Foreign media out of touch

Many readers, including Now What, Cat? have been pointing out this blog’s perpetually on the blink. The latest snafu involves more problems with the comment thingamajig. Technical Supremo Abe Olandres suggests readers subscribe through Feedburner, so you can get entries even if the blog itself isn’t available. So sorry for technical difficulties.

The foreign media has started to take notice of the coming elections, though today’s two examples show they’re relying too much on conventional wisdom and not doing enough spadework when it comes to developments on the ground. The Economist is particularly -and disappointingly- superficial, while the Gulf Times is slightly less so (related chart in GMANews.TV).

Amando Doronila, for example, says three things are emerging:

First, the Genuine Opposition has consolidated its position of likely winning at least eight of the Senate seats. Second, political dynasties appear to be losing their spell as electoral assets to influence outcomes at least on the national level. And third, movie stars and swashbuckling military rebels involved in coup attempts seem to be losing their appeal to voters.

In Inquirer Current, John Nery presents three hypotheses:

First: The elections remain one way to resolve President Arroyo’s crisis of legitimacy…

Second: The elections are the opposition’s to lose…

Third: The opposition will lose the elections, in all aggregates except the most high-profile one, the race for the Senate. This result is an indictment of the opposition…

What I want to point out, though, is that Doronila and Nery’s observations point to the need to question old assumptions, and set aside the old stereotypes about both our elections and the electorate, stereotypes and assumptions the Economist in particular is still blithely spouting. In terms of how media’s covering the elections, Khanterbury Tales posted an entry recently with her observations.

My own views, concerning the elections? See my Q&A with Davao Today.

Some interesting coverage of the local races includes an intricate analysis of Speaker Jose de Venecia’s campaign (and Pangasinan politics) by Patrick Patiño. Dole-outs by local candidates is the topic covered by Rasheed Abou-Alsamh. Concerning the party-list, Dan Mariano looks at some party-list strategies and the value of endorsements (Achieving Happiness says there’s a statistical anomaly involved in the Left ‘s recent party-list survey results).

The Business Mirror editorial delves into the reasons behind the national treasurer’s resignation, and its implications:

All these simply indicate that the fiscal landscape remains very much at risk, more so with Mr. Cruz’s departure. It is good he agreed to stay on until June 1, but his successor—and the entire finance team for that matter—will have a tough hurdle ahead. They can’t even have the luxury of waiting after the elections, especially when one considers that fiscal problems may worsen after May 14, if fresh allegations of funds misuse and overspending surface.

The editorial helps put Omar Cruz’s recent suggestions new taxes may be required, in context.

Contrasting -or is it complimentary?- views of the military situation in Mindanao: Herbert Docena thinks the media is swallowing military propaganda and by so doing, is helping to push Mindanao towards conflict; Marites Vitug, however, writes that the military may actually be more inclined to foster peace.

Marichu Villanueva asks if the National Power Corporation forgot that summertime means increased demand for electricity.

Overseas, Foreign Affairs says Al-Qaeda’s more dangerous than ever before; Vanity Fair on electric sports cars.

In the blogosphere, big mango and thirtysomething respond to my column on the English-Filipino debate.

For management, including public management, afficionados, another hundred years hence points to A Nagueño in the Blogosphere, who writes from a conference in Germany on New Public Management principles, which Willy Prilles says is based on the following principles:

…a lean state; separate decisionmaking, with politics deciding the strategic and the civil service taking care of the operative; lean management; a new service attitude; new models of control; decentralization; quality management; and product approach…

Prilles points to the UK having some local governments adopting NPM principles under Thatcher but abandoning them as of late; another hundred years hence, in response, points to a potentially complementary development called CitiStat:

So how could this help NPM? Citistat’s 4 tenets:

1. Accurate and Timely Intelligence
2. Effective Tactics and Strategies
3. Rapid Deployment of Resources
4. Relentless Follow-Up and Assessment

-could be the day-to-day application of NPM’s “Concepts,” namely:

* Lean State — reduced tasks performed by state
* Separation of Decision Making Levels — Separation of the strategic from the operative level: politics decides the what, administration the how
* Lean Management — Combination of management by objectives, flat hierarchy, project management, performance related payments, modern methods of leadership
* New Service Attitude — Customer orientation: satisfaction in the center of all considerations, behavioral changes
* New Model of Control — Steering by clear targets, measurement of results, transparency of resource allocation
* Decentralization — Task, responsibility, competence and budget in the hand of the project manager/ department manager
* Quality Management — Ensure high service quality through qualification, competition, transparency
* Product Approach — Describing all administrative service as “products” highlighting factors such as: features, cost, needed resources, and time to deliver

Where NPM provides the goals of how government should be run, Citistat provides a day-to-day measurement of delivering on the goals of that model.

