Over the course of nearly 60 years’ engagement with Southeast Asia, Milton Osborne has become one of Australia’s leading authorities on the region. His Southeast Asia: An Introductory History, first published in 1979, is now in its 12th edition and has been translated into five Asian languages.
Osborne’s latest work, Pol Pot Solved the Leprosy Problem: Remembering Colonial and Post-Colonial Worlds, 1956–1981, is a memoir of his career as a young diplomat in Phnom Penh, from 1959–61, and later as an academic and consultant to UNHCR, when he worked in Vietnam and along the Thai–Cambodian border.
Following remarks on his experience of these early postcolonial years in Southeast Asia, Dr Osborne was joined in conversation by Aaron Connelly, Director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute.
Dr Milton Osborne has held various academic appointments, including as a nonresident fellow of the Lowy Institute. From 1982 to 1993, he returned to government service as head of the Asia Branch of the Office of National Assessments. In 2013, the French Government honoured him with an appointment as Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Mérite for his writing on France in Asia and his role in liaison with French officials.