THE death 21 days ago of the internationally respected first prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew caused some to remember his advice to Filipinos.
Kit Tatad wrote about this advice in the perfect context in his article “Remembering Lee Kuan Yew.”
“Many leaders came to him for counsel, which was not always soothing or comforting. But he always spoke with candor and wisdom, and encouraged honest differences. In 1992, at the invitation of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he came to deliver a speech at a dinner hosted by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. He began by describing the Philippines, quoting Asiaweek magazine, to the chagrin of his host, as a country where 98 percent of the population did not have a telephone while the other two percent waited for a dial tone. This was long before the Philippines became the texting capital of the world.
“But his real punch line was that a Third World country like the Philippines could not afford too much democracy; what it needed was more discipline and less democracy. ‘The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions . . . inimical to development,” he said. He got a standing ovation from the business elite that had earlier claimed a pivotal role in ousting strongman rule six years earlier. As a first-term senator at the time, I delivered a ‘Reply to Lee Kuan Yew’ from the Senate floor.”
In his reply to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s advice, Kit Tatad wrote, “Democracy, not authoritarianism, is the wave of the future. And the future has begun for all of us, including Singapore, which knows only too well the natural desire for greater free expression among its people. Our only error…is that we confuse the shadow of democracy for its reality, its form for its substance, and we tend to believe we already possess democracy when all we have is its caricature.
“Our only error is that until now we tend to run government through the newspapers and decide the common good on the basis of screaming newspaper headlines and less than informed media commentaries and editorials. Our only error is that we seem to value entertainment above education, and our most popular role models are not our most productive workers or our most serious thinkers but the most outrageous products of the popular imagination.”
Coup rumors, majority’s wish to see Aquino out
President BS Aquino’s approval and trust ratings have dipped so much, per the latest Pulse Asia survey. His approval rating dropped 21 percentage points from 59 percent in November last year to 38 percent in March. His trust rating declined 20 percentage points from 56 percent to 36 percent. This means the majority of Filipinos don’t like him and don’t trust him anymore.
And this decline in our people’s trust in this PCOS-machine-produced president has triggered rumors. One of these is that Liberal Party strategists are now setting up the mechanics of a Palace coup to save BS Aquino (and his Cabinet) from being hounded out of Malacañang by a People Power revolt or by a military or police-military coup and subsequently be treated harshly in punishment for their crimes of corruption, treason, criminal neglect of the poor and criminal unwillingness to do their duties.
All of this has made some of my friends want to discuss the matter of “What kind of country do we want?”
What kind of policies should the new government that is formed by the People Power revolt victors or the police-military coup leaders pursue?
Should the post-Aquino government be an authoritarian one that always acts to achieve the common good instead of a liberal democracy that is chaotic and undisciplined?
When Kit Tatad spoke in the Senate in 1992 to answer Mr. Lee Kuan Yew it did look then that “Democracy, not authoritarianism, [was]the wave of the future.”
But in today’s world–with First World countries in Europe and Japan hobbled economically, and the United States being the only democracy in the First World that looks like it has finally surmounted the last global economic crisis–Singapore’s authoritarianism and China’s Communist Party-guided state control of socio-economic, business and investment seem to constitute the wave of the future.
Our country could continue the way it has been under BS Aquino and his Liberal Party coalition because the Smartmatic-PCOS machines will ensure that whoever they choose become president, senators, congressmen, governors and mayors.
Or our country, by some miracle, could get to elect new, moral, truthful, patriotic, and meritocratic officials and lawmakers in the 2016 elections.
Or a coup could put in place an extra-constitutional set of power holders.
Whatever happens to us Filipinos and our beloved Republic, politically, we must all try to help transform our society into one that is decidedly truthful and guided only by the truth and reality.
Our government must be focused on serving the national interest and the uplift of the poor. It should and all the economic sectors should be determined to reach the highest levels of productivity.
Our government and the private and public schools must be geared to produce citizens who are skilled and truly educated — and immersed in human and spiritual values.
This means that we will cease to run government through publicity and TV coverage. And that we will no longer value entertainment above education.