Need to understand Asia without Western bias

Professor Kishore Mahbubani brought up a pertinent question (How the Western media gets the Korean crisis wrong; May 13): Is the Singaporean mind Eastern or Western?

Amid the sea change happening in the world, it is timewe asked ourselves this question.

History may have decided for us how we were governed and educated in the last two hundred years. The English language has helped us tap international commerce and adopt technologies. We are fed Western pop culture and news that shape how we understand the world. But are all these cast in stone?

While we have adopted the language, we have imperceptibly adopted the West's superiority complex.

In fact, many among us want to have nothing to do with anything non-Western, and view such things as inferior.

But does this hold true in the changed economic, geopolitical and social reality we witness now?

All through Asia, we see the desire for progress translated into action - infrastructural build-up, the adoption of technologies and an overhaul of electoral systems.

The economic betterment of the people is self-evident. It seems that ideology has given way to economic progress.

All these are happening in our neighbourhood. Asean, India, China and the vast Central Asia easily make up the majority of the world's population.

We should not let this huge tsunami of change pass us by just because we hold fast to archaic notions.

Therefore, there must be a greater need to understand the region we live in.

We are what we read. We should diversify our sources for news and information.

More importantly, we should understand Asia through its own platforms and not cling to digesting feeds that are monolithic in portraying Asia as backwaters, or its people as repressed.

We must understand Asia through Asia's eyes.

It is time we re-orientated our bearings, amid the rise of Asia.

It will be perilous for us to ignore all that is happening at our doorstep.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2017, with the headline 'Need to understand Asia without Western bias'. Print Edition | Subscribe