Shipping heiress Doris Magsaysay-Ho of the Magsaysay Group said Philippines must have the vision of becoming the maritime hub in Asia and to the world, realizing the maritime industry’s great contribution not only in the country but also in the international community.
Ho said, “ we should have the vision to become the maritime center for Asia and then we offer our services to the world.”
Learning from the wisdom of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Ho said every country should have an expertise that can be offered to the 600 million people in Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean).
“Why are we not yet a maritime center? We have ship repair, shipbuilding, we have manpower. We’re the number one seafarers. We should promote more services here. We should have a vision to be the maritime center for Asia,” she said.
Whether it’s maritime, healthcare or construction, Ho pointed out that what was lacking was where we want to be with our own domestic market, vis-a vis the 600 million Asean population.
Ho said Malaysia has always been strategic and Mahathir’s 2020 vision was 20 years done. They do things with confidence because they know what their goal is.
“The lesson we’ve learned is that it must be strategic. There is an opportunity for us to develop what we called Maritime Philippines. We put all these industries together and make one total contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). It’s not just $20 billion remittance.
Together we say this is the vital industry the country must go. They (Malaysia) do things with confidence because they know what their goal is,” Ho said.
Ho said they were working on the Maritime Philippines blueprint to accelerate the development of the maritime industry.
She said“ there is a need to develop the whole industry that makes us competitive. Seafarers can work abroad. Come home, work in a ship management, and work in a yard. Let’s make sure our seafarers are great. Let’s make sure the schools were the best. Let’s make sure that we really want to show the world that we’re good.
The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit should be really good. We have to be the best. We should be the best in every aspect.
The thought should be — we are number one. The best!. What does it takes to do it? Whatever it takes to be the best, we should do,” she told the Manila Times.
In order to become a logistic hub, she said there must be trade. You cannot be a logistic hub if you don’t have something to sell. Logistics is playing a role. The most important thing is to produce.
To this, she asked, “What are we producing? All our overseas workers were producing somewhere else. Why are we not producing something here? Because we’re not giving them the inspiration for it. Why are people trying to be a farmer in Japan?”
Ho added that even Clark and Subic could not be logistic hubs unless there was a developed trade.
“Where’s the great logistics hub? Panama. Singapore is a logistic hub, Kaohsiung is a logistic hub because they are major manufacturing hubs. Unless you are a manufacturing hub or unless you are in the route. Unless people are passing you by, you can be a logistic hub,” she said.
“Sorry, were not in the pathway of the world. People think were the center, we’re not. We’re a diversion. No one is thinking about how we increase our production like agriculture, manufacturing, and services,” she stressed.
This, she said was the lesson learned from Prime Minister Mahathir during the Malaysia-Philippines business forum.
Mahathir said the Asean need to think about rebuilding a concept of making use of the 600 million population in Southeast Asia to be able to grow much faster and to become a powerful trading entity for the rest of the world.
“Asean must be a sought after market for Western countries. You see that Western countries were coming to Southeast Asia because they see in Southeast Asia, a market but we don’t see it. It’s very strange. We come too close to anything, but we cannot see it,” Mahathir told members of the Makati Business Club (MBC).
“Despite having 600 million people living in Southeast Asia, we are still looking at ourselves as different countries, with different markets, and with different domestic markets. In the beginning, there was this idea that we should divide the industries and develop the industries within ourselves so that each industry can be cited in one country but will have the market of all the five [Asean] countries. That idea did not take off but that is a good idea,” Mahathir said.
The good idea can be revisited so that it can exploit the huge population of Southeast Asia. But such idea can be muted if there were those who were not willing to bring it back and restudy the whole concept.
“That’s why Malaysia is cultivating close relationship with Indonesia and with Philippines. All counties can work together. We can make use of the population that we have, and the domestic market that we have. I hope we can awaken our ideas and identify areas where we are good at and where we can be good together for prosperity,” Mahathir said.