Singapore without Lee Kuan Yew; Belt and Road; Martin Jacques
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - August 25, 2019 - 12:00am

A video of the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew speaking to the strikers of Singapore Airlines received many likes and shares. It was posted by 911 Philippine Supporters drawn from the National Archives of Singapore. The video captured Lee Kuan Yew’s personality as a strong leader.

In the short speech he gave to the strikers with hands motioning emphasis and determination “go back to work”.

“This is not a game of cards, it is your life and my life. And you will lose. The strikers agreed. Whew! Great spirit.

At the end of speech he said he built the country with his life and then ended with prophetic words that “ for as long as he was in charge no one will knock it down.”

Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23, 2015. Today his legacy is precarious with his own sons fighting over what it should be. His eldest son Lee Hsien Loong became prime minister and he is now in charge.

But his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang has sided with the opposition.

Singapore’s next general election must be held by January 2021, though speculation is rife that a snap poll could be just months away. The coming polls are seen by some as a referendum on the ruling party’s fourth generation (4G) leaders who are expected to take over from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 67, who plans to retire before turning 70.

A bitter family feud has been fought over social media. Lee Kuan Yew was right that as long as he was in charge the country will be stable and prosperous. There was fire in his belly when he spoke at the Singapore airport. He awed the audience. But he is gone and he could not pass it on to his sons.

But why do Filipino netizens like and share the video? They want President Duterte to be like him and say as he did “to govern Singapore, you must have an iron hand.”

President Duterte had strong words and crowds gathered behind him to cheer his p…ina mo and elected him president. He was directing his strong words to the oligarchy and the Aquino government he replaced.

There have been many speculations on what President Duterte and President Xi Jinping will discuss when they meet for the launch of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

As expected the speculation will be on what they want them to discuss.

This will not be the time and place to discuss issues. In my opinion, it will be hello and good-bye and shaking of hands. The work on issues important to the two countries will be done elsewhere.

It was first launched as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It was shortened to Belt and Silk Road. It is a huge infrastructure development and investment initiatives that would stretch from East Asia to Europe. The project, eventually termed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) but sometimes known as the New Silk Road, is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever conceived. It harkens back to the original Silk Road, which connected Europe to Asia centuries ago, enriching traders from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Some analysts see the project as an unsettling extension of China’s rising power, and as the costs of many of the proposed projects have skyrocketed, opposition has grown in some participant countries. Washington has raised alarm over Beijing’s actions even as it has abandoned some US efforts to isolate China and deepen its own ties with economic partners in the region.

The Silk Road came into being during the westward expansion of China’s Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), which forged trade networks throughout what are today the Central Asian countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, It would unite East and West more than any ideology. The Chinese hit it right because the physical structure is there for the use of everyone, democratic or non-democratic.

Martin Jacques, the British author of the international bestseller “When China Rules the World” is coming to Manila. He has been on YouTube discussing the Hongkong crisis. He is coming to Manila for the second time in September. Here are some excerpts from the lecture he gave when he was in Manila in 2012.

I will have to excerpt from the many things he said then.

“China is going to change the world in two fundamental respects. First of all, it’s a huge, developing country with a population of 1.3 billion people, which has been growing for over 30 years at around ten percent a year. And within a decade, it will have the largest economy in the world. Never before in the modern era has the largest economy in the world been that of a developing country, rather than a developed country. Secondly, for the first time in the modern era, the dominant country in the world, which is what I think China will become, will be not from the west and from very, very different civilizational roots.

…It’s a widespread assumption in the West that as countries modernize, they also westernize. This is an illusion… China is not like the west, and it will not become like the west. It will remain, in very fundamental respects, very different.

Well, what should our attitude be toward this world we see very rapidly developing before us? I think there will be good things about it, and bad things about it. But I want to argue, above all, a big-picture positive for this world. The arrival of countries like China and India, between them 38 percent of the world’s population, and others like Indonesia and Brazil and so on, represent the most important single act of democratization in the last 200 years…. As humanists, we must welcome, surely, this transformation.”

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