Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Wobbly political foundations"

That's from The Economist (18th May 2013) expressing their sense of our mid-term elections. Their evidence: We returned the "locked up" Mrs. Arroyo to Congress; we made another former president, Joseph Estrada, mayor of Manila "even though a court once sent him to jail for life for corruption"; elected Imelda Marcos to Congress "even though she is the widow of the most corrupt president of all." Ergo: "The durability of any reforms built on such wobbly political foundations is questionable."

And Inquirer News carried a report from Agence France-Presse, A rogues’ gallery of election winners, 16th May 2013: “Graft-tainted ex-presidents, a dictator’s unrepentant wife and politicians charged with crimes such as murder and child rape were among the winners in the Philippines’ mid-term elections. The Philippines has long endured a corrupt and violent brand of democracy in which politicians use their influence to avoid punishment for crimes, creating a so-called “culture of impunity” that enrages the masses.” And it also included “details on 10 politicians accused of serious crimes who ran in Monday’s elections. Nine of them won, according to the official tally on Thursday.”

"Pwede na 'yan," complacency and our hierarchical system and structure (collectively our culture?) would explain what The Economist interpreted as our "wobbly political foundations"? And it wouldn't be surprising if we brush that aside because the Western press does not understand the big picture or our culture?

Boo Chanco (UP naming mahal, mahal patakbohin, The Philippine Star, 17th May 2013) may have confirmed that we have the right UP president, yet the picture he painted of our premier university wasn't pretty. Is UP a microcosm of PHL and why PHL is an economic laggard? We may have the right president yet the picture of PHL isn't pretty?

If a world-renowned Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, could be critical of higher education in America, how concerned must we be? UP has been found to be lacking in partnership with industry, for example, and the reality is we don't have very many world-class enterprises that they could partner with.

My old MNC company, one of the world's largest brands and recently adjudged by a research firm to have the widest penetration of the global market even more than the world's biggest brand, has had technology breakthroughs that in more ways than one it owes to its partnership with academe. And social scientists have told industry that knowledge is not the be-all and end-all. For knowledge to contribute to man's wellbeing, it must be deployed and made tangible via the right attitude, expertise or skill and productive habits. I never understood what that meant until I realized that even world-class companies could be deficient in execution.

As Boo Chanco discussed, “Every dean, indeed every professor is a republic within the Diliman Republic.” Knowledge left in the ivory tower stays there and thus is a disservice to society? Have we in fact for decades demonstrated that we haven't turned our being the most well-informed (in the region at least?) into something tangible for the wellbeing of Juan de la Cruz? And which explains why we're an underdeveloped economy – and faced with widespread poverty?

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