Sunday, September 30, 2007

Prerequisites to the Singapore Model

Over at Manolo's, commenter Ramrod brought up the desirability of implementing the Singapore Model back home. Since my response is currently under moderation, i'm copying over the exchange here (as a placeholder until Manolo returns from Bacolod):

"Although a lot of people will disagree with me, I find the Singapore model attractive at this point. It has its imperfections if we look at it from the
'American' model of democracy, especially because we are used to a free media but why not look at it differently? There is cultural and religious tolerance, the economy is very strong, the public officials are paid enough to make it justifiable to 'inhumanly' punish those who steal, and the people have this common pride in themselves as 'Singaporeans' to the point that they appear snobbish or even 'elitists.' There are no rich landed class to influence government policies, just this pervasive attitude that there is not much time, more money must be made but through honest to goodness work, work, work.
" - Ramrod, September 30th, 2007 at 12:40 pm
I responded that in the Philippine context, suppressing press freedom might not be such a good idea:
"ramrod, one of the imperfections of Singapore’s system has to do with the lack of freedom of its media. i don’t see how replicating that lack of transparency would help us at home especially after seeing how Executive Privilege is used to cover up corruption at the highest levels." - cvj, September 30th, 2007 at 1:09 pm
Ramrod then offered the following suggestion:
"I see your point there. Unless we can come up with a team, a 'management team' if you will, that can be accountable to run this nation, that kind of power is very dangerous indeed. Is it possible then to manage this country as a business, based on balance sheets, profit and loss analysis,wherein the team must present periodically accurate figures on how the country is faring? I noticed that our SONAs were not satisfactory as I don’t see any concrete objectives, timelines, and measurable successes. Maybe its time to move out of the 'showbiz' type of politics wherein our extremely psywar and media savy politicians and political strategists prey on our emotions and misdirect our attention from 'real' and 'serious' issues?" -Ramrod, September 30th, 2007 at 1:24 pm
I responded with what i believe to be the prerequisites to implementing the Singapore (or any of our East Asian neighbors') Model:
"ramrod, a 'management team' implementing a sound industrial policy (e.g. Japan Inc., Korea Inc., Taiwan Inc.) is indeed what enabled our neighbors to take off economically. Unfortunately, giving dictatorial powers to the current management team means further enabling the Arroyos (or whoever from the elite replaces them) as well as technocrats like Romulo Neri. This is counterproductive since the best use of a dictatorship is to break the oligarchy, not to make them stronger. We need to go through this stage first before we can aspire to be like our neighbors.

As i previously blogged and commented, i think the missing step is the necessary springcleaning that would purge the current political and economic elite from their position in Philippine Society. In Japan, the Meiji had to eliminate the Samurai. In China, Mao had to drive away the warlords. In Taiwan, the ex-warlords from the mainland had to redristribute lands taken from the Taiwanese landlords and Japanese colonizers. In Singapore, they had the good fortune of having to skip this step.

After Stage 1 socialist reforms (land reform and industrial policy) is in place, then stage 2 market reforms would then have their desired effect. Over here, we went directly to stage 2.
" - cvj, September 30th, 2007 at 2:13 pm, comment currently under moderation
Update Sept-30-2007 3:28pm: My comment over mlq3's has been approved, thanks Manolo!


torn said...

"... the necessary springcleaning that would purge the current political and economic elite from their position in Philippine Society."

Ah ha! Weren't you railing against Jacobin solutions a few weeks ago? If such a "springcleaning" is to take place I wonder how it can avoid violence -- after all, the arroyos and their ilk will fight tooth and nail to avoid being "springcleaned".

cvj said...

Hi Torn, i can only say in my defense that what i think should happen (i.e. a 'springcleaning') is different from how i want things to happen (i.e. without bloodshed).

torn said...

Ah, the have it both ways defense.

Yes, that's pretty much my position too. It is the irreconcilable nature of a desire for radical change and the rejection of violence that makes EDSA such an attractive "third way", not just here but everywhere. It's really not that different from Woodstock "if we all think really hard we can stop the rain, man". It's foolish, illogical, and naive -- but it's the only way to go.

cvj said...

I think it's better known as the Gandhi defense.