Let me tell you a conversation I once had with my Singaporean friends. After all, we all like to believe that the Philippines can one day become as prosperous as Singapore. Both Ilda and Benign0 have already said their pieces about Singapore, so this is mine, or rather, what my Singaporean friends have to say.
I shared with them a video of Senator Nancy Binay dancing in the street and told them that it was what won her the position of being senator. While laughing, they told me that Senator Binay’s performance was indeed amusing but, at the heart of it all, it was just that: amusing. According to them, it did not in any way, provide them with any indication that she could be a good leader. As a matter of fact, they went on to note that the Senator’s dancing skills were not even exceptional in any way and that she danced more like an amateur rather than what a really skilled dancer should be like. Their final word was what while Senator Nancy Binay would make a decent clown, she had very little to show when it comes to actual leadership.
Later on, my Singaporean friends told me that in real life, efficient people are often low-key or at least not very flashy. They note that Lee Kwan Yew, the man who made their once third-world country into a prosperous first-world nation, wasn’t a very noteworthy person at least in terms of appearance or anything other than leadership. He was never an actor, a singer or dancer and never claimed to be anything other than what he was. After all, as my friends would say, leadership is about leading people and not amusing them.
“Why, anyone can sing and dance after all,” my female Singaporean friend said. “But guiding people into doing what is right is another matter entirely. I am a fan of Whitney Houston, but I doubt she would ever make a good president. The fact that Mrs. Binay is so desperate to gain a position for herself that she’ll make a total fool of herself in the streets does not speak well of her skills as a leader.”
As a side note, my Singaporean friends can best compare Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership to Tim Duncan’s skills as a basketball player. The latter may seem a little to old school compared to the high flyers of the NBA like Kobe Bryant or the now impoverished Alan Iverson, but it was his simple but effective moves and ability to coordinate with his teammates that has allowed the San Antonio Spurs to win time and again.
Here in the Philippines, it’s often the flashiest colors (like yellow), short catchy phrases and popularity that win elections and not vision, wisdom and a sense of justice. Until we can overcome the immaturity of going for what is entertaining over what is really important, then I can guarantee that we will always be a third-world feudalistic state rather than an efficient and prosperous nation. Remember, wrapping garbage in a flashy gift wrapper will not make it any less trashy.
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