Friday, April 19, 2013


While government walks the delicate line between the affordable and the necessary as far as energy sources are concerned, still it could look just a little farther out of the box and anticipate an energy future that is truly self-sufficient, clean, and renewable.” [Former Senator Atty. Joey D. Lina Jr., Manila Bulletin, 19th Mar 2013] This is the kind of challenge that demands more than incremental thinking – we need our version of the “Manhattan Project”?

Back in Eastern Europe after my annual extended yearend-break, my friends, unmistakably, have their eye trained on the future, more than ever. And so the excitement was palpable as we ratcheted up product development and innovation efforts – to aggressively compete especially in the developed markets of Asia and the West. They’ve finally gotten over the blinders that they could only sell consumer-packaged goods at 50 euro cents – “because we’re poor Bulgarians” – and are instead giving their creativity free-rein. And it didn't feel that I had gone on holiday since I travelled with them around Asia. [When I first came to Eastern Europe one question they kept asking is: “Does the free market have its rules?” I emphasized transparency. That competition ought to be fair and square. That those who couldn't compete under those conditions and would game the system instead would mirror the unfairness they experienced under their communist rulers. And when the Great Recession came about, they realized what that meant – that greed as in unbridled capitalism can undermine a system that is meant to be egalitarian. Thus the rule of law must indeed be inherent – and the US legislators that have been keeping the heat on Wall Street are to be applauded.]

While traveling around Asia one evening, we were taking in as much of the skyline of Singapore from the Sands SkyPark over cocktails when my Eastern European friends asked how much Singapore had changed. And a New Yorker overheard us and introduced himself: "I am a PhD student at the National University and next to me is my professor." The West has been critical of Singapore's highly centralized form of government, yet lately there has been a softening (as this young New Yorker demonstrated in opting to pursue his graduate work in this city-state) with more and more Western firms choosing to set up shop in Singapore over Hong Kong especially after the latter reverted from British to Chinese rule.

And very recently on Al Jazeera TV they featured the ongoing protest in Singapore, against the plan to increase the population by 30%, and thus immigration, being an economic imperative. And much of the objection had to do with the expected strain on the infrastructure. And so the government has been explaining that, as history would bear out, they'd always factored infrastructure development in their forward-thinking and planning process. But then again, perfection is not of this world; foreigners may be in awe of Singapore’s infrastructure but it doesn’t mean that the locals are.

The College of Cardinals elected a Jesuit in Pope Francis, and since we Pinoys appear to mirror the church – especially its hierarchical orientation – the hope is finally we would be less so? And especially after Francis shunned his Vatican-provided car for a minibus and joined the rest of the cardinals, for instance? We don't have to be banished like the Jesuits once were – just to recognize that rewarding hierarchy, oligopoly and political dynasties undermines the common good?

Of course, we need leadership and imagination too?

No comments:

Post a Comment