“Who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” – Romans 8:24-25
I do not usually focus on political commentary in this column, but I thought I should rise in support of the editorial of the online media organisation “Barbados Today” on Friday March 27, 2015 entitled “A dark day in our politics”.
This story has been virally transmitted to the world through social media.
The editorial began: “The standard of political debate in the Caribbean – indeed the high standard of conduct which citizens rightly expect of persons elected to high office – sank to a sickening new low this week as a result of an unfortunate incident in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.”
The three concluding paragraphs of the editorial read:
“This incident calls attention to the need for a review of parliamentary privilege to prevent a similar example here. Parliamentarians are styled ‘honourable’ and it should be reflected in their words and actions. This issue also merits attention in current debate on improving governance in the Caribbean.
“The downside of such behaviour by politicians is that it reinforces the perception of politics as a nasty business to be avoided at all costs. It also deepens public distrust in the political process at a time when a high level of confidence is necessary if we are to effectively tackle major challenges facing individual countries and the region as a whole.
“It was a dark day in the politics of Trinidad and Tobago this week. We hope the Barbados House of Assembly never sees an example of this behaviour. The incident is a call for us to be vigilant. As the saying goes when thy neighbour’s house is on fire beware of thine own!”
Amidst the turmoil of negative Caribbean political innuendo we were greeted, a week ago Sunday, with the news that “Lee Kwan Yew passes at 91”.
My son Kevin recalled that the Singapore leader studied at the London School of Economics with the late Errol Barrow, who became the first Prime Minister and a national hero of Barbados. Interestingly they also studied with Pierre Trudeau (Canada), Michael Manley (Jamaica) and Forbes Burnham (Guyana) – all destined to become prime ministers of their respective countries.
Many readers of this column are aware of my fondness of the Singapore model, but I have learnt that Lee Kwan Yew’s vision could not in its entirety be transposed to the Caribbean due to political and cultural differences as well as resistance to change.
On my return to Barbados after a visit to Singapore in June 1993, I wrote a Letter to the Editor which was published in the Barbados Advocate entitled: “Barbados, the Singapore of the Caribbean”. This letter was indeed the genesis of this weekly column.
After hearing of the news of his passing, I offered the following on Facebook: “Former Prime Minster of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew laid a solid foundation 56 years ago and created a great small island nation as an example to the world. His son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, now has the responsibility to build on this legacy and take Singapore to even further heights of grandeur. May he rest in peace.”
On my last visit to Singapore in March 2007, accompanied by my younger son Bevan, the Economic Development Board treated Barbadian Dr. Carlisle Boyce, who was resident there working with 3M at the time, and us to an excellent presentation on the Singapore (C.O.R.E.) Advantage – Connectivity, Openness, Reliability and Enterprise. This presentation traced the history from 1959, when Lee Kwan Yew took over, to the current millennium where Singapore was transformed from “a sleepy fishing village with a threat of communism” to the world leadership position, as a small island state, where it is today.
After more than 21 years of writing and very modest Caribbean economic growth, if any at all, I still believe that that we could learn much from the success of Singapore in terms of transforming the Caribbean region. Alas, the political mind-sets must be receptive. We have a long way to go in converting the negative political innuendo into positive affirmations of abundance such as passion, persistence and, yes, more patience (3Ps).
Our leaders, our entrepreneurs and each and every one of us ought to apply these 3Ps to attract abundance in our business, financial, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives, not necessarily in that order.
The opportunities for our passionate and persistent entrepreneurs in the Caribbean are many and varied, including the extractive industries, tourism, cultural industries, agriculture, marine, renewable energy and innovative technology (including the elite materials like graphene) sectors.
Let us recognize that awareness is the key to transformation which opens the door to abundance. When we become aware of self-limiting thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or habits, which inhibit our progress, we can then focus on the positive affirmations of abundance to counteract these forces and patiently stimulate sustainable growth.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)