Kishore Mahbubani appointed senior visiting scholar at Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Center

Professor Kishore Mahbubani's project will focus on relations between the United States and China.
Professor Kishore Mahbubani's project will focus on relations between the United States and China.PHOTO: NUS

SINGAPORE - Former Lee Kuan Yew School dean Kishore Mahbubani is working on a new research project at Harvard University as part of his sabbatical.

He has joined the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation as a senior visiting scholar.

Professor Mahbubani's project will focus on relations between the United States and China, the centre said in a statement on Tuesday (April 10). His five-week appointment atthe US university began last month.

The 69-year-old stepped down as dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) on Dec 31 last year.

He is on a nine-month sabbatical and remains a senior advisor and professor at the National University of Singapore. He will retire fully next year.

His packed sabbatical schedule includes time at several different universities.

He has already spent six weeks as the George W. Ball Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and will be at Fudan University in Shanghai for two months, to glean "the China perspective on US-China relations", he told The Straits Times.

He will be in Singapore to launch his latest book, "Has the West Lost It?: A Provocation", on May 14.

Speaking on the phone from London where he is launching the book this week, Prof Mahbubani said his main goal during the sabbatical is to do research for his planned book on US-China relations.

"This is going to be the most important geopolitical relationship for the next few decades," he said.

Before becoming the founding dean of the LKYSPP in 2004, Prof Mahbubani was a diplomat with the Singapore Foreign Service for more than three decades. He led the Foreign Affairs Ministry as its permanent secretary from 1993 to 1998.

His postings included Cambodia, Malaysia and Washington DC, and he also served two stints as Singapore's permanent representative to the United Nations.

"Kishore brings a wealth of experience to the Kennedy School as a foreign policy professional and senior academic administrator," said Ash Center Director and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs Anthony Saich in the statement.

"Our students and the broader academic community at HKS will benefit tremendously by his presence here at Ash."

For Prof Mahbubani, the appointment is a homecoming of sorts - he was a fellow at Harvard's Center for International Affairs from 1991 to 1992.

He said he has discovered a new restaurant near the Ash Center - Les Sablons - and returned to some old favourites such as Legal Sea Foods.

"I'm going back to some of my old haunts," he said, adding that it was good to be back.