September 15, 2016
Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte–The Fast Learner in the Exercise of Power
by Dr KJ John
I am amused about the rise of the next newer global gunslinger called the President of the Philippines. He has therefore been labelled the ‘Trump of Asia’. But is force what we need in Asia?
With a history of being ‘a fighter for a good cause’, he has now risen to be the Philippine Official No 1. Rightly so, the people of the Philippines deserve more than they have got all these years. They are a good and hard-working people; and the only Catholic country of Asia. They should lead in the fight against bribery, corruption and drugs. Enter Rodrigo Duterte with that specific agenda.
But somehow, in my analysis of the Philippines, they were not bequeathed good and efficient public services infrastructure, as were British Malaysia and Singapore. The Philippines was an American colony. I will therefore let Wikipedia clarify this phenomenon called the Asian trump card:
“Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Roa Duterte (born March 28, 1945), also known as Digong, is a Filipino lawyer and politician who is the 16th president of the Philippines, in office since 2016. He is the first Mindanaoan to hold the office, and the fourth of Visayan descent.
“Duterte was among the longest-serving mayors in the Philippines and was mayor of Davao City, a highly urbanised city on Mindanao island, for seven terms, totalling more than 22 years. He has also served as vice-mayor and as congressman for the city.
“Nicknamed ‘The Punisher’ by Time, an alleged vigilante group called the Davao Death Squad has been tied to Duterte by human rights organisations and are responsible for the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers. Duterte has drawn criticism from various sources, particularly the press and the Philippine National Police leadership in the Benigno Aquino III government, which contest the effectiveness of his policies.”
Asian insecurity of self-image
Mahathir Mohamad with Shintaro Ishihara wrote a book called, ‘An Asia that can say no!’ The original thesis by a similar title, but about Japan, was co-authored by Ishihara and Akio Morita and called, ‘The Japan that can say NO!’ About the original book, Wikipedia wrote:
“‘The Japan That Can Say No: Why Japan Will Be First Among Equals’ (‘‘No’ to Ieru Nihon’) is a 1989 essay originally co-authored by Shintaro Ishihara, the then-minister of transport and leading LDP figure who would become governor of Tokyo (1999-2012); and Sony co-founder and chairperson Akio Morita, in the climate of Japan’s economic rise. It was famous for its critical examination of United States business practices, and for advocating Japan’s taking a more independent stance on many issues, from business to foreign affairs.
“The title refers to the authors’ vision – Ishihara’s in particular – of a Japanese government that is more than a mere ‘yes man’ to the United States. Many unauthorised translations were made and circulated in the United States. The authorised 1991 Simon & Schuster English translation by Frank Baldwin (out of print) did not include the essays by Morita. The book caused controversy in the United States, and Morita distanced himself from the book.”
Now, in ASEAN, exit Mahathir Mohamad and welcome Duterte of the Philippines as outspoken spokespersons for ASEAN countries. The Philippine president is simply learning to say NO; in almost the same way. While I do not think that President Duterte can yet equate himself to Dr Mahathir; both are fighters, as Dr Mahathir was side-lined by his own party but then rose to become its President, and only then ruled Malaysia for almost 22 years.
Mahathir’s legacy was one of ‘forceful leadership’ but one cannot yet determine yet how history will record such successes. All developing countries need strong leadership in the early stages of growth and development. Frankly, a pure democracy with a multiplicity of voices is not good enough for early growth and development of all large systems. Discipline is key in the early stages.
Lee Kuan Yew– A Full Force Leader
Always Standing Up for Singapore
In early stages of development; all systems need more followers than leaders. Lee Kuan Yew was labelled many names but all clarified him as ‘a force-full leader’: this means he will use force to get his way, as and when needed. Such true leadership defines new directions for any new nation-state but often it is a boulder never seen before and therefore it is leading without a past to rely upon; in the language of white-water rafting.
Covey’s three-step model
Therefore I find Steven Covey’s leadership model as a good and credible internal growth and maturity model for all organic systems. I am not only talking about the ‘7 habits’ which is well-known but rather about his implicit underlying theory of human growth and development. His model builds the maturity dimension found in all human systems.
Covey states and argues that all human beings go through and grow through three levels of maturity.
Dependence— Independence— Interdependence
The habits are designed, when you put them into practice, to help you mature as a person. This process of maturing is described below:
We all start out life as babies completely dependent on our parents or other person to take care of us. This is a state of weakness and powerlessness.
As we grow up we work to become independent, moving out of our parent’s home, earning money for ourselves, etc. A person at this level is able to do things for himself and does not need anyone else to survive.
The greatest human achievements come from people working at the third level, interdependence. This is when people work together to achieve a common goal, and is the level of maturity of many people in a mature society or organisation. This is how mankind has achieved things together that no single person could do alone. Interdependence is the state of human development of greatest maturity and power.
As we develop our character as people, we grow in each of the seven areas described by the seven habits. In this process we move up the chart from dependence to independence to interdependence.
No Time for Political Correctness in the Service of The People
I think the new President of the Philippines has learnt very quickly to mature and grow his character because international diplomacy is not simply about dealing with crooks and drug lords, but rather other heads of states who represent millions of citizens. All such character development includes a refined maturity in areas and arenas of personal insecurity.