Both point to local-level governments making effective use of these strategies, or principles; but the problem remains applying them on a large scale.

Now that the health emergency of the President’s husband seems to be over, RG Cruz and Jove Francisco share their thoughts and observations on the aftermath. appreciates seeing Rep. Escudero not using a police escort to go through traffic. Yugatech on, a new way to keep tabs on the top Philippine blogs (additional observations by The J Spot).

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

16 thoughts on “Foreign media out of touch

  1. I think voters should demand more from politicians. Ten thousand per barangay is chicken feed and a health insurance card that does not include dental care and catasrophic illness is nothing,

    Make those fuckers pay through the nose for your vote. And get the money up front. It’s better they trust you won’t break your promises than for you to trust they wont break theirs.

  2. I find nothing lacking in the The Economist’s report on the present campaign. I see it as a concise but complete depiction of the activity – nothing much or anything earth-shaking. It’s the same mudslinging with a non-candidate (PGMA) the prime target. With the opposition treating the election a “referendum” on PMGA’s legitimacy (or impeachability), its candidates hardly articulate positive programs of governance that they intend to offer the electorate. It seems they are content to live or die on the issues against the president, and their belief that she is so hated, forgetting their own unacceptability and lack of fitness for the office they seek.

    Considering that most, if not all, the opposition candidates are known political chameleons – whose first and only priority is their political survival – I doubt any hope of GMA’s ouster based on their victory could ever happen. And that will be good for the country.

  3. I think these words from the Economist correctly reflect the thinking of the outside world:
    “..both impeachment and sweeping constitutional reform are distractions the Philippines could do without. “

  4. “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” — Theodore Roosevelt

    The U.S. unfortunately saw both political parties forget the function of politics in a democratic setting as always questioning the power structure for the common good. As a result we see the effects of the war on terror.

    Power will always attempt to create the predominant reality since most people are lazy to think.

    As for the Philippine scenario it is a vast wasteland.

    A recent Wall Street Journal article on the Middle East and the undercurrents underlying the troubles is a sign not all is well even in Saudi Arabia.

    *** A note from Strategic Investment’s Dan Amoss, CFA:

    “The conflict between religious conservatives and moderates in Saudi Arabia is at constant risk of escalation. An article in yesterday’s Wall
    Street Journal includes a few chilling quotes from a Saudi religious leader:

    “‘A young imam from a large Riyadh mosque illustrates this mindset. ‘We are waiting for the time to attack,’ the imam says, in the course of a long interview. ‘Youth feel happy when the Taliban takes a town or when a helicopter comes down, killing Americans in Iraq. It is a very dangerous
    situation for the U.S. in the whole Muslim world.’…

    “‘Arabic regimes are corrupted and can’t fight the U.S. So Arab people have to help their brothers. I tell you, the U.S. could not stand one day in Iraq if the Saudi rulers called for jihad there.’

    “‘As for American ideals, the imam is dismissive. ‘Your leaders want to bring your freedom to Islamic society,’ he says. ‘We don’t want freedom. The difference between Muslims and the West is we are controlled by God’s
    laws, which don’t change for 1,400 years. Your laws change with your leaders.'”,0,4393354.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

  5. How the power structure maintains it’s hold on their determination of their version of reality and history.

    “Historians of empire have always understood this chasm in human relationships created by the fact of one culture ruling over another. But a reappraisal of this truth has been under way for some time now at the hands of revisionist historians of the British Empire. These historians dislike Edward Said and the postcolonial critics who cite French theory and argue that the British Empire established lasting Orient/Occident and East/West oppositions in politics and knowledge. Uncomfortable with the political passion and theoretical language of these critics, the revisionists counsel us (in mainly British accents, with some American intonations) to lower the anti-imperial temperature and write old-fashioned narrative history. They contend that empire is the oldest and one of the most widely practiced forms of governance.”
    G. Prakesh

  6. I feel your criticism of the Economist is unduly harsh. The major issues are surely completion of the ballot and the possibility of vote rigging. Learned, or otherwise, angsting over whether, in what way and to what extent the electoral panorama has changed is beside the point if the casting and counting of votes is seriously tainted.

