would take longer for this to occur organically. Given
that FDWs address a lack of care resources and facilitate higher
female labour force participation, which directly contributes to
Singapore’s economic development, it is about time their contributions are recognised.
3. Employers found guilty of physically abusing their FDWs are subject to the Penal Code, which provides
up to 1.5 times the normal punishment (fine or imprisonment) for particular offenses. It does not cover
psychological maltreatment or wrongful confinment.
Nicola Pocock is a Research Associate at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public
Policy. [email protected]
1. Teo YY: “Making choices amidst increasing burdens: a feminist analysis of Singapore’s prenatal policies.”
Conference paper, Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) conference, 5 March 2011.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 1 3
Information technologies
and the rise of Asia
Asia and its cities are fast taking over the
reins of the Information and Communication
Technologies (ICT) revolution from the U.S..
Dale Jorgenson and Vu Minh Khuong1 look
at the growing figures.
The Rise of Asia
ver the past few decades, Asia has surprised the world with
its accelerated transformation towards sustained economic
growth. China and India and developing Asia’s2 major economies
have now joined the high-performance league. In the aftermath of
the world financial and economic crisis, developing Asia has become the main engine of the global economic growth and a major
power in the world economy.
The average GDP growth rate of the sixteen economies of developing Asia increased from 6.8 per cent in 1990–2000 to 7.4
per cent in 2000–08, whereas the seven largest industrialised
economies (G7) experienced a sharp slowdown in growth, from
2.6 per cent in 1990–2000 to 1.8 per cent in 2000–08 (Table 1).
Developing Asia played an important role in boosting the world’s
economic growth with its contribution to the world economy’s
growth rising from 38.1 per cent in the first period to 43.3 per cent
in the second. The group as a whole has surpassed the size of the
economy of the US, whose share was 21 per cent in 2008. China
and India have become, respectively, the second and fourth largest
economies, with China behind only the US, and India behind only
the US, China and Japan.
Contributions of ICT to the rise of Asia
ICT contributes to economic growth via three channels. First,
investment in ICT capital assets increases capital services and input into production. Second, the ICT-producing sector produces
ICT goods and services, which makes a direct contribution to the
value-added generated by the economy. The third channel is the
contribution of ICT to improving the efficiency of the economy,
which appears as growth of output per unit of input or total factor
productivity (TFP).
1. We thank Alvin Diaz and Nguyen Chi Hieu for their excellent research assistance.
2. This study covers 122 economies, which are divided into seven groups: (i) G7, which includes the seven
largest industrialised economies; (ii) Non-G7 Industrialised (17 non-G7 industrialised economies); (iii) Developing Asia (16 economies); (iv) Latin America (20 economies); (v) Eastern Europe and the former Soviet
Union (22 economies); (vi) Sub-Saharan Africa (29 economies); and (vii) North Africa and Middle-East (11
economies). The Developing Asia group consists of the following 16 economies: Bangladesh, Cambodia,
China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri
Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Unless otherwise indicated, the data and results used in this article are
drawn from Jorgenson and Vu (2010).
3. IT-BPO stands for Information Technology-Business Process Outsource. These data are from the
NASSCOM (2005, 2010, 2011).
4. Computed from UN Comtrade data.
Image: how3ird,
Table 1: Sources of GDP growth by period
Period 1990–2000
Period 1990–2000
Sources of growth (% ppa)
Sources of growth (% ppa)
Non-G7 industrialised
Developing Asia
Latin America
Eastern Europe
Sub-Saharan Africa
N. Africa & M. East
Through the first channel, ICT contributed 0.43 and 0.41 percentage points to the
world economy’s growth in 1990–2000
and 2000–08, respectively. In particular,
this contribution for developing Asia nearly doubled over the two periods, from 0.26
percentage points in 1990–2000 to 0.47
in 2000–08. This pattern was even more
notable for China and India. The contribution of ICT went up from 0.26 percentage
points in 1990–2000 to 0.56 in 2000–08
for the former, and from 0.14 to 0.40 for
the latter.
Developing Asia is successful in adopting ICT and in embracing the market opportunities to become a major hub for the
production of ICT goods and services.
ASEAN-6 nations (Indonesia, Malaysia,
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and China together accounted for
nearly 40 per cent of the global ICT hardware exports in 2008. In this market, China
has become a major player with its share
roaring from five per cent in 2000 to nearly
25 per cent in 2008 (Figure 1).
At the same time, India has been strengthening its position as the largest exporter of
computer software and information technology services with the phenomenal growth of
its IT-BPO, from $4 billion in 2000 to $12
billion in 2004 to over $50 billion in 2010;
and in 2010, India claimed 55 per cent of
the global sourcing market.3 For China, ICT
hardware accounted for 28 per cent of the
country’s total exports in 2008,4 while for
India, IT-BPO contributed 26 per cent to its
total exports in 2010 (NASSCOM, 2010).
Developing Asia and catching up: the
long road ahead
Developing Asia has made a quantum
leap in becoming the main engine of the
global economic growth and a major
centre of economic power. However, an
enormous gap remains between developing Asia, the US and other industrialised
countries in the levels of per capita income
and labour productivity.
Taking the US level in 2000 as the
benchmark (=100), the level of per capita
income, based on purchasing power parity
(PPP), was only 14.1 for China and 7.0 for
India in 2008. Furthermore, the level of
labour productivity was only 11.9 in PPP
terms and 4.8 in the nominal exchange
rate term for China, whereas these figures
for India were 8.7 and 2.6 respectively. It
is also worth noting that for the most advanced economies in the developing Asia
group, the level of labour productivity in
nominal terms was still significantly behind
that of the US. This level in 2008 was 97.3
for Hong Kong, 67.2 for Singapore, 59.7
for Taiwan and 45.2 for South Korea, while
it was 112.1 for the US.
The policy response of Asian economies
to the economic and financial crisis has
shown that the group can continue its spectacular performance in the coming decades.
There is no doubt that ICT will be one of
the most important drivers for developing
Asia to succeed in this endeavour.
Dale W. Jorgenson is the Samuel W. Morris University Professor at Harvard University. [email protected] Vu Minh Khuong is an Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
[email protected]
Jorgenson, Dale and Vu, Khuong M. (2010), ‘Potential Growth of the
World Economy’, Journal of Policy Modeling, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp.
615-631, 2010.
NASSCOM (2005), NASSCOM-McKinsey report 2005: Extending
India’s Leadership of the Global IT and BPO Industries.
NASSCOM (2010), The IT BPO Sector in India: Strategic Review 2010, NASSCOM.
NASSCOM (2011), The IT BPO Sector in India: Strategic Review 2011, NASSCOM.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 1 5
Image: Danny Snell
The media’s
role in public
Basskaran Nair defines the role
of the media in forming public
opinion and public policy.
he mass media plays a critical role
in message dissemination and shaping public opinion. For policy planners
to successfully convey messages to their
respective constituents, be they citizens,
institutions or foreign entities, they must
cultivate strong relationships with local,
regional and international media. Effective
media management strengthens the citizens’ confidence; boosts the marketing of
public policies internally and internationally; facilitates the global search for talent;
and builds the nation’s global branding.
Poor media relations can lead to misunderstanding and mistrust between the media
and policy planners, and the stereotyping
of the country.
A message conveyed by the mass media
reaches a wider audience and creates credibility and confidence that beats logos, slogans and slick advertising. Trade mission
‘The mass media plays a critical role
in message dissemination and shaping
public opinion. For policy planners
to successfully convey messages to
their respective constituents, they must
cultivate strong relationships with local,
regional and international media.’
activities, tourism board advertising and
other government-related initiatives still
need to be actively pursued but the reach
and effectiveness will not be comparable
to solid and positive media coverage. Besides, almost all global rankings of countries, companies and outstanding citizens
are conducted and publicised by the media.
Examples include the Wall Street Journal’s
‘Most Admired Company’ poll, TIME
magazine’s annual TIME 100, a list of the
most influential people, or Newsweek’s
study of ‘The World’s Best Countries’.
Policies become salient and credible with
regular, robust media coverage. On the
other hand, media inattention can doom
major public issues to obscurity.
In the US, UK and many European
countries, the mass media effectively
controls who gets to participate in the
national dialogue. Consequently, knowing
its importance, large corporations such as
oil conglomerates, pharmaceuticals and
financial institutions hijack the media
agenda. They effectively use lobbyists,
legislators, think tanks and supportive
government officials.
Policy planners should learn from the
media management professionals. They
should be aware of basic communication
strategies. First, at a practical and technical level, they should know the newsroom power dynamics. Who owns the
media and what is their influence, if any?
In most countries, media ownership or
management is concentrated in the hands
of a relatively small number of people.
In the US, UK and in Europe, the editors, producers, newsreaders, reporters
and columnists of the leading television
networks and prestigious press play a
significant role in agenda setting. In most
Asian countries, mainstream media is
Another aspect of agenda setting is
timing. The political climate and public
receptivity often force policy makers to
consider issues that they would ignore
at other times. Two decades ago, it was
‘good to be greedy’, and therefore, excessive salaries were accepted. After the
global financial crisis in 2008, the high
salaries of executives was a highly contentious issue. Media stories paid particular
attention to excessive salaries, playing up
public disapproval.
The process of agenda setting and framing also means staying actively engaged
with the manufacturing of news. A classic
case study in the manufacturing of news,
as part of agenda setting and framing, is
related to September 11. Through news
frames, patterns of selection, emphasis,
exclusion and evaluation of events, one
can see the different facets of framing.
In the US, the Bush administration communicated policy priorities simply and
effectively by adopting cultural frames to
streamline and simplify their message. The
US media framed the September 11 event
as a spectre of an international Al Qaeda
operation and the growth of religious
fundamentalism that seeks to undermine
global security. On the other hand, there
was an anti-US political frame prominent
outside the US. European governments
and people were horrified with the news
flow from the US positioning Bush as a
war president and the US as a global police officer. The anti-American frame was
most prominent in the Arab and Islamic
world. Al Jazeera set the agenda for Arab
television news.
Can these strategies for agenda setting
and framing be applied to online media,
which is increasingly the new form of
communication? Certainly. However, if
the policy planner does not have the habit
of communicating in a mainstream media environment, he or she is unlikely to
succeed in an online media environment.
Netizens themselves are the newsmakers
and that poses great challenges to policy
planners. Social media is increasing in
popularity, notably among the younger
generation, who eschew traditional media
sources. Increasingly, youth these days
are becoming politically aware and vocal
online. In the 21st century, policy planners
need to be able to manage both traditional
and digital media.
Basskaran Nair is the Senior Vice President, Group
Corporate Marketing and Communications, at CapitaLand Limited and an Adjunct Associate Professor
at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He was
previously an Equity Partner and CEO of an international communications firm. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 1 7
States and
regions in East
Asia and Europe:
histories matter
Text • R. Bin Wong
Instead of looking at Western understanding
and the perspectives of Western states, we need
to improve the quality of our knowledge of East
Asian history and political relations.
ntil the late 20th century, statesmen, scholars and
people generally accepted, without much reflection,
the natural and necessary existence of states as the key actors in a larger international system with historical roots
in European practices. The political assumptions of these
beliefs rested on modern states being defined by a set of
traits, including the rule of law, government bureaucracies
and the consent of the governed, that were first formulated
in Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries.
Moreover, the characteristics of international relations in the 20th century were normatively defined by
principles associated with the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, that aimed to define patterns and principles of relations among European political regimes at the close of
the Thirty Years War. Today, we have come to recognise
that in between the national and global level of international relations, there are regional political formations,
of which ASEAN and the other groups Southeast Asian
states have helped to found are major examples. For
these regional political formations as well, European
practices continue to define expectations.
The construction of the European Union (EU) leads
analysts of contemporary international politics to
expect regional political alliances in other world regions to be the norm. However, this standard is more
problematic than the national state model
distilled out of European experiences
for individual government regimes. For
national states, the formal characteristics
deemed desirable by a combination of
abstract principles and Western practices
produce metrics for assessing the performance of political regimes.
The EU is understood to have grown
out of a history of shared cultural elements,
political practices and efforts at co-ordination as well as competition. Other regions
lack these particular features. Scholars
and statespersons distill certain principles
from EU practices and suggest that they
can be applied elsewhere, but they do not
necessarily have quite the neat collection
of traits needed to form a portable package
similar to the European-based model of a
modern political regime.
Recognition of the regional context of
EU development does not easily suggest
to us ways to assess conditions in other
world regions. If, however, we take more
seriously that the historical dimension of
regional political possibilities in Europe is
basic to its future set of choices, we might
seek to emulate the knowledge we have
about European political history for other
world regions. We are disinclined to do so
for two reasons:
First, as social scientists, we feel we
have developed some pretty robust tools
for analysing contemporary conditions
around the world. Our sense of satisfaction has increased as we have scaled back
our aspirations for plotting long sweeps of
historical change, either as accounts of the
past or as plans for the future. Our social
science tools can better identify causal
mechanisms at work in particular situations, than they can assess the significance
of the varied ways in which these somewhat similar situations are embedded in
larger and different contexts, limiting our
abilities to link specific conditions to larger
dynamics of social change.
Second, we generally continue to think
that the ideas and institutions proper for
the contemporary world emerged out of
Western experiences and thus have little
incentive to analyse ideas and institutions
basic to other world regions, other than as
impediments to the norms we think desirable. Consider for a moment what we might
discover if we do look at the history of state
transformation and state relations in other
world regions. We might better understand
the different types of state transformation
that inform the possibilities of regional relations in different parts of the world.
Roughly 2,000 years ago, there were
mighty empires in Asia and Europe.
Moreover, they shared some strikingly
similar traits. The Han and Roman empires
reached maximum territories of 2.3 million
square miles and 2.2 million square miles
respectively. Their maximum populations
have been estimated at 59.6 million for the
Chinese case and 60 million for the European. Our world today might look very different today if both empires had succeeded
in reproducing themselves. Their political
trajectories, of course, proved very different. Empire was repeatedly constructed
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 1 9
‘Scholars and statespersons distill certain principles from
EU practices and suggest that they can be applied elsewhere,
but they do not necessarily have quite the neat collection of
traits to form a portable package to resemble the coherent
components of a modern political regime.’
over two millennia of history in China —
there were centuries of weak or absent rule
from a single imperial throne, but from the
13th century to the early 20th century, largescale bureaucratic empire was the norm
and its guiding ideology and institutions
were formulated over at least the preceding 1,500 years.
Europe fragmented with the survival
and transformation of empire, in what had
been the eastern portion of the Roman Empire and a myriad of small and overlapping
forms of political and religious authorities
crystallising in Western Europe. The warmaking that was basic to European state
formation did not end until 1945 and even
then, the borders of national states in Europe were not permanently fixed. The late
20th century unification of Germany and
division of Czechoslovakia remind us that
European national states were more durable in principle than in practice.
Today’s EU is considered a forwardlooking political experiment that offers
lessons to regimes in other world regions.
Yet, if we were to put the EU in a historical
perspective spanning 2,000 years and include China in the same picture, we could
also view the EU as a weak and limited
effort to achieve political and economic
integration over a territorial space roughly
approaching that of China.
In addition to thinking of the ways that
EU policies can be models for other collections of states to consider, we might
also think about how Chinese practices
form a standard by which European fiscal and monetary policies, to take two
basic contemporary government functions, seem weaker and in certain ways
more problematic than they do in China.
Of course this kind of comparison immediately seems ill-conceived to many
observers, perhaps especially in Western
settings, but the limitations of this Chinese perspective on European political
changes do not encourage most people
to acknowledge the symmetric possibility that European patterns of political
change may also offer limited guidance
to explaining changes in China, either
historically or today.
When we move to a larger spatial
scale and ask about regional relations
across Northeast and Southeast Asia, the
presence of China as an actor of a larger
political and demographic scale is obvious. It makes problematic some of the
expectations derived from looking at the
EU experiences for East Asia. A different
political vantage point could be gained
by considering the history of the United
States’ engagement with Latin America.
We do not typically think of this history
when we want to consider regional political relations because the Americas have
produced little material that can be easily
considered normative.
Scholars and statesmen can see far
more clearly how Europe’s current challenges and opportunities have emerged
historically than they can discern the
historically generated menu of contemporary possibilities in other world regions
such as East Asia. Improving the quality
of our knowledge of East Asian political
relations historically matters not only to
future possibilities but can inform our
general social science thinking and supplement the understanding analysts and
practitioners in other world regions have
of their own situations.
R. Bin Wong is Director of the UCLA Asia Institute
and Professor of History. He was a guest of the Lee
Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in March 2011.
[email protected]
Wanted and needed:
women leaders in Asia
Text • Kirsten Trott
The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy addresses the issues of women’s
leadership in Asia through a bold new project, Women’s Pathways to Leadership
in Asia, in partnership with Asia Society. This first-of-its-kind project for Asia
will include academic research, capacity building and networking and will seek
to make a positive difference to women’s leadership in Asia.
hen Helen Reddy topped the charts in
1972 with her hit single I am Woman,,
only four per cent of MBA graduates were
women. Inn the labour market, only 20 per
cent of non-clerical, white-collar jobs and 17
per cent of all managerial positions were occupied by women. Almost forty years later,
the figures are still so bad that one could be
mistaken for thinking Reddy was talking
about kilogrammes and not rights.
