Deep holes, weak leaders
This is the title of Thomas Friedman’s article in the ST today. Let me just do a précis of this article to make sense in the Singaporean context. I would leave out the irrelevant and may alter or substitute a word or phrase here and there to make it more interesting to read.
One of the most troubling features of today’s global economic crisis is the lack of political leadership anywhere. No one has the courage to tell people the truth. And the truth, alas, is that ‘five’ of the pillars of today’s global economy – Europe, America, China and the Arab world – have, each in their own way, squandered huge dividends they enjoyed in recent decades, and how they have to dig out of their respective holes with fewer resources, less time and, almost certainly, more pain.
There is no way out. But, as confronting these hard truths becomes unavoidable, I think we’re likely to see some wild, angry and destabilizing politics that could make the economic recovery even more difficult. Deep holes and weak leaders are a bad combination….
“Someone among the leaders must finally tell the people the truth: This fresh start can only be achieved with a radical first step,” he said….
But the leaders used their surpluses of power and wealth to ignore the United Nations’ Human Rights Report…Instead, they enriched a small slice of their populations and distracted the rest with shiny objects….
“To its credit, it used its huge export dividend to build 21st century infrastructure and to educate its people, creating a rich upper middle class. But the current leadership has not used this surging economic growth to also introduce gradual political reform. Corruption is as bad as ever, institutionalised transparency and the rule of law remain weak and consensual politics nonexistent. If growth slows and incomes widen further, more and more steam will build up in the system with no outlet, which is surely one reason that the country will reach ‘a critical stage.’
So for these countries, in different ways, these have been the years the locusts ate. Getting healthy again will be wrenching for all of us. At a minimum, it would need a sensible plan to fix the economy – which is what people want most and many in the business would surely support it. The country cannot wait until 2016 to do serious policy changes again.