  7. Mr. Quezon, III

    You are obviously correct about the foreign media not intimately familiar with the machinations and the latest developments of the campaigns in the upcoming election in the Philippines. It’s just not that important to anyone outside of the Republic of the Philippines. What intrigues outsiders though are the usual shenanigans; vote rigging, vote buying, ballot box stealing, show boating, karaoke singing dancing queens, etc.

  8. betol… Abu Sayyaf’s up there. The Muslim countries always interested in Mindanao. Julia Campbell has visibility, too. Law and order, in particular killings of media- and NGO personnel, also of interest.

  9. The Economist : “What it clearly does need, though, is a much simpler voting system, so that mere name-recognition is no longer such a crucial determinant of who gets elected.”

    Writing 12 names in a blank ballot is complicated enough and so is electing a mix mash of 12 individuals which no one is a representative of any particular constituent and does not represent a true national reflection of voters will is not a representative democracy. A candidate for Senator for example can win an election by winning solidly in one region and being ignored in most but still represent the whole nation.

    Whereas, in countries where a simple voting system is now being utilized, not only that name-recognition becomes irrelevant as determinant of gets elected, but there are less spoiled ballots and even the disabled, even those with vision impairments (blind) be able to exercise their rights to vote. And in many cases the voters don’t have to write any individual candidate’s name, which could be confusing like the case of the same Cayetanos running for senators or countless of others like long and complicated names. Some voters will even just vote for candidates with short and simpler names just to fill in the blanks.

    Just as an example; my experience here (Canada) as a voter during Federal, Provincial, and Municipal elections and in Federal and Provincial elections nothing could be much simpler. If you are voting under the party line, just remember your Candidate (party endorsed) and look for his name along the names of candidates, arranged in Alphabets, and marked X or connect the lines and the same if your voting for your Choice. In a municipal election, a little complicated (no party allowed for municipal government) , because you have to mark one for Mayor, for your Councillor and for School Trustee, 3 different Xs, but still easier than writing the names of 8 councillors, one Mayor + vice mayor (another waste) then one Governor (is there a vice Governor?), board members + house representatives and 12 Senators.

    And only the municipal election is fixed. All other elections are called anytime within the five years mandate or when Governments lose the confidence of the Parliaments.

  10. betol… it must be remembered that the foreign media is always watching events in the Philippines, but if things are “business as usual”, nothing really is newsworthy to make it onto BBC- or CNN-cable or the foreign newspapers. [Nonetheless, there should be some coverage of the elections 3 days before and 5 days after when the election-results are reported.]
    The foreign media always reports the human-interest angle (like the New York Times story on OFW’s) and will probably report any signs on changes to church/state separation in the Philippines. Also any newsworthy clip to show that it benefits the Filipino people that the country is predominantly Christian. The cable-broadcasts and/or newspapers will make space if a 120-foot python is discovered in Palawan, if there is a deadly Abu Sayyaf or NPA attack, or if there is a flash EDSA-rally of more than 150,000 people.

  11. Can FilAm community papers here in the US, which number considerably and practically “echo” (or more like “cut and paste”)news from the old homeland’s local media, be considered part of foreign media?

  12. Foreign Media will be watching closely the upcoming election and its results. But for the local issues raised during the campaign, which mostly deals with nothing more than political “commercialism” or the selling of personalities rather than specific programs of government and comprehensive Economic Policies, it is not as newsworthy to warrant a page in major international news. And the local FilAm or Fil communities paper which mostly reprints from Philippines dispatches and local communities events and limited to local communities readerships can not be considered fully as foreign media because of its limitations.

  13. I’m actually quite pleased with the way The Economist summed things up in an easy-to-read package for the international audience. They also managed to be quite insightful in the way they criticized how voters are made to write down 8 names of senatorial candidates, and the result is a focus on shallow name recognition– for some reason, that fact never gets enough attention from the local media. It’s a stupid, stupid system.

  14. So is The Economist commenting on:
    (a) the voters having to write (versus putting an “X” on a selection box);
    (b) the voters having to choose so many (as opposed to 1, as in the US-of-A where senators are chosen at the state level);
    (c) candidate name-recognition appears more important and less so the candidates’ prior misdeeds, accomplishments or platforms;

  15. If anyone wants to implement “no read, no write… no vote” with a British twist, then get your senator or congressman to forget vote-automation and go with:
    (a) requiring the voter to write the name of the candidates of their choice;
    (b) voting instructions to be in Brit English.

    And if the Constitution says “NO” to instructions only in Brit-English, the “no write… no vote”-feature of (a) still works towards the goal of one (female) blogger who blog-proposed that voting should only be given to Filipino college students who are “…the future of the nation”.

    No worries.

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