It is true that female students now
represent 48 per cent of MBA students
worldwide (Quacquarelli Symonds) and
34.8 per cent of MBA programmes in the
US (Catalyst). Turning closer to home,
female students at the LKY School represent between 33 per cent to 46 per cent of
students enrolled in the Master in Public
Policy, Master in Public Administration
(the mid-career programme) and PhD programmes. Notably, however, only 25 per
cent of the students in the Master in Public
Management course, in which only those
who have had experience as senior managers are enrolled, are women.
Research from outside of Asia indicates
that this is the case. A 2007–08 survey by
Catalyst found that overall, 60 per cent of
women start on the post-MBA career ladder at entry-level positions, compared to
46 per cent of male graduates. On average,
women make US$4,600 less than male
colleagues in their initial jobs, even after
accounting for experience, industry and
region. Of the MBA alumni who graduated between 1996 and 2007, women senior leaders were more than three times (19
per cent for women versus six per cent for
men) as likely to have lost their jobs due to
downsizing or closure. Further, only four
per cent of women in the US, two per cent
in Europe and one per cent in Asia have
line responsibilities on executive committees (Deutsche Bank).
While these research findings merely
confirm what many women already know, it
was hard to reconcile the dire state of women’s leadership with the presence of 130 inspirational women leaders at Asia Society’s
Women Leaders of New Asia Summit held
in Singapore from 31 March to 2 April. Over
three days, women leaders from 22 different
countries discussed a diverse set of issues
pertaining to women’s leadership. Those at
the summit included Margaret Alva, Governor of Uttarakhand State in India; Chua Sock
Koong, CEO of Singtel; Shelly Lazarus,
Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather worldwide;
Marina Mahathir, activist; Saw Phaik Hwa,
President and CEO of SMRT; Teresa M
Ressel, CEO UBS Securities; Debra Soon,
Managing Director, Channel NewsAsia;
and members of parliament from Pakistan,
South Korea, Spain, Bangladesh and Singapore. They led the discussions on the role of
women leaders as drivers of organisational
success and as entrepreneurs in technology,
in the public sector, in media, on boards,
as agents of social change and in powering
economic growth.
Shabana Azmi, a women’s rights activist and a member of the Indian parliament,
gave an exquisite recital of the poem
Aurat, written by her father, Kaifi Azmi.
The poem, which was written almost
60 years before women in India were
given the same rights as men to inherit
ancestral property in 2006, asks women
to stand shoulder to shoulder with men.
It is this sort of equality that was the aim
of the Summit as stated by Asia Society’s
President, Vishakha Desai, in her opening
address: ‘Today’s Asian female leaders
aspire not only for “a seat at the table” but
for an active role in defining a new table
shared equally by women and men’.
In order to foster an environment in
which men and women can design Asia’s
future together, more needs to be understood
about women’s leadership in Asia and about
the policies, practices and socio-cultural
factors that help or hinder women’s progression to leadership positions in the region.
The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
hopes to address this through a bold new
project, Women’s Pathways to Leadership in
Asia, in partnership with Asia Society. This
first-of-its-kind project for Asia will include
academic research, capacity building and
networking and will seek to make a positive
difference to women’s leadership in Asia.
Including women is not only central
to Asian economic development and to
achieving a return on investment for development aid. With research showing
that a critical mass of women on corporate boards improves profitability, competitiveness, compliance and governance,
gender-parity in leadership is the key to
Asia’s ongoing competitiveness. Whatever the motivation, one thing is clear: Asia
can no longer afford to ignore the talent of
half its population.
Kirsten Trott is Senior Manager at the Research
Support Unit (RSU) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of
Public Policy. [email protected]
in the global
Jan Peter Balkenende, former Prime Minister
of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, reminds
Asia that Europe is important in the global
village today, where the sharing of power, not
dominance, determines membership.
‘New players have taken to the world stage:
emerging economies, multi-nationals,
powerful families, private donors, religious
groups and independent aid organisations. Of
course, governments still have tasks to carry
out, but more and more, they have to do so
by working with others.’
The Flag of Europe: the stars represent the peoples of Europe in a circle,
a symbol of unity. [Image: Ssolbergj, Wikimedia]
he world at large is slowly recovering from the global financial and economic crisis. Little by little, economic activity is
starting up again. Much needed reforms are being adopted. One
lesson is clear: our global system of governance is out of balance.
It should be re-assessed, so that we can find a new balance: A
balance that does justice to the new reality of interdependence
between countries and between issues.
Before we think about a new form of global governance, we
need to first accept that the traditional paradigms are out-of-date.
The world is no longer ruled by sovereign nation-states and their
leaders. The Indian-American Parag Khanna shows this convincingly in his book How to Run the World. I agree with Khanna that
globalisation, which allows capital, employment and information
to circulate without regard for borders, has eroded the power of
national governments. New players have taken to the world stage:
emerging economies, multi-nationals, powerful families, private
donors, religious groups and independent aid organisations. Of
course, governments still have tasks to carry out, but more and
more, they have to do so by working with others.
The balance of power is shifting. We have all read Kishore
Mahbubani’s book: The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible
Shift of Power to the East. It contains many sound insights. Asia is
booming, which rightly makes Asians more confident. Partly in the
light of Parag Khanna’s analysis, I prefer to speak of a ‘sharing of
power’ rather than a shift of power. After all, such shifts have been
a fact of life throughout history. We have always seen changes in
the power balance, whether economic or political. More importantly, I don’t believe that any one country or continent is going
to run the world. The global challenges we face require global
solutions: Solutions we can only bring about through global cooperation. We have to meet those challenges together: countries,
regions, continents, multinationals, NGOs and so on.
In this light, I see major opportunities for Europe in the global
village. Europe has 500 million people and a GNP of 13 trillion
euros. By comparison, the US has 300 million people and a GNP
of 11 trillion euros. Then there is China, with 1.4 billion people
and a GNP of four trillion euros. Now, I know that these statistics
tell us nothing about the future but I will say this: Europe can
prove its value in these new global conditions. It has a proven
record of dynamism and a tremendous capacity to adapt.
Europe reinvented itself in the second half of the 20th century, after an extremely turbulent period. Cooperation has
brought us peace, prosperity and stability. We created the internal European market and the euro. We brought many former
Eastern Bloc countries into the EU. Given our history, these
are all major achievements.
Today as well, we are taking major steps forward. Take the
new agreements on the Stability and Growth Pact. Take the Pact
for the Euro, agreed some weeks ago by the heads of government
at the European Council. The euro countries are bolstering their
competitive position. They will coordinate more closely on economic, financial and fiscal policy, all with a view to protecting
and strengthening the currency. Of course, I have also read the
analyses of the economists who are predicting the impending collapse of the euro, and let me tell you this: the euro will survive.
Those economists are ignoring the euro’s political dimension.
The euro is more than a currency. It is part of the very foundation
of the EU. If it crumbles, the entire structure will be at risk. After
all, the euro is linked to the European market and to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital — the entire process
of European integration. We will never abandon these things. We
will stand by the euro. The euro belongs to us.
Is Europe perfect? No, of course not. It may be the largest
economic bloc in the world, but we are not living up to expectations. As in other parts of the world, the financial crisis has shaken
Europe to its foundations. It has also been a wake-up call. There
has never been such widespread commitment to working together
to move forward. I sense it wherever I go in Europe. I hear it from
everyone I meet. All in all, that means Europe will continue to
play a prominent role on the world stage — not as the dominant
world power, but as a continent that plays a leading role in the
global sharing of power.
Jan Peter Balkenende is the former Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This is a summary of his public lecture at the Lee Kuan Yew School of
Public Policy on 28 March 2011.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 2 3
Image: rudenoon,
uncertainty: China’s
rise and U.S.–Korea
security dilemmas
Text • Michael Raska
An insight into how China’s military
modernisation spells out critical implications on
the future of U.S.–Korea alliance in East Asia.
or over a decade, there has been
an intense debate about whether
China’s widening geopolitical ambitions, coupled with its ongoing military modernisation efforts and future
power projection capabilities, may
intensify regional security dilemmas
and competition, particularly with
the US.
While most policy analysts agree
that China’s rise in global economic
and security affairs is likely to shape
the direction of the emerging strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, no clear consensus has
emerged on its likely shape and character. A closer look at the perennial
body of literature covering China’s
rise may suggest that there is no single school of thought — the ‘China
threat’ debate has been subjected to
diverse theoretical perspectives and
contending policy-oriented viewpoints from the European, American
and Asian vistas.
Arguably, however, no other issue
has generated as much promise and
ambiguity. As Lee Chung-Min, Dean
of the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University
in Korea noted, ‘while China’s continuing economic growth trajectory
has amplified regional co-operation
based on trade, economic incentives
and the importance of managing
commercial ties, China’s geopolitical
and strategic position coupled with
its military modernisation has progressively posed higher threshold
dilemmas for Asia as well as the
international system.’
Indeed, China’s growing geopolitical influence and strategic
interests in the region, propelled by
soft- and hard-power attributes, may
reshape traditional security alliances
in East Asia led by the US. This does
not mean that China is gradually
forcing the United States out of the
region or making it irrelevant, nor
that regional states in East Asia are
rushing to China in zero-sum terms.
On the contrary, it implies that there
is a mix of centripetal and centrifugal
drivers linked to China’s rise that
may impact the future of US alliance
relationships in the region. In this context,
one of the key questions is how China’s
rise will affect the future of the US–Republic of Korea (ROK) alliance.
To begin with, Chinese authorities
have become increasingly attentive and
responsive to critical security developments on the Korean Peninsula over the
last decade. Indeed, China’s geopolitical
and economic rise, coupled with its integration in the global community, has given
its diplomacy more leverage in managing
tensions and crises on the Korean Peninsula. Since 2003, Beijing has been more
proactive in mitigating the North Korean
‘hybrid’ security conundrum. It has provided a vital economic lifeline to North
Korea, inherently preventing its economic collapse, while quietly exerting moderate pressure on Pyongyang to return to
the stalled Six Party Talks and resolving
North Korea’s nuclear issue through multilateral coordination. In doing so, Beijing
has aimed to mitigate tensions between
the two Koreas, as well as risks and costs
associated with potential confrontations,
spillovers or crises that may require both
US and Chinese intervention.
A more contending view is that Beijing
is trying to avert a North Korean collapse
to prevent the Korean reunification, which
would likely undermine China’s leverage
in international and regional relations and
lead to the loss of the strategic buffer zone
provided by North Korea for the past 60
years. The modalities of Beijing’s growing influence, interests and involvement
in Korean security issues amplify strategic
dilemmas for the US–ROK alliance by
increasingly constraining the alliance’s
policy options and freedom of action. This
can be seen in the aftermath of North Korea’s covert and unprovoked sinking of the
Cheonan on 26 March 2010, which China
reluctantly scrutinised. Beijing showed an
assertive stance toward US–ROK responses — particularly vis-à-vis the joint naval
exercises off the west coast of South Korea
involving the George Washington Aircraft
Carrier Battle Group, which China ‘resolutely opposed’.
At the same time, defence planners
in both US and South Korea have been
closely observing the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) military modernisation drive, its sharper power projection
capabilities and long-term aspirations.
Over the past decade, the PLA has accelerated its ‘mechanisation and informationisation’ drive — a comprehensive
defence transformation process that
includes revamping military doctrines,
organisational force structures and operational concepts, while developing and
integrating selected advanced weapons
systems, platforms and technologies.
While many analysts tend to systematically downplay assessments of China’s
military capabilities, in the long term, it is
likely that China’s military modernisation
and strategic priorities will tabulate ‘diversified missions’ that include capabilities
for securing access lines to energy resources and regional anti-access/area-denial capabilities. As Admiral Mike Mullen,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and
President Obama’s principal military advisor recently noted, ‘China is shifting its
military focus from a land-centric focus to
an air- and maritime-focused capability.’ In
other words, one could argue that China’s
naval and air forces will be increasingly
visible in the region.
Meanwhile, the US has been also transforming its regional force posture, operational concepts, and weapons procurement
and deployment. Throughout the last decade, the US military has aimed to move
beyond its Cold War static posture towards
a more mobile, lighter and agile force
posture — having ‘strategic flexibility’ to
meet new roles and missions. With regard
to the Korean Peninsula, this has implied
that the nature, size and configuration of
US forces deployed in Korea are increasingly conceptualised in more regional or
even global terms rather than addressing
traditional static peninsular defence.
Accordingly, as a response to growing
Chinese military capabilities and presence in the region, both the US and South
Korea may adopt ‘stealth benchmarking’
strategies in their respective defense planning strategies in order to deny, de-limit
or even contain China’s extending geopolitical ambitions. Stealth benchmarking
implies adopting a portfolio of ‘capability domains’ or competencies that may
mitigate a potential adversary’s military
capabilities and freedom of action. For
South Korea, this means not only the
need to maintain its collective security
mechanism with the US and a robust force
posture to meet traditional defence and
deterrence needs vis-à-vis North Korea;
It also means the need to address, at the
same time, emerging security issues that
have a strong Chinese imprint, including
regional resource competition and the
protection of energy access lines.
South Korea has already embarked on
an ambitious military modernisation trajectory, with key emphasis on the procurement of advanced weapon technologies
and systems: multi-role fighter aircraft,
multi-role helicopters, state-of-the-art
conventional submarines, destroyer experimental vessels, precision-strike assets,
early warning systems and an array of
advanced command, control and communications systems.
Depending on the evolving security dynamics on the Korean Peninsula, modalities in the US–ROK defence management,
and the transparency of China’s strategic
capabilities and intentions, security uncertainties linked to China’s rise may offset
the prevailing and in most cases, optimistic linear projections of Asia’s rise. While
there are a number of economic incentives
such as surging trade that may provide
potent centripetal forces in future US–
ROK–China relations, China’s growing
power projection capabilities, if sustained,
are likely to have a significant impact on
regional security conceptions, and may
shape the future defence planning trajectory of the US–ROK alliance.
In order to mitigate security uncertainties, tensions and risks, it is imperative
to enhance communication channels and
cooperative dialogue between China, the
US and South Korea in order to build the
mutual understanding of core interests
and mechanisms for defusing potential
crises. For starters, this would entail the
need to better understand the modalities
and country-specific responses to potential North Korean non-linear contingencies and scenarios, ranging from explosion to implosion.
Michael Raska is a PhD candidate at the Lee Kuan
Yew School of Public Policy. His areas of interest
are comparative international security and defence
policy, geopolitical trends, security conceptions and
defence strategies in East Asia and the Middle East.
[email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 2 5
What do businesses
think of ASEAN?
Text • Marn-Heong Wong
The ASEAN member states are forging ever-closer
ties. But do the businesses affected by this regional
intimacy see this as an advantage?
Businesses are the fundamental creators of economic wealth
but it is governments that affect the environment in which businesses operate. ASEAN, in its bid to enhance the dynamism and
competitiveness of the region, began implementing a blueprint in
2008 towards the formation of an ASEAN Economic Community
(AEC) by 2015. The AEC will be characterised by a single market
and production base. Throughout the global economic crisis in
2008–09, integration efforts had been ongoing and ASEAN as a
whole has navigated the crisis fairly well.
How do businesses view ASEAN’s attractiveness for trade and
investment in a post-crisis global economy? How do they perceive
the impact of ASEAN policy initiatives to deepen economic integration? A survey of businesses in ASEAN conducted by the author in the second half of 2010 for the ASEAN Business Advisory
Council (ASEAN-BAC) offers some answers.
Survey results show that businesses from across various
ASEAN countries, firm-size categories and different nationalities
of ownership find ASEAN to be an attractive region for investments. This is especially so for small firms that are attracted by
the region’s potential as a market for their goods and services.
In addition, effective implementation of ASEAN policy initiatives
towards an AEC can play an important role in influencing business
trade and investment decisions and in affecting business costs.
The survey collated responses from 355 ASEAN-based companies, predominantly in Thailand and Singapore. As the ASEANBAC is a grouping of prominent business people appointed by
ASEAN Heads of State and Government as the primary vehicle for
private sector feedback, interim survey results were presented by
ASEAN-BAC to ASEAN leaders at their annual dialogue session
at the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi in October 2010.
The responses to several questions point to the finding that ASEAN
is attractive to businesses. Over a three-year horizon (2010–12), 85
per cent of the respondents indicated that their firms had plans for
investment or expansion in at least one ASEAN country. The top
investment destination was Vietnam, followed by Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia (Figure 1). The predominant reason for
investments was to access a new or growing market.
Figure 1: ASEAN countries that businesses plan to invest or
increase investments in over the next three years (2010–2012)
Note: Each respondent is allowed to select multiple responses; percentages do
not sum up to 100%. Source: Author’s calculations based on survey data.
About half of the respondents identified an ASEAN country
as the most attractive country in the world for their firms’ offshore direct investments between 2010 and 2012, with Vietnam,
Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia among the more popular
choices, while 29 per cent of the respondents identified China
as the most attractive country for their investments. Small firms
(with less than 50 employees) tend to perceive ASEAN member
countries as offering the best prospects for their offshore investments, while a higher share of large firms found China to be more
attractive (Figure 2).
