R.I.P Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher (13 October 1925 - 8 April 2013)

Margaret Thatcher (13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013)

It has been four days after Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87 after she suffered a stroke. I have decided to write this article today as her death is a big blow not just among the British people that she served for 11 years, but also to the world where during her  premiership, the political tide had turned into a better and peaceful as her economic policies became an inspiration to defeat the evil ideology of her time, communism.

Margaret Hilda Roberts Thatcher was an exceptional person who rose across the social rank from merely the daughter of a grocer to a prime minister of one of the great nations, United Kingdom. She defied the odds of her time that a woman prime minister will be impossible in her lifetime when in 1975, the Conservative Party named her as their leader which made her premiership possible, four years later as Great Britain suffered a terminal economic decline due to the excess of the postwar Liberal Consensus instituted by Clement Attlee.

Her premiership was a difficult one especially during the first three years as structural economic reforms instituted by her like cutting excess social spending that made her doomed to be defeated by 1983 until an event in faraway Falkland Islands, controlled by the United Kingdom and resided entirely by British, was invaded by Argentina which had a long-standing claim with the islands. British forces was able to repulse Argentine invaders back to Argentina and the victory provided a lease of life for Margaret Thatcher’s premiership where she won for another two elections before she stood down in 1990.

His economic reforms like downsizing the coal industry in Northern England, liberalization of the City of London, and imposition of Poll Tax had created enormous discontent from those who were affected and in fact, they never forgive her even the moment she died. Her economic policies brought Britain to be competitive with the rest of Europe instead of turning it into a third world cesspool that her critics wanted to describe her economic policies. Her strength of confronting the obstacles of her economic reforms became an inspiration especially in Eastern Europe to implement her economic policies in their respective countries that made them economically prosperous by now compared when the Soviet Union was in charge.

Her death should be a time for mourning, whether you agreed her policies or not. It is a sad thing that in British itself, lot of its citizens are celebrating her death without realizing that once a upon a time, she led their country. They should not grunge their anger to Mrs. Thatcher alone as her economic policies were bound to happen had she never became the prime minister. Celebrating her death is tasteless and their celebration has become a precedent to do such thing if your enemy dies someday and it is a contrast of what the world is expecting to a British, a classy one.

I would like to give my most sincere condolences to Margaret Thatcher’s family and to the people of Great Britain.

Claiming Sabah is a quixotic thing to do

Map of Sabah. Malaysia and the Philippines have a long-standing dispute on Sabah's sovereignty.

Map of Sabah. Malaysia and the Philippines have a long-standing dispute on Sabah’s sovereignty.

Last week, 12 February 2013, there was a stand-off in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia where 400 persons including 20-40 who were armed have infiltrated the town of Lahad Datu in behalf of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of the former Sultanate of Sulu on the basis that North Borneo or Sabah is in the dominion of the former Sultanate of Sulu and the recently signed peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF, appeared to have isolated that deal, prompted the decision to send the men to Sabah this month.

They were given until Tuesday or 26 February to withdraw from Sabah and return to Sulu but the Sultan has been consistent not to do so because the Malaysian government is still paying yearly rental dues to them as a result of the 1878 lease agreement between the British North Borneo Company and the Sultanate of Sulu.

The Sabah sovereignty dispute between the Philippines representing the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia should be traced back in 1878 when an agreement between the British North Borneo Company represented by Alfred Dent and Baron von Overback and the Sultanate of Sulu, which stipulated that North Borneo be which stipulated that North Borneo was either ceded or leased (depending on translation used) to the British syndicate in return for payment of 5000 Malayan Dollar per year. The dispute on whether the Sultanate of Sulu leased or ceded North Borneo to the British North Borneo Company has been in contentious dispute until now because different interpretations of the American, British, Dutch, and Spanish interpretations of the word “padjak” where all of them expect the British interpreted to mean as “rent” or “arrendamiento” while the British interpreted as “grant or cede”.

The dispute has become a complicated ones when the Spanish colonial government in Manila, where the Sultanate of Sulu had belong as a protectorate after the Treaty of 1851,  relinquished all claim to North Borneo which had belong to the Sultanate in the past through the Madrid Protocol of 1885.

21 years later in 1906, the American colonial government, who was controlling the Philippine archipelago including Sulu after they ousted the Spaniards 8 years before, formally reminded Great Britain that North Borneo did not belong to the Crown and was still part of the Sultanate of Sulu. However, the British did turn Sabah into a Crown Colony in 1946. American reminders were denied on the basis that the Sultanate of Sulu was a mere protectorate of Spanish East Indies based in Manila during the signing of the Madrid Protocol in 1885 while they asserted that the Spain never acquired sovereignty over North Borneo.

This ambiguity has been passed to our Philippine government through the promulgation of the 1935 constitution which states that the national territory of the Philippines included, among other things, “all other areas which belong to the Philippines on the basis of historical rights or legal claims” as a weapon to claim North Borneo.

Malaysia asserted its claim on North Borneo after the British left in 1963 and the residents were decided through a UN-supervised referendum on whether to be a part with the Federation of Malaysia or with the Republic of the Philippines and when the results were announced, Sabahans chose to be a part with the former.

