Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What Malaysia sees – but do we?

Will Malaysia run rings around us, if they haven’t yet? Consider: They manufacture coffee but don’t have coffee plantations; they manufacture cacao but don’t have big cacao plantations. But we can supply them raw materials? Who stands higher in the value chain? “I want to see a Phonograph in every American home,” Edison, 1877.

Malaysia like Edison is talking products. We must too if we're not to be the little leaguers in the AEC – and the mascot in the TPP? 

Does our “kuro-kuro” culture, our version of freedom and democracy, produce a surplus of analysis – worse, analysis-paralysis – while we starve for leadership? And why “crab-mentality” has consigned us to the doldrums?

From the standpoint of the private sector, Asean integration can be won by leadership and competitive products, not analysis-paralysis! And that would not be a bad guide for the public sector. 

“Keep it simple, stupid!” That was one of the first lessons this writer’s Eastern European friends had to learn as they went through EU accession. KISS is a fundamental given which they realized as they got deeper competing in the EU and beyond. And it applies to global companies too.

Even a Google can fall into the trap of analysis-paralysis. “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team, Charles Duhigg, The New York Times, 25th Feb 2016. “Project Aristotle is a reminder that when companies try to optimize everything, it’s sometimes easy to forget that success is often built on experiences — like emotional interactions and complicated conversations and discussions of who we want to be and how our teammates make us feel — that can’t really be optimized.”

Experience is not a bad word. Ignatian spirituality and discernment values the human experience. If man is made in the image and likeness of the Creator, he can be a source of wisdom. Unfortunately, in the case of PH, we have no track record in development – in moving up from Third-World to First-World. And have fallen into the trap of analysis-paralysis?

And we forget biology? Do we still confuse creation and evolution even after Francis averred that they aren’t incompatible? The world is flat? What we see isn’t necessarily what we get. And why we Pinoys need to figure out what survival of the fittest means?

Sadly, in a hierarchical system and structure, where the elite class rules, we like to be frozen in time? To preserve and protect – and perpetuate – our rank and its privileges? And tyranny? The evidence? Imelda, Imee and, of course, Bongbong! Recall that Bill Gates embraced the distinction between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

Products. Products. Products. “Malaysia eyes PHL as raw material market,” Carmelito Q. Francisco, Business World, 25th Feb 2016. “A Malaysian trade official has called on local producers to explore opportunities for supplying raw materials to various Malaysian manufacturing companies.

“Commissioner Nyaee Ayup of the Malaysia Trade Office in Manila said in an interview that there are raw material requirements in her country that cannot be sourced locally. ‘For example, although we manufacture coffee, we don’t have coffee plantations. We manufacture cacao but we don’t have big cacao plantations,’ said Ms. Ayup, who was in the city for a series of meetings.

“Aside from cacao and coffee, Ms. Ayup said collaboration can also be undertaken in oil palm production as Malaysian companies are already looking at possible plantation sites in Mindanao. She noted that the Philippines is among the biggest importers of palm oil from Malaysia, the world’s second biggest producer after Indonesia.”

And where are we in agribusiness? “Presidential bets asked to present agri plans: Inclusion of farm sector issues in debates proposed,”Ronnel W. DomingoPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 27th Feb 2016.

“Emil Q. Javier, Camp spokesperson and a former president of the University of the Philippines, said . . . that the debate held in Cagayan de Oro City was a big disappointment. ‘We waited for them to discuss their plans to uplift our agriculture sector, but what we heard were lofty words bereft of meaning . . .’

“AF2025 spokesperson Roberto Amores agreed . . . future debates should have agriculture as a topic for discussion. ‘We want to hear about their programs for agriculture which . . . will be part of their commitments if elected . . . Coalition convenor Ernesto M. Ordoñez agreed . . . ‘farmers need more than just a few seconds of sound bites.’

“The five groups submitted their proposed priority initiatives . . . including making the Department of Agriculture an effective bureaucracy . . . [L]ike the Department of Trade and Industry, the DA should submit to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies a road map for the agriculture subsectors.

“The DA should also require its units to achieve a globally accepted management system such as ISO 9000 . . . Second . . . the DA should form agriculture and fisheries councils that would ensure the participation of stakeholders, especially in monitoring how the department spends its budget. Third . . . the DA should provide support to some 17,000 agriculture extension workers who were working within local government units.

“Fourth . . . greater funding that would provide farmers and fishers better access to credit and insurance. Fifth, provide farmers and fishers subsidies and technical support in order to make Philippine agriculture globally competitive.

“Sixth . . . the new President to ensure that farmers and fishers actually benefit from initiatives such as agrarian reform, fisher resettlement program, competitiveness-enhancing measures for food self-sufficiency, and the fund and assets from the coconut levy.”

Those are legitimate arguments from the sector. And what about the industry group? Where are they? “Five critical issues affecting business environment: PCCI lists priorities for next President,” Amy R. RemoPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 26th Feb 2016.

“PCCI: Bring electricity prices down first before burdening consumers again with FIT rates for renewable energy projects . . . The country’s biggest business organization has sought to gather the economic advisers of presidential candidates . . . to sound off five key issues that it wanted the next administration to prioritize.

“George T. Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said . . . the PCCI will be submitting a wish list containing the issues they seek to be prioritized as well as the recommendations needed to resolve these concerns.

“[T]he group’s position paper would focus largely on five main areas, namely infrastructure, agriculture, micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), tourism and education.

‘Moving forward, we think the new administration should look at and prioritize all these concerns so that all of these can be resolved . . . A lot of PPP projects remained pending and these are infrastructure projects that affect (the business environment).’

“What we want in the next president is for him or her to hit the road running. He or she must already know the issues, what should be done and how to muster the resources. That’s why I would heavily consider experience, or who has been here before,” Barcelon said . . .”

Clearly, erecting the building blocks of an economy and moving forward as a people and nation is not a cakewalk. And we Pinoys must always be conscious of “crab mentality?” It’s human nature, as the Americans are finding out in their own election process.

Is the GOP missing Reagan? “What Today’s Republicans Don’t Get About Reagan,” Jacob Weisberg, The New York Times, 24th Feb 2016. “The core beliefs that got Reagan elected and re-elected were conservative: lower taxes, smaller government and a stronger, more assertive military. But Reagan was also a pragmatist, willing to compromise, able to improvise in pursuit of his goals and, most of all, eager to expand his party’s appeal.

“The current field of Republican presidential candidates invokes Reagan as a patron saint, but the characteristics that made him a successful politician seem lost on them. Instead, they’ve turned his party into a swamp of nativism, ideological extremism and pessimism about the country’s future, in direct opposition to Reagan’s example. And they’ve transformed primary season into a reality show of insults, betrayals and open feuds, defying the so-called 11th Commandment that Reagan espoused: Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

“Once in office, Reagan said that anytime he could get 70 percent of what he wanted from a legislature, he’d take it. Today’s congressional Republicans won’t settle even for 99 percent: Their mentality has shifted away from having policies and governing and toward a kind of bitter-end obstructionism.”

It sounds like Reagan knew about Pareto while the Tea Party (alluded to in the above article?) demonstrates absolutism (forgetting biology?) and is the epitome of crab mentality, having shut down the government for not getting their way in the budget impasse? Do we Pinoys see the Americans as the un-Pinoy? Do we like to mirror the Tea Party?

And if we don’t want the Malaysians to run rings around us, we better figure out what they see that we don’t?

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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