If building a coop can be likened to making a little country, there’d be “models.” Models for administration, models for leadership, other models.

One country that has been in the spotlight lately is El Salvador. Hopes (or hopium) about it has led to some bitcoin commentators foreseeing it to be the Singapore of the Americas.

Why Singapore? Because it is one of Asia’s biggest economic successes of modern times, an object of emulation for many ASEAN economies.

Also because of Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father widely credited for Singapore's remarkable economic success.

I’ve wondered what he thought of the Philippines as he was leading Singapore to success. This one is from Stuart Santiago’s site in an article entitled ‘Lee Kuan Yew on Filipinos and the Philippines,’

The Philippines was a world apart from us, running a different style of politics and government under an American military umbrella. It was not until January 1974 that I visited President Marcos in Manila. When my Singapore Airlines plane flew into Philippine airspace, a small squadron of Philippine Air Force jet fighters escorted it to Manila Airport. There Marcos received me in great style – the Filipino way. I was put up at the guest wing of Malacañang Palace in lavishly furnished rooms, valuable objects of art bought in Europe strewn all over. Our hosts were gracious, extravagant in hospitality, flamboyant. Over a thousand miles of water separated us. There was no friction and little trade. 

Lee Kuan Yew was the founding father and first prime minister of Singapore, who led the country from 1959 to 1990. He had a complex and evolving relationship with the Philippines, which he visited several times and interacted with different presidents.

When he first visited the Philippines in January 1974, when Ferdinand Marcos was the president, he was impressed by the lavish hospitality and the extravagant lifestyle of the Marcoses, but he also noticed the lack of economic development and the growing corruption and unrest in the country.

He tried to promote greater economic cooperation and trade between Singapore and the Philippines, as well as within ASEAN, but he found Marcos to be more interested in the communiqué than the implementation of the agreements.

He became concerned about the political and financial crisis in the Philippines after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983, which triggered a massive opposition movement against Marcos. He advised Marcos to step down and restore democracy, but Marcos refused to listen.

He supported the People Power Revolution in 1986, which ousted Marcos and installed Corazon Aquino as the new president. He praised Aquino for her courage and sincerity, but he also doubted her ability to govern effectively and reform the country.

He visited the Philippines again in 1992, when Fidel Ramos was the president. He was impressed by the economic progress and the political stability that Ramos achieved, and he hoped that the Philippines would continue on the path of development and democracy.

As long as you keep that, at the back of your mind, this place is what it is because of our effort. You cease to make that effort, you cease to be like this.

He had a high regard for the Filipino people, whom he described as talented, creative, and hardworking. He admired their achievements in various fields, such as arts, culture, sports, and entertainment. He also acknowledged their contributions to Singapore's economy and society, especially the Filipino professionals and domestic workers.

He also had a critical view of the Filipino culture, which he considered to be “soft, forgiving, and lacking in discipline.” He attributed the Philippines’ underdevelopment and problems to its colonial history, its feudal system, its patronage politics, and its Catholic faith. He contrasted the Philippines with Singapore, which he claimed had a more pragmatic, meritocratic, and disciplined culture.

Lee Kuan Yew maintained his interest and involvement in the Philippines until his death in 2015.

To close, this was a video of LKY six years before he passed away:

To the young and to the not-so-old, I say, look at that horizon, follow that rainbow, go ride it.
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