On the impact of ASEAN policy initiatives to deepen economic
integration, nearly three-quarters of the respondents considered
implementation of the AEC Blueprint to be of at least medium
importance in their decision to expand exports and investments in
ASEAN. Among the respondents, 65 per cent indicated that the
cost to their business if ASEAN were to fail to form an AEC by
Figure 2: Countries offering the best prospects for business’ offshore direct investments over the next three years (2010–12)
Source: Author’s calculations based on survey data.
Figure 3: Satisfaction level with the implementation of
the AEC Blueprint by policy areas
Note: The ratings on all areas are statistically different from the mean satisfaction rating of 5.00. Source: Author’s calculations based on survey data.
2015 would be medium to very high. A majority of businesses assessed AEC implementation to be behind schedule and that AEC
would be unlikely to be achieved by 2015.
Respondents expressed above-average satisfaction (on a scale
of 0–10) with the implementation to-date of measures across 12
policy areas under the AEC Blueprint but there were differences
in the degree of satisfaction. Businesses were more satisfied with
the implementation of measures related to investment protection,
the establishment of transparent and predictable investment rules,
and the elimination of tariffs. They were less satisfied with the dissemination of information on AEC initiatives, consultation with
businesses, the removal of restrictions on services trade for priority sectors, rules of origin and harmonisation of standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures (Figure 3).
In view of the potential impact that unsatisfactory and unfulfilled
AEC implementation has on business, the ASEAN-BAC has emphasised in its policy recommendations the importance for ASEAN
members to ensure full and timely implementation of commitments in the AEC Blueprint. ASEAN-BAC has also suggested that
ASEAN gives priority to intensifying the dissemination of information among businesses, both in raising general awareness of ASEAN
and in providing specific information on ASEAN policy measures.
Given that a higher share of smaller firms find ASEAN attractive as
an investment destination compared with large firms, and that small
and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for 96 per cent of all enterprises in ASEAN, a final key recommendation from ASEAN-BAC
is for ASEAN to step up its efforts to promote the internationalisation of local ASEAN SMEs, in particular, the engagement of SMEs
in intra-ASEAN trade and investment activities.
Marn-Heong Wong is an Assistant Professor with the Lee Kuan Yew School of
Public Policy. Her research interest is in how trade, investment and technology
linkages affect business performance, industry evolution and economic growth.
[email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 2 7
ASEAN: in pursuit of a
dynamic equilibrium
Text • Denni Cawley
ASEAN has moved from the era of non-interference to constructive
engagement. This shifting role is being tested by internal conflicts
and the rise of global powers such as China and India.
ollowing the 18th Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta on 7–8 May 2011, there is still
no resolution in sight to the border conflict between Cambodia and
Thailand. The conflict, possibly foremost among the ASEAN ministers’ minds entering the Summit, revolves around the contested
lands surrounding two temples.
Given this context, it would be good to revisit ASEAN’s beginnings and the principles that guided its initial success in regional
cooperation. A recent multimedia case study on ASEAN Regional
Cooperation was prepared by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public
Policy Executive Education for the Executive Leadership Development Programme of the Asian Development Bank’s Central Asia
Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Institute. The case
study features distinguished thought-leaders who have witnessed
the advent of ASEAN. In it, they share their views on the strengths
and future challenges faced by this group of nations.
History repeating
ASEAN was born out of the political conditions and dynamics
of the Cold War. Its success was anchored on the principles of
consultation and consensus backed by political will and leadership. This is observed by Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the LKY
School, in the multimedia case study. He says: ‘There are two
words that ASEAN used since the early days: musyawarah and
muafakat (consultation and consensus). So, instead of trying to arrive at rigid and legalistic decisions, everyone spoke to each other
and tried to get a kind of consensus built up gradually. Over time,
the consensus got stronger…. When I first went to the meetings in
1971, there were 5–6 countries in the room, but the room was full
of suspicion and mistrust….It was amazing that when I came back
as the permanent secretary in the 1990s and led the Singapore
delegation to ASEAN meetings, everything had changed. You
could cooperate and settle things because years of cooperation
had changed the whole mood, the tone and chemistry of ASEAN
meetings significantly.’ Could this positive spirit of cooperation be
harnessed by ASEAN as it facilitates the resolution of the Cambodia–Thailand dispute?
In addition to consultation and consensus, ASEAN leaders today
can leverage on the mechanisms and concepts embodied in the 2008
ASEAN Charter. Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-large at the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, Singapore shares his recollection: ‘We realised
that we had a deficit in ASEAN, and what was that deficit? That
we had weak institutions, that we didn’t take our own commitments
seriously, that we are not sufficiently faithful to the rule of law. This
whole exercise of drafting and adopting a charter, adopting new institutions, a commission on human rights and the rights of women
and children — these are all part of a new game plan.’
We also see in the 2011 Summit a recurrence of Indonesia’s
important role in ASEAN. Praising Indonesian Foreign Minister
Marty Natalegawa for his diplomatic efforts (Indonesia holds the
chair of ASEAN in 2011), ASEAN Secretary-General, Surin Pitsuwan notes, ‘There has never been one single special meeting of the
foreign ministers on an issue between states before, ever. We have
made history under Indonesia. There has never been an attempt
by the chair to go to the two capitals, hold hands, talk and try to
convince them that this is something that we will have to work
out together.’1 In the multimedia case study, the various speakers
echo the fact that credit has to be given to Indonesia in the days of
President Suharto for supporting the early development of ASEAN
by acknowledging the other countries as equal partners.
Future challenges
While its inception was political in nature, ASEAN has managed to build on its strengths to become a key economic block. K.
Kesavapany, Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
(ISEAS), remarks in the multimedia case study that ‘Nobody is
1. Padden, Brian. 4 May 2011. “ASEAN Leaders will discuss Thai-Cambodia Conflict at the Summit”. Voice
of America News. <>.
Image: Li Dan
interested in Singapore’s market of six million or Brunei’s market
of two million. The internal challenge is to show to the world that
ASEAN is vibrant and [is an] economically growing concern with
a population of half a billion with a high purchasing capacity,
and a network of productions.’ Furthermore, he said that, ‘we
have to show that the whole of ASEAN works on the basis of law,
competition and transparency: all the rudiments that make for an
economic community.’
ASEAN must also continue its efforts to build on other areas of
functional cooperation. Rodolfo Severino, Head of the ASEAN
Studies Centre, ISEAS and former ASEAN Secretary-General
cites: ‘ASEAN’s decisions are meant to preserve peace and stability in the region and [ASEAN countries] also cooperate where
they can in terms of economic progress and dealing with social
and other functional problems like environmental degradation, piracy, transnational crime, international terrorism, communicable
diseases and so on.’
Ong Keng Yong, Director of LKY School’s Institute of Policy
Studies stresses: ‘We now have convinced people that having trade
liberalisation, free trade arrangements and market access are good.
However, that is not the end of the story. The end of the story is that
we have to develop our own respective strength and governance so
that we can deliver much more equitable and positive outcomes for
our respective populations. So, the next stage for ASEAN is really
to go beyond all the buzzwords. We have the ASEAN charter, connectivity and community, and now we have to deliver on the basic
things inside the ASEAN countries.’
In pursuit of a dynamic equilibrium
ASEAN faces both external and internal challenges. Geopolitically, it has become an important stabilising power particularly for
Northeast Asia, being as Mahbubani says in the case study, the
‘one place in the world where all the great powers can meet and
talk to each other’. The recognition of ASEAN as a key geopolitical and economic player is highlighted with the appointment of
the first US Ambassador to ASEAN, David Carden. The question
is: how will ASEAN manage its role with new powers China and
India at its doorstep? Internally, as seen in the Thai–Cambodian
conflict, ASEAN must mend historical differences by a show of
political will and leadership and by strengthening its legal and institutional framework. Kesavapany recalls the words of Pitsuwan
that ASEAN has ‘moved from the era of non-interference to constructive engagement’. This is part and parcel of ASEAN’s necessary evolution as it goes in pursuit of the ‘dynamic equilibrium’
proposed by the current ASEAN Chair.
Denni Cawley is an Associate Director and Head of the Executive Education department at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 2 9
Book review
Text • Zhao Hong
he past years have witnessed the most rapid improvement in the China–Taiwan
cross-strait relationship in decades. In April 2009, Beijing and Taipei inked
agreements on launching regular flights across the Taiwan Strait, enhancing financial
cooperation, jointly cracking down on crimes and offering mutual judicial assistance.
In June 2010, mainland China and Taiwan signed an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). ECFA heralds a new era in cross-strait relations as it will
largely help to reduce cross-strait hostility and bring about a higher level of stability
and prosperity for the whole region. All these should be attributed to the consistent endeavors made by both sides, to the development and fundamental changes in
China’s Taiwan policy.
In this book, the authors offer a concise and insightful overview of the evolution of
China’s Taiwan policy over the past six decades. They state early on page three that
today, ‘China’s Taiwan policy is no longer made to address the problems of crossstrait relations per se but to promote regional stability and prosperity, as well as to
promote Beijing’s strategic interests in the international system’. It has taken Beijing
more than five decades and four generations of leaders to reach this stage.
In the 1950s, Beijing tried to keep the Nationalists involved but the US out of Taiwan affairs (Chapter 1). That strategy was based on the shared Chinese Communist
Party (CCP)-Chinese National Party (KMT) determination to keep Taiwan within
China, and ‘its aim was to drive a wedge between Taipei and Washington whenever
possible while working out a de facto modus vivendi with the KMT in order to maintain China’s de jure sovereignty over Taiwan’. Under Deng Xiaoping, Beijing and
Washington established a strategic framework based on a one-China context. Deng
further put forward his ‘one country, two systems’ formula as a solution to the Taiwan
issue. However, because of China’s refusal to recognise the sovereign status of the
Republic of China (Taiwan), the formula led to little improvement in cross-strait
relations (Chapter 3). Under Jiang Zemin, Beijing made a remarkable effort to accommodate Taipei’s demands for cross-strait parity by broadening the interpretation
of the one-China principle (Chapter 6). While those changes fell short of resolving
the inherent contradiction between the intra-national and international dimensions of
Beijing’s approach toward Taiwan (it acknowledged Taipei’s intra-China equality but
refused to recognise the Republic of China internationally), they nevertheless created
some common ground for China and the US in handling the Taiwan situation and
maintaining the strategic framework.
Under Hu Jintao, Beijing’s approach toward Taiwan has focused on the promotion of ‘peace, stability, and development’ across the strait on the basis of the
one-China context. From Beijing’s perspective, this policy will inevitably lead to
further socio-economic integration between the two sides, which will in turn lay a
solid foundation for eventual peaceful reunification (Chapter 8). The shift in policy
priority from peaceful re-unification to peaceful development in cross-strait relations marked a fundamental policy change in Beijing’s approach toward Taiwan.
This policy readjustment signaled not only Hu’s growing confidence that time is on
China’s side but also his efforts to integrate China’s Taiwan policy into the country’s peaceful development strategy. Indeed, China’s role as a stakeholder in the
international system has increased the importance of the Taiwan issue for China
and the international community alike. It was under these circumstances and such
‘new thinking’ that Beijing had adopted a pro-status quo approach, and we have
witnessed the rapidly growing socio-economic exchanges across the Taiwan Strait
despite the existing political separation.
However, the authors also hold that the
status quo, by its own nature, is essentially
a fragile and transitionary arrangement
aimed at managing a difficult situation
rather than a long-term solution (Conclusion). I agree that ‘it essentially reflects
a delicate balance carefully maintained
among the three players, Beijing, Taipei
and Washington, whose fundamental interests are in conflict with each other’. For
Taiwan, the problem remains that Taipei
lacks a legal role in cross-strait and international relations. It is still looking for more
international space. For China, the status
quo approach does not resolve the difference between Beijing’s and Washington’s
perceptions of the ‘peaceful resolution of
the Taiwan problem’ where Beijing sees
maintaining the status quo as a means to
re-unification, while Washington sees it as
an end in itself (Chapter 3). Thus Beijing,
Taipei and Washington should push for
further efforts to achieve consensus and
transform the current crisis management
model into one of strategic management
so as to maintain and promote long-term
trilateral interests proactively.
Zhao Hong is a Visiting Research Fellow at the East
Asian Institute, National Unversity of Singapore. His
current research interests include the political economy of China and Southeast Asian countries, Asian
economic community and China’s and India’s energy
strategies. [email protected]
Energy and sustainability
Breaking the sustainability barrier · The future of nuclear energy · The business case against nuclear
power · Oil: a risky beneficiary of Japan’s nuclear crisis and Arab revolts · Championing climate change in
Southeast Asia: a role for corporate leaders · Quo vadis, energy policy?
Breaking the
Sustainability guru John Elkington asks if bold
political vision and innovation can carve a new
growth path for the world.
Image: Li Dan
ith world oil prices back in the headlines in the wake of the convulsive
changes in the Arab world, there is growing
unease about the consequences of climate
change and, on the other hand, of a possible
‘Peak Oil’ scenario playing out. But what if
there was a solution that potentially tackled all of these challenges at once? Well,
recent work in Europe suggests that there is
one — and that it could eventually play out
around the world.
Wherever in the world I find myself, I
am increasingly talking to audiences about
the sound barrier. I take them back to the
late 1940s and early 1950s, when test pilots
were slamming into an invisible but deadly
obstruction in mid-air as they tried to fly
ever faster. Aircraft broke apart as the shock
waves tore their wings away. But then one
pilot did something crazy, probably in desperation: in a power dive, he found his controls locked. Instead of pulling the control
column back, he pushed it forward. Quite
unexpectedly, the aircraft recovered.
Then, I make the connection between
then and now: as growing numbers of technologies and business models crash into
today’s ‘Sustainability Barrier’, many are
beginning to come apart in the air. It started
with things like insecticides, asbestos and
chlorofluorocarbons, and is now spreading
out to a growing range of carbon-intensive
markets. To survive, politicians and business leaders will increasingly find that they
need to reverse the controls on their economies, value chains and companies.
Now, a new study published by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment,
Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
makes the same point even more powerfully, using the latest mathematical models.
Entitled A New Growth Path for Europe, the
study was undertaken by a group of five organisations, including two universities (Oxford in the UK and the Sorbonne in France),
the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
Research and the European Climate Forum.
For anyone who believes that tackling
climate change with increasingly tough
emission targets represents a net drag on
the economy, the results will come as a
shock. At a time when the European Union
has 20 per cent greenhouse emission reduction targets, and many business leaders
complain that this is damaging the prospects for future growth, prosperity and job
creation, the new study says, ‘Nonsense, it
is time for boldness.’
The problem with the 20 per cent target
is not that it is too aggressive, we are told,
but that it is too weak. The global financial
crisis has shown that existing economic
models have serious weaknesses — and
the same is true of existing mathematical
models that track the interactions between
climate policy and the economy. Traditional models have a single stable equilibrium: one point where there is a win-win
outcome. By contrast, emerging models
suggest that multiple growth paths are possible, some of which encourage positive
feedback between emission, economic and
employment agendas.
Instead of sticking with 20 per cent, the
scientists conclude that Europe needs to set
truly stretch targets, with ‘a decisive move
to a 30 per cent target’. If this is done well,
the models suggest, by 2020 the rate of
European growth could be boosted by up
to 0.6 per cent a year and European investments would rise from 18 per cent to up
to 22 per cent of the GDP. The GDP itself
would grow by up to six per cent both in
the old (EU15) and new (EU12) member
states, and up to six million additional jobs
would be created Europe-wide.
There are other surprising conclusions.
For example, the new growth path would
benefit all major economic sectors — agriculture, energy, industry, construction and services, with the greatest benefits experienced in
construction. Perhaps most surprising of all,
the economic opportunities linked to tighter
emissions targets would be available whether
or not 2012 sees a global climate agreement
after the Rio+20 UN summit meeting.
The question is: why do the latest models show such different outcomes with
tighter emission controls? The latest models assume that tougher controls trigger
greater additional investments, stimulating
what they call ‘learning-by-doing’ across
the entire economy, particularly in sectors
focusing on such areas as advanced construction materials and renewable energy.
Learning-by-doing, in turn, increases competitiveness and spurs further economic
growth, boosting the expectations of investors and fuelling further investment.
After the Great Depression, Europe saw a
surge of investment as nation-states began the
hugely expensive and horrifically destructive
process of rearmament. While increasing
global competition for natural resources
could easily trigger another arms race and a
vicious downward spiral, sustainable development could trigger a virtuous upward cycle
of investment, innovation and prosperity.
As for solutions, we need to shift to
more energy-efficient construction and to
natural gas and renewable energy, rather
than rely on coal. Technologies like photovoltaic and carbon capture and storage,
and nuclear power will make very little additional contribution by 2020, but should
also be invested in for the longer term.
Among the macro-economic measures
that will help are the use of emission trading
revenues to fund carbon reduction efforts in
Eastern Europe, the inclusion of low-carbon
growth standards in public procurement,
and the encouragement of entrepreneurial
efforts through tax-breaks. Among the
micro-economic measures that are needed
are revised building codes requiring greater
energy efficiency, standardised smart power
grid infrastructures, smart household appliance codes and the creation of learning
networks linking innovative companies.
None of this will be automatic. Instead, changing the system requires bold
political vision, sustained government
commitment to low-carbon innovation,
clear policy targets, and incentives for
innovators, entrepreneurs and investors.
