Professor Tommy Koh in the Straits Times today noted a difference between Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his former deputy, the late S. Rajaratnam, the country's first foreign minister.
Raja, as he was known, "saw himself simply as a Singaporean and not as a Ceylonese Singaporean or an Indian Singaporean." wrote Prof Koh. "Minister Mentor Lee, on the other hand, saw himself first as a Singaporean, and second, as an ethnic Chinese proud of his cultural roots."
This sense of ethnic and cultural identity, and how it is reshaping the world, is the theme of Samuel Huntington's book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Published in 1996, after the fall of Soviet communism, the book looks at the growing importance of race and religion in international affairs.
This lies behind the rise of China, according to Huntington. It has become an economic giant with generous help from overseas Chinese investors. He quoted Minister Mentor Lee on how they were drawn together by their common culture and ancestry.