Friday, January 29, 2010

More wisdom nuggets from Singapore

As I continue reading Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs (hey its 761 pages long without counting index) here are some more nuggets of wisdom from which we can learn a bit to develop our own approach for success in Honduras. I am quoting directly from the book which  are written in quotation marks in the text below followed by my brief comments.

 "We have one simple guiding principle for survival, that Singapore had to be more rugged, better organized and more efficient that other in the region. If we were only as good as our neighbors there was no reason for business to be based here. We had to make it possible for investors to operate succesfully and profitably in Singapore despite our lack of domestic market and natural resources"

This statement really flies in the face of the Chavez movement and other ALBA countries, a future which we valiantly defied in the end by removing Zelaya from office. We need to be better than anybody else in Latin America. That should be our goal, the key issue is how to get there...certainly education and health are part of the picture.

"If I have to choose one word to explain why Singapore succeeded, it is confidence. This was what made foreign investors site their factories and refineries here."

Note that he is not taking about charity, gifts or mana from heaven (call it ALBA, USAID, or Cooperación Española), Mr. Kuan Yew is taking about investments in the country to produce things, not survive from international charity.


"We chose to redistribute wealth by asset-enhancement, not by subsidies for consumption"

Here Mr. Kuan Yew points out one issue that other economists have pointed out in the past. Hernando de Soto comes to mind when he argued giving title to property as one approach to enhance asset ownership and its value...well, people took this as meaning that by granting property titles, would solve every problem in the country..that's not the whole story, certainly did not work in isolation when tried in our countries. Certainly, subsidies for consumption, such as subsidizing gasoline and diesel in Honduras or electricity, is a terrible way to promote growth and redistribute wealth as it does not discriminate granting the subsidy between the hiper rich or the hiper poor.

So, friends, more nugget to come as I go along in my reading quest here. By the way, the book is called: From Third World to First - The Singapore Story: 1965-2000 Memoirs of Lee Huan Yew."


  1. While I certainly agree that Honduras could learn a lot from Singapore about organization, self discipline and the right attitude of winning I do not see what this has to do with the government of Micheletti which has wrecked the Honduras economy and tourist industry. How is imposing countrywide curfews where honest people have to abandon their work and race home in any way encouraging investment and business development? Quite the opposite. Chavez doing his level best to ruin Venezuela is not a justification for Micheletti acting in the same way albeit from a different ideology. What is certain is that Singapore has not prospered due to adopting any ideology, it has done so through fostering business. I want to see IT outsourcing develop in the north of Honduras as it has in Florianopolis, Brazil and Bangalore, India and I can see how Lobo would support this but Micheletti in no way created the conditions to encourage this kind of vision, he set Honduras back years and made it a pariah state. Singapore did not get anywhere by being a pariah state,

    Best wishes,


  2. You may be reading old news...curfews are gone...a really long time ago. These were necessary due to the intolerable damage and destruction that Zelaya's supporters were doing or were claiming would do. This was not the best of situations, but the alternative was a descent into chaos.

    Yes, we have suffered a lot due to the isolation promoted by Zelaya, Chavez, Castro, other ALBA people, with active support from Mr. Insulza and his reelection wishes, and event countries which we thought as friends suca as Spain and the U.S......but that will not last long.

    We are far from a pariah state (I'm thinking Iran, Cuba or North Korea) and things are slowly going back to fact the number of countries recognizing the democratically elected government of Mr. Lobo is growing as we speak. Certainly your points of using IT as one of the potential backbones in which to base our future growth is well taken.

  3. I agree with the second comment. Michelleti did what needed to be done. The tourist industry shut down because of the negative spin on US and global news, calling it a 'coup" when if fact it wasnt. Also because the U.S, put out travel warnings here. Meanwhile, 90% of the country was calm and safe.

    Regarding Singapore: Living in Honduras, I have the opportunity to witness the lack of funds, education and proper health care; however, it is just the tip of the iceburg. Lying deeper in this country's woes, is rampid corruption on all levels and a lack of work ethic. NOTHING gets done quicky or effiently here. Many simply either do not know how to be efficent and dilegent, or simply do not care to be.

    Something much grander than a vision is needed to stoke the fires of moving from the 3rd world to the first.

    Still, I would rather see Honduras go the way of Costa Rica. With so much natural beauty, if the government really got behind the idea of eco-tourism, cleaned up all the trash/garbage/and mess everywhere and taught citizens how to take proper care of their environment, instead of mindless littering, polluting, They could actually put themselves at the TOP of the list for eco-destinations, putting many of the people to work in related fields. Consider BHUTAN...doing extremely well tauting there natural wonders. Take good care of the Earth...clean air, pure water is pricless.

  4. I also agree with 2nd comment, Micheletti did what had to be done! otherwise our conditions would have been MUCH worst, this man is a hero to us. Investors were already leaving our country as they saw how Zelaya was leading Honduras to socialism (Chavez' style), Zelaya (Chavez' proyegé) was wrecking our economy and tourism before and after his ouster (it would take pages to name the criminal actions he commited against our beloved Honduras). I feel sorry for those (like SqueakBox) who blame Micheletti for what happened here, their opinion is definitely based on biased, unprofesional, leftist media like CNN or New York Times, (who, by the way, contributed so much to harm our tourism and spread Zelaya's lies) instead of using their brain to analyze real facts of what's going on in Latin America regarding Chavez' XXI centrury socialism, his allies and his dreams regarding U.S.A.

    Honduras was just a pawn on Chavez' demented plans, but, guess what? this pawn refused to bow down.

    Best regards,
    Waldina C.

  5. Jose,

    We've discussed some steps that we (you and I, anyway) think that Lobo needs to take in getting Honduras to change for the better, and Anon 1:14 seems to think along similar lines. I tend to think in practical terms, and tend toward action, in this case, helping Honduras, a country I know and care for a lot (I lived there for seven years and one of my boys was born in Teguc).

    So: What, concretely, can we do move towards the kind of changes (Anon 1:14 mentions just one or two) that Honduras needs to accomplish?

    I think the/the key question is, has Lobo expressed any ideas at all as to how he wants to change things in Honduras? Is he putting together a Cabinet that's willing to move for change and improvement in the country? Is anyone hearing about development plans for the country, etc.? What about possibilities for participation/input from folks like us, who'd like to help from a distance? Can we help, and if so, who are contacts within the new government who'd like that help? (

    If anyone has an answer to ANY of my questions, I'd be pleasantly surprised, but gosh, we have to start somewhere....)