• What is great about Great Britain?


    Well there’s football superstar David Beckham for one. Beckham who is a Unicef Goodwill ambassador visited the Philippines to give comfort to survivors of typhoon Yolanda, the country’s deadliest ever typhoon. This is his second visit to the country three months after the storm hit.

    But heck, we share part of the greatness in Phil and James Younghusband who are Fil-Brits. You may be surprised to know that the British nomination for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars was a film made here in the Philippines by a British director with Filipino actors. That film, “Metro Manila,” is in Tagalog, and it has already won three awards at a British film festival. It goes to show what British creativity and Filipino talent can accomplish together and it illustrates the potential that there is in our relationship.

    And then we got news that the British government is increasing the number of Chevening Scholars from the Philippines able to study in world-class British Universities, and the Prime Minister has just appointed a Trade Envoy to the Philippines, George Freeman MP, to strengthen business links between the UK and the Philippines which last year saw a rise of 13 % in British exports.

    All these and more!

    For foodies, British food is part of the “This is GREAT Britain” campaign, a five month celebration of the best of British business and culture, which culminates this March 2014 with the Great British Festival weekend at Bonifacio High Street.

    British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said the celebration showcases the many facets of British excellence. Meanwhile, at an event hosted by the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, the British Foreign Secretary set out the importance of countries across the Asia Pacific region making the reforms necessary to advance free and open societies. He said that those suggesting that Asia’s economic success has called into question the value of open economies and societies are drawing the wrong conclusions.

    He outlined five principles that underpin sustainable growth and will be crucial for the stability and success of countries adapting to a changing world: a lean and effective public sector that allows market forces to drive enterprise and finance; the rule of law; respect and protection for individual freedoms; a commitment to free trade; and investment in human capital and infrastructure.

    “The first principle is that smaller is generally better when it comes to the state. The public sector should be lean but effective, and governments bold enough to allow market forces to drive enterprise and finance because economies dominated by public ownership stifle dynamism. The suppression of competition, and the clash of political interests and commercial objectives within state-owned enterprises can cause inefficiency, inflexibility and stagnation; and it can lead to situations where the lifespan of failing companies is artificially extended, which just makes their inevitable collapse more painful and costly. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher’s government fought a long and difficult struggle to free our economy from the shackles of an oversized state and too much public ownership.

    “The second principle is that states need the rule of law to encourage investment, support fair and open competition, ensure innovators are able to benefit from their ingenuity and reduce corruption and its economic costs. Private and foreign investors do not feel encouraged to help dynamic companies expand if the judiciary cannot be relied upon to protect their interests impartially and in accordance with the law. A brilliant scientist does not have much reason to labour years for a technological breakthrough if his or her ideas can be stolen with impunity. And innovative foreign firms will be reluctant to open cutting edge factories in countries where their hard earned technological advances can be imitated while the state turns a blind eye.

    “The third principle is respect for and protection of individual freedoms. This is essential to unlocking a nation’s creativity and ingenuity and a prerequisite for long-term stability. I do not believe that you can achieve the very best in innovation in a political environment that prevents the free exchange of ideas. British inventions from the steam engine to jet propulsion, the light bulb to the television and from the telephone to the World Wide Web all owe their existence not just to brilliant individuals but to a free and open intellectual and scientific culture, a culture that encouraged critical thinking, scepticism and debate. The freedom to question, to criticise and to propose new solutions are essential to the scientific method and a political system that values those freedoms does not just support a strong scientific culture at home, it attracts talent from overseas, and freely connects its own thinkers and institutions to great global currents of ideas and debate. In our digital age, those freedoms must extend online as well, and a vibrant and open internet can drive growth, development, innovation and good governance.

    “The fourth principle underpinning future success is a commitment to free trade. High tariffs, strict investment controls or obscure regulations designed to favor domestic over international firms may keep competition at bay for a while but they can raise consumer prices, and even the relief they offer to home companies often turns out to be illusory or short-lived. Protectionism prevents a country’s businesses developing the competitive edge they need to prosper internationally and countries that do not open up to competition run the risk that this fast moving world will pass them by.

    “The fifth principle is investment in human capital and infrastructure. High-quality education, training and public utilities are vital to support sustained economic development and innovation. They have made a huge contribution to the success of many countries in Asia, including China and South Korea. Hundreds of creative start-ups have sprung up around Britain’s world-class universities in places like the Cambridge Science Park.

    “If governments want to address these long term challenges, they cannot just do more of the same. To sustain their progress, he said countries in Asia Pacific need to shift their economies up the value chain, raise productivity and innovate. They need to move from technological catch-up to exploring the technological frontiers. To break through the middle income trap and achieve sustainable growth and long-term prosperity, a commitment to free societies and open economies of the kind I have encountered in Indonesia and the Philippines is, in my view, vital, matched by sensible policy and good leadership.

    Sustainable economic development does not imply the absence of the State but it does imply the State focusing its efforts in the areas where it can best add value.”

    God is Great!



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    1. On a point of detail, the “great” in Great Britain was used to stress the fact that GB is more than just England. It might sound less pretentious if it chose to call itself Greater Britain. Of course if Scotland votes for independence in the referendum on 15th September (which seems unlikely) it might have to call itself Lesser Britain!

    2. Well, Great Britain deserves our thanks for all these good things they are doing now.

      But we must not forget that in 1946 it illegally and immorally colonized and annexed North Borneo. The British Government suddenly turned its back on the centuries-long policy of the UK not to threat North Borneo as a dominion of the British Crown because it never was.
      The relationship between the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo on one side and Count Overbeek and Dent was a lease that these two transferred to the North Borneo Company, a private corporation not a Crown institution. British officials, including prime ministers, rejected the idea that North Borneo was a Crown Colony like Hong Kong and the states of the Malay Peninsula.
      But Britain decided to lie about that relationship in 1946. Then when it was creating the Federation of Malaysia as an independent entity–the better to fight Communism in Southeast Asia–it (Britain) forced North Borneo to become a state of Malaysia over and above the objection of the native Sabahans and the sizeable Filipino and Christian population there.
      Subjects of the Flipino Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo in Sabah were there as residents of Sabah, which was under the Sultan’s sovereignty. Suddenly they were aliens in the fictional Sabah state under the sovereignty of Malaysia.
      With the formal transfer by the Sultan of Sulu of sovereignty over Sabah to the Philippine Government the legal claim of the Philippines to Sabah became tighter.
      That, Ms. Thelma Dumpit Murillo, is what is NOT great about Graet Britain as far as the Filipino people and readers of The Manila Times should remember.

      E. G. Festin

    3. Miss Dumpit, GB is great for many reasons and if you don’t know, perhaps you should brush up on your history. It was an Empire in case you didn’t know.

    4. Nice article. Britain should reassert their presence in the Philippines so that we can have more pounds from bloody tourist and visit the massive islands of the Philippines.