GuyExpo is here amidst a lot of fanfare, the usual brass, and continuing expectations. It has to be a positive thing, yet I feel that so much more could be done, given what we have and where we want to be. To do so, we would just have to take a page (or some combination of pages) from those who showed the world how to rise from the ashes of nothing and be counted among the giants.
Perhaps walking giants might be a tad too ambitious, but for how much longer will Guyana be counted among the breathing dead, be humoured for its failed promise, and be scorned for its loud declarations followed by silent stagnation? Ambition, visions, dreams were what drove the enfeebled, the impoverished, and the devastated to sacrifice and dedicate and rise to the colossi that they are today. And, of course, the policies, personnel, and political will to make it all happen. Singapore, Korea, and Japan are among the examples that come effortlessly to mind, as I look at what once was, and now is.
There were (are) the flagship ministries; the quality technocrats; the economic zones; the tax regimes; the legal framework; and all the other incentives geared to welcome capital and business and to get these countries off the ground and moving. Of course, there were hard men from mainly humble backgrounds whose common overriding objective was to lift their people out of their states of poverty and hopelessness. They spanned a spectrum ranging from the autocratic to the despotic to the mystic. On one occasion, there was even the corrupt. But when one recalls Park, Yew, Suharto, and Singh, they can only be seen for their unrelenting drive to inspire their countries to get up and stand up. Men who, for the most part, and throughout their reigns, lived almost as humbly as when they first assumed the reins of power. They did not distance themselves from their people; some refused to profit; and Suharto being the exception, they were largely taint free, in almost all aspects of their public lives.
If those who lead in Guyana are really serious about development and progress, then they would do well to study the places and faces identified; the policies implemented; and the results reaped. Forget about ideology and blocs; just do what is right for country and people. Take the best parts – or the most feasible for the Guyana context – and fuse them into an appropriate hybrid or model that will lift us out of the doldrums. Most of all do not look upon power as the birthright of a chosen few, or as an apparatus for the enrichment of loyalists.
Just recently there has been the perennial talk of agriculture and its potential. Why not harness the promise embodied in this sector and let it help us stand on our own feet. To do so would require that our leaders dream dreams; think big; act smart; and live pure.