Sunday, July 2, 2017

Du30 popularity, leader dependency and foresight

We need a national examination of conscience and not more of the same – as in same old, same old. And the latter explains why a Marcos, for example, remains in our consciousness as a potential if not indeed the next savior after Du30? We like to look back not forward.

But how will we develop the capacity to demonstrate foresight? “Pinoy abilidad” if we think about it is making-do! It is not about the pursuit of innovation and competitiveness which demands a healthy dose of foresight.

Du30 is popular because we believe he will get things done? Like engage in and win the war on drugs – and undo Imperial Manila?

What we miss is the body of knowledge – and there is one on foresight, i.e., it is what makes man superior to the rest of creation – that postulates that the foundation of development is the rule of law. It simply means that in a democracy, freedom comes with responsibility.

There is no free lunch. We may deny it, but subconsciously we in fact – since Rizal called out our submission to tyranny – assumed lunch is free?

A generation ago, Marcos was told by the employers group (where the writer belonged) after visiting Malaysia, that Mahathir was doing something superior to the Pan-Philippine Highway. We were proud of San Juanico Bridge but the Malaysians had every reason to be proud of their Expressway System.

From Wikipedia: “The expressway network of Malaysia is considered the best controlled-access expressway network in Southeast Asiaand also among the best network in Asia after ChinaJapan and South Korea.” Meanwhile, Bongbong Marcos is exalting the greatness of his father – and that he is the second coming?

Are we surprised it will take a generation to fix our highway system – and critical infrastructure? We are a generation behind – vision-, values- and execution-wise. And at the rate we’re going, we are yet to figure out what it means (a) to have a vision, (b) to embrace a set of values and (c) to demonstrate them through dedication and execution – the inverse of a corrupt system and culture of impunity.

As the blog has argued, our fixed mindset comes from who and what we are: Parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that when all is said and done, a culture of impunity.

It explains why we submit to tyranny … and why Du30 is popular. Davao – near and dear to the writer’s heart being once a resident – with all its positives is not the template of the economic miracles the world witnessed in Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong. But subconsciously we think so given our parochialism and insularity.

And with due respect to our economic managers, our challenge goes beyond the sin of underspending that we attribute to the previous administration. Right-spending is an activity. There must be a desired outcome that we must seek bearing in mind that the requisite activity cannot be one-dimensional.

We need to overcome (a) the generational lead that Malaysia has in infrastructure development, (b) the state of industrialization that the Asian Tigers have attained and (c) their competitiveness. Think the JFC’s 7 big industry winners under “Arangkada Philippines” – which the previous administration back-burnered. And what does the Du30 administration say about Arangkada?

Think the EU. The EU infrastructure initiative benefited countries like Spain and Portugal and even Greece. And more recently, Bulgaria and Romania. But these countries still have work to do competitiveness-wise.

PH has ways to go too and why the blog recently called out the need for us to get our act together.

What about the efforts to woo foreign investment – which Du30 is proud of like his predecessors? Our need for investment is not all there is to put on the table. And it goes beyond the incentives we offer – and the “sweet spot” we are in given our youthful median age. It is crucial that we demonstrate we are investor-friendly, and the best-practice model is Singapore – a tiny city-state that has generated over a trillion US dollars in FDI.

We must recognize that what we call patriotism is reflected in our hierarchical and paternalistic instincts – that perpetuate an oligarchic economy – and that is not lost to foreign investors. Have we ever asked if our capitalists can collectively raise over a trillion dollars in investment?

Singapore is teeny tiny yet demonstrated man’s unique gift of foresight.

And is Singapore now “owned” by foreign investors? While we are fixated by local/foreign ownership ratios as though the Great Commandments? Have we watched those country promotions on CNN, for instance, which countries advertise how investor-friendly they are, to the extent of 100% foreign ownership? 

Can we internalize the reality that we cannot have our cake and eat it too? Like kids in a candy store? And does it explain why community and the common good is alien to us, constantly falling into the trap of crab mentality? Because growing up is so very hard to do?

Why are we the regional laggard, again? Have we understood what makes man superior to the rest of creation?
Our inward bias is likewise reflected in the assumption that we can beef up defense spending as though we can stand up to the big guns.

Trump is cajoling the EU to pay up their defense commitments under NATO; while poor PH is entertaining the idea that we can play the big-boys game? Not surprising given we kicked out the occupants of Clark and Subic?

Because we’ve long confused poor self-esteem – the need for over protection aka paternalism – with patriotism? Think about it!

"Critics of our foreign policy have cited our Mutual Defense Treaty with America as an indication of our lack of an independent foreign policy. This is [a] misrepresentation. A policy of non-alliance is a policy of neutrality. There are only three neutral countries now: Sweden, Switzerland and Finland. A neutral foreign policy is expensive. The three neutral countries cite their own state-of-the-art Leopard II main battle tanks and F-18 Hornets and Gripen jets in their arsenal. We cannot afford such an arsenal.” [“We abandoned our independent foreign policy,”Hermenegildo C., 26th Jun 2017; Hermenegildo C. Cruz was Philippine ambassador to the United Nations in 1984-1986]

Is it time for a national examination of conscience? Or will que sera, sera prevail?

Can we imagine how heavy a price we pay for our parochialism and insularity? It is where our very high tyranny quotient comes from; when what we need is a Mensa-like competitiveness quotient.

And we cannot get there until we figure out our vision of the future ... and the values that we must hold. It is beyond leader dependency. It demands a healthy dose of foresight.

Du30 hasn’t delivered on the declaration that the war on drugs is to be won in a few [months] and now we have ISIS to contend with. He knows Mindanao and its complexities and why he is the man?

If EJK hasn’t won the war on drugs, will Ps 20-billion win Marawi? Tyranny may be one-dimensional – as in autocracy – but problem-solving isn’t. 

“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]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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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