Thursday, January 19, 2017

The cycles in nature . . .

There is a general order to many things in nature . . . Night follows day . . . Plants, animals, and soil interact to make up the basic cycles of nature. []

And we Pinoys seem to reflect a cycle of our own? “Our leaders, most especially, must PERFORM to achieve structural changes, and concurrently strive to consolidate the Philippine national team. Reflecting on the booms-and-busts, and the highs-and-lows in our collective national performance, our people seem to have repeatedly faltered. After gleaming triumphs, we tend to fall short again and again.

“If we content ourselves with flawed policies, incompetent bureaucrats and self-serving dynasties at this time of new opportunity, expectedly we may fail again.

“Our leaders must also be able to mobilize our people so that they perform according to the call of duty, to responsible citizenship, and to teamwork in nation-building.” [“Perform, reform, transform for the New Year,” Fidel V. Ramos, Former Philippine President, Manila Bulletin, 31st Dec 2016.]

Night follows day. Should we pause . . . and ask why even our days are grey? In a recent posting the blog talked about South Korea, where the president is to step down. And now, “Samsung Heir Faces Arrest on Charges of Bribing South Korea’s President,” Choe Sang-hun, The New York Times, 15th Jan 2017.

“The sprawling investigation into President Park Geun-hye of South Korea took a dramatic turn on Monday with word that prosecutors were seeking the arrest of the de facto head of Samsung, one of the world’s largest conglomerates, on charges that he bribed the president and her secretive confidante.

“A prosecutor’s call for the arrest of Jay Y. Lee, the vice chairman of Samsung and only son of the company’s incapacitated chairman, Lee Kun-hee, brings new scrutiny to the deep ties between top government officials and the handful of corporations that dominate South Korea’s economy.

“Mr. Lee is accused of instructing Samsung subsidiaries to make payments totaling 43 billion won ($36 million) to the family of Ms. Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and to two foundations that Ms. Choi controlled, in exchange for help from Ms. Park in facilitating a father-to-son transfer of ownership control of Samsung.”

Can we Pinoys learn something from the South Koreans? As the blog pointed out before “We must value transparency and embrace an open economy, an egalitarian culture, the free enterprise system and the rule of law.” Because there is no free lunch. And so a continuing theme of the blog is to call us out given the elements of what in fact is our culture? Parochial. Insular. Hierarchical. Paternalistic. Political patronage and dynasties. Oligarchic. Culture of impunity.

“What is transparency? As a principle, public officials, civil servants, managers and directors of companies and organizations and board trustees have a duty to act visibly, predictably and understandably to promote participation and accountability. What is accountability? Accountability means ensuring that officials in public, private and voluntary sector organizations are answerable for their actions and that there is redress when duties and commitments are not met.” []

How underdeveloped are we? To be developed means to grow up and own up. We can’t keep pointing fingers at others. It’s what we parent must have told our children and in turn they would their own? Organisms develop, including entities like governments and nations. That’s the law of nature. Consider: “The Declaration adopted on 24 September 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly . . . reaffirmed that ‘human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that they belong to the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations’. Indeed, government responsiveness to the interests and needs of the greatest number of citizens is strictly associated with the capacity of democratic institutions and processes to bolster the dimensions of rights, equality and accountability.

“If considered not solely an instrument of the government but as a rule to which the entire society, including the government, is bound, the rule of law is fundamental in advancing democracy . . . One must also emphasize its fundamental role in protecting rights and advancing inclusiveness, in this way framing the protection of rights within the broader discourse on human development.” []

In other words, why do we scream “inclusion” . . . and why are we poor? Because we take for granted where all of this is coming from? And we can start with the value of transparency? We cannot advance democracy and development – and overcome poverty – if we take the elements of our culture as givens?

Where are we today? Let’s start with a couple of good news. “At their summit on Thursday, Japan agreed to provide the Philippines with about 1 trillion yen in official development assistance and private-sector investments, including for building infrastructure, over the next five years. The countries will form a panel staffed by officials from both nations to manage these investments.” [In Duterte territory, Abe stresses America's regional role; Philippine leader tells Japanese counterpart he will work with US; Yuta Uebayashi and Jun Endo, Nikkei Asian Review, 13th Jan 2017]

“The prime minister also promised to help build rehabilitation facilities and offer other support for Duterte's anti-drug campaign, as well as promote economic development in Mindanao.

“Abe said that by partnering with the Philippines, he hoped to reach a ‘swift, high-quality agreement’ on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal. ‘Japan [also] will continue to work toward placing the Trans-Pacific Partnership into effect,’ he added.

“Abe stressed that U.S. commitments are indispensable for maintaining regional peace and prosperity . . . Given the uncertainty over U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's Asia policy, Abe is looking to preserve as much continuity as possible. That means ensuring the Philippines will continue to work with Japan on both the security and economic fronts.

“Abe said he would emphasize the importance of the rule of law in resolving the [South China Sea] territorial issues at this year's Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings, in cooperation with the Philippines, the current ASEAN chair.

“Yet Japan and the Philippines are not quite on the same page in handling Beijing's advances . . . [W]hile neighbors such as Indonesia and Vietnam firmly oppose China's maritime moves, the Philippines has wavered under Duterte, who is shying away from the disputes in an apparent attempt to extract economic assistance from both China and Japan.”

Translation: If we Pinoys think others cannot read into “Pinoy abilidad” we better recognize what reality is?

“German group offers to help industrialize PH,” Roderick T. de la Cruz, Manila Standard, 14th Jan 2017. A German industrial group that has played a crucial role in the industrialization of Europe and survived two world wars . . .

“Thyssenkrupp AG which combined the resources of Thyssen and Krupp—both steel makers and weapon producers in the 1930s that became controversial at that time for helping Germany become a conqueror of nations—wants to design factories, power plants, heavy machineries, infrastructure and elevators for Philippine companies.

‘There are a lot of opportunities which we see in the Philippines where we can support and help and being a partner for Philippine industries. This is the reason why we are here,’ says Jan Lueder, chief executive of Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions (Asia Pacific) Pte. Ltd.

“[T]he group has been in the Philippines for more than a century, having delivered steel, engines, turbines, machineries, ships, power plants and even infrastructure to private companies and the government.”

Great news indeed. Except that how long have we been witness to such positive developments? Consider how long the Germans have been in the country. Japan’s JICA started its Philippine operations in 1974 although Japanese assistance started 20 years earlier. 

“Philippines good at frustrating foreign investors – MAP,” Richmond Mercurio, The Philippine Star, 28th Nov 2016. “We are so good at enticing foreign investors. We are so good at inviting them into our country and say please come to the Philippines because it is fun in the Philippines, it is so good in the Philippines. But the moment the foreign investor comes here, we’re so good at frustrating them . . .

‘We’re so good at making them feel as if they are not welcome. We put up so many restrictions along the way, so many red tape that ease of doing business becomes zero. Whether it be from a Bureau of Internal Revenue perspective, from a Customs perspective and even from the Securities and Exchange Commission perspective.’

“Even though the country beams with a lot of opportunities for foreign businesses to thrive . . . existing restrictions and persistent corruption kept many of these investors from coming in.”

Night follows day. Should we pause . . . and ask why even our days are grey?

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“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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