What is very encouraging about the new
economic analysis is that it is based on
long-established and well-proven lessons
from other parts of the economy, including, strikingly, aviation.
Just as our species went from balloons
and powered box kites to machines that
could break the sound barrier and, ultimately, reach the moon and go beyond,
so green growth sectors can push our
economies onto radically new trajectories.
The key step will be to break out of ‘the
straightjacket of the mind’ that assumes
that tackling our energy security and climate challenges will inevitably damage
prospects for growth and prosperity. In a
time of growing stress and danger, doing
the unexpected thing may save not just one
test pilot but also our economies and, in the
longer term, our entire civilisation.
John Elkington is the Executive Chairman of Volans
and Non-executive Director of SustainAbility.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 3 3
of nuclear
Image: Paul Lachine
The recent nuclear-related disaster in Japan has brought
to the fore anxiety and fear about the use of nuclear
energy. T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj evaluates the situation and
clarifies the reality of nuclear energy and its uses.
apan’s nuclear crisis has provided fresh
arguments for opponents of nuclear
power everywhere. It has increased public fear and anxiety about nuclear power
plants, and resurrected certain perceptions
about radiation and cancer risks. Extensive but natural media coverage of the
Fukushima accident has heightened public
concerns about nuclear reactor safety and
the long-term health effects of such events.
The nuclear industry thus faces a tremendous challenge to allay public concerns
following the wide publicity after Japan’s
worst nuclear accident.
The Fukushima accident, however, is
not necessarily an indictment of nuclear
safety standards. Nuclear power so far has
a better safety record than most industries.
Japan’s current nuclear crisis was triggered
by a rare natural disaster, which complicated the emergency response. Although the
reactors withstood the massive earthquake,
the tsunami overwhelmed all the defences
and safety backups that were in place to
protect them when things went wrong.
The accident has raised concerns about
site location and the adequacy of installed
defences. As revealed recently, regulators
and plant operators had apparently failed to
take corrective action against identified and
known problems before the accident. Lessons from previous nuclear accidents and
timely action would have helped to significantly reduce such errors, enabling modern
nuclear power plants to achieve high levels
of safety. The prudent policy, then, is to
learn from this accident and address the
remaining deficiencies in reactor safety for
dealing with such situations in the future.
This will help the building of even safer nuclear reactors and help convince the public
about the merits of nuclear power.
However, there is widespread misunderstanding about the health and
environmental risks of nuclear power.
Asymmetric information about risks, the
professional competence of core practitioners as well as the potential efficacy of
recommended alternative means to mitigate risks is inherent in the health sector.
Health risks associated with nuclear radiation are particularly evident with respect
to such asymmetries. Japan’s nuclear accident is a reminder of the difficulties in
understanding the nuances and complexities of nuclear power. The nuclear industry
cannot escape its share of responsibility
for this situation because its lapses and
continuing reluctance for transparency
have eroded its public credibility. The culture of secrecy and impunity — hallmarks
of most military nuclear programmes —
can be observed also in civilian nuclear
programmes. Government ownership of
nuclear utilities can make it difficult to
ensure the independence of regulators. In
countries where private nuclear utilities
operate, regulatory capture, a feature seen
in other regulated industries, undermines
public confidence in the industry. Hence,
the Fukushima accident is likely to set
back nuclear power, certainly temporarily
and possibly for a long time, in democracies where public acceptance counts.
Given these conditions, is nuclear power
sustainable in the long run? Nuclear power
is arguably sustainable and necessary to
achieve long-term environmental goals and
energy security. It can greatly help international efforts to stabilise, and eventually
reduce, carbon emissions. While public
misgivings and institutional problems
should be seriously addressed, they do not
warrant outright condemnation of nuclear
power. Policy responses based on misinformation and emotion rather than analytical
consideration are unhelpful in any context.
In the case of energy, it will hamper global efforts to wean away from fossil fuels.
Analyses based on unassailable information and objective evaluation of risks and
benefits suggest that most asserted risks of
nuclear power are out of proportion to the
actual risks, which are manageable.
An increased use of nuclear power will
have the biggest impact in moderating coal
use. While the sources of coal pollution
have been addressed in many developed
countries through various policy instruments and engineering solutions, albeit at
significant cost, developing countries are
lagging behind in controlling non-carbon
pollutants from coal combustion. Most developing countries continue to burn coal
and oil with only modest environmental
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 3 5
controls, resulting in serious health and
environmental problems. A 2001 study
by an international team of scientists
measured, over the Asia-Pacific region, a
large brown cloud patch (also known as
the Asian Brown Cloud) that is known
to have caused millions of respiratory
illnesses and deaths. Diesel fuel, adulteration of petrol, and biomass burning are
well-known sources of fine particulates.
These micron-sized particulates can be a
serious health hazard because they get deposited deep in the lungs. Cities suffering
from problems associated with air inversion suffer worst because emissions from
coal plants and other industrial activities
can remain suspended locally for several
days. Fossil fuels also generate pollution
during the process of extraction, refining,
transportation and storage. Adding carbon
emissions and the potential problems associated with it — global warming and
climate change — reflects the sheer scale
of future impact due to continuing dependence on fossil fuels. Currently, fossil
fuels contribute around 85 per cent of the
world’s primary energy needs.
How, then, does one solve the energy
problem without sacrificing the goals of
industrial development and environmental
sustainability? Renewable energy sources
and nuclear power could play an increasing role in achieving these goals. However, renewable energy sources alone are
unlikely to solve the world’s energy problems. While they offer substantial environmental benefits and represent a potentially
large resource base, they also face major
technical hurdles and carry significant
environmental burden. For example, solar
and wind are intermittent and require the
construction of very extensive installations
in order to capture energy that is available
only at low densities. Hydropower, which
is not always environmentally benign,
competes with nuclear power. Currently
these two sources show the greatest promise in replacing fossil fuels.
But nuclear power faces several technical and socio-political hurdles. Technical
risks of nuclear power are associated with
reactor safety and radioactive waste management. Health and environmental risks
from nuclear power fall into three broad
categories: risks from normal operation,
risks from major accidents, and risks from
‘Japan’s response to Fukushima and the Soviet response to Che
with relative transparency can m
hypothetical accidents. Risk from normal
operation is comparatively not significant
relative to many other risks. Risks from
major accidents clearly have local consequences, but can be managed well with
proper emergency response. The response
to Fukushima by the Japanese government
and the Soviet response to Chernobyl illustrate the huge difference a responsive
government with relative transparency can
make during a nuclear accident. But, risks
involving hypothetical accidents (eg. complete melting of the reactor core and dispersal of the entire radioactive inventory
into the food chain) have been the source
of most controversies and misunderstandings about nuclear power. Although several reactor safety studies have indicated
that such hypothetical accidents are highly
unlikely in the modern nuclear power
reactors, evaluating the risks of possible
catastrophic losses with very low probabilities of occurrence remains problematic. A similar problem arises in evaluating
catastrophic consequences from global
warming at very distant futures. There
are also avoidable incorrect comparisons
of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.
The security benefits, if any, from the possession of nuclear weapons are unlikely
to be comparable in scale to the potential
environmental benefits of nuclear power
development, and the risks of accidental or
intentional explosion of a megaton weapon
in largely populated areas are likely to be
higher than that of a severe accident in a
nuclear power plant.
Like reactor safety, finding an acceptable
way to dispose of the radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants remains a
very costly, if not intractable, problem. The
challenge lies in assuring the public about
the safety of proposed technical solutions
over tens of thousands of years in a credible manner. Radioactive waste management has become hostage to political and
legal battles. Political and legal difficulties
in addressing the problem have in turn created the impression that radioactive waste
disposal faces insurmountable engineering
ernobyl illustrate the huge difference a responsive government
make during a nuclear accident.’
difficulties. It is, in fact, more about finding a solution that will have broad social
and political acceptance. Excessive focus
on hypothetical risks from nuclear waste
far into the future, leaving out more obvious and immediate threats, is short-sighted
and perpetuates public fear about nuclear
power. Dealing comprehensively with
all potential threats from the last remaining isotope in the spent fuel is impossible
when the policy planning time horizon
is so long. Nevertheless, interim storage
(either onsite or dedicated facilities) for a
period of 50 to 100 years makes practical
and economic sense instead of designing
facilities to assure safety for 10,000 years
to 100,000 years. This approach should be
able to address most of the concerns about
radioactive waste disposal.
Public concerns about various nuclear
risks (reactor meltdown, nuclear waste
disposal and radioactive effluents from
power plants) essentially boil down to
cancer risks from exposure to radiation
sources. But humans are also exposed
to radiation risks due to lifestyle choices
and occupational hazards. Humans are
exposed to chemical carcinogens from a
variety of sources in addition to the significant natural background radiation levels. Although high level radiations cause
cancer, the relationship between cancer
incidence and exposure to low level radiation is ambiguous. This issue has been
intensively studied in medical history, but
the studies suggest that at levels of radiation studied in most, the cancer risk is too
small to be detectable statistically except
in the case of Japanese A-bomb survivors
and in the incidence of certain types of
cancer following the Chernobyl accident.
No energy source is free from environmental burdens. If the goal is to move
away from carbon-intensive energy sources, there are essentially two alternatives:
renewable energy and nuclear energy. Although renewable and nuclear energy have
a carbon footprint (through various emissions in the life cycle), they are generally
lower than those of fossil fuels. This and
an appropriate pricing of carbon emissions
will remove the current financial barriers
to nuclear power. However, capital costs
of nuclear power and renewable sources
are still higher compared to fossil fuels.
Production cost that is comprehensive
and includes all externalities is a more appropriate metric to compare the economics of various energy sources. Securing
long-term energy security will most likely
involve the use of a diversified energy
portfolio comprising fossil, nuclear and
renewable sources.
Renewable energy sources have a huge
potential and could arguably meet all of
the current energy demand. However, it is
debatable whether they will be adequate to
supply a large share of the world’s energy
needs in the long run. Energy conservation
and efficiency would also help. The nuclear resource base is also very large, even
using the current fleet of thermal nuclear
reactors which use uranium resources
inefficiently. Breeder reactors utilising
uranium and thorium can potentially meet
energy needs for an industrial society for
several thousand years. However, very
few breeders are currently operating at a
significant scale and there are still unresolved technical issues.
To summarise, an evaluation of nuclear
power suggests that it can play a significant role in meeting future energy demand
in a way that is environmentally sustainable. Public concerns about nuclear power
are based on an understandable lack of
knowledge about it and a fear of the unknown. The Soviet physicist Sakharov
once put it succinctly: ‘The basic reason
for anti-nuclear feelings among people is
probably the fact that they don’t have sufficient information about the complex and
very specialised problems involved. Due
to this lack of information, the natural and
legitimate concern of contemporary man
for the preservation of his environment is
misdirected.’ The best antidote to both is
the dissemination of knowledge and an
objective and transparent assessment of
the risks and benefits based on adequate
and reliable data.
T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj is an Assistant Professor at the
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The author
wishes to thank Professor T.N. Srinivasan for providing valuable feedback and suggestions.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 3 7
The business
case against
Text • Benjamin K. Sovacool
The oft-quoted mantra of nuclear power
being clean, green and futuristic comes under
the scanner.
Image: kmichiels,
he relentless media coverage of the
Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan has
centred on safety and reliability concerns
with modern nuclear power plants. Such fears
have prompted China to suspend its nuclear
building plans, at least for the short term, and
will also affect the prospects for new plants
in Europe and the US. But this safety debate
obscures an economic point that was already
emerging before the Japan disaster: nuclear
power makes little economic sense.
Modern nuclear plants are among the
most capital-intensive structures ever
built. Initial construction of a new reactor
consumes close to 60 per cent of a project’s
total investment, compared to about 40 per
cent for coal and 15 per cent for natural gas
power plants (the remainder goes to costs
such as fuel, maintenance and operations).
The nuclear industry is typically the most
capital-intensive business in any country
that builds nuclear plants.
There are several reasons for this.
Nuclear plants are more like one-of-akind cathedrals than off-the-shelf cellular
phones. Key components like computer
systems and reactor technologies may be
modular, but they still have to go into a
facility uniquely and expensively designed
for its site. A nuclear plant requires special
cooling systems, emergency back-up generators, spent-fuel ponds, radiation shields
and firewalls that must all work in tandem
to ensure safety and reliability.
Then there is the cost of time. In places
like the US, it takes on average nearly five
years to gain approval to pour the first concrete. The average construction time for
all global nuclear power plants built from
1976 to 2007 has been more than seven
years. While experts may differ on how
much of this is necessary, it is not unreasonable to argue that nuclear plants ought
to be subjected to a greater level of scrutiny
compared to conventional or renewable
power plants, given the dangers involved.
‘Asian governments
purport to have plans to
build 110 nuclear power
plants between 2010 and
2030. Achieving this
would necessitate hundreds
of billions of dollars of
continued subsidies.’
These long times place nuclear power
plants at greater risk than their conventional competitors for unforeseen changes
in electricity demand, interest rates, availability of materials, severe weather, labour
strikes and the like — all of which threaten
the viability of business plans and contribute to severe cost overruns. One study estimated that between 1966 and 1977, when
most of America’s light-water reactors
were built, in every case the US plants cost
at least twice as much as expected. The
quoted cost for these 75 plants was $89.1
billion, but the real cost was a monumental
$283.3 billion — and that excludes fuel
storage and decommissioning.
The expense continues once the plant
has come online. Jim Harding from the
Keystone Centre, a non-partisan think-tank,
found in 2008 that projected operating costs
for new nuclear power plants were 30 cents
per kilowatt hour of power for the first 13
years until construction costs are paid, followed by 18 cents over the remaining lifetime of the plant. That compares to less than
10 cents per kilowatt hour for coal, natural
gas, and even wind, hydro, geothermal and
landfill gas generators. Moody’s Investor Service projects higher operating costs
based on the quickly escalating prices of
metals, forgings, other materials and labour
needed to construct reactors.
So how has anyone been able to afford to
build any plants at all? In short: government
support. The business model for nuclear
power generation relies primarily on extracting huge amounts of taxpayer subsidies.
This has been true since the industry’s
early days. Nuclear power in the US received subsidies of $15.30 per kilowatt
hour between 1947 and 1961 — the first
15 years during which nuclear technology
was used for civilian power generation—
compared to subsidies of $7.19 per kilowatt
hour for solar power and 46 cents for wind
power between 1975 and 1989, the first 15
years when those technologies came into
more widespread use. Nuclear operators
are also often protected by laws limiting
liability that shift most of the expense of
serious accidents to the public, thus shielding operators from the costs of insuring a
potentially more dangerous technology.
All of this ought to raise questions in
a lot of minds in Asia, where nuclear increasingly has been viewed as the next big
energy thing. Asian governments purport
to have plans to build 110 nuclear power
plants between 2010 and 2030. Achieving this build-out would necessitate hundreds of billions of dollars of continued
subsidies. Conservatively estimating a
per-plant cost of $5 billion, and very conservatively estimating subsidies equal to
one-third of project costs (it is closer to
70 per cent to 80 per cent in the US), that
still works out to around $180 billion in
subsidies simply to build the plants, let
alone operate them.
Nuclear-power proponents often argue
that the market should decide whether
nuclear makes sense. They are right. The
reality is that but for government support,
nuclear is a terrible business proposition.
Asian policy makers should take note.
Benjamin K. Sovacool, an Associate Professor at the
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, is co-author of
the forthcoming The International Politics of Nuclear
Power. Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal Asia.
©2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 3 9
oil: a risky
beneficiary of
Japan’s nuclear
crisis and Arab
Oil, which gave the impression that it was going to take a
backseat, is back at the forefront of global demand, as a
result of Japan’s nuclear incident. How will this affect the
global oil market? James Dorsey gives a taster.
‘Oil’s enhanced positioning is underlined by China, the world’s second largest
oil importer and India, its fifth, seeking to shore up their strategic oil reserves
against the risk of a lengthy supply shock. The move could be a precursor for
increased buying for protective purposes, which could send crude oil prices
skyrocketing higher than Wall Street expects and test the limits of OPEC’s
spare production capacity.’
oodbye nuclear; hello again, oil. That
is the fall-out of the nuclear crisis at
Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
as a result of last month’s devastating
earthquake and tsunami. For Arab oil producers, embattled by a wave of anti-government protests that have already toppled
two presidents, that is good news.
Even though the crisis has focused attention on alternative energy resources, oil
is likely to be the foremost beneficiary for
years to come. With countries across the
globe reviewing their nuclear facilities,
demand for oil is bound to increase, filling
the coffers of Arab oil producers. Increased
demand could offset prices depressed by
prolonged volatility in the Arab world.
The nuclear crisis also offers Arab states
anxious about Iran’s nuclear development
an additional stick with which to hit the
earthquake-prone Islamic republic. Gulf experts and environmentalists warn that an incident at Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, a
mere 250 kilometres from the Saudi-Kuwait
border, would most immediately threaten
Abu Dhabi and Dubai with radioactive fallout, possibly hitting Saudi oilfields in Eastern Province as well as Bahrain and Qatar.
Gulf states are pressing the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure
that Bushehr complies with its standards.
The Gulf concern follows China’s hold on
its 27 nuclear reactors currently under construction, reviews of nuclear facilities and
expansion plans across the globe, and the
suspension of German plans to extend the
life of its 17 plants.
