Saturday, June 18, 2011

Energy and electronics . . . hierarchy and corruption

The Independence Day celebrations must have encouraged completion of loads of homework from various government departments and partners in industry – from reporting progress in our energy PPP initiatives to developing a technology roadmap for electronics to the crafting of a game plan for tourism? And not to be outdone, one daily had an editorial on the whys of corruption – perhaps pursuing President Aquino’s pledge to traverse the straight and narrow?

Cronyism, pork-barrel politics and the absence of campaign finance reform would explain our insidious corruption? We believe we are holistic and populist and want to be inclusive when we’re addressing poverty? But how do we dissect corruption? Like ‘analytical Westerners’ able to sharply compartmentalize – and explain why we are unable to overcome it? But where is closure? Excellence and competitiveness have no respect for Filipino time? Are our legislators to blame for pork-barrel politics and our inability to pass a campaign-finance reform? Is cronyism synonymous to our “weather-weather” syndrome and an expression of hierarchy and the power that comes with it? Corruption is so insidious it is everywhere? When we violate easement rules and gain extra space for our homes or businesses we are not only aiding and abetting corruption but are polluting and undermining the environment as well? Or when we turn king of the road once we’re outside our gated communities, superior to traffic cops and traffic aides?

The buying of votes is a way of life and perpetuates hierarchy and power? Campaign contributions are there because kingmakers thrive in the environment – they are an investment because politics is big bigness; while blatantly undermining whatever leadership role public service is meant to bring in the first place? Political leadership is designed to educate Juan de la Cruz, not to undermine nation-building – or why public servants parade their superior education and training? [It appears we have made education big business (diploma mill?) given the staggering number of colleges and universities we have when only a small fraction in fact goes to college? And not a surprise our competitiveness ranking is mediocre? Similarly we have lots of SMEs but are ranked poorly in entrepreneurial dynamism because we don’t seek to excel and compete beyond our borders?]

Do we expect to move forward with our energy PPP initiatives – and make the failed EPIRA just a bad dream? Energy is so fundamental like an international airport or trains and roads and bridges – and will we learn to put them up sooner than later? What about the electronics industry’s technology roadmap? Do we expect local industry to commit to invest and move our semiconductor industry up the value chain – e.g., “automotive electronics, PV/solar, mass data storage and research and development (R&D)”? Or are we dependent on foreign enterprises – i.e., local industry has yet to invest and raise our capacity in science and technology? Tourism will largely be a local effort, though foreign investments could be tapped – and will we do better than our performance or non-performance in NAIA 3 or the Ro-Ro ports deal or North Rail and succeed in erecting the requisite infrastructure system for tourism?

We’re not unique given other people are also predisposed to messing things up? The only difference and why we seem the odd one is that we can’t seem to move up? We keep sinking in the competitiveness and corruption indices, for instance? And how do we propose to move forward – doing more of the same? Thankfully, the Aquino administration appears committed to do the right thing?

Should we debate corruption as much – or the incompetence in infrastructure building and development – as we do condoms? Is insidious corruption which has made us economic laggards and mired in poverty less of a concern than condoms? Both would touch the conscience but one is pulling the economy and the whole country down, today not tomorrow? What about the common good? How many have we contributed to the infamous list of the world’s most corrupt leaders? And where do our leaders come from? Not from some country out to screw us?

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