ASPIRATION (JOHN GOKONGWEI JR.’S AD CONGRESS SPEECH, EDITED, PART 9 OF 10)

Don’t miss out THE IRREPLACEABLE LOSS (PART 1), HARD-WORK (PART 2), OPPORTUNITY (PART 3), GROWING (PART 4), PERSEVERANCE (PART 5), DETERMINATION (PART 6), INNOVATION (PART 7), REAL PROMISING (PART 8), 

Lee Kwan Yew’s book “From Third World to First” captures Singapore’s aspiration to join the First World. According to the book, Singapore was a trading post that the British developed as a nodal point in its maritime empire. The racial riots there made its officials determined to build a “multiracial society that would give equality to all citizens, regardless of race, language or religion.”

When Singapore was asked to leave the Malaysian Federation of States in 1965, Lee Kwan Yew developed strategies that he executed with single-mindedness despite their being unpopular. He and his cabinet started to build a nation by establishing the basics: building infrastructure, establishing an army, WEEDING OUT CORRUPTION, providing mass housing, building a financial center. Forty short years after, Singapore has been transformed into the richest South East Asian country today, with a per capita income of US$32,000.

These days, Singapore is transforming itself once more. This time it wants to be the creative hub in Asia, maybe even the world. More and more, it is attracting the best minds from all over the world in filmmaking, biotechnology, media, and finance. Meantime, Singaporeans have also created world-class brands: Banyan Tree in the hospitality industry, Singapore Airlines in the Airline industry and Singapore Telecoms in the telco industry.

I often wonder: Why can’t the Philippines, or a Filipino, do this?

Fifty years after independence, we have yet to create a truly global brand. We cannot say the Philippines is too small because it has 86 million people. Switzerland, with 9 million people, created Nestle. Sweden, also with 9 million people, created Ericsson. Finland, even smaller with five million people, created Nokia. All three are major global brands, among others.

Yes, our country is well-known for its labor, as we continue to export people around the world. And after India, we are grabbing a bigger chunk of the pie in the call-center and business-process-outsourcing industries. But by and large, the Philippines has no big industrial base, and Filipinos do not create world-class products.

 

Continue reading the Last Part.

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