Increased dependence on Arab oil also
serves the Gulf states a reassurance that the
United States and the European Union, already reluctant to push Gulf leaders to enact
political and economic reforms, will be
even more hesitant to upset the regional apple cart. As a result, the international community moved swiftly to impose a no-fly
zone on Libya but has been far more lenient
with Bahrain and Yemen, where authorities
have also unleashed their security forces to
suppress anti-government protests.
To be sure, oil is not the only beneficiary
of increased concerns about nuclear energy
— coal, natural gas, hydro and new wind
and solar technologies will also benefit, but
hydrocarbons will lead the pack. Other producers like Russia are gearing up to meet
demand. The move away from nuclear
and towards hydrocarbons is likely to accelerate efforts by Gulf producers to project
themselves as pioneers of green technologies in a bid to enhance their image, exploit
a business opportunity and avoid becoming
renewed targets of environmentalists.
International Energy Agency (IEA)
chief economist Fatih Birol anticipates that
reduced nuclear energy will harm efforts
to fight climate change, push up energy
prices and set back goals to secure power
supplies. Birol estimates that the halving of
projected nuclear installations in the next
25 years will add 500 million tons of carbon dioxide to the global total in 2035 or
the equivalent of five years of extra emissions growth. That, in turn, would make it
harder to meet a goal agreed by 193 nations
at United Nations climate change talks in
Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in 2010
to try to contain global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The
level of emissions expected in 2035 would
be reached in 2030, according to Birol.
Oil’s enhanced positioning is underlined
by China, the world’s second largest oil
importer and India, its fifth, seeking to shore
up their strategic oil reserves against the
risk of a lengthy supply shock. The move
could be a precursor for increased buying
for protective purposes, which could send
crude oil prices skyrocketing higher than
Wall Street expects and test the limits of
OPEC’s spare production capacity.
China launched its strategic reserve
programme in 2006 and completed the
first 102 million barrel build-up two years
later. It expects to add another 168 million
by early 2012 and to reach 500 million
barrels by 2020. Japan’s nuclear crisis and
the protests rocking the Middle East are
believed to have prompted China to speed
up its programme.
India holds only about 10 million barrels
of oil in reserve. With dependence on imports for 80 per cent of its consumption, it
is even more vulnerable to a supply shock.
India intends to stockpile some 40 million
barrels by the end of 2012, equivalent to
two weeks of imports. Analysts also expect
India to step up its buying with 200–250
million barrels of oil over the coming years.
Says Soozhana Choi, an oil analyst at
Deutsche Bank in Singapore, ‘China’s and
India’s actions are likely to be a feature of
the global oil market not only this year but
this decade.’
James M. Dorsey is a Senior Research Fellow at
the National University of Singapore’s Middle East
Institute and the author of the blog, The Turbulent
World of Middle East Soccer. He is an award-winning journalist and served as a foreign correspondent
for, among others, the Wall Street Journal, the New
York Times, the Christian Science Monitor and UPI
in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Central America
and the US.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 4 1
climate change
in Southeast
Asia: a role
for corporate
Climate change impacts in Southeast Asia are a
cause for concern among the region’s business
leaders. Sumi Dhanarajan and Davina Loh look at
why this is, and how they are responding.
xtreme weather conditions in parts of Southeast Asia over recent months have served as a stark reminder that climate change
is real and present. In March 2011, floods in Thailand affected some
10 million people in the southern provinces, leaving some dead,
others homeless and many more deprived of their livelihoods. The
damage estimated by the Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting ranges between 21.7 billion and 26.5 billion baht (US$ 866
million). Southeast Asia already endures frequent storms, droughts
and other natural hazards. Climate change adds to this repertoire by
increasing overall temperatures, raising sea levels and aggravating
the intensity and frequency of heavy rainfall and winds associated
with tropical cyclones, leading to more landslides and floods. Much
of the region’s population and economic
activity is concentrated around coastal areas
and its poor are highly vulnerable with low
adaptive capacity. Many of its economies
have a high reliance on ‘climate sensitive’
sectors such as agriculture and tourism.
Not long before the floods hit, Kan
Trakulhoon, the CEO of the Siam Cement
Group, one of Thailand’s largest companies said, ‘Today, it is not enough to just
focus on your own business. You have to
think about the planet and human beings.
You have to look to the long-term and have
a good balance between profit, society and
the environment.’ His views were echoed
by a number of other Southeast Asian
corporate leaders who gathered recently
in Singapore for a meeting to discuss what
role they could play to shift the trajectory on climate change approaches in the
region. Acutely aware of Southeast Asia’s
vulnerabilities as an identified ‘hotspot’
for climate impacts, and the material risks
these pose for business operations and assets, there was a clear recognition that, as
a collective of private sector leaders, they
needed to raise the game.
Pressure to act
As in much of the developed world,
Southeast Asian businesses are facing a
wave of pressures to engage in sustainability
practices. From consumers to investors, citizens to governments, there has been a distinct ratcheting up in terms of corporate behaviour and operations. Key trends include:
• Tightening legal and regulatory pressure: These may come from governments
through legislation or through ‘soft’ powers
such as certification and standards bodies.
The goals will be to trigger higher efficiency
standards and stricter energy usage guidelines, trickling down towards more stringent
legislation and taxes. Such policies may
affect pollution standards, raw material certifications, fuel blending mandates and new
building regulations, among others;
• A rise in responsible buying and procurement: Companies that score well on
environmental leadership will likely enjoy
stronger brand value. Additionally, companies unable to differentiate their products
from others based on quality alone, may
find that practising environmental stewardship may expand their sales. Increasingly,
retailers, manufacturers and suppliers are
making similar decisions. According to Lee
Tzu Yang, Chairman of Shell Companies in
Singapore, ‘The wider challenge is to work
with our customers and our suppliers to
help them build a sustainable business that
is also a profitable one. Only if we work together can we achieve this.’ The story about
US and EU retailers’ demand for sustainable palm oil is a case in point; and
• Capital with conditions: Institutional
investors are increasingly equating a company’s ability to demonstrate good environmental, social and governance standards
with strong long-term investor performance. Some 784 signatories (comprising
asset owners, investment managers and
professional service partners) have signed
up for the United Nation’s Principles for
Responsible Investment, accounting for
US$22 trillion worth of investments. Responding to this trend, Malaysia’s Stock
Exchange, Bursa, plans to launch an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
index in 2012 to encourage Malaysian
companies to meet ESG screening criteria
in order to be listed.
Addressing the barriers
A significant barrier for many businesses in emerging markets is the common
perception that investments in sustainability will constrain growth, a sentiment
that is somewhat shared by governments
in this region. There is however, growing
evidence that it is possible to decouple
economic growth from environmental impacts. This is resonating in some quarters.
Harish Manwani, Unilever’s President for
Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe clearly believes in this: ‘We want to
grow our business, but at the same time we
want to reduce our environmental impact.
We believe we can do both.’ Last year,
Unilever unveiled its ambitious Sustainable
Living Plan, designed to halve the environmental impact of its products (this includes
greenhouse gas and waste management
and water use) and source 100 per cent of
materials sustainably by 2020. Raising the
overall awareness on what needs to be done
and what is possible is a game-changer.
For a business to implement effective
climate change strategies, it is vital to have
government support, incentives and sometimes penalties, in the form of appropriate
policies and legislation. This is particularly
applicable to smaller companies and businesses that are closely entwined with public
infrastructure. Governments are responding:
all members of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) bar Malaysia,
Myanmar and Thailand have associated
with the Copenhagen Accord. Indonesia and
Singapore have indicated higher pledges
conditional on international financing support and global agreement on a new deal,
respectively. Furthermore, some countries
have taken significant steps to promote
a low-carbon economy, including a new
Ministry of Green Technology in Malaysia,
a new Green Financing Scheme in Indonesia, a Green Power Development Plan in
Thailand and a Green Growth Roadmap in
Cambodia.Whether existing climate policies
are robust and ambitious enough to have the
necessary impacts to counter climate challenges remains to be seen. Some business
leaders believe that the time is right for a
deeper dialogue with public policy decisionmakers. They speculate that sometimes governments have a lower expectation of what
businesses are willing to do to adapt their
business models to meet the climate change
challenge than is actually the case.
Bringing on the champions
Harnessing the influence of corporate
leaders to drive progressive climate policies is not as immediately obvious as it is
sometimes made out to be. We walk a fine
line when what drives our desire for change
is a heady and complicated mix of material and profit-driven motives on the one
hand, and on the other, a belief in responsible stewardship for future generations of
Southeast Asians. The risk of double standards when there are short-term conflicts between these drivers is clearly evident. Yet,
the overwhelming potential for change that
ensues when we enlist some of the most
visionary and strategic minds to undertake
one of the most complex and unpredictable
collective challenges we face, is a risk that
may be worth taking.
Sumi Dhanarajan is a Consultant for the Public Roles
of the Private Sector programme at the Centre on
Asia and Globalisation (CAG) at the Lee Kuan Yew
School of Public Policy.
[email protected]
sg Davina Loh is a Coordinator of CAG’s Southeast Asia Corporate Leaders Initiative on Cliimate
Change. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 4 3
Quo vadis,
energy policy?
Dodo J. Thampapillai suggests that an underlying cause of
the natural disaster in Japan may in fact be man-made.
he disaster and tragedy in Japan has
raised more questions than answers
about the safety of nuclear energy. However, the real cause of the nuclear disaster
may be rooted elsewhere — possibly fossil
fuels and especially crude oil together with
coal. Yet, there has been a real connivance
on analysing this cause.
The reason: crude oil has gotten ingrained as the main energy driver for all
economies. This is compounded by the fact
that energy is a basic need — the availability of energy is a prime determinant of
macro-economic performance. Backtrack
some 40 years to the Yom Kippur war in the
Middle East. In a world that had evolved
around crude oil since the 1850s, the energy
shortfall resulted in a quadrupling of oil
prices by the Organisation of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC). This, in turn,
generated prolonged spells of recession and
inflation worldwide. The Iran-Iraq war of
1981–82 created further shortages and exacerbated the recessionary conditions.
The non-oil producing world had by
then begun a search for energy alternatives.
It was also active in advocating prudent energy consumption behaviour. Wind, solar,
geothermal and various other alternatives,
though technically feasible, proved to be
economically cost-ineffective. Persistence
towards innovation however, was shortlived. Behavioural changes such as a more
frequent adoption of public transport and
‘Whilst the world is moving
at a slow pace of incremental
transition towards energy
alternatives, the need for a
revolutionary and abrupt
change is probably vital if
not inevitable.’
a higher tolerance towards discomfort (for
example, less cooling in warmer climates
and less heating in colder climates) were
also short-lived. The reason: the entry of
the UK and Norway into the oil market
in 1987 with North Sea oil. This entry
transformed the oil shortage into a surplus.
The price wars initiated by OPEC in this
instance drove down the real price of oil to
levels almost similiar to those that existed
prior to 1973. The late 1980s marked the
beginning of a boom. Conservative behaviour was replaced by extravagance —
SUVs found their way into the automobile
market in volumes larger than before. The
intensity of the search for energy alternatives slackened. But the search for new untapped oil reserves gathered momentum.
That search continues to this day.
Oil prices stabilised in the 1990s (barring the period of the first Gulf War).
However, it took an upward surge from
the beginning of this century. Several factors underlie this change in direction. The
first is perhaps efforts to enforce emission
guidelines — mainly with reference to
green house gases (GHG). The second is
the acknowledgement (following the 2006
Image: Danny Snell
Stern Report) that the finiteness of crude
oil in the worst case scenario could come
to bear in as little as 50 years. Third, there
were additional events that triggered oil
shortages: the invasion of Iraq, Hurricane
Katrina, and of course the disastrous BP
oil spill. As I write this piece, political
instability in the Middle East and the intervention in Libya are likely to help push the
price up even further. Right now, crude oil
is sitting on US$115 per barrel.
In the midst of this high oil price regime, how concerted are the efforts towards energy alternatives? The efforts do
exist — especially with reference to solar
power, wind and bio-energy. Yet, there are
also efforts to extend the reliance on crude
oil and coal. The hitherto un-economic oil
reserves in Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri
Lanka are now supposedly economic given
the high oil prices. The economic demand
for coal from both China and India has
been unprecedented and hence the worldwide exploration and acquisition of coal
mines by China. For instance, there have
been reports that China was constructing a
500 MW coal power plant every four days.
The UN and its various entourages that
circle the globe for consensus on GHG
emissions seem to have overlooked some
of the hidden dangers in prolonging the
reliance on fossil fuels. It is an established
fact that the mining and combustion of coal
release into the atmosphere substances
other than GHG. Prominent among these
are cadmium that causes kidney disorders
and mercury, which is a neurotoxin. It is
perhaps a matter of little surprise that
recent issues of the American Journal of
Psychiatry report increasing incidences of
mental illness in rural China where coal
is indiscriminately burnt. Perhaps matters
need to get much worse before the UN
would decide to pursue another protocol.
There is also another body of contested literature that claims that the extraction of oil and coal beyond threshold
levels could increase the frequency of
earthquakes. Some claim that this threshold level has been surpassed. Despite the
controversy, the underlying thesis that
premises the argument based on empirical observations is worth a hearing. The
removal of crude oil and coal from layers
beneath the earth prompts a significant
reduction in pressure, which in turn induces seismic activity. Humankind, in its
quest for readily usable energy, has extracted cumulatively unimaginably vast
amounts of oil and coal. The correlation
between the cumulative extraction load
and the increased frequency of earthquakes cannot be readily disregarded.
Whilst the world is moving at a slow
pace of incremental transition towards energy alternatives, the need for a revolutionary and abrupt change is probably vital if
not inevitable.
Dodo J. Thampapillai is an Associate Professor
at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
[email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 4 5
Text • Frank Hartmann
Schools of public policy allow for some of
the best opportunities to bridge the gap
between theory and practice, but achieving
the right balance is difficult.
ublic policy schools arrived late in the world of professional
education. Most universities’ law schools, business schools
and medical schools pre-date them by several generations. Yet,
public policy schools, the latecomers, are desirable for universities
for the following reasons:
• They attract very high-quality students who are likely to be
well-placed people with real promise. They would be valuable to
the enterprise of government, to government-related activities, to
the non-governmental sector and to all who deliver services to
the public;
• They help these students learn how to think, how and when
to use analytic tools, and how to anticipate, approach and respond
to difficult problems that affect the public good; and
• They help these students learn to be reflective practitioners,
enabling them to develop an effective theory of action to deliver
tangible results that contribute to the public good.
Image: Paul Lachine
Once a university has such a school, it
might set itself the goals listed below:
• The school should be a powerful
player in the realm of public ideas;
• It should challenge the conventional
thinking of all those entities and persons
who deliver services to the public;
• It should engage government(s) and
NGOs cooperatively to address public issues
and to be ahead of the curve in this work;
• It should provide those who are responsible for serving the public with ideas
and a variety of ways to develop effective
policies, while simultaneously challenging
these people; and
• It should work cooperatively and
respectfully with the best practitioners to
develop policies and put them in place.
Three of these points deserve further
explication, starting with the notion of
‘ideas’. To be an influential player in the
public forum of ideas is part of the mission
of a school of public policy. One might
think of these ideas in two ways: ‘big
ideas’ and ‘applied ideas’.
Big ideas are those concepts developed
by academics that reshape the way we
think about and approach issues that affect
the public. Robert Putnam’s research and
writing on social capital has given policy
makers a different way to think about
civic enterprise. The roles and many facets
‘One wants in a public
policy school both kinds
of faculty: those who
generate big ideas and
those who work in the area
of applied ideas.’
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 4 7
of civic and private life are inextricably
mixed — given this, how might all who
deliver services to the public act?
Thomas Schelling’s work on game theory, for which he later won a Nobel Prize,
was a foundation for the policy making of
Western governments, particularly in terms
of their policies regarding the use of nuclear weapons in the 1960s. David Musto
of Yale School of Medicine wrote about the
history of cocaine use in the United States
in a way that allowed policy makers to see
how laws followed and confirmed social
norms, rather than the opposite. Kishore
Mahbubani’s work on the place of Asia in
the power structure of the modern world
challenges conventional Western thinking
about the current hegemony.
In each case, I can imagine policy makers saying, ‘I have never thought about it
that way before. It helped me to reconceptualise the issues.’
The specific applications are open to
interpretation, but the ideas are present
and powerful, and cannot be ignored in the
marketplace of ideas.
Then, there are what I call ‘applied
ideas’. These are policy and management
ideas about how public services are delivered. Those with which I am most familiar
are about community policing, performance management in government, and the
reduction of errors in the delivery of medical services. In each case, the informing
ideas were developed in partnerships with
practitioners, often with the latter leading
the way. The result was that services to the
public were delivered in new and measurably more effective ways.
Applied ideas necessarily involve a deep
working relationship between academics and
bright, committed practitioners who are responsible for delivering services to the public.
Working in the area of applied ideas
means, among other things, that the ideas
have to be more broadly accessible to the
public for input, reaction and amendment.
