PA 327: Comparative Development Administration, Second Semester 2008-2009
Dean Alex Brillantes Jr., PhD
Submitted by: Sofronio “Toti” Dulay, DPA Student
Take - off from Chapter 6 of Sen and reading the articles of LKY, discuss why an authoritarian system is or is not appropriate for the development and development administration.
Development is a way to extend freedom and freedom, in a way, also helps development, this is in essence what Sen is telling us in his book. But what is really development? I always love to state a normal and universal definition devoid of techno talks of a particular group…this is one way to achieve a universal understanding and leveling – off. “Activities of modern nation states in promoting their development fall under the four categories previously listed: producing an economic surplus, promoting social and cultural integration, governance and education. For purposes of explanation, they are discussed separately. However, their usefulness to the state for national development comes only through their interaction. All four are so intertwined and interdependent that to select one as preeminent, as economists, business and government have done with producing an economic surplus is to distort understanding of the process.” Development administration therefore is administering or running the affairs of a country to produce an economic surplus, and promote social and cultural integration, governance and education. Some academicians will attempt to make a more complex definition of this concept, just to appear sophisticated and hide safely their “standing in the society” beyond the comfort of confusions. The more confusion, the more they thrive. What a very unethical way to live…living at the expenses or confusions of others.
Sen, in Chapter 6, correlates democratic system and development positively, meaning, the more the democratic system is working in a country, the greater will the chances of development. He became specific enough by emphasizing the “demonstrated usefulness (of democratic system) in preventing economic disasters is itself quite important.” He went saying for instance that famines do not happen in democratic countries but in totalitarian states. He cited the importance of organized opposition since democratic institutions are not “mechanical device” that runs by itself. Societal values are important to be articulated and inputted into the picture of democratization and development and this articulation can happen through political freedoms and civil rights. There is a need to safeguard the circumstances and conditions that provide the democratic process.
Then came Lee Kuan Yew at the opposite pole of Sen. “All peoples of all countries need good government. A country must first have economic development, and then democracy may follow. With a few exceptions, democracy has not brought good government to new developing countries. Democracy has not led to development because the government did not establish the stability and discipline necessary for development.”
The article even showed several examples to show that too much western – type democracy will not work in most circumstances. It even quoted Helmut Schmidt saying “perhaps the west must admit to itself that people living in other continents and other cultural groups with firmly rooted traditions can be thoroughly happy even without the democratic structures which Euro-Americans consider indispensable.”
Actually, Lee Kuan Yew also believes in the democracy as Sen, but they disagree on the sense of timing. Sen believes that economic development and democracy goes hand in hand; Lee Kuan Yew believes that a country must first have economic development, and then democracy may follow. He is wise enough not to go against a universally accepted and encouraged concept like democracy.
But please allow me say a little about an evolving “concept” we called “Marikina Way” as a way to add ethnicity to this high profile discussion. As the Consultant of Mayor Marides Fernando of Marikina City, one of my earliest projects is to conduct a leadership seminar for the leaders of the Kabayani Party, the local party of the Fernando’s of Marikina. With the help of the Ateneo School of Governance, the seminar was held among the top leaders of the party in an expensive hotel in Ortigas. In the seminar, MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando, sitting as one of ordinary participants, expresses this idea: “do not blame government structures because they are almost the same since they are universal concepts anyway, what will matter eventually is management and decision making.” To him, blaming structure is just a convenient scapegoat for bad governance because somebody will always say that we are corrupt or the Philippines is poor because our party system, for instance, was a mistake. To Bayani Fernando, democratic structure is ideal, but whatever quagmire you are in – democracy or no democracy, you have to give your best efforts in serving the public. A leader should be the advocate and the champion of the public good. This kind of philosophy is shown in his management style. The public good requires that poor people must have a place to walk and play, so, he recovered the sidewalks from rich store owners and Kotong cops - protected illegal vendors who selfishly stole the sidewalks for their personal benefits at the expense of the public good. In general, it is bad taste to steal, so Bayani Fernando corrected this bad taste staring us in our face – risking his personal political capital to the puzzlement of traditional politicians, paid pundits, political tacticians and paid writers masquerading as pseudo - media. Filipinos are forced to urinate anywhere because we lack public toilets and business establishments “selfishly” control their restrooms, so, the public good, based on BF’s management calculation and decision making process as the most doable at the given circumstances, are the Pink Urinals. We do not have to wait for the Philippines to become super rich or Filipinos to become super – good taste, or do paralysis by analysis by reviewing the whole gamut of governmental structures and democratic principles or history of public administration - to do what is good to the public because by then, our country will be stinking all over and lots of Filipinos dying of gall bladders explosion. Incidentally, Nobel Prize Awardee and public administration icon Herbert Simon’s bounded rationality and satisficing is near to Bayani Fernando’s style, so, he can not be accused of lacking in conceptual framework, the way we doctoral students will love to look even in the face of a working solution just to show that somewhat we are superior in concepts – a shade of intellectual dishonesty or naivety. In a nutshell, it is the Marikina Way – a cross breed of Sen and LKY: “democracy - blind”, or with or without democracy, public good must be advocated (tarpaulin campaign) and championed (MMDA projects). I am not campaigning for Bayani Fernando but if you know him the way I know him, you can not help but wish that he is the next President of the Philippines. The guy is a phenomenon. He lets Sen, LKY and the likes debate to the hilt, wasting their saliva in the process...BF will just do it for the public good.
 Development as Freedom. Amartya Sen. Anchor Books. New york. p. 158
 Lee Kuan Yew. The Man and His Ideas. Han Fook Kwang et al. Singapore Press Holdings. Time Edition.p.380.