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I had already been involved with Southeast Asia for many years when I read the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew's thought-provoking words. Although I was an indifferent student of history at school in Australia, the words hit me like a sledge hammer. Whilst I was well aware of the importance to business of understanding the different cultures of Southeast Asia, I had not given a lot of thought to the relevance of history to the future in general, or to business in particular.
Since that time, I have read a lot of history on the region, and what I have learnt has over and over again reinforced Lee Kuan Yew's message. Unfortunately, I have found much of the history of the region has either been written by scholars absorbed by their topics and writing at a much greater depth than is required to get that broad understanding of the history of the people, or has been written in an abbreviated form for tourists or others needing only an outline of the past.
This book is our first attempt to find a middle path, which will give business and other readers enough detail to have a sense of the history of the different countries and their people. In so doing, we engaged the assistance of two leading Australian historians who specialise in the ASEAN region, Professor John Ingleson and Dr Ian Black of the University of New South Wales. They immediately understood what it was we were trying to achieve, and through their skill, sensitivity and experience, the first drafts of this book were produced. Our chairman, Rawdon Dalrymple, a former Ambassador to Indonesia, the United States and Japan, also contributed significantly, including a regional overview.
The project proved to be a far more difficult exercise than at first envisaged. Not only is it difficult to condense thousands of years of history to a few pages but, at all times, we wanted to test the material against the objective that a reader should by the end of each chapter have a feel for the history of the particular people.
Above all, we hope you come away from reading our book with a deeper understanding of the history of Southeast Asia which might, in a small way, better enable you to understand the present, and interpret the future with with respect to your Southeast Asian business and other interests.
Peter C. Church, OAM
Chairman, AFG Venture Group.
Copyright © Asean Focus Group Pty Limited. All rights reserved.
About this edition:
This is the complete text of the 2nd edition of the book. The first edition of "Focus on Southeast Asia" was published in 1997 and the second edition, which was renamed "A Short History of South East Asia", was published in 1999. With so much change taking place in South East Asia over the last few years we recently decided to update the book and a fifth edition was published by John Wiley and Sons (www.wiley.com) in 2009. The cover set out is of the fifth edition.
About our company:
AFG Venture Group is an Asia and Australia based corporate advisory and consulting firm with over 20 years experience in creating alliances, relationships and transactions in Australia, South East Asia and India; including a 15 year history of corporate and equities advisory in Australia, undertaking merger, acquisition, divestment, fund raising and consulting for private and public companies.