Traditional academic publication is insufficient. In the United States, those working
in the arena of applied ideas communicate
their ideas in articles found in the New York
Times Sunday magazine, the New Yorker,
the Atlantic, and even in Parade Magazine,
a breezy national Sunday supplement to
many newspapers. One wants to deliver the
ideas about the new ways in which services
‘To be an influential player
in the public forum of ideas
is part of the mission of a
school of public policy.’
to the public might be delivered both to
policy makers and to the broader public.
American policing in particular, and
Western policing in general, were much
affected by an applied-ideas research effort, in cooperation with the Boston Police
Department, to reduce homicides among
young people in Boston. The result was
a reduction in homicides from 57 to zero,
with the number staying close to zero for
almost eighteen months. While often called
the ‘Boston Miracle’, it was in fact no
miracle. It was the result of the dedicated
and ongoing partnership between police
practitioners, different parts of the Boston
community and a public policy school. It
was an applied idea.
The second point regards the importance
of teaching the art of reflective practice to
people who implement policies that affect
the public. The leader in this area is Ellen
Schall, Dean of the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Schall
was, for almost eight years, the Commissioner of Juvenile Services for the city of
New York. Her leadership and management
dramatically improved the situation for the
children under the care of her agency. She
writes wonderfully about the complexities
of public service in an article called Learning to Love the Swamp: ‘The world of public
service has more swamp than high ground.
Many of the tough problems that lure us to
public service and test our leadership are
“swamp” problems. To be effective in public
leadership, people need the capacity to lead
and manage in the “swamp.” There are no
rules for this and no set techniques that guarantee the right answer.’
We want our students to take management, implementation and policy application theories, to try them, with a view to
learning what works and what does not,
to test further, and to share the ideas with
other leaders and managers. This is not the
same teaching as that of teaching analytic
techniques. It leads the learning of students
so that, while they make the academic
tools their own tools, they work to build on
their basic strengths and work to modify
their weaknesses. We want them to build
their own informed theory of action and to
ask themselves: ‘how will I act and manage in a swamp?’ and ‘how will I continue
to learn and practise’?
This means that we should, along with
sharing the tools of policy analysis with
students, teach the art of reflective practice.
This is a practice that involves continuous
learning in their careers as public managers.
I believe that while we teach policy analysis
well, we teach the art of reflective practice
less well. It is not a conventional learning
enterprise, but because of the importance of
serving the public, we should be masters at it.
Third, the existing structures of public
policy schools do not fully support either
of the two propositions above. Quality is
most often determined by one’s ability
to earn tenure. One’s quality is not determined by others in the public policy arena,
but by others in the same academic profession — by economists for economists, by
political scientists for political scientists,
and so forth. Nothing in this arrangement
supports the work of bringing applied
ideas to bear on public issues, or the work
of teaching the art of reflective practice.
One can make powerful arguments for
tenure, but the issue is not about tenure; it
is whether tenure should be the dominant
driver to determine the work of faculty
and the work of a school of public policy.
All of the persons mentioned as having
contributed big ideas were tenured; those
who contributed the applied ideas were
not. One wants in a public policy school
both kinds of faculty: those who generate
big ideas, and those who work in the area
of applied ideas. If a public policy school
is faithful to what it is trying to do, it has to
give structural place to the development of
both kinds of ideas.
Frank Hartmann was a Visiting Professor at the Lee
Kuan Yew School of Public Policy from December
2010 to February 2011. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow of the Programme in Criminal Justice
Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy
School. [email protected]
Democracy and development · Preventing mass violence and
genocide in the 21st century · Street, stage, shrine, and square:
protest sites as contested terrain
011 is also the year 20 AEH (After the
End of History). On 8 December 1991,
the Soviet Union was formally dissolved
by treaty, and in a book published a few
months later, the American academic
Francis Fukuyama famously declared ‘the
end of history’. Fukuyama put forward the
thesis that the collapse of the Soviet Union
marked the end of humanity’s search for
the optimal way to govern society. Henceforth, he argued, all societies, regardless of
history, culture or religion, would eventually gravitate towards liberal democracy as
the preferred form of governance.
Even in the heady years after 1991, when
democracy seemed to be sweeping all before it, Fukuyama’s proposition did not go
unchallenged. Samuel Huntington’s seminal
work The Clash of Civilisations? (1993) has
the best-known and most compelling of the
counterpoints. Huntington argued that the
post-cold war world would divide along
civilisational lines with each grouping of nations adopting its own civilisation-specific
forms of governance.
For the better part of the past decade
and a half, the world seemed to be moving broadly in the direction predicted by
Huntington. In the former Soviet Union,
after often chaotic attempts at democratisation, most of the constituent republics
slid back into various forms of authoritarian one-party rule. The Arab and neareastern Muslim world became engulfed
in civil war, pitting autocratic secular or
monarchist regimes against religious fundamentalists. The meteoric rise of China,
with its blend of authoritarian one-party
rule and state-directed capitalism, seemed
to suggest that civilisation-specific models
of governance were not incompatible with
economic development and modernity.
Indeed, many commentators became so
enamoured with the rise of China and its
apparent resilience in the face of the economic crisis of 2008–09, that they revived
the old argument that authoritarian government was in fact better for economic
development than democracy.
While 2008–09 probably represented
‘Authoritarianism and
democracy are very broad
umbrella terms that cover an
exceedingly diverse range
of regimes and systems of
the nadir for those advocating the superiority of democracy over alternative models
of governance, recent events in Tunisia
and Egypt suggest that democracy may be
staging something of a comeback. Hence,
it may be appropriate to examine anew the
question of whether authoritarianism or
democracy is better for development.
Those who advocate that authoritarianism is better for development usually make
the following key arguments in favor of
such regimes:
1. They are able to move quickly in
implementing policies necessary for development because they avoid the inevitable gridlock associated with democracy,
where competing interest groups frequently disagree over which is the right course
of action;
2. They are particularly well-suited for
developing countries where the population
at large lacks the education and civicmindedness necessary for a well-functioning democracy; and
3. Linked to the second point above,
they are better at protecting property rights
in the face of calls for re-distribution by
the huddled masses and are thereby better
at encouraging and facilitating the foreign
direct investment that is necessary for economic development.
The poster children of authoritarianism
have traditionally been China after Mao,
South Korea under the military regimes of
the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Singapore under
Lee Kuan Yew and Augusto Pinochet’s
Chile. In turn, for authoritarians, the bogeymen have traditionally been India under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi,
and the United States and Western Europe
each time they experience protracted economic recessions.
Those who argue for democracy point
out that democratic regimes:
1. Produce better outcomes over the
long-run, because through debate and the
balancing of competing interests, they
maximise popular consensus around an
optimal set of policies;
2. Avoid catastrophic policy choices —
such as the Soviet Union’s collectivisation
of agriculture and China’s Great Leap Forward — that can lead to misery and death
for millions of people; and
3. Are politically more stable over the
long run because they provide widely accepted mechanisms for leadership renewal
and the peaceful transfer of power.
The poster children of democracy have
been the United States, the United Kingdom, post-Second World War Western Europe and Japan, India (no revolutions and/
or famines since independence) and South
Korea from the 1990s onwards. Predictably perhaps, for democrats, the bogeymen
have been the Soviet Union, China under
Mao, much of post-colonial sub-Saharan
Africa until the turn of the century and the
Arab world post September 11.
Of course, both sets of arguments contain truths but they are also fundamentally
flawed. Indeed, the debate itself may be an
exercise in futility.
To begin with, authoritarianism and
democracy are very broad umbrella terms
that cover an exceedingly diverse range of
regimes and systems of governance. The
term ‘authoritarian’ for instance has been
used to describe countries as diametrically
different as North Korea and Singapore.
Indeed, anyone who knows anything about
these two places will know that Singapore
has far more in common with Switzerland
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 5 1
— a direct democracy where frequent
plebiscites determine everything from the
sewage systems to the surrender of sovereignty — than it does with the autarky that
is North Korea. Comparisons, therefore,
between authoritarian and democratic
systems of governance become somewhat
pointless given the degree of variation
within each so-called system.
Secondly, following on from the above
observation, most modern systems of governance contain elements that are democratic and elements that are authoritarian.
For example, constitutional scholars of the
United Kingdom often describe the office
of the prime minister as an elected dictatorship with a five-year term. This description
stems from the fact that the constitution of
the United Kingdom does not provide for
the separation of the three powers of government: legislative, executive and judicial.
These all reside with parliament. Moreover, the electoral system tends to produce
governments with strong parliamentary
majorities even though the winning party
barely commands more than 40 per cent of
the popular vote. Finally, sovereignty in the
United Kingdom rests not with the people
but with the king or queen in parliament.
In theory, therefore, parliament can enact
any laws it wants, including, for example,
laws that might tilt elections in favour of
the incumbent party. Hence, a prime minister, who by convention exercises all of
the prerogatives of the monarch, enjoys
significant powers particularly if his or her
party commands a healthy parliamentary
majority. Of course, in practice, the prime
minister of the United Kingdom is not a
dictator, and membership of the European
Union has somewhat diluted the absolute
sovereignty of the parliament. Nevertheless, the system, assessed purely on its
own merits, clearly contains a number of
undemocratic features.
Finally, democracy in particular is a
very poorly understood term. In Greek,
the term means ‘rule by the demos’, the
citizen body of a city state meeting in free
assembly and making decisions by voting:
one man, one vote. Hence, democracy is
associated with free and fair elections. The
problem is that most people, even seasoned
democratic politicians, tend to stop there.
While free and fair elections are a necessary precondition for democracy, they are
never sufficient. Indeed, there are plenty
of examples in history where free and fair
elections have produced decidedly undemocratic outcomes. In order to function
properly, therefore, modern democracies
require an institutional and organisational
framework where free and fair elections
are but one component. At a minimum,
this framework needs to also include the
rule of law as well as the fundamental
freedoms of speech, worship, movement
and association. The rule of law in particular is critical because it defines the rules of
the game and ensures that they are accessible, capable of being understood, lead to
predictable outcomes and apply equally to
all members of a society including those in
positions of authority.
Where then does the above analysis
leave the question of which system of governance is best for economic development?
Like political development, economic
development benefits greatly from the rule
of law. A business environment where the
rules of the game are accessible, capable of
being understood, lead to predictable outcomes and apply equally to all is far more
likely to encourage investment than one
‘Comparisons between
authoritarian and democratic
systems of governance
become somewhat pointless
given the degree of variation
within each so-called
which is subject to the arbitrary whims of
those in power. Equally, economic development benefits from a certain degree of
economic freedom and competition. This
is irrespective of whether the underlying
political system is or is not democratic.
India under Nehru and subsequently Indira
Gandhi was a reasonably well-functioning
democracy governed by the rule of law.
Unfortunately, in this case the rule of law
included the infamous License Raj, which
imposed significant restrictions on economic activity and competition, and as a
consequence, acted as a brake on economic development for nearly four decades.
In contrast, authoritarian China under
Deng Xiaoping had a much freer and more
competitive economy and thereby gained
a significant development advantage over
India. The answer, therefore, to the question ‘which system of governance is best
for economic development’ seems to be
‘that system which is best at delivering the
rule of law and a relatively free and competitive economy’.
Notwithstanding the admonition that
comparisons between authoritarianism
and democracy are pointless, it may be
tempting to conclude that an enlightened
authoritarian regime may have the edge
when it comes to development. Indeed,
as early as the fourth century BC, Plato
identified the Philosopher King as the ideal
ruler of his Republic. The trouble is that the
modern world can offer so few examples
of real Philosopher Kings. Indeed, history
is littered with examples of enlightened
authoritarian rulers that, with the passage
of time, degenerated into autocrats mired
in corruption. While China today may
be a reasonable example of enlightened
authoritarianism, it is useful to remember
that in all of its glorious 2,230-year history, its people have never been freer and
its government more democratic than they
are today.
Stavros N. Yiannouka is Executive Vice-Dean of the
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. This article first
appeared in the December 2010 edition of Globe Asia.
mass violence
and genocide
in the 21
Text • David Hamburg and Eric Hamburg
Tuol Sleng - S21 Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Source: Wikimedia - Adam63)
‘People who live in
pluralistic democracies
become accustomed to
diverse needs and learn
the art of working out
compromises that are
satisfactory to all groups.’
t is exceedingly hard to comprehend
how decent human beings could commit
mass atrocities of war, genocide and slavery — over and over again, from decade to
decade, generation to generation, century
to century. The manifestation has been so
despicable, and yet efforts have been made
to deny the existence of genocides, to claim
that the atrocities have been exaggerated,
or to say that genocide is simply a natural
disaster like a tsunami.
Mass atrocities have important shared
properties, and often virulent prejudice predisposes a people or a nation to slavery, civil
war or revolution. Under those conditions,
the door is open to genocide as the norms
and institutions that restrain atrocity are
eroded. The killing of the discriminated becomes the order of the day and established
targets become exceedingly vulnerable.
So, it is highly desirable and increasingly
feasible for the international community —
especially established democracies worldwide — to build up measures that can help
to put out the fires of genocidal tendencies
when they are small, yet visible. If not extinguished, these fires may well lead to mass
violence of one form or another.
Political leaders make mass violence
possible by lighting the fires of hatred, but
they do not act alone. They are supported
by the machinery of the state, the dominant
political party, the police, paramilitary and
military forces, as well as professionals
such as lawyers, professors, doctors and
engineers. Thus, warning time is typically
not weeks or even months, but actually
years. The years required to go from the
initial jeopardy to mass violence offer an
interval for the international community
— if it is sufficiently alert, well-informed,
morally committed and organisationally
prepared — to take preventive actions. The
earlier and more cooperative these interventions are, the better.
These shared properties suggest that
there are principles for preventing mass
violence. We must strive to understand and
apply these principles. At the heart of the
prevention of mass violence is the building
of pillars for prevention.
As techniques of prevention become
clearer, momentum has grown towards using active and non-violent problem-solving
skills and promoting the sharing of experiences across national boundaries to learn
from the world’s experiences in different
local conflicts. Tackling serious grievances as early as possible denies political
demagogues and fanatics the opportunities
to plant the chronic discontent that makes
incitement to violence easier.
A democratic system of government
can be a strong pillar of prevention. Democracies thrive by finding ways to deal
fairly with conflicts and resolve them below the threshold of mass violence. They
develop ongoing mechanisms for settling
disagreements. That is why encouraging
their growth is so important in an overall
plan to prevent mass violence. People who
live in pluralistic democracies become accustomed to diverse needs and learn the
art of working out compromises that are
satisfactory to all groups.
Democracies, even with periodic regressions, protect human rights better
than non-democratic societies, and their
elected officials are less likely to engage
in large-scale, egregious human rights violations that create intense fear and severe
resentment. Human rights abuse as a path
to war or genocide is very unlikely in an
established democracy.
Along with democracy, equitable socioeconomic development on a worldwide
basis offers humanity its best hope for producing conditions favourable to preventing
mass violence. This is a much more practical
goal today than it was a few decades ago,
even though a long rugged path still lies
ahead. We must help build local capacity for
honest and effective governance, sciencebased healthcare and technical capability. At a time of unprecedented advances in
biomedical sciences and public health, it is
urgent that research and development redirect its efforts and pursue the treatment and
prevention of the world’s most devastating
diseases — those concentrated in developing countries. This has a moral basis and
also a very practical one — these diseases
can readily spread and affect everyone everywhere. When disease goes unchecked in
any corner of the world, we know that it can
spread across oceans and continents. The
spread of infectious diseases is not unlike
the spread of hatred and violence — and this
can have disastrous consequences.
A fundamental underpinning of successful socio-economic development, fair
to all and not corrupt, is comprehensive
‘Prevention of mass
violence starts with the
recognition of the immense
dangers of egregious,
pervasive human rights
violations, typically
enforced by and in
repressive states.’
Teeth and bones sit in a display case at the Killing Fields, Cambodia
education, from pre-school through graduate school, and life-long learning. This
must include women on an equal basis, not
only as a matter of equity but also as a matter of economic stimulus.
Prevention of mass violence starts with
the recognition of the immense dangers of
egregious, pervasive human rights violations, typically enforced by and in repressive states — human rights violations so
crucial in preparing the ground for genocide and ethnic, religious and international
wars. Eventually, these atrocities must be
prevented, and bad outcomes averted, by
promoting democracy, equitable market
economies and the creation of strong civil
institutions that protect human rights.
How do these principles apply to poor
countries whose perils can readily become
everyone’s perils?
First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments. Governments that respect the will of their people,
that govern by consent and not coercion,
are more prosperous, more stable and more
successful than governments that do not.
Elections are important but not enough.
What happens between elections?
In the 21st century, capable, reliable and
transparent institutions are the key to success — a strong parliament, an incorruptible
police force, an impartial judiciary system, an
independent press, an ethical private sector
and a vibrant civil society. These give life to
democracy because they affect everyday life.
There are wars over territories and wars
over resources. Underlying tensions can
be manipulated by unscrupulous leaders
to get whole communities fighting among
themselves. The world has many identities
of tribe, ethnicity, religion and nationality.
However, defining oneself as an enemy of
someone who belongs to a different tribe or
who worships a different god has no place
in the 21st century. People everywhere have
common aspirations — to live in peace and
security, to access education and opportunity,
to love their families, build their communities
and practise their faiths. An environment that
allows that allows humanity to evolve and
ultimately prevents mass violence.
