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."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some Lessons from Singapore

After a brief visit to Singapore, I could not but express my wonder for such a progressive and fascinating country. Certainly, understanding what they did right is an inspiring exercise. This country's example is quite poignant if we think that Singapore declared its independence from the Malaysian Federation in 1965. Well, they were more or less let go from Malaysia for being "too troublesome" a country.

In fact, when Singapore became an independent nation, others expressed their doubt of their viability as a nation, especially as the British announced that they would withdraw their military bases and approximately 20% of the gross national product. Their per capita income in 1965 was roughly $500 per person (Honduras was $216). Now of course, the story is so different being one of the top ten countries with the highest per capita income and quality of life.

What were the principles behind their success? Reading Mr. Lee Kuan Yew (Former Singapore's Prime Minister from 1965-2000) memoirs we can distill some lessons as we start today a new chapter in our life as a democratic and free republic:

1) Unwavering respect of  law and order
2) Confidence in ourselves and our capacity
3) Understanding that we are alone and to trust only in ourselves for our destiny. No more relying on gifts, grants or international charity.
4) Reward capacity, industriousness, talent and intelligence
5) Respect and promote diversity
6) Reward and promote entrepreneurship
7) Seek social justice and equality

As I continue reading Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs, I will continue distilling more lessons....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Strongly recommend reading La Gringa's take on the Pepe deal with Zelaya Part I and 2

I strongly recommend reading La Gringa's posts on the deal signed by our President Elect Pepe Lobo granting a free passage document for Zelaya....Lots of questions very few answers I am afraid.

Part 1 and Part 2