A Blog for Philippine Development and Competitiveness

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Philippines : How to get things done

An article in Newsweek in 19 January 2009 titled "WHY CHINA WORKS" reads in parts as follows :

"Once Chinese leaders signal a new direction, they rarely waver....The leadership's faith in its own ability to mold markets may derive from the fact that most are engineers, trained to build from a plan. Eight out of the nine top party officials come from engineering backgrounds..The ruling engineers preside over a system that is highly process-oriented and obsessed with performance metrics."

"Leaders who don't meet internal performance standards are, more often than not, held accountable, and do get sacked, which is still unusual in many developing economies."

"A command and control system run by relatively skilled technocrats allows China to get things done quickly. Experts are struck by the ability of the Chinese state to move in a coherent manner and to marshal its people and the resources of the country to a common target.

In the Philippines, lawyers more often than not, dominate the political and government landscape. I have nothing against the profession but the results are quite easy to discern when Philippine competitiveness is measured to be lagging in the global competitiveness index.
Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in his Memoir described what he observed about what was lacking about the Philippines in the 50's which remain eerily relevant today : "Something was missing, a gel to hold society together. People at the top, the elite mestizos, had the same detached attitude to the native peasants as the mestizos in their haciendas in latin America had towards their peons. They were two different societies: those at the top lived a life of extreme luxury and comfort while the peasants scraped a living, and in the Philippines it was a hard living. They had many children because the church discouraged birth control. The result was increasing poverty.

Mr. Lee goes on to say that the culture of the Filipino is a "soft and forgiving" culture which allows former leaders removed by people power, to return and engage in politics.

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