David Hamburg is the author of the book Preventing Genocide (Paradigm Press, 2008). Eric Hamburg
directed the documentary film Preventing Genocide,
based on the book.
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 5 5
Street, stage, shrine,
and square: protest
sites as contested
Urban protesters and the public
protest spaces adopted by them
have reconfigured the history of
many nations.
Text • Teresita Cruz-del Rosario
ebruary 1986, EDSA (the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue).
The six-lane urban highway, worming its way through six
municipalities of metro Manila, unconvincingly organises the
flow of traffic in both directions. It is a most curious venue to
stage an uprising.
Yet, 25 years ago, EDSA set the stage for a people-power uprising that toppled the two-decade-long Marcos dictatorship. No
longer a neutral and empty territory, EDSA became a charged
space: what William Sewell terms as ‘a matrix of power’.
In Argentina, the 70s and 80s was a period of the ‘murderous
dictatorship’ of the military regime. Public spaces were invisible,
the citizenry cowed into privacy and silence until fourteen mothers
donned white scarves and invaded the Plaza de Mayo with their
demands to know about the disappearances (desparecidos) of their
loved ones. Soon thereafter, the square resurrected as Las Madres
de la Plaza de Mayo, reconfigured as a protest space openly demonstrating against a repressive regime.
‘Protesters the world over, wherever
they may be found, transform
physical spaces and convert them into
a kind of political pilgrimage site.’
Satellite image of Tahrir Square during the Egyptian protest
against the government of Hosni Mubarak (Source: DigitalGlobe)
More recently, at the centre of Cairo stands Tahrir Square, a
rotunda that witnessed the gathering of Egypt’s disaffected. Wired
youths brandished cell phones in one hand and stones in the other,
and they spoke to the teeth of power using Facebook. Eighteen
days later, the curtains came down on Mubarak’s regime.
Protesters the world over, wherever they may be found, transform physical spaces and convert them into a kind of political pilgrimage site. There, they undertake a quest for personal and social
redemption to find their courage and recover their lives from the
grip of fear and prolonged repression.
They trek in large numbers to protect one another and to share
a moment when new social meanings are being fashioned out of
collective action. They convert these spaces into repositories of
collective sentiments, drawing on one other to weave a grand narrative of history-making and nation-building. They are, suddenly,
human agents of history and society.
Public spaces provide opportunities for refashioning what
political scientist Dag Angkar terms as ‘political architecture’.
Rather than being inherently constraining, these places present
a crucial resource with which to apply spatial agency. In these
sequestered sites, physical and metaphorical notions of space coalesce, so that what was once a mix of street, floor and cemented
highway meld into symbol, sentiment and statement. Here is
where the silence is broken.
However, protest space is also highly contested terrain. They
are sites of social conflict and clashes over symbolic codes. They
represent competing claims to legitimacy and control over power,
battles over alternative visions of the future, and struggles to redraw the boundaries of community and society. Blood spills taint
the pavements and cover the dead.
Remember Bangkok in 2010? In its fashionable Rajdamri district, where street vendors intersect with smart shoppers, the Red
Shirts camped out as an affront to the urbanised enclaves of the
upper- and middle-class Yellow Shirts. Right there, Major General
Khattiya Sawasdipol who had gone rogue for the Red Shirts was
shot in the head while speaking to several journalists.
Watch Libya unravel. Benghazi as contested territory has emerged
not only as the most visible arena of Libyan resistance, but also as the
most potent symbol of the irreversible course of change in Middle
East politics. Watch Bahrain, Yemen and Syria too.
Parallelisms among all these countries are inevitable. Street action among everyday people interacts with formal institutions —
the courts, the political parties, the media, the military, the mosque
and the church. Where formal and informal processes intersect,
political dynamics change. Within days, political careers will ebb
and wane, new ones will be forged, and the world will yet again
bear witness to another upheaval in human experience.
Above all, what these geographies of struggle provide is the
very best application of human agency, of fearless improvisation
and a resurgence of creativity, often times without structure and
direction, somewhat like collective street jazz.
Yet, hope abides in this massive energy that refuses to be silenced. An illud tempus according to theatrical critic David Cole, a
time to re-imagine an alternative universe of relationships and thus
a place where there is no thought of surrender or defeat.
Teresita Cruz-del Rosario is Visiting Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School
of Public Policy. Her recently published book Scripted Clashes: A Dramaturgical Approach to Philippine Uprisings provides an explanatory framework for people power
events in the Philippines over two decades. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 5 7
Take a look at our latest student profiles today and
contact Sarah Bailey in the Professional Development
Unit at [email protected] to coordinate internships
and permanent placements within your organisation.
Education for
Azul Ogazon Gomez, an alumnus from Mexico, shares her experience of
how post-graduate education at the LKY School has given her the tools to
understand public policies and effect change back in her home country.
‘Developing countries face
many challenges, and the
key to their success is to
have people in government
who are well-trained and
who have the vision to turn
obstacles into opportunities
for economic and social
development, as well as
knowledgeable citizens who
can keep their government
eveloping countries face many challenges, and the key to their success
is to have people in government who are
well-trained and who have the vision to
turn obstacles into opportunities for economic and social development, as well
as knowledgeable citizens who can keep
their government accountable. Education,
therefore, plays a fundamental role in
these countries.
However, in developing countries,
those who have successfully completed
secondary education and are enrolled in
tertiary institutions comprise, on average,
only 20 per cent of the total population.
One of the many reasons for this is the
limited number of educational institutions
offering tertiary programmes. However,
the determinant cause is the opportunity
cost tertiary education represents. Nevertheless, more and more people in developing countries are becoming aware of the
returns that this investment can bring, as
well as the positive externalities that it
will effect in their society.
Applying for post-graduate programmes
in such countries has become a tough challenge given the fact that the demand for
such programmes has increased — while
the number of scholarships and financial
aid has not. In order to avoid such disappointing experiences, students should look
beyond the typical educational paths and
explore new opportunities.
Singapore is the perfect example of a
country that has achieved a high level of
development and is ready to help other
countries to do so by offering scholarships
in high-quality graduate programmes.
The LKY School trains new generations
of leaders and has been offering generous
scholarships in order to accomplish this.
The School offers a world-class education in policy making, complemented
by regular interaction with current
political leaders. With professors and
students coming from more than 50
nations and from different professional
backgrounds, political, historical and
cultural debates as well as the sharing
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 5 9
MPP Class 2010 planting a tree after the graduation ceremony.
of experiences take place every day.
As a student of the School who hails
from a developing country that has been
strongly influenced by American economy, politics and culture, my experience
here has helped me learn from diverse
Asian experiences and has changed my
perspective about policy making.
Methods of learning at the LKY
School are diverse and are structured in
such a way that students get a good grasp
of real politics. The courses have a good
mix of theories and optimal policies, as
well as mechanisms of policy delivery,
which are fundamental for governments
who want to minimise the multiple
challenges that hinder the success of
public policies. Through several case
studies, I was able to realise that Asian
governments in the newly-industrialised
countries move from a vision of optimal
public policies to focusing on practical
implementation, leading to economic
growth and social development.
During my two years as a student at
the LKY School, I developed my steering and co-ordination skills by taking
part in the organisation of the 2009
GPPN Student Conference: Crisis as
Opportunity — What Policies Do We
Need for Sustainable Development Today?; the 2010 Consensus//Colloquium:
Securing Food in ASEAN; and the
launch events of the Asian Journal of
Public Affairs’ print issues. Some of my
classmates worked on their consulting
and fundraising skills while supporting
the functions of different NGOs. Others
built up their presentation and research
skills while attending conferences and
presenting papers in our School and
other universities.
Networking and the building of strong
friendships during graduate school creates future opportunities for developing
countries. At the LKY School I had the
chance to share two years with amazing people whose main aim is to make
a difference in their countries and consequently for the world. Knowing that
we are all targeting this common goal
makes it reasonable to think that we
will eventually meet again. What is
important is the fact that we will gladly
work together, knowing that our graduate dreams of enhancing economic and
social development will have the chance
to become a reality.
The transformation of public policies in developing countries is needed.
A more human, effective and equitable
system that leads to true economic and
social development must be pursued. But
for that, change must take place, and this
can come in different forms. The first
change must take place in you. The question is, are you ready to pursue that goal?
If your answer is ‘yes’, then look beyond
for opportunities.
Azul Ogazon Gomez, from Mexico, is a graduate of
the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy’s Master
in Public Policy programme in 2010. She is currently
an Executive with the Executive Education programme at the LKY School. [email protected]
economy in the
next decade
Blessed with an abundance of natural resources, Mongolia
is slated to be one of the fastest-growing economies in the
next decade. An alumnus of the LKY School, Aigerim
Bolat, who is from Mongolia, talks to the Prime Minister
of Mongolia Sukhbaataryn Batbold about the country’s
potential and opportunities.
AB: Mr. Prime Minister, first of all thank
you very much for accepting our invitation and sparing your valuable time for
this interview. During your talk you said
that Mongolia’s natural resources are exhaustible. Do you think it is possible for
Mongolia to become a knowledge-based
economy rather than rely purely on natural resources?
Aigerim Bolat interviewing the Prime Minister of Mongolia.
ongolia is a country approximately the size of Western Europe but has a
population of less than three million, many of whom live a traditional nomadic way of life. As Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the LKY School pointed out in
his introductory remarks, the country is one of the last places on earth with large
untapped mineral resources including coal, copper, gold and uranium. As a result,
many foreigners are starting to invest in Mongolia. It is a dynamic emerging market economy with double-digit growth rates expected over the next five years. The
IMF predicts that the nation will be one of the fastest-growing economies in the
next decade.
Mongolians are, in general, optimistic and happy people, and although they are
strongly traditional, they adapt easily to changes in their environment. Mongolians
are also enthusiastic about modernisation and are open to the outside world. Although
the transition from a socialist to a democratic system occurred less than 20 years
ago, the majority of young Mongolians are open-minded and speak several foreign
languages. Some fortunate ones have had the opportunity to study abroad. From this
generation, new leaders are emerging who will pursue the social, political and economic development of the country.
The Prime Minister of Mongolia, Sukhbaataryn Batbold, is one of these new leaders. He is well-educated, open-minded and optimistic about his country’s future. He
has a PhD in economics and before entering politics, he was a successful businessman with interests in cashmere, construction and mining. His holding company, Altai
Holding LLC, is one of the most successful companies in Mongolia. Prior to becoming Prime Minister, he was elected twice as a Member of Parliament and has served
as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Trade and Industry.
On 18 February 2011, during his official visit to Singapore, he met with the Prime
Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, and opened the Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan)
exhibit at Marina Bay Sands. Prime Minister Batbold also spoke at the LKY School. His
talk covered the Mongolian government’s outlook for economic growth and its national
development strategy, focusing on managing the challenges and benefits of rapid growth.
I was privileged to interview him briefly after his talk:
SB: Yes, I think it is not only possible, but
also necessary for Mongolia to become
a knowledge-based economy. It has to
become one through several stages: First,
we should build its base, and that starts
with improving the quality of education
and related social programmes. In terms
of the economy, we should encourage
technology-based production. In other
words, we need to look at the processing, evaluating and downstreaming to
value-add. It means that we must do very
comprehensive work to deal with these
challenges. Mineral resources are exhaustible, but there are many things that
could be developed. Agriculture, tourism
and other industries can also provide
many opportunities for Mongolia.
AB: Mongolia is blessed to have a constant supply of wind and sun. Are there
any government plans to develop renewable or green energy sources from solar
and wind power?
SB: Again, we are a very lucky country
to some extent. We have not only been
blessed with the people of Mongolia, a
massive land area and mineral resources,
but also with the natural resources of
wind and solar energies. In the southern
part of Mongolia is the world’s best wind
tunnel that has been studied by international experts. Mongolia can produce
renewable energy from solar energy, and
more importantly, from wind. The government of Mongolia is working with
relevant international agencies to develop new concepts of using and making
better use of these resources jointly with
our neighbours like China. We have proposed ideas and initiatives on this international collaboration on the usage of the
wind and solar energies. Some of them
even suggested the name ‘Gobi-Tech’. I
think there is a definitely a great potential
in how these resources can be used for
Mongolia in the near future.
Nurturing collaboration
among Central Asian
Central Asian counterparts augment understanding
and friendship at the LKY School.
Text • Aigerim Bolat
with Dushanbe during the Soviet
nce a year for the past three
‘While sensitive economic
period have ended and there are now
years, senior officials from Cenno direct flights between these cities.
tral Asian countries were brought
and political issues are
The same has happened between
together at the LKY School by the
normally not discussed
Baku and Tashkent, as well as DushAsian Development Bank’s CAREC
anbe and Baku. It is said that some
(Central Asia Regional Economic
openly, this is an
meetings among these countries
Cooperation) Institute. While sensihave ended in tears when water and
tive economic and political issues
opportunity for them to
border issues were touched upon.
are normally not discussed openly,
Thanks to CAREC Institute’s
this is an opportunity for them to
meet their counterparts in
leadership initiative, senior governmeet their counterparts in the region
the region face-to-face and
face-to-face and to discuss imporment officials from Pakistan, Turktant issues in a relaxed environment.
menistan, Mongolia and the Chinese
to discuss important issues
While in Singapore, they also learn
provinces Xinjiang and Inner Monabout Singapore’s development
golia joined the Central Asia group
in a relaxed environment.’
strategies by visiting various highto attend a six-day Executive Leadtech industries such as the Port of
ership Development Programme at
Singapore or the Jurong Island Inthe LKY School in March 2011.
dustrial Park. The officials also were
The first day of the programme is
typically tense and participants are
able to experience the rich variety of
Singapore’s Southeast Asian food and culture, swim in the ocean at quiet and serious, but towards the end of the programme, there
Sentosa, and enjoy the warm weather while it might still have been is a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and the room is usually
filled with laughter. Officials gradually forget their government
snowing in many Central Asian countries then.
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan positions and titles and participate more actively in practical case
and Uzbekistan — six out the ten CAREC member states — have studies, simulations and group projects. These group exercises,
many things in common: language, culture, religion, history and carried out in a casual setting, break the ice and help the parresource-rich lands. However, since the collapse of the Soviet Un- ticipants to get to know and understand each other better. It is
ion, some of these countries have weakened their ties with one an- hoped that this will lead to improved government-to-government
other. For instance, the 24/7 direct flights that connected Tashkent negotiations or dialogues later.
Painting “Samarkand. The Registan” by Russian artist Alexander Naumov (Source: Wikimedia - Alexander Naumov)
For instance, two officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan, while
waiting for a bus to take them to the LKY School, decided to facilitate a meeting, once they returned home, to address the border
and double taxation problems that exist between the two countries.
Ironically, they were supposed to have met officially beforehand,
but the meeting was delayed. Having met at the LKY School, they
now trusted the intentions of the other party and were committed to
a fair and favourable trade environment that would also be beneficial for other neighbouring countries. The discussion ended with a
friendly handshake just before the bus arrived at the hotel.
When I approached the delegates from Turkmenistan, Dovletgeldi Sadykov, Turkmenistan’s Deputy Minister of Finance,
shared his impression of the programme:
‘Overall, the programme is very interesting and the topics we
discussed in the last few days are relevant to our work. Public
sector management and leadership and negotiation skills, taught
by highly experienced and qualified academicians and practitioners, gave us many new ideas and insights. Of course, we will not
copy Singapore’s development strategy but we will tailor it and
adapt those policies that are suitable for our country and unique
culture. Learning from the experiences of Singapore and other
advanced countries also helps us avoid problems that have occurred in these countries.
One important aspect of this programme is the bringing together of senior officials from neighbouring countries. Each of us has
a different mentality, and sharing concerns and challenges helps
us to better understand each other. I hope there will be more opportunities like this in the future. The standard of the programme
is very high, and this shows Singapore’s efficiency.’
Mr. Abdul Basit Khan from Pakistan, Senior Joint Secretary
and CAREC Transport Focal Point from the Ministry of Communication, who missed the semi-final World Cup cricket match
between India and Pakistan when he remained in class to listen
to his counterparts from central Asia, said this of the programme:
‘The learning experience started from the moment we stepped
off the plane at Changi airport. Singaporeans are very friendly
and professional people. We felt very welcomed everywhere we
went, whether it was Sentosa or the LKY School or the hotel and
restaurants. Content-wise the programme is very useful. I found
the Public-Private Partnership course to be especially interesting and useful. Participants received a lot of useful information
throughout the six days. I hope to be able to attend more programmes like this at the LKY School.’
Aigerim Bolat is an Executive with the Executive Education programme of the Lee
Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 6 5
The new year and
a new vision for
Text • Aigerim Bolat
Bayterek Tower in Astana, the capital of
Kazakhstan (Image: msykos,
The LKY School’s Executive Education had the privilege of
conducting an executive programme for the Prime Minister of
Kazakhstan and his Cabinet Members in March 2011.
n Astana, the morning is beautiful,
the air is fresh and clear and the sun’s
warmth offers a new hope. The day marks
the beginning of spring when Kazakhs and
most Central Asians, including Iranians,
Persians, Albanians, Indians, Macedonians, Burmese and Turks, celebrate Nauryz
(New Day) — their New Year. Every Kazakh makes a great effort to greet the New
Year with happiness, cleanliness and a rich
dastarkhan (table full of dishes) to usher in
a prosperous year. An old Kazakh saying
goes like this: ‘the way a family welcomes
the first day of the new year is the way they
will spend the rest of the year’.