A year before the Federation of Malayan States, during the presidency of President Diosdado Macapagal, the former Sultanate of Sulu ceded its rights on claiming North Borneo to the Republic of the Philippines, thus gave the Philippines an authority to claim Sabah unsuccessfully from Great Britain. The Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia after the federation had included Sabah in 1963 but probably resumed it unofficially through the Manila Accord.

The Philippines tried to claim Sabah through force through forming a number of Moro Muslim recruits to train for the invasion of  Sabah which was not executed as most of the recruits were massacred during their training in Corregidor attempting to escape the training led by military handlers according to some accounts. The massacre became the root cause of Moro discontent against the Philippine government from Marcos up to the present time.

I think the reason on why Sabah is not ours was because the Spaniards were too late of consolidating their control on the Philippine archipelago including Sabah and when the Spaniards gained sovereignty over the Sulu and Sabah for a short period of time, the British, Germans, Austrians, and even Americans were already looking to control the then-Sultanate of Sulu and as Spain did not have enough money or manpower to control the then-Sultanate of Sulu, they had to relinquish Sabah in exchange for the sovereignty of Sulu archipelago. When the Americans wanted to claim Sabah in 1906 and 1920, it was way too late to claim it. Also, the Philippine government was way too late of pursuing to claim Sabah. Therefore, Sabah’s exclusion from the Philippines was a product of Spanish Empire’s long decline of its prominence to the British Empire, who  economically and militarily controlled the world when Spain gave up its control on Sabah.

I don’t think making foolish military actions to claim Sabah to us would gather sympathy to the Sabahans and in fact, the recent stand-off further scared the motives of the Sultanate of Sulu and the Philippines on claiming Sabah. We don’t have even an enough military technology and manpower to assert our claims on Sabah against the Malaysians, how much more of making a sensible military actions to claim Sabah?

We should not sacrifice our relations not just with Malaysia but also with the rest of ASEAN on claiming Sabah in a foolish way. We need to befriend all of them though a greater economic and political integration where if the latter achieves sometime in the future, it would be easier for the Filipinos to live and work in Sabah under the ASEAN supranation umbrella like what most European Union member states under the Schengen Area where the Germans can live and work in France or vice versa without barriers.

If we want to pursue our claims on Sabah, we have to clean our own backyard first like improving the lives of the Filipinos into Malaysian levels or greater than of that so that the people of Sabah will insinuate to be part of our country.

Doing business in the Philippines, most ‘difficult’ in the world – World Bank

Two worlds divided by the atrocious processing to do businesses in the Philippines.

The Philippines in terms of ranking on doing business remains difficult and atrocious compared with the hundreds of countries around the world according to the latest report of the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2013“.

The country ranked 138th out of 185 countries according to the latest survey done by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank in regards of processing permits in order to have a business being a legally recognized by the government. The country remains bombarded by the red tape in regards of processing permits to do business.

It takes 161 days of starting a business, among the worst in the world, compared to only a day in New Zealand, 2 days in Australia, 3 days in Canada, and 4 days in Singapore.

It takes 16 procedures in order for a business be legally approved by the government, making it the third worst in the world after Equatorial Guinea which takes 18 procedures and Venezuela which takes 17 procedures.

It takes also 36 days for entrepreneurs in order their businesses be registered, way longer than the world’s leaders of New Zealand which takes only a day for businesses be registered, Georgia which takes 2 days for businesses be registered, and Singapore which takes 3 days for businesses be registered.

It cost 18.4% of the country’s GDP per capita in order for businesses be legally registered that includes legal fees for registration, compared to nothing in Slovenia, 0.2 in Denmark, 0.6 in Singapore, and 1.0 in the United Kingdom.

It also cost 4.8% of the country’s GDP per capita in order for businesses especially foreign to deposit money to pay the paid-up capital requirement as required by our law, compared to none in many countries like our regional peer, Singapore.

I am not surprised with the current rankings of our country in regards of doing business. Many Filipinos have been frustrated on the procedures imposed by the government on the perspective entrepreneurs who wants to generate jobs for millions of unemployed citizens regardless of whom they came from. Our government seems to be procrastinating in their efforts to improve our business climate in our country so that local and foreign entrepreneurs would encouraged to set-up their businesses that would have generated more jobs and more prosperity for the people but instead, these prospective entrepreneurs have been bombarded with the atrocious requirements in order to have their businesses be registered while the government protects the selected elite oligarchs from the floods of competition that would have provide the millions of poor and unemployed Filipinos an opportunity to uplift from poverty and ignorance.

The government officials should stop pandering the needs of the elite oligarchs and let real competition in our economy to work in order to satisfy the needs of the majority Filipino, who installed them through elections, of employment, education, health care, and many others. The government officials especially the elected ones should stop punishing and blocking prospective foreign entrepreneurs, whether large or small from setting-up businesses here that would have created millions of job opportunities like the constitutional prohibition of 100% foreign equity ownership of businesses outside PEZA-accredated zones and let these foreign entrepreneurs to invest 100% from their own capital and ideas and control what they invest to protect rent-seeking dummies.