The Asian way was widely promoted during the early 1990s as a non-liberal but capital-friendly alternative to western free market individualism. Recent events suggest that the threat of militant Islam to Pacific Asian stability is far more potent than anything with which Al Qaeda and its affiliates confront the west.
For much of the 1990s, the leaders of Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia – the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – congratulated themselves on their unique development formula.
ASEAN’s distinctive brand of diplomacy, founded on good interpersonal relations, seemingly generated rapid economic growth whilst sustaining regional harmony and stability. For its many international admirers, from the World Bank to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australia’s Paul Keating, it was a uniquely Asian attitude to diplomacy and development.