Sunday, December 27, 2015

Book Review: The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew

As I have said in my previous post that our family’s vacation in Singapore was not enough to understand Singapore’s way of life so I took home an essential book titled “The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew” of the Straits Times Press edited by Shashi Jayakumar and Rahul Sagar.  The book has five parts where:

Part 1 is about the “Personal Reminiscences” of SR Nathan, a two-term President of Singapore and Heng Swee Keat who served as Principal Private Secretary to Lee Kuan Yew.  Both shared their personal unique experiences working with the Singapore’s great leader;

Part 2 explains about “Law and Politics” and the different views as regards the “Rule of Law”.  It provided explanation on Lee Kuan Yew’s basic approach to law, order and security, race and religion as well as international relations;

In Part 3 it tackles about Mr. Lee’s style of governance, his political will, about his pragmatic approach that made a big difference for Singapore that changed it from a third world to first world country.   It also explained how Singapore’s public service was transformed, how its public servants adopted a culture of excellence;

Part 4 contains Mr. Lee’s ideas on “Society and Economics” where it explained Singapore’s bilingual and multi-racial concepts.  It provided an insight on how language played an important role in governance and in transmitting values;

Part 5 is about “Foreign Affairs’ and his big ideas on small state survival.  It explained Mr. Lee’s thoughts and approach on how Singapore became relevant to the world.

The book not only provided an account of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s way of governance but also shared the experiences of those people who worked closely with this great leader.  As I read through the pages of this book, I was amazed of the details I uncovered specifically how Mr. Lee built Singapore the way it is now.  This made me admired more the people who put enormous effort in building one of the best countries to live in.  I cannot help but highlight Mr. Lee’s characteristics as described by the people who worked with him. Aside from being a very intelligent man, he is confident and consistent in whatever he wanted to achieve.  He is well known as a tough leader but one of his outstanding qualities that was revealed in this book is his being a “deeply thoughtful man”, his caring nature that in my own opinion not only moved those people close to him but his country as a whole.

So while I was reading this book, I cannot help but compare the qualities of our presidential aspirants to those qualities of Mr. Lee.  I was thinking if anyone of them has the making of a great leader that will put the Philippines at par with the best in the world or would we be electing somebody that will put our country in the shame/worst list for the longest time?  Kishore Mahbubani in the book’s introduction described five of his qualities as (1)”he is a deeply thoughtful man” (2) he is “a man of action” (3) “he is pragmatic” (4) he is “guided by some deeply held values” and  (5) he has courage.  These five qualities of Mr. Lee were explained in detail in the book.  I wish that all candidates for the coming Philippine general election will have the time to read this book and get inspiration and might as well learn and apply Mr. Lee’s big ideas.

I wish to quote Lee Kuan Yew as written in page 96 of the book about people and leadership “My experience of development in Asia has led me to conclude that we need good men to have good government. However good the system of government, bad leaders will bring harm to their people.”

In the same chapter on page 97, it provided a plain example with huge impact on how he governed his people as he was quoted saying after discovering that light switches in a government structure did not work  “…And I say it does you no harm whatsoever just to make sure that the thing works.  And don’t be too kind.  If you want to be kind to your people then you have got to be firm. And at times, stern to those who have a duty to perform to see that the duty is performed.

Those words reminded me of incidents in my country which could have been prevented if only the people who are in-charge have the political will to ensure that things work out the way they must be. All too common are non-working escalators/elevators and even trains in our own MRT/LRTs, filthy pathways/walkways/waterways, crime news everyday except during Manny Pacquiao's fight and many other perpetual problems that made me wonder if there is really someone governing us or are we living to each his own.

The Philippines and its people have so much to learn from Singapore and we have lots of work to do to correct all the wrong actions and perceptions of our leaders and would-be leaders.   As how the book puts it, “Learning from Others, Learning from the Best”.  And the Philippines definitely need to learn from the best.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bringing Home Essential Lessons from Singapore

My husband and I took advantage of the week-long declared holiday during the APEC summit in Manila last November 16 to 20 that we decided to have a family bonding in Singapore (again, last was in 2010). It was a great time to take a break from stress brought by demanding work, monstrous Manila traffic, and rising crime statistics that send fears in every corners of my mind . At last! After more than five years, I get to set foot again in one of my favorite places. This place is where I experience all the best things I only hope that the Philippines could have, efficient transport system, clean surroundings, secure place to wander around, magnificent structures, gender-sensitive places/people and the list goes on.

But this post is not about the places that we visited in Singapore, this is all about my wishful thinking... a look at the Philippines on a different perspective, maybe a shallow comparative analysis of these two countries. Shallow in the sense that I only touch on topics that I see only the basic differences but could have huge impact in the Philippines' struggle to be among the best in the world in terms of governance.

 To understand better how Singapore became one of the cleanest, safest, best countries in the world, one really has to have a first hand experience and immerse himself in its day to day activities. But our almost two weeks of stay could not be enough so I bought a book that will somehow give me an idea on how this little red dot became one of the best countries in the world.

Before I share with you my book review and the insight I got about Singapore and the Philippines, let me share with you this relevant video from Word of the Lourd...

~ to be continued

Friday, December 4, 2015

Experience Online Shopping with a 15% Zalora Discount Coupon

Shopping is one of those fun activities during the "ber" months (September, October, November and December) that most people usually do in preparation for the holiday season.    We wait for mall-wide sales as early as September to get huge discounts on our purchases (that frugal mommies do, of course ;-) )  I bet you experienced any one of these things when you hit the mall during sale season:

1. Someone else got the item that you wanted the moment you put it down for just a second
2. You finally found the perfect pair of shoes or a nice dress or a shirt only to be told that there was no stock for the size that you needed.
3. Say you got all the items you wanted and ready to pay for it but you almost passed out before you even reach the cashier because of the verrrryyy lloooooonnggg lines.
4. You were stuck in traffic for very long hours after shopping that when you got home you did not bother to check your purchases only to find out the next day that you left or forgotten some of your shopping bags :(

Admit it or not, those things happen and most likely gave us that very high stress level.  Isn't it great news that there are now online stores in the Philippines that offer us the same exciting shopping experience minus all the hassles?  If you have not tried online shopping yet, here is your chance to get that sale shopping experience without the traffic, long lines and lost items.

One of the online shopping sites that I tried is the Zalora Marketplace.  Asia's online market site and a one stop shop for the latest brands and styles.  They offer 30 days free return, free shipping on orders amounting above 995.00 and they accept online payments thru debit or credit cards.  If you do not have cards to use, you can opt for a cash on delivery mode of payment.

To get you started on your online shopping journey, here is a welcome gift for you of 15% discount on qualified purchases.  Just use the promo code ZBAPQWW1 upon checkout.  

So far, I have a very pleasant shopping experience with Zalora.  All items I ordered which mostly were clothes and shoes were delivered as I expected and got the items in good condition.  :-) Take your shopping spree to the next level and be a savvy online shopper.