On this morning, while ordinary Kazakhs were busy visiting their elders, friends
and relatives, some Kazakh government
officials started a two-day executive programme on public policy and management. Despite the proximity of the national
election in early April, the Prime Minister
of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Karim
Massimov, requested to have the executive
programme for his Cabinet and himself
during the two-day new year holiday.
The programme was delivered at the
Nazarbayev University in Astana from
22–23 March, 2011. Twenty-nine ministers, including the Prime Minister, attended the sessions on ‘Transformational
Leadership in the Public Sector: Setting
an Inspiring Direction, Building Strong
Support, Implementing for Results’ given
by Vice-Dean (Academic Affairs) and Associate Professor Scott Fritzen as well as
‘The Evolving Globalisation Dynamics’
and ‘Strategies for Avoiding the Middle Income Trap for a Resource-Rich Economy’
given by Professor Mukul Asher, who is
also the Faculty Lead for the programme.
Intensive interactions between the
Faculty Lead Professor Asher and the officials of the two organisations had been
of immense value in ensuring that the
programme was relevant in addressing
the challenges of sustaining high growth
during the current globalisation phase
and of strategically managing the public
sector. The programme aimed at exposing
participants to analytical frameworks and
international experiences in managing a
resource-rich middle-income country during the current globalisation phase. It also
provided an understanding of strategic
management in public sector organisations. The focus was on innovative ways
to make these organisations more effective
in delivering high-quality public services.
The participants took the programme
seriously. Although there was no guarantee
that all of them would remain in the government after the elections, the participants
were seriously engaged in the programme.
The sessions provoked interesting discussions and fundamental questions in a relaxed and unofficial setting. For example,
former cosmonaut and Chairman of the
Space Agency, Talgat Mussabayev, raised
a question on whether Kazakhstan needed
a space programme, pointing to the high
cost of the programme, the few qualified
specialists in the country and the progress
that was needed for it to catch up with other countries. Another issue that caught the
attention of the Prime Minister and most
of the other participants was the middleincome trap that is experienced by many
resource-rich economies.
At the end of the programme, one of the
conclusions made was that the insights and
lessons learned from Singapore and other
advanced countries can help the decision
makers in Kazakhstan leap into the New
Year of the Rabbit with a new vision and
new goals. We hope to see the participants
as inspired leaders in the new government
in Astana.
This year, the LKY School’s Executive
Education is also delivering in Astana six
rounds of customised weekly executive
programmes for senior government officials
of Kazakhstan at the Nazarbayev University
from February to November 2011.
‘On the first day of the
Nauryz, the Kazakh new
year, while ordinary
Kazakhs were busy visiting
their elders, friends and
relatives, some Kazakh
government officials
started a two-day executive
programme on public
policy and management.
Despite the proximity of the
national election in early
April, the Prime Minister of
the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Karim Massimov, requested
to have an executive
programme for his Cabinet
and himself during the twoday new year holiday.’
Aigerim Bolat is an Executive with the Executive
Education programme at the Lee Kuan Yew School
of Public Policy. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 6 7
An exercise in
climate change
evaluation and
letting go
Anthony D’ Agostino shares candidly with Globalis-Asian what goes through his mind during his
research field trip in the villages of Cambodia.
21 February, Phnom Penh
n 8:30pm touchdown and the weather is perfect as the tuk-tuk
driver sails through another neon night to the Chamkarmon
district. I made the same trip only months before to interview
UNDP staff and officials from the environment and agriculture
ministries about the country’s first climate change adaptation
project. Funded through the Least Developed Countries Fund, the
project aims to mainstream climate impact forecasts into provincelevel policy making, and facilitate farmers’ adoption of improved
seed varieties and climate-resilient cropping practices.
No one knows how successful this will be, hence the series
of pilot-scale adaptation projects that bodies like the UNDP and
World Bank are supporting around the world. Empirical testing
will take time, but I have been considering the use of a ‘laboratory’ environment to get a sneak-peek view of how farmers might
respond to climate change.
First, I need a clearer picture of what farmers are growing, the
crop market prices, their current mix of farm inputs and their perceptions of climate change.
25 February, Phnom Penh–Kampong Cham Province
Socheath picks me up from the hotel at 1:17pm. We have agreed
on five days for data collection and two days for the report, which
he will send by email. Three days earlier, I had purchased the
country’s sampling frame from the National Institute of Statistics
and identified the 20 villages and four provinces where workshops
conducted by local consultants would be held. Fingers crossed.
27 February, Kampong Cham Province
A Ministry of Environment consultant advised me to secure
buy-in from local officials, so today we met the deputy director
of the Provincial Department of Agriculture to brief him about
the workshops. We are working in four provinces, but Kampong
Cham is the most important because nine of the 20 workshops will
be hosted there.
8 March, Singapore
I am still waiting for Socheath’s report so that I can start
drafting the profit values used in the 10 workshop rounds. After
weeks of agonising over how best to elicit anticipated adaptation actions, I have settled on the simple approach of dividing
a square drawn on a piece of paper into a 3x3 matrix. In each
round, participants will be given a range of crops they can grow
in each of the nine cells, with a profit value attached to each
crop that varies by round. The options will be colour-coded and
they will have green, yellow and brown markers to make their
choices. At 10 rounds per workshop, I have leeway to introduce
price uncertainty and climate uncertainty. How does risk aversion in climate uncertainty compare to price uncertainty? This
has become the definitive question.
‘Funded by the Least Developed Countries
(LDC) Fund, the project aims to set climate
impact forecasts into province-level policy
making and facilitate farmers’ adoption of
improved seed varieties and climate-resilient
cropping practices.’
10 March, Phnom Penh
My brain is running like a 180 bpm soundtrack and the last
strokes of the workshop rounds feel within reach. Tomorrow the
translators will take over at US$9 a page.
12 March, Phnom Penh
Training the two consultants took significantly less time than I
had expected. The two pilot workshops in Prey Veng this Wednesday will help iron out any hiccups. Too many details remain
outstanding: blowing up and laminating posters large enough for
all participants to see, buying the markers, buying snacks and
water for the participants, photocopying anything and everything,
changing money into small notes for participant compensation
and finding a place to stay.
15 March, Phnom Penh
Do you have any idea how badly things can go wrong in a photocopy shop? There are several hundred printouts. Everything is in
Khmer. You did not think this would be a problem until you find
out the translator converted all the numbers into Khmer too. That
previously sounded like a capital idea — a revolt against numerical
post-colonialism! — until now. I feel like I have been removed
from the equation. The part-timer running the industrial-strength
printer is scoffing at the printouts. Meanwhile my senior consultant
is too busy checking his Yahoo account for other job opportunities
to coordinate the papers spilling from the 20-year-old machines.
Fieldwork is an exercise in letting go, and I am terrible at that.
16 March, Prey Veng Province
First pilot workshop completed. I had expected the ten rounds
to take significantly longer than they did, but the bottleneck was in
the survey questions. Evidently, this was the first time many of the
participants had been handed paper and pen. After we finished our
first workshop in Pring, a drunk policeman entered the courtyard
and ‘locked’ us in by closing the bamboo gate. ‘Yes, sir, what are
we being charged with?’ He claimed, in a whiskey-soaked drawl,
to have been instructed by the governor to personally escort the
barang through Prey Veng as foreigners are to be treated as special
guests. This was absolutely comical and all broke into laughter,
but the consultants called the district police chief anyway. The
conversation lasted too long, but eventually the uncle relented and
opened the gate.
Our second workshop was less eventful, aside from the cow
who wandered into the adjacent rice field and interrupted Round
6 when her owner went to retrieve her. Apparently she ate through
50,000 riel of rice very quickly.
From today’s 30 participants I am already observing patterns.
Older women who are heads of households pay little or no attention to the profit information each round; they simply plant
rice in every square, every round. Meanwhile, the young men are
extremely price-aware and throw out their rubber trees whenever
the price drops. Note to self: consultants must emphasise that rubber trees must grow for three consecutive rounds to get the full
maturity profit value.
18 March, Kandal Province
One of the participants realises today that he indeed has seven
children. Two actual workshops done, out of 20, and the consultants are getting better. Note to future self: gain fluency before doing more fieldwork. I feel paralysed not knowing what the consultants are actually saying and am only able to smile, point, nod and
mouth elementary Khmer phrases to the participants.
20 March, Phnom Penh
Goodbye consultants. Our time together has been a non-stop
negotiation for phone allowances, petrol money and per diems,
but I hope we are all happy now. Please remember to emphasise
the probabilities attached with a climate disaster. I will be thinking
about you and hope the extra US$40 I have allocated for materials
in the project budget will be enough to purchase yellow markers.
Do they really need to colour the whole square? Ask them to recap
the markers before returning them. Please remember: this project
is my baby and infanticide is not an option.
Anthony Louis D’Agostino is a Research Associate at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. [email protected]
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 7 5
Psychology of
a dictator
s the current wave of uprisings in the
Middle East continue to push dictators out of office, it is easy to wonder what
makes those leaders so different... so narcissistic. Gaddafi, for example, is hated by
many of his own people. He is wanted out
of office by the international community,
and he has been described by neighbouring
leaders as ‘crazy’. It is comforting to think
that only a rare few could ever become like
him but the truth may be very different.
Successful leaders have three things
in common: a clear, inspiring vision that
resonates with other people; the emotional intelligence to inspire people with
a sense of connection to their cause; and
the self-confidence to handle the hostility
of people who do not believe them.
Acclaimed leadership guru and psychoanalyst Manfred Kets de Vries found
that the primary drive for leadership is to
compensate for emotional injuries experienced earlier in life. The allure of status and
money, with the illusion of invulnerability
that comes with power, is intoxicating to
almost everyone. To someone who has
experienced helplessness and a lack of selfworth during the formative stages, attaining
leadership can be a deep raison d’être.
Studies show that a disproportionate
number of men in senior leadership positions grew up having poor relationships
with their fathers but good relationships
with their mothers: for example, Bill
Clinton, whose father died before his
birth; Jack Welch, whose father was a
train conductor and was largely absent;
and Winston Churchill, who barely spoke
with his father.
Several researchers suspect that they
developed their leadership skills to
compensate for their fathers’ failings or
absence and to displace their fathers as
‘the man of the house’. The findings on
women in leadership are less conclusive,
in part because fewer women hold leadership positions in business and politics
than men, and in part because the data regarding women who have been studied is
more complex. While some women have
powerful and supportive mothers, others emulate those characteristics in their
fathers. Several women in senior leadership roles grew up acting more like their
father’s favourite son than daughter.
Many aspiring leaders unconsciously
focus on compensating for earlier experiences just to hear ‘you’re great’ on a regular basis. Unfortunately, these external
accolades rarely bring the desired reassurance. For example, soon after becoming
a young Nobel Prize winner, a client of a
colleague had a mild stroke. His mother
chided him, ‘You’re just as much of a loser as your father. He had a stroke at your
age’. Despite being one of the brightest
minds in his field, he fell into a significant
depression characterised by questions of
self-worth. He had tried to heal himself
of old psychological wounds by getting
praise for his accomplishments as a scientist, but that medicine simply didn’t work
and left him mentally and physically ill.
Even when leaders hear what they
want, the effect is short-lived. In the
unconscious hope that a bigger ‘fix’
will bring a more substantial cure, they
use their increasing power to surround
themselves with yes-men and dependent
personalities who will shower them with
the praise they seek. They also create an
environment where they feel they are in
control. Their self-awareness and empathy for others fade as the focus increasingly shifts to ‘me’.
Effective leaders need to be able to
accept the disagreements and bruises
to their egos that come naturally with
power and position. The medieval kings
of Europe used court jesters to check their
Jonathan Marshall is a full-time faculty at the Lee
Kuan Yew School of Public Policy where he teaches
leadership. An executive coach and psychologist, he
heads the LKY School’s coaching programme and
maintains a consulting and psychotherapy practice.
egos. The jester’s job was to criticise the
king and say what others did not dare to.
Thomas Friedman, one of the most popular journalists today, was asked during his
stay at the LKY School how he kept his
ego in check. He replied, ‘I have a wife!’.
While he drew a lot of laughter from his
remark, many leaders echo Friedman with
statements like, ‘My spouse is the only one
who is honest with me. Without that criticism to correct me, I’d look like an idiot.’
In the absence of checks, leaders start to
believe what they are told and they graft
their egos to their leadership role. So when
their leadership is challenged, they feel a
threat to the very core and may respond
with disproportionate hostility.
Balancing the drive and determination
that accompany healthy levels of narcissism
with the humility to serve others is a rare
skill. Leaders face a great challenge as they
may be in positions to receive the praise we
all crave, but that makes their egos grow
in unhealthy ways. It is of those few who
succeed in the balancing act that Lao Tze,
author of the Tao Te Ching, wrote: ‘When
the great leader is done and the work is finished successfully, the people will say this
all happened naturally.’
· Ap r-J un 2 0 1 1 · p 7 7
Vu Minh Khuong
Assistant Professor
Published a journal article
titled “ICT as a Source of
Economic Growth in the
Information Age: Empirical
Evidence from the 1996–2005
Period”, Telecommunications
Policy, Volume 35, Issue 4,
pp. 357–372, 2011.
Together with Boyd Fuller,
published a journal article
titled “Exploring the Dynamics of Policy Interaction:
Feedback among and Impacts
from Multiple, Concurrently
Applied Policy Approaches
for Promoting Collaboration”,
Journal of Policy Analysis and
Management, Volume 30, Issue
2, pp. 359–380, Spring 2011.
Wong Marn Heong
Assistant Professor
Published a report titled
“Findings from 2010 ASEANBAC Survey on ASEAN
Competitiveness” for the
ASEAN Business Advisory
Council (ASEAN-BAC).
Darryl Jarvis
Associate Professor
Co-edited a book titled
ASEAN Industries and the
Challenge from China, published by Palgrave MacMillan, 2011.
Ashish Lall
Associate Professor
Edited a book titled Facets of
Competitiveness, published by
World Scientific, 2011.
Allen Lai Yu Hung
PhD Candidate
Invited to present a paper
titled “The Emergence of
Collaborative Capacities” for
2011 Public Management Research Conference, Maxwell
School of Syracuse University,
New York, US.
Spoke on “The Disaster
Research in ASEAN and the
Role of AAMDER”, for Colloquium Consensus II: The Relationship between Academia
and Disaster Management in
ASEAN, Singapore.
Spoke on “Resilience and
Collaborative Capacity
in Crisis Learning” at the
Graduate School of Community and Regional Planning
(SCARP), University of
British Columbia, Vancouver,
Andrew Billo & Ruth
Schuyler House
MPP 2010/12
Their case “Cambodia’s Land
Reform: Institutions, Politics
and Development” won the
inaugural Public Policy Case
Competition at the LKY
Angeline Goh Ai Ling
MPP 2010/12
Selected to present a video
titled “Rethinking Leadership:
Having the Courage to Admit
One’s Fallibility” at the 41st
St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award Symposium in
Nurina Merdikawati
MPP 2010/12
Presented a paper titled “Improving PKH Implementation:
Homeworks for Achenese
government” in Malaysia.
Wang Runfei Phillie
MPP 2009/11
Co-authored (with Teresita
Cruz-del Rosario) an op-ed
titled “Is China the New World
Bank?” in Project Syndicate.
Xu Zhenqing
MPP 2009/11
Presented a paper titled “The
World Trade Game: What is
the Next Move? The Multilateralisation of Trade in an Era
of Regionalism” at the Asian
International Model UN
Conference (AIMUN) 2011
in Beijing.
Weng Huiqin Janice
MPP 2009/11
Presented a paper titled
“Recognition and the Politics
of Identity and Inclusion in the
21st Century: Managing Diversity in Plural Societies” at the
University of Hong Kong.
Maneka Jayasinghe
MPP 2009/11
Her paper was presented at
the BASAS Conference at the
University of Southampton,
Naomi Jacob
MPP 2009/11
Raghav Puri
MPP 2009/11
Co-presented a paper titled
“Attracting High Skilled
Labour from Developing
Countries: Can Europe Learn
from Singapore?” at the 3rd
European Public Policy Conference (EPPC) organised by
the Hertie School of Governance at the Central European
University (CEU) in Budapest,
Shirish Jain
MPA 2010/11
Emily Yan Shufen
MPA 2010/11
Their essay on Sino-Indian
relations won the inaugural
GPPN (Global Public Policy
Network) Essay Competition
held by the Journal of International Affairs at Columbia
University. The winning essay
will be published in the Spring
issue of the journal.
Zhang ZhaoMing
MPM 2011
Elected as a committee member of Shandong Province,
People’s Political Consultative
Conference in February 2011,
Shandong, China.
In the Jul–Sep 2011 issue:
Diplomacy in the 21st century
What will diplomacy look like in the
21st century?
What has changed in diplomacy?
What will be the role of diplomacy and
diplomats in a globalised world?
What is the impact of information
technology on diplomacy?
Plus many more
Send your submissions to
[email protected]
Global-is-Asian is a quarterly magazine of the Lee Kuan
Yew School of Public Policy.
Image: UN Photos/Sophia Paris